In this first of a three part article we look at the traits of a vampire...
The Basics of the Vampire
The most obvious characteristic of the vampire that you think of when talking about vampires is of course that the creature is dead and yet it walks among the living. Most tales of vampirism tell us that vampires are afraid of sunlight, have fangs, can change their appearance, cry tears of blood and have superhuman strength and speed. It is of course well known that the vampire is immortal, has fangs, are afraid of sunlight, can shape-shift, (i.e. bats and wolves), cry tears of blood and have extreme levels of strength and speed. Of course it goes without saying that this creature is immortal, unless of course killed using those very famous proper methods.
A vampire feeds on the life essence of their victims. This usually takes place by drinking the blood of their victim. The apparent reasons that the vampire needs blood to survive vary some cultures feel that the vampire needs blood to flow through their veins to keep their bodies animated and limit the damage of decay. Others feel that they feed as a sadistic habit in order to wreak fear and havoc among the populace.
This theory also leads some to believe that it may not be the blood that animates the vampire, but the pain and fear they spread.
As stated before different cultures around the world have different ideas and myths about vampires. European’s believe the vampire is dead, almost zombie like, hideously deformed from death and inherently evil. Whereas the American legend has been handed to us by Hollywood. The creature is a sensual, desirable one. Most of our movies and fiction actually combine the myth and legend of Europe and Americana, making a vampire gleaming with seductive beauty, and blessed with brawn as well as brains, and sometimes even a dash of compassion.
Are you predestined from birth to become one of the undead?
In older lore vampires were people who died unnaturally and couldn't face the fact that they were truly dead.
I found some really fun and interesting ways of becoming one with the undead. The most common way of becoming is of course being bitten by a vampire. From here on the becoming a vampire is very bizarre. Let’s start with some of the predisposition's; being conceived on a holy day, being weaned too early, being born the seventh son of the seventh son or receiving a curse. The last two are my personal favourites a mother who did not eat enough salt during pregnancy and a mother being stared at by a vampire while pregnant. Enough of predispositions, let’s move onto ways that you can cause yourself to become a vampire.
Common beliefs in older lore include being a witch or were-wolf, being a particularly cruel or evil person, committing suicide, being murdered or being the murderer. All these things can make you a vampire upon death. But wait there’s more! These are my personal favorites in this category; eating sheep killed by a wolf, leading an immoral life, (i.e. prostitutes & treacherous barmaids), or (for a priest) saying mass while in the state of mortal sin.
That’s it for part one! In part two we will discuss ways to detect a vampire and how to protect yourself from them!
Vanessa A. Ryan is a writer/actor in Southern California
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