One of my absolute favorite things about vampires is their history, the countless myths and legends surrounding them. I love vampire folklore, I love that virtually every country has their own unique vampire, from the Sampiro to the Nelapsi. After countless time spent on research I had thought I had covered every vampire species, but it turns out that I missed one – the viesczy.
The Kashubes, Slavic people found in northern Europe, – specifically along the Baltic Sea in Poland, in the region of West Prussia – had migrated in large numbers to Ontario, Canada where they preserved their language, traditions and legends, including their vast vampire lore. Which is where we get the story of the viesczy, the vampire of the Kashubes.
Viesczy is a name derived from a term used to describe witched or sorcerers, but aside from them, the viesczy can also be used to describe someone born with teeth or caul (a thin, filmy membrane covering a newborn’s head). It was once a common belief in Europe that babies born with teeth or caul were doomed to become vampires, and it was this way that someone became a viesczy vampire.
Once dead a viesczy could be detected by bright redness of the face and their left eye open. The vampire begins its new existence by chewing on itself, gnawing away at its own body, which is why the Kashubes put a brick under the chin of the dead to keep their mouths closed. Preventative methods used to keep the vampire in its grave and away from the living were to place nets, flax seed, poplar crosses, and sand in the coffin. Nets were used because it was commonly believed that a vampire will be compelled to untie every knot in the net before they can do anything else.
There were other preventive actions as well, ones that were done right after the baby was born, rather than after its death. These included yanking the infant’s teeth out and drying the caul and crumbling it into the child’s food. Sadistic and gross, but this is what people once did to save themselves from vampire attack.
If none of these safety measures are done and the viesczy is left to its own devices it will leave its grave and murder its entire family, draining each dry. Unfortunately there was no way to hide from a viesczy, because like the upior this vampire could walk during the day.
If using a net to stop the vampire isn’t enough, one could kill it completely, which involved chopping off the head and placing it under the corpse’s arm.
I just bought a book on slavic vampirism by Dr. Jan Perkowski. It’s still in the plastic cover. I’m excited to find out if Dr. Perkowski covers the Viesczy.