blood, Death, decapitation, devouring, draugr, fantasy, folklore, ghosts, graves, horror, killing, mara, Rosalie H. Wax, Scandinavia, Scandinavian, stakes, undead, vampire, vampires, victims, Vikings
Scandinavia, which culturally and historically consists of Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, and Iceland, had a less prominent vampire element in Viking literature or subsequent Scandinavian folklore. However, according to Rosalie H. Wax, old Scandinavian literature did have substantial ghostly forms, some friendly and some harmful. The latter had greater interaction with the world, which at times behaved as vampires or ghouls. These reverent spirits were treated similarly to the vampires of Easter Europe, killed by a stake or through decapitation.
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More central to Scandinavian belief was the mara or the nightmare, which was a troll seen as a beautiful woman. She’s lay her breasts upon the sleeping and smother them and attempt to put her finger in her victim’s mouth and count the teeth. If the mara was given time to count, the victim usually died. The mara were generally an unknown person in love with its victim.
To keep the mara away, one must spread seeds around the house, turning shoes the wrong way at the side f the bed, and placing a scythe o the front of the bed. A knife of a sharp instrument is the most effective means of killing or driving away the mara.
The draugr, literally “after-walker,” or “one who walks after death,” is another undead creature from Norse mythology. The draugr, sometimes seen as a ghost, were believed to live in the graves of the dead, and at times could reanimate the bodies of the dead. They more specifically inhabited the graves of important men that had obtained a good amount of wealth since the draugr jealously guards his treasures, even after death.
The draugr possesses superhuman strength, can increase their size, and carry the stench of decay. Another common belief was that the draugr are the undead Vikings that maintain some resemblance of intelligence, and who enjoy the suffering that they cause. The slaughter their victims in various methods, including crushing their victims in their enlarged forms, devouring their victims’ flesh, devouring their victims whole in their enlarged forms, indirectly killing them by driving them mad, drinking their blood, and suffocating their sleeping victims. Their influence may drive animals that feed near draugr’s graves mad.
For more information, check this link and this one.
Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead.
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Canton, Michigan: Visible Ink Press, 1999.