"This world is older than any of you know, and contrary to popular mythology, it did not begin as a paradise. For untold eons, Demons walked the earth; made it their home -- their Hell. In time they (the demons) lost their purchase on this reality, and the way was made for the mortal animals. For Man. What remains of the Old Ones are vestiges: certain magics, certain creatures"
~Giles (Buffy the Vampire Slayer~
Legends of the Vampire stretch back farther than most people realize. Some legends reach back farther than Christ, back to ancient Assyria and Babylonia. Ancient Aztecs used to pour blood into the mouths of their idols. In India Rajahs drank blood from severed heads. In China, the family would guard a corpse the night before the burial from a cat or dog jumping over it and turning it into a Vampire. First ancient Greeks, then Romans after them believed in a type of female Vampire called a Lamia. Lamia's were thought to seduce men in order to suck their blood. Later in Greece there was another word for Vampires Vrukalakos, creatures who would revive the dead then feast on the living.
Many of the original legends of Vampires started in Romania and Hungary around the early 16th century. The word itself is comes from a Slavonic term and didn't exist in English until about 1730. Now many people travelling through Eastern Europe reported sightings and encounters with Vampires. These reports spread throughout Europe; and the myth of a Vampire had begun. It was'nt until authors like Byron, Goethe, Baudelaire, and of course Bram Stoker that Vampires as we know them were created.
The appearance of so many vampire-like monsters throughout history, as well as our continued fascination with vampires, demonstrates that this is a universal response to the human condition. It's simply human nature to cast our fears as monsters.
In many modern movies and books, vampires can take the form of a vampire bat, a real animal that feeds on blood. In actuality, vampire bats don't usually kill their prey, and they pose little threat to humans. In fact, they are small, reclusive, docile animals.
Vampiric shape-shifters go back thousands of years, but the particular connection to vampire bats is fairly recent. Vampire bats are only found in Central America and South America, so the Europeans and Asians who originally conceived of these monsters didn't know about them. When European explorers discovered the strange animals, they were soon incorporated into the vampire myth.
Dating back 6,000 years ago is what is believed to be one of the first recorded vampire – the edimmu of Mesopotamia (also known as the ekimmu). This angry and violent victim of an improper burial not only drank the blood of those that passed by, but would also suck them dry of their life force as well, making them not only one of the first bloodsuckers.
The edimmu’s anger was mainly directed toward those that had not followed its funeral rites correctly – if someone died and you didn’t give them the burial they deserved, then you were screwed. But it didn’t just stop at those people, it pretty much preyed upon anything that was living. The edimmu caused family disasters, disease and it even inspired criminal activities in otherwise law-abiding people who didn’t even know the creature when it was alive. Its wrath was extreme, bringing all kinds of awful things and death to their victims and destroying entire households. However, the myth varies quite a bit, some sources claim that the edimmu never physically attacked their victims, that they simply possessed them. It’s also said that an improper burial wasn’t the only way an edimmu was born, that sometimes a very violent death could do the trick.
Descriptions of the edimmu vary from legend to legend. Sometimes they were portrayed as winged demons, sometimes walking corpses, sometimes as moving shadows, or even as rushing wind.
There are few ways to protect oneself against this creature, probably because the Babylonians and Sumerians believed that prevention was better than a cure, and so they avoided the places in which an edimmu would dwell. But, archaeologists have unearthed a number of “spirit bowls,” which were said to offer protection against the vengeful dead. These small bowls were made of clay and inscribed with powerful incantations or spells.
The legend of the edimmu didn’t die out all those thousands of years ago, nowadays it is said that the edimmu hide among the homeless in big cities, bringing with them a life of disease and pain. Living in dilapidated modern buildings is quite fitting for an undead being whose final resting place was a desolate unvisited grave.
Among the many fascinatingly wicked Japanese myths, the jubokko is very unique. According to the myth, on grounds where there has been much bloodshed, such as execution sites or battlefields, a special kind of tree grows. This tree is known as the jubokko. But what is so unique about this tree? The jubokko is a vampire tree that feeds on the blood and life-force of humans.
These demonized trees must feed off of humans in order to survive. But unfortunately the jubokko appears as a normal tree, there is no way of knowing what it really is… until it’s too late. Once a person walks too close to the tree it attacks, capturing the person with its branches and draining them of their blood.
There is one way to spot the jubokko for what it is but you have to get up close to it, which obviously means painful death for you. Either way, you can reveal a jubokko by cutting it, for it is said that a jubokko will bleed real human blood. Another problem is that is heals incredibly fast, so even if you were able to some how attack it from a distance it would simply bleed for a moment and then heal.
Oh but it doesn’t end there, this evil tree is also known to hide amongst other trees and bushes and it is able to alter the flora in the area. This makes it very easy for someone to get lost in the forest, which makes it easy for a jubokko to snatch them up. In some versions of the myth the jubokko can speak to other plants as well and are able to find its victims that way.
But it’s not all bad; in fact a jubokko can bring goodness to a lucky few. Any branch taken from a jubokko tree, with permission of course, is a powerful item that can be used to heal and purify almost anyone.
Native American Vampire
Today’s supernatural tale of blood and terror is an old Native American legend that has been passed down. The tale of a Medicine Man and his wife, Laughing Sky.
There was once and very talented and powerful Medicine Man who ruled his tribe kindly and wisely. This man married the lovely woman Laughing Sky and the two of them were blissfully happy – until they learned that she was barren and that they would never be able to have a son.
The Medicine Man prayed and prayed to the Great Spirit, but his prayers were never answered. To make matters worse, Laughing Sky was losing time, for she was reaching the end of her child-bearing years. In desperation the Medicine Man cried out that unless the Great Spirit granted him a son, he would no longer serve and obey. Time passed and still Laughing Sky was without child.
This was when the Medicine Man turned to the darker and sinister arts for help. He opened a portal and brought out a powerful spirit from the realm of the shadows. The spirit, Jumlin, in return promised the Medicine Man many fine sons and daughters. But the wicked Jumlin lied and instead took over the mind and heart of the Medicine Man.
Jumlin was a truly cruel and evil spirit that feed on the blood of all living things. He first feed on the blood of the braves, then on the women and even on the children. Not only that but he slept with the women in the tribe and sired many children of his own. The tribe, who had loved the Medicine Man, now lived in fear of the monster that had taken him over. They sent hunters to other tribes to learn of a way to kill the spirit since he was so powerful none of their methods worked.
When they returned they found Laughing Sky very sick and close to giving birth to Jumlin’s creation. After her son Laughing Bear was born, Jumlin drained her blood and took his newborn baby and some of the tribe’s women and escaped across the plain.
Laughing Bear grew up to be strong and just as evil as his father, but one day the hunters caught up to him and his father. The Medicine Man and the spirit inside him were destroyed, but Laughing Bear escaped. It is said the he and his bloodsucking brothers and sisters still walk the earth even today.
I’m sure we all clearly remember the scene in Twilight when Bella is beginning to get suspicious that there’s something “special” about Edward and goes home to furiously type things into Google. The camera views of what she pulls up are succinct, yet clear enough to give us the understanding that Bella has come across some Quielette legends stating something about “The Cold One” and how this cold one is a vampire. But,what is The Cold One? Is there actually a vampire known as this?
Well, the closest thing to any vampire legend that would bear any similarity to the legend of The Cold One would be the Apotamkin. This creature is unlike most other vampire folklore because it’s exclusive to the Native American people. The Apotamkin was a bona fide vampire however, with all the abilities and super strengths of other vampires that we know. It was believed among Native Americans that the Apotamkin would feast on the blood of any animal or human. And it got its name just the way you would expect – Apotamkins were very cold to the touch, mostly because they were dead bodies.
However, it’s been said that the Native American never really believed in the Apotamkin and that it was a cautionary tale told to children. This was used especially when warning children about wandering off by themselves with no supervision.
And, as for Twilight, Stephenie Meyer has said that in regards to her version and her version alone, she had no similarities in mind when writing the book. She simply needed to create random bits of Edward’s character and piece them together, cryptically, with mythical vampire folklore. Clever, though, how perhaps even without knowing it, Meyer has combined her own imagination of the Quileutte legend, with actual Native American vampire folklore!
VIKRAM AND THE VAMPIRE
There was once a soldier-king in India named Vikram. One day Vikaram was tricked by an evil sorcerer into getting a Vampire out of a certain tree and bringing it to the sorcerer. Vikram found the tree and the Vampire was hanging head down from the tree. Vikram cut the creature down and it scrambled right back up. This happened seven times until finally the Vampire sighed "even the gods can not resist an obstinate man"allowed itself to be taken. The Vampire struck a strange bargain with Vikram, he would tell some stories and ask Vikram some questions about them. If Vikram could keep silence and never answer then the creature would reward him. The Vampire told 10 stories and ten times Vikram could not keep quiet. Every time Vikram answered the creature returned to the tree and Vikram would recapture him. Finally on the 11th story Vikram kept quiet. The Vampire's reward was to tell Vikram about a plot against his life. Being forewarned Vikram escaped unscathed.
The Druids of Ireland were said to keep vampires closed up in the hallows of ancient old oak trees. And they fed unlucky people to these starving vampires twice a year during their celebrations. Other than that, the vampires were kept shut up in the sacred old oaks and could be heard at night screaming for miles in their wild hunger lusts. It even tells of this practice of the Druids in Ann Rice's Vampire Chronicles.
Malaysia is a country that’s fraught with vampire myth and folklore, and the Maneden is just one of those. The Maneden was a vampiric creature that lived in the pandanus plant. This plant was lush and green, with very long leaves. This plant is very popular in Malaysian culture, as it’s used for flavoring many dishes, and the leaves are sometimes woven together so that they can form a pot for cooking rice. The fact that this plant has always been so widely used in Malaysia was a problem for the people who lived there. For feeling around in the pandanus plant and pulling up its leaves can be very dangerous if you happen to disturb a maneden that’s hidden amongst them.
The maneden sits quietly in the leaves of this plant and, this vampire creature is also fairly small, so they are not easily seen. Should someone wish to pick the leaves of the pandanus plant and happen to come across a maneden, the maneden would then attach itself to the person. If it was a man, the maneden would attach itself to the man’s elbow and start drinking his blood. If the victim was a woman, it was her nipple that the maneden would suck on.
Fortunately, the maneden was rather easy to get rid of. All one had to do was find something that the bloodthirsty creature could suck on instead. This substitute didn’t even have to contain blood, but it did have to have an oily texture to it. For this reason, often nuts were used to trick the creature into attaching itself to something else. If nothing could be found however, the victim would be forced to walk around with the maneden attached to them. And hopefully, they’d find a substitute before the maneden could suck out every drop of blood they had!
What better place for a bloodthirsty vampire to feed than a battleground? One of the vampires of India and Hindu mythology chooses to haunt the wars and battles, waiting to feed on fallen soldiers. These creatures. called the The Pey maneden Pey, or Peymakilir, are vampires of southern India, in Tamil.
India has many different vampires, and this is because it is a country rich with folklore from thousands of different local customs and religions. This country probably has more legends of vampires than any other culture. The religion and mythology of Hinduism actually consists of thousands of different local religions that slowly evolved into what is now known as Hinduism today. The legends and folklore are still drastically different from city to city, and village to village. The gods that are honored differ depending on what part of India you are in, and there are thousands and thousands of gods to choose from. And the mythology of India has as many demons as it has gods.
The Tamil people have their own unique language and folklore. These Pey vampires are part of the Hindu mythology in this part of the country. The Pey are vampires of battlegrounds and wars. The Peymakilir is the name for the female incarnation of this vampire, and she does a ritual dance as she devours bloodied corpses.
The Peymakilir prefers to devour the flesh of the dying and dead, while the Pey drinks their blood. The Peymakilir is quite deadly and fearsome; she dances frenziedly as she tears the flesh off of the still living soldiers on battlefields.
In Ghana and Togo, on the continent of Africa, the Ashanti people have a fascinating and complex mythology full of colorful stories of all sorts, which includes legends and folklore of vampires. The Ashanti myths have various types of demons and monsters. One type of vampire is the Obayifo vampire, or living-vampire controlled by a witch, a concept that is shared by many mythologies around the world.
The Ashanti also have myths of vampire creatures of the forests, who are not controlled by any witch, but are monsters in a class of their own. These creatures live in nature, in the wild, and feed on passers-by and hunters. Two such creatures are the Asanbosam and the Sasabonsam, very similar in their habitat and feeding practices, though the Sasanbonsam have wings and are very similar to bats, while the Asanbosam are more like humans, save for their hooked legs and iron teeth.
The Asanbosam live in trees of the forests and feed mainly on those who dare to wander into their domain. They wait silently in their trees to pounce on unsuspecting prey, and rip out their throats with their teeth made of iron. This creature is a little unusual looking; instead of feet, its legs curve at the end, like hooks, which they use to hang from tree branches while they watch for prey to wander into the forests.
The myths of the Sasabonsam are also well known throughout Ghana and Togo. They also live in trees and will drain the blood of those who wander into their territory. These vampires, while humanoid, look very similar to bats. They are mostly human in appearance, with a human face and somewhat human body, save for their arms, which are short and stubby, and for the wings. Their wings are huge, some legends claim the Sasabonsam to have a wingspan of about twenty feet. The creatures are sometimes described as having emaciated bodies and twisted feet, and sometimes myths tell of these creatures having claws and horns as well, and some myths say that these also have iron teeth. Both of these vampires, though tree-dwellers, are deadly and vicious.
art by Kevin R. Mau Rodriguez
Believe it or not, the picturesque country of Greece was once believed to be the most vampire infested of all the world. Specifically the island of Santorini was said to be the home of countless undead, mainly the dreaded Vrykolakas.
If you were to look up information on Santorini Island you would be amazed that such a stunning and breathtakingly beautiful place was once a land of fear and misery. Ages ago the island’s inhabitants were believed to be the leading experts on vampires, destroying them to be exact. Many people would capture vampires and bring them to the island to be taken care of by Santorini’s best. The island’s vampire reputation was documented by various travelers who only spread the word more. Montague Summers, who visited the island in 1906-1907 and Father Francois Richard also spread the vampire tales, as did Paul Lucas in 1705.
The island’s own special vampire was the Vrykolakas (also Vyrkolatios). This vampire is like many in the sense that it drinks blood and of course, harms mortals. The ways to be turned into this vampire were many and varied.
•Those that were stillborn or died without receiving their final rites.
•Those who were conceived or born on a Holy Day (considered a great blasphemy).
•Those who ate the meat of an animal that had been accidentally killed or not properly slaughtered.
•Those that didn’t have a proper burial.
•Those that died that had lived sinful lives.
•Those whose corpse was passed over by an animal before burial (measures were taken to prevent a dog or cat from jumping over the body while it laid out).
•If another vampire killed you.
And the list goes on and on. There seemed to be a million and one ways one could be turned into a vampire in Greece.
This vamp was wicked and evil, but also a bit mischievous. It liked to kill by sitting on and crushing a sleeping victim. Sometimes the Vrykolakas would sneak into a home and pull on the bedclothes of someone asleep or it would eat all the food and wine left out for the next day’s meal. It would even mock people on their way to church or go so far as to pelt people with rocks as they walked to church. Clearly a troublemaker. But these traits and myths vary from village to village, each place having its own version of what a Vrykolakas is and what it did. In most places they did tend to agree on the methods of destruction, which was to either chop off the vampire’s head or impale it on a spike. Others believed that only a man of the church could kill a vampire.
Germany. A mecca for goth culture, once a land of mystery and intrigue, from the sinister Black Forest to the haunting gothic castles. Once called Das Land der Dichter und Denker (the land of poets and thinkers), Germany is home to many a myth and legend. Many of the old school folk tales originated from Germany and as you can gather, many vampire tales as well. The German Alp is a malevolent vampire that has long been connected to nightmares and witchcraft.
The Alp is invariably male, sometimes the spirit of a recently deceased man. An Alp can also come to be if a woman commit’s sins whilst pregnant that were never forgiven. She can again create an Alp if she eats something that was unclean or something that a dwarf spit on . Additionally, a woman could give birth to an Alp if she makes inappropriate gestures during pregnancy or if frightened by a dog or horse during pregnancy. Also, in this part of the world, a child born with caul could become a member of the undead or a child with hairy hands (although in some places that means the child will instead become a werewolf).
The Alp was known to take many forms, some of which included a cat, pig or a dog. In all of it’s forms it was said to wear a wide-brimmed hat. The Alp normally tormented the dreams of women but occasionally those of men and children. This vampire would horrifically terrify someone in their sleep, they would also cause sleepwalking, fits and seizures during sleep. Entry to a person would be made through the victim’s mouth, with the Alp either using it’s tongue to enter, becoming mist or turning into a snake. The Alp feeds on blood as well, just like most vampires. What it does is suck the blood from a person’s nipples, it is also said to enjoy women’s milk.
Now to destroy an Alp or protect yourself from one here is what you need to do. First, if you are a woman, sleep with your shoes next to your bed with the toes pointing to the door. The Alp is also very protective of it’s hat for without it it loses a lot of it’s power, so if you can, try to grab it (legend also says that anyone who returns it’s hat is greatly rewarded). Also, drawing blood from above the Alp’s right eye is believed to destroy it’s powers. Unfortunately, since this is a vampire that resides in dreams, it is difficult to kill.
A jenglot is described as a living mummy or doll that’s about 15cm to 20cm in length, with freaky eyes, sharp fangs and long nails. The body’s flesh looks like it has been fossilized. The face either looks like a skeleton or like a corpse, and the hair on its fugly head is believed to grow over time. The doll’s feet look like they are connected, making it look a bit like a disturbing mermaid.
The jenglot are usually found in Indonesia, mostly in Java. It most cases its one of the native psychic that finds them shortly after they have performed a supernatural ceremony. It is said you can find a jenglot anywhere, from underground, on the roof of a house, and even in the trunk of a massive tree.
People that have found themselves a jenglot usually bring the creature all over Indonesia to show it of in order to gain some money off of it. There are many jenglot exhibits, on the islands of Java and Sumatra, or held in private collections of supernatural researchers and fans. But most of these so-called jenglots were actually hoaxes, made from parts of monkey and fish.
Now we get to the vampiric part of this peculiar phenomena – jenglot owners have to feed their doll with blood, either animal blood or human blood. They say the jenglot does not drink the blood directly, but instead the person simply places it near the blood. Even though it never moves towards the blood the jenglot finds its own way to feed on it.
Other than its love for blood, this vampire doll also has a love for dark magic. Jenlots have powers of their own that they can use for themselves, or they can share them with their owner. However, if it is not fed and treated properly it will turn on its owner.
Last year, archaeologists and news crews were all in a flutter over the discovery of a vampire grave in Venice, Italy.
Italian researchers found the remains of a female “vampire” in Venice; she was buried with a brick jammed between her jaws to prevent her from feeding on her grave shroud, or on others. In the 16th century a plague had spread through the area and people at the time took all precautions.
It was a common belief back in the day was that not only did some vampires feed on blood, but that they also spread the plague. At the time villagers took all sorts of precautions to keep vampires from terrorizing them; some involved putting a brick in a corpse’s mouth, hammering nails into various body parts, placing stakes in the grave and many many more.
Matteo Borrini, an anthropologist from the University of Florence, said the discovery of the vampire woman was on the small island of Lazzaretto Nuovo in the Venice lagoon supported the medieval belief that vampires were behind the spread of plagues like the Black Death.
“This is the first time that archaeology has succeeded in reconstructing the ritual of exorcism of a vampire,” Borrini told Reuters by telephone. “This helps … authenticate how the myth of vampires was born.”
The vampire was unearthed in a mass grave from the Venetian plague of 1576. The plagues devastated Europe between 1300 and 1700. Due to the lack of knowledge on decomposing corpses at the time, the people held onto the belief that corpses were becoming vampires and spreading the plague.
Gravediggers reopening mass graves would sometimes come across bodies with hair still growing, bloated by gas, and blood oozing from their mouths and believe them to be alive, or undead. The shrouds used to cover the faces of the dead were often decayed by bacteria in the mouth, revealing the corpse’s teeth, and vampires became known as “shroud-eaters.”
According to medieval medical and religious texts, they believed that vampires spread disease in order to suck the remaining life from corpses until they acquired the strength to walk again.
“To kill the vampire you had to remove the shroud from its mouth, which was its food like the milk of a child, and put something uneatable in there,” said Borrini. “It’s possible that other corpses have been found with bricks in their mouths, but this is the first time the ritual has been recognized.”
art by Victoria Frances
Over the centuries there have been many documented testimonials from well respected people about encounters with vampirism. On January 7 1732 five high ranking officers from the capital city of Belgrade signed a report stating they examined 14 corpses only two of which a mother and a baby showed signs of normal decomposition. All the other corpses were said to be in unmistakable vampire condition.
Around the same time period a hungarian soldier who was billeted to a farm on the Austro-Hungarian frontier testified to this:one night while eating dinner with the family on the farm they were joined by an old man. The soldier noticed the family was extremely frightened of the man. The old man touched the man of the house on the shoulder and left. The next morning the soldier discovered the farmer had died and that the old man from last night was the farmers father who had been dead for 10 years. When the old man touched the farmer on the shoulder he both caused and announced the death of the farmer. When the soldier reported this his commanding officer questioned the family under oath. Eventually they exhumed the old man's body. This, according to reports had looked like the body of a man who died recently. The commanding officer ordered the man's head cutoff and they layed the body to rest again. A notable part of Vampire stories is that relatives and lovers are always the first to suffer attacks.
While the officers were questioning the towns people they were told of another Vampire roaming the city. A deputation with seemingly impeccable credentials was sent to investigate. This Vampire had killed three nieces and one brother in a fortnight and was attacking the fourth niece when he was interrupted. When the Vampire's body was dug up it was discovered to have hair,nails,and eyes all in good condition. The interesting part about this Vampire is that his heart was still beating. The deputy drove an iron stake through his heart, cut off his head with an ax, and then buried the body in quicklime. The fourth niece finally started to recover.
Of course through all this the Vatican has held a firm stance on Vampires. It wasn't until these and many other strange happenings that the Vatican issued a word of caution that all suspected Vampires should be exhumed and their bodies burned. Of course leave it to the Christians to come up with a way to put the fear of god into people. They actually started telling people that sinners and people of that kind were doomed to become Vampires. Throughout both 16 and 1700's the tale and fear of vampires spread, largely due to the Plague. Whenever multiple people in a village fell ill it was automatically assumed that a vampire was the cause. During the fourteenth century when the Black death swept across what is now known as Germany amid all the pestilence grew the tales and sightings of Vampires. It would be quite easy to find a logical explanation for Vampires during that period of time. Fear of being infected was high and many times people were buried accidentally and some still alive. Hence the rising from the grave.
The vampire lifestyle, or subculture has existed for many years, although it’s been growing over the last few decades. Many believe that the lifestyle has grown out of and stemmed from the Goth subculture, while still retaining elements and mannerisms of those participating in the S/M lifestyle. The two types of vampires in the subculture are psychic vampires, or energy vampires, and sanguinarian vampires. Sanguinarian derives from a Latin term, that means bloodthirsty; so the sanguinarians feed on small doses of human blood. They believe that they need the blood in order to sustain their health. In the sanguinarian division of the vampire lifestyle, there are donors, vampires, and those who practice autovampirism. Autovampirism is the act of drinking one’s own blood.
Other members of the vampire community, or lifestyle, frown on the act of autovampirism because they believe that it possesses no benefits that can be passed to the drinker. It’s also viewed as a type of physical self abuse, by those in the community, and also by the majority of those outside the vampire lifestyle. Other members of the sanguinarian division of the vampire subculture are the donors. Just as the term implies, a donor is a person either romantically linked, or not to a vampire who allows he or she to drink blood from them. Usually no more than a couple teaspoons worth is taken. Often, there will be a vampire/donor contract drawn up to help set the perimeters of the relationship, as well as protect against any wrongful accusations of assault that may occur.
There are other groups, usually consisting of teenagers who claim to be vampires, roleplaying games, and many other media outlets for the vampire of history. Some are debilitating, and dangerous, such as the much debated Renfield’s syndrome while others just healthy outlets for a creative imagination. Vampires have held us, as a species, fascinated, horrified, and romanticised for hundreds of years. A world without them… would be bloodless.
art by Victoria Frances