In Albanian folklore a shtriga is a witch who preys upon infants by drinking their blood at night. But instead of transforming into an owl when she goes for her midnight snack, she is more apt to take the form of a flying insect.
The shtriga in Albanian mythology was a witch that would suck the spirtus vitaé, the living force, out of people at night while they slept, and would then turn into a flying insect.
Only the shtriga herself could cure those she had drained (often by spitting in their mouths), and those who were not cured inevitably sickened and died.
She preferred to drink from young children or even infants.
How to ward off a Shtriga
Traditionally there are several methods effective for defending oneself from shtriga, such as:
- a cross made of bone placed at the entrance of a church on Easter Sunday, rendering any Shtriga inside unable to leave. They could then be captured and killed at the threshold as they vainly attempted to pass.
- as after draining blood from a victim, the shtriga would generally go off into the woods and regurgitate it, it was believed that soaking a silver coin in that blood, then wrapping it in cloth, it would become an amulet offering permanent protection from any shtriga.
Even recently many Albanians regard the Shtriga as the most common cause of infant deaths.
Shtriga in other cultures
TV series Supernatural, in the episode "Something Wicked", featured a shtriga.