Some people are born Strigoi, and some people become Strigoi after death. In Romania, people are still commonly knowledgeable about this ancient depiction of the vampire. In fact, Bram Stoker, the author of the famous ‘Dracula’ was originally going to have his vampire be from Austria until he discovered the tales of the Strigoi from Transylvania. So this monster has had a pretty decent impact on pop culture. But the Strigoi is nothing like the vampires that are popularly portrayed in modern times. In fact, the modern world sees vampires totally different than how our ancestors knew them. There’s nothing regal, elegant, or seductive about a Strigoi. However, this is the monster our modern version of vampires is very loosely based upon. And just like how movies supposedly based on a true story actually have little to do with the real events, the origin of vampire myths are anything but elegant and seductive.
Strigoi have a ruddy complexion similar to decaying bodies, which is unlike the pale skin tones popular in modern times. The fear of Strigoi was so prevalent in Romania commoners would dig up human corpses from their graves at the tiniest suspicion a deceased person was actually a Strigoi. This practice was so common the church had to make decrees limiting the steady numbers of desecrated graves. People would do this because examining dead bodies was one of the best ways to spot a Strigoi.
If a corpse in an open casket showed little signs of decay after being buried for a while, then that person was definitely a Strigoi. One of the definitive signs someone is a Strigoi is if the only thing to rot off in that person’s grave was their nose. Other signs that could give someone away as a Strigoi is a bald head, cloven hooves, or a tail. But according to legend, no matter how horrifying a Strigoi is, some may alter its appearance to appear reasonably human at times. Even being able to move from town to town with little suspicion.
Oddly enough they’ve also gotten married in tales to normal mortals. Having Strigoi children, and basically living a normal life among unwitting commoners and nobles alike. Female Strigoi were known to prey on men in cities just like a black widow spider. Enticing men by transforming into an alluring appearance, only to devour them once they’d been tricked into following the Strigoi into its lair. But, not all Strigoi can alter their appearance to fool people. Most are stuck looking pretty scary, damned to wander the Earth in their monstrous form. Yet some people who perish and become Strigoi have returned from the grave to reunite with their former lover in life and continue the relationship.
Some Strigoi are blessed with a far more powerful form of shapeshifting, including the ability to transform into animals. But the first animal you’d think they’d shapeshift into isn’t on the list (bat). Instead, they can shapeshift into wolves, dogs, owls, cats, or even a month. And oddly enough even though vampires are known for being undead monsters, there are actually Strigoi that are still alive. The ones who were born from a Strigoi parent posing as a mortal human who’d coupled with a living woman seem normal as any everyday person. However, they are guaranteed to become an undead Strigoi once they do eventually die. People can also be born as a Strigoi through supernatural means, or hexes, curses, and ill omens.
Whether they’re aware of it or not, these living Strigoi afflict normal humans around them in a form of psychic vampirism. According to Transylvanian legend, they steal the mana from people or animals. Mana is the life force energy in people. Like chi or spirit. Which can actually kill people if enough is taken just like when vampires suck blood. Those afflicted by this psychic vampirism feel tired, depressed, and drained. They also know dark magic taught to them by the undead Strigoi. Able to inflict curses and hexes on the living, or perform magic rituals to benefit their everyday wants and needs.
The modern version of the vampire can be slain by stabbing it through the heart with a stake. However, this won’t work on a Strigoi. In Romania and the surrounding areas where the modern western vampire legends originate, there’s actually a lot of ways to deal with these undead. One technique in southern Romania is to cut the heart out of its chest when it’s resting in its grave, then burn the heart, followed by drinking the ashes. The legendary steak through the heart technique is actually to nail the stake through the corpse and into the coffin wood. Pinning it inside the coffin. But, this won’t kill the monster. It just traps it. In other areas of Romania, people insist you have to hack up the monster’s body into bits, then burn every single piece. Because if you leave a single bit of Strigoi body unburned, the vampire can fully regenerate good as new. However, the safest way to stop a Strigoi from bothering a community is simply to trap it. Such as piling stones above the spot a Strigoi is buried or resting.
There are also many ways to protect oneself and a community from Strigoi. A huge weakness they all share is a bizarre obsessive compulsiveness. If one is attacking you, you can throw wrinkled clothing or cloth at them and the vampire will be compelled to stop the assault, to neatly fold them. Or if one is threatening you from across the room, you can throw rice, or beads, or marbles, or whatever on the floor, and the Strigoi will feel compelled to count them. Giving you time to escape. One of the only weaknesses they share with modern vampires is the hatred for garlic. Hanging garlic in your window sill will keep them out of the house. You can even rub it on yourself or animals, and the Strigoi will be repelled.
Unlike modern vampires, undead Strigoi don’t just need blood to survive. They also eat human flesh, devour souls, or even eat normal food as well. The curse is so different for each individual Strigoi, what sustains them may vary greatly. Such as the still living Strigoi being psychic vampires for example. With many enjoying the kill in repeating obsessive rituals. But like all vampiric monsters, the majority love to gorge themselves like a tick on the blood of the innocent.