The 8 haunting creatures of Transylvania
Updated: Dec 3, 2019
The legends, myths and haunting creatures of Transylvania represent a very important part of our culture: from the well-known vampires to werewolves, Moroi, Strigoi and all kinds of monsters! You may know about Dracula, the Transylvanian vampire, as created by Bram Stoker, but there are way more creatures haunting the surrounding the Carpathian Mountains!
Since we were kids, we were definitely told (before sleep, or when we were kind of naughty children) that these divine and creepy creatures interact with humans — imagine the spooky nights we had! So, together with the team at Transylvania Trips, we decided to share with you part of the Transylvanian folklore!
8 legends, myths and haunting creatures from Transylvania
Strigoi are the troubled spirits that are said to have arisen from the grave and have the ability to become invisible, transform into animals, and to gain vitality from the blood of their victims. To put it simply, they are sort of an upgraded version of zombies, mixed with ghosts, vampires, and werewolves (but they still can become any other animal - even into a pretty cat!).
There are multiple books mentioning the power and damage of a strigoi and how to protect yourself from being a prey.
It is said that strigoii live as nocturnal creatures that prey on infants, and in An Authenticated Vampire Story, the author mentioned how peasant children from a village in the Carpathian Mountains died mysteriously right after a count died as well. So, the villagers suspected the count was a vampire and burned his castle to ashes to stop the deaths. And when we say that we grew up with these stories, here is a recent happening, right in 2003 when an old Romanian man died and in February 2004, a niece of the deceased revealed that she had been visited by her late uncle. As you can imagine, this lead to her brother-in-law transforming into the leader of a vampire hunting group, that dug up the coffin of the deceased old-man, made an incision in his chest, tore the heart out and burned the body. As this was not a complicated-enough ritual, the ashes were mixed in water and drunk by the family, as is customary. Nevertheless, the practice is banned, and the family members were arrested by the police for "disturbing the peace of the dead", but in the nearby village, people still drive a fire-hardened stake through the heart or belly of the dead as a "preventative".
Somewhere in 1882, a book regarding the Romanian folklore regarding burials was published (Datinile Poporului român la înmormântări) and refers to cases of strigoism as well. The strigoi can be a living man, born under certain conditions:
Die from a witches curse
Be the seventh child of the same sex in a family
Lead a life of sin
Die without being married
Die by execution for perjury
Die by suicide
Exhume the strigoi. Remove its heart and cut it in two.
Drive a nail in its forehead.
Place a clove of garlic under its tongue - yes, we have a thing for garlic in Transylvania!
Smear its body with the fat of a pig killed on St. Ignatius' Day.
Turn its body face down so that if the strigoi were ever to wake up it would be headed to the afterlife.
The Powerwolf band got inspired by these creepy creatures and launched this song in the Blessed & Possessed album!
The iele are feminine mythical creatures described as Faeries with magic skills and great seductive power over men. Ielele live in the sky, in forests, in caves, on isolated mountain cliffs and in marshes, and reported to have been seen bathing in the springs or at crossroads.
On the bright side, besides being extremely beautiful, and young, ielele are not necessarily evil!
They just like to dance together at night by moonlight, in horas, naked (or almost naked), with very long and extremely beautiful hair! Their ritual usually happens in secluded areas such as glades, the tops of certain trees, ponds, riversides, crossroads or abandoned fireplaces, with bells on their ankles and carrying candles. And this can cause delirium in onlookers (as you can imagine! Which is exactly what causes them to become evil and seek revenge!
If they are provoked, offended, or seen while they dance; and they apply terrible punishments upon the ones who refuse their invitation to dance, or the ones who mimic their movements. Not to mention that only by hearing them and their songs, you become mute instantly!
Here's another song inspired by this stunning legend: Ielele, by Tiarra.
The exact characteristics of moroi are variable from source to source, but they are the living offspring of two strigoi (and sometimes as an infant who died before being baptized), or the phantom of a dead person which leaves the grave to draw energy from the living.
The thing is that we all know the Moroi exist, but it just seems they have different shapes and forms across Romania, which makes them even more sneaky and hard to recognize!
In some areas, they are the same as a Vampire or as Vârcolac (Werewolf), but in others, they are known as mortal vampires with a normal lifespan and death: with magical powers, avoid too much sunlight, and drink the blood of humans and human hybrids (of course).
In the Archie Horror comic book series Vampironica, though, Moroi got a whole new definition! And Moroi is the term for undead vampires, who rise from the grave after being drained of their blood by another vampire; While Strigoi are defined as "living" vampires, humans who are infected with vampirism while still alive.
Yes, we know it sounds almost like moroi! But they are different!
The muroni are vampires with the ability to transform into a variety of different animals. So, when they attack to get the blood of a victim, they are very hard to identify as muroni (imagine a bear or wolf attacking someone - nobody will say it was a vampire, but an animal looking for prey!)
There is, though, a very small detail to identify them: muroni make sure to get an exceptional amount of blood, unlike the animals that actually want the meat.
This is a pretty popular creature haunting the entire world and it is known in English as a werewolf! The "wolf-person" is a human with the ability to shapeshift into a wolf on the night of a full moon either purposely or after being placed under a curse. The transformation also occurs during the winter solstice (just in case you want to visit Transylvania on December 22nd) and Easter.
Some say that you would become a vârcolac after the suffering of abuse by the parents as well - Thank God for all the parenting classes nowadays! Unlike the other bad guys, the vârcolaci attack only farm animals, especially sheep! So, humans are pretty safe!
Even though it sounds kind of cute in Romanian, and kind of unpronounceable for everyone else, pricolici is a werewolf-vampire fusion. What does this mean? Pricolici are the undead souls that have risen from the grave to harm living people, while resembling a wolf (unlike strigoi, or moroi. or muroni). People sau thay only malicious, violent men become pricolici after death, in order to continue harming other humans.
The attacked persons reported that pricolici is not the ordinary wolf, but it is way larger and fierce!
Not sure if killing a pricolici is a good idea, though, as some people think that killing it will transform them into stronger vampires.
Zburător is the Romanian word for "flyer", and besides the fact that this creature (well...) can fly, it is a roving spirit who makes love to maidens by night. Some people call it a zmeu as well, which is another dragon-like creature, with more human-like aspects, with a tail of fire. Yes, basically a wolf-headed dragon going after maidens by night! Anyway, somewhere in 1714, a Romanian writer, described the flyers a bit nicer and said the "zburator" appears as "a ghost, a young, handsome man who comes in the middle of the night at women, especially recently married ones and does indecent things with them, although he cannot be seen by other people, not even by the ones who waylay him". On the bright side, there were no reports of this creature in the past few hundreds of years!
Well, there is no secret that a vampire is a creature that subsists by feeding on the vital essence (generally in the form of blood, but sometimes takes the youthfulness or the energy) of the living. These undead creatures visit the loved ones, scare them or even kills them and their (past) neighbors.
If you think about Count Dracula, there is more than you heard from the movies, as it has some bloody rooted inspiration from a real person who lived and killed Transylvania: Vlad Dracul, or Vlad the Impaler! We already wrote the story of Dracula and its ties to Transylvania, and we highly recommend you to check it out and get into the complex profile of everyone’s favorite Count!
There are lots of other creatures haunting the Transylvanian lands, but we will tell you more about them in the next posts, so you can sleep well in the next nights.
In the meanwhile, if you want to visit the land of vampires, strigoi, moroi, and the beautiful castles and mountains, contact us for a custom trip to the land of Transylvania or check the ready-to book Trips, experiences and Destinations to Transylvania!