29 June 2009

Vampire reproduction

According to L.A. Banks in The Awakening, "Vampires can't breed...their seed is dead...They make more [vampires] through the bite" (P163). As previously mentioned, this argument is fallacious. The world is not overpopulated by vampires; therefore, they must not reproduce through a bite (Read more: turning a human into a vampire).

So, how do the 'undead' reproduce?
If you've seen the movie Van Helsing, your mind probably conjures up the image of giant cocoons and exploding monster-bats. This is Hollywood at its best. I guarantee you that vampires do not create cocoons or have bat-children.

But, they do reproduce. After all, vampires surface in all time periods and all parts of the world. Some manner of reproduction occurs. In humans, reproduction most commonly happens through sex. Vampires are also capable of sexual intercourse. The Empusa, generally believed to be among the oldest blood drinkers, seduced men into bed and drained their blood after weakening them with sex. Female vampires are still often depicted as "ravenous succubae that take more than just blood from their male victims" (Ramsland 225).

Male vampires are also physically capable of having sexual intercourse. If a male vampire is feeding, he should have adequate blood to achieve an erection in the same manner as humans. Circulation of blood should not be squabbled about, because "the discovery of corpses with erections" is "not [an] uncommon occurrence" (223).

Furthermore gypsies, the source of much vampire folklore, "believed that vampires left the grave at night to have sex with their spouses" (223). Vampire-Human copulation seems possible, right? After all, the anatomy does correspond. But, what about reproduction? "Poppy Z. Brite's vampires can have children with mortals, and dhampirs are the result of such a union" (224). "Usually a dhampir has a vampiric father and mortal mother" (Belanger 116). According to the supporters of the dhampir idea, a male vampire can copulate with a female human and may produce a viable offspring, which is "physically indistinguishable from ordinary humans" and is considered a sub-race of humanity (Morton). Reportedly, "dhampirs can recognize vampires" easily, and although their particular traits vary by legend, they do not usually possess supernatural powers (Handeland 131). Since dhampirs share the same traits as humans, it is logical to assume that they can live a normal existence without ever realizing their vampiric nature. However, if "they share the blood...then they become more vampire than human" (132).

What does this mean? Well, the idea of a dhampir indicates that vampires may reproduce and that the hybrid-offspring will become a vampire if it begins to consume blood. This falls in line with the modern vampire community's assertion that vampires gradually become aware of their vampiric nature as they reach maturity.

If you buy into the possibility of a dhampir, then you may question whether female vampires can produce children. Like all vampiric mysteries, the topic is debated. Among the mythological "lamie, styrges, empuse; children were the objects of their envy and thus their hatred" (Levi 90).

For a single case study, let's examine Lamia. "Lamias were creatures which made love to sleeping men and also killed and ate their children". To understand why, we should look to the "original Lamia" who "was said to have been a beautiful Libyan queen...Hera was bitterly jealous and murdered Lamia's children. Lamia went mad with grief...and in desperate revenge she stole and devoured other people's children" (Cavendish 100). Clearly, Lamia had children, but that was prior to the moment when "her beauty changed to bestial ugliness", or in other words, she become evil (100). This idea of a childless female snatching the children of women develops throughout the legends as "the adulteration of familial bliss by a vampire or monster presence" (Principe 99). Of course, if a female vampire stole a human child the child would still be human, which does not solve the problem of reproduction. Some sources assert that the spirit of the vampire enters child of a dead mother, whether killed by a vampire or deceased in childbirth (Poe 16). However, this idea "dictates the precept of monogenesis--that is,...the descent of an entire race from the vampiric Progenitor" (Principe 94).

Is there a single vampiric ancestor from whom all blood-drinkers descend? --I suppose that there must be, but I have never met a blood-drinker who has knowledge of vampiric origins. Do vampires reproduce? --Yes, but I will not say how. Some questions cannot be answered, and I refuse to answer others; however, you are welcome to voice any opinions and provide knowledgeable sources on the matter.


Banks, L.A. The Awakening.
Belanger, Michelle. Sacred Hunger.
Cavendish, Richard. The powers of evil in Western religion, magic and folk belief.
Dundles, Alan. The vampire.
Handeland, Lori. Doomsday Can Wait.
Levi, Eliphas. Alphonse louis Constant. Arthur Edward Waite. The history of magic.
Morton, EW. Out for Blood.
Poe, Edgar Allen. Morella. 1836.
Principe, David Del. Rebellion, Death, and Aesthetics in Italy.
Ramsland, Katherine M. The Science of Vampires.

28 June 2009

Turning a human into a vampire

It's a question riddled with problems, and it's one I've been asked several times this week.
How can I become a vampire?

The most often repeated answer is: You can't.
I imagine that is not the answer for which you search, so I will draw out some explanations in this blog entry. Anyway, that answer is not precisely true in every case.

Again, we will turn first to Bram Stoker's Dracula. "Evolutionary theory in Dracula is a nineteenth-century jumble of social Darwinisim, speciation and a pre-Darwinian Lamarckism" where an individual can "obtain prolonged life through 'the blood'" (Pue 235). Much of this jumbled theory has continued into the modern ideas of vampire creation, but little can be proven or supported with research or scientific fact.

Nevertheless, over the centuries, many methods of making a vampire have been developed in folklore and fiction. The ways that a vampire is created can be broken down into three sections: the individual becomes a vampire after death, the individual becomes a vampire because of his/her evil deeds, the individual is a vampire at birth.

The most popular method in modern time is the notion of an infected bite. In other words, a vampire bites a mortal human thereby 'infecting' the human with whatever attribute causes vampirism. In Stephenie Meyer's Twilight, a vampire bite releases venom into the blood stream, and that venom will eventually affect change within the victim. The specifics of this change vary by account. In the novel Bite, "It takes three bites to become a vampire,...and they all have to be from the same vampire. You can't become one in a single night, and you can't become one if you're just being casual with more than one" (Hamilton 5). Explained the most simply, the vampire's " bite grants, at least to some, eternal life, enhanced strength and sexualised beauty" (Pue 235). "While this scenario has a wealth of problems attached to it, notably that the earth would soon be choked with vampires, it does imbue the vampire with an interesting infectiousness and an inability to control its "procreative" powers" (Ramsland 90). Since the world is not over-populated with vampires, the claim of an infectious bite is clearly not true.

To accommodate the issue of scarcity of vampires, some authors claim that a simple bite is not enough. The 'victim' must accept the gift of the vampiric blood in order to transform into a new creature. This idea echoes the traditions of Christianity--it is only by receiving the blood, and thereby willingly dying to the world, that the human enters a new type of existence. The main advocate of this method of transformation is Anne Rice. In her Vampire Chronicles, a new blood drinker is made by draining a living human of blood "to the very threshold of death", and then the dying mortal must drink the blood of the vampire in order to survive and pass into immortal existence (Rice. Vampire 19). Marius says to his fledgling, Amadeo: "You'll die now to live forever, as I take your blood and give it back to you. I won't let you slip away." (Rice. Blood 302). This idea of blood exchange, also carries with it the idea of infected or magical blood. In order for this to work, the "vampire substance", whether it be disease or magic, must "be able to outdistance the mortal immune system" and be able to disable or change the "genetic process" (Ramsland 94). It is logical. Many diseases overpower the human immune system, but this idea leads to the association of vampirism with diseases such as Rabies, Porphyria, and other disease that produce life-altering side-effects. We will discuss the association of vampirism with disease in a later blog entry.

"It is true, however, that in folklore as well as in fiction, the vampire's bite tends to cause the victim to become a vampire as well" (Barber 32). However, folklore also provides many other alternate methods of creating a vampire including: a supernatural curse, an unusual death, a variety of sin, and spirit possession. Alan Dundes sums up the various methods that Romanians believe a vampire is made in his book The Vampire.
The causes of vampirism are various. Roumanians think that a man born with a caul [remnant of the amniotic sac] becomes a vampire within six weeks after his death; similarly people who were bad and had done evil deeds in their lifetime. When a child dies before it is baptized, it becomes a vampire at seven years of age...Men who swear falsely for money become vampires six months after death...If a vampire casts its eye on a pregnant woman, and she is not disenchanted, her child will be a vampire. If a pregnant woman does not eat salt, her child will be a vampire...When there are seven children of the same sex, the seventh will have a little tail and be a vampire

Furthermore, "a dead man becomes a vampire, if a cat jumps over him, if a man steps over him, or even if the shadow of a man falls over him" (Dundes 20). This idea is also reported in cases of Asian vampires, where any animal (but particularly a dog) can instigate the change by jumping over a dead body. To all educated, modern individuals it is clear that these "methods" are merely superstitions created by a populace that feared vampires and all that strayed from the norm.

In the modern world, there are still some who claim a human can be turned into a vampire. Some subcultures of vampires engage in initiation acts, that may resemble one or more of the processes of 'turning' a human into a vampire as described in fiction or folklore. While the participants may feel differently because of these initiation acts, no speciation (the process of one species separating into two) occurs. Humans still have human DNA after these rituals. They are still affected by human diseases, and they are still bound by physical requirements of the human body.

So, can a human turn into a vampire? "The majority of the vampire community believe it is impossible for anyone to be turned...Many believe we are born vampires and gradually become aware of our natures" (Voices of the Vampire Community). Others insist on the exchange of blood is the path to immortality. The truth is a closely guarded secret.

Erteng körüshkönchö,


Banks, L.A. The Awakening.
Barber, Paul. Vampires, Burial, and Death.
Dundes, Alan. The Vampire. P 20
Hamilton, Laurell K. Charlaine Harris, Angela Knight, Mary Janice Davidson, Vickie Taylor. Bite.
Pue, W. Wesley, David Sugarman. Lawyers and vampires.
Ramsland, Katherine M. The Science of Vampires.
Rice, Anne. Blood & Gold.
Rice, Anne. Interview with a vampire.

26 June 2009

Using garlic against vampires

Congratulations, humans, you've gotten something right...in a manner of speaking.

You impressed me, for a moment. I thought that you understood the correct correlation between blood drinkers and garlic because "In almost all vampire literature and movies, garlic is used by peasants to ward off vampires" (Gresh 135). "Myth has it that" vampires "abhor...garlic", and "in vampire lore, garlic has always played the role of protector"(Renoux 30-1). Garlic draped on transoms is used to keep vampires outside the home. Garlic necklaces protect the wearer, and a diet heavy in garlic discourages vampire attacks. This is (nearly) true.

I know better than to claim that all vampires maintain a disgust for garlic, for it is most certainly incorrect in some cases. Claudia Varrin says that the "garlic myth is a huge joke among modern vampires, it makes them double over laughing at us, the silly humans who wear garlic as protection against vampire attacks. Garlic does not ward off vampires but it does make potential victims easier for the vampire to smell. And, after the vampire has fed,...the garlic makes for a nice marinade for humans" (229). I do not know what sources for vampircal knowledge Varrin has, but in my experience most vampires prefer to avoid garlic.

So, I believed humans understood the 'power' of garlic until I investigated further.

Again, I stumbled into the dark recesses of human ignorance in the claim that vampires have "some form of an allergy ... to the chemical composition of garlic...like the fatal reaction that some humans have to the sting of a bee" (Liberty 147). But fear not, it gets worse. In the book, Vampire State Building there is an entire chapter devoted to the idea that "if a vampire eats garlic it [the vampire] shrivels up" (Levy 45). I must agree with Varrin at this point, how ridiculous!

Vampires are not inherently allergic to garlic. Can you imagine a vampire that is allergic to garlic, sunlight, silver, iron, holy water, crucifixes...that poor creature would need to exist solely within a bubble. No, there is no universal allergy. Neither is garlic successful at warding off a vampire because, "garlic, being a blood purifier, is harmful or fatal to most of the world's many species of vampire" (Maberry 45). Why wouldn't a vampire want pure blood?

The reason for garlic avoidance is simple: Garlic reeks. Perhaps the vampiric nose is more sensitive than that of the human, but I hardly think that you could be oblivious to the potent odor of garlic.
If you've ever been around someone who ate a meal heavily seasoned with garlic...you already know that allicin (the most important active ingredient in garlic) shows up on the breath and in the sweat glands for quite some time after the garlic has been eaten (Greer 50).

Personally, I find the scent revolting. Would it stop me from eating?--absolutely not. But if given the choice, I would always prefer a meal that is not laden with garlic.

Think (but only briefly, lest I get angry) of vampires as rather large mosquitoes, which by the way, are also repelled by garlic. A mosquito is less likely to drink your blood if you smell repulsive--obviously, you know this, because humans make mosquito repellent from very smelly liquids. And the same is true for vampires. But no matter your scent, don't assume you are safe from the nibble of a hungry blood drinker. If a mosquito will still bite even when you are slathered in repellent, then why wouldn't a vampire just hold his/her nose and drink quickly?


Read more about mosquitoes and garlic.
Greer, John Michael. Monsters. 50.

Gresh, Lois H. The Twilight Companion: The Unauthorized Guide to the Series. P 135.

Renoux, Victoria. For the Love of Garlic.

Levy, Elizabeth & Sally Wern Comport. Vampire State Building. P 45.

Liberty. Dark Revenge. 147.

Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe. P 45.

Varrin, Claudia. Female Dominance. P 229.

25 June 2009

Vampire Reflections

A circulating rumor claims that a vampire casts no reflection or shadow. While this creates startling imagery in movies, it is completely untrue. Really, have you ever met a vampire without a reflection...or shadow? I have not.

First, let's talk about where this idea originated:
"Once again, Bram Stoker has much to answer for, as it was he who conceived the idea of the vampire having no reflection. Jonathan Harker witnessed Dracula hurling his shaving mirror out the window, the vicious Count angered by his lack of reflection, a cruel reminder of his abhorrent, undead state" (Gregory 125). "The traditional vampire's lack of reflection implies the absence of soul" and "exemplifies the void he finds at the core of his identity" (Heldreth 121).

The power of mirrors is not limited to revealing a vampire. "In China it has been believed, "that mirrors can repel evil forces"...and in Nigeria the Ibo trick "evil spirits seeking to attack the souls of men...into fighting the 'soul' reflected in glass" (Gregory 125). According to these legends, mirrors reflect the soul and repel evil forces or energy. Along these lines of ration, a vampire should have no reflection.

Why this is problematic:
The idea of a physical vampire not casting a reflection is "problematic from a physics standpoint. All material objects should have a reflection, because all matter interacts in some way with light" (Ouellette 15). If nothing else, a vampire is material. If the creature were immaterial (and therefore not obligated to cast a reflection), the being would also not be able to interact with other material objects--like humans. Vampires are not spirits--they are physical beings and will therefore cast a reflection and a shadow. Soulful or soulless, a vampire sees himself in the mirror.

K'an ben sini,

Heldreth, Leonard G. and Mary Pharr. In the Blood is the Life: Vampires in Literature

Gregory, Constantine & Craig Glenday. Vampire Watcher's Handbook.

Ouellette, Jennifer. The physics of the Buffyverse.

24 June 2009

Crosses & Crucifixes

Crosses and crucifixes are so entrenched in vampire legend, that we have a hard time imagining a story without them. In Bram Stoker's Dracula, the crucifix has the power to dissolve a vampire's anger:
When the Count saw my face, his eyes blazed with a sort of demoniac fury, and he suddenly made a grab at my throat. I drew away and his hand touched the string of beads which held the crucifix. It made an instant change in him, for the fury passed so quickly that I could hardly believe that it was ever there.

"And against the vampire there is no more potent a device than the crucifix -- representing the cross that bore the crucified body of Christ" according to Constantine Gregory & Craig Glenday in Vampire Watcher's Handbook. This "Handbook" goes on to declare:
Alone, the cross is invaluable as an anti-vampiric; not only is it the most ancient and universal of all symbols, but, unlike other religious imagery, it can be quickly improvised with anything from stakes and swords to sticks and fingers. It can even be drawn in the air or across the chest to provide the vampire hunter with instant divine protection.

The major fallacy with this argument is that the crucifix is not the most ancient of symbols. Truly, tales of vampires and blood drinkers resonate from times long before the invention of the crucifix or its association with the Christ. What of these archaic vampires? Are ancients felled by the crucifix--it's unlikely.

There are two disparate arguments regarding the crucifix. The first is that its power is determined by the faith of the bearer, and the other is that the power comes from God and has effect over any vampire whose former life was contained within the Christian society. The question that arises is: Will other symbols have similar effect? Will a Durga effigy in the hands of a Hindu smite a vampire? And what about vampires that were never of the Christian faith--will the crucifix affect them?

Is there any innate power of the crucifix or is it merely a lucky charm to ease the fears of the bearer?

Do svidanja,

23 June 2009

So you're coming over for dinner?

I am Calista Thanasimos. My name fits me as smoothly as a satin dress. If you know a bit of Greek, you'll realize I'm beautiful but lethal. People have called me many things, most often Empusa, but I prefer to obscure my identity with an indefinite veil.

Perhaps the way I toy with mortal men before well...dinner...is a bit cruel, but we all have our hobbies. Though sired what seems like aeons ago in Greece, I'm always traveling and looking for new, challenging conquests. Head-games are my favorite. The look that washes over a man's face when he realizes he isn't the actual pursuer keeps me in stitches.

Just because I may have slightly colder motives doesn't mean I don't have philanthropic, pet causes. For example, malaria is utterly destroying my menu. Malaria must be eradicated to maintain a tasty food supply.

Vampires' aversions to metals

Silver amulets protect individuals against vampires, right? Well...

In the television show True Blood vampires are severely allergic to silver--so much so that it burns their skin and even small chains can immobilize the vampire. Is there any truth behind the silver allergy or is this just a myth?

According to Rosalyn Green, "Silver is one of the few metals that is assigned spiritual qualities." She maintains that the "etheric counterpart of silver can injure etheric forms, while merely physical bullets can pass right through" (Magic of Shapeshifting, 105). In other words, silver harms the vampirical essence that resides within the reanimated corpse. Holding to this idea, if a bullet or stake were fashioned out of silver, then the silver should render the vampire powerless and the bullet or stake should kill the body.

Paul Barber cites Wlislocki in the claim that
In fiction, a vampire may be killed with a gun, but only if the bullet is silver. In folklore, guns may either kill or scare away vampires and revenants, even without silver bullets. One account by a Serbian immigrant states that a silver coin with a cross on it could, if broken into four pieces and loaded into a shotgun shell, be used to kill a vampire (Folklore Archives, UC Berkeley)

Silver is assigned a magical property. It represents purity and healing. Silver amulets and coffin nails are reported to prevent evil from rising out of the grave. Would a silver bullet kill a vampire? Perhaps, but no more easily than any other bullet.

Silver "is certainly not the only substance thought to have magical efficacy against the vampire--iron, for example, is often cited as well" (McClelland, Bruce. Slayers & Their Vampires). "Surprisingly, silver was not as traditional a protective metal as supposed in popular fiction - iron was the material of choice. Iron shavings were placed beneath a child's cradle, a necklace with an iron nail was worn, and other iron objects were placed strategically around the place needing protection" (Whyte, Lesa. Vampire).

According to Pliny in his Natural History, "iron has valuable attributes as a preservative against harmful witchcrafts and sorceries", and consequently "iron and steel are traditional charms against malevolent spirits and goblins" (Sacred Texts). Around the world, iron is assigned magical properties that far extend the power of silver in more modern myth. From Japan to Westphalia, and from Ireland to Egypt iron has the ability to ward off evil spirits. Theories about the origins of such myths include disparity of ages (evil was ancient, hence from the stoneage, while iron was a new metal and therefore superior to the weapons of the evil creature) and its relation to primitive surgery. You can read more folklore surrounding iron and its magical properties in Sacred Texts.

Now, the question is: does silver or iron harm vampires? Are vampires allergic to either/both? Far be it from me to reveal vampiric secrets or dispel your protective myths completely, but do your research before you charge after a vampire with a silver crucifix, hoping that it will save you.


22 June 2009

Vampires in the Sunlight: The sun is shining

With the exception of Meyer's Twilight Saga, most vampire novels feature creatures of the night that cannot emerge into the daylight for fear that they will burst into flames.

Anne Rice says this in The Vampire Armand:
The morning came down in its thunderous white-hot light, rolling over roofs and curdling the night in a thousand glassy walls and slowly unleashing its monstrous glory...My flesh was burnt black already, shiny, sealed to the sinews of my body, collapsed to the intricate tangle of muscles which encased my bones...I was on the way to my own death, and this seemingly endless torture was nothing, nothing. I could endure all things, even the burning in the eyes, the knowledge that they would soon melt or explode in this furnace of sunlight, and that all that I was would pass out of flesh.(p300-301)

Stephenie Meyer presents an alternative solution in Twilight:
[A vampire] in the sunlight was shocking. I couldn't get used to it, though I'd been staring at him all afternoon. His skin, white despite the faint flush from yesterday's hunting trip, literally sparkled, like thousands of tiny diamonds were embedded in the surface. (p260)

In the Historia Rerum Anglicarum writen in 1196 by William of Newburgh, vampires prefer to hunt at night, assaulting their former loved ones in the evening and retreating in the daylight.
Nec facile discerni poterat uter illorum esset sol verus, nisi ex solito processu, alius vero palo elevatior quasi sequi videbatur; malorum forte quae subsecuta noscuntur praesagus.

Jonathan Mayberry explains (source):
The whole thing about sunlight effecting vampires was not in folklore and it wasn't in the book Dracula either. It was invented by a movie director named F.W. Murnau for the movie Nosferatu. They needed a way to kill the vampire at the end of the film so they figured it was a creature of darkness, why not kill it with sunlight. But that wasn't part of the folklore either.

Like many predators, vampires are often nocturnal. It is easier to catch prey when it is lethargic or disoriented by lack of light. However, this doesn't mean a vampire is allergic to sunlight...does it?


21 June 2009

Summer solstice

What does the longest day of the year mean for us? Well, it doesn't mean much except for delayed hunting parties and perhaps a couple Midsummer Night festivals to "attend". It's a pagan holiday, after all.

Humans in the Northern Hemisphere: enjoy your lengthy days.

Vi ses sénare,

20 June 2009

Infectious Bite Website

The Infectious Bite website is now up and running. Cordial greetings to our new participants. A couple of individuals joined within a few hours of the site going online.

Please, join and post your opinions in the Guestbook, and share your experiences and knowledge in the Wiki.

Calista is still roaming outside the region. We hope to commune with her soon. Certainly, she will have updates and extra information for the site.

For now, m'a ssalama,

19 June 2009

Hello (From Lucius)

Well unlike Ana I am more of a keep to myself kind of well ....something. People in the modern days have a vast amount of free knowledge to share with each other. I hope to see that it is applied to good use and to rid this world of infections such malaria. You want us around then help us help you.

Save Yourselves,


18 June 2009

Convention of Like-Minds

We have decided that it is time we step out of the shadows and demand changes to the plague that affects us all. Do you think that just because we are immune to disease we don't notice its effect? Of course we do! Our food supply is dwindling and our patience is growing thin.

Those of us with like-minds have convened and decided it is time to use the internet as a tool to spread our message. Changes will happen rapidly now. Pay attention.

Nau'to twibaounme,

16 June 2009

I am Ana Revenant

Many names have been given to me over the years, and I suppose that Ana Revenant is as good a name as any. It fits me well. After all, I have been existing outside of society for some time, and I have been known to cause a stir.

I am nocturnal by choice and something of a mystery, but you don't need to look far to see my handiwork. I'm a world traveler, but I spend a deal of time by the sea. The mild climate keeps my skin soft and I do enjoy the water.

As I mentioned, I have been away, so many of the modern cultural staples are new to me. I am catching up quickly, though. Already, I have a Twitter account, and I've been charged with reading the popular books about teenage vampires. I doubt I'll like it, but it would be nice to see how people regard blood drinkers these days.

The rest of what I wish to say will have to wait for another night, this one has already been full of human interaction.