TL;DR- Be careful of leaving your windows open, even if the weather is pleasant, because if lore and fiction is to be believed, you could get an unwanted visitor. The visitor will slip in, and quietly hoover over you for a moment, as if deciding whether you are worthy of its attention. Before you know it, this creature will begin drinking your blood from your neck. If you are unlucky, it will drain all the life from your body, and you will become what it is- a vampire. Stories from centuries ago tell of the dead rising from the grave in the form of vampires to terrorize the living, but are they real? This article will explore that question, and find out how vampires are made, if they are real, and how to protect yourself from vampires. Join us to find out the terrifying truth about vampires.
What is a Vampire?
A vampire is a dead person who is still active and who feeds off the blood of the living at night. There have been vampire-like creatures all around the world in ancient lore. The kuntilanuk of Indonesia can take the form of a bird or a beautiful woman with red eyes and pale skin who appears in a blood-stained dress and feeds off the blood of the living. The peuchen of Chile is a vampire-like creature who removes the hearts of its victims without leaving any marks on the body. The soucouyant of the Caribbean appears as a hag by day but removes its human skin at night and sucks blood from victims, exchanging this stolen blood for evil magical powers. In Eastern Europe, they believed in revenants, evil people whose spirit was so malevolent, they were able to rise from the grave and continue terrorizing the living.
Different legends speak of different appearances of vampires. Revenants, for example, were rotting corpses, so you could often smell their decaying bodies before you saw them, and their eyes were sunken. They could be in any stage of decay, and were sometimes riddled with maggots and worms, or their skin and flesh was hanging in shreds from their bones. The kuntalanuk was a beautiful woman, except her eyes were red, and if a man approached her, she would turn her back to him to reveal she was hollow. The strigoi of Romania was bald, had a long tail covered with fur, and could become invisible or transform into animals. The vrykolakas of Greece was more of a ghoul and its body would not decay but would become fat with ruddy skin from all the human livers and blood it ingested, and having red hair with hazel eyes was believed to be a sign of being this creature.
Typically, vampires have two long fangs they use to feed with and are active at night, as sunlight either kills them or weakens their power. They often sleep in tombs, crypts, or underground in their graves, emerging every night to feed. Some vampires are sexually hypnotic to their victims, and they not only enjoy sex, but they use it to lure their victims to them. They have superhuman strength, are nearly impossible to kill, and some legends say they do not cast a shadow or have a reflection in the mirror. They are not truly alive, but not entirely dead, and they need the lifeforce of living human beings to keep from dying completely. Some people believe they bring plague and disease and if they are found and killed, the disease will magically dispel.
How a Vampire is Made
Vampires were once regular human beings, and something happened to turn them into the undead monsters who people feared. Different stories tell of different ways somebody could change into a vampire. One could become a vampire if another vampire attacked them and if one lived an especially evil life, they could become a vampire. Then there were also various strange occurrences nobody expected that could change somebody into a vampire.
One of the most widely known ways of becoming a vampire was to be attacked by one. Some lore stated that a vampire had to deliberately use some methods to turn you into one of them, and other lore stated that if you were so much as bitten by a vampire, you became one. A vampire could first bite you, and then have you drink some of their blood to turn you into a vampire. Some believed that those who were so miserable they were driven ot suicide would turn into vampires when they died. A witch could put a curse on people to turn them into vampires as well.
People who lived especially evil lives or who were buried outside of holy grounds were especially at risk of becoming vampires. The tiyanik of the Philippines becomes a vampire through the evil deeds of others and through no fault of its own. It is believed that if a baby dies before birth or soon after and is not blessed with the proper baptism, it becomes a tiyanik. It rises from the dead to demand a proper burial and kills its mother if it is denied this. Cannibalism during life is believed to turn somebody into a vampire when they die. Being a malevolent witch while alive is also believed to transform somebody into a vampire when they die.
If a cat jumps across your dead body or grave within a certain number of days after death, you can turn into a vampire. To combat the chances of this happening, some people would sit with a body for a certain period of time to protect it. If your parents had been cursed, you might change into a vampire. If you drank somebody else’s blood while you were alive, even if it was an accident, it could change you into a vampire. A baby born with teeth was at high risk of becoming a vampire, and to be born anytime between Christmas Day and Epiphany made it highly likely you would become a vampire after death. If your mother did not eat enough salt to banish evil while she was pregnant you might become a vampire, and if one of your parents became a vampire, your chances of becoming one rose drastically.
Protection from Vampires
The goal obviously was to avoid vampires at all costs. While some people might think living longer would be desirable, being a vampire was not something people wanted. So, to avoid both being harmed by them, or being changed into them, people went to great lengths to ward vampires off. Sacred objects and places were believed to repel vampires and confining them could keep them from wreaking havoc. Then if all else fails, it might be very difficult, but a vampire could be killed.
Salt was believed to be naturally blessed and could be carried to protect yourself or spread on the ground to keep vampires from entering. Churches, temples, and other holy places were believed to be a safe place where vampires could not enter, and this included blessed graveyards. Crucifixes, holy water, the Catholic Eucharist host, and anything at all that had been blessed by a Catholic priest was believed to ward off vampires. Some people believed that garlic repelled vampires, and sunlight was said to be something they avoided. A silver coin soaked in blood a type of Albanian vampire called a shtriga vomited and then wrapped in cloth provided protection against them.
Confining the Vampire
It was believed that if a vampire could not come out of its lair, it could not harm the living. They could be buried upside down so when they tried to dig themselves out of the ground to the surface, they just kept burying themselves more. Staking the vampire through the heart or mouth would keep them anchored to the ground so they could not rise from the grave. A Hebrew belief was that a vampire could be confined by filling its mouth with earth. Placing coins over the eyes of the dead would make sure they stayed dead and had money to pay the fare to cross over into the afterlife.
Vampires are dead, but not completely, so getting rid of them means killing them for good and that could be accomplished by a number of ways. Setting them on fire would destroy their body completely so they could not return from the dead again. Decapitation of the corpse could also completely kill them. Burying the vampire on sacred grounds or sprinkling it with holy water could kill it permanently. Large, heavy objects like stones could be laid across the body to keep it from rising from the grave, and written prayers placed with a body could keep it dead. Exorcism of the vampire spirit could end its life once and for all as well.
There are countless vampire accounts from history, but a few stand out from the most famous cases. The explanation of why people believed they were the undead may surprise you when you first read about it, but once it is explained, it will make sense. One was a woman named Mercy Brown and another was a man named Pater Blagojevic. Another was Fredrick Ransom and all three cases are easily explained with an understanding of disease.
Mercy Brown died of tuberculosis at the age of 19 in Exeter, Rhode Island in 1892. Multiple family members also had tuberculosis, and rather than blame the disease and the fact it is highly contagious, people somehow decided that Mercy had been a vampire and had returned from the grave to attack her relatives. Mercy was not the first family member to die of tuberculosis, and hers was not the only body exhumed. Two other family member’s corpses were examined, and it was decided they had decomposed enough they could not possibly have been vampires, but Mercy’s body had not decomposed much, and blood was still present in her heart.
This was believed to mean she was a vampire and to blame for another family member, Edwin’s tuberculosis. Her heart was removed and burned, and the ashes sprinkled with water. Edwin drank this, and people were shocked it did not cure him. He died two months later. It was later decided her body showed little decomposition because she had only been dead for a couple of months, and it was very cold after her funeral and prior to her exhumation. Her body was later buried at the cemetery at the Baptist Church of Exeter.
This man was a man in Serbia who died in 1725. Right after his death, nine other people died of sudden illness that claimed their lives within 24 hours of onset. People panicked and believed Pater had arisen three days after his death and had returned as a vampire. A rumor was that he returned to the house and demanded food from his son after his death, and when he asked the first time, his son fed him. When he came back and asked again, his son refused, and while Pater was said to have given up and left, his son was found dead the next day, so people said Pater killed him. His wife told people that Pater came to see her after his death and asked if she would give her shoes to him. She moved out of town to get away from him.
Each of the nine victims were said to have complained of exhaustion, and were coughing up blood, but they all said one strange thing. They all said they had dreams about Pater. A priest was terrified, and reached out to the local magistrate, who summoned officers and an executioner. They exhumed Pater’s body, and his body was like Mercy’s. Decomposition was minimal, but Pater’s mouth was glistening with blood. It was decided he was a vampire and was responsible for all the deaths. When a stake was driven through Pater’s body, it was said to gush blood, and he was burned to ash afterwards. The other people who had died were exhumed and reburied with whitethorn and garlic to prevent them from becoming vampires. Contagious disease seems a more likely reason for the deaths than anything else in this case.
Another tuberculosis victim, Fredrick Ransom died of it at the age of 20 in South Woodstock, Vermont in 1817. For some reason, his father was terrified that Fredrick might return as a vampire and attack the family. Fredrick’s body was exhumed, and his heart was removed before it was burned. The story didn’t end there, however, because several other family members became ill with tuberculosis and died despite the preventative ritual. It was noted that normally, uneducated people performed such rituals, but Fredrick’s family was educated, and it was unusual for any of them to have such superstitious beliefs. A person with untreated active tuberculosis can infect 15 or more people per year and if left untreated, tuberculosis is terminal. Treatment for tuberculosis had not been found yet and in the 1800’s tuberculosis killed close to ¼ of the population of Europe.
In 1869, it was successfully demonstrated by Jean Antoine Villemin that tuberculosis was contagious and in 1882 Robert Koch proved it was spread by infection. It was not until 1895 the X-Ray was invented by Wilhelm Conrad Rontgen, and this was used to diagnose tuberculosis. Fifty years later, a cure for tuberculosis was created, but medical understanding helped reduce transmission of it, which also meant death from tuberculosis decreased. By the 1950’s tuberculosis vaccines had become widely distributed, and it helped drop levels of the disease immensely. Some of these famous “vampires” were simply victims of deadly disease.
While fear of death and attacks are the subjects of most vampire stories, there are also people who are emotional energy drains, and they tend to make people tired or frustrated wherever they go. Some people call them psychic vampires. Some psychic vampires are hungry for attention and will go out of their way to make sure they are the center of attention, even to the point of being selfish and inconsiderate of other people. Some psychic vampires are deliberately unkind and take great pleasure in hurting other people’s feelings. Some psychic vampires are just very negative people who emotionally drain people with their complaining, attempts for sympathy, or hostility.
Warding off psychic vampires is much easier than digging up a corpse and desecrating it and this is done with the power of your mind. First and foremost, never let your guard down when they are around, because they could start trying to take somebody else’s energy at any time. Sometimes you are stuck around them, and when this happens, you can still be protected. Refuse to allow them to engage you. This could mean redirecting the conversation or walking away from them. You can also simply ignore their behavior and focus on something else. Consciously visualize protective energy shields around you and don’t let any energy through your shields.
It would be easy to give in to psychic vampires because a lot of them are master manipulators. They know just what to say and do to control other people, and they feed off the trauma and chaos they create. A lot of them are used to getting their way, but if they have always been able to manipulate you, there is no reason you can’t change that. Cord cutting rituals like simply telling them no can cut the emotional ties that bind you to them. You can also look them in the eye and not say a word when they start trying to manipulate you, but just keep looking at them until they realize you are not going to give in to them. They will move on and manipulate other people, feeding off their energy instead when they realize they can’t get what they want from you.
What Science Says
It is not possible for a dead person to come back days or weeks after they are medically dead. It is possible to come back from the dead with the help of doctors within minutes of death, but that is not what made people think vampires were real. People mistook naturally occurring phenomena as being supernatural. Things like premature burial and misunderstanding of how the body decomposes were just two ways people thought vampires were real. Some diseases were mistaken for vampirism, but one very real supernatural thing made people think vampires existed, and that is hauntings.
Years ago, premature burial was a real concern. For example, in 1885 in North Carolina, a man named Jenkins was found dead in his coffin, but apparently, he had been alive when he was laid in it. He pulled parts of his own hair out and had been trying to tear his way out of the locked coffin, as evidenced by the scratch marks visible. Even as recently as 2012 in Massachusetts, a man was delivered to a funeral home, but was found to be alive. The funeral home called the hospital and saved him. So great was the fear of premature burial in the past, safety coffins were invented and things like bells the victim could ring to alert people they were still alive and tubes to the ground so oxygen could be breathed until they could be dug out of the earth were installed.
However, some people were buried alive, even though there is no way to tell how often it happened. In 2011, a Philippine girl awoke in her grave and dug her way out. She said a man had raped and struck her, then buried her in the shallow grave she escaped from. It was not reported she was accused of being a vampire, but digging out of a grave after being buried and believed to be dead accounts for belief the dead arose from the grave.
When a body dies and is buried, certain things happen naturally. The gums recede, giving the teeth the appearance of growing longer, which accounts for belief vampires had long fangs. The hair and nails continue to grow for a while, which could give the illusion that the body was not completely dead. Sometimes blood pours out of the mouth, which could make the body look like it had been drinking blood. If it is cold, the body might not decompose very quickly. Dead bodies have been known to sit up, open the mouth or eyes, and emit sounds when pressure from gas escapes the body, and that’s just what happens sometimes. Misunderstanding of these natural processes can lead people to believe the corpse is a living vampire.
Tuberculosis and rabies are two diseases people have mistaken for vampirism. Those suffering from tuberculosis, or the consumption could not count on a cure prior to modern times when vaccinations and antibiotics battle the disease. Tuberculosis is a contagious disease, so in families, multiple people could sicken and die from it without treatment, and it was instead believed that a vampire had fed on the family and weakened them in the night. Rabies is transmitted by a bite or scratch from an infected animal, and the symptoms include aggression, including biting, extreme thirst brought on when the illness makes the sufferer unable to swallow, and things like fear of water. If somebody believed a sufferer to be a vampire and threw water on them, they should not be surprised if a rabies victim bites them.
The truth is, when people die, sometimes their spirits visit us. They visit us when we are awake and, in our dreams, as well. When we are grieving a death, we are emotionally and physically drained. A visit from the spirit of a deceased loved one during our time of fatigue and grief can be misinterpreted as the dead draining our energy. Speaking with a psychic medium to communicate with the departed can alleviate any worries. Leaving a gift of food and drink for the dead on a magical altar can also give them some energy if it is believed they are taking some of your energy. Light a candle, tell them you love them, and take comfort in the fact they are still communicating with you instead of being afraid. They might be dead, but they still love you and they are nothing to be afraid of.
Are Vampires Real?
So, are vampires real? If people from centuries ago are to be believed, the dead can rise from the grave to prey upon the living. The truth about vampires is, there are plenty of living people who can prey upon your energy, use, and abuse you, and drain your lifeforce because of their selfishness or malevolence. Because of doctors, the dead can live again if they are revived quickly enough, but still, they are not the classic vampire lore speaks of. So, in a way, yes, vampires are real. You won’t have to worry about a corpse with an insatiable appetite for blood and sex eating you alive or transforming you into one of them, though.
Although people believed that vampires were unholy humans who rose from the grave and caused disease and death, it is impossible for such a creature to exist anywhere outside of stories. Partly an attempt to explain things like the fatigue you get when a loved one dies and the fact their spirit lingers for a while, vampire stories have horrified and captivated us for generations. In a way vampires are real, but they are not going to come to you in a physical form if they have died. Psychic vampires are easily warded off by refusal to allow them to engage with your energy. So, there is no need to fear vampires. We can safely enjoy the lore and modern fiction about them, and rest assured we need not fear the dead.
About the Author: Lady Saoirse has studied magic and lore for most of her life but started walking her own Magical Path after being spiritually reborn in the desert. Today she is a High Priestess for The Temple of the Goddess, she is a psychic advisor and spiritual counselor, she shares her gifts as a Psychic and Content Writer for Spiritual Blossom, and she writes for Pagan Pages emag.