Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

Brigid Daull Brockway is technically a writer

A blog about words, wordplay, and etymology, with slightly more than occasional political rants.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The monster at the end of this blog

Introducing the Aswang, the most terrifying ghoul in all of folklore and proof that Filipino parents are the most terrifying parents in all of parentlore. 
The least scary image of the Aswang
I could find, because my mom reads
this blog, and is kind of a fraidy-cat.
You're welcome, mom.
While the lore varies as lore is wont to do, the aswang is undead and feeds on children's flesh. By night, she is a wraith, thin enough to hide behind a bamboo pole and with feet that face backward. Some say she makes noises that grow quieter the closer she gets. Unlike a vampire, who at least has the decency to be dead for half the day, she can day walk and appears normal, if a bit shy. Horrified yet? No? When she learns of a pregnant woman, the Aswang will sneak up on her while she sleeps and suck the fetus out through her belly button. She steals babies from their cribs and children from the streets, and in their place she leaves an identical replacement made of banana tree trunks and leaves which gets sick and dies after a few days. And where do Filipino parents come in? It's common to threaten misbehaving children with this waking nightmare. And I thought my parents were mean when they threatened me with coal in my stocking. 
The banana baby is far from the only impostor in mythology. Apparently, the fear that our loved ones have been replaced is universal. 
The changeling appears all over European mythology. In Ireland, looking at a baby or its mother with envy might put the baby in the faeries' sights, and they might come and replace the baby with a síofra - a changeling child. To try and fool the changeling child, you could cook in eggshells or lay eggshells near a fire, which would cause the changeling to reveal its true age. If that didn't work, you could always toss your baby in the fire, because maybe Filipino parents don't have the corner market on horror after all.
In Sweden, you might only have to pretend to murder the bortbytingen if it has replaced your child. You can avoid having your unbaptized baby swapped by placing iron or steel near it. If you fail to do so, however, you might be able to get your little one back by just beating the crap out of the kid or threatening to throw it in a fire. 

Get it?

1 comment:

Should Fish More said...

Not germane to your post, but I thought about this the other day. Have you ever heard this woman's short radio show, on daily up here in Montana on MTPR.....

Kristi the Wordsmith

Your posts sometimes remind me of her program