Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Drekavac - a mix of myth and religion...

So many myths stem and grow from religious belief or custom and the Drekavac is a particularly interesting evolution of this.

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Name: Drekavac
Origin: Eastern European Myth
Creep Factor: 10/10
Religious affiliation: Christian/Catholic
Deadly rating: Medium
Cryptid: Yes
Shares similarity with: Chupacabra, Banshee

(I have decided to start all my Mythological Beasts posts with a Beastly Facts list, let me know if you think any quick fact should be added.)

The Drekavac hails from slavic mythology, the word literally meaning "the screamer" or "yeller" (Serbo-Croatian).

Described as being a terrible beast with muscular kangaroo-like back legs, and the head and body of a dog - the drekavac is said to arise from the soul of a dead unbaptised child -  a very common theme throughout slavic/eastern European mythology.
The notion that if an individual dies unbaptised, the soul will return and wreak havoc on Earth is one of those enduring fears that thoughout the ages, has has packed many Church pews.

The drekavac allegedly appears most often near a cemetary , sometimes in the form of a creepy looking/ malnourished child, begging to be baptised. It gets its name from the awful screams and cries it emits.
The drekavac can harm people. Some legends claim the scream itself is an omen of death (like the Banshee) and if the beast's shadow falls upon an individual then that person will die.

The creature inhabits tunnels and caves and is reported to eat sheep and cattle. The bodies of mutilated sheep and cattle are often produced as alleged evidence of the drekavac's existance.

It is interesting that the drekavac has recently moved beyond myth into cryptozoology and as it does, so the link with the soul of the unbaptised child diminishes.There are numerous images over the internet of "drekavac kills" (ie disembowelled sheep, mutilated cows etc). Similarly with it's hunched kangaroo-like legs and fiersome teeth -  the modern descriptions of the drekavac hold a remarkable similarity with the chupacabra (goat sucker of South American myth).

  However, there is one significant difference between the cryptid status of the chupacabra and drekavac. The drekavac has an historical religious origin and was born through mythology, whereas the chupacabra is a modern cryptid currently evolving its own mythology.

 Everything exists for a reason. Looking at the religious meaning behind myths and the beasts within them, gives insight into the reason for the creatures alleged 'existance'. The drekavac is essentially a cautionary tale; "baptize your children, lest their souls turn into this hideous beast when they die." Upon hearing this, what God-fearing slavic peasant would have decided not to baptise their child? In simply understanding this, I understand more about the creature. Combine this with a bit of imagination and you've nearly got a ready-made paranormal tale bursting to be told...
Knowing what the creature exists to do in both the mythological sense and the underlying social sense allows a writer develop a creature/character that is not only true to the myth, but also to the culture of origin.
And on that poignant note, enjoy your day.

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