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DECK THE HOLIDAY'S: 09/16/15

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

40 FACTS AND FEATURES OF VAMPIRES!








  • A group a vampires has variously been called a clutch, brood, coven, pack, or a clan.
  • Probably the most famous vampire of all time, Count Dracula, quoted Deuteronomy 12:23: “The blood is the life.”
  • The Muppet vampire, Count von Count from Sesame Street, is based on actual vampire myth. One way to supposedly deter a vampire is to throw seeds (usually mustard) outside a door or place fishing net outside a window. Vampires are compelled to count the seeds or the holes in the net, delaying them until the sun comes up.
  • Prehistoric stone monuments called “dolmens” have been found over the graves of the dead in northwest Europe. Anthropologists speculate they have been placed over graves to keep vampires from rising.
  • A rare disease called porphyria (also called the "vampire" or "Dracula" disease) causes vampire-like symptoms, such as an extreme sensitivity to sunlight and sometimes hairiness. In extreme cases, teeth might be stained reddish brown, and eventually the patient may go mad.
  • Documented medical disorders that people accused of being a vampire may have suffered from include haematodipsia  which is a sexual thirst for blood, and hemeralopia or day blindness. Anemia (“bloodlessness”) was often mistaken for a symptom of a vampire attack.








  • One of the most famous “true vampires” was Countess Elizabeth Bathory (1560-1614) who was accused of biting the flesh of girls while torturing them and bathing in their blood to retain her youthful beauty. She was by all accounts a very attractive woman.
  • Vampire legends may have been based on Vlad of Walachia, also known as Vlad the Impaler (c. 1431-1476). He had a habit of nailing hats to people’s heads, skinning them alive, and impaling them on upright stakes. He also liked to dip bread into the blood of his enemies and eat it. His name, Vlad, means son of the dragon or Dracula, who has been identified as the historical Dracula. Though Vlad the Impaler was murdered in 1476, his tomb is reported empty.
  • One of the earliest accounts of vampires is found in an ancient Sumerian and Babylonian myth dating to 4,000 B.C. which describes ekimmu or edimmu (one who is snatched away). The ekimmu is a type of uruku or utukku (a spirit or demon) who was not buried properly and has returned as a vengeful spirit to suck the life out of the living.
  • According to the Egyptian text the Pert em Hru (Egyptian Book of the Dead), if the ka (one of the five parts of the soul) does not receive particular offerings, it ventures out of its tomb as a kha to find nourishment, which may include drinking the blood of the living. In addition, the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet was known to drink blood. The ancient fanged goddess Kaliof India also had a powerful desire for blood.
  • Chinese vampires were called a ch’iang shih (corpse-hopper) and had red eyes and crooked claws. They were said to have a strong sexual drive that led them to attack women. As they grew stronger, the ch’iang shih gained the ability to fly, grew long white hair, and could also change into a wolf.
  • While both vampires and zombies generally belong to the “undead,” there are differences between them depending on the mythology from which they emerged. For example, zombies tend to have a lower IQ than vampires, prefer brains and flesh rather than strictly blood, are immune to garlic, most likely have a reflection in the mirror, are based largely in African myth,      move more slowly due to rotting muscles, can enter churches, and are not necessarily afraid of fire or sunlight.
  • Vampire hysteria and corpse mutilations to “kill” suspected vampires were so pervasive in Europe during the mid-eighteenth century that some rulers created laws to prevent the unearthing of bodies. In some areas, mass hysteria led to public executions of people believed to be vampires.







  • The first full work of fiction about a vampire in English was John Polidori’s influential The Vampyre, which was published incorrectly under Lord Byron’s name. Polidori (1795-1821) was Byron’s doctor and based his vampire on Byron.
  • The first vampire movie is supposedly Secrets of House No. 5 in 1912. F.W. Murnau’s silent black-and-white Nosferatu came soon after, in 1922. However, it was Tod Browning’s Draculawith the erotic, charming, cape- and tuxedo-clad aristocrat played by Bela Lugosithat became the hallmark of vampire movies and literature.
  • A vampire supposedly has control over the animal world and can turn into a bat, rat, owl, moth, fox, or wolf.
  • In 2009, a sixteenth-century female skull with a rock wedged in its mouth was found near the remains of plague victims. It was not unusual during that century to shove a rock or brick in the mouth of a suspected vampire to prevent it from feeding on the bodies of other plague victims or attacking the living. Female vampires were also often blamed for spreading the bubonic plague throughout Europe.
  • Joseph Sheridan Le Fany’s gothic 1872 novella about a female vampire, “Carmilla,” is considered the prototype for female and lesbian vampires and greatly influenced Bram Stoker’s own Dracula. In the story, Carmilla is eventually discovered as a vampire and, true to folklore remedies, she is staked in her blood-filled coffin, beheaded, and cremated.
  • Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) remains an enduring influence on vampire mythology and has never gone out of print. Some scholars say it is clearly a Christian allegory; others suggest it contains covert psycho-sexual anxieties reflective of the Victorian era.
  • According to several legends, if someone was bitten by a suspected vampire, he or she should drink the ashes of a burned vampire. To prevent an attack, a person should make bread with the blood of vampire and eat it.








  • Thresholds have historically held significant symbolic value, and a vampire cannot cross a threshold unless invited. The connection between threshold and vampires seems to be a concept of complicity or allowance. Once a commitment is made to allow evil, evil can re-enter at any time.
  • Before Christianity, methods of repelling vampires included garlic, hawthorn branches, rowan trees (later used to make crosses), scattering of seeds, fire, decapitation with a gravedigger’s spade, salt (associated with preservation and purity), iron, bells, a rooster’s crow, peppermint, running water, and burying a suspected vampire at a crossroads. It was also not unusual for a corpse to be buried face down so it would dig down the wrong way and become lost in the earth.
  • After the advent of Christianity, methods of repelling vampires began to include holy water, crucifixes, and Eucharist wafers. These methods were usually not fatal to the vampire, and their effectiveness depended on the belief of the user.
  • Garlic, a traditional vampire repellent, has been used as a form of protection for over 2,000 years. The ancient Egyptians believed garlic was a gift from God, Roman soldiers thought it gave them courage, sailors believed it protected them from shipwreck, and German miners believed it protected them from evil spirits when they went underground. In several cultures, brides carried garlic under their clothes for protection, and cloves of garlic were used to protect      people from a wide range of illnesses. Modern-day scientists found that the oil in garlic, allicin, is a highly effective antibiotic.
  • That sunlight can kill vampires seems to be a modern invention, perhaps started by the U.S. government to scare superstitious guerrillas in the Philippines in the 1950s. While sunlight can be used by vampires to kill other vampires, as in Ann Rice’s popular novel Interview with a Vampire, other vampires such as Lord Ruthven and Varney were able to walk in daylight.
  • The legend that vampires must sleep in coffins probably arose from reports of gravediggers and morticians who described corpses suddenly sitting up in their graves or coffins. This eerie phenomenon could be caused by the decomposing process.
  • According to some legends, a vampire may engage in sex with his former wife, which often led to pregnancy. In fact, this belief may have provided a convenient explanation as to why a widow, who was supposed to be celibate, became pregnant. The resulting child was called a gloglave (pl. glog) in Bulgarian or vampirdzii in Turkish. Rather than being ostracized, the child was considered a hero who had powers to slay a vampire.








  • The Twilight book series (TwilightNew MoonEclipse, and Breaking Dawn) by Stephanie Meyers has also become popular with movie-goers. Meyers admits that she did not research vampire mythology. Indeed, her vampires break tradition in several ways. For example, garlic, holy items, and sunlight do not harm them. Some critics praise the book for capturing teenage feelings of sexual tension and alienation.
  • Hollywood and literary vampires typically deviate from folklore vampires. For example, Hollywood vampires are typically pale, aristocratic, very old, need their native soil, are supernaturally beautiful, and usually need to be bitten to become a vampire. In contrast, folklore vampires (before Bram Stoker) are usually peasants, recently dead, initially appear as shapeless “bags of blood,” do not need their native soil, and are often cremated with or without being staked.
  • Folklore vampires can become vampires not only through a bite, but also if they were once a werewolf, practiced sorcery, were excommunicated, committed suicide, were an illegitimate child of parents who were illegitimate, or were still born or died before baptism. In addition, anyone who has eaten the flesh of a sheep killed by a wolf, was a seventh son, was the child of a pregnant woman who was looked upon by a vampire, was a nun who stepped over an unburied body, had teeth when they were born, or had a cat jump on their corpse before being buried could also turn into vampires.
  • In vampire folklore, a vampire initially emerges as a soft blurry shape with no bones. He was “bags of blood” with red, glowing eyes and, instead of a nose, had a sharp snout that he sucked blood with. If he could survive for 40 days, he would then develop bones and a body and become much more dangerous and difficult to kill.
  • While blood drinking isn’t enough to define a vampire, it is an overwhelming feature. In some cultures, drinking the blood of a victim allowed the drinker to absorb their victim’s strength, take on an animal’s quality, or even make a woman more fecund. The color red is also involved in many vampire rituals.
  • In some vampire folktales, vampires can marry and move to another city where they take up jobs suitable for vampires, such as butchers, barbers, and tailors. That they become butchers may be based on the analogy that butchers are a descendants of the “sacrificer."
  • Certain regions in the Balkans believed that fruit, such as pumpkins or watermelons, would become vampires if they were left out longer than 10 days or not consumed by Christmas. Vampire pumpkins or watermelons generally were not feared because they do not have teeth. A drop of blood on a fruit's skin is a sign that it is about to turn into a vampire.






  • Mermaids can also be vampires—but instead of sucking blood, they suck out the breath of their victims.
  • By the end of the twentieth century, over 300 motion pictures were made about vampires, and over 100 of them featured Dracula. Over 1,000 vampire novels were published, most within the past 25 years.
  • The most popular vampire in children’s fiction in recent years had been Bunnicula, the cute little rabbit that lives a happy existence as a vegetarian vampire.
  • Some historians argue that Prince Charles is a direct descendant of the Vlad the Impaler, the son of Vlad Dracula.
  • The best known recent development of vampire mythology is Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spin-off, Angel. Buffy is interesting because it contemporizes vampirism in the very real, twentieth-century world of a teenager vampire slayer played by Sarah Michelle Gellar and her “Scooby gang.” It is also notable because the show has led to the creation of “Buffy Studies” in academia.

WHAT MAKES THE GRAVEYARD A SPOOKY AND SCARY PLACE?





    Under the watchful gaze of crumbling saints and baby-faced cherubs, you hurry down a path lined with mausoleums. Eventually, you pass crops of headstones casting long, narrow shadows in the moonlight. Each engraved with the epitaph of the dead person's life. You run past sunken graves and dying flowers, hoping that the sound you hear is just the wind and you're trying to shake the feeling that something is following close behind you.
    Maybe you've never taken a midnight stroll through your local cemetery. But if you have ever set foot in one, you've likely felt a hint of fear and uneasiness that is their legacy. Maybe you were attending a funeral of someone dear and close to you, touring graveyards or simply fleeing things that go bump in the night.
    Whatever your reason for strolling among the tombstones, you probably felt something noteworthy about the experience-something different from all the other spaces and places that fill our lives. After all, graveyards are the final resting place for many of our dead. People say their last goodbyes there, sometimes returning year after year to leave flowers or say a few words.
    No matter where we travel in the world, cemeteries are silent and solemn settings. Whether the grounds are finely manicured or left to the weeds, graveyard exist as the place where the living contemplate many mysteries, traumas and heartbreaks associated with death.
    Why are many people afraid of graveyards? Is it the thought of all those decaying bodies (zombies) under the dirt or the idea of an old crusty are coming out of the grass to grab your foot and pull you into their final resting spot with them? Or is it something deeper?









    Cats often receive a bum rap for hanging out in cemeteries, but can anyone blame them? Graveyards offer a cat everything they could ask for: all the best spots to nap, trees to use as scratching posts and a selection of small animals to prey on. What more could your averages sized cat want with your dead relatives soul when there are many squirrels and birds around to occupy their time?
    To cats, graveyards may be another place to sleep away the afternoon, but to we humans, they represent the mystery and the outrage of mortality. Whether we like it or not we're all going to die. You may think you've accepted that fact, but it's an issue humanity has struggled with for ages. Unable to avoid it, we've tried to figure out what lies beyond its doors. Will we live forever in a golden paradise, be reincarnated as a cow (or a cat that spends all afternoon in a cemetery) or simply cease to exist? We've pined for understanding since the times of the great pyramids and stared into the eyes of guillotined heads, hoping to catch a glimpse of something other than the emptiness of nonexistence.
    Fear exists as a response to stimuli that threatens our survival as a species. We're programmed to fight or run from anything that might cause death, and we approach death with this same attitude. We flee from it every day by distancing it from our thoughts and lives. In most parts of the world, we've handed the duties of interring the dead over to morticians, which limits our intimacy with death.
    Fighting death is trickier. To avoid staring down mortality, we've redefined what death is. We choose to see dying not as something our bodies eventually do, but something that eventually happens to our bodies. We cast ourselves as the victim of death, which is the reason grim reapers and other death-stalking beings permeate our beliefs. If death is a natural counterpart to life, there's nothing we can do about it in the end. But if it's something inflicted on us by an outside force, then perhaps we have a fighting chance.
    Society often sets aside the angel of death and instead chooses to practice what some people call "the deconstruction of mortality." That is, we break down the insurmountable mystery of death into smaller pieces we can digest easily: biological functions, diseases and mental dysfunctions. If prayer or bribing the reaper doesn't work, maybe multiple organ transplants will.
Pray and think about death all you want, but it's still going to happen at some time.









    Disposing of a body isn't difficult. Bury it in the forest, cremate it or just leave it out for the vultures--a rite Zoroastrains in India still practice. Not only are these methods cheaper than buying a fancy casket and a cemetery plot, but they also allow "Mother Earth" to reclaim the decaying material faster. The use of stone mausoleums, coffins and embalming only slows down the decomposition process.
    But then again, burials aren't really about the dead--they're about the living. We do our best to stave off some of the bad properties of death. And while immortality isn't an option, tombstones and stone monuments serve as long-lasting markers of the life that was. Aunt Betty may be out of your life for good, but a slab of engraved granite will serve as a reminder that she existed. Cemetery stonework also serves to encourage a sacred atmosphere, enforcing notions of afterlife and further establishing the site as a kind of sacred place between life and death.
    We humans fear death, yet we work hard to maintain hallowed spaces where the dead are memorialized and at least partially preserved. On top of that, we heap religions full of resurrection prophecies and thousands of years' worth of superstitions, folktales and ghost stories. We're constantly repressing our feelings about death or magnifying them to tremendous proportions. Maybe you avoid cemeteries and nursing homes, or actively try to speak to the dead through TV psychic mediums-either way, you're striving to avoid the real relationship that exists between life and death.
    We've poured a lot of sacrament, superstition and fear into our graveyards, which makes for quite a powerful atmosphere. Not only do graveyards play on past memories of loss, they also invoke potentially potent themes of supernatural terror. It's not just horror movies that contribute to this frightening reputation. Cemetery preservation groups and historical societies sometime get in on the action with haunted tours.
In more extreme cases, people actually suffer from colmetrophobia, the fear of graveyards. The condition involves a heightened, unrealistic fear of graveyards that actively interferes with a person's life. But unless walking past a cemetery makes your heart race, your fear probably doesn't qualify as a phobia.
    For the most part, the only things you really have to fear in graveyards are collapsing tombstones and monuments. Besides that, living, breathing humans are responsible for more graveyard assaults than all the vampires, zombies and ghouls combined.