The Odd Origin of Vampires

Vampires are part of our folklore for hundreds of years. The beliefs that a being subsisting on the vital fluids of a human has timelessly been retold numerous times around the world.

Is Ignorance To Blame?

In the early seventeenth hundreds, the process of decomposition was not something people were knowledgeable about back in the days. The black plague or bubonic plague were things of the past, but most corpses had to be burned thus spreading the disease, but that’s another topic while normal ones were to be put in a coffin and buried. 

In Western Europe, many cases reported sights of presumed “dead” people seen as dark and bloating, their nose and mouth dripping blood. Also, that brought up the first cases of “vampirism” after ancient times.

Medieval Castle
Medieval Castle

Vampires have been known in folklore beliefs to be present for millennia. The presence of those creatures are well evident in the old civilizations of Mesopotamians, Hebrew, Ancient Greeks, and even the Romans spoke of those beings coming after dark looking for their next victim. Certain similarities of vampires were even spread to China and in Slavic culture as well. 

“There are such beings as vampires, some of us have evidence that they exist. Even had we not the proof of our own unhappy experience, the teachings and the records of the past give proof enough for sane peoples.” — Bram Stoker

Although they might have come out as demons or even spirits in some cases, traditional burials were modified to stop the spreading of vampires. Borrowing specific methods of the Ancient Greeks seen, placing objects to please the evil that would then take over the body to keep it at bay.

The Ancient Greeks performed the same task, but differently, by placing a coin in the mouth of their dead to pay the toll to cross the river Styx in the underworld.

However, some argued that it might have something to do with keeping evil at bay thus leading to it being borrowed to stop the vampires from multiplying.

However, it does not stop there as similar creatures are also found in the African continent, the North and South America and also widely spread in Asia. 

Monster - Vampire
Monster – Vampire

Many different creatures resemble the vampire, and although said in other dialect or have subtle differences or purposes, it remains that it is a bloodsucking creature.

It is evident that the population never studied their dead to understand the process of natural decomposition as many descriptions were that the hair and nails were more extended, even facial hair when a man, bloated and darker.

Those are all characteristics we know today to be normal, but not in those times where considered witchcraft to perform any “scientific” observations.

Thrusting Bite?

The word vampyre as we know today only dates back, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, to the eighteenth century. However, the word was known in France and Germany a while before its first appearance in English.

It is also interesting to note that the English language borrowed the term vampyre from France and possibly from Serbia as well. 

Iron fence in Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral
Iron fence in Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral

Many countries all over western Europe had a term, a word or a description that meant vampire. What the word itself meant in most countries was: to thrust with force, while others meant forceful bite.

What is most interesting though, is that many encounters were sightings, but were there actual reports from those times of someone witnessing a vampire biting someone else?

“I love the ‘Underworld‘ movies because the vampires aren’t automatically evil, yet neither are they humans with fangs.” — Jeaniene Frost

If the etymology of the word, although unclear of its origin, means to thrust forcefully or forceful bite, someone had to see something somehow. However, it is next to impossible to pinpoint where it all began as it goes back so many centuries ago, that it is almost tempting to believe that like humans, they just spread everywhere.

Brutal Past

People once believed that vampires were often people who had a criminal life, practicing mutilation, committed suicide or were solitary people — because introversion was not popular at the time or nor were psychological illnesses.

Vampirism spread like flames, maybe not as popular as the time of the witch hunt, but it had its time where people kept an eye out for vampires. They would be walking through cemeteries with virgin boys on virgin stallions until the horse would stop and balk.

Cemetery
Cemetery

Again, descriptions were similar to the ones mentioned above, and so corpses suffered decapitation or staked through the heart. However, various cases over Europe showed other methods of preventing vampires from rising again.

Sometimes, archeologists would find corpses with nails among their bones suggesting that the prevention of rising had something to do with nails.

Fire
Fire

Some vampires ended incinerated while others dismembered and given back to the family members as a “remedy” against vampirism and others, mostly in Romania, garlic was in their mouths if suspected to be a vampire while alive.

The Eighteenth-Century Vampire Controversy

Vampire sightings in the 1800’s were frequent and very popular. It spread like the plague. Everyone was out looking for one. However, it all began at first in Eastern Europe where many staked corpses appeared while other graves, unburied because some would think it was a potential vampire.

While the Eighteenth-Century supposedly appeared as the era where futile beliefs and superstitions died, vampires somehow gained much popularity and were the word on everyone’s lips.

Peonari Castle
Peonari Castle

The news became a mass hysteria that spread, this time, throughout Europe. People said attacks happened, some killed and sucked out of their blood. People died like flies and this time, no plague to blame.

The Petar Blagojevich case is still to this day, one of the most famous vampire cases that are known. The story goes that the man died at the age of sixty-two but returned to see his son and asked for food. The son, probably traumatized, refused and so died the day that followed. He returned according to others and kidnapped people, later on, found lifeless and missing blood.

Real Vampire Encounters

Yes, vampire encounters are still happening today. However, because of our knowledge of the human body and the lifespan we are aware for a human, our world became gray, and it becomes harder for people to believe that it is possible that we are not alone on Earth.

Red Eyes

It was in London, England in the year 1839 within the Highgate Cemetery, a place reserved only for the high society, that after years of neglecting sightings of a ladylike silhouette with pale skin and dark clothing with red eyes engaged a thorough investigation following many reports. 

As the years went by, the sightings were just as frequent, but it was in 1971 when a young girl passing by the cemetery reported the attack by the red eyes lady. She mentioned her strength when thrown violently to the ground, but once a car stopped by witnessing the attack, the silhouette disappeared.

Highgate Cemetery - London - England
Highgate Cemetery – London – England

Scraped on her limbs, when brought to the police station, she told her story supported by sightings the community kept for a century and is still around to this day.

New York

The following encounter is in line with the series, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, which listed this story as true.

A man bumped by an ambulance ended violently in a crowded intersection several feet away and got up healthy. Because the ambulance was present, they brought him to the hospital despite his insistence to leave. 

Once at the hospital, the man refused to give his name or any treatment they offered him. Placed in a solitary room to calm down, a nurse present outside to guard him so he wouldn’t leave understood the man at this point refused food and water.

Hospital - Horror
Hospital – Horror

Then, an old couple visited his room and brought with them an army duffle bags that they gave the man. Later, when ER technicians came by to attempt to have the man agree to X-rays, the nurse walks in and see what the duffle bags contained. She walked in the bathroom and saw him drink blood donation bags.

Donation Blood Bags
Donation Blood Bags

When the nurse ran out of the room, a patient on a wheelchair unconscious, showed punctures on his neck. The nurse, of course, screamed for security who were on the fifteenth floor where the man was. He jumped out the hospital window and fled like nothing ever happened to him.

The story ended by mentioning that the nurse took early retirement.

What To Think?

I, for myself, prefer to believe that our world is more than what we see and more than monotone as it seems. We have our minds shut down by “normal people” who refuse to believe that creativity and imagination are only open doors to what could be or is real.

Nosferatu
Nosferatu

If vampires have been part of our human history for millennia, is it insane to believe they could be real?

Legends hold a part of the truth, after all, survivors bring them to life. The word alone is responsible for legends from all around the world. What if the actual part of the legends is that they exist, but we were hypnotized to believe they don’t?

The OCD Vampire,
Alexa Wayne


One thought on “The Odd Origin of Vampires

  1. Great Article, just wanted to add a couple of thoughts that I discovered back when I was researching vampires for my novels.

    Lilith appears in early Hebraic writings and stories. It is said that Lilith was the first wife of Adam, and she thought herself equal to him and refused to be submissive. For this, she was banished from the garden of Eden into the demon realm.

    Once there she stole babies and small children to devour them or seduce men, who never survived the encounter as she drank the blood of her victims.

    Lilith’s offspring became demons, and she was known as the Mother of Demons, which later became the Mother of Vampires.

    Then, there is Countess Elizabeth Bathory who lived in the year 1560 in Hungary, she was a most prolific murderess, not only killing, but torturing hundreds of young girls. She bathed in their blood and by drinking it, she believed it would keep her young, earning her the nickname of The Blood Countess.

    Like

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