Darrell J. Pursiful

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Vampire Vednesdays: Vetaal

Ernest Griset, “Vikram and the Vampire,” 1870

A vetaal (also baital, betal, vetala, etc.) is a hostile spirit of the dead from Indian folklore. Much like the ancient Mesopotamian edimmu, it is created when someone dies without the proper funeral rights. With no body of its own, it possesses the corpses of humans or animals in which to move about and feed on the blood of humans. Any corpse so possessed ceases to decompose for as long as the vetaal is present. Vetaals can also possess living creatures. They must remain within a corpse during the day, and reveal a monstrous visage with weird, glowing blue eyes when they feed. They have amazing physical strength and a paralyzing bite.

Vetaals have an uncanny knowledge of the past, present, and future, and sorcerers may seek to capture them and turn them into slaves for divinatory purposes.

Despite their evil nature, vetaals have also been known to guard the village where they spent their physical life and even to befriend humans and assume a mentoring role over them.

Vetaals can be appeased with gifts or scared away with certain arcane spells, but they are especially vulnerable to silver weapons. The only way to get rid of them for good is to perform the proper funerary rites on their behalf.


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