Throughout recorded history and probably back beyond that, the idea of the
psychic vampire has haunted mankind’s dreams. Strange mystical, mythical
creatures who lurked in the darker recesses of the human mind, these beings were
thought to sap the energy of living mortals, reducing them, unless stopped, to
shadows of their former selves. People who, for no apparent reason, became
continuously tired, listless and lethargic were often thought to have been
visited by vampires or evil spirits. The medieval Christian Church, always eager to give shape and form to such
things as a means of keeping their congregations in line, called them incubi and
sucubi, male and female forms of the evil demons (medieval psychic vampires) to
which they added a sexual context. Anyone having dreams of a sexual nature were
said to have been visited by either an incubus or a sucubus who planted the
sinful ideas in the minds of weak mortals as a means of ensnaring them.
The psychic vampire is, of course, a very close relation to the more
widespread and “popular” blood vampire that appears in literature, film and
popular drama, the epitome of which is Count Dracula. The principle remains the
same from physical blood-lusting vampire to psychic energy-grabbing vampires in
that the Count drains the life force through the actual physical blood whereas
the psychic vampire is more subtle, draining the life force by destroying the
“will” of its victim. In many ways, the typical vampire scenario such as Count
Dracula, casts the vampire in the role of ultimate incubus. It is a creature of
the night (darkness), evil in “human” form. Its victims are invariably young,
attractive women, although it is not averse to the odd male now and again should
the need arise or should there be no other available source. Like its cousin,
the Psychic Vampire, (who is not so fussy as to the gender of its victims)
Dracula and his ilk are after your immortal soul...
The vampire has long been a source of morbid fascination, particularly for authors of gothic fiction. Although The Vampyre - Polidori's uninspired pilfering of an unfinished tale by Lord Byron in 1819 - sparked a hugely popular revival in vampire literature that eventually led, in 1897, to Bram Stoker's Dracula (and its subsequent exhaustive film adaptation), vampire fiction can be traced back as far as classical Greece.Many attempts to explain the vampire myth have been cursed by the difficulty in separating the genuine folklore from the lurid fiction it inspired; Stoker, for example, seems to have added several qualities to the vampire which were subsequently adopted into the literature as genuine - suchas the idea that a vampire has no reflection.Some researchers have plumped for psychological interpretations of the vampire, others have suggested rare blood diseases (such as Dr Dolphin's porphyria hypothesis), but all are flawed and inspired more by the fictional vampire than his folkloric archetype.
'vampires' exhumed and dispatched throughout eastern and central Europe
during the middle ages are not really the subject of this discussion.
Paul Barber studies these cases in some detail, and shows how corpses
can be expected to appear in the 'vampiric' condition - bloated, with
blood at the mouth.
Such outbreaks are undoubtedly largely brought
about by the plague, which was also a factor behind the witch hunts.
His hypothesis, although
admirable, is somewhat strained when he tries to explain the many and
varied apotropaic measures,and unconvincing in explaining why such a
complex mythology developed originally. I believe that behind the old
folklore is a core phenomenon. The vampire, and the apotropaic measures
dictated by lore, is clearly essentially pre-Christian. In this article
we will explore ancient worldviews and archaic magico-religious
practices to gain an astonishing insight into the genesis of the
vampire. The key to decoding the vampire, I suggest, is shamanism.
Shamanism is the earliest
known form of religion, whose roots can be traced back to the
Palaeolithic era, and is the root of all modern magic. The shaman would
be held responsible for the fertility of his tribe's land, the welfare
of his people and their luck in hunting. He would fall into a
trance-like state and travel into the spirit worlds to consult withthe
Australia - Yara-Ma-Yha-Who : This
vampirelike creature is found in aboriginal culture. The 'Yara-Ma-Yha-Who' has
the appearance of a four foot tall red man with an exceptionally large head and
mouth. Having no teeth, this creature swallows its food whole and uses suckers
on the ends of its toes and fingers to drain its victim of blood. This vampire,
like the 'Asasabonsam' of Africa, hides in fig trees and attacks people as they
walk underneath. According to Legend if you were unlucky enough to be attacked
more than once by this creature you might gradually become shorter and
eventually become a 'Yara-Ma-Yha-Who' yourself.
China - Chiang-shih : (also
called 'Kiang-shi') This terrifying vampire creature is said to be caused by
either the demonic posession of a recently deceased corpse or by suicide or some
other violent death. It has been documented in two forms: In one form it is a
tall and murderous, walking corpse with green or white hair all over its body.
This vampire has long, sharp claws, serrated teeth, glowering red eyes and foul
breath which will knock you dead at twenty paces. In this form it will leap out
of graves to attack people travelling at night and can also learn to fly if it
survives long enough to mature properly. In its more usual form it can appear
human and will not be recognised as a vampire until it does something that will
give it away. For example, like the slavic vampire, it is unable to cross
running water, has the ability to transform into a wolf and is allergic to
Germany - Alp : This
creature is similar in behaviour to the 'Incubus' as its victims are generally
women which it attacks at night, drinking milk from their nipples and causing
them to have horrible nightmares, athough it will also drink blood from the
nipples of men and young children. The 'Alp' is generally believed to be a
demon, although there are accounts in which they occur as spirits of recently
deceased relations. There are also instances which state that children may
become an 'Alp' if the mother suffers a long and painful childbirth and is
forced to use a horse collar to ease the pain...
Elizabeth Bathory, the Blood Countess, is one of the most famous of all historical vampires. She is perhaps less well-known only than the infamous Vlad Dracula, known also as Tepes (the Impaler) and he - although noted for his savage and very public methods of execution - was no vampire, but has merely been cited as the inspiration for Bram Stoker's fictional Count Dracula.In fact, the historical Dracula is usually best known as a devout, if savage, Christian warrior and noted for his successful enforcement of the law within the Voevodate of Wallachia.Elizabeth Bathory on the other hand is renowned as a torturer, an eater of flesh and a bather in blood, and has been cited by prominent vampirologist RaymondMcNally in his book Dracula was a Woman (which is currently out of print) as a closer model for Bram Stoker's creation than Tepes.
like Stoker's Dracula, was a Hungarian of noble blood, whereas Tepes
was Romanian; the Voevod, or Prince, of Wallachia when said title was
not in the hands of his brother.
Also, although his deeds were bloody,
Tepes is never reported to have drunk the blood of his victims, while
Elizabeth Bathory is reputed (admittedly with only anecdotal evidence)
to have not only drunk but bathed in the blood of young virgin girls.
The truth of whether she was a model for the Count will remain known
only to Stoker, but certainly in the years since Dracula was published,
the Blood Countess has exercised a powerful fascination on many writers
The Birth and Childhood ofElizabeth Bathory
Erzsebet Bathory, known
more commonly in the Western world by the anglicised name Elizabeth,
was born in 1560, the daughter of Baron George Bathory and Baroness
Anna Bathory. George and Anna were both Bathorys by birth; he a member
of the Ecsed branch of the family and of the Somlyo. Such inbreeding
was not uncommon in the aristocracy of 16th Century Eastern Europe, as
the purity of the noble line was seen as paramount.
The Bathory were one of the
most powerful Protestant families in Hungary, and numbered warlords,
politicians and clerics among its members. Elizabeth's ancestor Stephan
Bathory had fought alongside Vlad Dracula in one of his many successful
attempts to reclaim the Wallachian throne, and his namesake,
Elizabeth's cousin, became Prince of Transylvania in 1571, and was
later elected King of Poland. Other members of the family......