Last week we talked about Bulgaria and it’s vampires. Today we have another Bulgarian vampire…
The Ustrel. It was the spirit of a child born on a Saturday, but died before being baptized. Nine days after its burial the Ustel worked its way out of the grave and attacked sheep and or cattle, drinking its blood. It would drink all night, and return to its grave before dawn. After ten days of feeding, an Ustrel was strong enough, and doesn’t need to return to its grave anymore.
It would rest during the day either between the horn of a calf or ram; and the hind legs of a milch-cow. It would begin feeding; as many as five members of the herd would die every night. It picked the fattest ones first. If the dead animals were cut open, signs of the wound would be seen.
The owner of the herd could hire a Vampirzhija (vampire hunter). If Vampirzhija found an Ustrel, a particular ritual was needed, it was known as “Lighting a Needfire”. Beginning on Saturday morning all of the village’s fires would be put out. The cattle and sheep would be marched to a nearby crossroads where two new fires were already burning. They were made by rubbing two sticks together.
The herds were walked through the middle of the fires. It was believed that the vampire would drop from the animal it was hidden on and stayed at the crossroads. Wolves would devour it. Someone would take a flame from one of the two fires and relight all the household fires in the village.
Similar image, I can’t find an image of a Ustrel.
I should have known at a young age that I would grow up to love Vampires. The Count was my favorite character on Sesame Street.