Showing posts with label evil spirits. Show all posts
Showing posts with label evil spirits. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

One Wedding Tradition Wards off Evil Spirits

Today, when one thinks of weddings they don’t think of evil spirits. Weddings instead are seen as celebrations—happy events.

But one wedding tradition still observed today came about because of an ancient Roman belief. The Romans believed brides had to protect themselves from evil. They thought merriment attracted evil spirits—not to mention rejected grooms.

So a tradition began during this time to assure the bride and groom were protected from demons and angry ex-boyfriends.

All the females in the wedding party dressed the same as the bride. This was to confuse anyone or anything with ill will. It was a trick to keep the wedding couple safe—so they could get through their vows unhindered.

This belief of demonic wedding crashers persisted well into the Victorian era when it finally petered out. At this point brides began to dress more elaborately than the maids in their wedding parties.

What lingers from this protective ritual is the fact bride maids still dress in matching dresses—most of them unflattering.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

India’s Haunted Stepwells, Part ll

A stepwell is an ancient subterranean structure that was built to allow India’s citizens access to water year-round.

At one time there were 1000s of these wells in India’s villages, cities and alongside roads. Most had elaborate architecture and artistic stone reliefs. 

Here are two that are considered to be haunted--both having histories of people drowning.

Madha Vav

This stepwell is located in the village of Vadhavan in the state of Gujarat, India.

It was constructed under the ruler, Karnadeva Vaghela. He was a weak ruler and his people called him Karan Ghelo--meaning Ghelo the insane.

A statue of Ghelo and his wife can still be seen at Madha Vav.

This vav *, which is still intact is 55 meters long (60 yards) and has 6 pavilion-towers. It has 6 flights of stairs, which is the usual number. These steps go down 49.80 m (54 yards).

Madha Vav
According to local belief, a dangerous spirit haunts Madha Vav. It is believed this spirit rises every three years and claims a life.

His victims always drown in the well’s water.

This story is so prevalent that it is told in a popular folk-song.

Agrasen Ki Baoli

Agrasen Ki Baoli
Aragsen Ki is a 700 year-old beautiful stepwell that still exists in New Delhi the capital of India.

It was built in the 10th century by Rajput King Anang Pal ll of the Tomar Dynasty.

This baoli is an exquisite example of a single flight stepwell. It has 104 steps made of red stone.

At one time this well was submerged in murky water so it was considered to be one of the most “spooky haunted places in India.”

Today, many report feeling the presence of an invisible ghost. This ghost is said to follow people around--if they quicken their pace in fear so does the ghost quicken its pace.

For years rumors have persisted that this well had several evil spirits. It was said that the well’s murky black waters mesmerized or attracted vulnerable people.

If a person was discouraged or depressed it was said that this baoli * hypnotized them and lured them to their deaths. A power would overtake them and they would jump into the well’s waters.

For hundreds of years it was believed that “Baoli of the unseen” called people to offer their lives in order to raise a well’s water levels.

Agrasen Ki is a protected monument by the Archeological Survey of India (ASI).

*  In Hindi-speaking regions these wells were referred to as "baoli." In the Gujarati and Marwari languages they are usually called "vav" or "vaav."

Here is a link to Part l India’s Haunted Stepwells where I talk about their history and demise.

Monday, June 17, 2013

China: Chiang-Shih

This traditional Chinese Chiang-Shih folklore legend is about dead bodies that were according to ancient belief able to come back to life because of improper treatment at the end of life or during or after the burial process. 

A common reason this happened was the soul or "po" that returned was a person who experienced a very violent or painful death. 

Other reasons given were they became angry because their family members failed to give them the proper respect due to them after their death or they returned because they were buried in the wrong spot * or their grave was disturbed or moved.

The Chiang-Shih were sometimes known as “hopping ghosts” because of the tradition of burying bodies dressed with their feet bound together--the result when they came back to life they had to hop to move about. These corpses were considered very dangerous when they became reanimated. 

These animated bodies were blind so they had to rely on their ability to sense the breath of their prey to track them. 

In traditional Chinese belief the Chiang-Shih could suck the breath out of their victims, they were described as having gale force breath. 

In modern Chinese stories they are just as likely to suck the blood of their victims--for this traditional legend has evolved, today Chiang-Shih are sometimes considered vampires.

Other legendary supernatural powers that the Chiang-Shih had include: sword-like fingernails and incredibly long eyebrows that they can use to lasso or bind their enemies. 

They also had the ability to shape-shift and they could fly. 

Despite their evolution today into more scary creatures, I prefer the traditional stories about the Chiang-Shih--for they are also scary. The following story is one of my favorites.

The corpse in this story was not buried in a timely fashion therefore it became a Chiang-Shih because evil spirits were able to enter it.

Four male travelers in Shantung arrived at an inn in the middle of the night. The innkeeper told them no rooms were left but taking pity on them he led them to a little shack in the back of the inn.

Early that day the innkeeper’s daughter-in-law had died but he being very busy had not arranged her burial. The four weary travelers bedded down not realizing her corpse lay on a plank behind a curtain in the same shack.

Three of the men fell asleep immediately but the fourth feeling a sense of impending danger couldn’t relax. He froze as he saw a boney hand draw the curtain aside. 

A monstrous corpse emerged surrounded by a green mist. It had glowing red eyes. He watched in terror as this apparition bent over his sleeping companions and breathed a foul stench of death upon each. All three now lay dead.

The fourth traveler pretended to be asleep and held his breath as the Chiang-Shih breathed on him. As soon as the corpse returned to its plank he ran out of the shack. 

Hearing him leave the apparition chased him. The man in a panic hid behind a willow tree. But the Chiang-Shih found him.

She lunged at him shrieking. Overcome with fear the man fainted. This saved him once more for the Chiang-Shih missed him and her claw like nails became embedded deep within the tree. She couldn’t extricate them. 

The next morning the innkeeper found her lifeless corpse no longer animated by the evil spirits. The traveler lay unconscious nearby.

*  This notion comes from the belief in feng shui.