Monster Monday: Strigoi

We all know about vampires and werewolves, or at least we think we do. The legends and myths that inspired these monsters are sometimes surprisingly different, but no less chilling. In this series of posts, Monster Monday, we’ll investigate the monsters that have informed our modern notions, as well as some lesser known monsters. Today, we talk about the Strigoi.

Image from the vampire novel Carmilla
Illustration for the vampire novel Carmilla by D. H. Friston

The legend of the Strigoi comes from Romania and is arguably the most direct reference to what we today would call a vampire. A strigoi is the soul of a deceased person that rises from its grave at night to plague the living. There are differing accounts of its abilities.  In some stories it is only an incorporeal spirit. In others it in an actual reanimated corpse. Sometimes it can shapeshift into an animal, or become invisible. Usually the strigoi visits living relatives and neighbors, causing illness and weakening them until they die. Only occasionally do they directly drain the blood of their victims.

A person can become a strigoi by a number of methods. The most common include generally being a bad person in life, being a redhead, committing suicide, being born with a caul, or being cursed by a witch. A person deemed likely to come back as a strigoi could be prevented from doing so by beheading their corpse or burying them with a stake through their heart. The best way to defeat a strigoi is also to dig up the body during the daytime and behead the corpse, cut out and burn the heart, or impale the body with a wooden stake.

An interesting version of the strigoi is the strigoi viu or “living” strigoi, who is a kind of evil magician capable of ruining crops and causing livestock to get sick and die.

Though no one knows for sure, some speculate that the strigoi originates from Dacian myths about evil spirits that plague the living. The word itself likely comes from the Latin word strix, which means “owl,” but is also a nocturnal blood-sucking monster in Roman mythology.

4 thoughts on “Monster Monday: Strigoi

  1. Darin Kennedy January 6, 2014 / 8:52 pm

    Excellent entry. Another thing I don’t want to meet in the middle of the night.

  2. Emily January 7, 2014 / 1:40 pm

    This is awesome in its conceit, and I appreciate your concise writing. I run a similar blog at themonstermaven.com, describing cultural creatures and how they came about. I think we’re kindred spirits, so I’m following your blog in the future.

    • Matthew January 7, 2014 / 2:32 pm

      Thanks! I checked out your blog. I will definitely be returning there in the future.

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