Did you know that there are Viking epics about fighting zombies? It’s true!

Well, sort of. One of the really cool things about writing paranormal is dipping into obscure mythology for inspiration. While researching Hainted, I needed to look into Nordic legends about hauntings.

Nordic hauntings usually (though not always) take place around the burial mound of someone who was a total jerk in real life. The undead spirit, or draugr* (plural draugar) could destroy houses, sicken cattle, beat up passers-by, and generally make life miserable for everyone in the neighborhood.

The draugr wasn’t just the restless spirit, but the dead body as well, which meant it could turn into mist to pass in and out of the burial mound, then turn back into cold flesh. So sometimes they’re more like our usual idea of ghosts, and sometimes more like Hollywood’s version of a zombie (but without the need for brains). Some of them could also shape-shift, and all of them had terrifying eyes that would chill the blood of anyone unfortunate enough to meet one.

Viking zombies: they’ll bite you AND hack you to pieces with an ax.

If this wasn’t bad enough, some people skilled in magic could reanimate the dead on a battlefield as draugar, giving them an army of the undead to fight on.

Fighting draugar could have some serious drawbacks; the hero Grettir was cursed by a draugr to lose half his strength, become an outlaw, die alone, and to always see the frightful eyes of the draugr hovering before him. Yikes!

What are some of your favorite unusual ghosts, goblins, and things that go bump in the night? Tell me in the comments—I love learning new things!

*I was thrilled when Skyrim came out a short time later and I got to fight draugr in the game.

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