The Myth Of Strzyga Explained

Slavic mythology has been studied by historians for years, but its origins remain unclear, as the early Slavs didn't keep writings of their ideologies. The belief in myths lasted for a few centuries until Christianity was introduced. Despite the lack of records, researchers were able to find out about Slavic mythology through second-hand sources, and they provided insights on the culture, including the creatures that were featured in myths, as reported by Thought Co.

One of the many creatures in Slavic mythology is the strzyga — a vampire-like creature born from humans. It's common for creatures in Slavic myths to have dual aspects, and the strzyga is no exception. According to Zeluna, strzygi were born with two rows of teeth, and they had two souls and two hearts as well. They were typically females who feed on human blood — much like vampires. Although the strzyga was part of Slavic mythology, its origins date back to the ancient Romans and Greeks, who have writings about a monster similar to the strzyga called strigoi.

The stryzygi's behavior

Stryzygis started out as regular humans; the only difference was that they had two souls and two hearts. They typically die at a young age, but only one of the hearts stops beating and only one soul leaves the body. The other heart continues to beat and the remaining soul survives, and that's when the human corpse returns as a strzyga, according to Meet the Slavs.

A strzyga's physical appearance resembles that of a normal person's, except for its blue-gray skin. Typically, it stayed indoors in abandoned places doing household chores or at graveyards sleeping during the daytime. At night, however, they went on the prowl to feed on humans, and on some occasions, animals too. Stryzygis' main source of food was human blood, but they also ate the organs of their victims, as reported by Lamus Dworski. According to lore, the longer a strzyga lived, the more drastic it changed in appearance. They were known to take the form of an owl, complete with feathers, claws, and beady eyes.

Protection against a strzyga

A few things can be done to protect yourself from a strzyga, and one of them can even stop a strzyga from coming to life after its first death. Per Meet the Slavs, it's possible to stop a corpse from coming back as a strzyga by destroying its body by burning or cutting its limbs. In cases wherein a strzyga had already come back to life, people hung hawthorn branches on their windows to ward of the creature. Another common practice was to have pigs' blood ready to offer to a strzyga in exchange for a child's blood.

Strzygi always hunt for victims during the night, and their activities ceased as soon as the sun rose or when the first church bells of the day rang. By that time, they must have already gone back to their hiding place, or else they would disintegrate under the sunlight, much like vampires (via Ancient Pages).