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Myths

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.

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?

Driving a Stake Through The Heart

Driving a stake through its heart basically evolved from medical mis-information. 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 its not Wicca that Im 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.

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.

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.

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 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 the 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 my husband, 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.

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.