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History of Vampires in New Orleans

Vampires and vampire-like creatures have been found in the folklore of every civilization, every culture, every religion since the beginning of recorded time. New Orleans is no exception. New Orleans was settled in the early 1700’s and it was during this time in Europe that massive vampire hunts were occurring.

It was a tradition that began in the early 1200’s in Eastern Europe and over hundreds of years spread into Western civilizations. Vampire hunters, usually church representatives, were digging up the dearly departed, driving wooden stakes through the corpses, then beheading and burning the body.

Causes of vampirism varied. For instance, one could be predisposed at birth for vampirism. Having been born at certain times of the year (New moon, Holy days), born with a red caul, with teeth, or with an extra nipple were sure signs. If the child was born with excess hair, white hair, red hair, a red birthmark, or with two hearts, the theory persisted. The 7th son of a 7th son was believed to be doomed to vampirism. If the child was weaned too early, suckled after weaning, or died prior to Baptism, vampirism was suspected upon death. If the pregnant woman received a curse or was stared at or attacked by a Vampire, the child would be cursed to vampirism. This type of predisposition

was considered a genetic defect, like a mutation, and vampirism was inevitable.

Vampirism can be obtained after birth as well. Typically, being fed upon seven or more times, without dying, would guarantee one to become a vampire. But, numerous things can happen after one’s death that can lead to vampirism: Committing suicide, practicing Sorcery or Witchcraft, eating sheep killed by a Wolf, leading an immoral life (prostitutes, murderers, alcoholics, rapists), dying without Last Rites, having a cat jump over the corpse/coffin, having a shadow fall on the corpse, no burial or improper burial rites, death by violence, or death by drowning.

There are of course ways to prevent vampirism should any of the above occur: A number of different things might be done in order to take steps to prevent that body from ever returning from the grave. Weighting the eyes down with coins, tying the mouth closed or stuffing with garlic, were common practices. As were placing coins or dirt on the eyes.

Our ancestors would cover mirrors in the house and stop the clocks in the home of the deceased.

In Louisiana, many families still practice a custom called "sitting up with the dead". When a family member died, someone within the family, or perhaps a close family friend, would stay with the body until it is placed into one of our above ground tombs or is buried. The body is never left unattended. There are many reasons given for this practice today, most commonly, respect for the dead. This tradition however, actually dates back to Vampire Folklore in eastern Europe. In doing this, you were watching for signs of paranormal activity. If a cat was ever seen to jump over, walk across, or stand on top of the coffin; if a dog was seen to bark or growl at the coffin; or if a horse shied from it, these were signs of impending vampirism and at that point you would take steps to prevent the corpse from returning from the dead.

Commonly used procedures would include burying the corpse face down, and burying at a crossroads. Often times, family members would place a sickle around the neck, tie body parts together or mutilate the body, usually by decapitation and placing the head at the bottom of feet. The most common remedy for impending vampirism was to drive a stake into the corpse, decapitate it and then burn the body to ashes. This method was the only way to truly destroy the undead.

By the 1700’s, these practices were going on all throughout western Europe, particularly in France and Germany, where many immigrants were migrating to New Orleans. Believers insist that vampires could have been smuggled over in ships with the settlers. The early French settlers brought over brides from Europe who transferred their belongings in large wooden casket-like boxes. But according to folklore, even though Vampires

prefer the night, they are not destroyed by daylight. It was common for the vampire to walk about during the day. They generally hunted and fed at night. They would not have needed to be smuggled in coffins in the hulls of ships. This idea is that of fictional writers such as Bram Stoker. More than likely, vampires would have entered the ships like anyone else and blended in well with society.

If being a murderer, rapist, or other criminal element would predispose one to vampirism, it is easy to see how they would have become so prevalent in New Orleans. The city did start out as a penal colony. All of the original settlers would have been predisposed to it! Once they blended in with the mortals, they could easily feed on the population without raising much suspicion. With people dying in great masses from diseases such as yellow fever, who’s going to notice another body here or there?

New Orleans has always had a high murder rate, not to mention, a lot of missing persons! The French Quarter has always been a very mysterious and seductive place. Many a person has mysteriously disappeared, many of whom were never known to have been here in the first place. Runaways commonly come to the French Quarter to hide out, as do people with "pasts". If no one knows you are here, how will they know if you should disappear? If you just "drifted in", people will assume you just "drifted out", as well.

Vampirism and Disease

In certain areas of rural Louisiana, some plantations had the exterior keyholes turned upside down to prevent entry of the "undead". Unhappy spirits of the dead were believed to bring disease into households. For many years, yellow fever epidemics were blamed on such "evil spirits". It is documented in our history books that early settlers in New Orleans would fire cannons into the air to repel these spirits. Plagues, as well as tuberculosis, in Europe were often blamed on vampirism. Tuberculosis patients often coughed up blood leading doctors in the Middle Ages to believe that they had been ingesting blood. Thus, came the belief that the disease was the product of a vampire bite. The word Nosferatu literally means "plague-carrier". Early cemeteries in Louisiana were often placed far from towns, many times at a cross roads, to discourage the spirits from finding their way home. Often these tactics were called "confusing the spirit".

In many cultures, Vampirism is believed to be nothing more than aberrant behavior resulting from adverse mental or physical conditions. Porphyria, a human blood disorder, is believed by many to be a condition that has resulted in many "Diagnosed" Vampires. The patient suffering from Porphyria becomes extremely sensitive to light. In addition, skin lesions may develop, and the teeth become brown or reddish-brown in color. The gums recede giving the canine teeth a "fang-like" look.

Like the diabetic who replaces insulin with injections, blood transfusions can be effective in reversing the effects of Porphyria. It is believed that in medieval Eastern Europe, nobleman may have been instructed by their physicians to drink blood to reverse the disorder. Because so many royalty had a tendency to marry within the same family, it is easy to see how recessive genetic disorders such as porphyria may have been more prevalent among the nobleman.

Vampire Lore

  The word vampire was first used in 1734: "The bodies of deceased persons animated by evil spirits, which come out of the graves at night time to suck the blood of many of the living and thereby destroy them."

     By 1862 Vampire meant a terrible BORE of a person.

     And by 1911 vampire meant "a woman who intentionally attracts and exploits men" and by 1918 (July 9) the New York Times mentions a play called "The Vamp" starring Enid Bennett.

     Also the Verb to vamp means "to behave seductively and exploit"

    There are 2 kinds of Vampire: the spirit of a dead person or a corpse reanimated by his own or another person ( ethereal or physical)

 Becoming a Vampire:

  [sign in to see URL] 7th son of the 7th son

  2.A cat jumping over corpse turns the corpse into a vamp (England); in

Romania the same but the cure (antidote) is to put a piece of iron into the corpse's hand or place Hawthorn in the coffin

 3.A baby born with teeth or a caul or stillborn

  4.A dead body that has been reflected in a mirror

  [sign in to see URL] bitten by a vamp

  [sign in to see URL]

  [sign in to see URL] who die suddenly & violently

  [sign in to see URL] who do not receive proper burial

  [sign in to see URL] who have eaten he meat of a sheep that has been killed by a wolf

  [sign in to see URL] red hair

 [sign in to see URL] renouncing the Eastern Orthodox religion (which is why the peasantsmay have thought Vlad was a vampire)

 [sign in to see URL] being excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox church

 [sign in to see URL] dogs jumping over a corpse

 The art of Fooling and Controlling Vampires (and the dead in general)



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Re: vampires-myth or the stuff of crazies


These are methods of turning away evil:

  [sign in to see URL] the most tortuous route home from the cemetery in order discourage ghosts from following you

  [sign in to see URL] unfamiliar clothing (disguise)

  [sign in to see URL] grotesque makeup (disguise)

  [sign in to see URL] the corpse or breaking its legs and severing its head (so it can't see and can't run ... that ought to do it!). A severed head was sometimes placed underneath the buttocks to prevent the corpse from putting its head back on

  [sign in to see URL] the corpse with pebbles as it's being lowered into the grave

  [sign in to see URL] Poppy seeds on the path from the graveyard ... vampires MUST stop and pick up every one and if you spread enough of them, by the time they have picked them up it's dawn and time to go back to bed (the graveyard)

  [sign in to see URL] detect them ... take a young virginal boy or girl and put them on a horse of a SOLID colour and the horse must also be virgin and never have stumbled. Ifthe horse refuses to pass over a grave then you know a vampire lies there

  [sign in to see URL] wooden stake of impalement HAS TO BE made of rosebush, ash or anasp tree. Sometimes a red hot iron will do.

  [sign in to see URL] vampires have to be buried face down after they have been killed

 [sign in to see URL] Romania, young women seeking to avoid giving birth to a vampire should eat salt (for its purifying powers)

 [sign in to see URL] the arms of a corpse

 [sign in to see URL] the corpse with a sickle around its neck so if it sat up it would decapitate itself

 [sign in to see URL] a thorn under the tongue to prevent it from sucking blood

 [sign in to see URL] a needle into the navel

 [sign in to see URL] the heart on the head

 [sign in to see URL] off the feet

 [sign in to see URL] the knee ligaments (very common)

 [sign in to see URL] can be accompanied by driving a sacred nail into the head

 

Miscellaneous

  Rome interpreted corporeal incorruptibility as a reward for sanctity Dhampirs are sons of vampires in Yugoslavia & the Balkans who (for a fee) would chase down their alleged vampire fathers and kill them for local villagers

Black is the European colour or mourning but it is white in China and yellow in ancient Egypt

Vampire bats are found ONLY in Mexico and Central and South America; usually feed on cattle but have attacked humans. Vampire bats were discovered and so named by CORTES in Mexico.

 The bat is the only mammal that can fly.

  Many Vampires prey (at least at first) on family & loved ones usually violating a taboo

Polish & Russian vamps are out from noon to midnight and in Russia a vamp is the child of a witch and a werewolf

In Greece Vampires have blues eyes; in Poland they have sharp, pointed tongues

Vampires are said to have hairy palms (just as Wer-wolves)

 Tradition says that GARLIC sprang up where Satan placed his left foot as he departed from Paradise after the temptation and the Fall

Coffins were thought to be used originally to keep animals from digging up corpses

 The big vampire mania in Europe is from 1723-1735

  Necrophiliacs were thought to be vampires

  Aristocrat's disease (teeth & gum disease & photosensitivity as well as hair and nails glowing fluorescently) is called Porphyria

  Necrophagism (eating corpses)

Necrosadism (mutilation of corpses to induce sexual excitement)

Folklore:

 Why Garlic? In Medieval times doctors thought that plague was caused by bad air (corruption of the air) hence "to fight fire with fire" as it were, garlic was used to fight disease -- along with other strong smelling things like incense, perfume,cow dung, human faeces and Juniper

  

A Vampire By Any Other Name

  Africa: The Loango and in Ashantiland the Asanbosam

Assyria: Ekimmu (EKIMINU) a malignant spirit (half ghost half vampire) haunts its victims and sometimes attacks them; caused by no proper burial

Babylonia: Lilitu (in Hebrew Lilith or Adam's first wife in Talmudic lore); she becomes a succubus attacked infants and children and bringing erotic dreams to men. The Talmud itslef does not mention preying on children; that was added later.

 Brazil: The Jaracaca which attacks only young mothers with babies

 Bulgaria: The Obour has only 1 nostril and a pointed tongue

  China: The P'O which has greenish white hair, claws cruel eyes. Caused by a cat jumping over a corpse. Vampires take possession of a human body but unlike European ones, Chinese vampires have never been human at any time; they are called Ch'Iang Shih (sometimes Ch'Iing Shuh)

 Crete: Vampires are called Katalkanas

 Denmark: Mara is a female vampire

 Greece: Vrukalakos and anyone with red hair is suspect; also a Lamia which has the head & breast of female & the body of serpent. It has the same function as Lilith. Some sources say in Greece Lamia is not a vampire but a ghoul ...as is a Empusa.

  The Roman version of Lamia is Strix (the plural is Strigae) and in Italian it's Strega (which now means "witch").

 Germany: The Alp which sucks blood and the nipples of victims. There is also the Mara or Mora which is a succubus who straddles sleeping men causing horrible nightmares

     Hungary: Pamgri or Vampir

     Ireland: The Druids spoke of Dearg-Duls

     India: The Baitol which is a vampire but it possesses corpses

     Malaysia: The Langsuitis a woman who wears a gown, has long nails and long jet black hair to her ankles and she has a hole the back of her neck which she uses to suck the blood from children. To cure her, stuff the hole with as much hair as it will hold and cut her nails.

Portugal: The Bruxsa is actually a cucubuth (a critter that is both a Wer-Wolf and a Vampire) that attacks travellers & their own (the Bruxsa's own) children

 Romania: The Nosferat is a stillborn illegitimate child of two people who are similarly illegitimate. It can shape change (any variety of animals and can be male or female).

Scotland: Baobham are groups of beautiful girls who drain blood from victims

  Vampire Epedemics:

     For 400 years after Vlad the story of Vlad was a "best seller" in print especially in the German language but Dracula stories also abounded in Hungarian, Romanian Greek and Turkish Eastern Europe was aflame with a vampire scare at the beginning of the 18th century: Chios (1708); Belgrade (1725 and 1732); Serbia (1825); Hungary (1832); Danzig (1855) The early vampire craze kicked off with The Story of Peter Pogojowitz in 1725; he was just a peasant who died and was thought to be a vampire so they had to exhume the body

     In France in 1746, Dom Agustin Calmet published a treatise on ghosts and vampires (he was a Benedictine Monk) Gilles de Rais (aka de Retz): He was a French national hero fighting with Joan Of Arc. After the death of Joan and the crowing of the Dauphin, he went weird and tortured children (mainly boys ... 200 of them). He would order his servants to stab them in the jugular vein so their blood would shoot all over him and whilst they bled to death he'd masturbate over them. He was accused of sitting on he bowels of a boy and drinking his blood while the boy lay bleeding to death and accused of sodomy. Brought to trial in 1440 and written about in Joris Karl Huysmans' novel La-Bas (1891)

Vlad the Impaler:

  Vlad's father is Vlad Dracul (Vlad the devil) and was made a member of The Order Of the Dragon in Nuremburg in February 1431. Membership in the order meant an oath to fight the Turks (forever) and yet the whole Dracula family flirted with the Turks as well as killing them. Vlad father killed December 1447 by henchmen of John Hunyadi .. a lose relative NOT prone to flirting with the Turks

  Prince Vlad Tepes the 5th of Wallachia (1431-1476 ... age 46 he was beheaded) born in the Translyvanian town of Sighisoara, otherwise known as Schassburg

  Nickname Vlad; other name "Voevod" or warlord or warrior prince (as opposed to a prince who rules by inherited right)

Tepes (pronounced tzae-paesh) means "spike" in Romanian; (I am grateful to Ioana Timariu for this amendment).

  Vlad signed his name "DRAKULYA" ; the city of Bistrita is starting point for anyone interested in following this story by real travel in 1453 Constantinople falls to the Turks (during Crusades) Vlad is Greek Orthodox (but also ties to Rome)

  

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[sign in to see URL] Ambassadors

     When visiting ambassadors from Turkey neglected to remove their turbans in his presence[**said they could not because it was their custom always to wear them**] he had their turbans nailed to their heads with small iron nails and sent them home that way

  [sign in to see URL] Nobleman with the Keen Sense of Smell

     In the Russian story a servant gags at the stench of impaled bodies at an outdoor banquet Dracula is having. Dracula often dined amidst the dying people whose deaths he had ordered. Dracula has the complaining servant impaled a few feet above the rest so he won't smell anything

  [sign in to see URL] Monks

     Two Roman Catholic monks were in Dracula's court where all kinds of people were impaled. Dracula separated the 2 monks and asked the first what he thought: the 1st monk said that Dracula had made martyrs of these people and was doing wrong. 2nd monk said they must have done something wrong and Dracula was punishing them justly. The 1st monk got impaled and the 2nd was given 50 ducats of gold and a free escort to the Hungarian border. A Greek monk was constantly belittling a poor Romanian priest over theological and other matters and belittling Romanians in general: Dracula invites both to his court (neither knows of the other. Dracula asked the Greek monk what he thought of him; the Greek monk was a sycophant and lied and was executed. A Romanian priest is asked same questions and says some people are unhappy under Vlad's reign cause their problems have increased and others (he says) are happy. Vlad is delighted at his honesty and promotes him the court confessor

  [sign in to see URL] Woman

   Once Dracula saw a man on the street with a dirty and ragged shirt. Dracula asked if he had a wife and the man says yes. Dracula sees that she is healthy and has plenty of flax and call her lazy so he has both her hands cut off and has her body impaled {he procured a new wife for the man and showed her what happened to her lazy predecessor as a warning; the new wife was definitely not lazy}

  [sign in to see URL]'s Mistress

     Not in Russian versions. {Dracula's mistress sees Vlad is unhappy and tries to cheer him up by saying she is pregnant. He says don't lie (she is now afraid of being caught in the lie so tries to maintain she REALLY is ie how would he know. He opens her entrails to see and sees nothing and as she lies dying says see, I knew you could not be pregnant}.

  [sign in to see URL] Florentine Merchant

     A travelling merchant lost 160 ducats while staying at an Inn and went to Prince Dracula to explain. Dracula proclaimed that this was no way to treat a guest. He told the town either to find the thief or he'd destroy the whole town. He also demanded that the townspeople replace the ducats BUT that ONE EXTRA be returned. The Foreigner reported the extra ducat to Dracula, thereby saving himself from certain impalement for Dracula was testing his and honesty. The thief was found, and, of course, impaled. Dracula asked the Merchant to leave his gold there.

  [sign in to see URL] Golden Cup

    Dracula had a golden cup placed near the fountain in a deserted square of Targoviste. The cup was left there for people to drink from. NO ONE ever dared steal it.

  [sign in to see URL]'s Treasure

  Buried in iron barrels at the bottom of a river and all the artisans who made and hid the treasure were killed

  [sign in to see URL] the Sick & the Poor

     Dracula invited beggars [the sick & the poor] to dinner and then locked the room from then outside and set in on fire claiming that he was "eliminating inferior stock." In another version he came in to talk to them while they were eating and asked if they wanted to be without any more cares in the world, by which they assumed he intended to give them gifts. The beggars were apparently lazy and openly said so and Dracula thought that because they lived off the sweat of others they were thieves... he invited all beggars in the land to free clothes and free food .. they got drunk and died in the fire.

    Unfaithful wives and promiscuous women were punished by Dracule by cutting off their sex organs, skinning them alive and exposing them in public with their skin hanging from a nearby pole

Dracule is famous also for cutting off limbs, strangling, blinding, boiling and burning his victims Dracule learned impaling from the Turks (he was captured by them in1442 and led in chains to Adrianople where he was eventually released). Dracula's imprisonment by the Turks happened when he was no more than 15 years old and included physical and moral abuse. He had to swear an oath never to attack the Turks.

     Most impalings done only between 1459 and 1461. In a battle in 1456 he impaled 20,000 Turks at once witnessed by Mohammed II outside Targoviste (Vlad's capital). Impalements were spread out over 2 square miles. Dracule was a (sort of) hero in Romania because he made the streets so "safe" that you could leave a purse in the middle of the road and no one would pick it up.

  Elizabeth of Bathory

  Was born 1560 (Hungarian) married to Count Ferencz Nadasdy (who was always away at war) on May 8, 1575. Some say her mother was a lesbian; some say Elizabeth was too. Elizabeth murdered over 650 girls for her "beauty baths" which she"discovered" after she struck a servant one day and the servant's blood dropped on her hand. She felt that human blood seemed to make her skin soft and supple

  Her manservant, Thurko, (sometimes written Thorko) introduced her to witchcraft. She had no children for the first 10 years of her marriage but then had 3 boys and 1 girl

Castle Csejthe (her home in the Northwest of Hungary) gets turned into a torture chamber. Young girls were lured to the castle on pretence of emoticon$ and employment ("service") by accomplices (two "witches," Dorottya Szentes & Darvula)

     One day a servant girl who was combing her hair accidentally pulled her hair and when Elizabeth slapped her some blood spurted on to her hand which she subsequently became convinced that the skin became more supple and smooth

Countess also used an iron maiden for extracting [sign in to see URL] of her victims escaped and went to King Mathias II of Hungary who commissioned an inquiry. Her castle is raided on Dec 30, 1610. All were brought to trial in January/February 1611 in Bitcse. After the trial all her accomplices (including nurse Iilona Joo) were tortured, beheaded & then cremated (some accounts also say burned alive)

     Iilona Joo and Dorottya Szentes also had their fingers torn out individually and were then burned alive. Johanes Vjvary testified that 37 girls were tortured and killed and Ilona Joo said 40 were tortured and killed. Because of her eminence she was imprisoned (rather than executed) and sealed in a room by a stone mason in her castle. Food was slipped through a tiny slot. She died 3 years later. The Bathories were tied to Vlad's family (one Steven Bathory had helped Vlad out in some battles)

      Sergeant Francois Berterand

  Was known as the vampire and was a soldier with a taste for graveyards and their inhabitants. He was caught in in the act in 1849 and spent 1 year in prison for lycanthropy and necrophilia.





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Re: vampires-myth or the stuff of crazies


Vampire myths go back thousands of years and occur in almost every culture around the world. Their variety is almost endless; from red eyed monsters with green or pink hair in China to the Greek Lamia which has the upper body of a woman and the lower body of a winged serpent; from vampire foxes in Japan to a head with trailing entrails known as the Penanggalang in Malaysia.
However, the vampires we are familiar with today, although mutated by fiction and film, are largely based on Eastern European myths. The vampire myths of Europe originated in the far East, and were transported from places like China, Tibet and India with the trade caravans along the silk route to the Mediterranean. Here they spread out along the Black Sea coast to Greece, the Balkans and of course the Carpathian mountains, including Hungary and Transylvania.

Our modern concept of the vampire still retains threads, such as blood drinking, return from death, preying on humans at night, etc in common with the Eastern European myths. However many things we are familiar with; the wearing of evening clothes, capes with tall collars, turning into bats, etc are much more recent inventions.

On the other hand, many features of the old myths such as the placing of millet or poppy seeds at the gravesite in order to keep the vampire occupied all night counting seeds rather than preying on relatives, have all but disappeared from modern fiction and film.

Even among the Eastern European countries there is a large variety of vampires.



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SLAVIC VAMPIRES:
The Slavic people including most east Europeans from Russia to Bulgaria, Serbia to Poland, have the richest vampire folklore and legends in the world. The Slavs came from north of the Black Sea and were closely associated with the Iranians. Prior to 8th century AD they migrated north and west to where they are now.
Christianization began almost as soon as they arrived in their new homelands. But through the 9th and 10th centuries the Eastern Orthodox Church and the western Roman Church were struggling with each other for supremacy. They formally broke in 1054 AD, with the Bulgarians, Russians, and Serbians staying Orthodox, while the Poles, Czechs, and Croatians went Roman. This split caused a big difference in the development of vampire lore - the Roman church believed incorrupt bodies were saints, while the Orthodox church believed they were vampires.

The origin of Slavic vampire myths developed during 9th C as a result of conflict between pre-Christian paganism and Christianity. Christianity won out with the vampires and other pagan beliefs surviving in folklore.

Causes of vampirism included: being born with a caul, teeth, or tail, being conceived on certain days, irregular death, excommunication, improper burial rituals etc. Preventative measures included: placing a crucifix in the coffin, or blocks under the chin to prevent the body from eating the shroud, nailing clothes to coffin walls for the same reason, placing millet or poppy seeds in the grave because vampires had a fascination with counting, or piercing the body with thorns or stakes.

Evidence that a vampire was at work in the neighbourhood included: death of cattle, sheep, relatives, neighbours, exhumed bodies being in a lifelike state with new growth of the fingernails or hair, or if the body was swelled up like a drum, or there was blood on the mouth and if the corpse had a ruddy complexion.

Vampires could be destroyed by staking, decapitation (the Kashubs placed the head between the feet), burning, repeating the funeral service, holy water on the grave, exorcism.



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ROMANIA:
Romania is surrounded by Slavic countries, so it isn't surprising that their vampires are variants of the Slavic vampire. They are called Strigoi based on the Roman term strix for screech owl which also came to mean demon or witch.
There are different types of strigoi: strigoi vii are live witches who will become vampires after death. They can send out their soul at night to meet with other witches or with Strigoi mort who are dead vampires. The strigoi mort are the reanimated bodies which return to suck the blood of family, livestock, and neighbours.

A person born with a caul, tail, born out of wedlock, or one who died an unnatural death, or died before baptism, was doomed to become a vampire. As was the seventh child of the same sex in a family, the child of a pregnant woman who didn't eat salt or was looked at by a vampire, or a witch. And naturally, being bitten by vampire, meant certain condemnation to a vampiric existence after death.

The Vircolac which is sometimes mentioned in folklore was more closely related to a mythological wolf that could devour the sun and moon and later became connected with werewolves rather than vampires. The person afflicted with lycanthropy could turn into a dog, pig, or wolf.

The vampire was usually first noticed when it attacked family and livestock, or threw things around in the house. Vampires, along with witches, were believed to be most active on the Eve of St George's Day (April 22 Julian, May 4 Gregorian calendar), the night when all forms of evil were supposed to be abroad. St Georges Day is still celebrated in Europe.

A vampire in the grave could be told by holes in the earth, an undecomposed corpse with a red face, or having one foot in the corner of the coffin. Living vampires were found by distributing garlic in church and seeing who didn't eat it.

Graves were often opened three years after death of a child, five years after the death of a young person, or seven years after the death of an adult to check for vampirism.

Measures to prevent a person becoming a vampire included, removing the caul from a newborn and destroying it before the baby could eat any of it, careful preparation of dead bodies, including preventing animals from passing over the corpse, placing a thorny branch of wild rose in the grave, and placing garlic on windows and rubbing it on cattle, especially on St George's & St Andrew's days.

To destroy a vampire, a stake was driven through the body followed by decapitation and placing garlic in the mouth. By the 19th century people were shooting a bullet through the coffin. For resistant cases, the body was dismembered and the pieces burned, mixed with water, and given to family members as a cure.



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GYPSIES AND VAMPIRES:
Even today, Gypsies frequently feature in vampire fiction and film, no doubt influenced by Bram Stoker's book "Dracula" in which the Szgany gypsies served Dracula, carrying his boxes of earth and guarding him.
In reality, Gypsies originated as nomadic tribes in northern India, but got their name from the early belief that they came from Egypt. By 1000 AD they started spreading westward and settled in Turkey for a time, incorporating many Turkish words into their Romany language.

By the 14th century they were all through the Balkans and within two more centuries had spread all across Europe. Gypsies arrived in Romania a short time before Vlad Dracula was born in 1431.

Their religion is complex and varies between tribes, but they have a god called O Del, as well as the concept of Good and Evil forces and a strong relationship and loyalty to dead relatives. They believed the dead soul entered a world similar to ours except that there is no death. The soul stayed around the body and sometimes wanted to come back. The Gypsy myths of the living dead added to and enriched the vampire myths of Hungary, Romania, and Slavic lands.

The ancient home of the Gypsies, India has many mythical vampire figures. The Bhuta is the soul of a man who died an untimely death. It wandered around animating dead bodies at night and attacked the living like a ghoul. In northern India could be found the brahmaparusha, a vampire-like creature with a head encircled by intestines and a skull from which it drank blood.

The most famous Indian vampire is Kali who had fangs, wore a garland of corpses or skulls and had four arms. Her temples were near the cremation grounds. She and the goddess Durga battled the demon Raktabija who could reproduce himself from each drop of blood spilled. Kali drank all his blood so none was spilled, thereby winning the battle and killing Raktabija.



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Sep/23/2007, 4:26 pm Link to this post Send Email to MaTTsWoRld   Send PM to MaTTsWoRld Blog
 
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Re: vampires-myth or the stuff of crazies


Sara or the Black Goddess is the form in which Kali survived among Gypsies. Gypsies have a belief that the three Marys from the New Testament went to France and baptised a Gypsy called Sara. They still hold a ceremony each May 24th in the French village where this is supposed to have occurred.

One Gypsy vampire was called a mullo (one who is dead). This vampire was believed to return and do malicious things and/or suck the blood of a person (usually a relative who had caused their death, or not properly observed the burial ceremonies, or who kept the deceased's possessions instead of destroying them as was proper.)

Female vampires could return, lead a normal life and even marry but would exhaust the husband. Anyone who had a hideous appearance, was missing a finger, or had animal appendages, etc. was believed to be a vampire.

Even plants or dogs, cats, or farm animals could become vampires. Pumpkins or melons kept in the house too long would start to move, make noises or show blood.

To get rid of a vampire people would hire a dhampire (the son of a vampire and his widow) to detect the vampire. To ward off vampires, gypsies drove steel or iron needles into a corpse's heart and placed bits of steel in the mouth, over the eyes, ears and between the fingers at the time of burial. They also placed hawthorn in the corpse's sock or drove a hawthorn stake through the legs. Further measures included driving stakes into the grave, pouring boiling water over it, decapitating the corpse, or burning it.

In spite of the disruption of Gypsy lives by the various eastern European communist regimes, they still retain much of their culture. In 1992 a new king of the Gypsies was chosen in Bistritz, Romania.



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BATS:
No discussion of vampires is even thinkable without talking about bats. They are integral to the modern day concept of the vampire, but this was not always the case.
Many cultures have various myths about bats. In South America, Camazotz was a bat god of the caves living in the Bathouse of the Underworld. In Europe, bats and owls were long associated with the supernatural, mainly because they were night creatures. On the other hand, the Gypsies thought them lucky - they wore charms made of bat bones. And in England the Wakefield crest and those of some others have bats on them.

So how did bats end up becoming associated with vampires? There are only three species of vampires bats in the entire world, all of which occur in Central and South America. During the 16th century the Spanish conquistadors first came into contact with them and recognized the similarity between the feeding habits of the bats and those of their mythical vampires. It wasn't long before they began to associate bats with their vampire legends. Over the following centuries the association became stronger and was used by various people, including James Malcom Rhymer who wrote "Varney the Vampyre" in the 1840's. Stoker cemented the linkage of bats and vampires in the minds of the general public.



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EIGHTEENTH CENTURY VAMPIRE CONTROVERSY:
Today everyone is familiar with vampires, but in Britain very little was known of vampires prior to the 18th century. What brought the vampire to the attention of the general public? During the 18th century there was a major vampire scare in Eastern Europe. Even government officials frequently got dragged into the hunting and staking of vampires.
This controversy was directly responsible for England's current vampire myths. In fact, the word Vampire only came into English language in 1732 via an English translation of a German report of the much publicized Arnold Paole vampire staking in Serbia.

Western scholars seriously considered the existence of vampires for the first time rather than just brushing them off as superstition. It all started with an outbreak of vampire attacks in East Prussia in 1721 and in the Austro-Hungarian empire from 1725-1734.

Two famous cases involved Peter Plogojowitz and Arnold Paole. Plogojowitz died at the age of 62, but came back a couple of times after his death asking his son for food. When the son refused, he was found dead the next day. Soon Plogojowitz returned and attacked some neighbours who died from loss of blood.

In the other famous case Arnold Paole, an ex-soldier turned farmer who had been attacked by a vampire years before, died while haying. After death people began to die and it was believed by everyone that Paole had returned to prey on the neighbours.

These two incidents were extremely well documented. Government officials examined the cases and the bodies, wrote them up in reports, and books were published afterwards of the Paole case and distributed around Europe. The controversy raged for a generation. The problem was exacerbated by rural people having an epidemic of vampire attacks and digging up bodies all over the place. Many scholars said vampires didn't exist - they attributed reports to premature burial, or rabies which causes thirst.

However, Dom Augustine Calmet, a well respected French theologian and scholar, put together a carefully thought out treatise in 1746 which said vampires did exist. This had considerable influence on other scholars at the time.

Eventually, Austrian Empress Marie Theresa sent her personal physician to investigate. He said vampires didn't exist and the Empress passed laws prohibiting the opening of graves and desecration of bodies. This was the end of the vampire epidemics. But by then everyone knew about vampires and it was only a matter of time before authors would preserve and mould the vampire into something new and much more accessible to the general public.



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Sep/23/2007, 4:26 pm Link to this post Send Email to MaTTsWoRld   Send PM to MaTTsWoRld Blog
 
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Re: vampires-myth or the stuff of crazies


quote:


 [sign in to see URL] the corpse with a sickle around its neck so if it sat up it would decapitate itself



Ok, that's one I didn't know... hmm... need to go find me a sickle.... emoticon

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