Region of origin: Indonesia
In Malay folklore, the pocong or hantu pocong, also known in some regions as a hantu bungkus (“wrapped ghost”) is an animated corpse still bound its kain kafan funeral shroud. Based on a belief the spirit continues to inhabit its body for forty days after death, after this period the shroud must be untied to allow the spirit to leave the body and move on to the afterlife; if the shroud remains the spirit may become restless and becomes a pocong. Due to its bound feet, the pocong ambulates by hopping, similar to a jianghshi, but is not particularly impeded, capable of taking leaps up to of 50 meters and moving as fast as a car. The pocong is not inherently aggressive, but it may attack anyone who attempts to impede it or start incessantly following someone. It is said the best way to deal with a pocong is to hug it, and use the chance to untie its bonds; the pocong will be grateful for being granted its freedom and grant good luck or wealth to its rescuer.
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Region of origin: Scandinavia
Animated corpses, the draugr were spirits of the unquiet dead, remaining bound to their corporeal form for reasons such as vengeance or greed, the latter often leading to them being associated with guarding gold and treasure inside their burial mound. Draugr were thought to possess a number of magical abilities, including changing their size at will and being able to turn into mist or animals and were known for attacking people or livestock, although even just being in their presence could lead to madness, disease or death. Methods to prevent the dead from rising including binding their feet or piercing them with needles to stop them from walking, a pair of iron scissors or other iron implements left on the corpse and a special door through which the body was placed in the crypt thought to confuse or disorient the spirit and prevent it from finding its way back out again.
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Region of origin: Mesopotamia
Evil vampiric spirits, the ekimmu or edimmu were the unquiet dead of people who in life had behaved immorally or improperly, either towards the gods or their fellow mortals, or did not receive an proper burial. The ekimmu were invisible but were thought to be able to be perceived as a gust of wind. An ekimmu would attach itself to either an individual or a household and drain their life force until they wasted away and died days later, and could also possess a person and control their actions. There were spells or similar protections used to ward ekimmu away from a home, or they could be removed by providing them with the funeral rites they never received. Considered an early precusor to traditional vampire folklore, their methods are similar to the preta, “hungry ghosts” of Hinduism and Buddhism, and the strigoi of Romania and eastern Europe.
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Region of origin: Poland
Female vampiric spirits that can assume the form of an owl and hunt people who dared wander into their forests at night. It was thought strzyga were the result of a person born with two souls, with only one soul able to move on to the afterlife after their passing the other soul becoming stuck in the dead body, returning from the grave as the ghoulish creature. It was thought the second soul manifested as the person having multiple body parts, such as two hearts or a second set of teeth, and anyone thought to possess these qualities may be buried with the corpse’s head removed to prevent the strzyga from rising.
Originally posted on Tumblr on November 4, 2016
Region of origin: Lurking in the dark
Coming out near midnight, the Thriller is an intangible force of fear, utilizing the form of reanimated dead, ravenous were-beasts and things with forty eyes, among others, accompanied by the odor of ancient decay. The amassed forces will head from graveyards and tombs into neighborhoods and backroads in search of human prey to frighten through intricate choreography, forcing them to join the ranks of their undead troupe as the fear takes hold, their body rotting. It is said they prefer humans with no natural sense of rhythm, but can affect anyone as no mere mortal can resist the evil of the Thriller.
Originally posted on Tumblr on October 31, 2016
Region of origin: Central Mexico
Deities from the depths of space, the Tzitzimime were undead women, primarily ones who had died during childbirth, and goddesses that traveled back to earth in times of total darkness, most powerful during solar eclipses and at the end of the Aztec century. They hunted mortals, especially children, and gathered pregnant women to add to their ranks. Rituals were performed at the end of each century to ensure the sun came back and the Tzitzimime would not run rampant, ushering in the end of the world. The Tzitzimime’s multiple eyes in their joints were considered to be the stars that made up constellations in the night sky. They wore pieces of humans as jewelry and clothing made of bones and shells which rattled as they approached their victims. Despite their apocalyptic role, the Tsitzimime were not viewed as unanimously evil, and were in some cases said to cure diseases as well as cause them and could also function as protectors and fertility goddesses.
Originally posted on Tumblr on October 6, 2016
Region of origin: Norway
Alhough the term has connotations with ghosts, the traditional gjenganger is more akin to a revenant: a fully corporeal figure risen from the grave who for one reason or another was “restless” in death (often those who died from suicide or murder). When risen, the gjenganger will attack people starting with those it was closest to in life, capable of decimating entire communities through violent means or spreading disease caused by its bite that could turn into a full-scale pandemic. If a recently-deceased person was feared to potentially become a gjenganger, a number of rituals were performed to ease the spirit and guide it towards the afterlife.
Originally posted on Tumblr on February 27, 2016