Come with me to the depths of the myth. We will visit the madness of Vlad Dracula's mind, and consider the possibility of real vampires living in our world today.
The myths about vampires were most prevalent around the turn of the eighteenth century. At this time witches were still being burned at the stake (Wickwar 134). Anyone could become a vampire, because a vampire was just a dead person who rose from the grave to feed on the blood of the living (Britannica 868). Any corpse qualified. The word vampire is of Slavic origin, and means "bloodsucking ghost (Wickwar 144)." In other lands vampires were known by other names, and although each creature was somewhat different, they all had features alike. The Hebrews had the lilith, the Romanians had the lamis, and the Irish and Arabs had comparable ghosts as well (Hill 3923).
The Romanians also had words for people who would become vampires after they died. In Romania, it was believed that a person born with a caul (amniotic membrane still attached to the head and forming a veil), a small tail, or with hair covering his or her body was destined to become a vampire after death. Such people were called strigoi vii [singular: strigoi viu], which means 'living vampires.' A dead (or as we say 'undead') vampire was called strigoi mort. Strigoi vii had the ability to voluntarily leave its body at night (Strigoi 1).
You may wonder about other ways that humans may become vampires.
At one time it was a generally accepted possibility that any dead body having become bewitched would become a vampire; or, for that matter, anyone who had been cursed by their parents, or had been excommunicated by the Church was thought to be qualified. Witches were supposed to turn into vampires after they were buried, as also was the corpse of anyone else who burial had been jumped over by a cat or flown over by a bird before burial (Wickwar 134).
Vampires could also take on many, many different forms, such as flying insects (especially moths or butterflies), crows, mice, and werewolves (Strigoi 1). Strigoi mentions that the Serbian believed that vampires could transform into butterflies. The Balkins had nearly the same belief. Strigoi went on to say that a black hen, or a bat crossing over an unburied corpse would cause that corpse to become a vampire (1). The Slavs' version of the vampire was not nearly as beautiful or graceful as a butterfly. To them, vampires were little more than a head with some entrails hanging from it (Wickwar 143).
Victims of suicide and those who did not receive a Christian burial were ready candidates to become vampires. Additionally those whose murders had not been avenged, evil doers, and even those born on Christmas were likely to suffer the same thing (Hill 2926).
So, now that we know a beginning about the vampires of myth, how do we stop them? Well, everyone has heard about sunlight, crosses, and garlic, but why were these "cures" chosen, and were there others?
Corpses could not become vampire unless they were buried, or so said the folklore, and also could not rise if they had a heavy headstone. But you could not leave that many bodies above ground, and you may not be able to get headstone. What did you do then? Some other solutions were to dig up the grave of a vampire in daylight, put a stake through it's heart, or shoot them with a silver bullet (preferably one that had been blessed). One could also kill them by showing them a crucifix, burying them under running water, or at a crossroads (Hill, 2924), or any number of other tactics. There were many ways of finding vampire graves. After the grave is found, you can kill the vampire by the old stake in the heart method. One Hungarian way of finding graves follows: "a white stallion that has never stumbled and has never been out to stud is taken to the cemetery; the horse will refuse to walk on a vampire's grave (Hill 2925)." Also, vampires did not have reflections, so upon seeing a "man" with no reflection, you could follow it to its grave and kill it when the daylight came.
NightPoe gives a listing of vampire myths and why they came about. Here are a few.
Vampires Cannot Exist in Sunlight
"Vampires were believed to be servants of Satan; they were demons capable of all types of trickery (NightPoe1)." Because darkness was synonymous with evil, and light with good, it would seem that vampires could not exist in the light. Churches believed that nothing is stronger than God, and even a vampire could not survive under God's light. This holy/unholy reasoning was also why vampires could not walk on holy ground or enter a church(1).
Crucifixes and Holy Water
Again, God is good, vampires are evil, holy water and crucifixes are holy items, both blessed, one also an image of Christ. The holy water burn s the vampire in cleansing the evil(1).
A common belief was that vampires did not have souls. The soul was the part believed to be reflected in the mirror, so if vampires have no souls, they must also have no reflections. An interesting idea that NightPoe brings up is that Catholics also believe that animals don't have a soul because they are not human, yet animals have a reflection(1).
Four Ways to Kill a Vampire
1. Stake Through the Heart There was, at the times when vampire stories were most prevalent, a disease called consumption that plagued small towns and villages. This disease literally consumed the body, as a vampire drawing blood over many nights would. It was believed that unless you pinned the corpse of one of this disease's victims down in their grave, they would come back and infect the living. Corpses were pinned down with wood because there were no metal nails available. This disease is still around today, but is treatable. It is known as tuberculosis(1).
2. Drowning in Running Water Again, water purifies, and running water more than other(1).
3. Burning This originated from the Christian belief that fire purifies all evil(1).
4. Beheading and Removing the Heart The evil was considered to be held in the head and the heart. If those two organs were separated, the evil could not continue to exist(1).
Headstones Headstones were needed to keep the dead person from crawling out from the grave(1).
Vampires Need an Invitation There are two possible causes for this one. The first is that people were scared and needed something to keep them from completely giving up because they felt nothing could help them. The second was that there was so much life energy in one household that a vampire could not enter and move freely though it unless invited (1).
Some old vampire stories are stories of opening graves to find pink not yet decayed flesh, days after they were buried.
Most myths such as this (though they should not be called myths, they actually happened), were started by finding the body turned on its side, curled up, or with blood on its hands or face. At the time these myths began there were not good doctors, and many people were buried alive. Upon awakening in their graves they would try to escape. Their shifted positions were caused by futile attempts to get out of their coffins. The blood on their hands was caused by them trying to claw their way out of their coffins, and the blood around their mouths was from death (Hall 2926).
Wickwar related a story of a doctor of medicine in Iowa who exhumed a corpse to find that the coffin's joints had broken and that hair fell from the openings. The doctor had evidence that the man's head and face had been shaved prior to the burial, four years before, yet the hair on his head had grown to 18 inches, and that of his beard was 8 inches (155).
That explains the "undead" that were found rosy checked and that screamed and bleed upon staking and beheading. It also explains some of the pieces of movies like Dracula or Interview with the Vampire. But was there a real Lestat? I don't know about that one, but there was a real Dracula.
Life of Dracula
Vlad Dracula was born in 1431 to Vlad Dracul II. He had both a younger and older brother. His mother was his primary teacher during his early life. Little is known about his teenage years. He is known mainly for the many horrible deaths he caused. There are two thoughts as to what his name (Dracula) means. One seems to foreshadow his reign of terror. Drac could mean "devil" or be short for "dragon(1)." The suffix ul was an article adjective, and ulea meant "son of." Dracula could either mean "son of the dragon" or "son of the devil." Both could be reasonable, because Dracula II was often called devilish for his political schemes. Also, he was a member of the order of the dragon, a set of knights in the area (The Historical . . . 1).
So why, you may ask, is son of the devil a foreshadowing title for Vlad III? The Historical Vlad III Tepes 1431 to 1476 says that Vlad Dracula was a killer. He killed young and old, rich and poor, with no mind as to whom he took. His main, but not only method of torture was impailment(1).
Death by impalment could last hours or days. The victims were often impaled through the anus, with the end of the stake protruding from the mouth. Sometimes though, they were impaled upside down. The stakes were usually arranged in geometric patterns, especially concentric circles around a town he meant to attack(1).
Thousands were impaled at a time. Once, it is said, an entire Turkish army was turned aside because of the sight of thousands of bodies on stakes of various heights (the higher the stake, the higher the rank of the impaled person). There is a woodcutting from that time that shows Vlad Dracula eating and drinking among the stakes. It is said that he was drinking the victims' blood(1).
His other means of torture consisted of nailing heads, cutting away arms, legs, ears and noses, or sexual organs, gouging eyes, skinning, scalping, and boiling people alive. Thus, he earned the title son of the devil (1).
Now we know whom the Dracula from the movies really was, but are there real vampires today? Although the answer may surprise you, yes, there are.
Now the word vampire has been redefined, not as the gruesome vampires of folklore but the ones that live and breathe today. There are people who go around in capes and sleep in coffins. There are people who wear fake fangs or get their teeth capped, and are as pale as ghosts; these people are what is known as Goth. No, real vampires today may look as normal as you or I. They may have a better tan than you do, or you may actually be a vampire and not know it. Questions about Real Vampires says that the term "vampire" is used to refer to normal looking human beings, born of human parents, completely human except for one thing: the energy soul (1). The ancient Chinese believed that each person had a number of souls, and that each was layered on top of another. One of these souls was the energy soul. Real vampires have energy souls that are much more unsteady than those of normal humans. Real vampires have souls that are essentially human. Since they are born of humans, they cannot have any other type. They are not people who are possessed by demons. Real possession is quite short unless the "victim" wishes to prolong it. Real vampires don not go around biting people's necks and drinking their blood either. To be a real vampire is to absorb pranic energy, or life force, from other living beings. This does not kill the person that the energy is absorbed from. The power can be manipulated in ways for good or bad, if it is used by a trained vampire.
A vampire is a person born with an extraordinary capacity to absorb, channel, transform, and manipulate 'pranic energy' or life force. She also has a critical energy imbalance which reels wildly from deficit to overload and back again. This is the cause of the negative behavior patterns and characteristics which may be noticeable about a vampric person (Arthen 2).Just coming in contact with a real vampire can make you feel tired, yet you do not die of it. Vampires can also give off pranic energy and make you feel more energetic or alive. Some other ways that a vampire may come upon pranic energy besides being around people is that he or she could eat green, leafy vegetables. Blood is the most pure substance form of pranic energy, yet most real vampires do not drink blood because of social taboos with which they have lived(Questions about . . . 1). Drinking blood does not make you a vampire, no matter how much you wish to be one.
How you would know you are a vampire? Arthen has given us a checklist.
Night People. Most vampric body systems function in reverse time compared to those of normal people. They normally can not sleep well at night and would rather take jobs at that time, that is the time when they can think the best. Also, for females, the menstrual cycle normally starts in the evening or nighttime(2).
Digestive Troubles. Vampires are quite often obese or extremely skinny people. They have food obsessions, and often get "hooked" on food or other substances. This is because of their need for the pranic energy. They are the few people who can digest large amounts of blood without vomiting(2). Immature Behavior. Vampires are often described as bossy,
manipulative, jealous, and big egos(2).
Mood Swings. Vampires can go from cheerful to depressed in moments or days. Their mood changes with the amount of pranic energy that they have at the moment (2).
Vampires can go from hungry to overload very quickly. A hungry vampire is a vampire with not enough energy. They are often overly cheerful, yet in their cheerfulness, annoying. This is how they drive for attention.
Overloaded vampires are often withdrawn and introspect. They will snap at people. At this time they are getting rid of as much prantic energy as possible.
People often feel weird around vampires because they can feel their energy being sucked away from them. The person may "become" a vampire for a short time, but their attraction of energy is not nearly as strong as a real vampire (Arthen 1).It is my belief that more real vampires than ever before (proportionate to the population) have been born in the second half of the 20th century. Their enhanced capability to manipulate life force is a skill that will be desperately needed in the earth changes to come. No other beings will have the healing abilities of real vampire that have trained themselves to use their power ethically. The price of this healing skill is one of the oldest tradeoffs in the world, known to man, culture and society; fresh blood in return for fertility, healing, growth and rebirth. But real vampires won't require their "donors" to die. They'll use the energy released by a minimal amount of blood in the most efficient way (Questions about … 3).
Vampires can be looked at as the ghosts and haunts of old, as kings who killed for fun, as those portrayed in movies such as Interview with the Vampire, or as real, normal people with a little extra psychic energy. Given the facts, are you a vampire? Do you know any vampires? Do you believe the old myths, or do you relate to the new? In your mind are vampires still the creatures of the night, or old kings who killed thousands on a whim? Are you sure you believe anything anymore? Remember: "Nothing is evil by nature-only by choice (Arthen 4)."
Hill, Douglas. "Vampires." Man, Myth, & Magic. 1985.
NightPoe. "Vampiric Studys Course: Myth Origins." [online] www.geocities.com/Area51/Rampart/1311/mythorg.html. 4-29-98.
NightPoe. "Vampiric Studys Course: Real Vampires." [online] www.geocities.com/Area51/Rampart/1311/creation.html. 4-28-98
"Questions About Real Vampires" [online] www.net1plus.com/users/vyrdolak/questions.htm#what. 4-28-98
Strigoi*f. "Vampire Chickens?" [online] www.pathwaytodarkness.com/facts/vampirechickens.htm. 4-27-98
"The History of Vlad III Tepes, 1431-1476" [online] members.tripod.com/~rosval/. 4-28-98
"Vampire." Britannica. 1986 ed.
"What is a Vampire?" [online] www.pathwaytodarkness.com/facts/whatisavampire.htm. 4-28-98
Wickwar, J. W. Witchcraft and the Black Art. Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1973.
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