We will now delve into some of the more common and uncommon myths relating to Vampires. If you have read the other classes on this site, you know that I deal in reality NOT myths, however the love and fear of Vampires is universal. The very word Vampire brings up visions of old. So we are going to take a few minutes and discuss some of the legends, the myths, the old wives tales and church lore and learn why and how they all began and the effect they have even today on the Vampire. We will begin with some of the more common ones. And since most of these have to do with church lore, we will look at that first. I am sure you are all familiar with the following legends:

Vampires cannot exist in sunlight

Vampires are burned and repelled by the sign of a cross

Vampires cannot go into a church or holy place

Vampires are burned by holy water

Every one of the above statements are the direct result of church lore and doctrine. We will now briefly look at each one beginning with ...

~ Vampires Cannot Exist In Sunlight ~
We must remember the date and times of these beliefs were many centuries ago. Vampires were believed to be servants of Satan; they were demons capable of all types of magic and trickery. They were creatures of evil who found strength in acts of darkness. The word darkness actually meant evil, such as the darkness of the soul. The sun represented light, God represented light. The sun is fire, fire purifies. Therefore, if the sun is light, God is light, God created the sun, the sun's light, light purifies, a Vampire could not stand the light of day. Because its evil would be destroyed by the purifying rays of the sun, therefore destroying the Vampire. It is church belief that no evil, not even Lucifer himself, is stronger than God. Therefore in the light of God, i.e.: in the presences of God, no Vampire could survive. This accounts for the belief that Vampires cannot enter a church, stand on holy ground, survive in the light of day, or survive in sunlight.
 




~ Cross and Holy Water ~

Bram Stoker was Christian, haven't you ever found it amusing to read a Vampire story where the Vampires always attack Catholics or Christians? There has been only one story I know of, well perhaps two, where the Vampire has attacked a Jewish person, or where the Vampire has been a Jewish person. Again, we come back to church lore, with the cross and crucifix as holy symbols of the Christian faith. The cross represents Christ and in most Vampire movies, Christ is a representation of God. Hence we go back to the original explanations ... the cross represents God, God represents light, light purifies, Vampires are not stronger than God, Vampires cannot be in a holy place ... therefore a cross, which represents God and purification will burn a Vampire, destroy a Vampire and a Vampire cannot look upon a cross.

As far as vampires being burned and repelled by holy water, here again we are dealing with purification. This time not fire, but water. Holy water is blessed by a priest and God. That gives it the property of extreme good as opposed to the property of extreme evil. It gives the water a cleansing and purifying nature, hence a Vampire is burned, repelled or destroyed in much the same way as if he were in sunlight; All due to purification.

 
And now let's look at one of the oldest legends around...
 
~ Reflection Cannot Be Seen In Mirror ~
 
Again we are going back to the foundations of good and evil and how it affects the soul. A Vampire is believed to have no soul because it is a demon. For some reason, which was never made clear, it has been a long held folk belief that a soul can be reflected in a mirror. Therefore a Vampire with no soul could not be reflected in a mirror.

I have always found this amusing especially with regard to the Catholic church's view on animals having no soul. According to the oldest beliefs of the Roman Catholic church, God bestowed souls only to humans. Animals are believed to have no soul, just as Vampires are believed to have no soul. Vampires have no soul because they are evil, animals have no soul because they are not human. And yet animals are reflected in mirrors .... interesting, is it not?

 
 

Now we will look at some folk myths, but you must keep in mind the folk myths are still originating from some form of church myths.

~ Four Ways To Kill A Vampire ~

 

 
~ Driving a Stake Through The Heart ~
 
Driving a stake through its heart basically evolved from medical misinformation. There is a disease which, in another day and time was called 'Consumption'. It was called consumption because it literally consumed the body. The patient lost weight, became very thin and pale, coughed and vomited blood and eventually died. These symptoms are very much like what was supposed to happen when you became a vampire's victim.

It was believed, if you did not actually PIN the corpse in its grave it would rise from the grave at night and infect its living relatives. At this time in history, there were no iron or metal nails of any kind. Furniture was put together with large sharp wooden pegs. You can see how the natural progression of a pointed wooden object which was used to 'nail' a chair together would be enlarged even further to 'nail' a body into it's wooden coffin. And that is how the stake was developed. Of course, the act of 'nailing' the corpse into the coffin was nonsense but that was the belief of the day.

In historical actuality, using any old wooden peg, or carved piece of wood would not work. It is believed, in many countries, that the wood has to be of a magical quality. And only special wood, such as Oak, Ash, Hawthorn and perhaps Box Elder, could be used for making a stake that would kill what we know as mythical vampires. In many legends involving black magick and witchcraft, and it’s not Wicca that I’m speaking of, it is believed that Hawthorn and Box Elder could be used against evil witches as well as vampires, then believed to be demons of hell.

The disease, consumption, is still with us today but it is treatable with antibiotics and long quiet rests. It is called ... Tuberculosis.

 

 
~ Drowning In Running Water ~
 
Drowning a Vampire in running water again takes us back to the theory of purification. We must remember the age and time when these beliefs began. It was a time of cisterns, drainage ditches and primitive water storage capabilities. Standing water, i.e.: water without movement, became stagnant. Stagnant water became fouled, impure, contaminated and unfit to drink ... often 'evil' smelling, in other words, it stank.

Running water, such as in a brook, stream, river, and ocean often was not befouled and, therefore, was more pure. It was the prevailing belief that purity always killed a Vampire. Impure was simply another term for evil. Hence the myths, Vampires could not cross running water and would drown in running water.

 

 
~ Destroying A Vampire By Burning ~
 
Burning a Vampire to destroy it relates directly back to the religious belief that fire purifies. Strong evil needed strong purification and at this time in history, fire was the only means of purification.
 
 
~ Beheading and Removing The Heart ~
 
It was also believed that Vampires could be killed, or rather destroyed (because you can't kill something that is already dead) by severing its head from its body. It was believed that the evil was manifest in the heart and the brain. If the head was severed, it would kill the vampire.

In many European, as well as Asian countries, the body if a suspected vampire was buried with a very sharp scythe around its neck, in the belief that if the body sat up the scythe would cut off its head. And this may, in some way, have contributed to the image of the Grim Reaper carrying a scythe.

In many instances the heart was cut from the corpse and the body of the vampire burned as well as beheaded. At times, the heart was burned and the ashes mixed with a liquid, usually wine, and the one believed to be the victim of a vampire, as well as living members of a Vampire's family, were forced to drink this liquid in the misguided belief it was a sort of vaccine and could prevent the take-over of the soul of the person still living.

 
 
~ Other Myths & Legends ~
 
The belief that garlic repelled a Vampire again relates back to the theory of purification. It was believed that a Vampire's blood was tainted and carried 'evil humors'. Evil humors meant a sort of gas in the blood. During this time, the word humor meant gas of all kinds, including 'wind' which is a very old fashioned way of saying gas from the stomach released from the body which made an audible noise and stench.

Garlic was believed to be a natural cleansing, purifying agent. It was believed to be able to drive evil from the body and was given as a remedy for gas and bloatedness. It would, actually precipitate the expulsion of gas and air from the body. Because of garlic's strong odor and medicinal benefits it was believed to be another strong form of purification.

We then return to the theory, evil cannot exist in the face of strong purification. Hence a Vampire was driven away by garlic.

There is an additional belief that mythological vampires were allergic to garlic. This allergy was believed to cause watering of the eyes, a difficulty in breathing and generally distasteful situation for a vampire. However, I feel that this just goes back to the purification theory.

 
 
Garlic was hung at entry points of a household to ward off evil. A Vampire, being evil, could therefore not enter the home. As in the written story, television and movies, people did, in fact, wear wreaths of garlic around their necks, hung it around open windows, entranceways, their kitchens and even went so far as to hang garlic on their livestock.
 

 
The legend that Vampires could not cross silver is very similar to that of the witch not being able to cross silver. The origin of this being, in this time in history, silver was a very precious metal; almost as precious as gold. The poor and middle class normally did not own silver jewelry. However, in poorer parishes some of the priests did have silver crosses. Silver reflects light, God is light, light destroys dark, Vampires are believed to be dark ... hence a Vampire could be destroyed by silver.

What does this have to do with a witch?

Witches were believed to be servants of Satan, brides of Satan, corrupted by Satan and evil. Pretty much the same as a Vampire. Witches were not classified as demons but they were able to summon them. Witches were the ultimate evil and witches were also destroyed by light and other methods of purification, hence witches could not cross silver. It was also believed that witches worked with sulphur. Sulphur is an element of Hell. Hell was supposed to be the place of fire and brimstone. Brimstone was, at this time, another meaning for sulphur. Witches worked with sulphur and some witches were believed to have jewelry or implements of silver, sulphur corroded silver, or the witches' evil corroded the silver. Hence witches could not wear silver or cross silver, pretty much the same as the Vampire ... who also resided in Hell, amongst the fire and brimstone.

We realize today, that the people the church saw as evil witches were no more than female herbalists, midwives, women who had money or status or other possessions coveted by someone else.

In some countries, it was also believed that not unlike a werewolf, a vampire could be killed with a silver dagger, spear, knife and such. This author finds it difficult to believe that a human could have gotten that close, if mythical vampires were real, to be able to stab one in the heart with a small dagger.

 

 
Vampires were believed to suck the blood out of a human to the degree the loss of blood caused the person's death. They were believed to feed on this blood for nourishment, in order to keep its corrupted aging body alive.

Upon the human's death the soul was believed to be corrupted and obtained by Satan, who then made the deceased a Vampire also.

There is a very ancient legend that it took three individual drainings of blood, which could be accomplished over a long period of time to actually kill the victim. As the victim fell more and more under the control of the Vampire they became increasingly evil and submissive to the Vampire's will.

 
 
~ Undead ~
 
The term UNDEAD meant deceased, no longer alive. However dead people don't walk about at night or try to corrupt their family members. So UNDEAD was given as the state of being of a Vampire who was believed to be really quite dead but still animated.

The ability to function while dead was a gift from Satan. A sort of 'life' but it wasn't life and it wasn't 'afterlife'... that meant heaven, so it was called 'undead' which I believe is a fictional term probably created by Bram Stoker.

 
 
~ Headstones ~
 
Although not totally dedicated to Vampires, headstones were originally developed not only to mark the site of a grave but to place a very heavy object on top of where the head of the deceased would lie underground in order to prevent the body from rising out of the grave.
 
 
~ Vampires Need An Invitation ~
 
There are two basic theories on this aside from the fact that Bram Stoker could have made it up.

Theory one: As explained by Inheritor Vampire ImortalN ...

'A household is infused with the aura or life energy of its inhabitants, past and present. This in a small part gives them greater strength and power on a defensive level. Certain Vampyres with empathic, hypnotic, or other powers like 'The Voice' are hindered by this.

Some holy, or sacred places are so strong that these amorphous abilities are actually nulled. When one invites a Vampyre or Magus or any with these powers in, one attunes this defensive veil subconsciously to the Vampyre. Thus letting him/her 'Move' freely thru this domain. Otherwise it is like having ones senses dulled, as if under murky water. One can still enter, but not 'comfortably'.

Also there is a certain etiquette built into this invite legend. Amongst those who are not renegade, we follow this as a rule. In past when those humans were more fluent in magic, to enter uninvited was to put oneself at risk of the others abilities. It was less that we could not enter but more that we refused to enter due to self preservation. It became so natural that even today we follow the rule.

Because many of the Vampyric breeds are so finely tuned to the magickal forces at such a high level, we are also more susceptible. A noted weakness, to these Aetheric powers. An actual verbalization seems necessary to attune us to the specific domain's resonant magical veil. Public domains are not as attuned to single individuals or families so the rule seems not to apply. Yet cathedrals, Indian circles and other sacred places seem to have a more unified resonance and dull the senses to almost a blindness to our other sensory abilities. It makes us jittery and sluggish.

Imagine you go to someone's home and they blindfold you or plug your ears before you enter, the feeling is quite similar since these other senses are a natural everyday ability of ours.'

Theory two: Suggested by a Classical Vampire ...

Humans of the time, being for the most part, uneducated and superstitious, were more than willing to clutch at anything that would give them a sense of comfort and or power over a situation.

When faced with a being of greater cunning, physical strength, and intelligence, with the ability to enter their very homes and prey upon them at will, these humans NEEDED something to help them at least FEEL safe.

If you did not invite the Vampire into your home, then it could not come in. Much like a child of today pulls the covers over his head to feel safe from the boogie-man, it didn't matter that they WERE NOT safe, it only mattered that they FELT safe.

 
 
~ Shapeshifting ~
 
It was believed that Vampires could become anything they wished. The legends mostly state they became fog, wolves, bats. Vampires were demons, demons were magical.

Vampires were predators, one of the most feared natural predators of the day was the wolf, hence Vampires became wolves.

Bats have always inspired fear in humans because they attacked cattle and sucked blood. Blood could be considered liquid life, loss of blood meant death. Vampires feed on blood, Vampires killed humans, bats feed on blood, i.e.: a Vampire could become a bat.

Smoke and vapor ... it is very difficult to capture fog or smoke. A Vampire is a demon of magic, a Vampire can do anything he wants, i.e.: a Vampire can become smoke, fog, haze, anything he wants.

 
 
~ Vampires Have Hypnotic Control ~
 
There are some religious and sociological reasons for these myths. The Vampire, some believe, is a metaphor for the oppression of women. The more seduced by a Vampire, the more sexually free the oppressed and repressed women of the 1800's became. And how could it be their fault that they were now entering the domain of males by the new sexual freedom, if they were under the control of a powerful and seductive Vampire?

Alternately, the belief that evil always seeks to corrupt good connected to the belief that the Vampire was a demon and demons could do anything, including hypnotize or control by magic or just their mind, is what originally gave rise to the hypnotic control of a Vampire over its prey.

 
 
~ Immortality ~
 
Because a Vampire was believed to be undead, it could not then die. Something that cannot die is immortal. Immortality was taken to mean staying alive far beyond the human capability of life.

To humans, the Vampire was immortal, eternal. Existing through vast quantity of time. In reality, most human beings lived to their mid-thirties during these early days. Age fifty was considered extreme old age.

Today, fifty is barely more than middle age. But in the 14th through the 17th century the human life expectancy was very short. Age 50 was extreme, age 70 was unheard of, 100 or 105 would have been considered immortal.

We can see how silly these beliefs were. To begin with, Vampires could die. We've shown several example myths showing the beliefs that Vampires could be killed. The possibility of being killed, or destroyed, shows that they were not undead or immortal.

 

 
When you go to the Reality Pages and read what Vampires really were and are we can see that all of these myths are quite silly. Undoubtedly there were real Vampires around at the time. Some of them might have been discovered as being quite old but not looking their age. This would have given rise to some of these myths and folk lore.
 
 
* * Dear Catherene, I have a question for you. I was watching X-files one night and in this episode, Mulder was attacked by a vampire. During the struggle, a bag of sunflower seeds fell off a table and spilled on the floor. Seeing this, the vampire stopped in his tracks and picked up all the sunflower seeds for know apparent reason. Why did he do this? I hope you can answer these.

Your friend, Jeff (gozer)

* * Catherene, I saw an episode of the X-files where this vampire was chasing someone and they threw a handful of Sunflower seeds at him. He stopped to pick them all up. WHY?

Thanks, BATX69

 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
* * Actually, not a bad question. This bit of business was taken from a series of ridicules old wives tales. The original was about witches (as in wives of Lucifer, the Devil, not modern day Wiccans).

It was believed that, if you where being chased by a witch and you scattered rice on the ground, she or he would be compelled to stop and pick up every grain because the rice was a grain nourished by God (as in Sunlight) and as such the witch must pick up every grain to be sure of not stepping on any and thus being destroyed.

The TV show adaptation probably stemmed from the plants name, 'sunflower.' Get it? Sun-Flower. Sun, Vampires, etc. They took a bit of literary license with this one, but the main premise is the same: The Vampire would be compelled to pick up the seeds before going on to chase the victim lest he step on one and thus be destroyed. Nonsense but most myth is indeed nonsense.

 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
* * Catherene, Why do vampires need to stop and untie any knots they may see?
 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
 
* * This is untrue. It's not even a myth. It is a fictional plot device used by the television show X-Files on one of their vampire related episodes.
 
 

The founder of the order of the 'Inversed Dragon' was Sigismund of Luxembourg (R 1387-1437) husband of Mary daughter of Lajos I the Great (R 1342-1382). He has introduced Stefan Lazarevic into the order and Vlad Drakul, Drakula's father. Vlad Tepes Dracula became vojvod (Duke) after the reign of Sigismund during that of Mattias Corvinus whose daughter he married.

Dracula was not a member of the order, though he may have got hold of some of his 'fathers items'. To know more about the order, you should seek manuscripts about Sigismund. Probably you could obtain information in the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna Austria. Books •'Les Vampires' MA éditions, Paris Jean Paul Bourré, 1986 •'The Book of The Sacred Magic' by S.L. Mac Gregor-Mathers London John M. Watkins, 26 Charing Cross, S.W. 1898.

 
 
There are many more myths to explore, these are only the most wide spread. I've always found it fascinating that these myths pervade all cultures, ages and religious backgrounds and even though they come from widely diversified sources they are also similar. I now wish to personally thank the members of AOL, members of the Children of the Night board, and members of the alt.vampyres newsgroup for their input on their own favorite myths.
 
As always, a very special thank you to ImortalN for his knowledgeable input into all these pages.
 

 
As ever,
Catherene NightPoe
 
 
The next class is The Vampire Myths Continued Page.
Click the link below to enter ...

Vampire Myths Continued
 

     1.  Introduction 14. Myths Continued
     2.  Classical Vampires 15. Native American Vampire Myth
     3.  Inheritor Vampires 16. The Prophecies
     4.  The Night Timers 17. The Knights Templar
     5.  Genetic Vampires 18. Historical Vampires
     6.  Psi - Vampires 19. Supernatural Vampires
     7.  Bloodists 20. Fictional Vampires
     8.  The Medical Reality 21. El Chupacabra
     9.  Real Hunters 22. The F.A.Q. Page
    10. Real Predators 23. Acknowledgments & Credits
    11. Sexual Vampires 24. The Teacher's Lounge
    12. The Parent's Page 25.  En Español ~ Introducción
    13. Myth Origins 26. The Vampire Shop @ Amazon
       
     
 
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