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The Vampire

 

- Children of the night... What horrifying farie tales they make! -
 

Everyone reading this knows what a vampire is, right...?

#1: A vampire is a dashing, romantic, yet terrifying human-creature combination that is immortal as it is as much dead as it is alive. It preys on the living for it's sustenance, blood or "life-force" (usually in the form of the living's blood) that displays mostly human characteristics and is effectively, a very cool thing indeed! (The "Bela Lugosi Dracula" model... with a little of the "Anne Rice" model tossed in for good measure...)

#2: A vampire is a demon-like, undead person (dead, but re-animated by some means) that preys on the blood of the living to sustain itself. (The "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" model)

#3: A vampire is a lithe, immortal, dead-like creature of evil, yet is hypnotic to it's victims and lacks remorse for it's fatal actions in keeping itself alive. (The combination "Anne Rice/Nosferatu" model)

#4: A vampire is a foul smelling, feted breath, bloated, rotting creature that is more "fat-corpse" like in it's appearance and is definitely a dead person that has awakened due to some 'deed' and is now preying on the living. (The "Eastern European Legend" model)

Truth is, all of the above, and then some, seem to be the answer.

The origins of the vampire go far back into history... in fact, long before Vlad Tepes (or Vlad Dracul to his friends) was even a twinkle in his daddy's eye.

Back in the good old days, "bad things" just didn't happen. There was always a reason and usually a scape-goat. Not too many hundred years ago, it was all the fault of the "witches"... with some, even today, it's still blamed on "the little people". More often than not, ill tempered deities were to blame.

Well, one convenient scape-goat that was unlikely to blame other's who blamed them was the dead! Yup, simply ceasing to exist in this mortal coil didn't preclude you from being the obvious cause of "something".

So, in medieval (and possibly/probably before then) Eastern Europe, the "Vampyr", "Nacht Zehrer", or a selection of monikers, came into folkloric traditions... that may even have more "ghostly" roots!

Somewhere, down this line at the time, someone saw what they knew to be a "recently dearly departed" friend or family member post mortem. Either that evening or the next day, they came down ill. Now, in today's wonderful world, we might say; "Grieving led to a bad dream which led to the person not sleeping properly which led to a light illness." But this was not today and sleep illnesses and mental issues were relatively unheard of... at least, they weren't "properly" explained and documented.

So, why was this person who saw a "ghost"(?) now ill? Well, only one answer... It had to be the dead person's fault!

So, they'd dig up the corpse to find out if it had gone on any late-night excursions...

One can only imagine the horror of these old-time towns people when, shock of shocks, the corpse's finger nails had grown... and hair was growing... it was bloated, not emaciated, blood trickled from the corners of it's mouth, new skin was seen looking pink and healthy under the dying and now curling-up dead first-layer of skin and worse yet, it's eyes may have indeed been open! The foul stench also must have proved some other sort-of demonic thing at work! No doubt, this thing HAD to be killed!

Now, I can't say who did this first, but the next trick truly clinched the deal... They took a wooden stake, placed it over the chest of the corpse, hammered it in and... EGADS! More "fresh blood" flowed forth and the corpse made an audible "groan" from it's vocal chords and mouth! EGADS! It's ALIVE and the fresh blood meant (double-Egads!) that it was feeding off the living!!!!

See, it all makes sense, doesn't it? To some reading this, they may think I'm spinning a fanciful yarn and nothing like this could have EVER happened... but it did... and it's not as "paranormal" as you might think it is. Read on........

 


To be a little gross, when we die, we rot. Plain and simple. Our bodies break down like a three-week old piece of beef left on a counter. Not only does this give off an abominable stench, (and take my word on this, decaying (or rotting) humans give off a smell that is indescribably horrible,) but it goes through a process of chemical and other changes that are a little... well... they aren't too pleasant.

Basically, the first thing that happens is that bits of your soft, warm organs (like the liver, kidneys, stomach, etc.) rot first. This process creates a lot of "putrefying" gasses inside your body that are, for the most part, sealed in. (And yes, before anyone asks, post-mortem burps and... y'know... are not uncommon.) These gasses force the rotting tissues and all out with them. This means, if you're not embalmed properly, you will bloat up and blood and rotted, liquefied tissue will "come out" through the nearest exit... the mouth is indeed one of these. So, we have our bloated, bloody-mouthed, corpse.  (In fact, these gasses have indeed been known to "explode" a corpse... not with a match, although that might do it, but by being sealed up inside the corpse, and like a balloon with too much air... "POP!" This pressure has been documented not only to have made the corpse a lot less attractive, but to have actually splintered the wood of coffins in the days before embalming!)

Next, one of the first muscles to completely relax after death is the jaw. This causes the mouth to hang open (next time you're watching a movie and someone dies with their mouth firmly closed, remember this!) So now we have a bloated corpse, smelling awful, with blood coming out of it's open mouth.

Now, we do understand that, indeed, your hair and fingernails grow after death, right? Nope!

What happens is, the skin actually dehydrates first so it shrinks... this exposes the nails and hair hidden beneath it. So, it's not really growing, but it looks that way due to shrinking skin. So now we have our bloated corpse, smelling awful, with blood coming out of it's open mouth, and seemingly growing skin and fingernails.

Next, the first or outer layer of the skin peels away because of the dehydration, showing the under-layers... being insulated from as much dehydration and not being as exposed to the elements during life, it appears pink and healthy... but it's not alive, and in a matter of days, it will start the same process as the outer skin... until it's all putrefied and fallen away. So now we have our bloated corpse, smelling awful, with blood coming out of it's open mouth, and seemingly growing skin and fingernails, with new skin showing up!

Eyes, on a corpse, can by post-mortem reflex and by skin shrinkage, open up to reveal usually "cloudy" eyeballs (again, because of putrefaction of the tissues and lack of moisture.) Now our nasty corpse might have it's eyes open!

Lastly, the groan... Well, remember those gasses I mentioned because of the rotting of the tissues in the body, imagine yourself being a bit "gassy" after a big bowl of five-alarm chilly and I slammed an object into your chest... Well, that gas has to go somewhere now that it's being forced out, and with a corpse, if it comes out of the mouth (the foul breath that's been reported,) it passes the vocal chords for a nice, post-mortem groan.

So, in essence, the corpse was probably just that... a poor, insensible corpse. But, since no one had sat down and studied the process of bodily decay, this all seemed very much like bad juju. In fact, even recently thanks to ignorance of what happens to a decaying body, there have been many "modern" cases of corpses being exhumed to be "proven" a vampire.

So, there you have it... the origins of the vampire... not much but a poor, rotting corpse.

- So, how did this evolve to Vlad? -

Okay, let's start with Vlad... or Vlad Tepes... or Vlad Dracula... or Vlad the Impaler... the list goes on.

His "real" name was Vlad Tepes (the III) and his father was known as "Vlad Dracul" which is liberally translated to "Vlad The Dragon" or "Vlad the Devil"... adding the 'A' to the end of the nickname denoted "Son Of" ergo: Vlad Dracula... which was, as you can see, a nickname, and he was a prince in Wallachia (near, but not in Transylvania... later to be pretty much the Romanian/Hungarian border). He was born in 1431 and died in 1476.

Vlad Jr. didn't have what one would call a great childhood... I mean having to live with a younger brother known as "Radu the Handsome" couldn't make anyone happy... but that was the least of his worries. When he was around the age of thirteen, Vlad Jr. and little, handsome, Radu were unceremoniously shipped off to Adrianople, Turkey, as "hostages" to ease the mind of the Turkish Sultan (the Turks, then being steeped in the Ottoman Empire were basically at war with Europe and taking bits and pieces of it all the time.  Vlad Sr. sent his boys there to "prove" he wouldn't risk their wrath and fight so they'd leave him and Wallachia alone).

Vlad stayed a prisoner of the Turks until the mid-1400's when they released him and his brother, Radu. Radu, oddly enough, chose to stay in Turkey as it was where he grew up and all he really knew, but Vlad Jr. wanted to go back to Wallachia and was even supported by the Turks as the Wallachian heir to the throne.

Something tells me that the Sultan probably regretted this as Vlad Jr., after a while, was really unpleasant to the Turks that came into Wallachia. You see, Vlad had learned a lot from the Turks... especially an unpleasant way to put people to death... impalement.

After a time, the Turks tried to forcibly take Wallachia and met a fierce resistance under Vlad III. After the battle, Vlad would have the prisoner impaled... According to one account, Vlad had over 10,000 men impaled as a grisly "fence" near the Danube where he left them to rot.

Many times, people have seen the old wood carving of Vlad having dinner near a bunch of impaled folks... this image is pretty accurate as he did do this once, but the method of impalement was... well... cleaned up a bit for the carving. To be "blunt" (forgive the pun,) Vlad would have a high stake sharpened... but not too sharp so it would cause a quick death. He would have the stake greased and slide the steak into the rectum (the "hind-quarters", if you will...) of his victim and usually, allow the stake to come out of the victims mouth. Only on occasion, when rushed, would he have victims "tossed" onto stakes "chest first".

Anyway, Vlad's methods, though cruel and somewhat unusual, were very effective. The Turks rarely ventured near Wallachia, and because of this, he was an is considered a bit of a hero to the people of Wallachia. I mean, after all, he did keep the Turkish hoards at bay and the homeland safe! What's a few impalements compared to that?

Don't get me wrong either... Vlad apparently had a sense of humour in his cruelty. Once, when a couple of diplomats from the Turks came to visit, they refused to take their hats off in the presence of the prince. Obligingly, he had their turbans nailed to their heads.

So, needless to say, Vlad was revered by some, hated mercilessly by others. As one of my historian friends put it, "If you're the winner, it was the 'Battle of'. If you were the loser, it was the 'Massacre of'."

Vlad did eventually lose a few battles to the Turks and fled for Transylvania... and at that time, guess who came back as a pro-Turkish ruler? Yup, Radu the Handsome! Radu, now firmly in the control of the Turks, probably wasn't too helpful in helping the public image of his now exiled brother... Stories and reports of executions and sadistic torture of not just Turks, but of Wallachian's too, made the rounds... Vlad was painted, possibly with some justification, possibly not, as a monster. When Vlad made it to Transylvania, he was arrested and imprisoned as a "Royal Prisoner". Must have been a tough life and his jail and captors must have thought he was a real monster, since he married the sister of the prince of Transylvania and sired two sons with her during his incarceration.

Believe it or not, he did actually regain the Wallachian throne in 1476 just in time to be die... I've never found out how, but it's likely it was an assassination.

Once again, Vlad in death was revered for a bit, and then painted as an unspeakable monster as it suited the new ruling body's purposes to make Vlad the villain.

Vlad was buried in a mausoleum in a monastery that he had founded... and we will need to revisit this place shortly.

Poor old Vlad was NOT accused of being any sort of "paranormal monster" until after he was long dead... and even then (and now), it was not everyone who thought he was this "creature". His bloodlust and popular folklore combined to get him a passing accusation as a possible vampire... but, to be honest, no one then seemed to think this might be true until, a number of years after his death, they ordered his body be exhumed from it's mausoleum at the monastery and when his tomb was opening, it was empty!

Did Vlad escape the assassin and fake his own death? Unlikely, as one has to assume he'd want to still be the ruler of his tiny empire. Was he really the undead and his bloodlust and lack of a corpse prove it? I and many others doubt it. It's more likely that the monks, grateful to Vlad for founding their home and knowing that the Turks (or, realistically, a "Turkish-Friendly Ruler") was in power and would want to wreak post-mortem revenge on Vlad's body, simply moved him to hide his remains so they would lie undisturbed.

None-the-less, Vlad Dracula was a "hero" to some, villain and monster to many others. We will re-visit Vlad shortly...



- Cut to the early nineteenth century and then the Victorian times... -

The original vampire myths still held sway and were popular "folkloric" (and still "scape-goatish") aspects of life in Eastern Europe and little known in London.

Believe it or not, it would be a strange Victorian invention that would change this.

Before the industrial revolution and steamships, tourism truly didn't exist as it does today. With the advent of these, people of all walks of life could now travel abroad. With the "simpler folk" now visiting far-off "simple folk" as tourist, stories and folklore made the rounds. There was a "more modern" version of what most consider a "mainstream vampire" written in 1816 by a fellow named John Polidori, a young Italian man living in England who was employed as Lord Byron's physician. Lord Byron usurped the story and published it under his own name... the "vampyre gentleman" in the story was Lord Ruthven Glenarvon who is both captivating and a trifle monstrous. Lord Ruthven charms our heroine and then visits her in "vampiric form"... This was the first of it's kind... and it brought about a lot of venom from Polidori towards Byron. This problem overtook the story, the publisher resigned, and the book was more or less forgotten... but had set the tone.

The English, Scottish, Welsh, and Irish, unlike many other cultures, truly appreciate the "darker" side of life and relish in gruesome and gory tales. (Notice, it's in Britain where most ghost stories come from!) The tales of these "vampires" were brought in and relished with an absolute passion.

It was in this day and age of the "tourist" that an Irish civil servant, who had written a "romantic horror novel" after visiting the ruins of Whitby Abbey in England, discovered the name and monstrous doings of "Dracula".

The name and the area in which Vlad lived was a "natural" for his creature of the night and "Count Dracula - The Vampire" was born.

The interesting thing is, Stoker was not being terribly original. When the reports of the Eastern European vampires started filtering in, many books and "penny dreadfuls" (cheap pocket books) featured the vampire... who, because of a flying mouse that drank cows blood discovered in South America and Africa, had now taken the form, in English hands, of a bat.

Images of bat-like creatures that sucked the life's blood from the living were the stuff of those penny dreadfuls, and more than a few Victorian nightmares, to be sure!

The thing is, Stoker wanted his villain to be evil, but a reflection of man's own ability to conceal evil... a "romantic villain", as it were.

Hence, poor Vlad III, defender of Wallachia, or monster from Transylvania, suddenly became "Count Dracula" and an immortal vampire to boot!

As a side note, one wonders how the people in Wallachia and later, Romania, would feel about their hero being turned into a cartoon character on a brand of children's breakfast cereal?

Either way, the "modern" and "romantic" vampire was born.

- Sex, sex, sex! 

Now, I could go on about the Victorian preoccupation with sex and how vampirism fits this role... y'know, the seduction of a victim, the "drawing of virgin blood", the "feeding" of a life force... but forget it! Too much ink has been spilled on this topic and, for the moment, it's not very important. Let's just say that YES, vampires, after Stoker, took on a sexual undertone. In fact, Bela Lugosi (famed for his 1930's movie portrayal of Dracula) was considered, after the role, a "screen sex-symbol". Go figure! (Also, one of the other pre-Stoker vampire novels was Sheridan La Fanu's "Carmilla" published in 1892 which featured a lesbian vampire...)

Moving on...



- Historic Vampires -

There have been a few people that have "qualified" as historic vampires. The most famed, and often screwed-up report was that of Elizabeth Bathroy... or Elizabeth Bathory... or, more likely, Erzsébet Báthory (1560 - 1614) who, at the time of her "blood-lust", was oddly enough living near the Carpathian mountains... a stones throw away from Vlad Jr.'s stomping ground, but missing him by about two-hundred years. Liz got the idea that bathing in the blood of young women would keep her looks from fading. Liberal estimates figure that Elizabeth and a couple of her servants, tortured, killed, and then drained of blood over six-hundred women for Liz's unsuccessful "beauty baths". The crimes were discovered and the "helpful" servants were tortured and then burned at the stake. Liz was walled up in her "torture chamber" and fed through a small hole in the stones. She died after three years of this imprisonment.

Liz's story has been bounced about and re-written to come from France and to include a lover, but this was a case of broken-telephone/urban myths gone whacky. Liz's husband was killed in 1602 or 1604 (depending who's account you read) by a "harlot" in Bucharest who he did not pay for... um... services rendered. Being a soldier and an aristocrat, this wasn't considered an unsightly or uncommon thing for a man to "wander" while away from his castle in the mountains...

Anyway, the reports of the time say that her "blood-baths" (literally!) weren't terribly affective, hence the enormity of the amount of victims.

Granted, as with Vlad Jr., one should keep in mind that even these tales I've related were probably "inflated" to make them more interesting... none-the-less, it's a given that Liz did kill a lot of young woman to bathe herself.

Next one you may have heard of is Fritz Haarmann better known as "The Hanover Vampire". In the 1920's, Fritz did kill at least twenty people and said he drank their blood... it would go to reason as his favourite method of "dispatch" was biting through the throat! He also was a cannibal and ate their flesh. Fritz was a sicko, far more than an actual vampire... but none-the-less, he makes the cut as some have tried to say he did this for "power". I'd venture a guess at saying if this was the case, his "power" wasn't too good as he was well and duly executed (beheaded, at his own request, in public) in 1924.

- Modern Vampires -

Aside from the multitudes of television programs and movies ranging from "Dracula meets Abbot and Costello" to "Blackula"... again, what would Vlad III think?... vampires in the last thirty years have really come into their own... This, in the most part, is thanks to Anne Rice who penned some very entertaining novels with Vampires in the lead roles. "The Vampire Chronicles" follow Louis and Lestat, two demi-American (New Orleans French) vampires through their "afterlives", if you will.

The books are entertaining, but to some, became a religion. Rice, herself, admitted she wrote them after a daughter died of a fatal blood disease as a form of therapy, but many contend that they are based on some form of "truth". If you want to see certain "goths" cry, let them know, and this is true, that Ms. Rice is a plump, bespectacled, older lady who prefers to write about bondage and sex than vampires... and is a huge "new country" fan.  On Rosie O’Donnell’s now defunct talk show, she admitted that her "Judd’s" CD was almost worn through.

- "Oh my goth! It's a VAMPIRE!" -

Rice's books took a firm hold in many circles, especially in the "gothic subculture" who embraced the asexual/homoerotic figures in the novel as mysterious and vaunted characters... indestructible and living by night... on the fringe of good and evil. The appeal isn't too mysterious, itself. Problem is/was, many had issues separating fact from fancy. Many, indeed, started proclaiming vampire tendencies and possible "powers". This, of course, was absolute and utter codswallop. In fact, as documented in one book, one of these denizens took "power" and genuine glee from "lapping up" the "blood" left over by meat at a butcher shop. One wonders if this girl who told the interviewer this knew that, in essence, she was more likely suckling on Red Dye #8 or #9 and water mixed with God knows what bacteria. Meat, at most butchers, is not "bloody", as it's been processed already.

None-the-less, you're humble author spent thirteen years in and out of the club scene and, in all his travels, only met four people that truly believed in vampires and thought, to a degree, they were vampires or could become one. These people amused me so that my studies began as I found their claims to be ridiculous. In fact, one woman who was honestly too old to be at the clubs once said aloud to an acquaintance, "I'm 367 years old!"... I couldn't resist and chimed in, "And you don't look a DAY over 327!"

Much like many of the zealots of both belief and non-belief, I enjoy a good debate... provided it's based on facts. I proceeded to arm myself... they proceeded to embrace their fantasy...

I pointed out the origins (as above) and how the vampire came to be. Inconvenient facts... Then I asked them about the popular (late-Eastern European/Victorian) line of thought that vampires couldn't stand the site of religious iconography. The answer, "Well, we're not THAT type of vampire!"

As adulthood came in and these folks needed to find meaningful employment, I would ask about having to go out in daylight? Again, "Well, we're not THAT kind of vampire.

Apparently, for some, the definition of a vampire is whatever fits their purposes at the time.

I usually labelled them as "Time-Life Vampires" as they based most of their "eternal knowledge" on the Time-Life books about vampires, Anne Rice, and, on rare occasion, role playing games. (I knew many people involved with the role-playing games, few of them bought into it beyond being a "fantasy", and as a War of 1812 re-enactor myself, I don't pop into my red coat, load my musket, and believe that I'm really one of Wellington's Invincibles, so I do understand their "playing a part”... the only difference is their hobby is admitted fiction and mine is qualified as “living history”.)

Of these original four, (and I do caution people, that was four people out of literally hundreds. Most "goths" do not believe in vampires nor believe they are or have met a "real" vampire. This is a daytime talk-show myth,) most abandoned their vampiric fantasy at around the age of 29. A little late... but it did happen.

Now, this was my personal experience... What's frightening was how in the late 1990's, a couple of "vampire cults" started up... mostly in the United States. A couple of them even got into ritualistic "blood letting/drinking" and one even became "deadly" with a murder. This led to the above mentioned "daytime talk show myth". Me and my friends were often asked, while heading to a bar, concert, or club, "Are you vampires?"

Amusing to some, a headache for us after a while.

Luckily, after the release of the movie version of "Interview with a Vampire", the craze died down and although there is a tiny fringe that still believe in blood-letting/vampiric fetishes, it's not quite so "cool" and sub-mainstream anymore. One has to assume, there will always be those that will "believe" yet not know the true origins and not realise that their fantasy is based in folklore... and their fantasy is nothing like the true origins.

- Buffy to the Rescue! -

One has to give "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" it's due... I mean, at least in "Buffy", vampires are, when in vampire mode, demons bent on killing and not sweet-talking Victorians more interested in prose and philosophy than having a drink. None-the-less, the vampires (or demons) in Buffy are based very loosely on the above and have little to no origin in fact. "Buffy", in many ways, has done a disservice to "vampire" aficionados as well as Wiccan by it's portrayal of these two items, one fanciful, the other a legitimate religion, by offering the "sheeple" (a term we first heard by Message Board Irregular, Stu, used to describe "the masses") a very twisted view of fiction with just enough "fact" to sway the unwary into mistaken belief that the stuff is "all true". Too many times during the true reign of the television program did I see young people proclaiming to be "Wiccan" discussing spells and "the craft" as well as "magik" (Author's Note: Whenever I see someone spelling "magic" as "magick" or "magik", I know I'm dealing with someone who's education started with some form of popular media... or "Time-Life", again...) and, on occasion, saying they had "powers" or were in some sort of control of these super-abilities... without realising they were really mocking and belittling a reasonably well known and fairly well grounded religion... not as ancient as some assume, but none-the-less, a well grounded faith.

Then there's the vampires... After reading the above, does anyone truly believe that "Angel" is a vampire or even closely based on vampiric traditions? Most of the vampires that "Buffy" faces are characters based loosely on folklore and heavily on the Victorian characterization.

The one thing to remember is the best way to make an urban legend or myth take hold with the "sheeple" as fact is wrap just enough truth in it to make is seem likely... Sometimes, "Buffy" did this a little too well.

Like "Star Trek", some people have to realise that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is an entertaining and engaging television program... not a documentary and not a way of life.



- Grow up! Vampires Aren't Real! (Popular T-Shirt 'slogan' in the Toronto "goth clubs" in the mid-to-late 1990's) -

A while back, I mentioned that the definition of what a vampire is, for some, was based on what suited their purpose at the moment. One of my favourite ones is the ever popular "psychic vampire". This is a type that is said to feed off "psychic energy" and drain the victim without physical contact in most cases. I think I've known a few of these, and certainly one of my professors had to be one of them!

Truth to tell, when one examines the "affect" of a psychic vampire, it tends to make one lethargic and more or less, tired. Because of my "verbosity", I'm often accused of this, but I assure you, I'm not a vampire.

This brings me to a semi-experiment I did a number of years back... an experiment in decoration. (Bear with me here...)

I had a bachelor apartment and, like all one room affairs, it was dominated by my bed. I noticed that whenever I had company, within a few minutes of arriving, guests would get drowsy and start to complain of being tired.

I wondered what caused this and hit the books. I found that, oddly enough, the density of oxygen molecules in the air are greater in bedrooms then in any other room in a standard home. Eureka! I figured I had my answer! More oxygen led to drowsiness.

I set about improving ventilation... bought fans, opened vents, opened windows... basically, whatever I could to improve the flow of air.

All this had no effect.  My guests were still nodding off.

Not wishing to acknowledge my boring company as a reason, I thought about some of my schooling in marketing and how obscure things can trigger reactions subconsciously. I thought, if this was the case, maybe seeing my bed was triggering a "night-time" response.

I put up make shift walls and tried with some guests... This time, it worked. They were all alert and not tired on this visit and the next few.  The answer was found!

So, how does this relate to "psychic vampires"...

Well, I also was studying vampires and looking into the "psychic vampire". I thought, to myself, if a bed can have this effect, could a certain type of person? The answer was yes. From a psychological standpoint, someone with a low voice who's soft spoken and speaks methodically will lull most people to sleep... hopefully inadvertently.  Also, in a reciprocal move, very jumpy and jittery people can have the exact same affect by tiring you out.

I then went off in search of people that other's thought were psychic vampires or who had expressed the thought that they were themselves.  I noticed, in conversation, that they all fell into the low-speaking, slow, methodical types. The only difference is, they said the affect they had on their victims energized themselves.  This, in my eyes, is natural, as they are obtaining a "high", if you will, be exacting a power over the victim... even though it's a spurious affect quite naturally explainable.

Next were tales of "psychic vampires" going after victims at a great distance.  I looked into cases of this and realised, like voodoo, the victim had a profound belief that the psychic vampire could affect them, which of course, he or she did... One wonders if this is a case of psychosomatic vampirism... The victim believes, ergo: It happens.  My studies seemed to bear this out.  Once, when interviewing one of these "vampires", I enquired about their "distance success rate", which at first, they assured me was spectacular.  When I asked about misses when trying their "power", they explained that nothing was perfect and their power could only work if the victim was either willing or knew about it.  This seems to really substantiate the psychosomatic properties of this.

Lastly, there is a school of thought that "real vampirism" is a disease.  Now, there is no doubt that there are diseases which drain the system of iron and force the person into cravings for iron-filled things.  Red meat is filled with iron and it has not been unheard of for people to crave raw or very rare meats.  This, translated and in the wrong mind, could set up a craving for blood and, according to almost every book on vampires I've read, has.  To add more credibility to this, the person ingests the rare meat and is momentarily invigorated as the iron improves their oxygen flow to their blood stream... Seems to look like someone was given "life" from "blood" to the untrained eye.  This is hardly vampirism and hardly paranormal.

Some have even come to claim that vampirism is a genetic mutation of some sort... even a disease that's transferable. This is pretty much nonsense and has no validation in genetic science, but I do know where the believers got this notion...

#1:  There was a series of fictional vampire books that were based on the concept that vampirism was indeed, a blood disease.  This thought/concept for these books came from the original Eastern European vampire lore.  It went to "reason" that once enough of your blood had been guzzled, you too would die.  Since you died from an evil vampire, you'd become evil yourself and therefore, it's an afterlife of bloodsucking for you!  Well, it's not a far jump, once one has the science of germs and bacteria in hand (not available at the time of the original folklore) that this sounds like a case of communicable disease.  Still, this was fiction, not reality.

#2:  Other diseases, not just iron deficiencies, but porphyria and other ailments that affect mental balance get blamed and they are genetic in origin.  Still, the books show that there is no case of an immortal sufferer of porphyria who gained strength or energy drinking blood.

- Last Word: Best Weapon Against a Vampire -

Since there are people that believe just a wee bit too much in the existence of these creatures, and some that believe they indeed are vampires, it's an uphill battle to try and argue with those darned inconvenient facts.  There really is no proof that vampires, as the sheeple now think of them, exist. In fact, those that have claimed attacks and those that claimed they were vampires themselves inevitably end up having to face those inconvenient facts... but usually not without a big fight. They have their books that were written specifically for the "vampire believer" or "worshipper" and not much else.  The concept of the original vampire of legend... the bloated nasty corpse... is alien and "couldn't be!"

The best defence against vampires is common sense, education, questions and an inquiring mind.

If you're reading this and are a vampire fan, there's nothing wrong with this and, if you can, please bring me hard evidence to prove me wrong.  To date, no one has and I'm pretty sure, no one will.

Vampires are fantastic creatures that either scare or intrigue us... but one should remember... they are, for all intents and purposes, relegated to myth, folklore and fiction.

Marie Curie once said, "Nothing in life is to be feared. It is only to be understood." and maybe, with vampires... the myths, legends and truth, this is where we all should be.

After all, what would Vlad say about Angel, Lestat, and Sesame Street's "The Count"?

 


Resources:

The Bedside Book of Death

by Robert Wilkins

The Vampire's Bedside Companion: The Amazing World of Vampires In Fact and Fiction

by Peter Underwood

Vampires Among Us

by Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Complete Book of Vampires, Ghosts, & Poltergeists

by Leonard R. N. Ashley

The Paranormal: An Illustrated Encyclopedia

by Stuart Gordon

The Vampire, Dracula and Incest : The Vampire Myth, Stoker's Dracula, and Psychotherapy of Vampiric Sexual Abuse

by Daniel Lapin

The Vampire: In Legend and Fact

by Basil Cooper

The Complete Vampire Companion

by Rosemary Ellen Guiley and J. B. MacAbre