We’ve all felt it; that little chill that creeps up on us when we have to take the garbage out, late at night, all alone. Our mind plays tricks on us, doesn’t it? But sometimes we can’t shake it. It feels like someone is watching us! Someone with a black cape, and sharp fangs and an aversion to garlic….
Okay, maybe I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. But we all seen the movies; we know vampires love to stalk their prey on dark nights in lonely places.
Let’s face it! With the very first vampire novel, Bram Stoker’s 1897 hit “Dracula,” we were hooked on the dark, brooding, charismatic, blood sucking fiend. Brad Pitt and Tom Cruise (Interview with a Vampire) only fueled the fire, and today Vampires are a mega-box office attraction!
One of the most famous vampires, Dracula, is actually based on the life of the 14th century Transylvanian prince, Vlad the Impaler. Though prince Vlad was actually not among the undead, he was known for brutally killing the invading Turks by impaling them with wooden stakes (hence his nickname).
Vampire lore is found through much of the world (though precious little exists about them in Italy – must be all the garlic!). But in general it is said that vampires were once human, and now as the undead, they can survive only on the blood of living things.
But pre-Bela Lugosi vampire lore would actually suggest that the vampire was much more of a threat than folktales of the modern age would lead us to believe.
It was believed that when someone died, as long as their body was still somewhat intact, the person could become a vampire. And they didn’t need their physical body to prey upon humans. They traveled about in astral form, draining their victims of precious life-force energy rather than blood. If someone died, and suddenly their family and friends started having weakness and illness for no apparent reason, the corpse of the dead would be dug up, staked through the heart, decapitated and burned, as that was the only way to truly destroy a vampire.
Most newly born vampires appeared as an ethereal sack with glowing eyes. If they managed to stay alive for 40 days, they would then grow a form more like a human. At this point the vampire would become much more dangerous and better able to defend itself from vampire hunters.
Of course in our modern age, we don’t have to worry so much about vampires. Our burial methods, for one, make it impossible for the recently deceased to become vampires. But should you find yourself being stalked by one of the undead there are a couple of things you can do.
Hang garlic outside your home. Allicin, the powerful ingredient found in garlic, disturbs the energy field of the vampire, causing immediate death to the vampire.
Scatter seeds – many many seeds, outside your home. The vampire will have to stop and count the seeds. With any luck, he will be so engrossed in counting seeds that he won’t notice when the sun comes up and will be instantly pulverized with the morning light.
In this modern age where our imaginations are fueled by what we see on the big screen, vampires seem both dangerous and romantic, frightening and intriguing. But many of our ancestors truly feared those things that went “bump” in the night. Will we ever really know if vampires existed? Maybe not. But still, I think I’ll get extra garlic on my pizza tonight!