Shtriga

Last updated

A shtriga is a vampiric witch in Albanian mythology and folklore that sucks the blood of infants at night while they sleep, and then turns into a flying insect (traditionally a moth, fly or bee). Only the shtriga herself could cure those she had drained. The shtriga is often pictured as a woman with a hateful stare (sometimes wearing a cape) and a horribly disfigured face. They usually live in hidden places in the forest and have supernatural powers. [1] The term shtriga is used also with the common meaning of "witch", referring to a bad and ugly old woman who casts evil spells upon people. The male noun for shtriga is shtrigu or shtrigan.

Contents

Etymology

The Albanian word shtrigë, definite: shtriga derives from the Latin strīga , "evil spirit, witch", [2] related to Italian : strega , Romanian : strigă and Polish : strzyga .

Legend

According to legend, only the shtriga herself could cure those she had drained (often by spitting in their mouths), and those who were not cured inevitably sickened and died.

The name can be used to express that a person is evil. According to Northern Albanian folklore, a woman is not born a witch; she becomes one, often because she is childless or made evil by envy. [3] A strong belief in God could make people immune to a witch as He would protect them.

Usually, shtriga were described as old or middle-aged women with grey, pale green, or pale blue eyes (called white eyes or pale eyes) (Albanian : sybardha) and a crooked nose. Their stare would make people uncomfortable, and people were supposed to avoid looking them directly in the eyes because they have the evil eye (Albanian: syliga). To ward off a witch, people could take a pinch of salt in their fingers and touch their (closed) eyes, mouth, heart and the opposite part of the heart and the pit of the stomach and then throw the salt in direct flames saying "syt i dalçin syt i plaçin" or just whisper 36 times "syt i dalçin syt i plaçin" or "plast syri keq."

In some regions of Albania, people have used garlic (Albanian: hudhër); to send away the evil eye or they have placed a puppet in a house being built to catch the evil. Newborns, children or beautiful girls have been said to catch the evil eye more easily, so in some Albanian regions when meeting such a person, especially a newborn, for the first time, people might say "masha'allah" and touch the child's nose to show their benevolence and so that the evil eye would not catch the child.

Edith Durham recorded several methods traditionally considered effective for defending oneself from shtriga. A cross made of pig bone could be placed at the entrance of a church on Easter Sunday, rendering any shtriga inside unable to leave. They could then be captured and killed at the threshold as they vainly attempted to pass. She further recorded the story that after draining blood from a victim, the shtriga would generally go off into the woods and regurgitate it. If a silver coin were to be soaked in that blood and wrapped in cloth, it would become an amulet offering permanent protection from any shtriga. [4]

In Catholic legend, it is said that shtriga can be destroyed using holy water with a cross in it, [5] and in Islamic myth it is said that shtriga can be sent away or killed by reciting verses from the Qur'an, specifically Ayatul Kursi 255 sura Al-Baqara, and spitting water on the shtriga. [6]

In an Albanian tale published by Post Wheeler with the title The Girl who took a Snake for a Husband, the Shtriga appears as "the grandmother of all witches" that lives in the Underworld, a place of a red sun, a green sky and black trees. [7]

A shtriga was featured in the Supernatural episode, "Something Wicked", wherein it attacked children, causing them to become comatose; it then disguised itself as a doctor so it could continue to feed upon them.

A shtriga was featured in the Lost Girl episode "Follow the Yellow Trick Road." Bo's friends search for the creature after figuring out that the shtriga had bitten Bo in its moth form, leaving her comatose and dying as it feeds on her fears.

The Shtriga appears in the Legends of Tomorrow episode "Wet Hot American Bummer." This version attacks the children at a summer camp and poses as a camp counselor.

See also

Sources

Citations

  1. Elsie 2001, pp. 236–237.
  2. Orel 1998, p. 442.
  3. Tirta 2004, pp. 193–194.
  4. Durham, Edith: High Albania (London, Phoenix Press, 2000), pp. 8788.
  5. Old believes in Albania
  6. The Noble Qur'an last sura and the Throne Verse, or Ayatul Kursi, is 255th verse (ayah) of the second chapter (sura) Al-Baqara
  7. Wheeler, G. Post (1936). Albanian Wonder Tales . New York: The Junior Literary Guild and Doubleday, Doran and Company, Inc. pp. 172–183, 282.

Bibliography

Related Research Articles

Evil eye Curse believed to be cast by a malevolent glare

The evil eye is a supernatural belief in a curse, brought about by a malevolent glare, usually given to a person when one is unaware. The evil eye dates back about 5,000 years, as early as the Upper Paleolithic Age. This iconic symbol is present across various religions and cultures, but most significantly in the Jewish, Muslim, and Christian faiths. The earliest known belief in the power of the evil eye predates ancient Roman and Greek times classical antiquity, there has been literature that mentions at 6th century BC it appeared on Chalcidian drinking vessels, known as 'eye-cups', as a type of apotropaic magic. It is found in many cultures in the Mediterranean region, with such cultures often believing that receiving the evil eye will cause misfortune or injury, while others believe it to be a kind of supernatural force that casts or reflects a malevolent gaze back-upon those who wish harm upon others. Older iterations of the symbol were often made of ceramic or clay; however, following the production of glass beads in the Mediterranean region in approximately 1500 BC, evil eye beads were popularised with the Phoenicians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Ottomans.

Verses of Refuge, sometimes translated as "Verses of Refuge", is an Arabic term referring to the last two suras (chapters) of the Qur'an, viz. Daybreak, and Mankind, which are two consecutive short prayers both beginning with the verse "Say: I seek refuge in the Lord of...". Although these two suras are separate entities in the Qur'an and also are written in the Mushaf under separate names, they are so deeply related with their contents closely resembling each other's that they have been designated by the common name 'al-Mu'awwidhatayn'. Imam Baihaqi in 'Dala'il an-Nubuwwah' has written that these suras were revealed together, and hence their combined name of al-Mu'awwidhatayn. There is a Sunnah tradition from Muhammad of reading them over the sick or before sleeping and they are also considered a healing.

Al-Baqara 2nd chapter of the Quran

Al-Baqara, alternatively transliterated Al-Baqarah, is the second and longest chapter (surah) of the Quran. It consists of 286 verses (āyāt) which begin with the "mysterious letters" ("muqatta'at") A.L.M. In recitation the names of the letters are used, not their sounds.

Al-Mu’minun 23rd chapter of the Quran

Al-Mu’minun is the 23rd chapter (sūrah) of the Qur'an with 118 verses (āyāt). Regarding the timing and contextual background of the supposed revelation, it is an earlier "Meccan surah", which means it is believed to have been revealed in Mecca, instead of later in Medina.

An-Naml 27th chapter of the Quran

An-Naml is the 27th chapter (sūrah) of the Qur'an with 93 verses (āyāt).

Ash-Shams 91st chapter of the Quran

Ash-Shams is the 91st surah of the Qur'an, with 15 ayat or verses. It opens with a series of solemn oaths sworn on various astronomical phenomena, the first of which, "by the sun", gives the sura its name, then on the human soul itself. It then describes the fate of Thamud, a formerly prosperous but now extinct Arab tribe. The prophet Saleh urged them to worship God alone, and commanded them in God's name to preserve a certain she-camel; they disobeyed and continued to reject his message; they killed the she-camel and God destroyed them all except those who had followed Salih.

Throne Verse Verse in the Quran

Verse of Throne is the 255th verse of the 2nd chapter of the Quran, Heifer (Q2:255). The verse speaks about how nothing and nobody is regarded to be comparable to Allah.

Perëndi is the Albanian word for God, the sky and heaven. Perëndi is thought to have been a sky and thunder god in the Albanian pagan mythology, and to have been worshiped by the Illyrians in antiquity. His name has been retained in the Albanian language—along with the names Zot and Hyj —to refer to the Supreme Being after the spread of Christianity. Another archaic Albanian divine name of the sky and thunder god is Zojz, from PIE Dyeus (Daylight-Sky-God). In some of his attributes, Perëndi could be related to the weather and storm gods Shurdh and Verbt, and to the mythological demigod drangue.

Kulshedra

The kulshedra or kuçedra is a water, storm, fire and chthonic demon in Albanian mythology and folklore, usually depicted as a huge multi-headed female serpentine dragon. The kulshedra is believed to spit fire, cause drought, storms, flooding, earthquakes and other natural disasters against mankind. In Albanian mythology she is usually fought and defeated by a drangue, a semi-human winged divine hero and protector of mankind. Heavy thunderstorms are thought to be the result of their battles.

Torah in Islam Islamic view of the Torah

The Tawrat, also romanized as Tawrah or Taurat, is the Arabic-language name for the Torah within its context as an Islamic holy book believed by Muslims to have been given by God to the prophets and messengers amongst the Children of Israel. When referring to traditions from the Tawrat, Muslims have not only identified it with the Pentateuch, but also with the other books of the Hebrew Bible as well as with Talmudic and Midrashim writings.

Indeed, We sent down the Torah, in which was guidance and light. The prophets who submitted [to God] judged by it for the Jews, as did the rabbis and scholars by that with which they were entrusted of the Scripture of God, and they were witnesses thereto. So do not fear the people but fear Me, and do not exchange My verses for a small price [i.e., worldly gain]. And whoever does not judge by what God has revealed - then it is those who are the disbelievers.

Tawba is the Islamic concept of repenting to God due to performing any sins and misdeeds. It is a direct matter between a person and God, so there is no intercession. There is no original sin in Islam. It is the act of leaving what God has prohibited and returning to what he has commanded. The word denotes the act of being repentant for one's misdeeds, atoning for those misdeeds, and having a strong determination to forsake those misdeeds. If someone sins against another person, restitution is required.

Justice in the Quran

Justice is a central theme in the Qur’an, dictating the traditions of law and how they should be put into practice. There are two ways in which justice operates: in a legal sense and in a divine sense. Regarding justice in the legal sense, the Qur’an tells Muslims not only how to conduct themselves, but is also highly important regarding relationships with other people. It states what the various punishments for certain crimes should be along with the justification behind this reasoning. Furthermore, the Qur’an brings across the idea that anyone who propagates the message of justice and acts accordingly will be justly rewarded with their place in jannah. With regard to divine justice, there has been a discourse between many commentators debating how justice will be fulfilled for different people, although all agree that Allah shall not do any injustice. It is debated as to how justice regarding non-Muslims functions. Although Qur'an is not direct on justice for non-Muslims but on three occasions this book clearly enunciates that the good deeds of the humans belonging to other religious backgrounds are not to be wasted before Allah., and from these verses, it can be inferred directly that Creator i.e. Allah has nothing to do with religious background but the good deeds of the actor will always be rewarded both in this world and hereafter too, enshrining the justice for all by Allah.

Sanaa manuscript Early Quran palimpsest, the lower layer of which is dated to 632–671 CE, and the upper layer to late 7th–early 8th century CE

The Sanaa palimpsest or Sanaa Quran is one of the oldest Quranic manuscripts in existence. Part of a sizable cache of Quranic and non-Quranic fragments discovered in Yemen during a 1972 restoration of the Great Mosque of Sanaa, the manuscript was identified as a palimpsest Quran in 1981; as it is written on parchment and comprises two layers of text. The upper text largely conforms to the standard 'Uthmanic' Quran in text and in the standard order of chapters ; whereas the lower text contains many variations from the standard text, and the sequence of its chapters corresponds to no known Quranic order. A partial reconstruction of the lower text was published in 2012; and a reconstruction of the legible portions of both lower and upper texts of the 38 folios in the Sana'a House of Manuscripts was published in 2017 utilising post-processed digital images of the lower text. A radiocarbon analysis has dated the parchment of one of the detached leaves sold at auction, and hence its lower text, to between 578 CE and 669 CE with a 95% accuracy.

Albanian folk beliefs

Albanian folk beliefs comprise the beliefs expressed in the customs, rituals, myths, legends and tales of the Albanian people. The elements of Albanian mythology are of Paleo-Balkanic origin and almost all of them are pagan. Albanian folklore evolved over the centuries in a relatively isolated tribal culture and society. Albanian folk tales and legends have been orally transmitted down the generations and are still very much alive in the mountainous regions of Albania, Kosovo, western North Macedonia, south-eastern Montenegro, and southern Serbia, and among the Arbëreshë in Italy and the Arvanites in Greece.

Vampire folklore by region

Legends of vampires have existed for millennia; cultures such as the Mesopotamians, Hebrews, ancient Greeks, and Romans had tales of demonic entities and blood-drinking spirits which are considered precursors to modern vampires. Despite the occurrence of vampire-like creatures in these ancient civilizations, the folklore for the entity known today as the vampire originates almost exclusively from early 18th-century Southeastern Europe, particularly Transylvania as verbal traditions of many ethnic groups of the region were recorded and published. In most cases, vampires are revenants of evil beings, suicide victims, or witches, but can also be created by a malevolent spirit possessing a corpse or a living person being bitten by a vampire themselves. Belief in such legends became so rife that in some areas it caused mass hysteria and even public executions of people believed to be vampires.

Illyrian religion refers to the religious beliefs and practices of the Illyrian peoples, a group of tribes who spoke the Illyrian languages and inhabited part of the western Balkan Peninsula since at least the 8th century BC and until the 7th century AD. The available written sources are very tenuous. They consist largely of personal and place names, and a few glosses from Classical sources.

The Throne of God is the reigning centre of God in the Abrahamic religions: primarily Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. The throne is said by various holy books to reside beyond the Seventh Heaven which is called Araboth in Judaism, and al-'Arsh in Islam. Many in the Christian religion consider the ceremonial chair as symbolizing or representing an allegory of the holy Throne of God.

The Ora is an Albanian mythological figure that every human possesses from birth, associated with human destiny and fate. Often depicted as three female deities, the Ora “maintain the order of the universe and enforce its laws” – “organising the appearance of humankind.”

Superstition in Pakistan is widespread and many adverse events are attributed to the supernatural effect. Superstition is a belief in supernatural causality: that one event leads to the cause of another without any physical process linking the two events, such as astrology, omens, witchcraft, etc., that contradicts natural science. In Pakistan, the Magical thinking pervades as many acts and events are attributed to supernatural and ritual, such as prayer, sacrifice, or the observance of a taboo are followed. Many believe that magic is effective psychologically as it has placebo effect to psychosomatic diseases. Scholars of Islam view superstition as shirk, denying the unity of God and against Sharia. Within Islam, shirk is an unforgivable crime; God may forgive any sins if one dies in that state except for committing shirk. Sleeping on your right side and reciting the Ayat-ul-Kursi of the Quran can protect person from the evil.