This just in: Daily New reports the existence of vampires is (not) real!
Could you imagine? It isn’t so, but every time they find a new and interesting discovery backing up myth and folklore, the news makes sure to word their headlines in the proper way to send the believers into a dither. So I guess that leaves me standing at the point where I must ask – are you a believer?
Today, Immortal Monday will take a look at beliefs and fears that lead to actions that might quite possibly have been the inspiration for the original Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
Modern society has a romanticized image of vampires. Just look at Twilight, True Blood or Vampire Diaries. But, at the core of their birth, they were something to be feared. There was no soft side to cuddle up to, or desirable lips to kiss behind your father’s back. Dracula was a vicious killer and blood sucker. He was the thing nightmares are made of. But our image of vampires seems to reflect a change in society’s way of thinking. And where there was once fear in the stories, it is now replaced with romance.
Both Twilight and True Blood started as popular books and went on to make a big splash on the large and small screen. They feature both hunters of the paranormal, the vampire and the werewolf. But it might surprise you to learn that, if you go back far enough in folklore, you’ll find they were originally believed to be one and the same. That’s right, you read that correctly – the werewolf is a vampire. Or rather, it was believed that the werewolf became a vampire when they died. It’s most likely one such belief lead to the staking and burial of the poor soul recently discovered in Bulgaria in July of this year (a huge thanks to my friend Darin, for bringing this to my attention when I was otherwise engaged).
700 years old and no teeth. That’s what was found. How do they jump to the conclusion – Vampire? When the body was exhumed, the evidence simply added up. The iron had been stabbed through his chest and the canine teeth had been pulled. It is theorized that this method was used to prevent the subject from making the transformation into a vampire. Was the individual then considered a werewolf during their existence. We may never know. Perhaps they were exceptionally hairy. 😉
In 2009, in Venice Italy, a skull was found in a mass grave that left people scratching their heads – vampire? It wasn’t just any skull. This one had a brick shoved in its mouth. A method used back before they understood forensic science. It was meant to prevent the spread of the “Black Death,” vampires were believed to cause. Of course, this was in a time when the bubonic plague was rampant. People were dying, and they were getting thrown in large mass graves. They would have been dying with our without the vampires help.
Sometimes, older graves would be opened to add new dead. The grave diggers found themselves confused by what they saw. They didn’t understand bloated bodies, fingernails that still grew or blood trickling from a mouth. It only stands to reason that their minds would race to what they feared most – monsters. So, when the grave diggers saw so many dead bodies with blood at their lips and concave or scratched cloth over their faces, they assumed vampire rather than natural causes. From this, the brick method was born in hopes of preventing any further spread of this ugly disease. (To see what it really looked like, go here).
Now, we Americans don’t need to travel so excessively far for a taste of vampire lore. We have our own legend right here on Rhode Island. Again, most likely the result of a lack of knowledge and a fear of what people don’t understand. But in the late 1800’s. 1883 to be exact, there was a young girl by the name of Mercy Lena Brown. Her family started dropping like flies around her. Death touched her family in a large way. It was the time of consumption and Tuberculosis, so we must take that into consideration. In 1892 Mercy, herself, passed on. She was only 19 years of age. Two months after her death, the coffin was exhumed by a family member. To their surprise it appeared that she had shifted in her coffin, there was blood in her veins, her hair and nails appeared to have grown, and her heart was still soft, fleshy and juicy. Mercy died in January. Due to the weather the ground was too hard for digging so her coffin was stored. It’s possible her body was preserved by the cold weather. It’s possible.
As mentioned earlier, man was not educated in forensics back then, as we are today, and they got a little worked up about this find. Mercy’s heart was quickly removed and burned to ashes. One more vampire beats the dust.
What have we discussed? Werewolves and vampires were of the same creature. Misunderstanding the decomposition process and a lack of knowledge regarding disease led to the fear of vampirism. Can you add any more superstitions to the list? As you can see, our stories and folklore are generally built upon misunderstandings and a lack of knowledge. On occasion, the stories were created to instill fear or create order and control in a situation. Be it enforce a curfew or other.
There are still schools of die-hard believers. I’ve trolled the sites, seen the polls and was surprised at the numbers. Do you believe that vampires were born out of truth (a disease that inflicts the living or the dead) or a result of all the things mentioned above? Is there another explanation?
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