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.


  1. Nearly everyday someone asks me how vampires are made. Please, let me point you to a resource that catalogs the multitude of ways a vampire is made in fiction and folklore.

    Masters, Anthony. _The Natural History of the Vampire._ GP Putnam Sons. New York. 1972.

  2. I offer this on the topic from my own work of, um... fiction...heehee... taken from chapter 2 of Incubus Succubus, by L.A.Nantz

    "Be careful never to share your blood with those that are not like us. Its effects are terrible and cruel, you do not want to be responsible for what becomes of them should you not be able to guide them."

    and this from chapter 3

    All night we talked like this as I fed from Stephanie. I learned everything I could from Victor. When I learned that his donor was also vampire, it confused me. I asked, was she always this way? It was then that he told me of the 'great secret' as he called it.
    This was the last night I saw them, they were always on the move these four. Stephanie it turned out was still living at home there in Nashville and had found them and come to them for guidance. She herself believing she was one of them.
    Victor used her as an example of the great secret and he spoke unto me these words that still haunt me. Words that I gave to a mortal once while in fever.
    ”We are born a normal birth’ Victor began, ‘to mortal men and woman. They raise us as if we were theirs, but the truth is we are not. We were never theirs. Where we came from I do not know. I doubt anyone has ever known. What is known is that we never move past this realm of existence. We are bound to this world in a way that they, the mortals of this world, will never understand.
    “You see they get to move on after their soul has completed its quest, learned all it can. From there it is judged and either allowed to go to the next plain, or is consumed and its energy given up to the void… Where, it in time comes back as a new soul, fresh from oblivion.
    “For us we do not get this opportunity to either move on, or be free of the burden of our former lives, as those that are consumed do. We in time remember all our lives. We never get to leave, and we never get to move on. This secret was once told to Bram, but, you see, he misunderstood and made us all immortal in that book of his. He made it so that we do not die.
    “It’s funny really, that’s the one thing we would rather have, over the life we live, and it's something we can never have."