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Posts Tagged ‘Vikings’

A month ago, I spoke at the Library of Congress along with Katie Hartlove, editor at Cold Moon Press, and Michelle D. Sonnier, a fellow Cold Moon Press author. Wow, is the only word I have for the marvelous building, helpful staff, and receptive audience. For those who’ve never taken a tour of the building, I highly recommend it.

The title of our presentation was: Zombies & Angels & Boogeymen, Oh my! Though I’ve used all 3 characters in my stories, my area of presentation was Zombies. I did a bit of research to show that the idea of the re-animated dead is shared by many cultures. Here are a few of the tidbits I unearthed:

Africa: The word zombie comes from the Kongo zumbi or zombi [Matthews, p.641] which means an enslaved spirit.

Caribbean: Priests in the Haitian voodoo religion sometimes use a nerve toxin to simulate death for up to 2 days. Haitian lore says that people who are dug up after being buried can no longer think for themselves because of oxygen deprivation, and therefore become slaves to another’s will. Feeding a zombie salt will return it to the grave.

Wales: In the story of Branwen, dead warriors are put in a cauldron and returned to life. These re-animated dead warriors are then placed back into battle.

Ireland: The Well of Slaine is used by the Tuatha de Danaan to re-animate warriors who’ve died in the fight against the Fir Bolg. Though they can fight, these re-animated soldiers are unable to speak because they’ve seen what exists after death.

Iceland, Norway, etc.: Draugr (plural Draugar, pronounced: droo-GORE) are dead Vikings who not only drive mad anyone who comes near their grave, but crawl from their burial sites and visit the living. They are very strong, smell like decay, and sometimes have magical abilities like shape-shifting. (This is the zombie of my love story, “The Return of Gunnar Kettilson”).

Tibet: (Just stumbled on this info, so more research needs to be done). Ro-langs are ro (corpse) + langs (rise-up). They cannot speak, so they communicate by wagging their tongues. Lore says that they can’t bend either, which is why it’s best to have a low entranceway into your home — to keep out the ro-langs.

Where in the world do I find interesting tidbits like these? Many places, but some of my favorite research books: The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creaturesby John & Caitlin Matthews, Encyclopedia of Things That Never Were: Creatures, Places, And People by Michael Page & Robert Ingpen, The Enchanted World series of books from Time-Life Books, and An Encyclopedia of Fairies: Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and other Supernatural Creatures by Katherine Briggs.

So have a great day, and remember to carry a bag of pretzels to feed to the re-animated dead in the case of a zombie attack (see Africa above).

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