Monday, October 21, 2013

Things that go bump in the night! || Vampires || The Mythology of Blood Suckers

“No man knows till he has suffered from the night how sweet and dear to his heart and eye the morning can be.”
Bram Stoker, Dracula

History of Vampires

Vampires have captured the imagination for hundreds if not thousands of years. While most people today believe vampires, werewolves and other supernatural creatures to be nothing more than stories and myths, there was a time when corpses were staked and people were executed for being a vampire. If you have always wondered where the stories come from, you are not alone, and while it is difficult to pinpoint the very first belief in vampires, we can construct a bit of a timeline of sorts from the different creatures that culminated in the modern day vampire.

Upir- 1047 BC

What may be the first reference to vampire type creatures is the Upir, first found in recorded history around 1000 BC. Upir’s originated in ancient Russia and other Slavic countries. One notable difference between these and later vampires is the fact that they were not affected by sunlight.  These bloodthirsty creatures could walk about in the daytime and were thought to be people who had committed atrocious sins and rejected Jesus Christ.

Since they had rejected Christ, they were considered damned by the Orthodox church and could not be buried in the church graveyard. They were also believed to be servants of the devil who would imbue them with immortality.

Differences from modern vampire:

  • Ate hearts of victims
  • Insatiable lust for blood
  • Killed children first and then parents
  • Some stories said they had two hearts
  • They would bathe and sleep in blood
  • Upirs could possess the body of someone on their deathbed
  • Upirs could shape shift into any other creature


Around 1100 BC there were multiple reports of revenant creatures around England. This is where the legends of vengeful spirits, zombies and vampires are somewhat mixed, as a revenant has tendencies of all three.  A revenant was a creature returned from the dead to terrorize the living, particularly family members and neighbors.  All stories from this time period involve people who were ne’er do wells and were associated with the spreading of disease and death to the living. Sucking of blood was also reported in several cases, hence the correlation to vampires.

Vlad the Impaler

This brings us to the mid 1400’s and the one person most people believed to be the very first vampire. Vlad Tepes was the son of Vlad Dracul and was a very real person from Transylvanian history. He was known to be brutal in warfare and dealing with those he suspected of treason or even possible treason. His bloodthirsty persona is probably the main reason Bram Stoker chose him as the inspiration for his vampire novel.

Bram Stokers written depiction does not prominently list the manner in which Vlad Tepes became a vampire. However there is a section that explains his noble family were want to make deals with the Evil One, and apparently the payment for services rendered was the tenth born scholar.

Bram Stoker's Dracula would be the model for most of the modern day vampire stories you will read or watch today. It should be noted that are some pointed differences between the 1897 novel and the movie of the same name produced in the late 1990’s. A couple of these include:
  • No reference to Dracula’s origins in the book, but in the movie it is said he became cursed after renouncing God and stabbing the heart of the alter, which subsequently bleeds and Vlad drinks from.
  • In the movie Mina appears to be falling for Dracula, while in the book she despises him for his actions.
  • Dracula doesn’t show any real feelings for any woman, Mina or his previous wife, in the book. In the movie, he loves her enough to let her choose whether to drink from him or not.

Elizabeth Bathory

When it comes to stories about vampires most people will not know the name of Elizabeth Bathory, but by all accounts, she deserves designation as an early vampire reference. Elizabeth came from a prominent protestant family in Hungary. Though stories vary about her crimes and the reasons behind them, Bathory was reported to have captured and murdered over 600 young girls to satisfy her bloody rages and in an attempt to preserve her youth.  Apparently, she operated under the impression that bathing in blood or drinking it would reverse the aging process.

Reports from eyewitness’s state she took utter delight in torturing her victims, beating them with a specially crafted torture device to the point where servants stated there would be buckets of blood in the floor.

Whether she bathed or drank the blood as some witnesses report, is subject to debate, particularly since most testimony was obtained via torture or threat of torture. What is known:
  • She was put on trial after murdering several girls of noble birth.
  • Her cohorts, reported witches, were burned to death.
  • Elizabeth was noble and therefore could not be put to death, but was instead walled up in a room of her castle where she died four years later.

Vampires Details

Details concerning becoming and remaining a vampire will vary from one legend to the next. Some of the more commonly believed traits include:

  • One Bite of a vampire.
  • Born- some modern stories state a true vampire is born, though hybrids can be made in the traditional method.
  • Deal with the Devil- this is probably the original belief about becoming a vampire.
  • A witch who had died was at risk for becoming a vampire
  • A corpse in an open grave that is jumped over by an animal, particularly a dog or cat was at risk of becoming a vampire.
  • A wound not cleansed by boiling water, could result in vampirism

  • Stake to the heart- some say the stake must be blessed and others any wooden stake like object will work.
  • Holy Water- can cause minor irritation, excruciating pain or death depending on the legend
  • Silver- though traditionally seen as werewolf ammunition, some myths include silver for various reasons, including the fact that many religious symbols, (crosses, rosaries) are made of silver.
  • Sunlight- since vampires are considered a child of darkness it is not surprising sunlight is a problem. Of course, there are also a number of myths where vampires can walk in daylight either naturally or through the use of enchanted items.

Character Traits:
  • Lust- as with werewolves vampires are considered lustful creatures, often feeding during the act.
  • Intelligence- most modern vampires are depicted as extremely intelligent, perhaps due in part to the extreme long lives they have lived.
  • Beauty- in some myths vampires are hideous creatures, but in most depictions they are dark yet gorgeous creatures.
  • Lack of Human Empathy- with some notable modern exceptions vampires have always been described as cold, both physically and emotionally.

Final Thoughts

The myths and legends of vampires and vampire like creatures likely date back to before written record. Determining the true origination of the first vampire at this point is practically impossible. You have all of the above referenced materials along with the Scriptures of Delphi that tell of a wanderer unfortunate enough to suffer curses of two gods, Apollo and Artemis. It has been debated that Ambrogio was the very first vampire, but as with all the legends, this is debatable.

Who's your favorite vampire? Leave a comment!

Wanted: Vampire - Free Blood

Book 1 in the Wanted: Vampire Trilogy
Released: Aug 24, 2012
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Three years ago, death blew out the candle in Alexis Hall’s life and left her devastated. Nothing could replace what she’d lost, not even the sexy stranger she awoke married to. Still, she finds it hard to ignore the dangerous sparks he triggers within her. She knows Bradley Cox took advantage of her. What she doesn’t know is he holds a secret that will change everything.

But Bradley isn’t her only concern. In a moment of desperation to somehow reclaim what she had lost, Alexis made an offer to a vampire––free blood. Her blood.

In a story of heartbreak and obsession, a simple ad changed Alexis' life forever and on one fateful night her dreams and her nightmares will collide. Can she trust Bradley? Or is he her worst mistake? Can she retract her offer to the vampire? Or will she fall under his deceptive spell?

Purchase Amazon / B&N

Wanted: Vampire - Bad Blood

Book 2 in the Wanted: Vampire Trilogy
Released: Feb 24, 2013

Joel’s back.

Determined to return her sexy ex to his former vampire self, Tara Callister does what she has to do: She exposes three evil witches in order to enlist her coven’s help. Unfortunately for her, things don’t always work out as planned.

Targeted by her enemies, betrayed by her coven, she must figure out how to save herself and those she loves from the evil entwining itself in her life. But when her journey of self discovery leads her down an even darker path, will she stand behind her white witch promise or become one of them? And more importantly, are Joel’s feelings for her strong enough to survive it all?

Purchase Amazon / B&N

Book 3 in the Wanted: Vampire Trilogy: Coming in February 2014

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