Throughout October, each Moonday’s Heroic Hunks in History will feature creatures of the Dark. Check out the history and pics of some of the best-known characters in the paranormal genre.
Vampires have been part of the myths or folklore of many cultures. The dead (or undead) creatures who subsisted by feeding on the life essence (usually blood) of living creatures were not called vampires until the 18th century (1734). When tales of vampires reached Europe from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, corpses were exhumed and staked to protect the living. Vampires of folklore were most often revenants of evil beings, suicide victims, or witches, but they can also be created by a malevolent spirit possessing a corpse or by being bitten by a vampire.
In vampire folklore, common apotropaics (items to ward off vampires) include garlic, branched of wild rose and hawthorn, crucifixes, rosaries, holy water, and sunlight. Vampires could not cross running water, walk on consecrated ground (churches) or enter houses uninvited.
Methods of destroying vampires varied by country. Staking was the most common method—either with ash, hawthorn, or oak through the heart, mouth or stomach. Decapitation, incineration, sprinkling with holy water, drowning were also used to destroy the corpse.
The charismatic and sophisticated prototype for today’s vampire was developed in John Polidori’s novella The Vampyre (1819). It also influenced later books such as Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Byron’s unfinished work, The Burial. Beginning in the 20th century, vampires have been featured often in books, movies and television series. Characters have become more sympathetic and certainly more handsome. Check out some of our vampires. Do you have a favorite?
Next Week, Werewolves. Rita Bay
BTW, throughout October, Rita Bay’s Blog will feature daily blogs on Myths and Legends including animism, legends and folktales, creation myths, the mythology of Greeks/Romans, Celtic, Saxon and Norse mythology. Check them out at http://ritabay.wordpress.com/ RB
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