Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. Soucouyant, strigoi, impundulu, gallu, empusa
Photo by Daria Sannikova on Pexels.com

Chances are when you think of vampires you’ll think of Carmilla, Drusilla, Akasha, or any of the other fanged creatures-of-the-night that populate modern culture, including Mara from Love Lies Bleeding. The vampires we’re familiar with are (generally) human looking, powerful, often charismatic and attractive, with a thirst for blood and a dislike of stakes. But that wasn’t always the case. History and folklore are full of types of vampires that are nothing like what we’ve come to expect. Here are five examples…

Soucouyant

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. Soucouyant
Photo by Marek Piwnicki on Unsplash

A cross between a vampire, shapeshifter, and witch, the soucouyant (also known as soucriant, lougarou, Die-Higue, Asema, or simply hag) is known throughout the Caribbean, as well as parts of South America, and Louisiana in the U.S. During the day the soucouyant appears as an old woman, but at night she sheds her skin and takes the form of a fireball. In this form the soucouyant can enter any home through the smallest opening. Soucouyants suck the blood from sleeping victims, leaving telltale blue-black marks. Besides these marks, their victims become pale, weak, and tired. If she drinks too much blood from a person, they will either become a soucouyant themselves, or will simply die, allowing the creature to move into their skin. Soucouyants also practice black magic, exchanging blood for demonic powers. Evil monster or enterprising #girlboss? You decide. To temporarily stop a soucouyant, pile rice or salt in the house or at a crossroads– she will be forced to stop and count every grain. To kill a soucouyant, her skin must be destroyed with coarse salt (although some claim the rising sun will destroy her skinless body).

Strigoi

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com, strigoi, nosferatu, dracula
Image from Nosferatu, 1922

Thanks to Bram Stoker, our modern ideas about vampires stem in large part from the Romanian strigoi, or restless spirits that rise from the grave at night to drink fresh blood. Strigoi can also be living witches or sorcerers, but with the same thirst for blood (especially infants’ blood). Far from being mere folklore, actual people have been accused of being strigoi, starting with the first known case: Jure Grando, a 17th century villager from what is now Croatia. Locals, including his widow, claimed Grando terrorized his village for 16 years after his death. When his coffin was finally opened, revealing his perfectly preserved body (apparently with a smile on his face), he was exorcised and decapitated. When Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu was executed in 1989, he wasn’t given a proper burial, putting him at risk of becoming a strigoi, so his apartment was carpeted with braids of garlic. In the early 2000s, Romania banned the practice of digging up suspected vampires, so some areas started preemptively staking the dead before burial. There are a few things that can lead to someone becoming a strigoi after death, including living a life of sin, never getting married, or dying by suicide or execution. To prevent a strigoi from rising, nail their coffin securely shut; stake the dead through the chest or belly; or behead the dead and put the head in the coffin facing down. To get rid of a strigoi on the loose, exhume their body and destroy their heart before placing them face-down in the coffin. Staking or burning the body also works. If all else fails, place thorns across the threshold, fill the room with garlic, leave the lights on, and pray.

Impundulu

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. impundulu, lightning bird, vampire bird
Photo by Tejas Prajapati on Pexels.com

Those of you with a bird phobia might want to skip reading about the impundulu, also known as the lightning bird, a vampiric bird from southern Africa. Taking the form of a human-sized black and white (or possibly iridescent) bird, the impundulu is usually a witch’s familiar that can summon thunder and lightning to attack the witch’s enemies. It also has an insatiable thirst for blood. Sometimes it takes the form of a beautiful man so that it can seduce and feed on women. Like most vampires, the impundulu is immortal, being passed down from witch to witch, serving each in turn. Impundulu without a witch to serve are known as Ishologu, monsters that spread chaos and destruction without anyone to control them. When in human form, the impundulu will feed on human blood, but when in bird form, it feeds on animals. Although it rarely kills its victims, it harms them in other ways, notably by infecting them with tuberculosis, or leaving them infertile (victims that do die must be buried a special way; otherwise, a drought will follow). The only way to destroy it is with fire.

Gallu

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. gallu
Cylinder seal impression portraying the Underworld. Source.

Gallu is a type of demon originating in Mesopotamia, closely associated with Lilith and the Lilitu. They never stop drinking blood, although unlike most vampires, they also eat human flesh (fun fact: their name is where we get the word “ghoul”). In Ancient Greece they were known as gello (later pluralized to gelloudes) and were exclusively female and preyed on children. By the 11th century CE they were described as sucking the blood and vital fluids of infants. Over time they were also blamed for the deaths of pregnant women and fetuses. Early methods of repelling gallu/gello involved amulets and charms, such as red coral or a head of garlic. As the belief in gallu/gello persisted over the centuries, new methods of protecting against them developed, including baptizing infants and placing religious symbols in their cribs. Since they are demons, gallu/gello can also be exorcised (or invoked!)

Empusa/Empousa

Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. aspasiasbissas.com. empusa, greek mythology, "Love and Pain (The Vampire)" by Edvard Munch
“Love and Pain (The Vampire)” by Edvard Munch, 1894

Like so many creatures in Greek mythology (including Gello, above), Empusa (also spelled Empousa) started out as an individual woman (or in this case, the daughter of the Goddess Hekate, known for biting children, or possibly even the Goddess Herself in disguise), but ended up morphing into an entire group of beings over time. Empusa (plural: empusae) take the form of beautiful women to seduce and feed on men. It’s also claimed that they wait by roads to harass and attack passing men. In her true form, Empusa has a single leg: either a brass, bronze, or copper prosthetic leg, or a donkey leg (some sources say one of each); and flaming hair (which, let’s be honest, should have been the form she kept because– awesome!) Empusa targets sleeping men, enticing them before drinking their blood and devouring their flesh. The only references I could find to repelling empusae involve insulting them. According to one relatively recent source, Zeus killed an (or The) Empusa when she attacked Him while He was disguised as a traveller. The only advice for protecting oneself from empusae is to resist their advances, no matter how tempting.

Have you heard of these vampires? Which do you think is scariest? Tell me in the comments…

Read my previous posts on this subject:

5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

5 More Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of

Can’t get enough vampires? Download my books!

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

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If you prefer paperback, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Further Reading

Soucouyant

The Mayaro Soucouyant

Strigoi

Vampire Legends in Romania

Lightning Bird

South African Lightning Birds

Lightning Bird (Impundulu/Inyoni/Yezulu)

Gello

Empusa (Wikipedia)

Empousa and Lamia

Empusa

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

Currently Reading

Currently Reading, blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com. Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman.

I’m happy to report that my re-read of Gods Behaving Badly was a good one. I’d mentioned that I was concerned I wouldn’t enjoy it as much this time around, but I’m happy to say it has mostly held up. It would’ve made a great series, and I’m sorry that the author never pursued that route.

I’m now moving on to Practical Magic by Alice Hoffman. This is one of the rare cases where I’ve seen the movie before reading the book. Since I love the movie, however, I’m really excited to finally be getting to the book.

Have you read Practical Magic and/or watched the movie? What did you think? Share in the comments…

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

(PS: In other news, I got my second covid shot. Who would have thought that something like a vaccine would be cause for celebration in our lifetimes? But then again, who would’ve thought we’d be going into year 2 of a pandemic? We owe a debt of gratitude to all the researchers and scientists– and volunteer test subjects– who worked so hard to get us a vaccine as quickly as they did. And also to everyone stepping up and getting the vaccine. Being vaccinated not only stops the spread and protects those who legitimately can’t get vaccinated, but it also prevents new variants.)

Final Thoughts on “Supernatural”

Final Thoughts on "Supernatural," blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com

SPOILERS AHEAD

A few weeks back I posted about re-watching older seasons of Supernatural in anticipation of seeing the last few seasons I’d missed, including the series finale. I finally completed what occasionally felt like a gruelling trek, and I thought I’d share a few final thoughts about the show.

I actually almost didn’t make it to the end. The last season I’d seen involved a lot of sturm und drang about Lucifer fathering a child with an unsuspecting human woman. That season ended with baby Jack being born (and instantly aging up to a young man), in the process opening a portal to an alternate– apocalyptic– Earth. At this point, fan favourite Bobby is re-introduced to the show, while other favourites are killed off, including Crowley (RIP) and Castiel. Okay, I thought, this is going to be interesting.

Only it wasn’t.

Alternate Earth

Final Thoughts on "Supernatural," blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com

I think the writers really didn’t know what to do with the alternate Earth. Bobby and Charlie were brought back, but then nothing much really happened with them (definitely nothing that added to character development, the story arc, or to the show as a whole). There’s a bizarre alternate Castiel who is (thankfully) quickly killed. New characters are introduced and brought to Sam and Dean’s Earth in a side plot that, along with these characters, went nowhere. Most were killed or just disappeared, and in the last season any that were left were wiped out of existence (more on that later). And then there was the apocalypse. We already had an apocalypse season on Supernatural— who decided we needed another one? And why did anyone think viewers would care if angels were wreaking havoc on another planet? It was a strange choice and mostly (I think) an excuse to bring back another character no one asked for: (alternate) Archangel Michael.

Michael 2.0

Final Thoughts on "Supernatural," blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com

Boredom with what had initially seemed like it would be an interesting season soon turned to frustration. Not only did we have to sit through an alternate world’s apocalypse, but we had to endure human-hating angels led by apocalypse-obsessed alternate Michael. One stupid decision after another leads to him showing up on Sam and Dean’s Earth (which I’m calling Main Earth from now on), where Dean, going against all sense and reason, ends up giving Michael permission to possess him (AKA use him as a “vessel”) on the condition that Dean remain fully in control. Of course Michael never has any intention of keeping his word. Who could have foreseen this twist, other than literally everyone? It feels like we’ve seen this exact story a thousand times on Supernatural. Watching the characters make one dumb move after another was intolerable, and this was where I almost walked away from the show. I actually looked up series finale spoilers to find out if there was any point to keep watching. Ultimately, I decided there was, but if I had my way I’d purge this season, along with the “British Men of Letters” one.

Side note: the final season sees the return of original Michael, along with Sam and Dean’s half-brother Adam. Unlike alternate Michael, this works well, as original Michael helps the story along and gives the show a chance to tie up a longstanding loose end. And also unlike alternate Michael, original Michael’s motives actually make sense.

The Writers VS. Jack

Final Thoughts on "Supernatural," blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com

Instead of another apocalypse and alternate Michael, I really would have preferred more of a focus on Jack. He was something new on Supernatural— the son of Lucifer, and an incredibly powerful being in his own right (more powerful than an archangel, according to the show). Or, at least, he should have been. As with their treatment of Castiel, the writers found every excuse to diminish his powers (right until the very last episode). Who was this kid? Would he go full-on Damian at some point? Would he team up with Lucifer, or destroy his father and become the new Big Bad? Or maybe he’d beat the odds and side with good. So many possibilities– so few opportunities taken by the writers. He did exhibit a few abilities early on (like bringing Cas back from the dead), but mostly it felt like we were perpetually waiting for Jack to do something. Even when he lost his soul, it didn’t change much. Jack had so much potential, but it was frustrating (there’s that word again) waiting for him to reach it. Not that it wasn’t satisfying when he finally did, but at that point it was verging on too little too late.

Abrupt Exits

Final Thoughts About "Supernatural," blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com

To borrow a much-overused phrase from the show “I get it”: a lot had to happen in the final season and we couldn’t necessarily have long goodbyes with a lot of characters. But it was disappointing the way some of them left. We’re lucky to have had a final visit with Rowena (awesome witch, the new Queen of Hell, and one of my all-time favourite characters), but too many other characters didn’t get more than a passing mention. It would have been nice, for example, when Dean went to heaven, to see someone other than (original) Bobby and, eventually, Sam. Why not a quick cast reunion at the end? At least they could have given us a final glimpse of Cas and Jack. And what happened to the people from the alternate Earths (which, reminder: includes us, as established in an earlier episode)? Chuck destroyed all the alternate Earths, and then wiped out nearly everyone on Main Earth, including the people rescued from apocalypse world. Jack eventually restores everyone on Main Earth, but he also implies that he’s going to be sticking with just the one earth. Never mind what ultimately happened to everyone on the alternate Earths, we don’t even know what happened to alternate Charlie and Bobby, whether they ended up anywhere or simply ceased to exist forever. All I’m saying is a little closure would have been nice.

It wasn’t all poor choices and unanswered questions, though. The one thing I think the show really got right in the final season was:

God as Villain

Final Thoughts on "Supernatural," blog post via Aspasia S. Bissas, aspasiasbissas.com

It probably created some controversy to make God (AKA Chuck) the ultimate villain on the show, but I think it works. Let’s face it: from his long absences (including during serious crises) and his lack of interest in his creations, to his fits of cruel vengeance/punishments, and his habit of playing favourites, God is half-villain already. Supernatural re-imagines him as a hack writer who plays with people’s lives for his own entertainment. He torments Sam and Dean (whom he claims are his favourite “characters”) and “cancels shows” (destroys all the alternate earths) because Sam and Dean don’t want to play along anymore. He wipes out every person and animal on Main Earth just so he can watch how Sam, Dean, and Jack will cope. When Dean is thrilled to discover a dog that was somehow missed, Chuck wipes out the dog while watching Dean’s reaction. His arrogance is ultimately his downfall, and when Jack absorbs all of Chuck’s power, it’s the best possible outcome. Chuck is left as a normal, powerless, human to live out his life and die; meanwhile it’s pretty clear that Jack is going to make a superior God. It’s a good end to the story arc and an interesting take on biblical mythology. I think it was a fitting conclusion to the series.

So, is it worth watching Supernatural? It’s not the best show, but as I’m discovering watching some of what else is out there, it’s not the worst one, either. Supernatural has multitudes of great characters, overall decent acting, a few really creative episodes, and some solid writing and storylines. They even managed to introduce a group of actually scary vampires in the last episode. Better late than never.

What did you think of the end of Supernatural? Share in the comments…

Want to read something that’s all about the vampires? Get my books!

Aspasia S. Bissas books: Love Lies Bleeding, Blood Magic, Tooth & Claw, book, books, free book, free books, freebies, freebie, free ebook, free ebooks, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, dark romance, historical fiction, gothic fiction, gothic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, horror, dark reads, indie author, indie fiction, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

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If you prefer paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas

A Few Problems with TV’s “Supernatural”

A Few Problems with TV's "Supernatural," blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, supernatural, winchester, castiel, destiel, supernatural title season 6, sam, dean, crowley, men of letters, assbutt, aspasiasbissas.com

Spoilers Ahead

I’m not exactly a fan of Supernatural, the long-running (and recently concluded) series featuring the monster-hunting Winchester brothers (Sam and Dean) and associates. I am, however, a fan of several of the characters, which is why I’ve stuck with the show. I’m currently re-watching older seasons in anticipation of catching up on the last couple I haven’t seen yet, including the series finale.

The thing is, no matter how much I try (and I have tried), I just can’t pretend this show doesn’t bother me on numerous levels. I’m not trying to ruin anything for the fans out there (who I’m sure far outnumber detractors like me), but someone needs to say it. Supernatural has problems. Here’s four of them.

  1. “Librarians”

A Few Problems with TV's "Supernatural," blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, supernatural, winchester, castiel, destiel, supernatural title season 6, sam, dean, crowley, men of letters, assbutt, aspasiasbissas.com, henry winchester, library, librarians

In season 8 Supernatural introduced the “Men of Letters,” a secret society that, among other things, made a point of amassing and preserving vast stores of occult and magical knowledge. Sounds pretty cool, right? You’d think so, but apparently the show’s writers disagree, as multiple characters repeatedly refer to the Men of Letters as “librarians.” And it’s never a compliment.

A Few Problems with TV's "Supernatural," blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, supernatural, winchester, castiel, destiel, supernatural title season 6, sam, dean, crowley, men of letters, assbutt, aspasiasbissas.com, buffy, buffy is better than supernatural, giles, rupert giles, ripper, library, librarians

First of all, fiction is full of librarians who could hold their own in the Supernatural universe. Secondly, the show itself establishes that the Men of Letters were also men of action– they just put a little more thought into their actions than the Winchesters and their fellow “hunters” tend to. More importantly, though, is that real-life librarians deserve better than this kind of casual derision. Yes, they spend an inordinate amount of time with books (not sure why that’s a bad thing), but they also help people and improve lives on a daily basis (here’s a story from last year as just one example). Librarian as an insult? You’re only showing your own ignorance.

2. Mary Shelley Didn’t Create Frankenstein

A Few Problems with TV's "Supernatural," blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, supernatural, winchester, castiel, destiel, supernatural title season 6, sam, dean, crowley, men of letters, assbutt, aspasiasbissas.com, styne, styne family, frankenstein, mary shelley, supernatural owes mary shelley an apology

Season 10 brought us the ill-conceived Styne family, an ancient clan into all kinds of evil, including murder, Nazism, and really poorly stitched body modification (seriously, this is your thing– learn how to sew). But– big reveal– it turns out the family’s name was originally… Frankenstein (groan), and that their family friend Mary Shelley, after spending a few days at their estate and seeing what they were up to, wrote her book to try to warn the world. In other words, Frankenstein isn’t a work of Shelley’s vibrant imagination (and one of, if not the, first works of science fiction), but rather non-fiction based on something she witnessed.

Seeing as how women writers throughout history have been consistently ignored, suppressed, forgotten, and denied credit, for Supernatural to come along and discount the achievement of one of the few who did receive her due… let’s just say that Supernatural owes Mary Shelley a huge apology.

3. The Writers vs. Castiel

A Few Problems with TV's "Supernatural," blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, supernatural, winchester, castiel, destiel, supernatural title season 6, sam, dean, crowley, men of letters, assbutt, aspasiasbissas.com, angels, misha collins, weak writing

Introducing angels to the show is generally acknowledged as being one of Supernatural’s smarter moves. Castiel especially turned out to be a great character, with some decent development over the seasons. Unfortunately, the writers backed themselves into a corner with angels. Debuted as incredibly powerful beings who can destroy a human just by existing in their natural state, the writers subsequently were forced to find ways to make angels far weaker than they started out. As the Winchesters’ protector/friend Castiel gets the brunt of this– the writers spend the rest of the series finding excuses to take away his power. Poor Cas loses his mind, gets stuck in purgatory, is put under the control of another angel, and even becomes human, among other things. Even when he is at full strength, the writers ignore the extent of his abilities, inexplicably render them useless (“I can usually heal anything, but not this…”), or simply pretend he doesn’t exist. He can be summoned by phone or by prayer, yet he often “isn’t answering,” or more often, the Winchesters don’t bother calling. There are so many times when Cas could easily have dispatched demonic enemies or fixed an unfortunate situation (like, say, bringing Charlie back to life), but it’s inconvenient to the story, so he’s nowhere to be seen. What all this amounts to is a lot of poor and/or lazy writing that ultimately lowers the quality of the show. F for effort, guys.

4. Sucky Vampires

A Few Problems with TV's "Supernatural," blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas, supernatural, winchester, castiel, destiel, supernatural title season 6, sam, dean, crowley, men of letters, assbutt, aspasiasbissas.com, harmony, buffy, vampire, vampires, buffy was better than supernatural, mercedes mcnab

Vampires aren’t the focus of Supernatural, and it’s a good thing because the ones on this show are awful. From the hideous rows of fangs to their bland personalities, I have to wonder why the show bothered including vampires at all. Mercedes McNab, who brilliantly played student-turned-vampire Harmony on Buffy and Angel, shows up as a vampire in one season 3 episode of Supernatural. Her character mostly spouts exposition and whines about being hungry before Dean finally beheads her. Other vampires throughout the series are similarly unremarkable (although there was one storyline that had potential, about vampires taking advantage of the Twilight craze, but it ultimately missed the mark). Even Benny, who befriends Dean in season 8 and actually gets a story arc, serves mostly as a source of tension between Sam and Dean. Not every vampire is going to be a Dracula or a Spike, but it takes some skill to make all of yours forgettable.

There are other problems with Supernatural (like Sam and Dean’s casual willingness to murder innocent people just because they’re possessed– remember when they used to at least try an exorcism first?), but I’ll leave it here. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with my points? Share in the comments…

Want to read something that’s all about the vampires? Get my books!

Love Lies Bleeding by Aspasia S. Bissas, Blood Magic by Aspasia S. Bissas, Tooth & Claw by Aspasia S. Bissas, books, free books, vampire, vampires, dark fantasy, gothic, urban fantasy, paranormal, supernatural, strong female protagonist, aspasiasbissas.com

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
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If you prefer a good paperback to an ebook, use this link to order Love Lies Bleeding from Bookshop – a portion of each sale goes directly to independent bookstores, as well as to myself. Thank you for supporting indie! ♥

Cheers,

Aspasía S. Bissas