While it’s Women in Horror Month, I’ve been researching gothic and dark folklore themes. Here’s a few of the diverse research topics I encountered including the history of witchcraft and an Icelandic folklore sure to make your skin crawl.
Witchcraft: the Devil’s Influence
Accusations of witchcraft have a long history. The era of associated with the highest prevalence of witch trials and executions was the 14th century, but before these later witch hunts of the Middle Ages, those often accused of witchcraft included midwives, healers and those dwelling on the fringe of their community, blamed for sickness, crop failure and unexpected deaths. When researching this theme, I examined the folklore of the Devil’s involvement through deliberate actions or more subtle means such as manipulation.
Necropants: Grisly Icelandic Folklore
A folklore tradition believed to be practiced in Iceland as late as the 17th century, was the gruesome lore behind necropants. A deal made with a male friend upon his death, involved flaying the skin from the waist down in a single piece and wearing the pants which adhered to the new owner. A coin stolen from a widow and a magical sigil, were inserted into the scrotum make certain the testicular sacks were always full of coins. I decided to explore this dark and grisly folklore in a mico-fiction story set during the early Viking Age.