Vampire

I never drink… wine.

So, again, I can’t say that my re-watching of Buffy the Vampire Slayer has nothing to do with this post, but I can say that of all the mystical creatures, vampires are at the top of my list.  I have always been a little drawn to them from my first viewing of Bela Lugosi in Dracula.  To that end, gentles, let’s explore the vampire.

Folklore

It is apparent that vampiric creatures have been a notion in folklore and oral tradition for 1000s of years.  Early civilizations (read Mesopotamians and Hebrews), had concepts of life stealing and even blood sucking demons that are the precursors to our modern day concepts of vampires.  These demons had humanoid shapes in some cases, but in other traditions that were shambling , rotting corpses – more like a zombie then the dignified vampire that we have come to know and love.  It was not until the 18th century that we as a society, in particular Western Europe begin to define the modern notions of the vampire.

Modern Interpretations

It is in more modern times, actually from a 1734 work that the term Vampire first appears.  The next big step in the vampire history was 1819.  Two works, Byron’s Fragment of a Novel and Polidori’s The Vampyre came out and helped to start the vampire craze.  This is actually more literal then you might think.  These works, combined with more freedom of travel in the industrializing world brought the folkloric beliefs of the people of Eastern Europe, to the West.  As more and more literature was written, people got to be more and more freaked out about the concept of the vampire.  The line between fiction and non-fiction got blurred as the Church and people in general begin staking corpses and living people were accused of being vampires.

1897 though should probably be thought of as the true birthday of the modern vampire.  Bram Stoker’s book Dracula became the jumping off point for all things vampire.  Stoker combined many supernatural tales and myths and legends into his concept of the vampire and the people of this Victorian age embraced it heavily, in fact, it can be said that people are still embracing it.  If you want a good version of the book (though it is not complete) watch the Francis Ford Coppola movie from the 90s.

Protection from vampires

  • Garlic
  • Crosses and Crucifixes
  • Wild Rose
  • Hawthorn
  • Mustard Seed
  • Holy Water
  • Consecrated Ground
  • Mirrors (though I would say that this one is debatable)
  • Can’t enter a residence unless invited

Killing a Vampire

  • Sunlight
  • Wooden Stake through the Heart
  • Decapitation
Obviously the two above lists are not exhaustive and not true in all vampire literature or references – but seeing as I am not into the whole sparkly vampire thing…

Pop-Culture

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

One of my favorite shows ever on TV.  Love the mythos, love the storytelling and love the dialogue.  In BtVS, Joss Whedon takes a few liberties with the traditional ideas of the vampire but he keeps the basics intact.  From Angel to Spike, from the Master and the First, Whedon and crew’s imagining of the vampire and the world they created gave the vampire depth and passion.

Ann Rice

Ann Rice created an entirely different, more erotic and different history and world for the vampires to play in.  No longer did holy relics and symbols hurt them.  She also changed their history a little, relating the vampire back to Cain in the Bible.  Rice’s books are certainly a stopping off point for anybody interested in this world.

Steampunk Culture

Inside the Steampunk movement there is a bit of an undead underbelly that is really into the vampire thing.  They are combining those Victorian notions of the vampire with their love of all things Steampunk and doing some really cool things with costuming and characterizations.  And, if you are looking for a great, traditional vampire costume, you need look no further then a Steampunk clothing merchant, they will make sure you can attend that immortal, undead ball in style.