The Undead: beings defined in mythology as creatures who were at one time alive, but now continue to display sings of life after their physical passing.
There are many forms of ‘undead’ creature, and they are seen in many different cultures. There are two basic categories of ‘undead’ creature, the living corpses and the spirits.
Norse/German, these are animated corpses who live in their graves and are said to protect treasure. They are swollen, blackened corpses who crush and feast on those who disturb them and drive away livestock. They can visit people in their dreams and often leave behind a token as proof of the visit. They have magical abilities such as shape-shifting and seeing into the future. To kill one you should behead it, burn the body and then scatter the ashes in the sea.
They are generally ‘mean or nasty’ people in life who have been buried in a standing or sitting position, you can become one by being infected by another Draugr. To prevent a corpse coming back as a Draugr there were many methods; open scissors were placed on the chest, their feet were nailed to the floor of the coffin and twigs were placed amongst their clothes.
Chinese, stiff, animated corpses dressed in garments from the Qing Dynasty that hop around with their arms outstretched. They seek to kill other creatures to absorb their ‘qi’ (life force) they move around during the night and then during the day they hide in coffins.
They are created by a variety of things; the person having not been ready to die, the corpse absorbing enough ‘qi’ to come back to life, spirit possession or the use of magick.
They can be defeated by a hand bell, the blood of a black dog and a broom (along with a whole variety of other things.)
English, an animated corpse returned from the dead to terrorise the living. These are creatures who returned from the dead for a specific purpose, they were often ‘wrong do-ers’ in life and returned to terrorise people who they had once known and to make life difficult for their neighbours and friends.
Some stories have them down as bloodsuckers, and sometimes they come to spread disease amongst the living. The appropriate response was to exhume the body, cut of the head and burn /remove the heart.
A ghost is an apparition of someone who has physically passed away. They are said to generally be people who have unfinished business and come back in order to sort their affairs out.
The belief in ghosts has lasted many centuries and is something seen in most cultures. Generally the methods of dealing with them vary from culture to culture,. in Europeans cultures the best way of dealing with them is either to look to the Church for a blessing (or exorcism in a more extreme case.) Or to turn to cleansing the affected property with sage.
These are said to be troublesome spirits who cause physical disturbance, moving of objects, loud noises etc. They are seen throughout European culture. Stories of poltergeists have spread to South America and Japan. There is speculation that poltergeist like activity can be caused by psychokinesis.