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 Aufhocker.
In German folklore, an aufhocker is a shapeshifting creature that attacks lone travelers at night, especially at crossroads. It often appears as a large black dog, but can also appear as a helpless old woman in order to coax its victim to let their guard down or a horse that lures its victim into riding it to their death. In addition, in some stories it appears as a corpse or a spirit or a kind of goblin. Because of its nature it has been called a kind of vampire.
The name aufhocker comes from German meaning “to leap upon,” and its preferred method of attack in to jump on the back of its victim. In some stories, it becomes bigger and heavier once it attacks so that its victim can’t throw it off. In others it first appears small but gradually grows until it is tall enough to rip out its victim’s throat.
It can be defeated by daylight or the sound of church bells or devout prayer. In some stories it can also be driven away by swearing.