What is about vampires that seduces us? This is the fact that they are all somehow incredibly attractive even if they come off as a tad scary? Vampires have been the stuff of mythology for years, tracing its roots back to as far as the 730s CE (Christian Era).
These misunderstood creatures have been idealized and romanticized for over two centuries. We fear them but we love them! We want to be them! And who wouldn’t?
Vampires are eternal, they never suffer death. Vampires never wither and grow old. Vampires never get ill. Depending on what novel you are reading, some vampires even sparkle! For certain, the vampires we read about today or see on the movie screen are a far cry from the original vampires of European folklore.
The idea behind the existence of vampires has been around for centuries, where the proof of this notion was first detailed in German and French literature and the word vampire was coined from the French word vampyre or possibly the German one for vampir.
There was a time when the idea of a vampire (or more) roaming the streets was a strong belief among townsfolk during the early 18th century in southeastern Europe. People would get hysterical about those they suspected of being blood-sucking vampires, executing them in public as a morbid result. They believed that vampires were the reincarnations of witches, sinister people, or victims of suicide.
The gypsies of Eastern Europe had the most documentation of vampire folklore. There were many ways that one could become a vampire. Some were born predisposed to vampirism. If a pregnant woman was stared at by a vampire, the child was doomed to become one. If the baby was born with red hair, teeth, or born with a caul, this too would indicate possible predisposition.
Vampires were thought of as healthy beings that had little or no traces of decomposition, where they were plump and slightly discolored. There were rituals conducted in graveyards to gauge whether those buried were vampires or not, especially if mass attacks occurred like the death of livestock, or people of a town.
For decades, the Catholic Church believed in a physical, bloodsucking immortal creature that rose from the grave and fed upon the blood of the living. The Church even hired vampire hunters who scoured cemeteries desecrating graves in search of the bloodsuckers. They believed that this phenomenon was the work of devil himself.
Thus began the vampire hunts of the Inquisition that lasted hundreds of years all across Western Europe. In 1900, the Church decided that the physical vampire was merely a myth but to this day believe in the psychic vampire.
Myths about Vampires
This myth sustained itself through the years where vampires supposedly cannot see their reflection in a mirror. This belief (a Bulgarian superstition) stemmed from the fact that corpses weren’t allowed to be in the presence of mirrors, since it was likely that another death would take place. A condition known as porphyria further took the myth a whole mile, since patients stricken with the illness didn’t want to view themselves for its deteriorate effect. How the connection is drawn is unclear.
Some say that vampires drank blood to energize themselves when clearly this was not the case. There are many blood-related disorders that fit the bill when it comes to feeling weak. Drinking blood is not the answer to getting a quick energy spurt. Those suffering from blood-related disorders were thrown into the limelight for thinking that drinking this would in some way help with their condition.
Vampires have always been portrayed as coffin-sleeping creeps that rise (in dramatic slow motion) from coffins or caskets. Just because they are purportedly undead, it doesn’t mean that they need to lie in some coffin until the moon comes out.
While vampires obviously do age (although slower apparently), they can withstand harm but not all kinds of it – this makes them as mortal as any human being. Vampire immortality has been portrayed in many films and books, making this myth a classic among the rest. Staking a vampire through the heart would most definitely kill them but so would any lethal method of extermination.
Toothy Creatures of the Dark
Vampires have been linked with bats for as long as anyone can remember. It stems from the belief that if a bat or any other flying creature passed over a corpse, he / she would rise from the dead – the Romanians are to blame for this notion. The disease porphyria affected the way one’s lips and gums formed, making them look horrific because of the way they’d recede. Because of this facial deformity, one’s teeth were longer than normal thus assuming they were fang-like. And no, vampires can’t fly.
The myth that vampires are photosensitive is nothing but a bunch of nonsense, where skin conditions are prevalent among people who are sensitive to light. Sensitivity to light also affects one’s eyes where patients need to shield or squint in the sunlight. Health conditions seem to be taking up an alarming amount of space as part of the myths.
Vampires can compel your memory
This is another myth that vampires has the ability to control the mind of another simply through eye contact.
Compelled beings usually follow the instructions given to them by the vampire who compelled them to the best of their ability, sometimes even those that would otherwise be beyond their “normal” capacity (i.e. being forced to forget a very recent and otherwise unforgettable experience, cause them to develop new skills, and even create new personalities).
Does it sound rational to you by any means?
Well, vampires do indeed exist, just not as we imagine them. Early accounts of psychic vampire attacks that were recorded in Eastern Europe usually involved a person being visited in their sleep by a deceased family member. More times than not, the spirit appeared in a dream.
The victim reported feeling the sensation of them bearing down on top of him/her and then described some form of an attack. Very rarely, if ever, is a physical attack involving the drawing of blood mentioned. Clearly it is a spiritual or psychic attack of some kind that is being described. Subsequent attacks usually resulted in the victim losing vitality, becoming sick, weak, and eventually dying.
A doctoral candidate at Louisiana State University at the time, Browning had already been on the hunt for several months and he met a blood drinker woman in Gothic apparel store.
Nervously, Browning approached her and started talking to her about his ethnographic study of “real vampires.” To be clear, these aren’t people who possess the supernatural powers that we associate with the likes of Count Dracula, but rather individuals who claim to have a medical condition that requires them to drink blood (human or animal) in order to sustain themselves.
Browning was the perosn who spent his entire academic life studying the depiction of vampires in film and literature, originally thought that there must be something deranged about real people who identify with the characters that seem more suited to horror movies than a historic district in Louisiana.
According to Browning, symptoms of vampirism start to manifest around puberty, when those who later become reliant on ingesting blood find themselves physically “drained” for no discernible reason. They usually discover accidentally that blood offers a remedy: they might bite their lip, for instance, and realize that swallowing the metallic liquid between their teeth gives them an instant burst of energy.
One year into his study, Browning decided to try being a donor himself. During one of NOVA’s holiday charity events, where members of the vampire community come together to make food for the homeless, he met with one vampire who left the turkey he was cooking.
“Each of them have a particular method,” Browning said. This person used a disposable scalpel to make a tiny prick on Browning’s back, then used his fingers to squeeze the area until blood came out. He put his mouth directly over the warm liquid and lapped it up, repeating the process two or three times before cleaning Browning’s wound.
Kinesia, a woman who identifies as a blood drinker, told the BBC that she isn’t a vampire by choice. “Many of us would rather not go through the cyclic symptoms and just be happy to live life like a normal person,” she said.
A real vampire in the U.K., Alexia, echoed the sentiment: “If the cause could be identified, I would most certainly take a pharmaceutical pill.”
When Kinesia went four months without feeding, she found herself in the emergency room with a low heart rate that would shoot up to 160 when she stood up or walked around. This would be followed by a massive migraine, and sometimes a loss of consciousness.
When Browning started his research, he was most surprised to discover that most of the community members didn’t have an extensive knowledge of how vampires are portrayed in popular culture. Once, when he mentioned an episode of “True Blood,” he said, “no one knew what I was talking about.”
This lack of awareness indicated to him that the vampires weren’t super-fans who had simply taken their obsession with fantasy narratives to an extreme. Rather, they were normal people with routines no different from everyone else.
No different, that is, with the exception of one grisly drinking habit.
The gesture which had been portrayed in old novels is a myth at some extant .For a fun reading session on vampires, head to vampire website.
The adoration for vampires today is simply because they exude the sort of confidence and sensuality that is so unlike the common man (or woman), where striking beauty seems to be the highlight of modern-day vampires. What happened to ghoul-like vampires? It seems like they’ve evolved quite remarkably over the years.
It seems a fascinating imagination more than reality and if such people exist, most probably they are suffering specific kind of medical issue but obiously they are not vampires!