30 July 2009

Flying vampires in fiction & lore

"The air sparkled with glitter. Out of that scintillating cloud a vampire floated...I had seen vampires fly before, but not like this." I am quoting from Laurell Hamilton's Danse Macabre (Hamilton 442). The idea of floating or flying vampires is not a not a singular notion of Hamilton. Many vampire fictions include some form of floating or flying as a mode of transportation for vampires. Anne Rice creates the term 'Cloud Gift' to describe the ability of some vampires to levitate or soar.

Martin Riccardo asserts that "the novel Dracula first associated the undead vampire with the power to fly in the form of a bat, an ability not a part of the old legends," but this is not precisely true (Riccardo 38). While flying may not have been a popular attribute for pre-Dracula vampires, the ability was present in some folkloric accounts from various regions.

Most folklore involving flying vampires includes some element of transformation (or shape-shifting). "Vampires fly through the night in the shape of birds or bats; some can also cover great distances by changing into a mist, fog or storm" (Kamir 76). In Serbia, vampires can take the form of a butterfly. This insect also can represent the soul of a departed individual. The Adze from West Africa may appear as a firefly (Calista will write more about this topic). The tlahuelpuchi of Mexico take the form of a bird and fly while hunting (Vampires in Mexico). The head of Nukekubi from Asia can detach and soar through the night searching for human prey. Similarly, the Mananangall can split its torso and utilize the wings of a bat in order to fly.

However not all flying vampires take the form of an animal. The chiang-shih of China have the "ability to fly without the necessity of transforming into a bat" (Bush 193). "Vampirologists ascribe such accomplishments to supernatural vitality, a term that creates the vampire as a phantom" (Frueh 302). Konstantinos agrees with this notion, claiming that the "secondary power of the spectral [phantom] vampire is its ability to fly or levitate" (Konstantinos 9). Yet, "the European vampire, unlike the spectral vampires of antiquity, is an actual corpse in flesh and bone on the move" (Day 214).

Budai-Deleanu a Romanian author "introduces the female vampire, Strigoaica, in his plot" and according to him these "vampires fly" (Eminescu 19). The Strigoaica are usually considered Strigoi mort (dead/blood-drinking vampires), but some may claim that they are Strigoi vii (live witches/psychic vampires).

Witches themselves are often ascribed the ability to fly. "It was widely held (at least since the fourteenth century) that a witch could fly. She did not necessarily have (Artemis's) wings, but (like Lilit) she had other means to soar through the air...Like nocturnal predators, for example the owl, she flew mostly at night, when her powers were at full strength" (Kamir 53). Whether you believe them to be live 'witches' or 'reanimated' blood-drinkers, phantoms or physical bodies, there are plenty stories of airborne vampires.

But, can vampires fly? Answer this: Why should I give you that answer?

Horas ma ate,

Bush, Laurence C. Asian Horror Encyclopedia.

Day, Peter. Vampires.

Eminescu, Mihai. Jean Carduner, Lucian Rsu, University of Michigan Dept of Romance Languages, Karl Natanson. Eminescu, the evening star of Romanian poetry.

Frueh, Joanna. Monster/beauty: building the body of love.

Kamir, Orit. Every breath you take.

Konstantinos. Vampire.

Riccardo, Martin V. Liquid Dreams of Vampires.

28 July 2009

Vampires: The Reality

It's finally happened. Someone has challenged us on our blog. To that unnamed guest: Thank you for raising this topic.

So, now is the time to speak about vampires: their reality and their depiction in fiction & folklore. I could fill books with this subject, but others have done this before me. So, I will pose generalities here and point you to sources for further research.

Vampires in Folklore:
In folkore "we find many kinds of 'vampires.' We might limit the discussion to a particular type of Slavic revenant...but there are similar creatures in Europe". "European scholars have commonly referred to these, and to the undead" in non-European cultures"--for example China, Indonesia, the Philippines--as 'vampires' as well. There are such creatures everywhere in the world, it seems, in a variety of disparate cultures: dead people who, having died before their time, not only refuse to remain dead but return to bring death to their friends and neighbors...They bear a surprising resemblance to the European vampire" (Barber 2).

"Many cultures...have folklore about vampires of one kind or another." It is difficult to assign a particular taxonomy for these creatures, so often they are lumped together under the term "vampire". However, in folklore "not all vampires drank blood...Some ate flesh either from the living or from the dead. Some took in a kind of spiritual essence or energy--whatever that meant. All took something from their subjects, usually not caring how they injured the subject" (Butler 43).

Though it varies by region and time period, "vampire lore proves to be, in large part, an elaborate folk-hypothesis designed to account for seemingly inexplicable events associated with death and decomposition" (Barber 3). Folkloric vampires may have been based on real individuals, although some claim that they are completely fabricated. Most importantly, "vampires in folklore were feared, hated, and hunted" (Butler 43).

Vampires in Fiction:
"The vampire of fiction," is "a figure derived from the vampires of folklore but now bearing precious little resemblance to them." When thinking of a vampire, most people envision "a tall, elegant gentleman in a black cloak." The classic example is Count Dracula. But, this individual "was not Slavic: he lived in Transylvania and was based, more or less, on Vlad Tepes, a figure in Romanian history who was a prince, not a count, ruled in Walachia, not Transylvania, and was never viewed by the local populace as a vampire." Unfortunately, we have been saddled "with a burden of false data from the fiction industry" regarding vampire lore, history, and nature(Barber 2).

"Indeed, vampire fiction is peculiar in this sense: although it is flexible in so many other ways, it depends upon the recollection and acting out of certain quite specific 'lores' for its resolution--that vampires must be invited into the house before they can enter, that they are repelled by garlic, that they cannot cross rivers, that they need their own earth to sleep on and so on. Some recent vampire fiction, of course, depends on the frustrating of the kinds of 'lore' one assumed would work against them: modern vampires can thus themselves have a disillusionary function, moving around in the daylight and not fearing crucifixes any more. The fiction now uses 'lore' as a point of reference, trading on the reader's familiarity with it--taking 'seriously', even exaggerating its use and effects" (Gelder 35).

Of course, this evolution of the fictional vampire is natural. Humans are inclined to beautify, romanticize, and adulterate the myths of old. The vampire is not the only ancient concept to befall such a fate. The mermaid of ancient myth was a vicious and meddlesome siren who drowned sailors by squeezing them into an inexorable grip and dragging them into the ocean [See Note]. Thankfully, "the vampires of folklore, novel, and film reside in an area of the imagination largely dissociated from rationality and objective, cause-effect logic" and are therefore, permitted to change with time and popular demand (Heldreth 188).

Real-'life' vampires:
Vampires are not limited to folklore and fiction. At least "27% of the US population thinks vampires live, move, breathe and suck their victims dry" (Russo 22). It is very tedious to argue the point of existence with non-believers. I refuse to do it, but I will point to some dates of interest in modern vampire history, explain "types" of vampires, and provide links to community sites.

Interesting dates:
1985 Folklorist Norine Dresser encounters "a private group of practicing vampires. Small, isolated groups are springing up around the country at this time, primarily on the East and West Coasts. The vampire community begins to develop as a distinct movement within the Gothic subculture and is especially concentrated in New York City and Los Angeles" (Belanger 261)

1992 "700 Americans claimed to be real vampires and in Los Angeles alone there were 36 registered human blood drinkers" (Russo 22)

2004 SciFi channel (now ScyFy) features Don Henrie "as one of its alternative lifestylers in the reality TV show Mad, Mad House. As a result of unprecedented cooperation among disparate groups within the community, the largest gathering to date of elders, organizers, and community leaders is planned for the annual Endless Night festival" (Belanger 263).

Types of Vampires:
"For centuries, an underground society of vampires has thrived in darkness, hidden from the public gaze and forever shrouded in secrecy" (Russo prologue). Vampires that are separate from any group or community also exist, but unaffiliated vampires are difficult to discuss. So, we will dwell on the major subcultures that survive within modern society.

"The Sanguinarium is a network of individuals, organisations and nightclubs who share a like-minded approach to the vampire aesthetic and scene, and claim: 'The goal of the Sanguinarium is to bring to life the vision of the Vampire Connection as found in Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles, which is a network of 'vampire bars' and 'safe-houses' in which vampires can be open about who they are'" (Russo 22). Pandora (Winnipeg, Canada) explains that blood drinkers were forced to "hide in fear of being locked in the asylum at the first mention of being a vampire" (Russo 28). Vampires can now emerge safely and find like-minded individuals who share their 'lifestyle'. "The vampire communities are in a way very tolerant...other scenes like the Gothic scene, the S&M scene and others can come into very close contact with the vampire community, and frequently they intermix" (Russo 25).

However, there is a rather strict (and sometimes contentious) division between blood-drinking vampires [sanguinarians] and psychic vampires. "A psychic vampire is unable to produce the energy needed to survive for themselves. This life energy, also known as pranic energy, is naturally created by the body, and so psychic vampires have to feed off others to keep their levels of pranic energy stable. Although this energy exists in its highest form in blood, psychic vampires prefer to feed from non-blood sources" (Russo 88). Katharina Katt has said: "Psychic vampires do not feed on blood for the same reason that sanguinarians do not feed on energy. Basically they can't! Psi vampires feed on energy. They have no 'blood lust' or craving for blood...Now there ARE some mixed vampires who are partly psi and partly sanguinarian, but they are usually separate" (88).

"Some view psychic vampires and blood vampires as two different races. Just as a sanguinarian vampire does not usually have psychic abilities, a psychic vampire naturally possesses psychic abilities and feeds psychically because it feels natural to do so. There are often arguments between both categories of vampires, one category believing itself to be superior over the other" (88-89). Here, I will cease my descriptions of modern vampire societies, least my own opinions taint this article. Please, visit the web sites of vampire communities and explore the sources listed below for more information.

With respect,

Links to vampire societies where you can gather your own information (alphabetical order). Links to other communities are welcome [Please post in comments, I will review for validity then post to this list].
The Atlanta Vampire Alliance: http://atlantavampirealliance.com/
Psychic Vampire Resource: http://psychicvampire.org/
Sanguinarian / Strigoi Vii: http://www.sanguinarium.net/
Silken Shadows Vampire Community: http://vampirecommunity.com/
Vampire Voices: http://www.veritasvosliberabit.com/

[Some of these books have been written by self-proclaimed vampires]
Barber, Paul. Vampires, Burial, and Death.
Belanger, Michelle A. The Psychic Vampire Codex.
Butler, Octavia E. Fledgling.
Gelder, Ken. Reading the Vampire.
Heldreth, Leonard G. The Blood is the Life.
Konstantinos. Vampires.
Russo, Arlene. Vampire Nation.

[Note: I will never address the existence of mermaids in this blog. I have no authority or education on that subject.]

24 July 2009

Fritz Haarmann

We have written case studies about Lamia and the Chupacabra, but other blood-drinkers have been immortalized in rumor and popular stories, also.

Referred to as "The Vampire of Hanover" (also Hannover), Fritz Haarmann (also Haarman) is the subject of a well-documented case of vampirism as perceived by the law enforcement community. Fritz Haarmann was a "military man turned vampire". He was born in 1879 but did not enter the world of the vampire until the early 1900s (Konstantinos 69).

"Haarmann was institutionalized during the late nineteenth century for mental instability, but he escaped" and "became a homeless vagrant." While on the streets, "he learned to butcher meat, but his growing interest was in molesting young boys" (Ramsland 149).

"Sometime around 1917 or 1918, Haarmann met a male prostitute named Hans Grans, who would become his partner in some sadistic and vampiric crimes." The duo would lure young men to their house with the promise of dinner, alcohol, and possibly a home. Satiated and lulled into a stupor, these young men became the perfect victims. Haarmann would attack the lethargic youth, "seize him and bite into his neck, sucking on his blood until the helpless victim died."

"He would kill them after the fashion of a vampire" (Summers 192). "It is estimated that Haarmann vampirized some fifty young men." After drinking their blood, Haarmann and Grans "chopped the bodies into steaks and sold them on the streets as beef. That 'underground' meat market went on from 1918 to 1924" (Konstantinos 71). The meat he sold, but the bones were disposed of in the Leine canal, and ultimately, this act lead to the downfall of the pair. "Skulls floated to the surface in 1924. The police were already suspicious of Haarmann because of his" psychotic and criminal "history and went to question him about the cases of missing men from the area" (Konstantinos). "In 1924, the police investigated the disappearance of one boy and caught Haarmann assaulting him. They arrested Haarmann, but what they did not realize was that he had the head of another missing young man right there in the room...He'd been committing crimes of this kind for several years" (Ramsland 149).

"Haarmann eventually confessed to the crimes and became known as the 'Vampire of Hanover.' He was sentenced to death, and...decapitated" (Konstantinos 71). "Certainly in the extended sense of the word, as it is now so commonly used, Fritz Haarmann was a vampire in every particular" (Summers 193). But, was he simply a "disturbed individual...imitating fictional vampires," or was he "acting on some monstrous instinct"? (Konstantinos 71).

Bis dann,

Konstantinos. Vampires.
Ramsland, Katherine M. The Science of Vampires.
Summers, Montague. The vampire his kith and kin.

22 July 2009

Vampire Respiration

This article is more sarcastic than my recent articles...mostly because I find this topic incredibly stupid. If you don't feel like reading my rant, then you can mosey on over to our malaria blog; it is very factual. I assumed that you needed no explanation of vampire respiration. I thought that anyone with common sense could clearly perceive the answer. Either I was wrong or the world is full of unthinking humans.

Stories about vampire breath (or lack of it) have puzzled the populace, and discrepancies between stories have created confusion about whether vampires can and do breathe. The short and simple answer is: Yes, vampires do breathe. But, of course, a more complicated answer exists.

Let's start with the fictions and then move to the facts. Novels often address the topic of vampire breath and respiration, but the reports of kind of breath, reasons for breathing, and even the ability to breathe are wildly different. In Twilight, by Stephenie Meyer, vampires do not need to breathe. They can swim very fast under water because they never need to take a breath, but they must remember to breathe in order to look human. Don't put too much faith in Meyer's version of vampires...they also glitter in the sun.

Meyer is not alone in her creation of anaerobic [anaerobic: active in the absence of free oxygen] vampires. In his book 13 Bullets: A Vampire Tale, David Wellington asserts that "Vampires didn't breathe, of course." Of course, why would "dead things" breathe? (Wellington 242).

If vampires are dead things and therefore do not breathe, then why are fictions filled with reports of rancid breath from the mouths of vampires? In a description that I vehemently resent, Matthew Bunson describes the foul odors a vampire. "Its stench from the dried blood of victims was almost as horrible as its hideous breath, described as the smell of a charnel house" [charnel house: a vault where corpses are stored] (Bunson 9). "Vampire bad breath is a trait noted by others as well. Montague Summers in The Vampire: His Kith and Kin asserts that a vampire's breath is 'unbearably fetid and rank with corruption, the stench of the charnel'" (Stoker 354). The idea of putrid breath proceeds unchallenged through fiction for so long that eventually it morphs into a ridiculous weapon. Darren Shan says that "vampires can breathe out a special kind of gas, which makes people faint" (Shan 12). Let me tell you, a vampire will only exhale a noxious gas if it is first inhaled.

But sometimes, the "vampire's breath is quite different from the unalloyed halitosis of Dracula" and similar stories (Stoker 81). Like all romanticized stories of vampires, the vile weapon transforms into an enticing and alluring attribute. Sometimes it is gentle, beautiful, and warm (we'll have to discuss the oral temperature of vampires at a later time). Anne Rice's Vampire Lestat says, "We breathe the light, we breathe the music, we breathe the moment as it passes through us" (Rice 273). You wrote quite a poetic line, Ms. Rice, but it would be a mighty trick for a vampire to breathe light or music.

Michelle Belanger adopts the idea of breathing the energy of the moment and translates it to the concept of a psychic vampire. She says, that the "vital energy" of a victim or a scene is "processed by the subtle body just as oxygen is processed by the physical lungs. In this way, breathing sustains the organism on both the physical and subtle levels". "Such an inhalation can seem to be sustained almost indefinitely, and there is clearly more to the process than simply acquiring air" (Belanger 111). So, psychic vampires breathe, but what about more sanguinarily-inclined vampires? Belanger indicates that "in most energetic systems," including vampires, "breathing brings vital energy into the body, just as it brings in air" (111). She claims that vampires do breathe and, in fact, need to breathe.

"Of course vampires breathe...You can't speak without breath," and very few vampires are completely mute (Hill 125). Very simply, without breath a vampire would have no voice. Voice is created by air moving across the vocal chords as it is propelled by the lungs. Every song, every syllable, every groan requires air.

So, do vampires breathe? Obviously, they either breathe or they all speak entirely in clicks. Which is more likely?

Hamba Kahle,


Anonuevo, Rechelle S. The Moonlight Serenade.
Belanger, Michelle A. The Psychic Vampire Codex.
Bunson, Matthew. The vampire encyclopedia.
Hill, Joey W. The Vampire Queen's Servant.
Rice, Anne. The vampire Lestat.
Stoker, Bram. Leslie S Klinger, Neil Gaiman. The new annotated Dracula.
Wellington, David. 13 Bullets: A Vampire Tale.

21 July 2009

Vampires in China

"In China red-eyed vampires with green hair prowled the night" (Krensky 8). "The name kuang-shi (or chiang- shi) was used to describe the most feared vampire type...a demon distinguished by its glaring red eyes and sharp" fangs (Bunson 46). "Chinese vampires resemble the classic Nosferatu with" their "long claws and fiercely glaring eyes." They "often acquire the ability to fly without the necessity of transforming into a bat" (Bush 193).

China is home to horrifying vampires that rival Western counterparts in their descriptions. "The Chinese Vampire lacks few, if any of the horrible traits he exhibits in Greek and Slavonic superstition" (Summers 237). "When Western scholars began to gather the folklore of China in the nineteenth century, they very quickly encountered tales of the ... the Chinese vampire" (Vampire Book). "It was reported that vampires existed there in 600 B.C." (McNally 117). These myths offer "a curious parallel to that of the Slavs" (Hastings 590).

"The chiang-shih lacked some of the powers of the Slavic vampire. It could not, for example, dematerialize, hence it was unable to rise from the grave, being inhibited both by coffins and the soil. Thus their transformation had to take place prior to burial, an added incentive to a quick burial of the dead. The Chinese vampires were nocturnal creatures and limited in their activity to the night hours. The chiang-shih had trouble crossing running water." "The chiang-shih arose following a violent death due to suicide hanging, drowning, or smothering. It could also appear in a person who had died suddenly, or as a result of improper burial procedures. The dead were thought to become angry and restless if their burial was postponed for a long time after their death. Also animals especially cats, were kept away from the unburied corpse, to prevent them from jumping over it, lest they become vampires" (Vampire Book). The rise of a vampire is particularly likely "should the sun or the moon be allowed to shine fully upon an unburied body." In this case, it will "acquire strength to issue forth and obtain human blood to build of the vitality of the vampire" (Summers 237). The "sunlight and moonlight give the chiang-shi strength. It needs the yang energy of the light to reanimate the whole corpse" (Vampire Book).

"In China, vampire-like beings" and evil spirits "are called kuei." These evil creatures are created by the lingering of a soul after death. "A human has two souls, a superior, hun, and an inferior called, po. The hun (yang energy) usually leaves the body on death, but the po (yin) remains behind, especially if the deceased has unfinished business on Earth" (Bush 193). The persistence of the po within the corpse prevents the otherwise inevitable decay. Consequently, "the chiang-shih appeared normal and was not recognized as a vampire" until it acted strangely or unless someone knew the individual had already died. "However, at other times it took on a hideous aspect and assumed a green phosphorescent glow. In this form the chiang-shih developed serrated teeth and long talons" (Vampire Book).

"The chiang-shihs were very strong and vicious. Reports detailed their attacks upon living people, where they ripped off the head or limbs of their victims. This homicidal viciousness was their most often reported trait. They usually had to surprise their victims because they had no particular powers to lure or entrance them. Besides their homicidal nature, the chiang-shih might also demonstrate a strong sexual drive that led it to attack and rape women. Over a period of time, the vampires gained strength and began to transform to a mobile state. They would forsake the coffin habitat, master the art of flying and develop a covering of long white hair. They might also change into wolves" (The Vampire Book).

"Suspected corpses were allowed to decay in the open air before burial, or when buried, were often exhumed and burned. In the absence of the corpse from a grave, the coffin-lid was removed, thus letting in fresh air, which prevents the body from re-entering it. When the corpse was roaming about, rice, red peas, and pieces of iron were strewn round the grave; it could not pass these, and was found stiff and dead on the ground and could be burned" (Hastings 590). "Vampires are...believed to have a powerful fascination with counting: if a vampire should come across scattered seeds, it will begin counting them, not stopping until it has finished" (Kronzek 283). In addition to counting seeds, the Chinese vampire is reported to have several other weaknesses. "Garlic an almost universal medicinal herb, kept vampires away. Salt was believed to have a corrosive effect on the vampire's skin. Vampires were offended by loud noises, and thunder would occasionally kill one. Brooms were handy weapons with which a brave soul could literally sweep the vampire back to its resting spot. Iron filings, rice, and red peas created barriers to the entry of the vampire and would often be placed around a vacant coffin to keep a vampire from taking it as a resting place" (Vampire Book).

Restless vampires were created by disturbances of the body after death. "With the hopping or jumping vampires, a different mythology about dealing with vampires evolved. They could be subdued with magical talismans" (Vampire Book). "By far the most common cause of a vampire in contemporary folklore is the random ritual infelicity of a cat or animal jumping over the corpse while it is lying in state...In such cases, the association is between evidence of a vampire attack and a recent death that was otherwise natural, except for the postmortem intrusion into the sacred space around the deceased's body" (McClelland 94). In these myths, "holding one's breath would temporarily stop" the vampire. "Eating sticky rice was an antidote to a vampire bite. By creating a separate vampire myth, the Chinese movies have built a new popular image of the vampire in the Orient much as the Dracula movies created one in the West" (Vampire Book).

Zai jian,

Stories of Chinese Vampires:

Sung-lings, P'u. The Resuscitated Corpse.
Liaozhai. Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio.
Mei, Yuan. Tzu Puh Yu.


Barber, Paul. Vampires, Burial and Death.
Bunson, Matthew. The vampire encyclopedia.
Bush, Laurence C. Asian Horror Encyclopedia.
Hastings, James. John Alexander Selbie, Louis Herbert Gray. Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics.
Krensky, Stephen. Vampires.
Kronzek, Elizabeth. The Sorcerer's Companion.
McClelland, Bruce. Slayers and their vampires.
McNally, Raymond T. Radu Florescu. In search of Dracula
The Vampire Book: Vampires in China. http://www.answers.com/topic/vampires-in-china

18 July 2009

Lamia: the demon enchantress

She seem'd, at once, some penanced lady elf,
Some demon's mistress, or the demon's self.
Her head was serpent, but ah, bitter-sweet!
She had a woman's mouth with all its pearls complete:
And for her eyes: what could such eyes do there
But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair?
Her throat was serpent, but the words she spake
Came, as through bubbling honey, for Love's sake,
(Keats 55-66)

In his poem, entitled Lamia, Keats describes Lamia as "an enchantress in the form of a serpent" who is transformed "into a lovely maiden" by Hermes as he searches Crete island for the most beautiful nymph of the forest(MacDowell 2). Lycius, a mortal man, is entranced by her beauty and impressed by her grace. But, in the end "Lamia again assumes the form of a serpent...and Lycius is found lifeless" (2). "The tender-person'd Lamia" has melted "into a shade" (Keats Pt 2).

The examples of a romantic Lamia are many. Thomas Hood writes a play with Lamia cast in the romantic role. Others follow the footsteps of the great authors, transfiguring Lamia from a demon into a nymph or glorious goddess. But, like all such ancient stories of archaic fiends, the Lamia that rears her head in myth greatly differs from the one who steps lightly through literature.

Is she a beautiful nymph or is she the "dreadful wild beast called a Lamia" that Plutarch asserts (Plutarch 139). Plutarch describes Lamia in some similar language--creating her a judge. However, "Upon this acccount, Diodorus tells us, that this Lamia became a bugbear to children" (Plutarch commentary by Langhorne). The ancients described her as ghoul or a goblin that scared and tormented children at night. She was an object of dread.

Homer and Hesiod called Lamia Hekate or Echidna. She was a goddess and frightful one at that. She traveled the world, but "the commonest legend of Lamia places her in Libya" (Fontenrose 100). "In Libya there once lived a beautiful queen. Since Zeus loved her and made her his mistress, she aroused Hera's jealousy and hatred. In consequence Hera destroyed every child that was born to Lamia, until from great grief she turned ugly in body and soul." In other words, her despair transformed her into a monstrous creature with evil and vile intentions. "Because she envied other women their children, she went about seizing infants and killing them. Some say that she tore them to pieces or ate them. Finally she became literally a beast and went to live in a cave. Hera sent insomnia upon her too, but Zeus in pity granted her the power to remove her eyes, which she placed in a basket when she wanted to sleep" (Fontenrose).

"Lamia in myth is Scylla's mother, also another name for Hecate, or Echidna, meaning viper, seen in her snake form" (Alban 95). These attributes vary between tales, and Lamia is also called the mother of Sibyl Herophile. In any case, this "frightful woman [Hecate, Lamia, Echinda] was spectre, ogress, vampire, snake, sea monster, several kinds of beast and various mixtures of them" (Kabitoglou 311). Like all ancient monsters, Lamia has been given many names of the millennia. Other names include Sybaris and Gerana. In Latin, her name means witch or vampire and this is what she is (Latin wordlist). She is not a giggling nymph or romantic enchantress, although her human form may be entrancing. She is a vile, disgusting, serpent-woman who tears children apart and drinks the blood of many.

I could speak for days on Lamia, for I know her better than all the other creatures that crawl the earth. (Don't worry, although Calista is dear to me, you needn't fear--she is not the Lamia--but, a predator of a different sort.) I fear that I already bore you with such descriptions, so take this information with you. Lamia adopts many forms and names, and she is closer than you imagine. Time has subdued her raging heart, but she still morns the loss of her children, and at times her anger overpowers her. Beware of the lady with a beautiful face and graceful body, for in her core may beat a heart of evil.


Requested by @Twilightmyst.
Fontrose, Joseph Eddy. Python.
Hood, Thomas. Lamia.
Kabitoglou. E. Douka. Plato and the English romantics.
Keats, John. The Poetical Works of John Keats. "36 Lamia: Part 1 and 2." 1884.
Plutarch, John Langhorne, William Langhorne. Plutarch's Lives.

16 July 2009


"A shepherd wakes at dawn to find that his flock has been devastated by what at first appears to be a wild animal. Usually, the victims are entirely drained of blood" (Carson 107). After closer examination, the animals appear to have small puncture holes resembling teeth marks. The Chupacabra has reappeared.

A question regarding Chupacabra was posed in response to one of our blog articles. I have no personal experiences about the Chupacabra to relate, and I do not know if one really exists. Still, the creature is interesting to discuss.

While not considered "a true vampire", "the tale of the Chupacabra seems eerily akin to vampire legends, making the creature all the more mysterious and frightful" (Carson 106). But, "to the folks living in this region," stretching from South America to the United States, "the "Chupacabra" is more fact than fiction," It is "the south-west's answer to Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster"(106).

"Chupacabra stories are relatively recent phenomena" (Koven 73). "The reputed creature has been part of local lore for hundreds of years, but only recently has begun to garner more public attention" (Carson 106). "The first recorded incident occurred in the turn-of-the-century (19th-20th) New Mexico, although rumors of a strange animal date back to early 1800's" (Carson 106). However, the majority of Chupacabra reports come from the past decade. "No one knows why it suddenly began to make regular appearances in the early 1990s, but since 1995 the Chupacabra has been blamed for the deaths of over 2,000 farm animals, and has been reported as far away as Russia and Hawaii!" (Ho 68).

Reports of the Chupacabra range "from Miami, New York, Los Angeles, Mexico, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and even Russia. After an intensive two-year period [1994-1996] of goat sucking, the creature seemed to disappear from Puerto Rico and everywhere else" (O'Keefe 292).

The name, Chupacabra, literally means "one sucks goat" or "goat-sucker". While this name sounds rather funny to us, it is very descriptive because the Chupacabra is the monster responsible for draining the blood of livestock, particularly goats, in the Americas. Some sources credit Silverio Perez, a Puerto Rican entertainer & entrepreneur, with coining the name. He noted the creature's propensity to drink the blood of goats in 1987 (Wikipedia). Other sources claim that "the term "Chupacabra" was first coined" in Mexico where "Goat-herding is a vital part of the economy" (Carson 107). Regardless of its origin, "most of the stories" associated with the Chupacabra "are basically the same" (Carson 107).

"Much of the information we have on the Chupacabra's appearance has been pieced together from eyewitness accounts. Allegedly ranging from three to six feet in length, the creature is said to have a sleek, hairless body with a tail that varies in size. Grayish-blue skin is usually complimented by huge, red eyes that peer out from a slightly oversized head. The most striking characteristic is undoubtedly the row of razor-sharp spikes that protrude from the animal's spine, rivaling its claws in sharpness"(Carson 106). "A typical chupacabra weighs about 30 or 40 pounds" (Morton). "Some reports have listed slightly different attributes" but "most are remarkably similar" (Carson 106).

The Chupacabra hunts at night and does not harm humans unless provoked. There is only a single report of a diurnal Chupacabra from Canovanas. This tale describes a "Chupacabra walking in the street in the middle of the afternoon! When [the spectators] approached it, the creature ran away" (Ho 68).

There have been several instances when authorities have attempted to discredit the tales of the Chupacabra or blame the instances on other sources. "The discovery of a 'vampire cult' in eastern Arizona" prompted an investigation into the Chupacabra stories. "In March of 1998, several cult members were convicted of stealing cattle and sheep...for their 'religious practices'" The carcasses recovered from the 'vampire cult' were "grossly mutilated, with large holes punctured in the torsos to facilitate the blood-letting. However, in the Chupacabra cases, the bodies have almost always been relatively intact, with the sole sign of injury being small, nondescript puncture wounds" (Carson 110). Another group sought publicity from the Chupacabra and fabricated an animal for display. The "Ghastly Cattle-Vampire" corpse starred in a traveling sideshow in the early 1990s. This creature was revealed to be a hoax--a corpse assembled from body parts of various animals including a crocodile and monkey. (109).

So where does the Chupacabra come from?
"In some circles, it is speculated that perhaps the elusive creature is in fact a real animal, a remnant from another geological period" (Carson 110). Other people believe the creature to be an extraterrestrial. The glowing red eyes make it appear other-worldly. The theory of an alien Chupacabra is particularly popular in West Texas and Arizona where reported UFO sightings are more commonplace than in other areas of the world. These are good theories, but to the Mexican "village folk...the Chupacabra" is "the Devil incarnate or...one of his demons" (110).

Hasta luego,

Note: We will not be discussing aliens, the Montauk monster, or any monsters not related to the vampire in our blog. Of course, you are welcome to bring them up in discussion topics/comments, but we will not formally address the topic of such creatures.


Carson, Kyle. Sacred.
Ho, Oliver. Josh Cochran. Mysteries Unwrapped
Koven, Mikel J. Film, folklore, and urban legends.
Morton, EW. Out for Blood.
O'Keefe, M Timothy. Caribbean hiking.
Wikipedia. "Silverio Perez". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Silverio_P%C3%A9rez

15 July 2009

Vampires in Mexico

Mexico possesses "some notable vampire lore because of the cultures that once inhabited the region" (Konstantinos 32). Vampires in Mexican folklore "are believed to be linked to Tezcatlipoca, an Aztec god" (Universal). "Tezcatlipoca, whose name means 'Lord of the Smoking Mirror', is widely regarded as the supreme god of the Mesoamerican pantheon" (Willis 239). He was a hideous creature and considered "the god of hell". "Tezcatlipoca was also known as Yaotzin, "The Enemy" and in a thousand horrid phantom shapes he haunted the woods during the dark hours" (Summers 261).

"The Aztecs had a belief in female vampire beings called the cihuateteo" (also written civateteo & ciuateteo). "Like many other female vampiric entities, a cihuateteo was created when a woman died in childbirth. The vampires would roam and attack children, as did the lamiae of Greece" (Konstantinos 32). "These vampire-witches held Sabbaths at crossroads and were believed to attack young children and mate with human men, producing children who were also vampires" (Universal). These creatures exhibit behavior common to the vampires of Ancient Greece--the lamia and empusa.

Another named variety of vampire in Mexico is the Tlahuelpuchi. The tlahuelpuchi is a "living vampire," which "makes a strong case for the existence of psychic vampires. This was a person who could somehow transform him or herself and feed off others" (Konstantinos 32). This vampire lives with his/her "human family, is able to shapeshift and sucks the blood of infants at night" (Universal).

"The tlahuelpuchi is born with their curse and cannot avoid it. Sometime around puberty they first learn of what they are. The vast majority of tlahuelpuchi are female and the female tlahuelpuchi are more powerful than the male" (Universal). "These vampires have a glowing aura and they "change form by detaching their body from their legs." They usually hunt in the form of a bird, and before the attack they fly over a house from the North to the South while maintaining the shape of a cross. "Garlic, onions and metal repel Tlahuelpuchi. Sometimes the metal is represented by a pair of open scissors", which is also usual in much of Eastern European lore (Universal). "The tlahuelpuchi have a form of society. Typically they each have their own territories" and they remain close to their human families. Family members usually protect the tlahuelpuchi, and if a family member reveals the identity of a tlahuelpuchi, "the curse will be passed down to that family member" (Universal).

Some scholars argue the source of vampire myths in Mexico. They claim that vampires did not descend from the Aztec god, citing the similarities of myths with those from Europe. John Kraniauskas suggests that vampires in Mexico rose amid the "themes of contemporary culture and global capitalism" and "introduces vampires into the cannibal scene." There is a progression from "ferocious man-eating" creatures of "mythic borderlands and colonial fantasy to the more refined and civilised sipping of blood." He asks, "Is vampirism a simultaneously aristocratic, modern and popular European form of cannibalism...recoded through the displacements of the 'civilising process'?" (Barker 31).

Other scholars assert that vampire bats are the source of the legends. Mexico is the home to one of the "two kinds of...blood sucking bat in the world: Desmodus rufus". The range of this bat is from "Southern Mexico to Argentina" (Gadow 441). These bats are feared for their blood-sucking nature and their ability to spread disease. Possibly, existing vampire lore was perpetuated by the aggravation created by vampire bats.

Whether scientific, political, or religious, stories of Mexican vampires are prevalent and persistent. However in recent times, Mexico has made advances against a different sort of blood-sucker. Read about the near-eradication of one type of blood sucker in Mexico.

Ca ndyi,

Barker, Francis. Peter Hulme, Margaret Iversen. Cannibalism and the colonial world.
Gadow, Hans. Through southern Mexico, being an account of the travels of a naturalist.
Konstantinos. Vampires: The Occult Truth.
Summers, Montague. The vampire his kith and kin.
Universal Vampire: http://vampires.monstrous.com/universal_vampire.htm
Willis, Roy G. World Mythology.

13 July 2009

Vampires in Malawi

"Rumours of people being attacked for their blood have swept southern areas of Malawi. Terrified villagers have left their fields untended," they are "scared of becoming the next victims of the mysterious blood-suckers" (Tenthani). A recent "Malawi vampire panic started with people who said they had been attacked by bloodsucking vampires. Many of the victims were women and children. One woman said that the vampire had used a needle, not its teeth, to take her blood" (Steloff 68).

Villagers turned on outsiders and accused their leaders. "In January 2003," governor Eric Chiwaya "was attacked and nearly killed by a mob that claimed that the government was helping vampires prey on the people" (Stefoff 68). Although, "the president of Malawi...said that there were no vampires," and that these rumors "had been started by political enemies," frantic violence erupted (69). "Strangers" were the "victims of vigilantes and villagers" were "wary of anyone who" was "not known in their area" (Tenthani). "One man...was stoned to death" after angry mobs claimed that he was a vampire or was "working with the vampires" (68).

This is not the first vampire-panic in recent times. In the 1950s and 60s, "the assumption...that many Europeans were vampire-men who sucked the blood and ate the flesh of innocent Africans" was prevalent (Lewis 90). "Luise White discusses" the origins of these fears "at length in her study Speaking with Vampires". In "Southeast Africa the charge of blood-sucking was routinely levelled...at European colonial and post-colonial authorities and the Africans who worked for them. Often, advanced technologies figured in these stories of imperialist vampirism--those who had access to the technologies and understood their use were often suspected of using them for nefarious purposes" (Day 164).

Perhaps the European colonists appeared malicious to the native populations; however, no evidence exists indicating their connection to vampires. In the same way, I can find no evidence that supports the idea that vampires maintained any political objective in Malawi during the early 2000s. Most certainly, Malawi is not vacant of blood-drinkers, but the angry mob mentality will not protect the citizens from their pernicious bite. [Read about blood-drinkers in Malawi].



Day, Peter. Vampires
Lewis, I.M. Religion in context.
Stefoff, Rebecca. Vampires Zombies, and Shape-Shifters.
Tenthani, Raphael. BBC News. "'Vampires' strike Malawi villages". 23 Dec 2002.

11 July 2009

Indian Vampires

The people of India "believed in vampire-like beings several millennia ago. In fact, the people of the Indus River valley...were the first to believe in the concept of vampire gods" (Konstantinos 22). "There were all sorts of flesh-eating vampires, evil and cunning goblins, the ghosts of the deceased who were all too willing to roam the earth and take vengeance on anyone they believed had done them wrong, as well as the demons who spoiled sacrifices, ate the flesh of the recently dead and possessed babies who would then die" (Walsh).

Evidence of ancient vampires is found in "pieces of art, which date back about five thousand years" (Konstantinos 22). These images "depict hideous creatures with green faces and fangs. Those beings are believed to be the first vampire gods" (22). From the Indus Valley, the ideas of vampirism spread throughout the region. Eventually the creatures acquired specific names and horrifying descriptions.

"The first" to be named "was the Nepalese Lord of Death...The god seems to have taken his sustenance from blood and death." The Tibetan Lord of Death "had similar features to the vampire gods...and was considered a creature who lived off the blood of humans" (23).

In India, the Pacu Pati is a powerful vampire who is "deemed as the lord of all beings of mischief. It is seen at night in cemeteries and places of execution" (Remains). "A more recently worshiped vampire-like deity is Kali" (Konstantinos 22). Although, "Goddess Kali is clearly not a" traditional/human "vampire...she does drink blood, and certainly has a relationship with divine thirst...a nocturnal force of nature, she is also sometimes represented with fangs, and is an avatar of destructive beauty" (Wikipedia).

The vampire gods of of India vary dramatically from the modern concept of vampires. These creatures were regarded strictly as deities. They were superhuman and divine. "In addition to the mythology of vampire deities, beliefs in vampire-like creatures in India and surrounding areas developed over the years" (Konstantinos 22).

Pacu Pati developed into a flock of vampiric creatures also called the Pisacha who, "were a race of flesh eaters" (Remains). The Pisacha were not alone. "A particularly vicious species of vampire was the raksashas or raksashis...those creatures were described as having fangs, five legs, and bodies soaked in blood. To add to their vampiric traits, the raksashas and raksashis...have been described in many texts as 'blood drinkers'" (Konstantinos 24). "The Rakshasa was a powerful Indian vampire and magician. They like to confuse those around them by appearing either in human form with animal attributes (claws, fangs, slitted eyes, etc.) or as animals with human features (feet, hands, flattened nose, etc.). The animal side is very often a tiger. They are known to eat the victim's flesh in addition to drinking their blood." The sole motive of these creatures was "to steal the elixir of immortality." "The Rakshasa were no longer human but still possessed a physical nature, they loved to prey upon the helpless." (Remains)

"Other Indian vampires include the vetalas, which have appeared in various forms. Of particular interest is the old hag who sucks blood...hags are associated with vampirism in other countries as well" (Konstantinos 24). Similar are the Churel (or Churail), these are "vicous vengeful ghost-like vampire(s) found in India. It is normally a woman who died while pregnant during the Diwali festival or while unclean at any time...They preyed upon young men, keeping them captive and slowly draining their life forces until they become withered old men." (Remains).

A few other creatures may be of interest to you. The Hantu saburo "is a being who commands dogs and uses them to hunt humans. When the animals catch the prey, the vampire feeds." (Konstantinos 25). The Hantu dodong "resides in caves and lives off the blood of animals," and the Hantu parl "looks for wounded individuals and drinks their blood when they are helpless to stop it" (25).

Vampire are prolific in India. The tales of ancient vampire gods may be the oldest stories of blood drinkers, and are certainly among the most interesting.


Consider reading our Malaria blog article entitled Malaria in India

Konstantinos. Vampires.
Remains of the Desi: < http://remainsofthedesi.wordpress.com/2007/07/18/vampires-of-indiafor-the-blood-is-the-life/ >. 10 July 2009.
Walsh, John. Magic in Ancient India. "Monsters, Ghosts and Vampires in the Imagination". 1 Nov 2007.
Wikipedia: "Vampire". http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampire

09 July 2009

Vampire heartbeat

Does a vampire have a heartbeat?

Some sources "say that since [the vampire is] dead, he has problems with blood circulation" (Ramsland 224). Certainly, a dead creature would have circulatory problems. Death would inhibit the signal from the brain to the heart in order to keep it pumping in a regular fashion. Furthermore, after death the blood would congeal and "the veins" would "become clogged, preventing the circulation of blood" throughout the body (Barber 43).

If there is no circulation, then "how does the body of the creature function--when it ingests blood, is that blood circulated? In other words, does its undead heart beat?" (Konstantinos 99).

A vampire is a creature that moves. Since there is the capability to move, there is no reason to believe that the heart would not beat. "Certainly,...one of the reasons staking was first implemented" as a method of vampire disposal was because "driving a stake through the organ and leaving it there would obviously disrupt the heart's ability to beat" (Konstantinos 99).

It is also worth considering that "the physical vampire of folklore was not pale. In fact, most documents indicate that the skin color of an undead typically had a reddish tinge, as if the blood it ingested infused every cell of its body" (Konstantinos 4). The blood would not move throughout he body without some type of circulatory system. Since a circulatory system functions, and the vampire is capable of movement, there is no reason to believe that the heart of a vampire is still.


Barber, Paul. Vampires, Burial, and Death
Konstantinos. Vampires.
Lyle, DP. The Lab: Articles: Timely Death. http://www.dplylemd.com/Articles/timelydeath.html
Ramsland, Katherin M. The Science of Vampires

08 July 2009

Vampire venom and infection

Reports of vampire venom are prolific, and it is easy to see why. Like the fanged snake, vampires are reported to inject a poison or infection into their victims. The attributes of the poison vary between accounts from anesthetic capabilities to fatal results.

Some sources claim that, when the "vampire poison gets into your blood, it numbs you, knocks you out" (Massy 521). The effects of vampire poison resemble that of snake venom and are "partly local, partly central. The blood is also deeply affected" (Sollmann 421). "Snakes that inject venom use modified salivary glands. Venom is a modified form of saliva and probably evolved to aid in chemical digestion" (Emedicine). If vampires do inject some form of venom, it is likely that it would server the same purpose as snake venom--after all, both creatures are natural predators.

However, venom is not the only poison associated with vampires. "We find in countless examples of vampire fiction drawing on metaphors of infection" (Day 32). Some sources indicate that the vampires "inject thousands of tiny parasites" into the bloodstream (Feehan 298). According to Montague Summers,"the subsequent consequences" of a vampire bite are "the terrible anemia and Hemoplegia which may result in death followed by the vampire infection" (Summers 177).

The notion of an infectious vampire bite is closely tied with the idea of reproduction via the bite. The idea is that "unless the most drastic and immediate remedies are applied, a person who is attacked by a vampire and whose blood has been sucked will become a vampire in turn imbued with a craving to pass on the horrible pollution" (Summers 168).

"Various sources of fear represented by the late nineteenth-century vampire and its best known manifestation in Dracula- fear of degeneration, fear of infection," and "anxiety about ...preservation" (Day 68). These mortal worries are inescapable, and aggravated by the religious powers. "It could well be argued that the Church spread the vampire-infection" (Masters 187). If the threat of excommunication did not keep parishioners inline, then perhaps the fright of becoming a vampire would.

In our blog article on Vampire Reproduction the idea of spreading vampirism through a simple bite was refuted. If a vampire bite was enough to create a new vampire, then a "child" would be made every time a vampire fed. Since the world is not overpopulated by vampires (although it may seem so if you browse the young adult section of a bookstore), this is most likely not the method of reproduction.

However, we cannot disprove the existence of poison or infection in the vampire's bite. As mentioned in the previous blog post, a vampire bite can certainly transmit any blood-born illness such as malaria or HIV.

Neither can we empirically refute vampire venom. Yet, when we look at venomous snakes we see that "envenomation is completely voluntary," and "all venomous snakes are capable of biting without injecting venom into their victim" (Gold 347). It is logical to assume that venomous vampires possess the same capability. Furthermore, there are plenty of snakes that do not inject venom with their bite. It is possible that the bite of a vampire is innocuous with the exception of its blood-letting capability, yet infection through a vampire bite has been the source of great fear.

Unfortunately, "Even to-day (1929) in certain quarters of the world, in remoter districts of Europe itself, Transylvania, Slavonia, the isles and mountains of Greece, the peasant will take the law into his own hands and utterly destroy the carrion who--as it is yet firmly believed--at night will issue from his unhallowed grave to spread the infection of vampirism throughout the countryside" (Summers xxi). Furthermore, animals suspected "of vampire infection" were "exhumed, chopped into pieces, and burned" (Bunson 303). "It seems that the most dangerous infection...is not vampirism but the infectiousness of violence itself" (Day 198).



  • Banks, L.A. The Wicked.
  • Bunson, Matthew. The Vampire Encyclopedia.
  • Day, Peter. Vampires.
  • EMedicinehealth.com http://www.emedicinehealth.com/snakebite/article_em.htm Snake Bite
  • Feehan, Christine. Dark Possession.
  • Gold, Barry S.; Richard C. Dart, Robert A. Barish (1 April 2002). "Bites of venomous snakes". The New England Journal of Medicine 347 (5): 347–56. ISSN 00284793. http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/347/5/347?ijkey=/Romzox5/Yq3A&keytype=ref&siteid=nejm. Retrieved on 2009-06-25.
  • Massy, Brandon. Dark Corner.
  • Masters, Anthony. The natural history of the vampire.
  • Sollmann, Torald Hermann. A Manual of pharmacology and its applications to therapeutics and toxicology.
  • Summers, Montague. The vampire his kith and kin.

07 July 2009

Vampire fangs

When an image of a vampire is conjured, it most frequently boasts pale skin, long fingernails, and fangs. From that point onward, accounts differ. Sometimes the fangs are in the upper teeth, other times they are only in the lower teeth. Occasionally, the fangs retract so that the vampire can pass as human. Fangs can be large or discreet, "or even the special pricklike needle hidden under the tongue that Suzy McKee Charnas has her vampire in The Vampire Tapestry," regardless, "the convention that arose in" vampire-related "literature was the possession of fangs" (Ramsland 36).

The reason for the development of vampire fangs in literature is twofold. First, it solves the problem of how the vampire extracts the blood from the victim. "To get the blood, the vampire needs a way to pierce through skin and veins or arteries. While it could as easily have been a sharpened fingernail or a weapon," fangs were chosen because they are identified as predatory. The second reason that fangs developed in literature is that such a dental abnormality identifies the individual as a vampire and associates "the vampire with predatory creatures like snakes, rats, and wolves" (36). "Predators were identifiable by their fangs, and victims by two little holes in their neck" (Auerbach 52).

Fiction is not consistent on the existence or type of fangs. Some fictitious vampires have no fangs at all. In Hollywood Gothic, "Dracula has no fangs, long nails, blazing eyes, or other vampire accoutrements" (90). Yet, sometimes fangs are so well developed and integrated into the story that they seem to be inherent to the vampire.

Folkloric accounts of vampires and fangs are nearly as muddled as fictive stories. In Malaysia, "the Hindus told of a vampire called the langsuir. Any woman giving birth who died upon discovering that her child was stillborn was thought to become one of those creatures. The langsuir was not described as having fangs like other vampires, rather it supposedly had a hole in the back of its neck that it used to suck blood" (Konstantions 24). However, in The Vampire in Legend, Lore and Literature, "Professor Devendra P. Varma describes paintings and carvings found in the Indus Valley. The pieces of art, which date back about five thousand years, depict hideous creatures with green faces and fangs. Those beings are believed to be the first vampire gods" (Konstantinos 22).

A vampire's possession of fangs is among the oldest traditions. The widespread notion of fangs may result from the examination of dead bodies by people fearing vampires. If a body was exhumed and examined for vampirism, the investigator may discover that the teeth appeared larger or longer than they had in life. This is due to the recession of the gums after death. As the gum tissue decomposes, it shrinks away from the teeth and exposes more of the tooth. The teeth of a deceased individual may appear to have grown after death.

Is the notion of vampire fangs a development only fiction? It appears that it is not. Few individuals can refute evidence from five thousand of years ago. Clearly, the idea of fangs is entrenched in the legends and imagery of vampires. But does a vampire always have fangs? A predator in fiction is easier to spot than one who chooses to hide in plain sight.

Phir milenge,

Auerbach, Nina. Our Vampires, Ourselves.
Konstantinos. Vampires: The Occult Truth.
Ramsland, Katherine M. The Science of Vampires.

06 July 2009

Extraction of blood and vampires

"In most fiction about vampires,...the vampire looms over his victim dramatically, then bites into her neck to such her blood" (Barber 32). The victim wilts and the vampire rears his head to expose his bloody mouth. While very impressive, this display is something that rarely departs from the arena of horror films. This blog entry will discuss the manner in which vampires extract blood from the supplier (who we will identify as 'victim' or 'donor'), and refute some common notions.

"When vampires and revenants in folklore suck blood" they "bite their victim somewhere on the thorax. Among the Kashubes, it is reported that they choose the area of the left breast; among the Russians, they leave a small wound in the area of the heart" (32). "Cremene adds that...the bite is never at the jugular but usually over the heart, the blood of which is in demand" (Waltje 47). The thorax (the upper torso) has a rich supply of blood, and is relatively easy to access. The problem with the thorax is that there are few arteries and veins near the surface. Depending on the victim, the vampire might bite into muscle or breast tissue. The lack of exposed veins does not deter the vampire. In fact, occasionally, "the victim is bitten between the eyes" in folklore (Barber 33).

The reason why most vampires choose not to bite the jugular is because in doing so they loose control over speed of discharge and blood loss. With the jugular there is "the chance of a mess, since the high-pressure arteries spurt when punctured" (Ramsland 33). The vampire may choose instead to bite a small vein, as "low-pressure veins are less likely" to gush (33). This is purely a practicality. A bite at the jugular will cause significant blood loss, and that is a waste according to all parties. A more gradual flow of blood is easier to control.

It is not conscripted that the vampire kills the victim while feeding. Furthermore, "the vampire's bite needs to neither spread vampirism nor be unpleasant" (Love 265). Because the death of the victim is not completely necessary, the idea of "Pomme de Sang" developed (Hamilton 265). In other words, a vampire does not need to kill the victim. If the vampire chooses, he/she can survive by taking small amounts of blood from many willing donors.

When many victims/donors are involved, it is important to note that infectious diseases may spread. Many communicable diseases can be spread through blood. Even if the vampire is not affected, one donor may become infected by a disease from another donor, transmitted through the vampire. Examples of these diseases include HIV and Malaria.

While most people think that malaria can only be spread via mosquito bite, there are other methods of transmission. Most common methods of malaria transmission (other than through the mosquito) are congenital, blood transfusion, and needle stick injury. Just as HIV can be transmitted on a object such as a needle, so can malaria. It follows that a bite from a vampire may transmit malaria between victims and donors. Furthermore, "following an attack of malaria, the donor may remain infective for years" (Malaria).


Infectious Bite strongly suggests that no humans engage in vampiric activities, and that extreme caution be used when handling blood.

For more information on the infectious disease of malaria, please visit our Malaria Blog.

Barber, Paul. Vampires, Burial and Death.
Hamilton, Laurell K. Danse Macabre.
Love, Kathy. Fangs for the Memories.
Malaria Site: Transmission of Malaria. 5 July 2009.
Ramsland, Katherine M. The Science of Vampires.
Waltje, Jorg. Blood obsession: vampires, serial murder, and the popular imagination.

03 July 2009

The Evil Quality of Vampires

The topic of vampires and evilness is laden with controversy. Lucius and Calista are not in complete agreement with me on this subject. I write what I believe, and they can augment or contradict my arguments as they feel necessary. Please respond with your own opinions.

Recent literature has depicted vampires as altruistic and empathetic creatures. The Twilight saga takes this notion to the extent of creating a family of "vegetarian vampires" who risk their well-being for that of a single human. Prior to this fantasy, vampires were subject to a slow progression from the vile Undead to the mystic Immortals. So now the question arises, Are vampires evil?

Although legends of vampires appear throughout the world in many cultures, the Western culture will be the focus of this discussion. Similarly, the religious definition of "evil" will be that of the Christian doctrine.

The traditional position of the vampire is as the enemy of The Church. Prior to the development of organized Christianity and in places where other religions prevail, the vampire is the enemy of the earth. The Church excommunicates the vampire, and "Mother Earth rejects the unclean dead" (Barber 151).

Originally, the vampire was a scapegoat for misfortunes. Death of children, by illness or infanticide, was a common problem to the ancients. The most ancient blood drinkers--the empusa and the lamia--were accused of the slaughter of children and youth, who might have died at the hands of the adults they trusted.

During the move of the vampiric tradition from the Balkans and Eastern Europe into Western Europe (early 18th century), there was a "transfer of the Vampire from a folkloric entity to a symbolic literary type, capable of embodying metaphorically a host of shifting contemporary concepts and social evil." Vampires were deemed intrinsically wicked when the importers misunderstood the "scapegoat" attribute of the vampire and "presumed [the] evil as authentic" (McClelland xiv).

"In Poland, the Roman Catholic clergy have laid hold upon this superstition [of the vampire] as a means of making war upon the great enemy of the Church," (Satan) "and there the vampire is merely a corpse possessed by the Evil Spirit, and no longer the true Vampire of the ancient Slavonians." The difference is clear when compared with the original notion (as seen in Bulgaria) that the vampire is not "a dead body possessed by a demon, but a soul in revolt against the inevitable principle of corporeal death" (Summers 816).

"Christians regard death as the penalty of sin, the divinely appointed punishment of the crime in Eden" (Cavendish 55). All humans are saddled with sin from the beginning; even "infants contract original sin" (Augustine 420). If all individuals--human and not-so-human--are sinful by nature, then how can humans consider vampires -more- evil than themselves?

In Christian theory, "Christ's life and death on earth had broken Satan's inexorable grip on mankind and had brought back to men the possibility of immortality which Adam had forfeited" (Cavendish 55). Therefore, humans who claim the salvation of Christ are saved from slavery to Satan and their natal sin.

Lucius (@LucRevenant) asserts that because vampires have redeemed themselves from the grave, they have not accepted the salvation of the Christ, and are therefore still blanketed with sin. The sin that the vampire bears may be that of the original humans, although Calista (@CalistaThan) claims that vampires are a different species than pure humans, or it may be the sin that they accumulate from violating their conscience by continuing to kill. With the exception of some modern fantasies, vampires continue to kill humans for sustenance even when they feel guilty for their actions. "The vampire's nature is fundamentally conservative--it never stops doing what it does" (Gelder 141).

Vampires are predators. They are not intentionally sinful parishioners. Without blood a vampire cannot persist. Is it a sin for an individual to intentionally starve himself to death? Sins against one's own body are forbidden in both the Old and the New Testament.

Could it be that vampires are only following nature's guide when they kill? Vampires are "condemned as 'against nature'" and against humanity, but their condition "proves to be a phenomenon of the natural realm" (Heldreth). Vampires cannot help but kill humans. It is a requisite of their condition, and should not be conscripted to evil.

But even without religion, aspects of the culture associate the inescapable nature of the vampire with evil in the minds of humans. Original tales of vampires were all told from the point of view of the prey. Folkloric tales were used to explain away ill-fated events and warn against misdoings. When vampires are granted a legitimate voice in stories, humans become enamored with them. For evidence of this, look to Anne Rice's The Vampire Chronicles or Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's Saint Germain. In these stories, vampires are adored by their human companions. They are perceived as creatures that blend supernatural powers with the capacity for human emotion.

So, we return to the incipient question. Are vampires innately evil? It is my opinion that if vampires are intrinsically wicked, then humans must be also. Drinking of blood is the original sin of the vampire--it is a necessity of the condition. If humans are in need of salvation, then so are vampires, but vampires are not the devil incarnate. Blood drinkers are not bodies possessed by evil spirits; they are simply predators and humans are the prey.


Heldreth, Leonard G. Mary Pharr. The blood is life.
Gelder, Ken. Reading the Vampire.
Summers, Montague. The Vampire in Lore and Legend.
McClelland, Bruce. Slayers and their vampires.
Cavendish, Richard. The powers of evil in Western religion, magic and folk belief.
Augustine, Maria Boulding, et al. Answer to the Pelagians: Volume 1. Version 23.

02 July 2009

Vampires and water (Part 2): Holy water

The previous blog post addressed ancient superstitions regarding salt water and flowing water in relation to vampires. This entry will discuss blessed or holy water.

Water "is perhaps humanity's oldest symbol of life". To humans, it is sacred. If water can wash away dirt and grime, it can also be used for spiritual cleansing. "Ritual bathing, also known as ablution" exists in the oldest of religions (Altman). "It follows ...that water blessed by a priest--holy water--should have added potency as a weapon against evil" (Gregory 126). In the eyes of probable victims, blood-drinkers are evil. Vampires are amoral, and they are enemy of The Church. Therefore, they should be vulnerable to the holy symbols, incantations, and curses.

The idea behind holy water is that "thus anointed...water can...be thrown in the face of a vampire, where it will have the effect of burning like acid" (Gregory 127-8). Not only does the notion fuel the morale of would-be-victims, "the efficacy of...holy water against [vampires] proves the existence of God" (Paulson 172). Peasants turned to The Church for protection against their fears. "Russians would pour holy water on the upyr [definition: vampire/witch] when they found it in the coffin" (Konstantinos 31). By declaring blessed water a weapon against evil, The Church reinforced its grip on the congregation.

The Church declared war against the vampire and developed its own arsenal of holy weapons, including holy water and the crucifix. "Like the crucifix, holy water appears to have been introduced at sometime around the fourth century" (Gregory 126). Nearly all "Post-Stoker vampires" in fiction "are vulnerable to human products: rosaries and holy water" (Auerbach 36). Yet, "modern-day vampires scoff at some ancient superstitions, especially those concerning crosses, holy water and garlic" (Renoux 32). They say: "There is nothing to fear in the sign of the Cross, nor the Holy Water, nor the Sacrament itself" (Rice 225-6).

Why do modern vampires disregard holy water? Well, they believe that their blood is more ancient than the spiritual symbols, and therefore more potent. However, unlike the crucifix, "water, the universal solvent, is the oldest symbol of purification and cleansing" (Gregory 126). And, supposing that the creator deity listened to the pleas of the priest as he blessed the water to make it holy, then there is no reason to believe that the ancient purifying symbol would not retain the power of the god. Of course, if blessed water had the ability to scald a vampire, it would also abrade any human who is not a faithful devotee to that deity. I suppose that the potency of holy water depends on the faith of the one who speaks the benediction and the one who wields it as a weapon.

But, after examining the modern-day church, I see that vampires have no need to fear the faith of the clergy or the parishioners. Can you attest otherwise?

Do svidanja,

Auerback, Nina. Our Vampires, Ourselves.
Gregory, Constantine. Craig Glenday. Vampire Watcher's Handbook.
Konstantinos. Vampires: The Occult Truth.
Paulson, Ronald. Sun and Evil.
Renoux, Victoria. For the Love of Garlic.
Rice, Anne. The Vampire Lestat.

Vampires and water (Part 2): Holy water

The previous blog post addressed ancient superstitions regarding salt water and flowing water in relation to vampires. This entry will discuss blessed or holy water and its affect on vampires.

01 July 2009

Vampires and Water (Part 1)

The protective qualities of salt water and running water are among the most ancient superstitions associated with blood-drinkers. Scholars assert that "the Vampire cannot cross salt water. Running water, too, he can only pass at the slack or flood of the tide" (Summers Kith 187). Salt water seas are reputed to be the most successful bodies of water at ceasing the advance of vampires since they combine both transient and saline attributes.

Ancient "Greeks would disinter suspected revenants and bury them on remote, uninhabited islands" (Gregory 123). Superstitious people believe that "running water dissolves all charms" (Summers Europe 308). The reason for this superstition is that "Water--and in particular, fast flowing water--has always been used to flush away wickedness and evil" (Gregory 126). Similarly, salt is a substance associated with purification and preservation.

In age of Christianity, this notion of purifying water evolves into the sacrosanct practice of baptism. All sins are washed away by the water (traditionally, of the Jordan River) and the participant emerges from the water fully cleansed. King James believed that vampires developed because they refused the holy traditions of The Church. He claims that "the water shall refuse to receive Them into her bosom, that have shaken off the sacred water of baptism."

Witch trials of the past millennium often employed the method of iudicium aqua--trial by water--to distinguish a pure human from an evil entity. The accused was vindicated if successfully drowned, but if the accused floated, he/she was considered a witch, vampire or other revenant. Murgoci supports this idea by claiming that "vampires never drown, they always float on top." His idea keeps in line with the physical truth that "dead bodies do in fact become extremely buoyant" (Barber). Since vampires were (and still are) considered dead, it is a logical designation between living and dead flesh. The spiritual significance of this is that "the water chooses not to take [the revenants] in, much as...Mother Earth rejects the unclean dead" (Barber 151). Supposedly, the vampire has risen from the grave--out of the earth. To superstitious peasants, this must seem as though the earth is casting out the vampire because of some fault. If the earth cannot restrain vampires, then why would the sea be able stop them?


NOTE: This is part one to a three part series on water and purification in regard to the vampire. In the near future, we will discuss Holy Water and the "wickedness" of blood-drinkers.

Barber, Paul. Vampires, Burial and Death.
Summers, Montague. Vampire in Europe.
Summers, Montague. The Vampire: His Kith and Kin.
Gregory, Constantine. Craig Glenday. Vampire Watcher's Handbook.