Thursday, April 9, 2015

Ghosts, Ghouls, and Demons: Penanggalan

Ghosts, Ghouls and Demons
Origin: Malaysian Folklore
Next time you or someone close to you is pregnant, keep a close eye on the midwife. If she smells of vinegar this can be a bad sign. If after you have given birth the midwife's detached head and entrails visit you in the night, to feed on you or your newborns blood, well you have got yourself a problem – a Penanggalan is paying a visit.
The Penanggalan is a type of vampire written and spoken of in Malaysian folklore. It is a woman who has made a ritual pact to gain supernatural powers. The pact itself is not what creates a Penanggalan but rather the breaking of said pact. For the woman to receive these powers she makes several promises, one of these promises is that she will not eat meat for forty days, and if this rule is broken she will become the cursed vampiric creature.
During the day she will appear as a normal living person but when darkness falls her head will detach from the body, trailing all of her internal organs behind her, as she seeks out food. She will wait near the houses of pregnant women for their newborns to come into the world, then she will strike. She will either herself enter the building if possible or will insert her long, invisible tongue through a window, door or a crack in the roof, and will feed on the blood of the newborn and the mother. The Penanggalan will not just take the blood but also the flesh if possible.
Those who a Penanggalan have fed on (and survived) will suffer from a wasting disease that only a Bomoh (shaman) can cure.
Before sunrise the Penanggalan will return to its hollow body. Before resuming its human guise it will soak its trailing organs in a vat of vinegar that it keeps in its home - this both cleans and shrinks them making for a much easier entry through the open neck.
Due to its preferred food a Penanggalan will seek out work as a midwife or any other job that will bring her closer to pregnant women and newborn children.
There are several ways to protect oneself from a Penanggalan and most of these take the form of hanging thorny vines and leaves around doorways and windows. This is said to ensnare the trailing entrails of the Penanggalan, leaving it an easy target for a machete or other sharp weapon.
If you happen across the hollowed out body of a Penanggalan you can fill it with broken glass which will cause the internal organs to rupture when they return home, killing the creature.
(Several people and cultures in the region have their own versions and some with different names)
Written by Ashley Hall - The Paranormal Guide 2015
Picture: Penanggalan by Kurt Komoda
For more information about the paranormal, strange, dark and macabre visit The Paranormal

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