One would think that a simple crossroads, no more than a break in the road, is nothing of great significance. But in truth, crossroads are shrouded in dread and superstition.
For ages crossroads have been considered places for evil activity. A known meeting place for the unholy. Crossroads are unhallowed ground haunted by demons, the Devil, witches, fairies, ghosts, spirits, and of course, vampires. In Russian folklore, the undead were believed to wait at crossroads, drinking the blood of weary travelers unlucky enough pass their way. In Romanian lore, living vampires, those who are destined to become vampires after death, send their souls out of their bodies at night to wander crossroads.
Superstitions surrounding crossroads can also be found in various other European countries, in India, Japan, and even among Native Americans. Crossroads received their ominous reputation due to murderers, supposed witches and vampires, and suicides not being allowed to be buried on consecrated ground of a church, and therefore were buried at crossroads instead. In the case of possible vampires, it was believed that once they rose, they wouldn’t know which path to take back home, and so the village was safe from the dreaded bloodsucker. In some cases, a nail or stake was driven into the crossroads corpse in order to prevent the body from returning as a vampire or as a ghost. Being wary of a crossroads would be understandable if you knew it was the resting place of evil. It didn’t help that crossroads were also once where gallows were built.
Folklore and superstitions concerning crossroads vary depending on where you are. As I said above, some believed that crossroads were haunting grounds for vampires, but others thought that they offered protection from them, perhaps because the roads formed a cross. In German lore it was believed that if you are chased by a ghost or vampire that you should head towards a crossroads for protection. Once reaching the crossroads the being will vanish with an eerie screech. The old stories explain that vampires are thought to find the four pathways confusing. They will stand in the middle of the road, contemplating which direction to take until dawn, when they must return to their grave.
While some believe that crossroads offer protection, the vast majority of lore from all around the world firmly state that crossroads are dangerous and to be avoided. They are not only the haunting ground for vampires, but countless other evil beings. Be wary travelers.