Since the release of The Walking Dead, there has been an explosion of media involving zombies. We are talking about books, movies, video games, comics and even reality shows. Oh yes, there are a few series produced on what could happen or what to do during a zombie apocalypse. On YouTube, there is a vast amount of videos on how to survive if such an event was to occur. Now that might all be helpful, but what if you aren’t facing an arm of zombie, instead some other type of monsters. In the world, there are many legends of undead to exist and this week we look at the Draugr.
In Iceland, Denmark, Norway or just any place where the Vikings lived is an old Norse’s myth of a powerful undead creature to be feared. When a person dies and refuses to cross over, through their own force of will returns as a Draugr. They are a walking corpse with intelligence that retains some memories and skills possessed in life. According to legend, this undead returns with purpose to either guard the riches possessed while alive or take revenge on the people who wronged them.
One may ask the question, how can anyone distinguish a Draugr from any other undead? In some Norse’s folklore, the creature’s body was described to be a dead body, swollen and blackened. In others, the Draugr are blue or pale in colour and massive or even bulky in size. In most tales, the most common traits are the monster is hideous to look upon and there is an unearthly stench that follows it. Now what truly makes the Drangr different from the zombie is the magical abilities it possesses.
In folklore, the Drangr has superhuman strength, the power to increase in size and able to turn into mist to exist the grave. There are tales that this creature is even more powerful as they can also control the weather, shape shift into animals or trolls, enter dreams and even cast curses. Just to make them even tougher, some were believed to be immune to any man-made weapon.
Now to encounter a Draugr alone at night meant certain death. This undead would slay it victims by tearing them apart with their own strength or if enlarged crush them. Afterwards, the creature would later devour the remains or drink the blood of the person. In a few stories, the Draugr was said to bring diseases to villages and could kill livestock or forest animals by driving them insane with their presence.
By this point, one must be wondering how could such a creature that possesses so many abilities and immune weapons could be stopped. In the Norse’s mythology, only a hero of true courage and strength could defeat a Draugr. In some legends, the hero would need to wrestle the monster to its grave, cut off its head with a magical blade, burn the remains and scatter its ashes. Other than the wrestling match, this seems to be the reoccurring method to disposing of many undead threats.
Now the best way to fight against a Draugr is to ensure one doesn’t rise from the grave. In some funeral rituals, any person believe to return would have their toes ties or needles inserted into the feet to prevent them from walking. Another method was placing a special inscribed ruined stone on the decease to bind them to the ground. In some cases, there was a belief that any door or window used to remove a person’s remains through for burial would need to be sealed up or they could return. When everything else was in doubt, the body was dismembered at times.
Redfern, Nick. The Zombie Book: The Encyclopedia of the Living Dead. 2015: Visible Ink Press. USA