Greek Vampire Legend of The Vrykolakas
All over the world the idea of the "undead" has permeated our fears and our dreams for centuries, maybe even for thousands of years. We see them in movies, on TV, even read about them in young adult fictional novels like Twilight and The Mortal Instruments. We dress our children up as vampires for Halloween. Vampires are everywhere. They are a part of pop culture, but where did they originate? Were they made up in recent times to delight our fantastical imaginations or do they come from the pages of history in a more sinister fashion?
When we begin to dig into the history of vampires, we hear tales mostly from Romania and other places in Eastern Europe but not usually from Greece; however, in this article we are going to take a look at one of the most frightening and elusive of Greece's "undead" creatures - the vrykolakas.
The Greek Vrykolakas
Quite the opposite of the picture shown here, the vrykolakas has been said to be a very ugly vampire. He gives off an appearance that the blood has been fully drained from his body, leaving a shriveled up shell of a dead man. The vrykolakas is prevalent in Greek folklore and has been for centuries and is still somewhat prevalent today.
Recently I read a detailed story told by the Occult author Konstantinos in his book Vampires: The Occult Truth about a terrifying experience that one particular town in Greece had with a vrykolakas. Apparently this occurrence was no earlier than the 1950s. A woman had a husband whom she loved very much. They had no children, however. The man became depressed after losing his job and began to go out all night, not returning home until morning. Of course this left his lonely wife afraid and worried. Night after night this happened, when finally the wife realized that he had been drinking heavily and was an alcoholic by this point.
Someone decided to follow the man on one of his nightly outings and went to a particular spot that the man liked to drink..under a tree. There under the tree...the man was hanging. Dead. The wife was devastated for days. Something happened when people began to notice that the wife wasn't acting normally. She was staying indoors 24-7 and not answering her door to visitors. She also looked very tired and sickly. Apparently she finally admitted to the town's religious official that her husband was haunting her...even though he'd been dead for weeks.
He had come the very next night after his death and knocked on the door. He begged her to let him in and said something about needing his shoes. She was terrified but did as her dead husband asked. After that first visit, the visits continued and it only escalated from there. Eventually she told local clergymen that she had "lain" with her husband every night for a couple months straight. Whether the vrykolakas actually fed on blood is unknown or at least untold, but one can assume that because the wife was so sickly that it is possible the vrykolakas fed on either her blood or her energy.
The religious officials were concerned for the town's safety and decided that they were going to destroy the vrykolakas. It was believed in Greece that because the man committed suicide and was buried on unconsecrated ground, this is why an evil spirit was allowed to enter his body and become the vrykolakas.
After the townsfolk found the man's undead body (shriveled and disheveled), they drove a stake through its heart during which they all said they heard a strange moaning noise escape his body. There was also accounts of the body turning to dust. Now that the vrykolakas was dead, they had another problem on their hands...the vrykolakas' pregnant widowed wife. The story ends there, unfortunately.
Many similar stories of the vrykolakas permeate the folklore told by Greece's elders. Is the vrykolakas a brother or cousin to the Romanian vampires or something totally different? Are they simply creatures that are controlled by demons or something else entirely?
© 2012 Nicole Canfield