Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology

A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O [P] R S T U V W X Y Z


In Malaysia there is a type of vampiric spirit known as a pelesit ("spirit devil"). It is created with magic by a witch to be used as her familiar. She will go into the forest on the night of a full moon and, with her back to the moon and facing a hill, recite aloud the incantations that are necessary to catch her own shadow. It is a difficult process and very often does not work on the first try. When it does finally work, a child will appear and stick out its tongue. Quickly, the witch must grab the tongue, causing the child to disappear. Shortly thereafter, the tongue will turn into a small imp, the pelesit. In another version of the spell, the witch must bite the tongue out of the corpse of a firstborn child whose mother was also a firstborn child and was buried at a crossroads.
Like many familiars that must be fed a specialdiet, the pelesit is no different. In order for the witch to keep it alive, she must feed it blood from her fourth finger mixed with saffron rice. It has the ability to shape-shift into the form of a common house cricket, a guise the pelesit will use when employed by its witch to attack the children of the woman with whom the witch suspects her husband is having an affair, a task that it takes particular joy in. The pelesit will enter into the child's body, and from within, cause an illness. The child will suffer from seizures and rant madly about cats. There is a particular charm that can be made or purchased that will ward off a pelesit, but it will do nothing for someone who is already under attack. Oftentimes a witch who has a pelesit as a familiar will also have a second familiar known as a POLONG. Very often the two familiars will work together to victimize a person.
Source: Folklore Society of Great Britain, Folklore, vol. 13, 150 ­51, 157; Masters, Natural History of the Vampire; Skeat, Malay Magic, 321, 328­30

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