Kuri: Phantom Parasites of English Folklore

Updated on November 8, 2019
Yamuna Hrodvitnir profile image

I have a BA in History, and like to use what I've learned in my studies to write informative articles.

Spirits of Madness

According to English folklore, Kuri are spirits which haunt the area around shallow or makeshift graves. If someone dies in the wilderness, or while trekking along an unknown path, where they lie will become home to a Kuri. These entities lurk around the gravesite, waiting for others to pass by. When an unsuspecting traveler comes too close, the Kuri will attach themselves to their victim like a demonic parasite. The victim isn’t likely to notice the presence of the Kuri for quite some time because it has no physical form, and hardly exists in this reality. It simply ties itself to the body of some unfortunate soul and lingers until it’s satisfied.

Over time, the Kuri begins to make its presence known as it whispers into the ears of its victims. Sometimes these entities say nothing of importance and all that will be heard is a vague mumbling which seems to come from nowhere. As time goes on, the creature will begin to appear in its victim’s dreams. At first, it will simply be there, a strange creature not worth much notice, but as time goes by it will begin to terrorize the sleeping person, turning their dreams into nightmares. As the Kuri becomes more comfortable with its chosen prey, it begins to caress, scrape, and scratch them. This subtle but very real harassment builds up and pushes the victim into a sort of insanity. The constant prodding, the disembodied whispers, and the nightmares leave them on edge, hardly sleeping, and paranoid.

Eventually those who suffer the torment of having a Kuri latched onto them begin to hallucinate, deepening the concerns surrounding their sanity. The things that they are seeing are not hallucinations however, but the face of the Kuri as it finally shows itself to them. The face of the Kuri obscures those of the victim’s friends and family so that they cannot bear to look at or speak to anyone who could help them. If they were to describe their troubles to anyone, they would be considered mad anyway.

"Insanity" by Bagrad Badalian
"Insanity" by Bagrad Badalian

The Hunting Cycle

As the victim loses hope, the Kuri begins to speak clearly to them. This is the time when the Kuri demands that they return to the grave where they first met. The Kuri insists that it must return home and begs and pleas for the person to go back. With no other choice, the host begins walking back toward where they think the entity first attached itself to them. Sleep deprived, traumatized, and afraid, they begin to walk. Often, the site is secluded and far away in the wild or otherwise far from civilization, so the walk is long and miserable. In such a declining mental and physical state, the victim doesn’t plan their journey or bring supplies with them to last the trek to and from the haunted place.

Along the way, the Kuri’s host becomes weaker and weaker, dehydrated, fatigued, and starving. Before they can make it back to where they were when they first met with this awful creature, they fall to the ground and die of exhaustion, starvation, or dehydration. It is said that the final thing that these pitiful people hear is the voice of the Kuri as it whispers in their ear how much it will enjoy dragging their soul to Hell.

The hunting cycle for the Kuri is continued when this spot becomes a new unmarked grave for them to haunt. It will lurk in the area as it waits for another unsuspecting victim to pass by so that it can latch itself to them and carry out this torment again. In this way the Kuri will haunt the English countryside for eternity.



Little can be found to explain the origin of this creature in English folklore. It is likely a cautionary tale to prevent people from wandering too far off the beaten path. Within humanity there is a fear of dying alone and being forgotten, as no one wants to find themselves a lonely spirit tied to some isolated spot in the forest. Perhaps the stories of the Kuri keep people from wandering too far unprepared and alone.

The Kuri also serve to remind us all to be respectful of gravesites. This is one of many stories that tie in with the care that should be taken when in the company of the dead. Simply passing by an unmarked grave or failing to pay proper respects when you come upon the eternal resting place of a stranger is said to come with frightening consequences in many cultures. Perhaps stories like these serve to teach us to be mindful and respectful of those who have died without the chance to have a proper burial. If you come upon a small grave while wandering the countryside, one with a simple cross or even a fence post rammed into it with nothing but a date, stop and wish them well. Hopefully the Kuri or whatever other force may be present will let you go on your way in peace.

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