Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Gaki

The Gaki is a type of corporeal ghost hailing from Japan, where such spirits are known as yurei. The word gaki itself means "hungry ghost." The Gaki comes into being when a person who was very greedy in life dies or a man who led a sinful life but failed to repent before he passed away. However, the spirit is forced to return to the earthly plane instead of moving on to Heaven or Hell. On the material plane, the Gaki wanders about for eternity, cursed with a hunger for blood that can never be sated.

According to legend, the Gaki is described as having pale skin that is cold to the touch, hollow features, and most significantly, a huge, distended stomach and a narrow neck. In short, the creature bears a striking resemblance to a victim of starvation. This ghost is said to be a shapeshifter, and when attacking, the Gaki takes a humanoid form with red skin, small horns on top of its head, and a long white beard. It also wields a wooden pike as a weapon while in this form.

It should be noted that there are several different species of Gaki, and each one has specific dietary needs. The most dangerous Gaki species feeds only on the flesh, blood, and souls of living humans. Another is said to consume a person's thoughts while they meditate, resulting in the person being irritable and lacking a sense of inner calmness. Others eat samurai topknots, tea, paper, tattoos, sweat, and incense.
Where do the Gaki come from? When a person dies, according to Japanese beliefs, he is reborn or reincarnated as a different creature on another world. There are six courses of rebirth: 1) the person is reborn as a man or a woman in this world, 2) they are reborn as an animal on Earth, 3) the person ascends to Heaven (Gokuraku), 4) they descend to Hell (Jigoku), 5) reincarnated as a shura (short for Ashura, the lowest order of deities and demigods) and suffer through endless battles, and finally 6) they face rebirth as a Gaki in the desolate world of Gakido. In this world, they suffer from unending hunger and agonizing thirst. The Gaki will try to devour everything that they possibly can, including their own children. This is the punishment which will befall all those who have wasted precious food.
The Gaki is as intelligent as it was in life, and the monster revels in the darkness in which it dwells, and uses the blackness of night to aid in its hunt. This hungry ghost lures its prey in by emitting lonely wails, sounding eerily like an injured child or someone who has become hopelessly lost. Those who intend to help eventually find themselves face to face with an undead monstrosity with wickedly sharp teeth and a hunger born out of the very pits of Hell. Once the Gaki has a hold on its prey, it rips and tears at the victim's flesh. It enjoys this act so much that the revenant will even risk harm to itself. Once the victim is dead, the Gaki feasts on the body, savoring every shred of meat and every last drop of blood. But once the creature has finished feeding, the curse immediately comes to bear: the Gaki finds that it is starving to death once again. No matter how many people this ghoul kills, it will always be in agony from hunger and thirst.

In other tales (in which the creature only hungers for fresh blood), it is said that the Gaki's throat is nearly closed from sheer thirst. As such, the monster is only able to swallow a few drops of blood at a time and thus cannot consume enough to keep it's hunger assuaged. In some similar stories, the Gaki craves ordinary food instead of human flesh and blood. However, even if the monster is surrounded by food, the food turns into blood or hot coals as soon as it touches the Gaki's lips. Because of this, it kills out of anger and sheer frustration in such stories.

Due perhaps to its supernatural nature, the Gaki has unnatural strength and is a very persistent foe. The monster has the ability to shapeshift, often taking the form of a mist, various animals, and even impersonating living people. But while in the latter form, the Gaki's true nature can be discovered with a single touch: the creature's skin is cold and bloodless. But while it is in the form of a mist, the monster cannot be hurt except by weapons forged especially for inflicting harm on ghosts. It is believed that the ghost doesn't have to physically manifest itself to feed, as it is thought that merely being near the creature can drain one's blood away.

Even though it is difficult to even harm the creature, the Gaki does have a handful of vulnerabilities. When it attacks, the ghost goes into a kind of maddened frenzy, during which it fixates on its prey and moves about in a seemingly random manner. While in this state, the Gaki leaves itself open to attacks. It also talks to itself incomprehensibly, which can prove to be distracting to the hunter. But because of the difficulty in destroying this creature, it is perhaps best to drive it off. Rituals and prayers performed Shinto priests or Buddhist monks may accomplish this. Stamping scrolls with the Buddha's image and placing them around one's home will prevent the Gaki from entering. One may prevent an attack by following the example of zen monasteries: making a small offering of food to the ghost before eating one's own meal.

As for actually destroying the Gaki? Some sources say that it is possible to do so, but it is not an easy task. As mentioned earlier, a weapon made especially for harming ghosts (perhaps a sword or some kind of edged weapon) may be used against the monster. However, this must be done while the Gaki is in a state of physical manifestation, as it cannot be completely destroyed while in it's incorporeal state. And again, as mentioned previously, it may be attacked while in a frenzied condition. While it will be difficult to strike the Gaki and defend oneself from the monster's own attacks, the Gaki will make no attempt to defend itself. Once the creature has been dealt with, the body must be burned to ashes and scattered to the four winds.

Sightings or reports of the Gaki are something of a rarity today, possibly due to modern burial practices (like cremation) and traditional Japanese funerary rituals. However, that doesn't mean that these hungry ghosts aren't still out there in the darkness, waiting for it's next meal...


Bane, Theresa. Actual Factual Dracula: A Compendium of Vampires. Randleman, NC: NeDeo Press. Copyright ©2007 by Theresa Bane.

Maberry, Jonathan. The Vampire Slayers’ Field Guide to the Undead. Doylestown, Pennsylvania: Strider Nolan Publishing. Copyright ©2003 by Jonathan Maberry.

Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp. Copyright ©2006 by Jonathan Maberry.


Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Varcolac

Among the Vampire species (Genus Vampyrus), there exists a terrible force of evil that is feared by all. While many Vampires in world folklore have unnatural strength and supernatural powers, one creature stands above most of them: the Romanian Varcolac. Also known as Varcolaci (the plural form) or Vircolac, this wolf-demon appears in the folklore and tales of Transylvania as well as Romania. The Varcolac is a type of revenant (some say that it is a Werewolf, a ghost, or some manner of wolf-demon) that comes into existence when a baby dies without having been baptized previously. A person who commits the sin of suicide is very likely to arise from the grave as this type of Vampire. This condition can also be hereditary (much like lycanthropy), being passed down in a family from one person to another (from generation to generation). The child of unmarried parents, being "cursed" by God Almighty, may also become a Varcolac upon his or her death. Sweeping dust out of the house in the direction of the sun at sunset may cause this creature to arise. More bizarrely, it may also rise up when one is making maize porridge if one makes the mistake of putting the stick used to stir the porridge in the fire. Whether one or the other, the Varcolac is an extremely powerful monster that takes delight in the kill and drinking fresh human blood.

By day, the Varcolac appears to be human and behaves as an ordinary person would. In human form, the creature has pale, dry skin, dark hair, and fierce, deep-set eyes (whether these eyes are any specific color or have a tendency to glow in the dark is unknown). Like most vampires, the Varcolac is a nocturnal hunter and generally feeds by night. However, the creature chooses to hunt in its astral form, which is invisible to the human eyes. In this form, the Vampire prefers to use deception and speed to a reckless attack with its formidable strength. Traveling in its astral body (which, when actually seen, is described as resembling a dragon or a monster with many mouths), the Varcolac can move as fast as the wind along unseen astral threads (which is known as "midnight spinning," where a woman spins threads without a candle and sometimes cast spells as they weave) and it is said that the creature is so powerful that it can force the sun and the moon out of alignment, causing an eclipse (either of a lunar or solar nature). As long as those threads remain unbroken, the creature’s power persists and it may travel anywhere it wishes to. However, causing a solar or lunar eclipse would involve forcefully realigning the planets as well as the sun and the moon. If such folklore is to be truly believed, it would suggest that the Varcolac is a monster of truly immense power. However, since none but God Himself is able to do such a thing, one can easily put that into the tall tales category. According to legend, the Varcolac does this in order to feed on the moon's blood or to eat the moon itself. According to tradition, during an eclipse the people will beat on shovels and other tools, fire off guns, and ring church bells to scare the Varcolac away. Usually, the moon defeats the creature with its superior strength. If the moon were to truly be eaten, the world would come to an end. One folk belief holds that God orders the Varcolac to consume the moon, so that His people will repent of their sins.

What makes the Varcolac so dangerous? The Varcolac is said to possess an amazing degree of strength (some sources say that the creature is stronger than any other Vampire species), and is reportedly able to bash its way through stone walls with its fists. It is able to hurl the mutilated and broken bodies of its hapless victims into the highest tree branches (where they are very unlikely to be found). As well as having supernatural strength, the Varcolac is a powerful shapeshifter that can assume any form it desires. The creature is actually said to change its mass as well as its physical form. It may take the form of a small and black, winged ghost, a demon with the legs of a goat and cloven hooves, a small dragon, a dog (it always appears as two dogs), a flea, a cat, a frog, or a spider. The Varcolac is not, however, limited to these forms. The creature may take any form that it desires, possibly including the form of other people. Using its ability to shapeshift, the Varcolac is able to lure unsuspecting humans close enough to make its savage attack. Once it strikes, the Vampire completely drains its unfortunate prey of their blood.

For all of its power, the Varcolac does have a handful of weaknesses. If the creature is a living human, it suffers similar vulnerabilities. If the creature's mortal body is moved while they are in the process of astral projection, the astral body will be unable to find its way back to the world of the living and its body. The Varcolac's human body will either sleep forever or die. To prevent a corpse from becoming a Varcolac in the first place, the corpse should be thrown into running water.

Like all Vampires, the Varcolac has one fatal weakness: garlic. While something so simple may seem laughable, the very presence of this plant (whether the bulb or the flower) weakens the demon considerably. It is supposedly able to force the creature to become flesh and blood again, at which point the creature can be killed like any other physical being. However, people usually resort to the tried-and-true methods of staking, beheading, and burning the creature until naught but ash and charred bones remain.

Despite the fact that the Varcolac is usually a revenant (the returned dead), there are some ways to destroy the creature. However, it is all highly ritualized and fairly complex. One is to wait until the Vampire rises from its grave (although how one is supposed to subdue a creature with superhuman strength, even with a group of strong men, is beyond speculation). The heart should be excised and cut in two. A nail is then driven through the Varcolac's forehead, and an entire garlic bulb is placed in the mouth (quicklime may be used if garlic is unavailable). The body is then smeared with the fat of a pig killed on Saint Ignatius Day (July 31st). Next, sprinkle the Varcolac's burial shroud with holy water. Finally, the monster's body should be taken to a secluded place deep in the mountains and left there. Alternatively, if the creature was a woman, iron forks should be driven the corpse's eyes and heart. The body is then buried in a very, very deep grave, face down.

Because the Varcolac is so powerful, there is always a chance that the monster will return. To prevent this from happening, a thorny bush (like hawthorn or the rose bush) should be placed on top of the body, covered by the creature's burial shroud. Those who have committed suicide should be immersed entirely in fresh running water as soon as possible after death.


Bane, Theresa. Actual Factual Dracula: A Compendium of Vampires. Randleman, NC: NeDeo Press. Copyright ©2007 by Theresa Bane.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Vampires & Werewolves (Second Edition). New York: Checkmark Books. Copyright ©2011, 2005 by Visionary Living, Inc.

Maberry, Jonathan. The Vampire Slayers’ Field Guide to the Undead. Doylestown, Pennsylvania: Strider Nolan Publishing. Copyright ©2003 by Jonathan Maberry.

Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe. New York: Kensington Publishing Corp. Copyright ©2006 by Jonathan Maberry.

Varcolac (Monstropedia)

Saturday, January 5, 2013

The Yara-Ma-Yha-Who

Among the Aborigines of Australia are tales of many strange and dangerous creatures. Australia has always been home to strange creatures, such as the platypus, the kangaroo, the cassowary, and many others. But perhaps the strangest of all is the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who, a short, red-skinned demon with a vampirelike thirst for human blood. It is described as being a small red man, approximately four feet in height, with very large head and an enormous, gaping mouth (which is toothless). The creature appears to be bipedal (although crawling about on all fours like a lizard is not unheard of), but the monster’s toes and fingers are tipped with toothed suckers (like those of an octopus or a squid), which it may use for clinging onto trees or for holding onto its victims. However, the primary purpose of these suckers is to drain the blood of the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who’s unfortunate victim.

This monster dwells in large, leafy trees, particularly fig trees (although some sources say that the creature lives in caves near a water source). But unlike other monsters, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who does not actively hunt for its prey. Instead, it waits for food to come to it. When a weary traveler pauses to rest under its tree, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who makes its move. It drops itself on its victim, surprising them and ensuring that the struggle is brief. While the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who may be diminutive, the creature possesses supernatural strength that makes tackling fully-grown men easy. Using the toothed suckers on its fingers and toes, the monster then proceeds to drain the victim’s blood. Like the Vampire of Central and Eastern Europe, the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who rarely kills its victim outright. It leaves just enough blood in the victim that they are still alive, but too weak to make an escape. The creature then goes off on a walk in an effort to burn off some of the blood it has consumed (like people may do after a large meal) in order to regain its appetite. Eventually, the creature returns to its victim.
Once the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who has returned, it lies down on the ground while facing the victim. It then proceeds to crawl over to its prey in the manner of a lizard, and swallows the victim whole. The creature then stands up and dances about, attempting to move the still-living body of its victim down into its stomach. After some time has passed, the monster drinks some water and vomits the unfortunate person back up. The victim, however, is still completely intact and alive However, because the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who only hunts during the day, the creature must seek a bush in which to sleep for the night. The victim, if they’re still alive, can then try to escape. Even if the monster awakens and goes after them, the creature’s prey still has a good chance of getting away, as the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who has a slow, wobbling gait on the ground. But if the unlucky human doesn’t escape, he is swallowed whole a second time. Then, once again, the creature throws the victim up. However, the victim is now shorter than before and has a reddish tinge to his skin. If the victim is still unable to escape, he is swallowed and regurgitated a third time. Now, he is not only almost the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who’s height, but his skin is smooth and hairless as well (conversely, in some stories it is noted that the victim’s body grows an excessive amount of hair during its transformation). If this disgusting process is repeated enough times, the victim himself will eventually become a Yara-Ma-Yha-Who.
In other stories, it is said that the monster only swallows its victim twice. It will, however, return to savor that particular victim’s taste again and again until they become a monster themselves. It is said that if the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who fails to release its prey, the spirit of the fig tree it hides in will enter the creature’s body through an ear, and the spirit makes a sound so loud that it causes the monster’s own spirit to flee its body, which is transformed into a form of tree fungus. Other than that, there seems to be no way to kill the Yara-Ma-Yha-Who. Within the Aboriginal tribes, children are told by their parents that if they are ever attacked by the creature, they should not struggle or offer any resistance. This way, their chances of surviving the encounter are much greater.

Bane, Theresa. Actual Factual Dracula: A Compendium of Vampires. Randleman, NC: NeDeo Press. Copyright ©2007 by Theresa Bane.

Maberry, Jonathan. The Vampire Slayers’ Field Guide to the Undead. Doylestown, Pennsylvania: Strider Nolan Publishing. Copyright ©2003 by Jonathan Maberry.

Yara-Ma-Yha-Who (Monstropedia)

Friday, January 4, 2013

Recent Amazon Purchases

For Christmas, I received over $225 worth of Amazon giftcards (well, I used cash that I had received to get another $30 set of giftcards). With it, I bought a total of seventeen books. Most of them have came, but four that I ordered were used or out of print. Two of those I won't get until the end of January to the middle of February, and I should have the other two within a couple of weeks (I hope). Here is a list of what I ordered, starting with what I've received thus far.

Haunted Indiana: Ghosts and Strange Phenomena of the Hoosier State (James A. Willis)
Monster Diary: On the Road in Search of Strange and Sinister Creatures (Nick Redfern)
Wildman! The Monstrous and Mysterious Saga of the "British Bigfoot" (Nick Redfern)
The Beginner's Guide to the Long Sword: European Martial Arts Weaponry Techniques (Steaphen Fick)
Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England's Vampires (Second Edition, Michael E. Bell)
Mexican Bestiary: Bestiario Mexicano (David Bowles and Noe Vela)
Shock! The Black Dog of Bungay (David Waldron and Christopher Reeve)
The Banshee (Elliot O'Donnell)
Spirits, Fairies, Leprechauns, and Goblins: An Encyclopedia (Carol Rose)
The Haunting of America: Ghosts & Legends of America's Haunted Past (Troy Taylor)
Not of This World: Creatures of the Supernatural in Scotland (Maurice Fleming)
Ghosts: An Exploration of the Spirit World, from Apparitions to Haunted Places (Paul Roland)
Medieval Swordsmanship: Illustrated Methods and Techniques (John Clements)

And here are the items that are on their way, but I haven't received yet.

The Element Encyclopedia of Vampires: An A-Z of the Undead (Theresa Cheung)
The Big Grey Man of Ben MacDhui (Affleck Grey)
A Dictionary of Vampires (Peter Haining)
Chambers Ghosts and Spirits

I am happy to announce that I have received all four of these titles. And there you have it, folks. Most of these books are about or related to monsters, cryptozoology, the Undead, Vampires, ghosts, etc. I have been wanting most (if not all) of these for a very long time. I hope that I've inspired you to consider investing your money in Amazon. You won't regret it, I promise you.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013


The Redcap is a type of evil, murderous goblin or faery found along the border between England and Scotland. Also known as a powrie, dunter, fir larrig, or bloodycap, this creature is said to look like a short, muscular man with glowing red eyes, fingers tipped with talons sharper than an eagle's, and a mouthful of large, pointed teeth. Despite its size, the Redcap has unnatural strength and can easily overpower a grown man. It wears iron-shod boots and carries a heavy pikestaff or a scythe, neither of which slow the creature down at all. The Redcap is said to move very quickly, and outrunning one of these monsters is said to be impossible. Legend says that the Redcap constantly makes a very distinctive sound, like flax being beaten. When this sound becomes especially loud, it is viewed by local people as being a portent of death or misfortune to come.

The Redcap is known to move from place to place at a moment's notice, but can most often be found inhabiting ruined castles, waiting for potential victims to pass by. Those who trespass into their homes are slaughtered by being pushed off of the castle ramparts, having boulders rolled onto them from the top of a cliff, or are just savagely murdered with the goblin's own claws and teeth (or its pikestaff). Once the unfortunate victim is dead, the Redcap then dips its cap into the flowing blood, dyeing it red (which is where this creature gets its name). If the blood ever dries out, the Redcap will die. Therefore, it must kill regularly in order to survive. The only way that one may escape from the Redcap is to recite a passage from the Holy Bible, which causes the faery intense pain and will force it to flee. Brandishing a crucifix at the creature will also cause it intense pain and make it run away. It may also be warded off or even harmed by cold-forged iron (a weakness shared by most faery species).


Redcap (Monstropedia)

Redcap (Wikipedia)