One of my favourite subjects is vampires. I have tried to hold off from making this yet another vampire blog but I can hardly ignore them now can I?
I’ll try to keep this set of posts to a minimum, there is so much to cover but I will just go through the bits I love the most and hope to get it out of my system and on to other weird, wacky or strange finds.
Vampires are recorded through many cultures and seem to have various claimed roots. Romania is probably one of the most famous thanks to Bram Stoker’s Dracula but that’s not the only book, I would of course advise any enthusiast of non-sparkling vampires to get their fangs into it. Some of the most heightened panics of vampire hysteria led to beheaded corpses and staked bodies.
The romanticised version can most likely be traced back to John Polidori, The Vampyre, 1819 who gave the vampire a charismatic and sophisticated overhaul, Bram Stoker’s 1897 novel secured the vampire’s literary romance and passion creating a genre of horror that has brought the nightmares to many modern formats including gaming and television series.
A noted first appearance of the word vampire comes from the Oxford English Dictionary, 1734. They reported about a local practice in Europe of exhuming bodies and “killing vampires.” Quite often a trait of the vampire is that are revenants of evil beings, suicide victims, witches, or a possessed malevolent spirit in a corpse or by being bitten.
It is hard to make a single definition of what a vampire actually is but the biggest thing that seems to have followed them around is the desire to drink the life fluid, blood. Without blood the vampire cannot feed correctly and will whither away, though not necessarily die. Common denominators in the vampire’s appearance are a healthy, perhaps bloated, corpse that show recent blood drinking. Perhaps there was even blood escaping when the body was later exhumed, the teeth had developed to be sharper or even fangs (see previous posts about fangs) and the nails and hair had grown. It is worth noting that in many tales of this undead creature there are not always mentions of fangs.
Finding the vampire might lead you to need a virgin stallion (black or white depending on the area) to lead around the graveyard. If it shies you know you are on the right spot. Hole around a grave might show signs of a vampire (or mole infestation in my view), perhaps the livestock keep dying off and if you are not in goatsucker territory you might consider a vampire. Oh and if your vampire is of the fanged variety I would suggest a regular check for bite marks.
Creating a vampire.
Again there seems to be no generic way, which is probably a good thing for any writers out there. Perhaps an animal jumped over the corpse, a body was left along with untreated wounds, people who have come back from beyond and taken a new body (I’d prefer a living sample to possess thanks). Another is that the vampire forces it’s blood into a living victim (and of course it’s bound to be a sexy virgin).
There are of course attempts that can be made to prevent the terrible curse of blood drinking immortality, ranging from burying someone upside down to pre-staking them just in case. Earthly objects can be put into the mouth, though I suspect that would be better placed with the idea of paying to cross the River Styx than to worry about vampires.
One I do like is the idea that a vampire is suddenly imbued with a supernatural OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) so putting rice or poppy seeds on the floor would force them to be distracted into counting them until they could be despatched after the confirmation of their being. This one seems more common place in Indian, Southern American and Chinese myths.