Urðarköttur - The Ghoul Cat - The Reykjavik Grapevine

Urðarköttur – The Ghoul Cat

Urðarköttur – The Ghoul Cat

Published April 6, 2017

Photo by
Arngrímur Sigurðsson

It is in most respects like other cats […] but larger and more vicious and formidable. As a youngling, it will bury itself into the ground, preferably in a cemetery, and stay there for an undetermined time. It will spare nothing once it has emerged and is almost impossible to conquer. It can grow to the size of a dog, wether or even a yearling. It is said that when it buries itself in a cemetery and is left undisturbed, it will stay underground for three years, in which case it is known as a corpse cat. Once it leaves the cemetery, according to some accounts, it will dwell in rocky slopes, attacking sheep, birds and men alike. Its gaze is so evil and severe that it proves instantly fatal to all beings, although this is mostly to be feared […] when it is newly emerged from the ground. It is like other cats in that it will be overcome by its own reflection. I have heard few tales of actual ghoul cats. No guns will harm a ghoul cat with full powers, except perhaps if silver buttons or silver bullets are fired at it. These are among the worst of all malignant creatures.

Source: Sigfús Sigfússon, Íslenzkar þjóðsögur og sagnir VI, p. 64-65

Our ‘Monster of the Month’ comes from the project Duldýrasafnið (“Hidden Beings Museum”) by Arngrímur Sigurðsson. He takes firsthand accounts of creature sightings, like the one above, from Icelandic historical texts, and creates a painting of each one. An Icelandic book is out now, and the English language version is also available in our web store.

Read our interview with the artist here, and see more monsters here.

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