Friday, January 25, 2013

Ghouls

It's very late, and the  moon is radiant and high in the sky. You're walking back home on a dirt path beside the desolate road. The air is biting-cold. You sniffle, eyes darting back and forth, and your feet take you in through the tall wrought iron cemetery gates. You've used the graveyard as a cut-through before, but you're still feeling uneasy. There's a disturbance, and you can sense it in your gurgling gut. Your suspicion grows as you approach a dirt mound above a grave. A shadow glides past in your peripheral vision. You walk faster and faster, but trip on a patch of pebbles. Stumbling, looking around, you see what looks like a pile of a person. Then the smell...it hit like a wall of sticky decay. You sprint as fast as your feet can take you. Gliding through the air, refusing to look back, there is one thought rattling your brain: Ghoul.
The legend of the ghoul is one that fascinates me thoroughly. Many people confuse ghouls with zombies, but they are completely separate creatures. Originating in Arabic folklore, Ghouls are humanoid creatures who feast on the flesh of the dead. It is said that they live in cemeteries, coming out at night to eat their fill from fresh graves. It is even thought that ghouls might be willing to kill for their meal, but only if it is of little risk to them. 

Ghouls are undead creatures, but where do they come from, and how does one become a ghoul? There are many theories: Many believe, typically from Arab folklore, that ghouls are demonic creatures. Some believe you are born a ghoul, while others believe you can become one from sickness or corruption of the soul. You can read more about it in [this] article.
To slay a ghoul, Arab myth says one swing of your sword is enough. These creatures are never seen in daylight, so maybe the sun is poison to them.

If you care to read, [here's] a chilling short story involving a ghoul. It's called 'The Nameless Offspring' by Clarke Ashton Smith.

Take [this quiz] to find out if you're a ghoul! You may not even know...

2 comments:

  1. I did the quiz, it was fun, I'm not a ghoul!

    The ghouls were so creepy in The Graveyard book!

    I can see how people confuse them with zombies, as modern zombies seem to really take a lot from the ghoul legend, wheras traditional zombies were people cursed and sometimes given zombie powder, so they would awake as a living dead slave to their enemy who did this to them. In Haiti they still believe in this. The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis is a very interesting modern book about trying to discover the truth by this (as a university wanted to refine the zombie powder for medicinal use) although the movie that is 'based' on it is said to be rather sensationalised.

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    1. I'll look into that Wade Davis book. There's a piece of fiction I'd like to read. It's called The Magic Island by W.B. Seabrook. It's an early Zombie novel about Haitian Voodoo zombies. Copies are very expensive and hard to come by.

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