27 August 2009

Vampires & The Tibetan Book of Death [Graphic]

He "will tie a rope around your neck and lead you away. He will cut off your head, rip out your heart, pull out your guts, lick your brains, drink your blood, eat your flesh, and gnaw your bones." He is Shinje, the Tibetan Lord of Death, who is also called Yama in nearby regions (Thurman 175) [Excerpt from the Tibetan Book of Death].

In the article about vampires of India, I mentioned the wrathful deities of Tibet and Nepal. You will recall that these deities were among the first named vampiric creatures (Konstantinos).

"Vampire qualities" may have first appeared "in the fang-like teeth of the carved images of...the Tibetan devil Yama" (Varma 13). "Stories of these weird gods who subsisted by drinking the blood of sleeping persons originated with the Hindus of ancient India. And Tibetan manuscripts concerning vampires were held in such high regard that they were embalmed to increase their sanctity...The vampire motif is an anthropomorphic theme, a human-animal, life-death configuration. The vampire kills and re-creates. He is the Destroyer and the Preserver, for the passive vampires of life turn into active ones after death" (Stuart 13).

In Tibet, "vampire folklore...followed their religious beliefs"(Konstantinos 24). Shinje is maintained as a true deity in Tibetan religion. "The King of Existence is also the Lord of Death, Shinje, the husband of Kali. Shinje drinks human blood as well as consumes both human and horse flesh. It is said he 'rests on the great flames of existence and subdues even the tortures of hell', thus Shinje is both dark and light" (Ford 86). The Tibetan incarnation of this god possessed a green body and carried the Wheel of Life in his clawed hand. He is also considered the Judge of the Dead.

However, Shinje is not the only vampiric entity to reside in Tibet. "Tibet, like India and China, possessed a rich pantheon" of "Wrathful Deities who appeared in The Tibetan Book of the Dead" (Melton 852). "In it fifty-eight blood-drinking deities are described. Those Wrathful Deities, as they were called (actually the description in the Tibetan Book of the Dead makes them seem more like entities than deities), inhabited the land of the dead. The Tibetans also believed that the spirits of the dead could inhabit corpses and cause them to rise and attack the living." (Konstantinos 24-25).

A dead body became a liability to neighbors, who often could not bury the body because the ground was "frozen hard during the winter" (Bell). Timber and other fuel was also in short supply, so bodies may have been dismembered to prevent them from changing into a dakini (also called khandro or khandroma in Tibet), which is "a type of Tibetan vampire" (Muses). Measures were taken to ensure complete destruction of a corpse after death. "Excarnation would seem one of the more effective methods of body disposal...In Tibet the process is particularly gruesome: the flesh is separated from the bones of the body by workers with knives rather than the birds that consume the flesh." "Here we see what an eternal embarrassment corpses can be" (Barber 171).

As in many vampire legends, the name, Dakini, may have originally referred a single entity, which was "the feminine energy principle, associated with knowledge and intelligence". This force could have been "either destructive or creative." The lofted Dakini was paired with Vidyadhara, as in this poetic passage: "Vidyadhara...will appear, white in colour, with a radiant smiling face, embracing his consort the White Dakini, dancing with a crescent knife and a skull full of blood, gesturing and gazing at the sky" (Purjavadi 107). "Iconographic representations tend to show the dakini as a young, naked figure in a dancing posture, often holding a skullcup (kapala) filled with menstrual blood or the elixir of life in one hand, and a curved knife (kartika) in the other. She may wear a garland of human skulls, with a trident staff leaning against her shoulder. Her hair is usually wild and hanging down her back, and her face often wrathful in expression, as she dances on top of a corpse, which represents her complete mastery over ego and ignorance" (Campbell 138).

Eventually, the image of dakini morphed to include a number of blood-drinking individuals. Legends describe "countless crowds of dakinis...wearing the six bone-ornaments, with drums, thigh-bone trumpets, skull-drums, banners made from the skins of youths, canopies made from human skin, ribbons of human skin and incense made from human flesh...filling all the regions of the universe so that they rock and tremble and shake" (Purjavadi 54-55). The dakinis are called Khandroma, which "means Sky-goer or Sky-dancer" (Nus-Idan-rdo-rje 224). They move in the air and cover the earth, spreading with them the tales of vampires. "Westerners have" often "viewed vampire lore as a fascinating but unsolved enigma, but the origins of" these myths may "lie in the mystery cults of Oriental civilizations" (Stuart 13).

Tingla thugen,
Ana

Sources:

Barber, Paul. Vampires, burial, and death: folklore and reality

Bell, Charles. Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery: Trepan, Hernia, Amputation, Aneurism, and Lithotomy. (1821)

Campbell, June. (1996). "Traveller in Space: In Search of the Female Identity in Tibetan Buddhism". George Braziller. ISBN 0-8076-1406-8 p. 138

Ford, Michael W. Adamu. Luciferian Tantra and Sex Magick.

Konstantinos. Vampires: the occult truth.

Melton, J Gordon. The vampire book: the encyclopedia of the undead.

Muses Realm. Vampires. 27 August 2009.

Nus-Idan-rdo-rje, Stag-sam. Sky dancer: the secret life and songs of the Lady Yeshe Tsogyel.

Purjavadi, Nasr Allah. Peter Lamborn Wilson. Kings of love: the poetry and history of the Ni'matullahi Sufi order

Stuart, Roxana. Stage blood: vampires of the 19th century stage.

Thurman, RAF. The Tibetan Book of the Dead, trans, of Padma Sambhava.

Varma, Devendra. Varney the Vampire

26 August 2009

Which one of these things...

Which one of these things is more likely than the other?
1. a vampire that teaches you grammar
2. a vampire that teaches you to count

24 August 2009

Blood Tears

Calista is exasperated by the barrage of questions about vampiric bodily fluids.

I say:
People, that's gross! And, leave Calista alone. She doesn't want to answer these ridiculous questions.

I absolutely refuse to discuss the finer points of vampiric digestion [EVER]. It's not going to happen, so get over it. Having said that, I will address a trait that frequently arises in modern fiction--the myth of blood tears.

In Interview with a Vampire, Anne Rice effortlessly describes "the stain of tears, tinged with mortal blood" (Rice 258). The reader cannot help but envision a pale, porcelain cheek striped with the trails of crimson tears. The imagery is beautiful.

Rice is not the only author to describe blood-tainted tears. Raven Hart's vampire narrator says, "One of my tears fell onto her fine skin. The tear was tinged pink with the blood that animates my body" (Hart 212). Cecilia Tan's vampire feels the need to explain his clear tears "If I had been feeding on people, they would be blood tears," he says (Tan).

Like most dramatically romantic characteristics, "the notion that vampires cry blood tears" is a "new and unique development, but not one that makes biological sense. Presumably, vampires" must "have other fluids inside their bodies" and if tears were affected, then liquids like "saliva would be blood as well" (Ramsland 66-7).

Can you imagine every drop of sweat, snot, and saliva being reduced to blood? You would be left with no other way to describe a vampire than to say that he is "a bloody mess." It's not a pretty picture anymore, is it?

"Why the ingestion of blood would produce blood tears any more than the ingestion of wine would make [humans] weep red zinfandel is a mystery" of fiction (Ramsland 67). Certainly some authors have tried to make excuses for this medical marvel. Erin McCarthy offers this solution: "the vampire trait of crying blood tears...is usually chalked up to sinus infections" (McCarthy 164). While bacterial conjunctivitis can cause an individual to cry blood-stained tears, you can't believe that vampires have perpetual sinus tract infections. What an existence that would be!

Now, I'm not saying that Haemolacria [definition: physical condition whereby a person produces tears which are partially composed of blood (wikipedia)] is impossible; I am saying that it is not a trait that arises from vampirism. If haemolacria and vampirism were linked, then you would certainly no longer see vampires as the sexy, suave creatures of modern fiction.

That is all,
Ana


Sources:
Abstract Desktop Nexus. Tear for a vampire. [Picture]
Hart, Raven. The Vampire's Seduction.
McCarthy, Erin. High Stakes.
Ramsland, Katherine M. The Science of Vampires.
Rice, Anne. Interview with a Vampire.
Tan, Cecilia. A Taste of Midnight: Sensual Vampire Stories.
Wikipedia. "Haemolacria". 24 August 2009.

21 August 2009

Vampires in Ethiopia

I prefer to write parallel articles for the malaria and revenant blog whenever I can, but in Ethiopia I found a problem. There are certainly blood-drinker legends that circulate in Ethiopia, but few are of "true" vampires. Instead, we have the Bouda, which "is a hard creature to classify because its evil qualities are many and they overlap. For example, it is a living vampire, and a shape-shifter, a bloodsucker, and a flesh-eater" (Maberry 51). They are rumored to live in the "Devil's Cave, somewhere near Nek'emte, in the Welega division of Ethiopia" (Eberhart). They are "unique among the world's theriomorphs" as they take the form of a "were-hyena". Originally from Morocco, this creature is "also found in Tanzania". It "is a living vampire--a bloodsucker that has the nature while still alive, as opposed to one who becomes a monstrous predator after rising from the grave. The Bouda is also a deliberate theriomorph and uses sorcery to transform itself." "Most Boudas are blacksmiths by trade, and they labor in their forges to make amulets and charms of enchanted metals that will enhance their own inherent preternatural strengths" (Maberry 51).

"Without the charm two things happen: first, the Bouda is unable to regain human form, and second it eventually becomes a true hyena, losing all of the human cunning it...possesses even when in animal form". "Though fierce, the Bouda does not possess supernatural strength and has no powers of invulnerability, and can therefore be killed by any ordinary means either in human or animal shape" (Maberry 51).

With the legends of Bouda, we find the myths of an Ethiopian vampire bat that is "said to feed on the blood of animals and humans, causing puncture wounds and debilitating sickness" (Eberhart). The myths of Bouda and mysterious vampire bats intrigued Byron de Prorok, who in the 1930s "explored a cave said by the locals to be haunted by hyena-men and a death bird. The hyenas proved real enough, and so did the death birds, in the form of a huge swarm of bats." In truth, "the only known sanguinivorous bats are found in Mexico, Central, and South America," yet Prorok referenced illness in relation to them and the cave he explored (Eberhart). Eberhart speculates that "infected bites from parasites carried by the bats might be mistaken for bat bites" themselves.

As any reader of my blog knows, parasites can cause particularly debilitating illnesses. Ethiopia has not yet escaped the blight of parasites and is still contending with the assault of malaria.

Dehna hunu,
Ana

Sources:
Byron Khun de Prorok, Dead Men do tell tales.
Eberhart, George. Mysterious creatures: a guide to cryptozoology.
Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe: The Dark World of Supernatural Beings...
Wikipedia. Spotted Hyena [Photo].

17 August 2009

Vampires in Nigeria

"In pre-colonial Africa, among the polygamous Yoruba in Nigeria, the vampire tale took the form of witch-wives. These women were described as jealous witches who secretly sucked the blood of their husbands and of the children of the other wives. The local folklore even said women could be turned into bloodsucking witches against their will if they were tricked into eating human flesh or drinking human blood" (Tyree). "Indeed in Nigera, the main type of vampires is an obeyifo [also obayifo] who is a living person dwelling in the local community who uses his or her vampire powers against neighbors" (Curran 174). "The Obayifo is a living vampire, usually a sorcerer or witch, who actually sheds its skin at night and rises into the air in the form of a blazing fireball. The Obayifo is born with these abilities rather than being the result of a curse; and the sorcerer-vampire revels in the vast powers it possesses. The Obayifo is malicious and though it is a blood-drinker, it apparently also feeds off of the pain and misery caused by its attacks, making it an essential vampire as well" (Mayberry 238).

"The Obayifo only takes a small amount of blood, but either its bite is poisonous or its saliva carries disease germs. The loss of blood is marginal, but the onset of disease is often fatal" (Mayberry 239). "To this end, the effects of diseases such as tuberculosis are put down to malefic and vampiric witchcraft" (Curran 173-4). "If a village suspects that the Obayifo is preying on the children, spells and charms can be used to seal the house against invasion; and denied its food the Obayifo can bide its time by feeding on fruits and vegetables. Apparently it does not need blood for its survival, and the Obayifo is a patient monster" (Mayberry 239).

"Besides sucking the blood of victims, they are supposed to be able to extract the sap and juices of crops" (Williams 175). "To amuse itself it may wither the plants and bring on a crop blight that will do as much harm as the blood-borne disease would have done" (Mayberry 239). "Drowning or strangulation were the preferred methods of execution, so as to avoid spilling the 'contaminated' blood of the obayifo" (Allman 260).

"It was even held that if a man but looked upon a corpse he established that mysterious psychic connexion which would render him liable to be attacked by the spirit of the deceased. Among the Ibo people in the district of Awka, Southern Nigeria, one of the most important taboos which has to be preserved by the priest of the Earth is that he may not see a corpse, so terrible is held to be the spiritual contagion. Should he by an unlucky chance meet one upon the road he must at once veil his eyes with his wristlet" (Summers 269). "The Ibgo people of southern Nigeria wear a protective bracelet that binds the soul to the body and thus prevents an evil spirit taking possession" (Glenday). "This wrist-band or bracelet is a most important periapt or charm since it is regarded as a spiritual fetter keeping the soul in the body, and to bind such a talisman upon the wrist is particularly appropriate, since many peoples believe that a soul resides wherever a pulse is felt beating" (Summers 269).

"Obayifo are essentially at enmity with the priests"(Alleyne 46). "It was as a matter of fact, the exalted religious spirit that principally gave to the various tribal units the cohesive power that formed the Ashanti into a warlike people, and tended to crush down the antagonistic magic of the Obayifo" (Williams 210).

"In Ashanti, the Okomfo [priest with political power] openly combated the Obayifo as a matter of principle, and he had the whole force of Ashanti religious traditions and public sentiment to support him" (Williams 145). "Deaths were often attributed to the watchful god, with the deceased identified either as an obayifo or someone who otherwise had contravened the laws of the cult. To suspicious outside observers, however, the 'sacred water' was believed to be a poison targeted at preordained victims." So strong was the political power of the priest that in 1931 "the deity identified the queen mother as an obayifo responsible for the death of members of the local adontenbene's family" (Allman 129).

"The Yoko people of Nigeria...believe that disembodied witches (sometimes travelling as spheres of burning light) could draw the heart and liver from sleeping victims, or that witches, perched on the roof of a house, could draw up and devour the heart of an individual, simply by magic." "Alternatively, if a witch can obtain a specimen of a prospective victim's excrement, he or she can use it to draw the vitality from that person, leaving them a pale and withered husk" (Curran).

"The obayifo is discovered by a process analogous to the 'smelling out' of witches among the Zulu, i.e. the 'carrying of the corpse'." Some meat is placed at the entrance of the village. If an individual eats but does not offer some to the neighboring priest or passerby, then he/she is an obayifo. "When prowling at night they are supposed to emit a phosphorescent light from the armpits and anus. An obayifo in everyday life is supposed to be known by having sharp shifty eyes, that are never at rest, also by showing an undue interest in food, and always talking about it, especially meat, and hanging about when cooking is going on, all of which habits are therefore purposely avoided" (Williams 175).

Ka odi,
Ana

Sources:
Allman, Jean Marie. John Parker. Tongnaab: the history of a West African god.
Alleyne, Mervyn C. Roots of Jamaican culture.
Curran, Bob. Ian Daniels. Vampires: a field guid to the creatures that stalk the night
Glenday, Craig. Constantine Gregory. Vampire Watcher's Handbook.
Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe: The Dark World of Supernatural Beings...
Summers, Montague. The Vampire, His Kith and Kin.
Tyree, Omar. Omar Tyree Donna Hill. Dark Thirst.
Williams, Joseph. Voodoos and Obeahs: Phases of West India Witchcraft.

13 August 2009

Vampires in Britain

Great Britain is the home to many vampire stories. So many accounts exist that it would be ludicrous to repeat (or even mention) them all in this blog article. "The island nation had few original vampire traditions but nevertheless made significant contributions to the development of the vampire" fictions of modern times (Bunson 85).

"Let us look first at general information about vampires that would have been available in the late nineteenth century" (Day 3). During this time, Stoker was writing his famous (or infamous) book Dracula and the idea of romanticized vampirism was born. "In 1847 was published Varney the Vampire; or, the Feast of Blood...a very lengthy but well written and certainly exciting romance..." by Thomas Preskett Prest (Summers 103). "Prest definitely states that his romance is founded upon incidents which were alleged to have taken place in England in the last years of the reign of Queen Anne [circa 1712-1714]. No such record has been traced, but if the statement be correct it is exceedingly interesting to find a case of vampirism in England at this date where the tradition had almost, if not entirely, died out". "It is quite possible, of course, that Prest threw out these suggestions to give his work an extra spice, but, however that may be, he has certainly studied the Vampire legends and traditions with some care, and he introduces into his chapters several telling touches which can be authenticated by parallel circumstances in vampire legends" (105).

Legends of vampires were not completely unknown in England during this time. Certainly remnants of ancient tales existed, and imported stories most likely peeked native interest. In fact, "the word "vampyre" entered the English language in 1732, its first appearance (in a London periodical) occasioned by a rash of vampire sightings documented in several parts of central and eastern Europe" (Day 3). It is more likely, however, that vampires were considered unreal and archaic during the period of enlightenment and industrial revolution. "Pieces of folk-lore in the remoter countries, half-forgotten oral tradition (now almost entirely dying out), and the persistence of a few old customs,...which are casually maintained owing to some vague idea of thereby warding off some indefinite ill-luck...afford evidence of a widespread and deeply-rooted belief in Vampires, even if such manifestations were comparatively few in number" (Summers 78).

Ralph Shirley wrote, "It may be doubted, indeed, in spite of the lack of records, whether vampirism in one form or another is quite as absent from the conditions of modern civilization as is commonly supposed. Although we are not to-day familiar with the Slavonic type of vampire that sucks the blood of its victims, producing death in two or three days' time, strange cases come to light...the vampire in these cases being an entity in human form who indulges in intercourse with someone of the opposite sex" (Summers 115). Whatever the truth, by the 19th century interest in vampires and the occult revived.

"A curious case was reported in the Gentleman's Magazine, July, 1851, belongs to the reign of King Charles I, but this concerns the old idea that a dead body if touched by the murderer will bleed, and cannot strictly be said to be pertinent to Vampirism" (Summers 99). Over a few decades, this general resurgence of occultism morphed into new vampire legends which spread through Britain and to Ireland. The Irish author, Patrick MacGill wrote "In my sleep I had gone with the dead man from the hut out into the open. He walked with me, the dead man, who knew that he was dead. I tried to prove to him that it was not quite the right and proper thing to do, to walk when life had left the body. But he paid not a sign of heed to my declamation." MacGill's work shows the social constraints of the time and how they affected vampire fiction. "Like a vampire the dead man walks 'when life had left the body.' The phrase 'right and proper' demonstrates an anxiety to reassert boundaries and borders and the narrator risks his own life in order to bury the dead man....he recounts a stinking corpse "'uggin' me, kissin' me" inevitably suggesting the threatening embrace of the vampire" (Day 71).

The vampire had become a creature that could exist both within and outside of society. Ancient and Slavic accounts do not conscript the vampire to social norms or regulations, but during this period in the British isles vampires were given a place in society. Stoker's Dracula repeats this idea in the sentence, "I long to go through the crowded streets of your mighty London, to be in the midst of the whirl and rush of humanity, to share its life, its change, its death, and all that makes it what it is" (Stoker 28). "With this statement, Dracula not only expresses his desire to go to London but to share in the experience of the modern city, suggesting that in this novel, Stoker sought not simply to relocate the gothic tale to a new location but rather to reconfigure it for the modern world. Dracula yearns for more than blood but the 'whirl and rush of humanity.' Since Stoker's novel, vampires, particularly on film, have been increasingly attracted to cities in which they are free to hunt amongst the crowds." (Day 125).

Vampires were not always city dwellers. "William of Newburgh [1136? - 1198?] and Walter Map [born 1140, died c. 1208-1210]...note thence how prominent was the belief in earlier times" (Summers 92). In their time, they had most frequently appeared in small rural villages. In more ancient legends, "when a Vampire revisits some unfortunate town...his ravages are, owing to the appalling fetor of the corpse, in every case apparently followed by an outbreak of the plague" (Summers 88). "William of Malmesbury [c. 1080/1095-c. 1143] says that in England it was commonly supposed and indeed certainly known that evil men returned to walk in the world after they are dead and buried, inasmuch as their bodies are re-animated by the Devil, who energizes them and compels them to act as he desires: nequam hominis cadauer post mortem daemone agente discurrere" (78). Vampires and revenants at this time acted contrary to society not within it. The conflict between vampires and social norm, then mandated by the Church, was so strong that a supposed revenant would be exhumed, burned, and disposed of in a manner that is not fitting of a Christian parishioner.

In this period, vampires were evil creatures who were considered the enemy of the Church and of God, and they returned to animation in order to harass the living or unleash plague. "Walter Map has...narratives which ...nearly resemble the Vampire [Slavic] stories...and which show the idea of a re-vitalized dead man returning to molest the living" (92). In harmony with Eastern tales, the vampire most frequently visited and coupled with his former spouse. Clearly, this notion may indicate one way that a lonely widow could explain away the child born after her husband's death, and throughout history the vampire has served as the scapegoat for many social sins.

Whether the vampire is blamed for sin or created by sin, it is clear that a line was drawn between the Church and the revenants that walked the earth. Their graves were disturbed and their bodies were relinquished to be the subject of rites that resembled witchcraft. "If the living were haunted by the constant return of the dead, who vampire-like refused to remain dead, there was also a sense in which the dead were haunted by the living, refused the possibility of a final peace" (Day 73).

Beoedh ge gesunde,
Ana


Sources:
Bunson, Matthew. The vampire encyclopedia.
Day, Peter. Vampires.
MacGill, Patrick. The Great Push. 118-9.
Map, Walter. De Nugia Curialium.

08 August 2009

The dangers of fiction

Reader, attend! whether thy soul
Soars Fancy's flights beyond the pole,
Or darkling grubs this earthly hole
In low pursuit;
Know, prudent, cautious, self-control
Is wisdom's root.
[Robert Burns]


Fantasy is fiction, and reality is something different. I've been telling you what angers me about vampire fiction, and now I will share why it is so dangerous.

"On 11 December 2002, 22-year-old Allan Menzies killed 21-year-old Thomas McKendrick in Fauldhouse, West Lothian, Scotland" (Pile 190). The two were childhood friends yet Menzies "bludgeoned Thomas McKendrick...about the head with a hammer and stabbed him 42 times" (Roberston). What could lead a young man to such a gruesome crime? Well, he blamed Akasha.

"Menzies told the courts that he was under instructions from the female vampire Akasha, a character in the Anne Rice novel (and film of the same name) Queen of the Damned" (Pile 190). "On the day of the killing...McKendrick had made an insulting, sexual remark about Akasha, the heroine of the film, and had asked: 'You don't really believe in vampires, do you?'" Menzies "told the jury" that Akasha "had been standing beside him in his kitchen when Mr McKendrick insulted her" (Robertson).

He asserted that the decision to defend Akasha's honor was easy because he had already "been 'ordered' to kill" a human so that he could become an immortal vampire (Robertson). "Menzies claimed" that Akasha had previously "visited him in his bedroom and promised him immortality if he killed people" (Judge).

After slaughtering his friend, Menzies "drank the blood of his victim and ate part of his head" (Robertson). He "then buried the body in a shallow grave" (Russo 64). After this "savage and merciless attack, involving gratuitous and sustained violence of a most horrific nature," he asserted that he was a "vampire and would be rewarded with immortality 'in the next life'" (Robertson).

This "man who claimed to be a vampire was branded an evil psychopath" and "he was jailed ...for the 'abominable' murder of a childhood friend" (Robertson). "During his trial, he declared he was now immortal and a vampire" (Pile 190). "The High Court in Edinburgh heard that Menzies had a sadistic trait and enjoyed violence. As a 14-year-old, he was given a three-year sentence for stabbing a fellow pupil in front of classmates." Furthermore, "Menzies was said to have a vivid fantasy life, involving Nazis, serial killers and vampires." Some psychologists blame aggravated schizophrenia for the strange and morbid hallucinations, but regardless Menzies was considered "an evil, violent and highly dangerous man" (Robertson). He was "sentenced to a minimum of 14 years" (Pile 190). In November of 2004, "Alan Menzies, the so-called 'vampire killer'," was "found dead in his cell at Shotts Prison. It is believed he took his own life" (Judge).

Was Menzies mentally unstable? The answer is clear. Characters from fantasy novels do not appear in your bedroom to deliver sinister messages, and you cannot gain immortality by following orders...it's simply not possible.

Do not blame the authors, for they only write according to their readers' demands. Instead, remember that the books are stamped -fiction-, and that authors only write snippets of their wildest imaginations. And, if you happen to run across Lestat de Lioncourt in a dark alley, walk away slowly and check for Tom Cruise's latest whereabouts.

Baidh,
Ana

Sources:

Burns, Robert. "A Bard's Epitaph."
Judge, Ben. 'Vampire killer' found dead in cell. News.scotsman.com. 15 November 2004
Pile, Steve. Real cities.
Roberston, John. "Vampire case man jailed for 18 years." News.scotsman.com. 09 October 2003.
Russo, Arlene. Vampire Nation.

06 August 2009

Vampires in Cambodia

A severed head floats alone through the night air. It is a horrifying sight, with blood-shot eyes and antennae protruding from its nose, but the unwary victim rarely spots the ghoul before the feast of blood begins. "In Vietnam and parts of Cambodia" blood-drinkers are not limited to a fully resurrected revenant. "Parts of the body, it seems, can be almost as virulent as the entire body itself" (Curran 127-128).

In Cambodia, "the idea of a 'living vampire' prevails. Vampirism and the drinking of blood is strongly associated with witchcraft, and it is thought that some magicians either travel in the guise of animals or else send parts of their body in order to fulfill their evil designs" (Curran 128). There are various types of threatening blood-drinkers and associated creatures in Cambodia.

The Kampuchean (natives of Cambodia) are superstitious. They believe in a type of revenant called khmoch-long and the khmoch-preay, which are goblins that appear to the living in the form of a ghostly light (will-o-the-wisp). Also, there are the smel who are werewolves (paraphrased from Revue Scientifique).
Les Cambodgiens sont superstitieux. Ils croient anx khmoch-long qui sont des revenants, aux khmoch-preay qui sont des farfadets qui apparaissent aux vivants sous forme de feux follets, aux smel qui sont des loups-garous.

Khmoch can be used to describe a "corpse as well as revenant. Khmoch are nearly classic reanimated corpses with rotting skin, sunken eyes, a foul odor, and a taste for human flesh and blood" (Mayberry 175). In general, a khmoch is a cadaver but a khmoch-long is a revenant--a reanimated corpse.
khmoch, defunt, mort, cadavre
khmoch long, revenant
(Moura 70)
These beings were evil and "could drink blood or spread disease" (Curran 128).

Recent reports of vampirism have risen in Cambodia. In 2007, blogs reported that a boy developed enlarged canine teeth, but failed to produce any incisors or molars. These reports also claimed that the child preferred a diet of live meat and blood. I can find no official report of this child nor can I establish his relationship or similarity to vampires. I caution you against believing this account, but welcome any reputable sources regarding that particular individual.

One verifiable case of vampiric behavior in Cambodia was reported by the Associated Press in 1999. "A Cambodian man" who was "accused of killing people and drinking their blood in the belief it would cure him of AIDS" was arrested and accused of murder. "Described as a 'vampire' by local villagers, Pheach Phen, 20, was arrested ...after allegedly killing a 5-year-old boy...The suspect allegedly slashed the boy with a machete and then sucked his blood, according to the report...Pheach Phen, who is HIV positive, told police that a traditional healer convinced him" that "he could halt the onset of AIDS and prolong his own life if he killed people and drank their blood." Perhaps this man did not consider himself a vampire, but his actions and the villagers reactions indicate that the notion of vampirism is still alive in Cambodia.

Read the blog article about an even more threatening blood-drinker in Cambodia
.

Juab khnia thngay kraoy,
Ana

Sources:
Associated Press, The. "Cambodia Cops Arrest Vampire." Phnom Penh. 15 Dec 1999. http://www.aegis.com/news/ap/1999/AP991212.html
Curran, Bob. Ian Daniels. Vampires: a field guide to the creatures that stalk the night. 2005.
Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe.
Moura, Jean. Vocabulaire fran├žais-cambodgien et cambodgien-fran├žais.
Revue Scientifique. V 32. Paris. 30 Jun 1895.

02 August 2009

Vampires in Russia

A week ago I wrote an article about malaria in Russia, but I forgot to write the corresponding article on vampires in Russia...me ineptum.

In 1047 AD, a Russian priest penned the term Upir' Likhyi in reference to a Novgorodian prince. This is widely believed to be the first mention of the term 'vampire'. "There is a host of ideas about the origin of vampires. The most common is that sorcerers, witches, werewolves, excommunicates, and those who died unnatural deaths (such as suicides and drunkards) become vampires at their death. People can, however, be destined from birth to become vampires" (Dundes 50). In Russia, "The Upir [is] described as a vampire or werewolf and connected in folklore with wise women and witches" (Hubbs 16).

"The tendency to confuse vampires with werewolves is noticeable...in Russia, as indicated by a curious piece of information pertaining to vampires" (Dundes 50). Felix Oinas reported a "belief in Russia that while a dead vampire destroyed people, a live one, on the contrary, defended them. Each village had its own vampire, as if it were a guard, protecting the inhabitants from his dead companions." Kretzenbacker also "reports that the Russian villages are said to have two kinds of vampires--one bad and the other good" (Green 842). "The tendency of people to believe in good werewolves who counteract the reign of evil [vampires] through their powers of good" is indicated in these accounts. Another possible explanation is that of the dhampir (Balkans), which is an offspring of a human and a vampire. Often, a dhampir is a vampire hunter that protects humans by destroying vampires yet cannot fully assimilate into the human society.

In recent centuries, the term Upir has become almost unheard of in Russia; however, vampires still lurk in the country. "Father Gabriel Rzaczynski...in 1732, affirms, that in Russia...dead bodies, actuated by infernal spirits, sometimes enter people's houses in the night, fall upon men, women, and children, and attempt to suffocate them; and that of such diabolical facts his countrymen have several very authentic relations" (Green 8). In 1889 in Russia, the corpse of an old man who was suspected of being a vampire was dug up, and many of those present maintained that they saw a tail attached to its back" (48). Furthermore, reports of a vampire epidemic are prevalent beginning in "the late seventeenth century" in Russia. "One case from Belgrade in the 1720s involved an individual named Arnold Paole who "died an accidental death, after which several people died suddenly of what had been traditionally viewed as 'vampirism'. Forty days after his burial, Paole was exhumed:
[It was found] that he was complete and incorrupt, also that completely flesh blood had flowed from his eyes, ears, and nose...since they could see from this that he was a true vampire, they drove a stake through his heart, according to their customs, whereupon he let out a noticeable groan and bled copiously.

During this 'epidemic' "numerous cases of the mishandling of corpses believed to be vampires have become known" (50). In Russia, "the treatment of the revenant was somewhat different" from other corpses. "Vampires were apt to be disposed of in a desolate area, but not buried, and often were thrown into a body of water." This does not have to do with the idea that water restricts the vampire, instead it is "derived from the vampire's habit of causing droughts."(Barber 37). This superstition indicates the belief that the dead "influence the weather" and the vampires are particularly powerful with the gift of drought (34).

As in many other countries, "suicides, murder victims, people who drowned, and even victims of stroke were particularly at risk" for becoming vampires (Barber 34). Furthermore, there is an interesting belief about fatal communicable diseases that circulates in Russia. The tale indicates that "the first victim of a disease is a vampire" and will then cause the deaths of others in its vicinity (37).

"There are clear indications that the beliefs in vampires have deep roots among the Slavs and obviously go back to the Proto-Slavic period. These beliefs are...well documented among the early Russians" (Dundes 54). Countless stories exist, and I cannot tell them all here, but I will explain some other references that may be of interest to you. Creatures related to vampires in Russia are the Erestun, Eretiku, and the Kornwolf. The Kornwolf most obviously refers to a werewolf. And the Erestun and Eretiku (also known as Xloptuny; male and female respectively) is the "spirit of an evil sorcerer--one who has either learned to split his soul into separate but functional halves, or one who through some great misfortune has lost his mortal body" and possessed the body of "a person at the brink of death." Erestun attacks the friends and family of the host and "takes only a little blood, leaving the victim alive but weakened." Also, the Erestun can be killed by being "staked, beheaded and burned" (Maberry 113). These methods of eradication still echo in the vampire fictions of modern day. Is there truth behind it, or is it simply legend?

Do svidanja,
Ana


Sources:
Barber, Paul. Vampires, burial and death: folklore and reality.
Dundes, Alan. The Vampire.
Green, Thomas A. Folklore.
Hubbs, Joanna. Mother Russia.
Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe.