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.

1 comment:

  1. interesting comparison, but i must add this to the mix, whether it holds true for me alone i do not know, but garlic is something i avoid, not because it repels me or any such thing, rather it acts like a poison in my body. a very nasty one at that. i wont run from the smell or anything, its silly yes, but i can not eat it.