CREATURES OF THE NIGHT



There is no known culture on this planet that has not at one time or another cowered in fear because of the savage attacks of a nocturnal predator known as a therianthrope, a human-animal hybrid such as a werewolf, "werebear," "werelion," or a "were-something." Such creatures were painted by Stone Age artists more than 10,000 years ago and represent some of the world's oldest cave art—and they probably precipitated some of the world's first nightmares.

Some time in those fierce and frightening prehistoric years when every day was a struggle for survival for the primitive hunter-gatherers there came the realization that the flowing of a victim's vital fluid after a fatal attack from a cave bear's claws and jaws was connected with the release of the life force itself. Blood became sacred. Once the association was made between blood and the life force, a large number of magical and religious rituals became centered around the shedding of blood, and thousands of members of ancient priesthoods have raised chalices filled with the dark, holy elixir of life over thousands of altars stained with both animal and human blood.

As respect for the spiritual quality of human life evolved, the sacrifice of men, women, and children was considered forbidden. And while in less civilized times the drinking of an animal's vital fluid had been deemed an appropriate way in which to absorb the strength or virility of the lion, the bear, or the boar, religious law now admonished against both the drinking of animal blood and the eating of meat from which the blood had not been thoroughly drained.

The Old Testament book of Leviticus (17:14) acknowledges that blood is "the life of all flesh, the blood of it is the life thereof," but the children of Israel are instructed that they "shall not eat of the blood of no manner of flesh; for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off." Again, in Deuteronomy 12:20–24, the Lord warns, "…thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after…Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. Thou shalt not eat [blood]; thou shalt pourest it upon the earth as water."

Similar warnings against the ingesting of blood for religious or health reasons were soon a part of the teachings of all major faiths and cultures. But while culture, magic, and religion had amassed thousands of years of prohibitions concerning the shedding of blood, what could be more repulsive to the human psyche than the hybrid half-human, half-animal monsters bite the throats and drink the blood of men, women, and children? Vampires rose from their dank graves by night to sustain their spark of life through the drinking of blood. Werewolves devoured the flesh and blood of their victims by night or day. How could people defend themselves against these blood-hungry creatures when they also had the ability to shapeshift into bats, wolves, and luminous fogs? And then there were the supernatural beings, such as the incubus and the succubus, who were more interested in seizing human souls than in sucking human blood.


It is difficult for those living in the modern world to imagine the night terrors of our ancestors as they prepared to face the demon- and monster-riddled world after sundown. Today, vampires, werewolves, and creatures of the dark have become the subjects of entertainment, scary movies, and thrilling television programs that bring relief from the tensions of the real world of homework, peer acceptance, work-related stress, taxes, and providing for one's children. Yet there seems within each human being a desire to be frightened—safely frightened, that is—by those dormant memories of those demon-infested nights when the creatures waited in the shadows to seize their victims. As one watches the late-night creature feature on television and hears that strange sound outside the window, the thought pops uneasily into the mind that all things are possible—even those things that everyone knows cannot possibly exist.

DELVING DEEPER

Bord, Janet, and Colin Bord. Unexplained Mysteries of the 20th Century. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989.

Clark, Jerome, and Loren Coleman. The Unidentified. New York: Warner Paperback Library, 1975.

Coleman, Loren. Curious Encounters. Boston and London: Faber & Faber, 1985.

Gordon, Stuart. The Encyclopedia of Myths and Legends. London: Headline Books, 1994.

Jones, Alison, ed. Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore. New York: Larousse, 1995.

Keel, John A. Strange Creatures from Time and Space. Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett Publications, 1970.


DELVING DEEPER

Astuya, Juan Carlos. "Chile Homeowner Terrified by Chupacabras." Trans. by Scott Corrales. La Estrella de Valparaiso, October 14, 2001. [Online] http://www.rense.com/general15/chu.htm.

Corrales, Scott. Chupacabras and Other Mysteries. Murfreesboro, Tenn.: Greenleaf Publications, 1997.

——. "How Many Goats Can a Goatsucker Suck?" Fortean Times 89 (September 1996): 34–37.

Del Valle, Fernando. "The 'Goat Sucker' Legend Claws Its Way into Texas." USA Today, May 15, 1996.

Ocejo-Sanchez, Virgilio. "Eyewitness Describes Flying Chupacabras." Trans. by Mario Andrade. Septem ber 21, 2001. [Online] http://ufomiami.dventures.com/.


DELVING DEEPER

Fodor, Nandor. Between Two Worlds. New York: Paperback Library, 1967.

——. The Haunted Mind: A Psychoanalyst Looks at the Supernatural. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Hurwood, Bernardt J. Vampires, Werewolves, and Ghouls. New York: Ace Books, 1968.

Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Masters, R. E. L., and Eduard Lea. Perverse Crimes in History. New York: Julian Press, 1963.


DELVING DEEPER

"Frankenstein and the Golem." Jewish Gothic. [Online] http://www.jewishgothic.com/golem.html.

Kaplan, Aryeh. Sefer Yetsirah: The Book of Creation in Theory and Practice. New York: Samuel Weiser, 1990.

Unterman, Alan. Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend. London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1991.

Winkler, Gershon. The Golem of Prague. New York: Judaica Press, 1994.

DELVING DEEPER

Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore. New York: Larousse, 1995.

Michelet, Jules. Satanism and Witchcraft. New York: Citadel Press, 1939, 1960.

Walker, Barbara. The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols & Sacred Objects. Edison, N.J.: Castle Books, 1988.


DELVING DEEPER

Fodor, Nandor. Between Two Worlds. New York: Paperback Library, 1967.

——. The Haunted Mind: A Psychoanalyst Looks at the Supernatural. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Masters, R. E. L. Eros and Evil. New York: Julian Press, 1962.

Spence, Lewis. An Encyclopedia of Occultism. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1960.


DELVING DEEPER

Clark, Jerome, and Loren Coleman. The Unidentified. New York: Warner Paperback Library, 1975.

Jones, Alison, ed. Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore. New York: Larousse, 1995.

Keel, John A. Strange Creatures from Time and Space. Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett Publications, 1970.

Seibert, Trent. "Scary Legend Has Roots in Wilderness of New Jersey." Denver Post, June 2, 2001. [Online] http://www.100megsfree4.com/farshores/cjdevil.htm.


DELVING DEEPER

Fodor, Nandor. Between Two Worlds. New York: Paperback Library, 1967.

——. The Haunted Mind: A Psychoanalyst Looks at the Supernatural. New York: New American Library, 1968.

"Jewish Vampires." Jewish Gothic. [Online] http://www.jewishgothic.com/vampire.html.

Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Unterman, Alan. Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend. London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1991.

DELVING DEEPER

Fodor, Nandor. Between Two Worlds. New York: Paperback Library, 1967.

——. The Haunted Mind: A Psychoanalyst Looks at the Supernatural. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subver sive Spirits. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclope dia of the Undead. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Visi ble Ink Press, 1998.

"Self-styled Vampire Reveals British Link." The Guardian, February 1, 2002. [Online] http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,642870,00. html.


DELVING DEEPER

Clark, Jerome, and Loren Coleman. Creatures of the Outer Edge. New York: Warner Books, 1978.

Eisler, Robert. Man into Wolf. London: Spring Books, n.d.

Fodor, Nandor. Between Two Worlds. New York: Paperback Library, 1967.

——. The Haunted Mind: A Psychoanalyst Looks at the Supernatural. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subver sive Spirits. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Steiger, Brad. The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Visible Ink Press, 1999.



User Contributions:

Denislav
Report this comment as inappropriate
Jan 10, 2007 @ 3:15 pm
what about the demons of hell, why don't you describe some of them!?

Comment about this article, ask questions, or add new information about this topic:

CAPTCHA


Creatures of the Night forum