Revenants are human spirits that return because they have a powerful anchor, vengeance. These newly returned can inhabit their bodies, or find a body open to possession. They won’t stay in our physical world for long. They only want to even the score with their wrongdoer.
A revenant’s physical body died and the human spirit escaped. It couldn’t rest because it has a deep need to get revenge on someone who caused its physical death. The spirit will try to enter its body again, but it has a limited time. In general, a spirit cannot enter its body after it has been embalmed.
That gives the spirit two options: enter its own body; find a corpse to possess.
It’s easier for a spirit to re-animate its own body than find a new one. Usually, the revenant returns within a few hours of death. Re-animation takes a lot of energy, so the revenant will only ‘live’ for a few days. If it can keep up its thirst for revenge, the spirit can continue to keep its body functioning. For most revenants, they can only maintain their bodies for a week at the most.
Finding a new body is another route, and it’s also one of the trickiest. Most human souls cannot re-animate another person’s body. Only the most powerful and vengeful spirits can do it. In general, the revenant finds a newly dead body or it finds someone who’s brain-dead. Revenants cannot possess the body of someone with a functioning mind. These revenants have a shorter life, no more than 3 days. This kind of re-animation is also the most violent. They know they will die again and will stop at nothing for vengeance.
How To Identify A Revenant
The clearest sign is their passion to find and kill the person who ended their lives. This focus and passion fuels the revenant. The other clues are wounds that don’t heal and their inability to eat. If the spirit has possessed a brain-dead person, the miraculous recovery would be a clear sign. Otherwise, they look much like their living selves. It’s their negative emotional states, quick tempers and streaks of violence that identify them.
How To Stop A Revenant
Not much will stop a revenant. You may think they’re invulnerable, but that’s not true. You can destroy the body, which releases the spirit. At that point, it would need to find a new body or it will dissipate. There are reports of revenants that have been shot multiple times and it continued to attack its target. The most common ways to stop one include burning, decapitation or dismemberment.
If it kills its target, it will simply leave the re-animated body. The now empty body will fall over and quickly begin to stiffen.
Differences Between Revenants And Revengers
Revenants are spirits that re-animate a body, while revengers never possess people. Revengers have poltergeist-like abilities: Revenants have no other supernatural powers besides re-animation. They also have a physical form (the body). Revengers may manifest as an apparition, but don’t have a true physical form. Lastly, revenants will ‘live’ for a week at the longest. Revengers will continue to haunt their killers for years.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vengeful_ghost. Retrieved on Sept. 12, 2016.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revenant. Retrieved on Sept. 12, 2016.
“World of Darkness: Antagonists,” by Pamela Collins, et. al. White Wolf Publishing, 1st edition, 2004. (Okay, it’s a game, but it’s really well researched)
“The Encyclopedia of Ghosts & Spirits,” by Rosemary Ellen Guiley. Checkmark Books, 3rd edition, 2011.
Jacob Rice began investigating and writing about monsters in 2007. He has published 3 books on ghost hunting, ghost stories and paranormal protection. His podcast, Ghostly Activities, dives into these topics even more. You can also watch his ghost hunts on the Ghostly Activities YouTube channel. He lives in Olympia, Washington.