A kere is a spirit of the dead in ancient Greece. It was believed that keres escaped from the pithos, the jars used to contain the bodies of the dead, and devoted themselves to pestering the living. They were exorcised by ritual and incantation. Sticky tar was painted on doorframes to catch them and prevent them from entering a dwelling. Plato observed, “There are many fair things in the life of mortals, but in most of them there are as it were adherent keres which pollute and disfigure them.”
In mythology, keres are akin to goddesses of death who originally escaped from Pandora’s box. They serve the will of the gods, and their chief functions are to carry off the corpses of the dead and to affl ict the living with disease and illness.
Also known as:
The Keres are a band of fierce, frightening female justice spirits. They are the entourage and servants of the goddess Car. The Keres administer punishment and justice but not gently. They are vampiric spirits who leave death in their wake. They cause plagues and epidemics and drag bodies from battlefields. Greek myth describes the Keres as Car’s sisters. She is the eldest. They are also described as the daughters of Nyx.
The Keres are described as dressed in red: whether this is red fabric orwhether their clothes are stained red with blood is subject to interpretation. Homer called them the hounds of Hades. Whether this was meant literally—whether like Hekate, they actually manifest as dogs is unknown but possible.
Although their names are similar, the Keres are not identical to the Italian grain goddess whose entry is found under Ceres.
Car; Erinyes; Hades; Hecate
Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses – Written by : Judika Illes Copyright © 2009 by Judika Illes.
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