The Art of Maschalismos

You find yourself in the middle of a zombie apocalypse along with a group of survivors. Your running towards a reinforced safe house while being chased by a swarm of your undead enemy. Just as the relief is in reach, a member of your group is being attacked. As the rest run in to the house, a few stay behind in an effort to rescue their survival brethren. A few head shots puts the zombie down, but oh no. The person has been bitten and would soon go from friend to foe. A decision needs to be made. They are drug inside for a chance to live out their remaining minutes before you put a bullet in their head to keep them from turning.

This is a common scenario among monster movies, TV and books. This instinctual move decreases their numbers which in turn increases your chances of survival. However, with the lack of actual evidence of zombies, and vampires, is there a need for such a practice in real life? There are some cultures who believe in its power.

Maschalismos is the practice of physically rendering the dead incapable of rising or haunting the living in undead form. Such ritual mutilations of the dead were not limited to folkloric physical risings but to also escape the ill will of those wrongfully slain by a murderer after death.

A common method was the cutting off the feet, hands, ears, nose, etc, and tying them under the armpits of the corpse all strung together. In the Moluccas, they believe that the dead fly like birds and the presence of eggs will bring out maternal instincts. A woman who has died in childbirth is buried with pins stuck through the joints, and an egg under the chin and or armpits. In doing so, the ghost won't leave the eggs thus staying with its former body.

In Europe, those who committed suicide were sometimes buried with a stake driven through the heart, the body buried upside down, or the head cut off and placed between the legs. In many parts of Britain, the feet or large toes of the dead are tied together.

A tribe of American Indians known as The Omaha, slit the soles of the feet of those killed by lightning. The Basuto and Bechuana cut the sinews and spinal cord of their dead. The Herbert River aborigines of Australia beat the body to the point of breaking its bones. Then, filled the incisions made in the body with stones.

What are your thoughts on the practice of Maschalismos?


Jessica Penot said…
Great Post. My thoughts are that a good cremation probably makes it so maschalismos isn't needed.
Andrea Allison said…
That would make sense, right? But ill educated people who hold tight to traditions may not even want to consider the option.
Unknown said…
I LOVE your blog!
Do you ever look at other stuff? I found another one I love. I really have no idea if it is true or not. But I LOVE it! This girl is trying to prove her house is haunted. Go to YouTube and search for HauntedSunshineGirl. This link may work:
Good stuff.

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