Vampire Legends from Around the World

Dracula; of course. Lestat—cool. Edward Cullen… maybe.

Everyone’s heard of these Pop Culture vampires. But how about Lamias, Upírs, or Striges?

There are vampires of all varieties all around the world, pervading every culture from Romania to India, from China to South America. And believe me, some of them are so horrifying that they make your typical Hollywood vampire look like a not-particularly-threatening school bully in comparison.

Lamastu (Mesopotamia)

Legends of vampires date back to ancient Mesopotamia—the lands of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires, between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Assyrian legend speaks of a demon goddess known as the Lamastu (meaning: ‘she who erases’).

The Lamastu preyed on humans, creeping into a house at night to kill babies and drink their blood. Infant death was often attributed to the Lamastu. This legend gave rise to the Lamia and Striges in ancient Greece, which also preyed upon children.

Lamastu - Assyrian Vampire

Lamastu – Assyrian Vampire

Upír & Upiers (Balkans and Russia)

The vampires we know of today in books and films is a direct descendent of the Slavic vampire of the ninth century. Vampire lore from Eastern Europe saw vampirism as a result of birth mutations or evil dispositions; a deformed baby or person with murderous tendencies were said to become vampires. Vampires emerging from the Balkan region were referred to as the Upiers.

The Russian vampire—the Upír—has the power to mesmerize a victim with its evil eye, leading him to his death.

Penanggalan (Malaysia)

Truly horrifying to behold, the Penanggalan is a vampiric ghost of Malaysian folklore. A beautiful woman by day, the Penanggalan will detach its head at night—entrails and organs dangling beneath it—and seek out its victims (often children) to drain of blood.

A person who so much as comes into contact with the fluids dripping from its entrails will become violently ill. One can escape this loathsome creature by luring it into thorny patches, where its viscera will become entangled.

Penanggalan - Malaysian Vampire

Penanggalan – Malaysian Vampire

Chiang-Shih (China)

The Chinese hopping vampire known as the chiang-shih (or jiangshi) is said to come about if a corpse is exposed to sunlight or moonlight before burial. A person who led a dishonest life or committed suicide will also become a chiang-shih according to legend.

Wearing clothes dating back to the Quing Dynasty, it hops stiffly about with its arms out, sucking the life force from its victims. Some legends state that it has poisonous breath, cannot cross moving water, and cannot climb ladders. Cremating the corpse is the only way to destroy the chiang-shih.

Churel (India)

There are scholars who believe that vampire mythology actually began in India and then spread to Eastern Europe through the spice and silk trade routes. India has several vampiric figures, including the Rakshasa, Churel, and Vetalas.

A Churel is the vampiric spirit of a woman who died in childbirth, making her last lover in life as her first victim, followed by her male relatives. The Churel charms men with her beauty, though her demonic nature is sometimes given away by her feet which are turned backwards.

The Vetalas was a part man and part bat, possibly giving rise to the vampire’s association with bats in modern mythology.

Vetala - Indian Vampire

Vetala – Indian Vampire

Are Crystal Skulls Real?

Below is an article I wrote for Crystal Age last year – I am happy to bring it to my Supernatural Wonders readers this week!

There is a legend of thirteen ancient crystal skulls from the Mayans lost civilization, that when united will bring universal knowledge. There are today real crystal skulls in existence that range from a few inches in diameter to life size. They are in the possession of various owners, the remainder on exhibition in the British Museum, the Smithsonian, and the Musee de l’Homme in Paris.

Believers in the supernatural consider crystal skulls to be much more than simply interesting artefacts. They look to the skulls as objects of divination, that can be used similarly to crystal balls for scrying and seeing into the future.

There is still great controversy amongst believers and sceptics as to the origins of the skulls. Believers will say that they are thousands of years old, possibly relics of lost civilizations like Atlantis. Sceptics say they are fakes, carved not much longer than a few hundred years ago.

The British Crystal Skull

The British Crystal Skull

Famous Crystal Skulls

  • The most famous of the skulls is the The Mitchell-Hedges Skull. This skull was discovered in the 1920s by British adventurer Anna Mitchel Hedges, allegedly beneath a Mayan temple in Belize. According to Anna, the Mayans told her that this  quartz skull was used to ‘will death. Anna has also claimed that she has used this skull for healing.
  • Art restorer Frank Dorland studied the skull for six years, claiming the sound of a choir singing coming from its structure. Dorland also said while gazing into the skull, he was able to see shifting images. Dorland took the skull to Hewlett-Packard researchers who determined that it was carved from a single piece of crystal.

  • Made from cloudy quartz, the British Museum crystal skull is of similar size to the Mitchell-Hedges skull though less detailed. The museum acquired it from Tiffany & co in 1898. The skull is supposedly from Mexico, of Aztec origin.
  • The skull kept in the Musée de l’Homme in Paris is half the size of the previously mentioned skulls, and was also thought to be Aztec, donated to the museum in 1878 by Alphonse Pinart.
  • Larger than any of these is the 9 inch high, 8 inch long skull now in the Smithsonian Institution in the USA. The museum received the skull in the mail in 1992 with an anonymous note stating that it was an ‘Aztec crystal skull’ and ‘purchased in Mexico City in 1960′.  Several other, smaller skulls also exist in museums. These include the clear quartz ‘Texas Crystal Skull,’ the ‘ET’ skull made from smoky quartz and found by a Central American family.
  • The Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull

    The Mitchell-Hedges crystal skull

    Crystal Skulls – Ancient Wisdom?

    Those who believe in the supernatural qualities of crystal skulls point to the piezoelectric properties of quartz crystal as evidence of the skulls’ power. Devotees assert that the skulls hold the history of the earth in their structure, rather like computer chips. All that is needed is the correct method of reading this information. Today, crystal skulls are very popular as ornaments and, depending on what crystal they are carved from, are said to be useful for scrying and divination.

    Are the thirteen skulls true supernatural objects or are they recent fakes? It is a fact that skulls figure prominently in Mexican and Central American culture, therefore some of the skulls could indeed be ancient artefacts. Are they doorways into the past or future? Until their complex codes can be deciphered, we can only speculate.

    Who or What are The Black Eyed Kids?

    Just let us in, this won’t take long.’

    What would you do if strangers appeared at your door and said this to you? Unnerving enough, but what if those strangers were children with totally black eyes and a strange air of dread about them?

    The Black Eyed Kids phenomenon is happening all around the world, with incidents of these weird encounters with groups of small children (averaging 8-10 years of age) appearing at doorsteps, cars, or even out in the open, asking for help, only to vanish moments later. The most unsettling thing about these kids are their eyes – totally black, covering the iris and sclera, soulless and unblinking. But what exactly do these children want?

    Black Eyed Kids
    ‘Let me in, it won’t take long…’

    A Typical Encounter

    Paranormal researcher David Weatherly reports many such encounters in his book, Black Eyed Children. One such incident occurred in Dallas, Texas, where a gentleman came home, placed his hand on the door handle and suddenly a child appeared out of nowhere by the steps. Startled, the man looked at the boy, noting the child’s pale skin and solid black eyes. ‘Is it food time?’ the boy asked. The man was stunned. The boy repeated his question, ‘Is it food time?’.

    Glancing inside, he saw that his three-year-old Pitbull was charging at the front door. This was the most fearsome of guard animals, having bit rattlesnakes in half on many an occasion. Upon seeing the black eyed child, the dog skidded to a stop. Wining, tail between its legs, the Pitbull shot under the bed and stayed there for days, refusing to come out. The man slipped inside and locked the door. The child peered through the glass of the door and continued tapping. Eventually, the child vanished.

    Black Eyed Kids

    Black Eyed Kids dress in drab clothes, and often travel in threes

    The Gruesome Details

    Reports of encounters with Black-Eyed Kids have been coming in to paranormal researchers since the late 1990s, and are on the increase. A typical encounter begins with a continual knocking at a resident’s door. The home owner opens the door to see a trio of young children standing on the doorstep who are not in anyway known in the neighborhood and who are dressed in nondescript clothing – like what Amish kids might wear. Other times they wear modern clothes like jeans and hoodies, though drab brown or gray, as if trying not to be noticed. The clothes may be ill-fitting, as though they don’t quite know how to dress. There are no signs of phones, iPods, or other gadgets. The skin of the children is pasty, almost artificial looking. The eyes are totally black. Body movements are very minimal, and have been described as ‘awkward’ or ‘stiff’.

    ‘Please, can we come in?’ they typically ask. ‘We just want to use your phone. This won’t take long. We’re just kids.’ The voices are droning, mechanical – repeating these entreaties over and over again: ‘Please, let us in. This won’t take long.’

    These encounters usually happen in the evening, just when the sun is going down.

    One thing most encounters have in common is that these children want to be allowed inside or want you to follow them.

    Black Eyed Kids
    Black Eyed Kids are known for their totally black eyes and odd demeanor

    Sinister Implications

    But what does it all mean? Researchers such as David Weatherly and Dave Schrader agree that there does seem to be a sinister agenda. Although very few reports have trickled where people have let these strange kids inside, no real harm has yet come to anyone who has come face to face with these entitie – yet – though victims have been left in a permanently anxious state.

    So what is going on? Are these demon in the guise of children? Alien hybrids? Or just children playing pranks? The way these children seem to appear and disappear seems to preclude the latter.

    Case in point:

    Host of Darkness Radio, Dave Schrader, was contacted in 2011 by an elderly woman from Minnesota with details of a particularly frightening encounter. One night in the middle of summer, at about 10pm, after it had been raining non-stop for several days, she and her husband heard what sounded to be children laughing and playing outside in their front yard. The woman got a very uncomfortable feeling and wondered who would let their kids out at this time of night. Looking outside, she didn’t see any children.

    After retiring to bed, the woman woke at 2am to find a trio of young children standing at her bedside. They had pale skin and totally black eyes. She quickly squeezed her eyes shut and took a deep breath, expecting that the children would be gone once she opened them again – a dream. But they were still there.

    Just as the woman opened her mouth to scream, the child in the middle of the trio put a finger to his lips and said, ‘Shhhh, we just want to look at you.’

    The woman screamed, awaking her husband. Flicking on the lights, the woman looked around the bedroom… but the children were gone.

    Whatever the implications of this growing phenomenon, we can be sure of one thing – it will not be giving up all of its secrets anytime soon. And just with ghosts, alien abductions, and bigfoot encounters, the run-ins with Black Eyed Kids will soon become a part of the paranormal lexicon.

    The Road to BLOOD FAMILY

    April 2, 2004 was the earliest date I have recorded for the inception of Blood Family. Also known as Blood Family ~ Quest for the Vampire Key, the novel was going to be a Young Adult horror adventure which would by my take on vampires and what vampires might be. And when I’d decided that, I knew I was in for an interesting journey, but had no idea where it would take me…

    Continue reading

    In Vein – Vampire Charity Anthology!

    In Vein - Charity Vampire Anthology

    In Vein – Charity Vampire Anthology

    Recently I was given the opportunity to contribute a vampire-themed short story or novella to In Vein – a vampire charity anthology book where 100% of the proceeds will go to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital!

    My story is entitled ‘Mom’. A lonely school child brings home his first friend, but struggles to hide the fact that his daylight-hating mother is a vampire.

    This anthology was spearheaded by the endlessly energetic Jodie Pierce – author of the Vampire Queen trilogy. Thanks, Jodie! You are a star.

    In Vein is available on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com

    Giveaway! A special set of ebookmarks will be sent to the first reader to comment on this post!

    Contributing Authors:

    Tara Fox Hall

    Mark Knight

    Ann Snizek

    Mark Mackey

    Zoey Sweete

    Autumn Starr

    Geoffrey Porter

    Frank Franklin

    Jay Wilburn

    Errick Nunnally

    Samuel Southwell

    Lourna Dounaeva

    Mathias Jaanson

    TP Keating

    T.G. Reaper

    Laurie Treacy

    Charie D. La Marr

    Jodie Pierce

    9 Things Vampires & Space Adventurers Have in Common – by M. Pax

    Welcome back to fantasy and Sci Fi author, M. Pax!

    M. Pax is known for her hit ‘Backworlds’ series of novels and the adult urban fantasy Hetty Locklear series. I am very pleased to have her back on Written Worlds! She has taken a fun look at the similarities between bloodsuckers and spacefarers – and also has a special announcement for her fans!

    Take it away, M. Pax!

    'Backworlds' author, M. Pax

    ‘Backworlds’ author, M. Pax

    What fun to swap blogs with Mark Knight today. You’ll find him at mpaxauthor.com. We both have a love for things in the night.

    Nine Things Vampires and Space Adventurers Have in Common:

    1. Both work in the dark
    2. They both fly – Vampires as bats. Spacepeople in spaceships
    3. An irresistible allure – Vampires use their eyes. Spaceships use tractor beams.
    4. Traveling at high speeds — Vampires faster than the eye, Spaceships faster than light
    5. Both types of stories search for understanding of what it means to be human
    6. Both space explorers and vampires enjoy seeing other people in red shirts
    7. Eating a lot of garlic repels vampires and your shipmates
    8. Some people think space travelers and vampires exist, some think it’s bullarky
    9. Space travelers can also be very pale from a lack of sun if in space a long time

    Can you think of any more?

    I’m celebrating the audio release of The Backworlds. Currently available from Audible. You can win an audiobook by commenting at Samantha Geary’s blog on THIS POST before October 18, 2013.

    In the far future, humanity settles the stars, bioengineering its descendents to survive in a harsh universe. This is the first book in the science fiction series, The Backworlds. Try it for free. A space opera adventure.

    After the war with the Foreworlders, Backworlders scatter across the remaining planets. Competition is fierce, and pickings are scant. Scant enough that Craze’s father decides to improve his fortunes by destroying his son. He tells his only boy their moon isn’t big enough for them both and gives Craze a ticket for the next transport leaving the space dock.

    Treated worse than a stranger, like the scuzzbag of the galaxy, Craze is forced to flee his home. Cut off from everyone he knows with little money and no knowledge of the worlds beyond his, he must find away to forge a new life and make sure his father regrets this day.

    And stay tuned! Backworlds #4, Beyond the Edge will be available any hour now.

    M. Pax — Inspiring the words I write, I spend my summers as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory in stunning Central Oregon where I live with the Husband Unit and two demanding cats. I write science fiction and fantasy mostly You can find out more by visiting my website: mpaxauthor.com

    Beyond The Edge

    Beyond The Edge



    Come chat on Twitter or FB. I spend a little time on Pinterest and Wattpad, too.

    Backworlds - Audiobook

    Backworlds – Audiobook

    Passing Time with Indie Author, Ellie Garratt!

    Today I am very happy to have indie author Ellie Garratt as an interviewee here on Written Worlds!
    Author Ellie Garratt

    Author Ellie Garratt

    Ellie Garratt is a science fiction and horror writer. A life-long addiction to reading science fiction and horror meant writing was the logical outlet for her passions. She is a reader, writer, blogger, Trekkie, and would happily die to be an extra in The Walking Dead. Her short stories have been published in anthologies and online. Passing Time: Nine Short Tales of the Strange and Macabre and Taking Time and Other Science Fiction Stories are now available on Kindle. Other eBook formats to follow soon. In early 2014, she will be launching a nine-part science fiction serial called The Third Dimension.

    Please tell us a about yourself. 

    My name is Ellie Garratt. I’m from the United Kingdom, and live in the sometimes sunny South Devon. I’m also fortunate enough to live a five-minute walk from the sea. When I’m not writing, I love to read and go on long walks.

    Which project are you currently promoting?

    Due to technical issues with Amazon Kindle, I’ve just published second editions of my two short story collections - Passing Time: Nine Short Tales of the Strange and Macabre and Taking Time and Other Science Fiction Stories. I’m also in the process of making both these books available in other eBook formats.

    What genre do you generally write, and why did you choose it?

    I write horror and dark science fiction. I love to read and watch movies/television programmes in both genres, so it feels natural to write in both.

    What sparked your passion for books and the art of a good story?

    I was lucky to have parents who knew the importance of learning to read and write, and I devoured books as a child. The library was one of my favourite places. I was also a child who wouldn’t stop talking – my school reports can contest to that fact- and I loved telling stories, whether true or made up.

    Is there a particular book that changed or affected your life in a big way?

    There are two books. The first book I fell in love with was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. I remember reading it over and over, even using a torch under the bed covers so that my parents thought I’d fallen asleep. It opened my eyes to how magical books can be. The second book is The Stand by Stephen King. It introduced me to the horror genre, and the idea of creating not just a story but a whole different world.

    Who is your author idol?

    That’s a tough one to answer. I would have to say Stephen King, but there are a few authors that have come close over the years. This year’s would be Hugh Howey. If you’ve not read his Wool trilogy, you must.

    When you’re writing a book or short story, do you plan it out meticulously or just write stream-of-consciousness?

    I usually have a rough idea of the start and how it may end, but I’m what’s known as a pantser – the story generally ends up writing itself. If I try to plot, my creativeness is stifled and I lose interest.

    What does your workspace look like?

    I have to admit I’m a little OCD about my writing desk. It has to be tidy and organized, or I can’t write. My desk is in front of a big full length window, and I can see the river. It’s a great view.

    What is the best advice you can give to a new author?

    Read a lot. Then practice a lot. Finally, don’t expect the first draft to be perfect. It won’t be. That’s what editing is for.

    Thank you, Ellie, for a great interview!

    You can find out more about Ellie Garratt and her work via these links:

    Passing Time: Nine Short Tales of the Strange and Macabre

    Passing Time by Ellie Garratt

    Passing Time by Ellie Garratt

    Book Blurb

    Nine dark fiction stories that may just give you nightmares.

    A man lives to regret Passing Time. A father will do anything to save his son in Expiration Date. An author finds out her worst nightmare is back in The Devil’s Song. A woman gets more than the claim fee when she takes out vampire insurance in Luna Black.In Dining in Hell, the Death Valley Diner becomes the wrong place to stop. A serial killer wants to add another file to his collection in The Vegas Screamer. In Eating Mr. Bone, an undertaker could meet an unfortunate end. A con man meets his first ghost in Land of the Free. And will truth finally be set free in The Letter?

    Taking Time by Ellie Garratt

    Taking Time by Ellie Garratt

    Book Links

    Amazon

    Amazon.co.uk

    Facebook

    Goodreads

    Catching Up With Fantasy Artist, David M. Rabbitte

    David Rabbitte at ComicCon

    David Rabbitte at ComicCon

    Back in January I interviewed fantasy artist David M Rabbitte, known for his Star Wars and Lord of the Rings art, as well as the magnificent background vistas seen in such animated films as Anastasia and Titan A.E.

    I caught up with David after his return from ComicCon 2013 in San Diego…

    Mark Knight: David, you attended ComicCon in San Diego recently. This has not been your first ComicCon. How many years have you been attending and what is your routine as a guest artist?

    David Rabbitte: I have been attending Comic Con since 1996 as an attendee and I have been set up in Artists’ Alley since 2008. I would typically have a table where I would sell my printed art and do on site commissions upon request from attendees.

    Mark Knight: Part of your display was the artwork you completed for my upcoming teen novel, Solomon Grimm and the Well of Souls. Talk about some of the other book cover commissions you have done and the challenges they presented.

    David Rabbitte: I have worked with both independent authors and established publishers. The art direction varies with each publisher. My first professionally published book was for Marvel/Byron Preiss Books around 2001, when I was asked to produce three covers for the X-Men novel trilogy X-Men: The Legacy Quest. They went through a series of changes as instructed by the art director and Marvel, which sometimes included reworking the layout before going to color.

    On another occasion I did a cover piece for Muppet Peter Pan published by Boom! Studios, for which the art direction was pretty straight forward with almost no changes. I sent them a few sketches as ideas for the cover, and the picked the one they liked. I went on to color and it was approved.

    With independent authors the cover is of characters and a story which is invented by them, so I would ask for any information that would help in bringing their ideas to life. Occasionally they would provide me some photo reference to help me visualize what they are trying to convey.

    David Rabbitte Star Wars Art

    David Rabbitte Star Wars Art

    Mark Knight: You have done sketch cards for both the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings franchises, which have proven very popular with collectors. Why do you think these two fantasies continue to endure?

    David Rabbitte: Lord of the Rings is just an amazing story populated with wonderful characters. Tolkien didn’t just write a story – he created the world of Middle Earth in such depth you can almost believe it actually existed.

    Star Wars is so unlike other science fiction films because it really isn’t sci-fi at all, it’s a fairy tale set in space. It is a story which contains those ideas which stand the test of time. Up until the release of the original film, we had not seen a movie of this genre done in such a unique way that was also believable.

    Mark Knight: Lastly, what is your current project?

    David Rabbitte: I just finished working on some sketch cards for Topps for their Star Wars Galactic Files series 2. Right now I am working on another exciting card set for a different company, but I can’t share anything about it yet – keep an eye out for news on my website though, as I will be posting more about that in the coming months!

    Solomon Grimm art at ComicCon 2013

    Solomon Grimm art at ComicCon 2013

    Teen Zombie Blues…

    We all know that zombie games and zombie movies are at the height of their popularity. Zombie novels? They are big too. I always wanted to write one, but I knew I had to do it differently.

    As well as the ‘Blood Family’ sequel, I am currently preparing my teen adventure novel, ‘Solomon Grimm and the Well of Souls‘ for publication.

    I wrote this supernatural tale in 2010, having been interested in exploring Irish folk tales and mythology, and setting a story in Galway, Ireland – a magical place where my parents now live and where my father was born.

    Popular author and mythologist Dr Bob Curran helped me research this book.

    The novel is intended for a slightly younger audience than Blood Family.

    Urban Dead

    Solomon is a 15-year-old British teen who gets himself cursed – and becomes undead. Now, he has to find a cure.

    Just as ‘Blood Family‘ was a new take on vampire lore, this is my own twist on zombie mythology. Plenty of magic, strange creatures, and rollicking adventure here… plus a trip to the Underworld.

    ‘Solomon Grimm and the Well of Souls’ is due for Amazon release end March 2014.

    Here for you is the textless cover artwork by noted fantasy artist David M. Rabbitte along with the back cover blurb, which should set the stage for you!

    I hope you will love this book – aimed at teens, but also meant for everyone
    ~ Mark Knight.

    Solomon Grimm supernatural novel

    Solomon Grimm by Mark Knight

    BLURB

    Solomon Grimm is a pretty average teen. He goes to school. He hangs out with friends. He plays guitar in a band. There’s a lot to look forward to—new friends, playing gigs around the country, and hopefully a special girl to become part of his life.

    All that is about to change.

    While on Easter vacation in Ireland, Solomon falls foul of a gypsy woman. He is cursed and joins the marbh bheo—the living dead. Never to breathe, or grow, or love, and now able to see every supernatural being once invisible to him, his fate is to wander the fog-shrouded hills of Shanvarra for eternity… never to return home.

    Solomon tracks down the woman who cursed him. She makes a deal with him. If he will bring her abducted daughter, Tara Danan, back to her, she will reverse the spell and restore Solomon to his old self. Solomon now has a terrifying task ahead of him. For Tara has been taken to the Underworld, a place reachable only through the forbidden Well of Souls.

    Along with his new friend, the incurably curious Mungo, Solomon must brave the darkening depths of this hidden world, where the slavering, flesh-eating Savage Dead search endlessly for a way to the surface. If Solomon’s bravery—as well as a whole host of undead powers—holds out, he might just find Tara Danan before becoming trapped in the Underworld forever…

    SOLOMON GRIMM AND THE WELL OF SOULS by MARK KNIGHT

    FIRST 8 CHAPTERS AVAILABLE TO READ FOR FREE NOW ON WATTPAD!