Nalusa Falaya, that I shared on my last post.
In today's tour, I'll take you from the fields of war in Celtic Ireland, to death-infested villages in Germany, passing through a blood-soaked afterlife in Pharaonic Egypt. Don't bring a map. We'll leave the tourist attractions far behind, but don't forget your lamp. Where we'll go, there's only dark.
In Celtic mythology, Badb is one of the goddesses that form the triple goddess Morrigan. She's a War Goddess associated with death, destruction, and battle. In her human form, she's described as a pale woman with a blood-soaked mouth. Some believe she's a predecessor of the well-known Banshee, as there are accounts of her shrieking while washing the bloodied clothes of soldiers who'd perish in the upcoming battle. In her animal forms, she makes herself a force to be reckoned in the field of battle. As a hooded crow, she flies over the carnage, yelling curses and confusing her enemies. As a wolf, she runs among those fighting. She's also known for using the mouths of fallen corpses to communicate with the living.
Her name means "The One Who Boils" and she presides over the Otherworld Cauldron of Death and Rebirth. In Celtic lore, Badb will be the one to bring the end of earthly time by letting her cauldron boil over and engulf the planet in a wasteland. There's a nightmarish image for you.
He's the Egyptian god of the winepress. Did I say god? Well, technically he is. But you know Egyptian gods, all complex and sometimes borderline bipolar. I guess more modern minds would call him more like a demon-god. Allow me... Some texts of the period describe him as a friend of the righteous dead, offering them wine to ease their journey to the Netherworld. Then, things take a turn for the grisly as Shesmu is also known as the Headsman of Osiris, Slaughterer of Souls, or simply Lord of the Blood (for his friends, maybe?). In this, his most charming side, he's depicted tossing the heads of enemies (his or the pharaoh's) into his wine press to extract the blood as if they were grapes. In the Cannibal Hymns (yes, there's such a thing) this is how Shesmu helps Unas gain power:
"[...] Behold, Shesmu has cut them up for Unas, he has boiled pieces of them in his blazing cauldrons. Unas has eaten their words of power, he has eaten their spirits."
Originally from German mythology, the Nachzehrer or Shroud Chewer is something in between a vampire and a ghoul. It all begins when a person commits suicide, dies a violent accidental death (specially drowning), or dies during times of plague. If you can hear the loud, constant noise of chewing coming from his grave, it is time for you to change countries, as this is a dead-giveaway of a Nachzehrer and the presage of an oncoming pestilence.
At first, the Nachzehrer is too weak to come out of his coffin, so he eats his mortuary shroud and then his own flesh. With every nib, he robs the life-force out of those closest to him. When he's done and stronger, he proceeds to ingest the human remains of those unlucky enough to be interred close by, thus absorbing their relatives life-force. Now, strong and able to move in the world of the living, he takes the form of a pig that drinks blood, and directs himself to the local church where he climbs the belfry or bell tower and rings the bells. Anyone who hears these bells is doomed to die soon after.
So, how to prevent anyone from becoming a Shroud Chewer? Lodge a rock or a coin in the throat of the deceased to prevent it from feeding. Or you can drive a knife through his mouth. Then, there are those who rather just cut the head off the corpse and be done with it.
So, for a chance to win a copy of the critically acclaimed new magazine Jamais Vu: Journal of Strange Among the Familiar, tell me which of these creatures do you think is more dangerous and why? And don't forget to visit more of the participating blogs to increase your loot!
Enjoy the coffin hopin' and be mindful of the sleeping skeletons.