Wraiths: The Sinister, Spite-Driven Ghosts Of Scottish Folklore

Share the Lore!

By: Alex Postrado

The Evil, Hunting Spirits of Nightmares

Spirits, phantoms, poltergeists, specters, doppelgängers, and shades — all of these fall under the same category of supernatural entities we know as ghosts.

Only that, these names bring about distinctions as to what form of ghost we are actually talking about.

It is said that despite all the forms ghosts are known to take, not every one of them is sinister by nature.

There are benevolent spirits — those that watch over their living families.

There are ambiguous ones — those that serve as omens of approaching death, but don’t cause it, themselves.

And finally, there are those that are just 100% utterly evil.

It is believed that wraiths belong to that type.

In the simplest sense, they are ghosts — souls of people who were once living among us.

Yet they are remarkably distinguishable due to the inherent malevolence that fosters in most of their kind.

A wrathful fiend of Scottish folklore, wraiths are hungry to see people suffer.

And if worse comes to worst, wraiths would track down their victims and torment them until there is no hope left — making them do the unthinkable with their very own hands.

wraith outside of a castle

What are Wraiths?

In Scottish folklore, wraiths are some sort of undead beings that are believed to either be the souls of those “on the verge of death” or those who recently died.

The name is said to be a direct translation of the words “apparition“, “ghost“, or “spirit”.

But while we commonly associate spirits with barely visible — humanlike or wisp-like — entities, wraiths are different.

Grotesque, in a way, wraiths markedly depart from our idea of ghosts — instead, bearing more resemblance to the Grim Reaper.

Appearing more like dark skeletal figures that are draped in ragged cloaks and can be found in dark places, such as boneyards.

Though wraiths are not known to be the assigned harvesters of departed souls, they definitely have some unfinished business in the mortal world.

You see, the lore says that a person — typically, a sorcerer or sorceress — would transform into a wraith after death if they have been using dark magic to break the “established laws of nature” while they were alive.

Things like necromancy, time manipulation, extending lifespan, and using potions and spells to bring someone back to life, are all considered reasons why a person would likely turn into a wraith after their passing.

Some are believed to still do it regardless, because — let’s be honest — having the power to control life must have felt great even for a time.

Yet once death finally knocks, the souls of these black magic practitioners would be damned to never reach the heaven-like abode of the spirits and are forced to “wander between dimensions” for all of eternity.

Thus, the wraiths’ loathing for every living human who still has a chance to make better decisions about their life and — subsequently — their afterlife.

Nightmare fuel – Wraith

Types of Wraiths

Although wraiths are generally perceived as purely malicious beings that actively seek to harm as many victims as possible, there is actually a type of wraith that leads — for the most part — an innocuous afterlife.

They are called voror — or, in other words, “watcher” or “warden“.

And they are best known for following particular humans from the time of their birth to their eventual death.

Despite this, voror are the only non-malevolent type of wraith in folklore.

The rest are sinister to the hilt.

Take, for example, the soul-stealers. This type of wraith is said to be utterly powerful to the point that they can easily steal the soul of a living human just by a single touch.

The fate of their victims? To be cursed to forever join the wraith’s eternal roam.

Another type is the parasitic cacodemons.

These are wraiths that dwell in dark, empty spaces — could be in a basement, an abandoned building, or a graveyard, to name a few — until a time when they find a human they could fuse with.

These wraiths would feed off of the victim’s energy — consuming it until the person dies, then moving on to a brand new host.

Oftentimes, the victims of these parasites never learn that they are being possessed.

In fact, they could go about their lives “perfectly” because they would still retain control over their bodies — except, over time, they could develop some demonic abilities.

Moreover, much like in the lore of the succubus, mating with a person possessed by a wraith would lead to the birth of a “Blood Child” as some parts of the wraith would attach to the unborn.

Kill or be Killed?

If there is one thing you absolutely need to know about wraiths, it is that you do not want to turn them into your enemies.

Wraiths are known to hold grudges.

And if you happen to catch the fury of a person who — after passing — turns into a wraith, then you can expect that they are not going to stop tormenting you until you, too, are dead.

They can take away your desire to live whenever they want.

And their ill-intent does not end there.

In most cases, they would take souls after souls until they have a whole clan of cursed spirits to join them in their comeuppance.

For sure, no one wants to be subjected to that!

Yet there is no shortage of reasons why a wraith might be after you — or your soul — regardless if you are strangers.

According to the lore, wraiths — due to their spiteful nature — may hurt all humans they come across with even for the pettiest of reasons.

And sometimes, the best way to avoid that is to defeat the wraith, itself.

While these evil creatures are powerful enough to cause immense suffering to anyone, they still have certain weaknesses:

Holy objects or a holy presence.

depiction of a wraith
Hateful, spiteful, and hunting your soul.

Since wraiths are exceptionally sinister, they are “not able to withstand holiness of any kind” — leaving them with no other choice but to beat a hasty retreat.

Though, when presented with an opportunity to strike again, wraiths will not miss.

So, your best bet?

Kill the formidable foe.

Anyway, if wraiths ever went into a fight and had to fall back, they would be intensely maddened. And this would cause them to, instead, bring upon their wrath to the world — stealing the hope and will to live from entire communities.

So, in most cases, it is a matter of who wants to outlive the other.

If you ever land in that situation, silver weapons can help you.

Some say that silver burns the skin of wraiths if they happen to have any.

Moreover, a stab to the side of a wraith’s upper body can do the job. And if you want, you can add a little prayer just for good measure.

Are Wraiths Real?

Religion and the belief in the afterlife are what likely birthed the story of wraiths.

Undeniably widespread and even dating back to a time when ancestor worship, paganism, and animism were still prevalent — the lore warns us of what could be waiting for us after death if we don’t do good and seek peace during our time living.

Over time, traces of other religious practices were added to the mix.

And we’ve now got a creature that is utterly — yet fascinatingly — terrifying!

Though, wraiths are said to only exist in fiction.

Since they are ghosts of some kind and there is “the overwhelming consensus of science” that provides no evidence on the existence of ghosts, many believe that wraiths, too, aren’t real — or, at the very least, have not yet been proven to be.

When Wraiths Take Over Pop Culture

Despite all that, we still see wraiths — not in real-life, but in the countless times the fiends have appeared in modern pop culture references.

In video games, wraiths are playable characters in both Respawn Entertainment’s Apex Legends and Behaviour Interactive’s Dead by Daylight.

Marvel Comics also introduced a fictional character, called Wraith.

And even the role-playing board game Dungeons & Dragons has wraiths in it!

Furthermore, wraiths — ironically — give life to certain species featured in Star Trek: Enterprise’sRogue Planet” episode, as well as in Stargate Atlantis — where they were depicted as a form of an alien race.

So, clearly, wraiths are not going anywhere.

Much like in their story, they are creatures that would persist in spite of the odds.

That even when science says no, they will remain in this realm — occupying the spaces reserved for the darkest parts of the human’s creative mind.

References:

Wraith - Monster
Wraith - Mythology
Wraith - Unnatural World
Wraiths - Mythical Creatures Guide
Wraiths - Mythical Creatures And Beasts
Wraith (Entity) - Pop Culture
Share the Lore!