Monster Monday: Vjesci

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 Vjesci.

1820 engraving from the book Histoire des vampires et des spectres malfaisans: avec un examen du vampirisme
1820 engraving from the book Histoire des vampires et des spectres malfaisans: avec un examen du vampirisme

A vjesci is a vampire in Polish folklore. Often a person who is born with a caul is in danger of becoming a vjesci. A person who refuses the sacrament when they are about to die is also in danger of becoming one. When they die, their body cools but does not become rigid. At midnight after they are buried, they dig their way out of their grave and return to their home to try to eat their family and neighbors.

There are a number of ways to try to prevent a person from becoming a vjesci. One is to preserve the caul, dry it, grind it up, and make the person eat it. Another is to make sure the person receives the sacrament before they die. Sometimes a coin or a crucifix is places underneath the tongue of the corpse, or it is buried face down, so that when it reawakens, it will simply dig farther into the ground. Another method is to place a net over the body. The vjesci will be compelled to untie all the knots in the net before it can emerge from the grave, one of the many instances where vampirism is associated with obsessive-compulsive disorder.

 

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