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 Strzyga.
A strzyga is a vampiric demon in Polish folklore. It is born to human parents, but has two hearts, two souls, and two set of teeth. Often a child born with already developed teeth was said to be a strzyga. They are sometimes said to have bright red hair and blue eyes.
When a strzyga dies, only one soul passes into the afterlife. The other soul reanimates the corpse and begins to prey on the living. At night, the strzyga flies around by transforming into an owl and attacks travelers or those who are lost in the woods. It drinks their blood and eats their internal organs. It can also foretell a death in a family if family members hear it wailing at night.
It can be killed by cutting off its head and burying it separately from its body. A person likely to become a strzyga can also be prevented by burying the body face-down with a sickle around its head.
The word strzyga likely comes from the Latin word strix, which means “owl,” but is also a nocturnal blood-sucking monster in Roman mythology.