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The Legend of the White Snake: A Chinese Mélusine Story

By Minjie Su A husband ‘accidentally’ glimpses into his wife’s bedchamber only to discover that the lady whom he believed to be fair, noble, and undoubtedly human – is in fact a (partial) snake. This unfortunate discovery, though hushed for a short period, eventually leads to the lady’s departure. The husband, full of remorse, renounces […]

How to Kill a Medieval Zombie

By Danièle Cybulskie I’ve often said that people in the Middle Ages shared the same hopes and fears that we do. Believe it or not, that includes the walking dead. Although medieval Europeans would not have recognized the term “zombie”, they did tell tales of corpses rising from the grave to terrorize the living. So, […]

What Medieval Ghosts can tell us about the Afterlife

People in the Middle Ages told tales of seeing and talking with ghosts. While these encounters could be quite scary, it was also an opportunity from them to learn about the afterlife.

Old Norse White Walkers?

Fear of the undead is by no means a new sensation to humankind; the Icelanders, for instance, knew it centuries ago.

Fake Medieval Proverbs (from the Middle Ages)

Jane la Sauvage said, if someone sees a wolf before the wolf sees them, it will have no power to do any harm. And likewise from the person to the wolf.

A Wolfish Reflection: A Literary Analysis of the Werewolf Story in ‘The King’s Mirror’

Why has the werewolf story been selected? How should it be read and understood?

Seven Things You Didn’t Know About Medieval Dragons

Why were dragons so popular—and what was a dragon in the Middle Ages, anyway? Here are a few things you might not know about medieval dragons

Buried Alive with an Undead Corpse! A Medieval Tale

A medieval tale from northern Europe tells the story of Asmund, who gets buried alive. His friend then rises from the dead!

Druids, deer and ‘words of power’: coming to terms with evil in medieval Ireland

Our focus is on medieval Irish literature—one of the earliest written vernaculars in Europe. Within this rich tradition, the face of evil changes according to genre.

Hearing medieval voices

Hearing voices without external stimuli: in the popular imagination, auditory hallucination is most often understood as a symptom of severe mental disorders.

How to Deal with the Restless Dead? Discernment of Spirits and the Response to Ghosts in Fifteenth-Century Europe

Discernment of spirits was embedded in late medieval theologies and ministries of death and, as such, was central to the assessment of other apparitions – like those of ghosts.

From the Middle Ages to Modernity: The Intersecting Supernatural Worlds of Melusine and Today’s Popular Culture

This work contains many elements common to supernatural tales of its time-shape-shifting, magic fountains and marriages between humans and fairies – yet it is also surprisingly relevant to our own age, whose popular culture is saturated with modem myths and vampire love-stories.

Deviants, Donestre, and Debauchees: Here be Monsters

The donestre, a mediaeval race of lion-headed polyglots with a taste for human flesh, demonstrate an ancient form of monstrous transgression by their corporeal violation of both social and natural law.

Sacrificial Magic and the Twofold Division of the Irish Ritual Year

The historical development of St. Martin’s Day in Ireland, and its relationship with the more ancient festival of Samhain is examined, revealing circumstances that saw much of the ritual nature of Samhain being adopted within a Christian context in the medieval period.

Medieval Monsters and the Anxiety towards the Alien

Similar to many monsters or aliens in our current science fiction culture, some medieval monsters could be dangerous and life threatening.

The Mythical Ghoul in Arabic Culture

Though the ghoul has origins as old as the Mesopotamian civilization, Arabs were largely responsible for popularizing it. Because Islam incorporated this being in its doctrine, the ghoul remained a source of fear and mystery in the Arab culture.

‘One Thing I Know’: Werewolves Are a Thing

In his Otia Imperialia, Gervase of Tilbury tells of many strange creatures he knows all about. One of these creatures is the werewolf.

Necromancy from Antiquity to Medieval and Modern Times

In the Old Norse saga there is peculiar technique of divination called utiseta that is practised on burial mounds.

‘Hann lá eigi kyrr’: Revenants and a Haunted Past in the Sagas of Icelanders

From Antiquity to the present day, the idea of the dead returning to interact with the living has greatly influenced human imagination, and this has been reflected in literature — the product of that imagination.

Doors to the dead: The power of doorways and thresholds in Viking Age Scandinavia

It is argued that Viking Age people built ‘doors to the dead’ of various types, such as freestanding portals, causewayed ring-ditches or thresholds to grave mounds; or on occasion even buried their dead in the doorway.

Curse or Blessing: What’s in the Magic Bowl?

I intend to look at magic bowls in order to see how and for what purpose they were used, and to get a glimpse at the way they worked and what hidden treasures can be found within them.

5 Fun Facts About Robin Hood

Robin Hood has enthralled generations of readers and movie goers. This English outlaw-hero has become of symbol of freedom against tyranny, stealing from the rich to give to the poor. But who was Robin Hood? How much is grounded in myth and how much is reality?

The Evil Spirit that Terrorized a Medieval Village

Today’s horror movies could make use of this story from the ninth-century, of how an evil spirit terrorized a village, and the attempt to get rid of it, which seems to be one of the earliest recorded exorcisms from the Middle Ages.

Liber Monstrorum: The Book of Monsters

If there’s anything we have in common with our medieval ancestors, it’s our love of monsters.

Continuity: Folklore’s Problem Child?

Few topics play a more central role in the way scholars have thought – and, in some cases, continue to think – about medieval folk cultures than has the issue of continuity.

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