Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Eldritch: Halloween 022

Okay, so last week, I discussed the somewhat un-academic initial idea behind the Eldritch world’s vamp-ghouls.  But, as with all ideas, good or bad, after the initial spark, the next thing to do is research.  Which, thankfully, isn’t all that hard for me, since ghouls tend to overlap both vampire and werewolf mythos in history and folklore.  And you all know I love to research monsters, especially werewolves.

I suppose the place to start is with the word “Ghoul.”  The word itself is derived from the Arabic “Ghul,” (masculine) and “Ghula” (Feminine), though, ghoulish entities can be found in folklore and myths pretty much worldwide.  General consensus states that ghouls are the undead, and eke out a nocturnal existence sustained by eating the flesh of corpses.  However, not all myths follow that stereotype.  Some sources say that ghouls will eat the flesh of the living and the dead (I presume they, well, kill their food before eating it, after all).  In fact, one Arabic myth has a ghoul who is ‘drop-dead’ gorgeous... 

According to the tale, a merchant’s son snubbed the ugly daughter of another merchant to marry a beautiful sage’s daughter.  However, he soon found that his new bride would refuse to eat… and spied on her as she left their bed at night, and along with several other ghouls, would go to the cemetery and devour the dead.  He confronted her about her unseemly dining habits the next day (I mean really, he had to kiss that mouth), and she retaliated that evening by going for his throat, trying to open a vein and get his blood. (Vampire, anyone?)  The man killed her in self-defense, but three days later, she returned from the grave and tried to kill him again.  The man had to resort of taking her corpse from her tomb the next day, burning the body, and scattering the ashes in the Tigris river, destroying her forever.

Well.  No wonder evil spirits and such dislike running water, and some sources say that ghouls are spirits inhabiting the body of the living or dead.  A symbol of life, many spirits cannot pass running water… remember <I>A Legend of Sleepy Hollow?</I>  It likely wasn’t the bridge that deterred the headless horseman, but the running water underneath it.  And in some European folklore, vampires, if lured into running water, will drown.  Curiously, water is also used in werewolf cures, some of these cures being as simple as bathing in running water, or even rolling in dewy grass!

Which brings us to werewolves’ connections to ghouls.  One of the more popularized stories involving lycanthropy and ghoulish behavior is that of Sgt. Bertrand.  Way back in 1847, this man would prowl French graveyards and eat freshly buried corpses.  Those who saw him in these ghoulish fits would describe him as part human, part animal.  To the common eye, it appeared as if an animal had dug up the dead.  However, the bites on the corpses appeared human.  Eventually, Bertrand was caught, and he claimed that he was a werewolf, who underwent a metamorphosis while sleeping and then went to consume the dead.  Better than eating the living, I suppose.

Curiously enough, the idea of a corpse-eating werewolf is strikingly similar to the lupins/lubins of Normandy.  Not only are they the subjects in one of my all-time favorite werewolf pieces: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-KlhGXXWp7Sg/ThJmt5Lly2I/AAAAAAAAD4s/LOP1hCuZtSE/s1600/LesLupinsMauriceSand.jpg (I made so many transcriptions of this when I was younger) but they were known for hanging out outside graveyards, talking to one another in an unknown tongue and howling at the moon.  And what did they eat?  Corpses. 

Today, Zombies, which as Seamus stated back in Layline, differ greatly from the original ones, who were created by voudun practitioners.  Depending on what you read, the drug cocktail administered by the voudun practitioner would cause a deathlike state, from which the victim would later recover from, making it appear as though the practitioner could control corpses.  Of course, this has lead to some exploitation…  read more here: http://io9.com/5875109/read-a-real+life-medical-report-on-three-cases-of-haitian-zombies  Other sources say that zombies are true corpses that have been reanimated. However, modern zombies have basically taken the same general niche that the ghoul had in the past.

However… Ghoul is, in some cases, simply a synonym for a monster… such as the owl-faced “ghouls” of Garden State Parkway, or the long-tailed, mine-dwelling “ghoul” of Great Falls.

Who knows what they may become or be replaced by in the future?

You know the drill.  Read these books:

Monster! The A-Z of Zooform Phenomena – Neil Arnold
Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts from the Darkside – Brad Steiger
The Werewolf in Lore and Legend --Montague Summers
The Werewolf Book --Brad Steiger
The Complete Book of Werewolves --Leonard Ashley
Werewolves (Around the world) --Elliot O’Donnell
The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters --Rosemary Guiley


  1. Love ure realistic/wolfy werwolfs! dont like those who are drawn or designed like bloody beasts. pls go on with ure pretty work.
    sry for my english(im from germany)but im thinking u understand what i mean ;)

    1. Thank you so much! And actually, it's interesting to hear that you're from Germany! (You guys have such neat werewolf mythos out there.) I kind of expected that internet abbreviations such as 'pls' and 'sry' would be less common amongst those who had to learn English as a second language... I guess I learn something new every day! <:D

    2. yes you never stop learning^^. but what do you mean with "such neat werewolf mythos"? i know what "neat" means but i dont understand the context.

    3. by the way...it`s 10:30 PM out here