There is a wealth of fascinating lore surrounding something as simple as an intersection, or “crossroads.” This commonplace fixture of our landscape was once held as a mystical place where dark and infernal forces conspired.
In much of Britain and throughout Europe, the crossroads were feared at a variety of periods in time. Many places believed in “crossroad divination,” where an individual could make the devil appear or do their bidding. It was also believed that spirits of evil people could be isolated there, and for many years, the gallows and gibbets were always built by crossroads. People considered “vampires” or “witches” were also buried in such areas.
A portion of the population believed the spirits inhabiting the intersection could follow you, if you were unlucky enough to visit a crossroad during the night. There was a sense of security that spirits would be confused by the many directions. According to that lore, spirits would become so frustrated and unable to move in any specific direction, they would remain there. That was until the heedless traveler came by, and then the spirits would follow them.
Changes came to England during the reign of King George IV (1762 – 1830). Up until his reign, suicides were buried at the crossroads with a stake through the heart. This prevented any chance they might return as a vampire. Under King George, laws were implemented that declared suicides could be normally buried in a graveyard, but only between 9 PM and midnight, and with no ceremony.
In Ceylon mythology, a she-devil inhabits all crossroads. You can make requests of her, but you need to bring an adequate offering. She make passers-by sick just by looking at them. Oddy is a Cingalese devil who resides there with her. His mastery is mischief.
In Nineteenth Century Sri Lanka, the Maha-Sohon lived at the crossroads. This demon of the tombs can look upon you and cause disease, primarily dysentery and cholera.
Russian lore reveres both crossroads and areas around cemeteries with the same fear. It was believed that animated corpses lived there. They waited to strangle and devour weary travelers.
In Cornwall, England, witches always gathered at the crossroads for their Sabbath.
In Mexican folklore, the Ciuapipiltin, be noble women who became vampires, haunted the crossroads to find their victims.