Vampire History and Lore

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What Is a Vampire?

The thoroughness with which the subjects are treated and the connections made to literature and cinema make these books excellent choices. Encounters and Do They Exist? Both titles go on to describe modern-day instances of vampirism. Gr 8 Up—The entertaining Literature, History and Lore, and Movies describe the metamorphosis the vampire persona has undergone since its early role as a truly feared monster in Babylonia and its appearance in popular 19th-century tabloid stories, to its cinema debut in a German movie and beyond.

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Vampire History and Lore

Add to List. The original vampire was thought to be bloated in form and to have dark features — similar to what would be expected from a corpse in the early stages of decay. It was also believed that they often slept underground in coffins during the day, only to awaken at night and wreak havoc on their city. There were, however, ways to track down these vile creatures. One of the easiest was to search the cemetery for signs of holes above grave sites. These holes were thought to indicate the resting place of a vampire.

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Though the majority of what we know of vampires comes from European folklore, there are references to similar creatures all over the world. Two of the most notable versions can be found in Hebrew and Greek mythology. Hebrew mythology gives us the story of Lilith and the estries. Lilith is a female demon that is known to prey on the blood of babies, young children, and pregnant women.

She was greatly feared and was known to have tremendous blood lust. The estries were also known to be female demons who would suck the blood of humans to sustain themselves. It seems that one of the few differences between Lilith and the estries besides the fact that Lilith was a single entity is that the estries were not as picky when choosing their target.

They were, however, known to prey on men that were vulnerable to sexual temptation. Greek mythology references the story of Ambrogio — a mortal man who had the grave misfortune of desiring the same woman as the sun god, Apollo. He suffered greatly for his determination to marry the love of his life — and was transformed into what many consider to be a vampire during the process. As time went on, there were many different variations of the vampire tale. These would serve to shape the myth to what we know in modern day. Instead of a horrid and bloated creature, Polidori transformed the vampire into a suave and charming beast of the night.

This new perspective on vampires captivated audiences and only served to make the creature more terrifying. The thought of a seemingly everyday man or woman who could seduce a person into becoming their prey quickly caught on in many colonized countries. The vampire of modern folklore is much more charming and charismatic than the tales of the bloated creatures in early mythology. Most vampires are defined as slender and beautiful people who are abnormally pale in complexion. They are known to have an almost allergic reaction to sunlight which often proves to be fatal.

Similar weaknesses can be found with items made of silver and garlic. It is known that vampires prefer to hunt at night because of their sensitivity to the sun.

Vampire History and Lore -

Although vampires can inhabit traditional spaces, it is still common practice for them to sleep inside coffins — perhaps because of the added protection against sunlight. Vampires are also known to have super-human strength and speed. They are also immortal, making them one of the most feared predators known to man. There were several things that were thought to cause a person to turn into a vampire — though the most common warning was usually the death of an evil person.

It seems that the early cultures feared that people who died after leading evil lives and people who had refused to accept religion would come back as an evil entity.

ASMR - History of Vampires

Many of these terrible human beings were thought to return as a vampire. Many cultures document cases of people who supposedly turned into a vampire after rebelling against the church. This was especially thought to be the case in Russia, where rebelling against the Russian Orthodox Church was thought to be a sure sign that a person would become an undead monster. Other indications that a person could be a vampire in the afterlife was if that person was suspected of witchcraft.

Identifying vampires

It was thought that those who practiced occult magic were directly tied to evil nature, making them some of the most feared individuals of their time. It was also feared that corpses that had been left unguarded were vulnerable.

This was based on two commonly held beliefs. The first belief was that after the spirit of a person had left the body, a new host had the opportunity to use the body to interact with the living world.

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It was thought that these evil spirits would then come back as a vampire and attack the living. The second belief was that a wild animal could somehow curse a body that was not guarded by jumping over it. When an animal especially a dog or a cat jumped over the body of a recently passed corpse, it was thought that the corpse would immediately turn into a vampire the following night.

There also seems to be some sort of connection between uncleanliness and vampirism. During the Black Plague, many uneducated people believed that the plague was spread by vampires that came back at night and infected the remaining healthy population. This was likely because victims of the plague were often left with blood stains around their mouths — something that could easily be misinterpreted by the uninformed. This knowledge was sometimes used as preventative knowledge, as it was common for boiling water to be poured over a grave as part of the funeral rites.

It goes without saying that a creature as fearsome as a vampire inspired many developments in early cultures — especially those that would serve as protection. There were several categories of protective knowledge and items that were used to guard against the much feared vampire. Apotropaic items were known to have special properties that made them effective in guarding against evil entities like vampires and other revenants. Murky eyewitness accounts of revenants spread throughout Western Europe in the 12th century. A Welsh chronicler, Walter Map, wrote to a bishop asking how to destroy a revenant.

The undead had been calling out the names of villagers, cursing them to die of illness. The bishop wrote back, telling Map to dig up the body, sprinkle it with holy water, and cut off its head. In one instance, he tells of a revenant that rose from its grave each night and would beat to death any villager that it could find. During daylight hours, the villagers dug up the corpse. When they pierced its chest with a spade, blood gushed out as if from an exploding leech. They removed the heart and burned the body.

Creature Feature: Lore of the Vampire

Another legend speaks of two revenants that carried their coffins on their backs. They banged on the walls of houses and shouted. A sickness spread through the town, and the townsfolk began to die.

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Soon, only three were still alive. The sickness stopped when they dug up the revenants and cut off their heads. The Norse draugr are a more powerful form of revenant, and they represent an evolutionary path that vampire lore could have taken. Draugr possess immense strength and magical abilities such as shape-shifting, weather control, and seeing into the future.

They live in their barrows, greedily guarding the treasures within. Unlike revenants, draugr are not confined to a helpless sleep during the day. Draugr are jealous of the living. At night, they leave their barrows, transforming into an ethereal mist to pass through walls. They seek to torment the living and will slaughter domestic animals or people who get lost in the forest. Jure Grando was a real person who lived in a village in Istria modern-day Croatia.

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