George Grando: Vampire of Kring

In 1672, a man named George Grando died in the east European village of Kring. A monk of St. Paul buried the body and went to console Grando’s wife. When he arrived at the widow’s home, the spectral image of George Grando was sitting behind the door. Everyone in the house fled from the apparition, but the image was soon seen again.

George Grando began to haunt the evening streets of Kring, tapping on the doors of homes. Grando would leave before anyone would answer the knocking. It didn’t take long for the citizens of Kring to notice that the occupants of these houses were dropping like flies. It didn’t help that Grando’s wife claimed he would come home to her at nights, make her fall into a deep sleep, then drink her blood.

A party of townsmen decided to take action. One day they went to Grando’s gravesite and opened the tomb. What they saw shocked them. Grando looked perfectly healthy. He even looked happy, with a slight smile upon his lips. The townsmen panicked and ran back to Kring. Fortunately, the chief magistrate was able to round them up again.

This time they were not to be deterred from their ugly task. They even brought a priest with them, armed with a sharp stake, carved all of hawthorn.

The priest wasted no time in taking charge. He knelt down beside the corpse, holding a crucifix before its eyes. The priest began to pray: “O vampire, look at this. Here is Jesus Christ who loosed us from the pains of Hell and died for us upon the tree.”

Grando began to weep, tears coursing down his cheeks. Then the stake was placed to Grando’s chest and slammed with a mallet. Nothing happened. The staked didn’t even break the skin. Filled with resolve, the priest tried again, and this time the stake merely bounced off Grando’s chest. The priest tried again and again, but to no avail. Finally, one of the townsmen grabbed an axe an decapitated the corpse. Grando let fly a bone-curdling scream, arms and legs flailing, and his spirit left his body forever.

Finicella, the Vampire of Sienna

 

I was quite dissapointed that I could not dig up more information about this case, but even so I could not pass it up. I was so execited to find a oh so rare example of a woman vampire documented in history. In fact I think next to the infamous Lady Bathory I think this is the only case of female vamprisim I have come acorss.  

Technically, Finicella had never been accused of being a vampire. Nonetheless, this woman confessed to Friar Bernardino she had killed over thirty babies by sucking their blood, a definite sign of vampirism. It was based on this evidence that Bernardino was able to cement his ridiculous theory that there existed an organized sect of metamorphing baby-killers.

Kayeri

Well here is a perfect beastie to talk about for the comming of Spring.

The Kayeri is a seasonal species of the Cuiva people in South America. It is best seen during the rainy months and genreally dormant in the sunshine. It wears a blue-green hat, sometimes yellow, and when in the shape of a human male, is quite tall and strong and has two wives.

Kayeri live under the ground in deep caves and rise to the earth’s surface through the holes made by ants. All mushrooms in the forest are aspects of Kayeri, are are ficus tendrails, the agouti, and the unkuaju plant.

[ficus are vines known as the creeping fig: the agouti is a rodent that lives in the South American rainforst]

Kayeri usually can be found hanging about the base of tall trees. They eat nothing but cows, which they chase at night through the fields. When farmers complain of missing cows, it is said that a Kayeri has taken them home to eat under the earth with his two wives.

Whenever a Kayeri is killed, all the others become very upset, and when the beating of sticks against trees is heard, that means something has angered them. It is said that they Kayrie’s distinctive cry is: Mu, mu, mu

Attracting a Vampire

The idea of acutally wanting to attrack vampires is a completely modern one, historicaly, back in the day, if anyone had expressped any interest in acutally wanting to find a vampire and for a purpose other than killing it, they would have been thought mad, or perhaps burned as a witch. And since it was once such an unfathomable idea, to want to try and make nice with the local blood-drinking immortal there are no folkoric traditions for how to go about attracting vampires, at least none known to me. As well I think it is only just perhaps, that sense this is such a newfounded idea, that one should use modern means in which to go about it, though some of the old methods repelling vampires can be tweeked or reveresed to have the oppisiste effect than there intended use.

 With that being said, here are my tips on how to attract the vampire of your dreams.

1. I have mentioned in a preivious post, the emergence of the Blood Doll, which to sum up, is a mortal who willingly gives themselves in the service of a vampire, and in which they offer thier own blood to a vampire to feast upon. If once is looking to make contact, perhpas a disceret add in a paper, online or other source, advertising your service as a Blood Doll, might get you the attention you are seeking.

2. There is no reason to think that Vampires would not benefit from the interenet the same as any other group out there. It would provide a safe way for them to form a community and some sort of companionship, as even immoratls must get lonely, particuarly after so many years of being forced in the shadows, made to hide who they really are, for fear of persecution. There are scads of chat rooms and forum boards decidcated to the discussion of vampires, perhaps if one started hunting around these sites, they just might make contact with the blood-drinking immortal of thier dreams.

But you may have to be patient and take time to earn thier trust, before they feel comftrable reavealing thier true nature to you.

3. As we all know the basic ways in which vampires are repelled, you should make your home, vampire friendly, and remove all such offending objects. Throw out any garlic, wooden stakes, bibles, holy water, crossess, and silver you might have lying around the place.

4. There are some myths that say a vampire cannot enter a window or a door unless they are invited, so perhaps you could get a nice little wooden sign to hang up outside somewhere that says, “Vampires Weclome”

5. I previously posted an article on “How to Spot a Vampire”

http://ladyofspiders.wordpress.com/2007/12/05/how-to-spot-a-vampire/

You may want to reveiwe these techniques to see if there are any vampires near you, to use as a means, instead of avioding them, but rather to feel free to introduce yourself.

I wish you happy hunting and may you find the right vampire for you.

The Vampire of Berwick

During the mid-1100s, an evil destitute man died in Berwick, a royal burgh of the King of Scotland. Shortly after his death, he began to leave his tomb at nights, and to roam the countryside with a pack of hellhounds, spreading plague as he went. For many days, the country-folk were terrorized thus. No one would go outdoors at night, and everyone was afraid they might have the misfortune of meeting this vampire.

As terrorized villagers are wont to do, they gathered together to come up with a plan to get rid of this vampire. Many were afraid that “the ignorant among them, if ineffective action were taken, would soon be sucked of their blood by the dead monster. The more cautious, however, prudently considered that possibly, if a remedy were applied too late, the infected air, tainted by continual contact with the plague-bearing corpse, would result in widespread disease and death.”

Ten daring young heroes were sent for. Upon receiving their orders, these men exhumed the corpse, cut it up, and burnt it. The plague ceased immediately following the cremation. When the plague started once again, it was not so disastrous as it was throughout the rest of England

The Canon Episcopi

The Canon Episcopi, recorded about 900 AD, was used in witchcraft trails. Needless to say the Canon created about as many problems as it solved since it defined “witchcraft as Devil-worship but declared it to be nothing more than a foolish delusion.”

The Canon denied that witches could physically fly through the night, and said, “Whoever was ‘so stupid and foolish’ as to believe such fantastic tales was an infidel.” It claimed people believing such tales were deluded by the Devil. However, even though such flights and other feats were physically impossible, they could be achieved in spirit. And, whoever did such things in spirit were just as guilty as if they had done them physically.

By the 12th century the Canon was creating all sort of problems for demonologists. These men were accepting the validity of physical metamorphosis and transvection. The Canon pronounced these phenomena to be illusionary. “It was reasoned that even if witches flew with Diana and demons in spirit or imagination only, they were just as guilty as if they had done so in the flesh.”

From these deductions it was a simple thing to say all heretics including witches, whether physically or spiritually, formed pacts with the Devil. However, there were no defenses against such accusations for who can prove what he does or does not think or imagine? It was easy to accuse women of riding through the night upon beasts to sabbats and charging that lurid and demonic acts took place at such meetings.

Toward the mid-15th century the inquisitors and demonologists were beginning to dismiss the Canon Episcopi. It was presenting to many problems, however, it influence lingered on another 200 years

Toads

 

Toads have just as long of a history with witches and play just as an impoerant role in the history of witchcraft as cats do. Many of us are familiar with the age old beleif that witches were comonly thought to have warts becasue of the fact that they handled toads. Of course we now know that toads do not in fact cause warts to appear. To have a wart was once a sure mark of a witch. Toads play many roles in witchcraft as do cats. Serving as familiars as well as a componoents to spells, and minions of the devil.

Toads as Familiars

 Toads were perfect as familiars. “Thanks to the two tiny horns borne on his forehead, a toad was recognizable as a demon, and witches took infinite care of him. They baptized their toads, dressed them in black velvet, put little bells on their paws, and made them dance” (Givry 136). “Jeannette d’Abadie, a witch of the Basses-Pyrénées…declared that she saw brought to the Sabbat a number of toads dressed some in black, some in scarlet velvet, with little bells attached to their coats” (Summers 159).

Sent out to cause mayhem and to poison others, toads were also thought to have accompanied witches to the Sabbat. Konrad von Marburg, the German Inquisitor General and heretic-finder, believed many “Luciferians” worshipped toads (King 27).

An accused Cathar, a woman named Bilia, “admitted to having a familiar toad to which she fed meat, bread, and cheese, and out of whose feces, together with human body hair, whe made a powder from which she confected the potions drunk at the synagogues” (Russell 1972 223).

Toads were often beloved pets, and if people injured or killed such a familiar, they placed themselves in grave danger. The following story comes from Somerset, England:
 

There lived an old woman who kept three pet toads with the engaging names of Duke, Dick and Merryboy. One autumn afternoon, carrying her toads in a basket to keep her company, she watched three young farmers reap a field, singing to the rhythm of their flashing scythes. One of the toads hopped from the basket directly into the path of the reapers. The young men sniggered and, before the woman’s horrified eyes, slashed the beast to pieces.

‘I’ll set hell on you,’ cried the woman. ‘None of you will finish this day’s work.’ And, having said that curse, she trudged off across the field, carrying the remaining toads carefully away.

The young men only laughed, but within moments one of them had cut his hand with his scythe badly enough to stop his working. The next sliced across the toe of his boot on a downswing, and the last cut his boot open from one side to the other. Unnerved, they left the field. As their neighbor had said, none of them finished work that day

The Power of Toads

The breath of toads, and sometimes even being glanced upon by a toad, was also considered dangerous. The breath of a toad was believed to infect a person wherever it touched. Another common superstition existed stating those whom a toad regarded fixedly would be sized by spasms, palpitations, swoons, and convulsions. In the eighteenth century, Abbé Rousseau experimented with toads. He “avowed that when of these animals looked upon him for some time he fell in a fainting fit whence, if help had not arrived, he would never have recovered” (Summers 158).

In addition, toads were integral in some forms of experimental divination. It was believed “if you put the heart and left foot of a toad over the mouth of a sleeping man, for example, he will immediately reveal to you whatever you ask him.”

Toads in Potions and Spellcraft

Toads secrete a thick, white, hallucinogenic substance from skin glands when they are injured or provoked. This toxin (C24H34O5) is called bufagin, bufotenin, or more colloquially, toads’ milk (Guiley 1989 341). The secretion acts like digitalis in biological action, and was believed to have been used by witches for various nefarious purposes. Toad excrement was theoretically used as an ingredient in flying potions by Basque witches (Levack 45).

In Artois, a flying potion made from toads was created when the witch put consecrated bread and wine into a pot full of toads. “When the toads had devoured the sacrament, they were killed and burned. Then the ashes of the toads were mixed with the powdered bones of dead Christians, the blood of children, herbs, and the recipe was completed with ‘other things'” (Russell 1972 250).

Unfortunate toads could be decapitated, skinned, and thrown into cauldrons along with other strange ingredients. A lotion of sow-thistle sap and toads spittle was believed to make a witch invisible, and brandy embued with burned toad ashes was believed to be an effective cure for drunkenness. If a toad was baptized with an enemy’s name then tortured to death, the victim supposedly suffered the same fate.

In 1329, a Carmelite monk named Peter Recordi was sentenced to death for “having made images of wax, toads’ blood, and spittle, consecrating them to the Devil and then hiding them in the houses of women with whom he purposed sexual intercourse.”

Toad Stones

 Toads were also believed to have a precious stone in their heads. This stone was considered both a talisman for obtaining “almost perfect earthly happiness” (Givry 345) and a means to detect poison. If the stone became hot, poison was nearby. The adjacent illustration is from Johannes de Cuba’s 1498 work Hortus Sanitatis. It shows “a method, at once practical and elegant, of extracting this stone” (Givry 345). Sometimes, however, accomodating toads would simply vomit up the stones by themselves (Guiley 1989 341).

Toad stones were considered most effective when set in rings (Guiley 1989 341). This gold ring is from fourteenth-century Italy. “This stone, which counted as precious, allegedly came from the head of a toad, though actually it was a fossil derived from a certain kind of fish.”

Toads and the Devil

Sometimes the Devil would appear to witches as a toad. In these instances, witches would kiss the toad’s mouth in an act of homage (Russell 1972 146). Satan was believed to have presided at Sabbats in the form of a he-goat, a black cat, a raven or crow, or a feathered toad” (Givry 74).

In their worship of the Devil, witches were said to have mangled, torn apart, and bitten toads. “By stamping his foot, the Devil could send all toads into the earth” (Guiley 1989 341).

In 1610 Juan de Echalear, a sorcerer of Navarre, confessed at his trial before the Alcantarine inquisitor Don Alonso Becerra Holguin that he and his coven collected toads for the Sabbat, and when they presented these animals to the Devil he blessed them with his left hand, after which they were killed and cooked in a stewpot with human bones and pieces of corpses rifled from new-made graves. From this filthy hotch-potch were brewed poisons and unguents that the Devil distributed to all present with directions how to use them. By sprinkling corn with the liquid it was supposed they could blight a standing field, and also destroy flowers and fruit. A few drops let fall upon a person’s garments was believed to insure death, and a smear upon the shed or sty effectually diseased cattle

*Image info: Medieval witches cooking “magic” brew with toad and henbane. From the Golden Guide: Hallucinogenic Plants

Strange Beasts: Familiars

We have talked about Cats and dogs, here are some other animals that were like to have fallen under the suspsicion of being declared as familiars:

Bees

According to many demonologists, if a witch or sorceress managed to eat a queen bee before she was arrested, she would be able to withstand torture and trial without confessing. This was one of many ready explanations offered by witch-hunters when their victims refused to confess. In this way, many witches were condemned to death despite the lack of a confession (Guiley 1989 22).

Bees were also valued familiars because they made wax. From this wax, witches were thought to have fashioned images with which to practice their arts upon.

 Chickens

A chicken named Nan was considered a familiar in the 17th-century Bury St. Edmonds trials of Suffolk, England. Three other chickens were also cited as imps in the same area (Guiley 1989 44).

Alice Samuel, the witch of Throckmorton, confessed to having a dun chicken as a familiar. At one time, this chicken plagued the children of Throckmorton, but ceased because:

the said dun chicken with the rest are now come into her, and are now in the bottom of her belly, and make her so full she is like to burst, and this morning they caused her to be so full she could scant lace her coat, and that on the way as she came, they weighed so heavy that the horse she rode on did fall down and was not able to carry her (Purkiss 137).

Some witches were believed to have had sex with chickens. At the end of the seventeenth century, Johannes Henricus Pott tells of “a woman who, having probably coupled with a demon in the guise of a rooster, laid eggs every day.”

Flies

Margaret Wyard, an accused witch of Bury St. Edmonds in Suffolk, England, confessed to having flies among her familiars

Mice

Margaret Wyard, an accused witch of Bury St. Edmonds in Suffolk, England, confessed to having mice among her familiars. Other witches in the area admitted to having two “heavy and hairy” mice as familiars. In 1662, the nine- and eleven-year old daughters of Samuel Pacy somehow saw invisible mice which they threw on a fire. One mouse “screeched like a Rat.” The other mouse “Flash’d like to Gun-Powder.”

One 16th-century Essex woman confessed to having three mouse-shaped imps named Daynty, Prettyman, and Littleman. Another woman had four named Sparrow, Robyn, James, and Prickeare

Snails

A victim of Matthew Hopkins and John Stearne, John Bysack confessed to having six familiars in the form of snails. These imps sustained themselves by sucking Bysack’s blood. “Each snail was an assassin with a particular assignment: Atleward killed cows, Jeffry pigs, Peter sheep, Pyman fowls, Sacar horses and Sydrake Christians” (Guiley 1989 44).

Spiders

“Spinner of webs, an archtrickster, and a silent and murderous trapper, the spider was tiny enought to hide in the hood of a witch’s cloak as a familiar and whisper instruction in her ear” (Lehane 106). Margaret Wyard, an accused witch of Bury St. Edmonds in Suffolk, England, confessed to having a spider among her familiars.

Wolves

Wolves were sometimes thought to have been used as mounts by witches on their way to the Sabbat.

Witches were sometimes believed to be werewolves, as well.

The Great Auk and Witchcraft

 

The last great auk died in a witchcraze of sorts. Although these birds were hunted nearly to extinction because of their delicious meat, the bird was ultimately done in by would-be witch-hunters. A tale dating from July 1840 chronicles the death of the last of these big birds. That fateful day, a group of men discovered a sleeping auk on a ledge of rock on a Scottish island, and they tied its legs together. They took the poor bird back home with them.

The size of the bird and the noise it made convinced the men it was a witch. When, on the third day, a great storm arose, they feared it was the witch’s vengeance, and decided to kill it. The bird was immensely strong, with a sharp beak, so they had to beat it for an hour with two large stones before it died…. The instigators of this heroic deed are known to us, one Malcolm M’Donald and a man named M’kinnon (Warren 48).

Ornithologists who heard the story confirmed the “witch” was a Great Auk.

Witches and Faeries

 

The Similarities

Many similarities between witch and faerie beliefs existed. Both:

  • rode in the Wild Hunt (See the Sluagh)
  • cast and broke spells
  • healed people
  • divined the future and the location of lost objects
  • danced and sang beneath the full moon
  • trafficked with the Devil
  • metamorphosized, levitated, or caused others to fly or change shape
  • stole unbaptized children
  • poisoned people
  • stole horses and rode them to exhaustion during the night
  • avoided salt
  • were repelled by iron

According to King James I in his Daemonologie, Diana was both the goddess of witches and the Queen of Faerie. Oberon was both the Kind of Faerie and a demon summoned by magicians (Guiley 1989 118).

Both faeries and witches were believed to create fairy rings. Fairy rings are circles or inedible mushrooms that grow in grassy areas in North America, Europe, and Britain. Also called hag tracks in Britain, they are believed to be created by witches’ dancing feet. According to folklore, fairy rings are magical circles in which witches and faeries meet to sing and dance at night.

Faeries and Witch Trials

Faeries were frequently considered to be the familiars of witches, and they figured in numerous witch trials (Guiley 1989 118).

According to Reginald Scot in his 1584 work the Discoverie of Witchcraft, the three sister faeries Sibylia, Achilia, and Milia were useful in acquiring invisibility.

And if they came not at the first night, then do the same the second night, and so the third night, until they do come: for doubtless they will come, and lie thou in they bed, and look thou have a fair silken kerchief bound about thy head, and be not afraid, they will do thee no harm. For there will come before thee three fair women, and all in white clothing, and one of them will put a Ring upon thy finger, wherewith thou shall go invisible. When thou hast this Ring on thy finger, look in a Glass, and thou shalt not see thyself (Wedeck 77).

The following people were thought to have either been faeries, or witches with faerie dealings:

The Faerie Witch
Isobel Gowdie
John Walsh
Bessy Dunlop
Alison Pearson
Bridget Cleary

Changelings

In European folklore, a changeling is an imbecilic or deformed offspring of dwarves, elves, or faeries surruptitiously substituted by them for a human child. The belief in changelings seems to have arisen from the idea children are susceptible to demonic possession. Some believed faeries preyed only upon unbaptized infants. In legend, the abducted human offspring are either used to strengthen faerie stock or are given to Satan. The return of the original child “may be effected by making the changeling laugh or by torturing it; this latter belief was responsible for numerous cases of actual child abuse”

*Image info: Fairy Witch And Familiar Friend, by John Randall