Almost every culture has superstitions about eclipses. Then there’s Albanian and Romanian folklore, where a vampire infects and eats the moon, sucking the life out.
Albanians believe that when a wicked or miserly person dies, he will become a lugat (a sort of ghost vampire). Apparently, holding too tightly to money seems to be sin. One legend has that the ghost of a miser (called Kukudh) haunts his old house. Anyone who sleeps in that house risks being killed by this evil spirit. However, if you can survive the night, you will inherit the miser’s fortune. What a way to earn a living.
A lugat is a form of poltergeist that leaves the corpse every night (except Saturday’s) to smash windows in homes and be a general disturbance. Some versions state that it flies around in the skin of a dead person. Now that puts the white sheet ghost archetype to shame. Imagine seeing a skinned person floating in your hallway. Other versions have that a lugat is a long fingered ghost that possesses a corpse. Wolves seem to be the only force that can drive this creature back into the grave.
As a ghost, a lugat is indestructible. However, if you can catch it in the grave, you can destroy it. First you need to figure out which corpse is the culprit. It’s usually a relative. (They never leave you alone, even after death.) To narrow down your options, get yourself a white stallion and go trotting through the graveyard. Whichever grave the horse balks at is the winner. Dig up the corpse, stuff the grave with brush, and light it ablaze.
Be careful, if you don’t get corpse burning soon, then a lugat will mature into a kukudh. These demons are almost human-like and can travel out in daylight. They are heavyset, short with a goat’s tail. The only way to destroy this form is with a noose of grapevines.
A lugat can also eat the moon to create an eclipse. Villagers would shoot at the moon to scare the lugat away. Pregnant woman needed to stay indoors, least their unborn child be infected with the disease. The word kukudh comes from the Greek word for plague or pestilence.
Romanian Sleeping Spirits
This evil spirit possess people, possibly still alive. The victim has a pale face and dry skin. When the varcolac spirit gets hungry, the person will fall into a deep sleep. The spirit slips out of the mouth and devours the moon. Sometimes when a red hue covers the moon, people thought that the varcolac was at work. If the host body is moved or roused, the sleep becomes eternal because the spirit cannot find the body again. I’m guessing that this was a warning not to disturb grandpa when he dozes off after too much wine.
Next time you witness an eclipse, start looking for sleeping people or grab yourself a white stallion and head to a graveyard. Cause if you don’t, you may never see the sun again.
Fascinating, I have not heard of the lugat, nor its maturation into a kukudh. I think I am really going to enjoy your blog. Thanks for sharing! Paul
I’m a big fan of monster folklore.
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