Undeath is an evil curse often found in dark fiction such as horror, fantasy and folklore - it dates back at least several thousand years and is probably a product of our natural fears of death and the idea that the dead may somehow return to plague the living as the "Undead": especially if the dead are seen as somehow wronged.
The most common form of Undeath is said to be a haunting, where a spirit or revenant continually stalks an area where he or she has died: often refusing to leave until their deaths have been avenged (in the case of murder) or they are put to "rest" (such as if their grave was defiled).
However the most feared forms of Undeath were those of the vampire, ghoul or zombie - which would rise from the grave in corporeal form and often fed upon the living: these would become recurring antagonists in innumerable media and would in turn spawn even more varied subtypes of "Undead".
Causes of UndeathUndeath is viewed as a curse that is brought upon a soul by many varied means, the most common of which can be the defilement of their graves by the living or the dark magic of evil heretics such as warlocks or necromancers, Voodoo has also become a common cause of undeath as many believe that powerful witch-doctors can raise the dead as zombies.
Undeath can also be achieved by exceptionally twisted individuals via killing themselves and somehow reviving their corpses through evil pacts or forbidden knowledge of the arcane: often resurrection in this fashion turns one into a Lich or other high-ranking Undead.
Undeath is also believed to be passed down by those who are bitten by specific kinds of Undead (most famously the Vampire and (in some scenarios) the zombie).
Protection From Undeath
Undeath is greatly feared yet many have sought protection from its insidious grip, some common elements said to ward of Undeath are crucifixes, silver and exorcism rites - which are all believed to combat black magic and drive away evil spirits.
Decapitation, sunlight and salt are also believed to be effective against many undead while the famous wooden stake is said to be fatal to a vampire if driven through their unbeating hearts.
In the case of restless spirits it is often believed that shamans, psychics or priests have the ability to either appease the spirits or (through divine aid) help them to find peace: this is often phrased as "going into the light".
Types of Undead
Below is a list of creatures that are refered to as undead from varied media.
- Vampires (blood-sucking reanimated corpses, often envisioned as cunning and intelligent - frequently depicted as able to turn into mist, bats or wolves)
- Zombies (reanimated corpses often envisioned as either slow and dim-witted or fast and cannibalistic)
- Revenants (reanimated corpses that seek revenge on the living and have more intelligence than your average zombie - may also have limited supernatural powers at their disposal)
- Ghosts (the tormented or vengeful souls of the deceased often envisioned as invisible and capable of haunting the living in varied manifestations (known as poltergeist activity).)
- Ghouls (paradoxal creatures that are classed as undead despite technically being alive, are often symbolic of cannibalism and graverobbing)
- Liches (powerful necromancers that have revived themselves via black magic and continue their wicked work from beyond the grave).
- Skeletons' (reanimated skeletons that are often seen as the bulk of fictional undead armies)
- Mummies (powerful mummified corpses of kings and pharaohs who are said to guard their tombs from invaders tirelessly).
Undead in Fiction
The following figures are considered undead in fiction.
- Count Dracula (perhaps one of the most iconic vampires in the history of modern fiction)
- Count Orlok (another iconic vampire that has impacted strongly on modern fiction).
- Imhotep (cursed with the Hom-Dai curse to live forever as a mummy).
- Anck-Su-Namun (killed herself then Imhotep used black magic to resurrect her).
- Emperor Han (also known as the Dragon Emperor), also in The Mummy series, he was cursed by Shi Yuan the witch to live as an Undead statue
- Frankenstein's Monster, also one of the most famous Undead, unfortunately many people think he is just called "Frankenstein" because of the movies and of his creator Dr. Victor Frankenstein.
- The Nazgûl, are also Undead, being cursed by Sauron to live as Undead ghosts.
Undead in Folklore/Mythology/Theology
The following figures are considered undead in a folkloric, mythological or theological setting.