Storytelling Matters

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Archive for the tag “revenant”

Daily Ghost Post – T is for Types of Ghosts

Here is a short and handy definition guide to help you keep ghosts and ghouls straight…you never know when you will need to be able to distinguish a phantom from a zombie.

This is not meant to be a fancy, formal, encyclopedic presentation of a detailed, research project with footnotes, pages of references, and experimental variables. It represents bits of knowledge gleaned over the course of my preparation for this blog series.

Apparition – this is an image of a ghost – it shows up and then goes away.
Elemental – these guys are nature spirits, like fairies. Technically, elementals are not in the same category of supernatural beings as ghosts are. But because some nature spirits are the spirits of dead people – like the Filipino Engkanto – I included them here.
Ghost – soul of a deceased person that returns from the dead.
Ghoul – demonic sort who eats flesh. Western definitions of the ghoul gave it the penchant for grave-robbing.
Jinni (or djinni)– supernatural spirit that exists in our world and beyond. It is not a the spirit of a departed human and can be evil, neutral, or benevolent. “Djinn beings between angels and man. As powerful as an angel with the free will of a human.” That came from a blogger commenter: http://djinniaandtheenglishlanguage.blogspot.com/
Monster – creature that doesn’t fit neatly into any ghost category (like Nessy, werewolves, or yetis).
Phantom – ghost who lurks on lonely roads or secluded hikes.
Poltergeist – a house ghost that throws things, makes noise and mischief. One might say it is kind of like an invisible estranged spouse.
Revenant – ghostly spirit in the early days of death.
Spectre – synonym for ghost.
Spirit – the inner being of a living or supernatural entity.
Supernatural being – non-human being who dwells anywhere. A dead human being who returns to the living world is also a supernatural critter. Ghosts are but one type of supernatural entity.
Vampire – a dead person who returns to feast on the blood or body parts of the living.
Wraith – a ghostly image of someone, right before or right after they die.
Zombie – a reanimated corpse with a little help from its friends (or enemies). The traditional zombie is of Haitian origins and is under the control or spell of a sorcerer.

Who did I forget? What needs to be added to the definitions? Let’s wiki this one up!

– Jeri
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Copyright 2015 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

PHOTO CREDIT: By Kunstkai / CC BY 3.0 / Wikimedia Commons

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Daily Ghost Post – N is for Nachzehrer

The more I read about ghosts, the more I understand the human fascination with them. Their diversity rivals the botanical richness of a rain forest.

Over the course of this Ghost Post series, I have touched on dark ghosts, sad ghosts, mischievous ghosts, even a desirable ghost. But today is a day for a nasty one – so N is for the Nasty Nachzehrer. This ghost takes the familiarity of family and friends a bit too far.

Normal ghosts are supposed to wander the world wreaking havoc. We expect to see them, hear them, or smell them. Sometimes we get to witness them in ghostly action.

That’s why I was surprised to learn about a ghost that can cause dire trouble without ever leaving the grave. Magical power must be its middle name because it causes serious trouble from six feet under.

Let’s pretend. Say you lived in Germany during the time of a plague, and you lost an uncle. You would be sad. You would be even sadder when his wife, your aunt, passed away soon afterward.

People would crowd around you, offering love and wishes. Tearfully you would say to them, “My aunt wasted away without my uncle.”

Well that would be wishful thinking.

According to German folklore, it is likely that your aunt did not waste away from grief. Your aunt was probably devoured by your uncle.

But to get to his wife, your dead uncle didn’t have to move heaven and earth (well earth). All he had to do was move his mouth and chew.

This ghostly character is called the Nachzehrer. According vampire expert J. Gordon Melton, his name means “he who devours after death” and he is one stubborn ghost. Actually a revenant (a recently dead spirit who stoutly refuses to leave its corpse), the Nachzehrer doesn’t bother leaving the coffin. With one eye open in the grave, he chews on his burial clothes.

As he nibbles, people at home get sick.

While he winks that ghastly wink, the Nachzehrer chomps his fingers, bites his palms, swallows his arms, and munches his toes.

And his relatives waste away.

Like a puppeteer from the dark side, the Nachzehrer is one powerful vampire. His unseen teeth chew on his flesh until his relatives’ flesh is incapable of supporting life. If you ask me, destroying oneself to destroy other family members sounds like family dysfunction at its most profound.

Some say that the Nachzehrer is a child born with a caul over its head (the caul is the amniotic sack). Others say that those who die by their own hands can become Nachzehrers too. But plagues are really the Nachzehrer’s plague-ground. Just about any health epidemic can spawn a Nachzehrer- the very first person to die from the illness becomes a Nachzehrer. It’s that simple.

So the next time you pass the cemetery down the street, take a good look around. Somewhere, under the innocent turf and hulking headstones, a Nachzehrer may quietly nibble its rotting flesh as it murders its family and neighbors.

And that, my friends, is multi-tasking at its most sinister.

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Copyright 2015 The Storycrafters. All rights reserved.

SOURCES:
Bunson, Matthew (1993). The Vampire Encyclopedia. New York: Gramercy Books
Melton, J. Gordon (2011). The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead, 3rd Edition. Detroit, MI: Visible Ink Press, p. 283.
Wikipedia – Nachzehrer

PHOTO CREDIT: By Johnson, Helen Kendrik (Ed.) (?) / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

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