28 September 2009

Hypnotic powers of vampires

"I watched [the vampires] with a sense of soothing, and a sort of calm stole over me...I felt myself struggling to wake to some call of my instincts; nay, my very soul was struggling, and my half-remembered sensibilities were striving to answer the call. I was becoming hypnotized" (Stoker 44).

Dracula, by Bram Stoker, "contains countless instances of vampires using hypnosis to overpower their victims" (Abbot 39). "The vampire's hypnotic hold on a person" intensifies and evolves after a blood exchange (Melton 357). "In Dracula, it becomes clear that after Mina is bitten, she has a subliminal awareness of her attacker's whereabouts. Under hypnosis, she can describe what she sees and hears as if she were inside the monster" (Ramsland 73). Van Helsing, the vampire hunter, dabbles with "hypnosis but in comparison with the vampire's inherent mastery of these forces, he is a novice." (Abbot 39). Exploiting the hypnotic link between vampire and victim, Van Helsing "hypnotized Mina, and while in a trance she was able to give him information on Dracula's progress on the return trip to his castle" (Melton 357).

"All of Dracula's characteristics" including "his use of telepathy and hypnosis...are products of a nineteenth-century reexamination of science and the supernatural, and suggest the entrance of scientific study into a period of extraordinary science where all systems of belief are challenged and anything is possible" (Abbot 40). Mind-control defied the autonomy of the individual and terrified in the populace by threatening to use their own bodies against themselves.

Approximately a hundred years before Stoker wrote his novel, the public heard the early whispers of hypnotic induction. "Franz Anton Mesmer late in the eighteenth century...first brought hypnosis to popular awareness," although scholars and a majority of the masses regarded it as quackery. In 1843, "John Braid coined the term hypnosis...in reference to Hypnos, the Greek god of sleep." (Ramsland 74). Around the time that Stoker wrote Dracula, the medical community investigated hypnosis as a possible alternative or supplement to medical procedures and as a treatment for psychiatric disorders.

However, "the use of hypnosis as a tool of a vampire" may not have originated "with Stoker. Many eastern European vampire legends suggest that the vampire could hypnotize the living in order to overpower their victims" (Abbot 37). Whether the idea of forced sleep or mind control is an authentic element of the folklore, or if it was attributed to the legends post-eighteenth century, is a mystery. Some experts assert that true "hypnotic powers were not evident in the accounts of the folkloric vampire," instead claiming that since the vampire "often attacked at night while its victims slept" hypnosis was not necessary. Victims who reported sleep-walking or waking with "the vampire hovering over them" may have simply been in deep, natural sleep.

To my loyal followers and faithful readers:
If you are brazen, take a stab at the answer to this question: Do I lure people with hypnosis?



Abbot, Stacey. Celluloid vampires: life after death...
Melton, Gordon J. The Vampire Book: The encyclopedia of the undead.
Stoker, Bram. Dracula.
Ramsland, Katherine. The Science of Vampires.

23 September 2009

Vampires in Belarus

"In films a vampire and werewolf are distinctly different monsters, but in folklore they are sometimes very much alike" (Maberry, Vampire 313). An interesting case emerges in Belarus with the Mjertovjec. Fabled to be the son of a werewolf, a witch, or a dead bridegroom, this creature "has qualities of both monsters" during its prolonged existence (May 10. Maberry, Vampire 213). Apart from birth and death, an individual can transform into a Mjertovjec by following the path of "an apostate...[someone who deliberately abandons faith or defies the church], heresy, or [commits] other crimes against God." (213)

"At the core of the legend is one of the strangest and most frightening twists of supernatural folklore: In Belarus, when a werewolf or witch dies, the spirit does not dissipate or 'move on'; instead it returns to Earth" "as a vampire" (Maberry, Vampire 213, Maberry, Bad 248). This is not an ordinary vampire, but a very powerful one who terrorizes people from midnight until morning. "The Mjertovjec is a night-hunter and must return to its grave once a rooster has crowed three times. If it does not, it loses its ability to fly and then flops to the ground, where anyone with a torch and some kindling can kill it" (Maberry, Vampire 214). The creature is only susceptible to fire, but a sharpened iron spike driven through its heart can immobilize it in the grave for a short while.

"[N]ot all of the Mjertovjec rises from the grave: Only its head and upper chest tear free of the corpse and float through the air to hunt for blood. This peculiarity is rarely seen...among vampires of Europe" although, it is a common phenomenon in other parts of the world, particularly in Asia (214).

Curiously, "the Mjertovjec does share in" the quintessential "obsessive-compulsive need to stop and count seeds left outside" (214). Berliner Gesellschaft fur Anthropologie reports that the way approaching the grave in Small Russia [Belarus] is covered with seeds, which the vampire (Mjertovjec) must pick up before it can return.
Der Weg zum Grabe wird in Kleinrussland mit Mohnkornern bestreut, welche der Vampyr (Mjertovjec) aufzulesen hat, ehe er wiederkommen kann (Berliner 143).

Among other European vampires, the Mjertovjec is particularly grotesque with a purple face and a mutilated body. During all stages of its existence, it proves itself to be an enemy to the Church and to the populace, and it continues to curse the villages even after its mortal death.

Berliner Gesellschaft fur Anthropologie, et al. Zeitschrift fur Ethnologie.
Maberry, Jonathan. Bad Moon Rising.
Maberry, Jonathan. Vampire Universe: The Dark World of Supernatural Beings...
May, Heinrich. Die behandlungen der sage von Eginhard und Emma.

15 September 2009

Malay Vampires

Pain from child birth crumples the face of a young woman. Sweat saturates her glossy hair, matting it into stringy, dark locks. Shuddering, she lets out a final groan before collapsing from exhaustion.

The midwife whispers, "The child is already dead."

Malay vampires emerge into the world through sorrowful suffering like this. "The vampire has two manifestations in Malaysia: the langsuyar [langsuir] and the pontianak" (Bush 195). These 'undead' creatures are intimately related, and often confused in the folklore of Malaysia and the surrounding regions.

"Any woman giving birth who died upon discovering that her child was stillborn was thought to become" a langsuyar (Konstantinos 24). The original "langsuyar was a very beautiful woman who had a stillborn baby. The woman flew off into the trees. She is denoted by her ankle-length black hair, green robe and her long fingernails, a Malaysian indicator of female pulchritude" (Bush 195). "The langsuir was not described as having fangs like other vampires, rather," she "sucks the blood of infants through a hole in the back of her neck, hidden by her copious hair" (Konstantions 24, Bush 195).

Malay folklore provides a way that the langsuir "can be captured and cured of her curse in such a way that she can once again live an almost normal life" (Konstantinos 8). This revival may be "accomplished by a mortal who would cut the vampire's nails and hair, and stuff them into the hole in her neck" (24). The task is not easy, but it will return the woman to the mortal condition prior to her miscarriage and subsequent transformation into a langsuyar.

"The pontianak is curiously complimentary to the langsuyar. It's a stillborn child that transformed into an owl-like creature" (Bush 195). "In the Malay Peninsula the Pontianak (or Mati-anak) is usually distinguished as the ghost of a child who has died at birth." This ghost may take possession of living humans and impart impossible powers upon them. "There are many references in Malay literature to the flying performances of Malayan heroes" who were supposedly under the influence of the childlike creatures (Folklore 135).

"Before we move away from Malaysia, one more vampire (not a species, but an individual, legendary creature) deserves mention--the penanggalan. That creature was also believed to be female; a woman who was interrupted in the middle of a penance ceremony. From her great shock and rapid movement, her head became separated from her body and flew off as an evil spirit. The creature was later heard whining on the roofs of houses where children were being born. She apparently wished to get inside the houses to drink the children's blood." (Konstantinos 24). They are also known to be "evil spirits that take possession of women and turn them into predatory witches" (Stevenson 96).

"Just to confuse matters, it is also believed that sorcerers can often raise bodies from the dead and command them to do their bidding...such beings could drink blood or spread disease. Malaysia was a case in point for many of these vampires" (Curran128). Vampires in Malaysia are terrifying and mournful creatures. "Such demons may have served in part to frighten women into upholding the responsibilities of wifedom and motherhood, lest they, too, become monsters" (Stevenson 84).

Kopiruba kawagu,

Read the blog article about Malaysia, monkeys, and malaria.

Bush, Laurence C. Asian horror encyclopedia: Asian horror culture in literature...
Curran, Bob. Vampires: a field guide to the creatures that stalk the night.
Folklore Society (Great Britain). Folklore.
Konstantions. Vampires: the occult truth.
Stevenson, Jay. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vampires.

10 September 2009

Vampire hunters

A reader requested this topic. I am not an expert on vampire hunting, and I do not know the 'secrets' associated with the -sport-. The tradition of the vampire hunter is as complex and detailed as vampire lore. I can only give you a brief glimpse at this sinister world. Undoubtedly, someone will respond that vampire hunters and blood-drinkers are fictional. To that dear one I say: I wish you were right.

"Into each generation a slayer is born. One girl in all the world, a chosen one. One born with the strength and skill to fight the vampires, to stop the spread of their evil and the swell of their numbers" (Buffy). Aficionados of Buffy the Vampire Slayer will recognize this legend, but vampire hunters are much older and much more prolific than you may imagine.

"The vampire slayer is cut from the same cloth, is the product of the same social or religious violations, as the vampire" (McClelland 107). "The vampire and the vampire slayer are similarly marked as 'non-Christian'; they are in a sense related to each other and in all likelihood reenact a mythological struggle that pre-dates Christianity. In other words, where Christianity finds the vampire, it also finds his slayer" (105). "The notion of a vampire slayer has a very ancient precedent, which existed in a time and place where it was socially more useful to produce a vampire as a guilty criminal than to incriminate one's friends and neighbors" (29).

As is often the case, the vampire is the scapegoat for socially shunned actions, ills, and evils. "Ordinarily, no one would admit to being a vampire of any sort (since to do so would be to acknowledge one's marginal or negative social status, as well as to confess that one was in fact dead)"; however, the same is not true for the vampire hunter (104). Like the vampire, the slayer operates outside of society and is not inhibited by law, yet often, the slayer is excused from immoral or questionable activities by the virtue of their abilities. Furthermore, "while the vampire slayer is marked by a connection to the demonic, this special status is not something that must be hidden" (104).

Surely, there are those hunters who prefer to hide their identity to maintain safety and sanity, but nondisclosure is not conscripted. Generally, vampire hunters know and abide by the rules of society provided that they do not interfere with their mission. Educated or well-trained individuals set the bench-mark for vampire hunters in fiction. Van Helsing appears "to represent the epitome of the vampire hunter: an older man experienced in both science and the occult who knows what to do but who remains fairly secretive" (157). Anne Rice transforms the idea of a vampire hunter into a semi-secret society that studies vampires--the Talamasca. In Rice's Vampire Chronicles, "the idea of the vampire hunter...is rather curiously inverted: it is the vampire protagonist who must tell the vampire hunter" (in the case of Interview with the Vampire, "the reporter-narrator-interlocutor) of his actions and therefore his evil identity" (28). The would-be hunters are not slayers in traditional sense, so much as they are watchers.

The notion of a watcher, who is very familiar with the legends and histories of vampires, resurrects in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Here, the watcher fulfills the "wise old-man" role from Van Helsing. Buffy takes on the aggressive violent role and "restores some sense of the original power relationship between vampires and vampire slayers by establishing a fairly simple superhero who acts outside the rule of law...the structure also mimics the centuries-old folkloric idea that only someone who possesses special powers can see or destroy a vampire" (28).

Vampire hunters go by many names in folklore. Some of the more common are the dhampir, the glog, the vampirdzia, and the sabotnik. Each individual of these types has the possibility of becoming a vampire. The dhampir, glog, and vampirdzia are the hybrid offspring of humans and vampires. The individuals can awaken to their vampiric nature by consuming blood or they can transform into a "vampire hunter who had extraordinary powers" that are "derived from the vampire" (Ramsland 161).

The sabotnik is not necessarily the child of a vampire. These individuals are distinguished by the day of their birth. "Saturday, especially the Saturday before Easter, is a dangerous time to be born: if the native does not become a vampire, (s)he may become a sabotnik" (McClelland 100). A sabotnik is a seer of vampires. Often, these individuals regard their gift-of-sight as a curse.

All vampire hunters in folklore "can recognize vampires" easily and are in that way predisposed to acting as slayers, although they are often regarded as sinister individuals by average society (Handeland 131). "In order to quell the dead intruder without reinforcing the deceased's alienation, a special person is identified to take care of the social problem. That person becomes a vampire hunter or slayer, a surrogate and mediator who battles violence with counteractive violence" (McClelland 29).

An intriguing duality between the vampire and the slayer emerges in folklore. A vampire is brought into the world by violence, whether it be a violent death, the rape of a human mother, or the grisly bite of vampiric monster. Once the revenant exists in the mortal world, it can only be disposed of through violence by the hand of the slayer, "who has the capacity to become a vampire" by virtue of birth. In essence, the slayer "ritually reverses the vampire's coming into existence by reenacting the violent scene that promoted a victim to a villain" (McClelland 98).

In this dualistic scenario, who represents Evil, and who represents Good? Is the vampire, who struggles to survive against all odds, evil? Is the hunter, who tortures and murders an already abused victim, good? Obviously, I may be slightly biased...


Celebrity Wonder. (image)
Handeland, Lori. Doomsday Can Wait.
McClelland, Bruce. Slayers and their vampires: a cultural history of killing the dead.
Ramsland, Katherine M. The Science of Vampires.

08 September 2009

Commercial Break

Consider this a public service announcement that interrupts your normally scheduled programing. [Don't worry; I will not use the disturbing routine of a ghastly, child narrator who was killed by a drunk-driver.]

It has been brought to my attention on numerous occasions that my ambiguous identity arouses suspicion. My face is obscured in photos for security. I interact with people on a daily basis, and I cannot have my neighbors holding exorcisms outside my house.

However, my choice to remain partially hidden should not be interpreted as trickery. I connect with you on twitter for a single purpose (Read it here). I am NOT a role-player. I do not operate multiple twitter accounts in the attempt to drum up extra support.

Also, I am not @WhoisJonathon8, @MTMK102, @CalistaThan, @LucRevenant or @LordBarren. I cannot tell you their whereabouts, current dispositions, political ideology, or speak with authority on whatever other concerns they pose to you. Sure, the voices in my head are often contentious, but I do not air my internal dialogue on twitter [read with sarcasm].

Furthermore, if someone other than @AnaRevenant is tweeting under my name, then they are doing so without my permission, and they should consider choosing a more reputable individual to impersonate. Seriously, you won't get far by using my name.

One more thing: Don't take this message too harshly, if you were one of the individuals who asked if I maintained multiple online-personalities. The question has been posed several times by several different people. You are not alone, but do not make the same mistake again.

Dic mihi solum facta,

05 September 2009

Vampires in Guyana

In April of 2007, "A crowd of Guyanese villagers lynched an elderly woman," who "they accused of being an evil spirit who drinks the blood of human babies." She was beaten to death after authorities handed her over to villagers "who apparently believed she was an 'Old Higue' --the equivalent of a vampire in the local Obeah religion that blends folk magic with African rituals" (Guyana).

The "Old Higue are women, and...It is believed that Old Higue starts to roam at the time when people have settled in for the evening and thus the place is quiet" (Gibson 28). Some Guyanese "expressed surprise at the persistence of [the] belief in Higues, a creature said to take the shape of an old woman who can shrink herself to enter victims' homes through a keyhole" (Guyana).

"The word higue ['haig] derives from the English word hag, here meaning a 'witch'" (Le Page 97). The Old Higue most frequently sucks blood from the back of the neck of young boys and babies. "Dressing a child in blue nightclothes is said to be a means of repelling an Old Higue attack" (Gibson 28).

A Creole poem, transcribed by Martin Carter, explains some strange attributes of the Old Higue and reveals her critical weakness.
Old Higue in the kitchen
peel off her skin--
mammy took up old higue skin
and pound it in the mortar
with pepper and vinegar.
"Cool um water cool um
cool um water cool um."
Old Higue come back to the kitchen
"Cool um water cool um"
She grab the skin out of the mortar
"Cool um water cool um"
She danced meringue when the pepper
burn up her skin--
dance meringue when the pepper burn up her skin
"skin skin you na know me
skin skin you na know me"
she danced meringue when the pepper
burn up her skin. (Gray 27)

Shibuye ba,

Read also: Malaria & Antibiotics in Guyana

Gibson, Kean. Comfa religion and Creole language in a Caribbean community.
Gray, Cecil. Bite in 1.
"Guyana woman accused as vampire lynched." WorldWide Religious News. 30 April 2007.
Le Page, Robert Brock. Tabouret-Keller, Andree. Acts of identity: Creole-based approaches to language and ethnicity.

02 September 2009

Vampires in South Florida

Miami: "The happy hunting ground of the devil."

South Florida sets an idyllic stage for quite a few vampire dramas in Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles. "Miami beckons;" she offers "victims just waiting" to be ensnared(Rice: Queen; 491). It is "the vampires' city".

What an attractive opening scene is "South Beach at sunset, in the luxurious warmth of the winterless winter, clean and thriving and drenched in electric light, the gentle breeze moving in from the placid sea, across the dark margin of cream-colored sand, to cool the smooth broad pavements full of happy mortal children" (Rice: Tale; 9). South Florida provides a paradise for all who dwell near the Atlantic shore. Vampires stroll beneath the fronds of coconut palms, silhouetted in the moonlight. From perches in al fresco cafes, they watch the scantily-clad humans as they march down the promenade. Translucent sarongs cling to the oiled thighs of women from every nation. Men, fresh from the gym and glazed in sweat, gawk at halter-bound breasts as their bearers bounce between bars and nightclubs. Miami Beach is a market for flesh--in more ways than one.

"Most people have no idea how many vampires are out there" (Mooney). In South Florida a "community of vampires" thrives. These individuals "sometimes spell [the word] vampyre to differentiate" themselves "from the fictional...forms. They identify with the lonely, torn spirits in vampire stories, but these folks are not your typical goth kids. Nor are they role playing. Some of them claim to be psychic vampires with an ability to drain energy with their minds. And some are sanguine - vampires who lust after and feed on human blood."

The community in South Florida "consists of circles of like-minded vampires and donors, often called 'black swans,' who are willing to let a vampire drink from them." And, wherever vampires thrive, vampire hunters lurk. These "slayers" are "deranged individuals who sometimes try to harm or kill the vampires" (Mooney). Inspired by tales like Van Helsing and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, these glory-seekers arm themselves with arsenals of ridiculous weapons and gallop off, unthinking, like tragic heroes. But, the "slayers" are not heroes and the vampires are not demons incarnate.

"As vampires become pop-culture icons...it's important for the public to understand the truth about this large, mostly unknown segment of society." Vampires are not necessarily devil-worshipers. "There are a lot of Christian vampires. There are Jewish vampires, Buddhist vampires, vampires of every religion. It's just about a philosophy on energy" (Mooney). "It's not Satanism, and we are not evil," declares Evan Christopher, who hosts a Vampire Gathering in Florida. In truth, most vampires of South Florida do not believe themselves to be evil, and they adhere to a strict code of ethics that protects the individuals and the community.

In Miami, the curtain opens in the real "Theatre Des Vampires," but whether you attend a comedy or a tragedy is a matter of perspective (Rice: Vampire).

Mooney, Michael J. "South Florida's underground vampires lust for more than your heart." New Times. 03 Feb 2009.

Rice, Anne. The Tale of a Body Thief.

Rice, Anne. The Queen of the Damned.