Romania is of course, the traditional home of the vampire, because it incorporates the province of Transylvania, where the most famous of
all vampire tales, “Dracula”, is set. In this land of ruined castles and dark forests filled
with wolves and all manner of horrors, stories of vampire creatures pre-date Brahm Stoker’s novel
by several hundred years. As in many other cultures, the notion of the returning dead in
Romanian folklore is a strong one. Those who have lived dark lives or committed sins like witchcraft, where
not admitted to paradise, but were condemned to wonder the world forever. And during their lifetimes they
might also be cursed. For example; those who secretly practiced the “dark arts” might be subject
to unnatural lusts and desires. This may include a lust for blood, usually animal blood.
These are called “Moroii” or “Moroaica”, witches and warlocks of rural Romania, who often subsist upon blood.
Female Moroii, are extremely red faced and have full
red lips. It is widely believed that the Moroii can assume any animal shape they chose. A
bird or a moth being the most common. This way they could travel about the countryside doing harm to their
neighbors. They also had the power to send their spirits out invisibly as their bodies slept, in order
to create mischief and disasters in the area, to spread disease, and to attack people as they slept. However,
they were themselves able to become sick and they could be killed, though to do so ran the risk of turning them into something
Because they were living and for all intents and purposes human,
such Moroii could die from natural causes or be killed. This would turn them into the “Strigoii”,
an even worse and more deadly creature. Stigoii were the “walking dead”, physical
corpses that knew no rest and were motivated solely by evil. All humanity has left them and they were now
the enemies of mankind. The name has its origins in the ancient Roman “Strges”
or witches. These were individuals usually living, who went about at night in the form of birds, sometimes
half-human, half bird, spreading filth and disease among the community. They were also credited with having
evil supernatural powers, which they used against Roman society. This translated into the walking dead
It is gonna happen, when a moroii died he would become a “Stigoii”. But sometimes a
deceased corpse could become one on its own rite! The corpse might become Strigoii and could return to
haunt the living if a shadow fell across an open coffin, if a bird or animal passed over the body, it wasn’t
buried properly, if it was a suicide, and if a creature walked over the grave.
The Strugoii might drink blood, but more often they ate normal food. However rather than drinking either blood or vital fluids, they could draw the energy
from a person by a kind of osmosis, leaving them weak sickly and helpless. Besides attacking people, the
strugoii spread disease from house to house, leaving death and destruction in its path. They also had the
ability, usually invisibly to engage in “poltergeist” like activities, pulling crockery from dressers or making
coals jump out of the fire. Only as a last resort did they drink blood, and then only form their families
or people they knew. They moved slowly, as if they were sleepwalkers and tho their
right eye was closed, their left was always open and was blood-red in color. They often grew redish hair
and while in the grave, their bodies remained uncorrupted and their hair and nails continued to grow. At
times the creature may well have become bloated and swollen with blood.
Protection against the Strugoii There
are ways of locating the grave of a “Strigoii”. In the rural countryside, such graves were
said to be marked by a blue flame, like that of a candle which burned a little way above the ground, under which the strigoii
lay. These burned quite brightly at night and could be seen from a distance. It was
further believed that in order to breath in the grave the vampires made small holes to the surface. If
small holes were found on a grave, that person was a Stigoii. The body would then be exhumed and inspected
by a local priest. If it was found to be uncorrupted or bloated in any way, it was taken that it was a
vampire. The priest would then say a prayer over it, the heart was cut out and burned. In
some cases, the head might also be cut off using the blade of a grave-diggers shovel, and the mouth filled with hebs, tho
no garlic is mentioned! Romanian Strigoii could be affected by stron sunlight, especially
the first rays of the morning. To avoid this, the creature had to be back in his grave by sunrise.
This is a key element in Brahm Stokers “Dracula” and came from the legend of the strigoii. It was widely believed throughout eastern Europe that the strigoii were particularly obsessive entities.
In certain localities, plans were devised to keep the creature occupied and away from potential victims until the sun
rose and they had to return to the tomb. Poppy seeds were scattered around the grave of a suspected vampire,
the notion being that as it emerged it would notice the seeds and attempt to gather them up. This would
keep it busy throughout the night. Something similar may have been used to tie up the Irish vampire “Abaratach”
by scattering thorns all around the grave site. Wine was also said to drive away the undead. Potential
victims were told to drink as much wine as possible, in case they should be attacked. Wine, especially
cheap wine, tainted the blood and made it unpalatable to the stigoii. Even the smallest amount, a glass
would work. Onions too, rsw or fired, would also drive them away. Certain herbs
could also be used but there is no mention of garlic!