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Mythology of Vampires

Image by Willgard Krause from Pixabay

For years, legends of vampires have fascinated people the world over. You can see this from evidence in today's popular culture and the popularity of stories like Twilight. This Halloween, learn more about the history of Vampires, and how these myths came into being.

There are vampire myths from around the world, that we can look at throughout history. According to the University of Virginia,

The first known reference to vampires appeared in written form in Old Russian in A.D. 1047, soon after Orthodox Christianity moved into Eastern Europe. The term for vampire was “upir,” which has uncertain origins, but its possible literal meaning was “the thing at the feast or sacrifice,” referring to a potentially dangerous spiritual entity that people believed could appear at rituals for the dead. It was a euphemism used to avoid speaking the creature’s name – and unfortunately, historians may never learn its real name, or even when beliefs about it surfaced.

People have used stories about vampires to explain frightening events that presumably had no cause. There were stories that floated around Europe about Vampires during the black plague, and other tragedies throughout history. When people can't explain unexplainable circumstances, they often blame supernatural things.

There are also stories of Vampires dating back to ancient Jewish folklore. According to Bookriot,

Jewish folklore identifies Lilith as Adam’s first wife. Unlike Eve, she was created from the same clay as the first man, and the myth goes that she left Adam after she would not be subservient to him. She is commonly regarded as a demon, most often a succubus who rapes men at night, but many renditions of her myth also say that she sucks the blood of infants.

In some circles, Lilith is seen as the mother of all vampires. She was being punished by God for not being a good and subservient wife to Adam. Some people believe that she spawned a whole race of vampires.

According to History,

It wasn’t uncommon for anyone with an unfamiliar physical or emotional illness to be labeled a vampire. Many researchers have pointed to porphyria, a blood disorder that can cause severe blisters on skin that’s exposed to sunlight, as a disease that may have been linked to the vampire legend.
Some symptoms of porphyria can be temporarily relieved by ingesting blood. Other diseases blamed for promoting the vampire myth include rabies or goiter.

It is possible that one of these conditions is the reason why people believed in Vampires in the past. The idea of something supernatural that preys upon the innocent and drinks their blood has captivated humanity for generations. This is no less so in our current times.

Today, people claim to be vampires. According to ABC News,

Throughout the country and all over the world, a hidden subculture of people believe they are real vampires. They claim to have an "energy leak," which makes them feel sick and lethargic. To offset this energy imbalance, they say they need to feed on other people's energy or blood.

These modern day vampires sometimes feed off of blood or claim to feed off of the psychic energy of others. There has been little study of these self-proclaimed vampire, however, they claim that they feed off of willing blood donors such as friends or family.

Some of these modern-day vampires have opened up to researchers about their lifestyle. According to Smithsonian Magazine,

Vampirism been studied before, in the form of clinical vampirism or Renfield’s syndrome, but hasn’t been recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the official psychiatric reference. Browning describes something different. He has visited communities in New Orleans and Buffalo to document and understand what being a modern day, real vampire means. Importantly, he notes that these communities generally preform safe blood-letting rituals with willing donors.

Whether you believe in vampires or not, there is a rich history of legends that discuss them, as well as modern day vampires living among us today.

I hope you enjoyed learning a little bit about the history of vampires, and that you have a wonderful Halloween!

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