Monday, September 8, 2008

Vampire and Werewolf...



Werewolves are men who change into vicious often man-eating wolves or wolfmen during a full moon. The first half of the name, "werewolf", comes from the Teutonic wer, meaning "man"; therefore werewolf literally means "man-wolf". Although this is the most common belief in lycanthropy, there are numerous others that describe the voluntary or involuntary transformation from man to bears, big cats, hyenas, and other fierce creatures.

Often, werewolfism is passed on through tainted blood and can only be ended in death. It is said that shooting using silver bullets is very effective in killing werewolves, as is forcing them to drink salt water or splashing them with holy water. In some cultures, a blow to the head of a werewolf using an iron rod will free the man from werewolf possession.


Werewolves were primarily sighted in various rural parts of Europe. However, their presence and the appearance other were-animals has also been seen in North America and other regions of the world. This includes Asia (were-tigers & bears), Africa (were-hyenas), Central America (were-coyotes), and New Zealand (were-lizards).


The belief began in the lycanthropy figures in Greek mythology, where Zeus, furious when he learns that Lykaon served him and the other gods human flesh, turns Lykaon into a wolf.

Despite the modern belief that werewolves are nothing more than characters in the newest horror flicks, there was a time that they were feared as a real-life menace. In the 16th century, areas suffering from bad weather, disastrous harvest, wolf attacks, and burgeoning crime rates needed someone or something to take the blame. As a result, the werewolf became a common and easy scapegoat. Even human mass murderers were declared werewolves.

Reason Behind Creation/Possible Explanation

Of all the possible types of transformations, the werewolf is the most common in Europe, probably because the wolf was the predator most feared by the Europeans. Medieval and later chronicles describe wolf attacks on humans during hard winters and wartime. The development of the concept of werewolves may also be attributed to the vicious warriors in northern Europe, known as wolfmen or berserkers. These notoriously murderous and feared men clad themselves in suits made from wolf pelts.

At the same time, the belief began that honoured ancestors would become wolves after death in Germany. Consequently, names such as Wolfgang, Wolfhard, Wolfbrand began to spring up in hopes that the wolf spirits would enter them and give the soldiers strength and courage. The combination of these events led to wolves became associated with violence and eventually the devil.

Other than the growing relationship between wolves and evil, there were medical disorders that occurred from time to time that may have furthered people’s fears. These made victims of the illnesses appear to have characteristics of werewolfism or convinced that they had become animals. The first disease is called porphyria. It is characterized by yellow, hairy skin that is extremely sensitive to light, forcing the sufferers to go out only at night or risk tissue damage. Ulcers may also cause their hands to become deformed and paw-like. Even their behaviour becomes erratic and red pigments appear in their teeth and urine. The result is a convincing "werewolf".

Sometimes hallucinogens can also play a part in creating werewolves, either through self-administered forms or poisonings. A man with ergot poisoning reportedly escaped from seven straight jackets, lost all his teeth biting through a leather strap, and bent two iron bars on the hospital window while trying to flee from a tiger he believed to be chasing him. Werewolf salves have also been concocted that make people feel as if they were transformed into wolves.


The vampire, a creature of the night that rises from the grave to feast on the blood of the living, has terrorized the minds of people of every culture around the world for centuries. Although vampire legends has existed since ancient time, it was not made popular until the novel Dracula by Bram Stroker was published in 1897. Since then, the figure of the vampire can now be seen in all forms of media available including movies, books, and card games.


Variations of the vampire myth can be found in every culture around the world, but those from Slovenia are the most prominent.


There are many variations to the appearance of the vampire. Its form is seen to be human, but can so appear grotesquely distorted, with long nails curved like claws, bloodshot eyes, and deathly pallor. The popular, modern depiction of a vampire is a tall, thin, aristocratic man, dressed in a black suit and a long black cape. He has retractable fangs that are used to the blood from the neck of its victims. He can be a deceiver, luring his young victims through sexual attraction and desire.

Vampires appear undead in their graves, their bodies completely fresh with no traces of decay or rigor mortis (the condition after death which involves the stiffening of the body). There are even signs of rejuvenation like hair, nail, and skin growth. Fresh blood is often seen around the mouth area.

They come out at night from their graves between nightfall and down, hunting down innocent victims to drain their blood. Some vampires in Poland and Russia appear from moon to midnight. Not all vampires drink blood, but steals things that are perhaps even more valuable to a human, such as youth, hope, and love. They have the ability to fly, as well as to change forms into a bat, or other animals, and to mist. They are able to control creatures like rats and wolves, and the elements. Some have the ability to turn invisible.

In most vampire legends, they are required to sleep either in coffins, or return to their graves. They have a need to return to the earth of their homeland each night, or carry their native soil around with them. They cannot cross running water, see their reflection in a mirror, or enter a place uninvited.

Vampires from Different Cultures

Although the more common vampire lore is confined to the resurrected corpse of male humans, there are other variations from different cultures. The Malaysian believed in the penangglan or the langsuir, a female vampire that preys on houses where a birth has taken place, which led to the custom of hanging up a branch of thistle in order to trap her. Some believed that these vampires must place the throat of their victims to the back of their necks to feed, and therefore prefer infants and children. They are credited with a fondness of fish.

Civatateo are Mexican vampires that have the magical powers of a priest. They are noblewomen who died during childbirth who stalk travelers at crossroads and haunts temples and churches. In the Malay Peninsula and parts of Polynesia, they have a vampire that is conceived as a head with entrails attached called the penangal who attack human and their blood.

The Manananggal is the Filipino version of vampire, and is said to be unwilling or unable to touch the tail of a dried stingrays.

In Slavonic countries, the vampire is said to have only one nostril, and possess a sharp point at the end of its tongue, similar to the sting of a bee.

To Become a Vampire

Vampires are believed to be created in a number of ways. It could be a child born under certain omens, someone who committed suicide or came to a violent end, or have been cursed by their parents or the Church. It is a common practice in England to drive an ash stake through the breast of all suicide victims until 1823. A cat, other animals, even a young boy, jumping over a corpse would turn it into a vampire, as well as a bird flying over it.
According to the Servians and Bulgarians, unclean spirits enter into the bodies of criminals and other evil-natured persons, who then become vampires.

Even inanimate objects can turn into vampires, including pumpkins, watermelon and other fruits left out past a certain amount of time, door latches that are left unlatched for too long, as well as dogs, horses, sheep, and snakes.
In Transylvania, it is believed that whoever was killed by a vampire will become one.
Vampire Protection

Holy symbols are often used for protection against the vampire including the cross or crucifix and holy water. Garlic is the most popular vampire repellent, and hawthorn and mountain ash (rowan), is also used. Some believe that the scattering of seeds is also a good defense because the vampire would become so involved in counting every single seed that they would allow its target to escape.

The Wallachians believed that the dead can be prevented from returning to life by driving a long nail through the skull of the corpse and placing a thorny stem of a wild rosebush upon the body. One way prevent a person from becoming a vampire is to rub the body with the lard of a pig killed on St. Ignatius’s Day. For vampire detection, they place a young boy on a black horse and walk them around the cemetery. If the horse refuses to pass over a certain grave, it means that a vampire lies within it.

In Poland and Russia, it is believed that one may become immune from the attacks by eating bread made with flour mixed with the blood of vampires.

To Kill a Vampire

The various methods of destroying a vampire include cremation, beheading, exposure to sunlight, and driving a stake through the heart. Other ways are to touch it with a crucifix and drenching it with holy water and garlic. It is also believed by some cultures that by stealing the left sock of a vampire, filling it with stones, and then throwing it into a river would destroy the creature.

Dhampirs are believed to be a vampire’s child and are the only people capable of seeing invisible vampires. Therefore, they often lend out their services as vampire hunters.

In Bulgaria, a vampire can be destroyed by trapping it in a bottle and throwing it into a fire. This is accomplished by chasing it with a picture of a saint to a specially prepared bottle baited with the vampire’s favourite food, for they believed that vampires only have a thirst for human blood when their human food supply ran out. Once the vampire is inside the bottle containing a fragment of an eikon or holy picture, it will be trapped inside.


The vampire is one of the oldest and most global myths of all. There are variations of creatures who rises from the dead to drink the blood of the living in almost every culture around the world. However, the vampire lore of the Slavic people are the most prominent.

The word ‘vampire’ comes from the Slavi word ‘obyri’ and ‘obiri’ which evolved into the Bulgarian word ‘vampir". It is also believed to have to be derived from the Servian word, ‘wampira’. Another name for vampires is ‘Nosferatu’, which might have originated from the Greek word ‘nosophoros’ meaning "plague-carrier", or that it evolved from the Old Slavonic word ‘nosufur-atu’. Russians, Morlacchians, inhabitants of Montenegro, Behemians, Servians, and Arnauts know the vampire as wukodalak, vurkulaka, or vrykolaka, which means ‘wolf-fairy’.

The origin in the vampire has been credited to Greek Christianity, but references of this myth can be found in earlier times, in Chaldean and Assyrian tablets. It is believed that the early vampire legends were developed to explain things that nature could not, like mysterious deaths and wasting diseases. For instance, the Greek vampire lamiani attacked babies and pregnant women so that miscarriage and still-born can be explained.

The Romans believed that the dead bodies of certain people could be raised from their graves by magic, as long as the body was not decomposed. The only way to prevent this was to cremate the remains.

From Greece and Rome, vampire lore spread throughout Austria, Hungary, Lorraine, Poland, Romania, Iceland, and the British Isles. It reached its height in the period from 1723 to 1735, when a vampire-related epidemic broke out in Hungary and Servia. The belief continued to gradually spread to the rest of the world, including the Asian countries and Africa.

In countries that believe suicide victims become vampires when they die, the myth is used to help the love ones cope with their deaths. By performing the vampire rituals to destroy the corpse through staking and cementation, for instance, it destroys the dead person’s psychological attachment to the living, allowing his family and friends to cope with their grief and move on.

Literary Connections

British author Bram Stroker popularized the vampire in his 1897 his novel Dracula about a Transylvanian vampire. The character of Count Dracula was supposedly based on Vlad Tepes, Romania’s fierce warrior king. He ruled Walachia in the 15th century as Vlad III. He earned the nicknamed Vlad the Impaler because of his habit for impaling his enemies on wooden stakes and then beheading them. He was the son of Vlad Dracul, and the rightful holder of the name Dracula, for the name means Son of Dracul. It also means son of the dragon or devil. However, Vlad did not have any vampiric tendencies besides his barbarism.

Before Stroker, vampire literature was rare. The most popular pre-Dracula stories include Carmilla by J. Sheridan Le Fanu, Varney the Vampire by James Malcolm Rymer, and The Vampyre: A Tale by John Polidori.

Interesting Facts

  • Blood is extremely fattening- a litre can provide approximately a thousand calories of high-fat, high-protein nutrition
  • Porphyria is a rare medical condition whose sufferers display certain characteristics very similar to vampires. Its victims cannot make an adequate amount of blood, and one treatment is to give blood to the patient. However, this is done through injection, and not by ingestion. Porphyria suffers are also very sensitive to light, and burns severely in the sun. Therefore, like the vampire, they tend to avoid sunlight.
  • The novel Dracula was prevented from being published in Romania until 1993, because Vlad Tepes, the actual character Count Dracula was based on, was a respected historical figure in Romania. The vampire concept surrounding the character caused it to be banned under communist rule

  • J Dee

    No comments: