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. Soucouyant, strigoi, impundulu, gallu, empusa
Photo by Daria Sannikova on

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…


Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. 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).


Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas., 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.


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

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.


Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. 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!)


Yet Another 5 Vampires You May Not Have Heard Of. blog post by Aspasia S. Bissas. 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

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Further Reading


The Mayaro Soucouyant


Vampire Legends in Romania

Lightning Bird

South African Lightning Birds

Lightning Bird (Impundulu/Inyoni/Yezulu)


Empusa (Wikipedia)

Empousa and Lamia



Aspasía S. Bissas

A Lesson in Education

A lesson on education, blog post, aspasia s. bissas, lessons, classes, school, learning, language, french, greek, home schooling, unschooling,
Photo by Kate Graur on

I had an unusual linguistic upbringing. Growing up, I heard mostly Greek at home (I spoke a mix of Greek and English). I also lived in a French province for the first nine years of my life. When I started school, it was at an English school, with French lessons starting in grade 1 (we eventually moved to an anglophone province, and I continued taking French until I graduated). My mom taught me the basics in Greek, and I had a very small amount of Greek school on weekends (I don’t think it amounted to a full year).

I never heard French at home, except when flipping past the French channels on TV. I never had anyone to speak French with outside of classes, and I only occasionally read anything in French. But I heard Greek constantly, spoke it often, and read and wrote it occasionally. I’d have conversations all the time with older relatives (granted, they did most of the talking, but I still felt I had a solid grasp of Greek). If anyone asked I would have said I was fluent in Greek and knew some French.

Then I decided to take lessons.

a lesson in education, blog post, aspasia s. bissas. classes, lessons, school, learning, homeschooling, unschooling, french, languages, france, greek,
Photo by Matt Hardy on

I had a language learning app taking up space on my phone, so I finally decided to give it a try to see if it was worth hanging on to. I chose French as the language to learn since I’d been wanting to improve my skills for a while. The app starts off by testing you to see how much you know. I breezed through the test and got to skip ahead to more advanced lessons. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I remembered and how easy much of it was (that said– keeping track of the gender of words and then adjusting all the words in a sentence accordingly is exhausting).

L’homme est canadien (the man is Canadian)
La femme est canadienne (the woman is Canadian)
Les hommes sont canadiens (the men are Canadian)
Les femmes sont canadiennes (the women are Canadian)*


(*These aren’t even the most complicated examples– wait until you need to start describing inanimate objects…)

It was great to find out that I wasn’t as bad at French as I thought. And since it was going so well, I decided I’d might as well improve my Greek while I was at it.

Considering Greek is technically my first language (I started picking up English as a toddler), that initial test was not as easy as I expected. Unlike with French, I did not get to skip ahead to more advanced lessons. I discovered I didn’t even know some basics– my vocabulary and spelling are much worse than I realized (but at least my conjugation is good).

After a few minutes on the app, I realized I knew only some Greek and quite a bit more French than I’d assumed. Not what I expected.

It turns out the formal French lessons that I had in school made an impression that’s stuck with me decades later. Meanwhile, learning Greek mostly by “osmosis” let me down. There’s something positive to be said about rote learning and formal education, after all.

My years of absorbing Greek haven’t totally gone to waste. The knowledge I’ve picked up has definitely made the app lessons easier (I’m seriously impressed by anyone who can learn this language from scratch). Since starting the lessons, however, I’ve already seen a major improvement, especially in spelling, vocabulary, and reading. I’m probably only up to an Elementary School level of proficiency so far,  but I finally feel that I’m getting a real grasp on the language I’ve known all my life.

A lesson in education, blog post, aspasia s. bissas, french, greek, france, greece, school, classes, learning, rote memorization, homeschooling, unschooling, formal education,
Photo by Josiah Lewis on

As someone who’s always been more inclined to learn on my own rather than take a class, this has been eye opening. It’s amazing the difference that actual lessons can make. I’m excited to keep using the app, not only to keep learning French and Greek, but also to expand on my two years of high-school Spanish, and– hopefully– to learn a new language or two. The next time I’m tempted to learn something new, I think I’m going to find a class to take instead of assuming I can figure it out myself.

How about you– have you taken any classes lately, or are there any you want to take? Share in the comments…

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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,

Love Lies Bleeding: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Blood Magic: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books
FREE Tooth & Claw: Smashwords, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple Books

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! ♥


Aspasía S. Bissas