Friday, June 20, 2008

The Russian Mystic Grigori Rasputin

Many people don't know that Grigori Rasputin, the villain from the first Hellboy movie and also the first Hellboy comic "Seed of Destruction", was actually a real person. Much of what is known is a mixture of legend and fact. This much is clear - he has earned a prominent spot in Russian history.

Grigori Efimovich Rasputin was born in Siberia, the exact date is unknown - most guess between 1882 and 1875. Some of the more interesting parts of his legend are as follows:

  • Rasputin was born a peasant in Siberia. His father was rumored to be a criminal - a horse stealer. Grigori was thought to have had a sister, Maria, and a brother, Dmitri. According to legend, Maria drowned in a river, and Dmitri was to have died from pneumonia after falling into a pond. Grigori, of course, met his own fate in a river in his home town.

  • It is said that as a child, Rasputin would talk to his father's horses in a "child language", comforting them. He was also said to have a mysterious talent for identifying thieves.

  • Rasputin's early introduction into the spiritual realm was with the Khlysty sect through a chance meeting with a stranger. Khlysty had several "unusual" beliefs, among them a believe in the reincarnation of God in man. This "mysterious resurrection" empowers a person with powers to heal, prophesy, raise the dead, and deal out judgement at the Apocolypse. However, Rasputin's daughter claimed he rejected the sect's teachings.

  • Rasputin gained power by becoming an advisor to Russian Czar Nicolas II, after being called on to heal his son, Tsarevich Alexei, from hemophilia. His influence on the Czar was of great concern. One example, from Wikipedia notes: "When Rasputin expressed an interest in going to the front to bless the troops early in the war, the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Duke Nicholas, promised to hang him if he dared to show up there. Rasputin then claimed that he had a revelation that the Russian armies would not be successful until the Tsar personally took command. With this, the ill-prepared Nicholas proceeded to take personal command of the Russian army, with dire consequences for himself as well as for Russia."

  • Grigori weakened the integrity of the dynasty by his odd behavior and beliefs, but also by bragging about his influence with the Tsar. This brought about a conspiracy to murder him by a group of nobels. Legend says that the men first poisoned him, but oddly Rasputin was unaffected. They then shot him four times, but again, he still lived. At this point they bound him and threw him in a river to drown. His body was later recovered - an autopsy revealed the cause of death as hypothermia.

  • Rasputin's body was later exhumed and burned. As the body burned, it appeared to sit up in the fire. (This legend is attributed to the tendons in the body shrinking as they were cooked)

For more reading check out these sites:


E. Kubinek said...

I had a friend, who's father was an arms and antiques dealer. He worked in Russia often.
I saw LOTS of deeply creepy things in their house, things that as Dr, Jones would say "aught to be in a museum", but the CREEPIEST thing I saw, was an original photograph of Rasputin.
It watched you.
That is the only way I can describe it, like every time you passed it, if felt like he was sitting there, watching you.

Whenever I read an HB story with Rasputin in it,, I think of that picture, and it makes the stories MUCH crepier, even though they are fiction.

Lost Jimmy said...

I've always been interested in the life and death of Rasputin.

Some Grigori related facts:

The formidible Alan Rickman played Rasputin in an early nineties movie. Tom Baker (best known as the fourth Doctor Who) was particulary good as a manic wild-eyed Rasputin in the '71 epic Nicholas and Alexandra. Or how about Christopher Lee in the Hammer Horror gem 'Mad Monk' (great title!).

Viking Metal band Turisas recently covered the seminal Boney M 70s disco classic 'Rasputin'. It's fun!