Interpretations differ between cultures and myths, but the one quality universally accepted is that they suck vitality from others, either in the form of blood or sexual energy. The most famous vampires, including Bram Stroker's Dracula, Anne Rice's Lestat, and Sheridan Le Fanu's Carmilla, are all blood suckers. Some vampires kill their victims by draining all of their blood quickly while others prolong the process. Others still use the blood as merely a means to drain the victim's life force. However, vampires such as Lillith and her daughters, Herodias and her daughters, La Diablesse of the French Caribbean, and the Karina, drain sexual vitality from their victims. This is often done through sexual intercourse, whether physically or through dream hauntings. Many of today's portrayals of vampires combines the blood-sucker with the more ancient incubus/succubus (drainer of sexual vitality).
So how does one become a vampire? Well, there are many different traditions citing very different causes.
- Inadequate/improper funeral rites
- There is a contagious quality to being a vampire. Once attacked by a vampire you either become one yourself or die.
- In Transylvanian folklore, illegitimate songs, born outside Church-sanctioned marriages are doomed to become vampires.
- Some spirits are believed to be innately vampiric without rhyme or reason.
- Other traditions claim those born on Christmas Day are potentially future vampires.
- And my personal favorite is from Ukrainian folklore. According to this legend a vampire is the inevitable result of sexual relations between a witch and werewolf.
Of course among the legends are many antidotes. These traditionally include bells, bright light or sunlight, garlic, onions, and silver bullets or bullets made from melted down bells. Crosses and Holy Water is still up for debate. These do not appear in any traditions prior to the Church introducing them and many believe them to be Christian propaganda. Of course there are always spells to repel vampires.
The Gypsies of India suggest wearing a charged and consecrated iron ring set with pearls to ward off vampires. After an encounter they say to cleanse the ring in incense smoke. Wearing dried peppermint around you neck will also ward off vampires. You can mix it with dried garlic to make an even more powerful ward. However, my favorite is the idea that vampires are OCD. Supposedly if there is fishing net, or in our case modern screens, over your windows the vampire will compulsively count all the knots or holes before entering. The idea is that he/she will either be so distracted they get caught in sunlight or they give up and move to another home.
If you are daring you can try to capture a vampire in a glass or metal bottle like a genie. Don't use plastic as they can presumably bite through plastic. This works like a fly-trap. Place some kind of tempting food in the bottle. Set the bottle out and wait. You will know you have caught a vampire when you observe a bit of staw or fluff within the bottle. Seal the bottle securely and toss it into a fire to destroy the vampire. This spell of course only works on a vampire who is understood to have once been a regular human.
So this Halloween, take solace in the fact that you very likely have screens on all your windows and simply putting out some peppermint and garlic or having some bells on hand will keep you safe. And remember witches, don't do anything naughty with a werewolf else you could create your own little vampire.
I hope everyone has a wonderul Halloween. May your ancestors be with you.