In this feature we’re delving back into The Witcher series, a polish and literary phenomenon written by Andrzej Sapkowski which will soon be hit Netflix series starring Henry Cavill. While there’s many different aspects of lore on the vast Continent that Geralt of Rivia travels across, we figure today might be a good time to delve into one of the darker creatures that lie in wait. Today we’re discussing The Striga.
Fans of the series will note that in the grand scheme of things, The Striga doesn’t show up in many stories; in fact, it only shows up in one really. The first one. Wiedzmen. The first story written by Andrzej Sapkowski back in 1986, and later republished to high hell in a number of short story collections, the most famous being The Last Wish (hint hint, go check these out). Taking place early in Geralt’s career as a Witcher, the story details his now famous duel with the hellish creature that terrorized an entire kingdom for 7 years, The Striga.
Here’s a little background, considering most of our information on a Striga comes from this story; a Striga, from what we know, is a woman that’s been cursed to transform into a horrid creature at night. From what we can also tell, this happens with corpses as well, as the main Striga we know of, Princess Adda, fell to the curse when she and her mother died during childbirth. Accordingly, Striga are known to be immense creatures, lopsided and horribly disfigured. Geralt describes the one that he fought as having a disproportionately large head on a short neck, and a “tangled, curly halo of reddish hair.” The creature is shown to have immense, jagged teeth set in its maw, and long talons that can rend most flesh into chunks with one swipe.
Of course, with most magical creatures, a Striga’s diet consists of human beings. At night, the creature slinks from its home to gorge itself on human flesh. It eats and eats without abandon, stuffing itself full until it must return to its den. There is a way that the curse of a Striga can be lifted, one that is deadly to any that should attempt it. Many believed it to simply be a means of staying with the creature throughout the night; such beings were smashed into a pulp of meat and bones. The real way to reverse this dreadful curse is to keep the Striga away from its resting place until early morning, when the cock crows for the third time.
However, even with the curse broken, things might not be entirely…well, normal. For instance, some people may not recover mentally from such an encounter. The life as a Striga would undoubtedly leave a very damaging imprint on someone’s psyche; some might retain elements of the Striga’s personality or, if they became one at a young age, they might not be as developed mentally as they are physically. Things like nurturing and teaching would have to be implemented. There’s also cases where preventative measures must be taken to prevent a woman from returning to the form of a Striga.
Geralt remarks that a survivor should always wear a sapphire around their necks, one holstered in a silver chain as silver is the metal that harms and repulses magical creatures in the world of The Witcher. He goes so far as to say an Inclusion, which is merely a sapphire with a pocket of air trapped inside, may even be a better alternative. He continues, saying that burning Juniper, Aspen and Broom in a fireplace is another preventative measure to take. However, should the girl die, let’s say of a long swoon, that lasts for several days, Geralt remarks that the body must be burned to prevent the nightmare from happening all over again.
Of course, the one documentation of such a creature happens within Wiedzmen, in which Geralt of Rivia is tasked with putting an end to the nightmare that is haunting Vizima. The story details Geralt’s decision to chase after a reward of three thousand Oren to lift the curse of the Striga from Vizima, with many court officials telling him such a task is impossible. The reason the reward dictates that the creature musn’t be killed is because it is the daughter of King Foltest and his late sister, Princess Adda.
The king was involved in an incestuous relationship, one that bore him a still born daughter and a dead sister, both of whom were laid to rest in a double sarcophagus. For 7 years, the people of Vizima were unaware of the terror that would be unleashed, as Foltest’s daughter reawakened as a horrid beast bent only on death and bloodshed.
Many desired to see the Striga killed, hoping for a quick end to this carnage, while Foltest hung on to the belief that his daughter could be cured. Geralt maintained there was a level of truth to this; a Striga could have its curse reversed, so long as it was kept from returning to its resting place by the third crow of the cock. Being told to at least try and save his daughter, Foltest grows to respect Geralt’s level headedness and gives him freedom to choose; try and save her, but if there’s no other option, put her out of her misery.
As Geralt prepares and lies in wait for the creature to emerge, he’s visited by Lord Ostrit, who attempts to bribe the Witcher to leave. It turns out that Ostrit managed to bribe a previous Witcher that tried to stop the beast, as he wanted to keep the carnage in Vizima. As long as the creature remained, King Foltest would lose sway with the people, and eventually, King Vizimir of Novigrad would take control of Vizima. You see, initially Foltest was to join the hand in marriage of Vizimir’s daughter in order to sure an alliance between their two countries. Of course, as we know, Foltest got his sister laden with child instead.
Revelations only continue to come out as Ostrit reveals his deep love he had for Princess Adda, and how furious he was when he found out Foltest and her were engaging in an incestuous love. So much so that he wished in his heart for King Foltest to be dead. The actual curse of the Striga is just that; a curse. It’s not something that just happens from a child born of incest; it has to be something that’s cast.
Geralt makes it a note of saying that a strong will might be enough to bring about such a curse, something that’s noted whenever Ostrit goes through his deep feelings of hatred towards Foltest. Of course, he denies having any part, claiming the old queen, Foltest’s mother, was also enraged and must have done it, but even he is unsure if he is the cause of the nightmare. Of course, like Geralt says, “none of that matters.” For the beast awakens.
Ostrit is used as bait by The Witcher, keeping the Striga busy while he further prepares to keep it away from the sarcophagus. A deadly battle engages between both parties, one that leaves Geralt aching but the better for wear. Placing a Sign around the lid of the sarcophagus, Geralt manages to keep the young girl out until the third crowing of the rooster. Not without getting his throat slashed, but hey, no plan is perfect. With the curse lifted by morning and his mind at ease, Geralt of Rivia closes his eyes and earns a nice, long rest.
So, what do you guys think? Did you enjoy this look at the Striga and would you want to see anymore monstrous creatures explored from the world of The Witcher? Leave your comments down below and feel free to follow me at @LukeAdaVA on Twitter!