On all hallows eve the creatures of the night roam the earth in search of candy and fun. Little do they know that they are acting out stories that have permeated our society since the middle ages. Anyone watching TV or movies knows all about a Zombie. I, however, find revenants much, much scarier. What’s that you ask? What is a revenant? Well, let me enlighten you.
The term revenant usually means a sentient creature whose desire to fulfill a special goal allows it to return from the grave as a creature vaguely resembling an intelligent zombie. The word revenant comes from Latin and French, revenir, “to return” and in French, “revenant” means “returning”. The belief in such creatures rose in England, and gradually spread across Europe during the High Middle Ages where they were accompanied by stories of other horrific monsters. The folklore of these cultures depicts many kinds of animated dead which, unlike traditional zombies, seem to retain both free will and intelligence. Unlike vampires, revenants do not drink blood.
There are generally two accepted reasons for why a revenant returns after death.
The most common reason is revenge. These types of spirits rise from the grave in order to exact justice for being prematurely or unjustly killed, almost always in an untimely manner. While generally benign in nature these spirits are an overall nuisance and annoyance that must be dealt with. Ridding oneself of such a creature involves allowing or aiding the monster to serve its justice. Once done they simply return to their final resting place peacefully never to rise again.
A more sinister reason for a revenant to rise is essentially for hate and evil’s sake alone. These monsters are said to terrorize friends, family, neighbors and places causing as much pain and. Most often these beasts appear because the person who died suffered terribly as they struggled with death, or they themselves were very evil in their life, concerning themselves with only their own pursuits of greed, lust, corruption and murder. These revenants must be utterly destroyed by either burning their remains until even the ashes are gone, or by cutting off the revenant’s head, sprinkling it with holy water, and burying it on holy ground.
The physical description of a revenant varies wildly depending on the circumstances under which the spirit was created. In all cases the creature is ghastly to behold ranging from animated skeletal remains to partially decomposed corpses. Some revenants even look just as they did in life, save a strange grave like pallor. No matter the horrid condition of the beast a damp, black, utterly oppressive sense of death and cold accompanies it.
Now that you know more, do you think you could tell the difference between a revenant and a zombie?
Let’s hope you never have to.