vampire

Witch & Popcorn

March, 2019

Dracula

This month, I reviewed Dracula, the original one starring Bela Lugosi.

OH MY!!!!!

They just don’t make movies like they used to!

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve found the divine Bela Lugosi to be positively magnificent, but I have never sat and watched the entire original Dracula he made famous.

I waited too long, and if you have not seen it, don’t wait any longer.

Take a look at the trailer of what we have been missing!

Universal has released a set of Blu-Rays’s called “Dracula: Complete Legacy Collection”, and it has six films, including the 1931 Dracula with Bela. The films were made from 1931-1948, and include Dracula, Dracula’s Daughter, Son of Dracula, House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and the very funny Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein.

I will watch the rest of the films this week, but I have watched plenty of horrors from this era.

The charm of old Hollywood is a feast for the eyes, and the drama of more theatrical type performances actors in movies used to do makes the stories more fantastical.

Bela Lugosi played Dracula so well, people said he WAS the immortal Dracula. Far from it, he was said to be shy in America because of his heavy European accent- YES, it was real! And he suffered from severe sciatica, which led to his reliance on prescription painkillers to the point of addiction. In his acting, he transcended his suffering to become larger than life, and to set the standard for the sexy undead blood drinker who made men, women, and future generations scream in terror and swoon with admiration.

The film is an adaption of Bram Stokers horror novel, Dracula and in the film, it is set in the gorgeous 1930’s, complete with silk, damask, oversized furniture bedecked with art deco finery, and spectacular makeup and clothes.

The film is wildly entertaining, but holds magical truths!

The story begins with the ill fated Renfield’s trip to Transylvania for a business deal with Dracula, who strides into the filthy, ramshackle set of Castle Dracula, and lights it up like the Prince of Darkness he was. We all know Dracula completely destroys poor Renfield, played like nobody else could by Dwight Frye, who ironically died young, himself.

Frye, a veteran actor, starring in more than 60 films in his 44 years, is as big a presence on screen as Lugosi, and really set the standard for Renfield in future Dracula productions. This is also a testament to not only exquisite character development, and passionate acting, but astoundingly good makeup. Frye’s Renfield is initially what would have been called a “dandy” back in that day, and is reduced by Dracula into a Smeagel like writhing creature who more resembles a maimed, maniacal worm than anything else. Frye plays both aspects of Renfield to the max.

All of the acting is equally as good as Frye’s and Lugosi’s, but it is the character of Van Helsing I want to explore in depth, because it is he who exemplifies the occult truths the film expresses.

Of course, we know vampires ARE real, but are not undead blood suckers. Some are simple energy workers who can be very helpful and pleasant, and others may even be completely unconscious of the fact they are vampires, and are a downright pain in the ass. The pain in the ass folk are the ones who drain people’s energy and we might be stuck sharing an office or even a home with them. Some do this on purpose, however. Many of us have at least one family member we could put in this category. Unfortunately.

The film, however portrays the vampire of folklore, which is nothing like the real vampires who live among us. Dracula is dead and needs the blood of the living to survive. He has to sleep in the dirt he was buried in, hates crucifixes and wolfsbane, turns into a bat, and REALLY digs chicks. He keeps wolves for company, and refers to them as “children of the night” and drops the famous quotes like “The blood is the life”.

The wise Professor Van Helsing , who is called in when medicine cannot explain what has killed the lovely Lucy and is sickening her beloved friend Mina, is said to “knows as much about obscure diseases as anyone in the world” in Bram Stokers Novel. Van Helsing also studied other obscure topics, and as luck would have it, vampires happened to be one of those topics. While he was educated in all modern topics, he knew enough not to discard knowledge of the supernatural, most especially when he observed it himself.

As witches, we KNOW people used to be accused of doing impossible things like flying on brooms, and having sex with the biblical devil, and we know the dangers of such uneducated thinking. But we also know how quick many are to dismiss established occult truth such as the ability to move energy, and the harm that can result by the activity of malevolent spirits.

This truth is revealed by Van Helsing in the film when he says, “The strength of the vampire is that people will not believe in him.” How many people have insisted that a curse will not work on you if you do not believe in the power of the curse? Good luck with that. A practitioner proficient in curses will not leave any clue they have cursed you. It is like saying you believe you will not catch a disease, so it is therefore impossible to. I am reminded of a very old preacher who told me he never got sick because he believed in Jesus- instead of being thankful he had a strong immune system, that is.

I am also reminded of another individual. I used to have a neighbor from Haiti, who I asked about Voodoo, and he almost shit a brick in fear talking about how awful he felt Voodoo was. He said that he, and many others converted to Xtianity to escape Voodoo and the Voodoo curses, which he claimed Jesus protected against. I would hear the drumming and chanting prayers he did with friends calling Jesus regularly. Well, as some know, I have a relationship with Papa Legba. Papa always let me know he did NOT like my neighbor. One night, said neighbor tore his entire apartment apart, throwing everything all over the place, and even ripping the kitchen cabinets off the walls. The neighbor on the other side of him said he heard the man arguing with somebody else- but police said there was nobody else in the apartment. I was told there had been one hell of a fight. The neighbor disappeared without a trace, and family came around looking for him for weeks following the incident. Jesus did not stave off whatever magic had been flung at him. And no, it was not just him being bonkers- I asked Papa.

Belief does not equal reality, but it does create our perception of reality, and Van Helsing knew Dracula used the fact modern people did not believe in vampires to take as many victims as he wanted.

Van Helsing was able to look beneath Dracula’s glamour, a very powerful magical weapon. Dracula’s glamour just might have worked had he not become overly confident, and gone into Mina’s home, because that is where it was discovered he did not show up in the mirror, starting Van Helsing’s quest to kill Dracula.

Two lessons to us as witches come through this. Keep your glamour strong, and don’t get sloppy. Also, learn to see beneath other people’s glamour. Dracula had portrayed himself as a charming, handsome Count from another land. He was very well spoken, friendly, and nobody would have seen him as a threat. Even within our metaphysical circles and public communities, people whose glamour is undetected by the masses allows them a way in to manipulate, and cause harm. Be the witch who speaks up and expresses something is not right, as Van Helsing was, and protect your community.

Beyond being a fantastic film adaption of a fantastic classic horror novel, this film reminds us that magic and the occult are not obsolete and it is very important to be well versed in modern mundane knowledge as well as educated about the hidden, the occult. It also reminds us that as those who are aware of the role spirits, and energy plays in our everyday life, to keep our eyes, ears, and sixth senses open to when something is just not right.

Don’t take my word for it! Go watch this great film!

Happy Viewing!

Blessed Be!

Dracula: Complete Legacy Collection on Amazon

***

About the Author:

Saoirse is a recovered Catholic.  I was called to the Old Ways at age 11, but I thought I was just fascinated with folklore. At age 19, I was called again, but I thought I was just a history buff, and could not explain the soul yearnings I got when I saw images of the Standing Stones in the Motherland. At age 29, I crossed over into New Age studies, and finally Wicca a couple years later. My name is Saoirse, pronounced like (Sare) and (Shah) Gaelic for freedom. The gods I serve are Odin and Nerthus. I speak with Freyja , Norder, and Thunor as well. The Bawon has been with me since I was a small child, and Rangda has been with me since the days I was still Catholic. I received my 0 and 1 Degree in an Eclectic Wiccan tradition, and my Elder is Lord Shadow. We practice in Columbus, Ohio. I am currently focusing more on my personal growth, and working towards a Second and Third Degree with Shadow. I received a writing degree from Otterbein University back in 2000. I have written arts columns for the s Council in Westerville. I give private tarot readings and can be reached through my Facebook page Tarot with Saoirse. You can, also, join me on my Youtube Channel.

Review: Vampyre Sanguinumicon: The Lexicon of the Living Vampire

August, 2011

Vampyre Sanguinumicon:  The Lexicon of the Living Vampire

by  Father Sebastiaan

© 2010  Weiser

ISBN:  978-1578634804

Paperback        320 pages

$24.95 (U.S.)x

There has been a resurgence in the interest in vampires of late (witness the Twilight books/movies and “True Blood”, etc.), although it never really went away.  This book is for the Living Vampire – the one who seeks to live in glamour and ritual on a daily basis – not the “kid in a cape” who plays at being an immortal being.

The first thing which struck me as I began reading this book was the  consistent use of jargon as a means of establishing the “difference” between those who follow this particular tradition and those who do not.  This is an obvious first step in separating two individual worlds, and has been in use for hundreds of years – most recently distinguish between members of the neo-Pagan community and the “mundanes” or “muggles”.  It is refreshing, however, to see that the author makes no attempt to convince the reader that this tradition has existed unchanged for centuries.

Perhaps it is a flaw in my personality or my perceptive abilities, but I find Sebastiaan’s attitude that members of Strigoi Vii may feel free to appropriate the symbology and belief structures of others without compunction (other than doing it for the betterment of the Strigoi Vii) while denying a need

to acknowledge any real understanding of these systems to be unacceptable.

I am in no position to question the sincerity of Father Sebastiaan, since I am not a member of the Strigoi Vii.  I am familiar with the elitist tone of the writing in  this book and can testify that it is often a sign of sincerity – if not always objective truth.  Whether or not this book is objectively true, for a certain number of readers it will be subjectively true.

The first portion of the book is dedicated to providing the background and underpinnings of the lifestyle of the Strigoi Vii.  Parts of this section will likely seem highly fantastic and/or delusional to some who read it.  Other readers may have an “ah, ha!” moment as a result of what is laid out here.

One minor quibble, and I freely admit that it is strictly personal, is the excessive (in my opinion) use of capitalization.  Words such as “we” and “immortal” really don’t rate capitalization by the rules of English grammar as I learned them.

I must also admit that I resorted to skimming while reading this book, as (for a variety of reasons) I found it less than a compelling read.  This is, in no way, a condemnation of the contents or the style of writing.  It simply didn’t resonate for ME.  Your experience may be different.

If you have felt a call to the Vampyre lifestyle, for reasons beyond a fashion trend, or a desire to shock friends and family, you will find this book will offer you insights, and provoke your thought processes.  It is not a book for everyone, but then, it sets out with the intent of not being one of those.  For those who are looking for inspiration, this may be what you have been looking for.

Vampire Folklore

August, 2009

Most people are very much acquainted with Bram Stoker’s Dracula but are unaware of other important literary vampires that preceded him.  These literary vampires include Lord Ruthven, Varney, and Carmilla.  In this series, these vampires and their respective authors will be introduced and show how these lesser known characters greatly impacted both Bram Stoker and other authors such as Anne Rice.

Dr. John Polidori was originally hired as a medical advisor to the infamous Lord Byron.  Polidori was to be his travelling companion as well.  However, his greater mission was to chronicle Byron’s journeys because he was commissioned to do so from Byron’s publisher.  One would figure such an arrangement would be perfect, but the two quarreled from the very beginning (Masters 199).  It was during one of these argumentative travels that Polidori gathered inspiration for his upcoming work.  Byron and Polidori happened to be in the company of Claire Clairmont, Mary Godwin, and Percy Shelley, and they all decided to fabricate ghost stories one evening.  Polidori’s attempt failed of course, while Mary Godwin achieved success with her story becoming the legendary Frankenstein.  During this story-telling session, Polidori managed to take notes as instructed by Byron’s publisher (Melton 480).  It was from these notes that the first vampire story came to be published in English (Guiley 229).

Polidori examined his notes from the evening of storytelling and using pieces from the story that Lord Byron told about a Greek and his travelling companion, created ”The Vampyre”.  In addition to using Byron’s initial ideas, Polidori decide to mock him as well with his choice of name for the main character.  The vampire’s name was Lord Ruthven which was the name chosen by Byron’s former lover to ridicule Byron in a novel titled, Glenarvon.  The character himself could be described as cold and aristocratic individual whose deadly hue attracted the ladies much like Lord Byron (Gregory 26).  The story remained unpublished for quite some time until 1819 when Polidori sold it, and it appeared in the New Monthly Magazine.  Unfortunately, Polidori initially did not receive credit for the work.  The magazine implied that Byron was the author, and it was due to this mistake that the novella achieved instant success.  Although Polidori eventually laid claim to the work, the recognition did not do him much good.  His troubled life and gambling losses caused him to commit suicide in 1821 (Guiley 230).  He would never realize how much of an impact his work would be to the aristocratic and sexy vampire cult that continued throughout the rest of the nineteenth century and beyond (Mascetti 189).

To better grasp how “The Vampyre” impacted future vampiric writings and how it mirrored the relationship between Polidori and Byron, one must better understand the character Lord Ruthven.    Lord Ruthven is an English vampire living in London.  He frequents the many various parties held by the upper crust of society.    He spends his summers in Greece so he may be alone.  In regards to his personality, he is cool by nature (Mascetti 154).  He is charismatic but can be sadistic when it comes to not caring about the misfortunes of others.  He is a gambler and a seducer of women.  He is a master manipulator in how he uses his money to taint those who simply want assistance.  One could reasonably argue that Lord Ruthven is the epitome of a psychic vampire by the way he causes others to lose their vitality, health, and most importantly, their respectability (Guiley 185).  In the story, all of these traits are displayed in how he treats his traveling companion, Aubrey.  Throughout the tale, Lord Ruthven constantly destroys Aubrey’s life by killing his loved ones, which include a lady friend and his sister.  He manipulates Aubrey into taking an oath for a year and a day.  The oath does not allow Aubrey to discuss the matter of the Lord’s death after the pair was attacked by bandits.  When the Lord reappears and seeks Aubrey’s sister’s hand in marriage, Aubrey can do nothing to stop it or his sister’s death that quickly follows.  In the end, Aubrey suffers a nervous breakdown while Lord Ruthven continues his life of leisure and deceit (Melton 528).

Next month…meet Varney

***To those in the vampire community:  I am looking for individuals who are interested in a case study/survey to be conducted by yours truly.  If you are interested in participating in this activity, please email me at Lady_TNP@homtail.com.  The results will be published as an article in Paganpages!***

Works Cited


Gregory, Constantine.  The Vampire Watcher’s Handbook:  A Guide For Slayers.  New York:  St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen.  The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters.  New York:  Checkmark , 2005.

Mascetti, Manuela.  Vampire:  The Complete Guide to the World of the Undead.  New York:  Penguin , 1992.

Masters, Anthony.  The Natural History of the Vampire.  London:  Rupert Hart-Davis    Ltd, 1972.

Melton, J. Gordon.  The Vampire Book.  Detroit: Visible Ink Press, 1994.

Vampire Folklore

June, 2009

The Real Castle Dracula

“A vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.”

-Jonathan Harker as he approaches Castle Dracula for the first time (Stoker Chapter 1)

Bram Stoker’s Dracula has always brought about inspiration, curiosity, and enchantment to those who have decided to be enthralled by the tale.  In the novel, both the Count and his home are described in such detail that one would think that both are real.  While it has been shown that the infamous Vlad the Impaler is the Count, arguments still exist about the exact whereabouts of the true Castle Dracula.  Two castles, Castle Bran and Castle Poenari, have fought over the title, but only one can be the true Castle Dracula.

As depicted in the novel, Dracula’s castle was located near the Borgo Pass.  It was reached by a road that climbed high into the mountains.  Jonathon Harker noted a large courtyard, and he was dropped off by an old large door embedded into a stone wall.  The wall was worn with age and weathering.  Upon further inspection during daylight hours, Harker painted a picture of a castle sitting on a great rock that overlooked a forest with several river gorges (Melton 87).

“The view was magnificent, and from where I stood there was every opportunity of seeing it. The castle is on the very edge of a terrific precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests. “

(Stoker Chapter Two)

Harker illustrated the castle further by commenting on its winding staircases, long corridors, and tunnels (Melton 87).  With such a portrayal, one can see how easy it would be to get caught up in the notion of Castle Dracula being a real place.

One of the castles presented for being the real Castle Dracula is Castle Bran.  Castle Bran is a restored castle in Transylvania, Romania, and the Romanian tourist authority tries to parade the castle as the real deal due to its overall appearance.  Legends state that the castle was first built by Basarah, the first prince of Wallachia.  Other lore gives credit to the Teutonic knight Deitruch.  It also served as a trading post in the Middle Ages.  While Vlad Tepes never lived at the castle, he may have sought refuge there during his flight from the Turks in 1462 (Guiley 54).  When the castle was donated to Queen Marie of Great Romania in 1920, she undertook a restoration of the castle.  Because of those restorations and due to the previous nature of the castle, a team of researchers, Raymond T. McNally and Radu R. Florescu, heralded the place as an almost exact replica of Castle Dracula.  Since that time, the castle has switched hands from the royal family to the state and from prosperity to disrepair.  It was finally restored again in 1993 and is in fine condition complete with its multilevel battlements, corridors, courtyards, tall water tower, chapel, and underground passageways (55).  It is no surprise then why the Romanian tourist authority insists on it being the real thing.

While the Romanian tourist authority may present Castle Bran as Castle Dracula, historians argue that Castle Poenari is a better fit for the title.  Castle Poenari overlooks the River Arges near the town of Poenari, in the foothills of the Transylvania Alps (Melton 90).  It dates back to the 14th century, and there are several arguments in regards to its origins.  It may have been built by a Basarab prince or by a Teutonic knight.  By the time Vlad Tepes assumed power in 1456, the castle, along with another in the area, was in ruins.  The destruction was caused by assaults by Turks and Tartars.  Although the castle was small in size, Vlad chose the location because he admired how it sat strategically in regards to views of the surrounding area.  When he made plans to rebuild the castle in 1459, he had an ingenious and devious plan to do so.  He was going to use the castle’s construction as a way to exact revenge on his enemies, the elite boyars.  The boyars partisans had murdered Vlad’s father and brother and interesting enough, had buried Vlad’s brother alive and facedown to prevent the brother from becoming a vampire.  On Easter, Vlad invited these boyers and their families for a feast at his castle in Tirgoviste.  The boyars and their wives were immediately taken and impaled on stakes while those in good health were marched immediately to work on the ruins.  From these working hands came three towers and walls thick enough to withstand cannon fire.  Supposedly, a secret staircase was built through the mountain to the riverbank below for easy escape, but no evidence has ever been found supporting this claim.  After the death of the Impaler, the castle fell into ruins once more and was ravaged by acts of nature like earthquakes.   Responding to an increase in tourism, the Romanian government carried out a partial reconstruction of the castle and built an astounding 1,531 wooden steps to reach it. (Guiley 57).  Thus, Castle Poenari has strong ties to the implicated Count in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and has a location fitting the portrayal of it in the novel as well.

Many would argue that Bram Stoker’s fictional world caused a problem in which people actively sought out a real Castle Dracula.  Readers’ fascination with the in depth descriptions led some to believe that Castle Bran or Castle Poenari was the Count’s residence.  Castle Bran appeared to be straight out of Stoker’s tale with its underground passageways and courtyards.  Castle Poenari, on the other hand, had ties with Vlad and a more fitting location.   Either way, both castles are fascinating in their own right, and each adds an understanding to the novel and to Vlad the Impaler.

Works Cited

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen.  The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters.  New York:  Checkmark , 2005.

Melton, J. Gordon.  The Vampire Book.  Detroit:  Visible Ink Press, 1994.

Stoker, Bram.  Dracula.  Literature.org, The Online Literature Library.  Literature.org.   20 May 2009 < http://www.literature.org/authors/stoker-bram/dracula/>.

Vampire Folklore

May, 2009

With mainstream media placing the vampire subculture in the spotlight, society has begun to wonder who or what causes an individual to choose such a lifestyle.  Society also ponders and searches for reasonable yet scientific explanations that would cause an individual to exhibit vampiric-like traits.  One of these scientific explanations comes from the medical field, and that explanation is called porphyria.

The word porphyria comes from the Greek word porphyros, meaning reddish-purple (Melton 486).  A reference to reddish-purple or purple color is made because people who suffer from the rare disease typically have darker urine.  This urine may appear even darker after exposure to light.  The purple color is caused by an excess of porphyrins, a substance found in bone marrow (Guiley 231).  These porphyrins normally do not accumulate in strong concentrations (APF “About Porphyria”).  The disease was first recognized in the case of King George III, and the disease manifested itself in the sovereign with symptoms such as abdominal pain, fever, constipation, dark urine, headaches, and convulsions (Ramsland 71).  Using King’s ailments as a general guideline, porphyria can be described as a condition with any of the following:

* Severe sensitivity to light
* Reddish brown or purple urine and teeth
* Severe anemia
* Jaundiced skin
* Skin lesions
* Progressive deformation of cartilage and bone especially around the face and fingers
* Nervous disorders including hysteria and bipolar disorder (Guiley 231)

However, the American Porphyria Foundation has recognized eight forms of porphyria, and each form displays different combinations of the conditions listed above

(APF “About  Porphyria”).  The most common of the eight are acute intermittent, and cutanea tarda.

Acute intermittent and cutanea tarda porphyria appear to be the most common of the eight types of porphyria.  Acute intermittent porphyria masks itself by appearing as other common ailments.  This type is commonly hereditary and causes an enzyme deficiency.  The deficiency alone does not trigger the condition.  It has been shown that hormones, drugs, and dietary changes amplify the problem.  The symptoms of acute intermittent porphyria are abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, constipation, back pain, muscle weakness, urinary retention, palpitation, and seizures (APF “About: Types of Porphyria, AIP”).  The other most common porphyria, cutanea tarda, focuses more on the vampire idea.  The most significant problem in individuals who suffer from cutanea tarda is sun inflected skin blisters.  They have increased hair growth as well as darkening and thickening of the skin (APF “About:  Types of Porphyria, PCT”).  One could see clearly, then, how one with this type of porphyria could be labeled as a vampire by those who are not educated in true vampire folklore.

While those who are educated in vampire folklore would be quick to argue against porphyria being linked to vampirism, one argument could still hold.  In 1985, David Dolphin speculated in a writing offered to the American Association for Science that porphyria may explain some reports of vampirism.  In the paper, Dolphin analyzed a treatment for porphyria that included the injection of heme.  Additionally, he hypothesized a concept in which those who suffered from the disease drank blood from others as a means to fight it off.  One could argue that Dolphin came to this conclusion due to the iron deficiency found in some porphyria sufferers.  While some have dismissed this paper altogether, it has gained both attention and negativity from the medical and vampiric communities (Melton 486).

Porphyria is a rare disease that has a variety of symptoms that could be mistaken for vampirism to those who are not readily acquainted with vampire folklore.  Some of those symptoms include an aversion to sunlight and excessive hair growth.  Furthermore, although it is highly debatable, those diagnosed with porphyria may try to use blood to combat their plight.  Therefore, one could see where it is possible to debate how one could consider porphyria the true vampire disease.

Works Cited

American Porphyria Foundation.  2009.  American Porphyria Foundation.  26 Apr. 2009 < http://www.porphyriafoundation.com/about-the-apf>.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen.  The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters.  New York:  Checkmark , 2005.

Melton, J. Gordon.  The Vampire Book.  Detroit:  Visible Ink Press, 1994.

Ramsland, Katherine.  The Science of Vampires.  New York:  Berkley Boulevard , 2002.

Vampire Folklore

April, 2009

Besides physically destroying or mutilating a vampire corpse, other remedies exist to assist with the process.  These remedies include the exploitation of holy relics and devices.  The most commonly used of these is the cross.  The cross is one of the oldest amulets against evil, and contrary to what most people understand, the cross predates Christianity by many centuries.  For example, the cross has been used to associate sun deities, to symbolize the heavens, and to represent divine protection (Guiley 88).  When employed by the Christian faith, the cross represents Jesus as he was executed on the original Good Friday.  One will notice how Roman Catholics regularly use a cross with the corpus while Protestant and Free churches do not (Melton 138).  Regardless of faith or path, however, the cross has been employed to exorcize demons, ward off incubi or succubi, to prevent curses and bewitchments of all shapes and sizes, and to force any vampire to flee (Guiley 89).  The cross is also readily accessible because it can be quickly improvised from any source, including one’s own fingers.  More specific uses for crosses in vampire prevention or hunting include painting a cross of tar or resin on the lid of a coffin or door to prevent the undead from passing (Gregory 122).  Crosses can be buried with a corpse to make sure a vampire does not arise from it, and these relics can be used to inflict physical pain upon a vampire if placed upon a vampire’s skin (123).  On the other hand, in some folklore, stronger vampires are immune to such relics altogether (Guiley 89).  In any case, some form of the cross is usually carried by those who supposedly want to vanquish vampires (Gregory 123).

In addition to the cross as a holy weapon, water may be used to combat a vampire as well.  Water has always been an element that defeats any force of evil, and many evil beings cannot cross running water because it is a symbol of life (Guiley 315).  Its usage in regards to battling evil dates back to the fourth century (Gregory 126).  In Russia, any corpse that was suspected to be a vampire was immediately thrown in a river much in the same way witches were tried for their evil deeds.  In Germany, suicide victims, which could be the next potential vampire problem, were also tossed into running water.  Furthermore, water was poured on the road between one’s resting place and the place one had called home to prevent any return in that manner (Melton 673).  Holy water, such as water taken from a church or that had been blessed by a priest, carried with it an inherent sacred quality because it was consecrated for religious use.  Since holy water was implemented in all Christian funeral services, it was no surprise when the bodies of suspected vampires were exhumed and doused with the blessed liquid (674).  Hence, any good slayer would carry a cross and holy water.

Another way to hinder a vampire is to carry around a bulb from the lily family called garlic (Melton 249).  This herb has been utilized since ancient times, and ancient Egyptian papyri present at least twenty-two garlic remedies for a wide variety of ailments.  Roman legions were supposedly more empowered after eating a dinner of garlic cloves (Gregory 118).  Because of its healing qualities then, garlic was a protection agent against plague and evil. Another theory in garlic’s application in vampire folklore can be found in its potent odor.  The theory is such a potent herb can repel anything with a similar foul odor (119).  Nevertheless, when garlic was integrated into the vampire hunter toolkit, it came with a variety of strategies.  In Slavic countries and Romania, garlic aided in the detection and prevention of attacks.  In those specific areas, those who refused to eat garlic were immediately suspected of vampirism (Melton 249).  Garlic could also be worn around the neck or hung in any house entryway, and it was often stuffed in the mouths of corpses for precautionary measures.  Doors, windows, chimneys, livestock, and even children were rubbed in the herb for safety’s sake (Guiley 133).  Thus, the weapon of garlic had a variety of operations.

Some believe the best time to solve a vampire problem is during the day.  A belief exists in which sunlight can harm or destroy a vampire.  European lore dictates that vampires are creatures of the night and will only cause mischief at that time.  Other reports claim the exact opposite.  Other reports argue the point in which vampires can be present during the daylight hours, but their powers are diminished.  To go straight to the heart of the matter, there is no real record or precedent of any vampiric folklore stating how or why sunlight affects these undead beings.  This sort of folklore is more recent and exploited by the entertainment industry (Guiley 272).  Sunlight, then, should not be readily relied upon as a destructive tool in regards to any supposed vampire incident.

Many cases of vampiric folklore explain the numerous ways in which any vampire should be handled.  These include forms of destroying or hindering the body, and several methods can be used to do just that.  While some would prefer to stake, mutilate, or burn the supposed vampire, others would use a combination of holy relics and garlic.  One should be cautioned not to rely on the dawn for any major assistance since folklore does not set any specifications in regards to sunlight.  Regardless of the manner in which a vampire is slain, each method has its roots in ancient history or in supernatural belief.


Works Cited

Gregory, Constantine.  The Vampire Watcher’s Handbook:  A Guide For Slayers.  New York:  St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen.  The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters.  New York:  Checkmark , 2005.

Melton, J. Gordon.  The Vampire Book.  Detroit:  Visible Ink Press, 1994.

Vampire Folklore

March, 2009

Arise From the Past!:  I Found A Vampire, Now What?

When one stumbled upon what was thought to be a vampire or living corpse, the first idea that must have run through his or her mind was quite simple.  What was one to do with such a find?  Although many people cannot agree on the correct way to dispose of a vampire, they can all agree that any technique used has to work indefinitely.  Such methods include a stake through the heart, decapitation, burning, the usage of holy items, garlic, and exposure to sunlight.

One of the most common methods for disposing of a vampire is a stake through the heart.  The idea originated in Europe before the use of coffins became widespread.  Any deceased person who was likely to come back from the grave for any reason was staked to keep that individual attached to the ground.  When the practice was first used, the stake was placed anywhere.  It could be driven into the stomach or the back if the corpse was facing downward.  When coffins were introduced, the stake was plunged specifically into the heart as a direct assault on the corpse itself (Melton 580).  The method became even more refined when Slavic stories implemented the strategy of making sure the task was done with a single blow, and any repetition of such a blow could kill the destroyer or awaken the vampire.  Such a precise set of directions came from Slavic stories that always stressed the idea of a hero who must strike a monster once and once only (Masters 107).  Furthermore, Slavic lore specified the use of aspen as the best wood to use for a stake.  Other woods such as ashwood, hawthorne, and maple could be used as well (Guiley 80).  Thus, the stake through the heart as a way of disposal could be very involved.

While a stake through the heart might suffice for some, other would-be vampire hunters would argue that more must be done to properly dispose of a vampire.  The next method of preventing a vampire’s return to the living is decapitation or mutilation.  This practice became commonplace in Germany and Eastern Europe.  When a vampire was indentified, the head was cut off to make sure the body did not receive any direction from the missing fixture.  The head could be placed between the knees or under the arm.  Some people would take the head and bury it elsewhere for greater certainty (Melton 163).  In Slavic lore, it is best to decapitate a vampire with a shovel belonging to a gravedigger or sexton.  A gravedigger’s shovel was supposed to have a supernatural power due to its association with the dead while a sexton’s shovel carried with it the powers of the Christian God.  However, regardless of the tool or placement of the head, one needed to take care to make sure none of the blood sprayed upon the executioner and helpers.  If the blood happened to hit anybody, the people affected would either go mad or die instantly (Guiley 80).

Although a stake through the heart and decapitation could stop or at least hinder a vampire, those affected by supposed vampire epidemics went a step further.  This step involved the burning of the corpse.  The practice of burning the dead started sporadically throughout the world as early as the Stone Age.  It became frowned upon when the resurrection of Jesus Christ was recognized by the Church.  Pagans challenged the resurrection and Christian faith by digging up saints and martyrs and burning them (Gregory 98).  To add to the difficulty of seeking a cremation, bonfires were the chief means of burning, and bodies did not burn well because of their high water content.  As a result, the body may have been further mutilated and cut into parts to make it easier to burn.   Stories differ as to how much of the body should be burned.  Some argue that certain parts, such as the head, need to be burned (Guiley 80).  Other cultures strongly suggest that every last scrap of bone and flesh must be destroyed.  Otherwise, the vampire could rise again (Masters 100).

Besides physically destroying or mutilating a vampire corpse, other remedies exist to assist with the process.

To be continued in April…

Works Cited

Gregory, Constantine.  The Vampire Watcher’s Handbook:  A Guide For Slayers.  New York:  St. Martin’s Griffin, 2003.

Guiley, Rosemary Ellen.  The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters.  New York:  Checkmark , 2005.

Masters, Anthony.  The Natural History of the Vampire.  London:  Rupert Hart-Davis    Ltd, 1972.

Melton, J. Gordon.  The Vampire Book.  Detroit:  Visible Ink Press, 1994.

Vampires: A Small Introduction to Those Outside the Glamour of Hollywood

January, 2009

Blood dripping fangs, dark cloaks, and perhaps a deep soothing voice, are attributes most would associate with the word vampire.  The word vampire can be traced back as far as ancient Sumer with their version of the word akhkharu, and although the word may have originated there, many existing arguments exist as to who was the original vampire (NRG).  Some would argue Cain from the Bible.  Some would suggest Lilith, who has her roots in the Judaic tradition as well as Sumerian.  Nevertheless, all vampire stories were originally created to explain away problems with childbirth and the death of loved ones (Melton 446).   Then, one may wonder, how did the vampire morph into the Dracula stereotype we see plastered everywhere today?

Mainstream society has happily absorbed the ideas of immortality and romanticism, and the idea of the vampire may seem appealing because of them.  This fascination is shown by the wide availability of vampire literature and the assortment of movies.  Bram Stoker’s depiction with the infamous Count Dracula is probably the best example.  As a result, people are exposed to the possibility of vampires existing among us today.  As exciting the thought may be to the many role players and lifestylers, one must understand the glamour and wonder of such a condition is not all it is thought out to be.

The Vampire Church defines real vampirism as a “sanguine, psychic, and or energy vampire”(“Lexicon”).  Characteristics include but are not necessarily limited to the following:

1. The individual has a real need for blood or life energy (“Lexicon”).  In theory, these individuals need the extra energy because for some odd reason, their bodies simply cannot produce enough energy on their own through normal bodily processes and functions.

2. The person may have heightened sensitivities including empathy, astral projection, clairvoyance, and energy manipulation (“Lexicon”).  It could be easily deduced then that someone who has to constantly process energy would become an expert of sorts in other areas involving energy transfer and usage.

3. The party in question may or may not have sensitivity to light and may wish to remain nocturnal.  However, contrary to popular belief, this sensitivity does not disable the person from being out and about during the day.  It may just diminish his or her ability to do so (“Lexicon”).

With the above characteristics stated, many wonder why there is more than one type of vampire.  Vampires are categorized by the means in which they obtain energy to function normally.  Some strictly use one method of obtaining what they need while others may utilize all three methods.

Sanguine vampires can be compared to the traditional personification of a bloodsucker.  Sanguines obtain blood from donors and use the energy found within the blood for their own means (“Lexicon”).  However, unlike the Hollywood stereotype, sanguines do not require mass amounts of the life giving substance, and they do not need to permanently hurt or damage human life.  While the amount needed can be debated, some sources state that only 1-2 teaspoons is required.  Additionally, the vampire community as a whole strongly enforces screening of willing donors and the use of healthful procedures to procure the blood.  In other words, biting is strongly discouraged due to the germs involved.  One is usually asked to implement a syringe.

Psychic and energy vampires are not so different that one cannot talk about them in the same sentence.  These vampires feed off of psychic energy or the life force of others.  Some prefer this method due to the obstacles and dangers found by seeking out blood.  Depending upon the individual, some choose to seek out the energy of willing human beings while others will look to the elements.  On the other hand, some of these individuals like to prey off the emotions of others and sometimes without their consent (“Lexicon”).  These vampires who drain others without prior consent are referred to as psi vampires and are frowned upon by the community and people in general.  Many people will complain of at least one person in their life who would fit this description, and because of such complaints, one could argue that many around us are vampires in their own right.

Vampires have been mentioned from the beginning of time, and with popular culture keeping these creatures in the limelight, it is no surprise that some argue that real vampires exist amongst us.  These individuals are not the Hollywood stereotype although they may share some of the characteristics of the stereotype.  Some vampires could be linked to the traditional blood drinkers who may suffer an adversity to sunlight while others use the life force of others to meet their energy deficient needs.  Whatever the case, the real life community exists and is now out in the open due to our fascination with the fanged beings of night and immortality in general.

Works Cited

“Lexicon of Terminology.”  Vampire Church.  10 October 2006.  Vampire Church.  23 November 2008.  <http://www.vampire-church.com/lexicon.html>.

Melton, J. Gordon.  The Vampire Book.  Detroit:  Visible Ink Press, 1994.

NRG.  “Sumerian Dictionary.”  Information Texts.  23 November 2008.  <http://www.ping.de/sites/systemcoder/necro/info/sumerian.htm>.