Brought to you by OBS Staff member Emily-June.

Vampires: Myth, Superstition or Reality?

Today vampires are like rock-stars – rock-stars into a chamber of horror. They are mostly gorgeous, cool, smart, well dressed and they are rich. But not in the beginning. It began all as a tale, a myth. The myth about bloodsucking creatures is well known since thousands of years ago – mostly popular in Eastern Europe. Who was  the first vampire? That’s a question which has not been decided.

Actually one of the first is named in the Bible – deduced from the fratricide. After Kain killed Abel, God banished him from his land and he started to eat flesh and drink blood – because he wasn’t able to farm any more. It’s also told that Kain hide himself in caves because he was afraid of other people’s thirst for revenge. Kain is also bond to Lilith – originally a female ‘Mesopotamian storm demon’ associated with wind. She was thought to be a bearer of disease, illness, and death. According to Martin Luther, she is kind of a night-ghost. You see, a lot of parts of vampire faith here: blood, air-creature, night-active.

But the most reliable stories are about mass-murderers which wanted the people to believe that there are bloodsuckers around them. Like the one about Vlad III. Tepes Draculea.

One of the most well known vampires is Vlad Tepes – his life and doing was basis for Bram Stocker and his novel ‘Dracula’. It’s told that Vlad III., loved to stake his enemies – what gave him his name ‘Tepes’ (staker), posthumously. And Draculea means ‘Son of dragon’ – because Vlad’s father was part of the ‘Order of Dragons’. And not what wrong translations tell sometimes ‘Son of the devil’, because ‘Drac’ means devil in Romania.

Vlad hated his father (because during the Turkish invasion he left him and his brother as dead pledge to Sultan Muhrad II) and he was very rebellious, so he was flogged very often. His custodian also gave him human-meat, animal-balls and dirt to eat. All of these early experiences made him a cruel and hard-leading man. 1459 he staked about 30.000 German settlers and officials. He learned this method during his Turkish imprisonment – there stalked people had been pilloried in towns for determent. Vlad Tepes did his kind of stalking in varieties but mostly his prey lived on for hours or days.

During his raids against anarchy in Wallachia he destroyed huge areas in very short time and he killed ten thousand people.

His subjects where very afraid of him. The headpiece was nailed to everybody’s head who refused to put it down when Vlad was around. It’s also affirmed that enemies had been cooked and roasted or they had to eat their own family. Beggar, poor and ill people had been like thieves for Vlad (he invited them to a feast, locked the building and burned it down) and he cut of the boobs of cheating women.

But he also was a hero for his nation, because he defeated rebellion and requicked trade and culture after the time of war and starving.

The Turkish conflicts lasted Vlads whole life. He poisoned rivers and lakes, resettled people and animals (to make the Turkish army walking through abandoned land) and recruited even women and kids to fight them. He also made ill people (with tuberculosis and pestilence) to join and weak his enemies. But the Turkish leader Mehmed went on, he wanted to siege the capital. But this was unnecessary, because the gates where open and the town was abandoned. There had only been 20.000 staked Turkish and Muslimism Bulgarian people. Now stories about Vlads supernatural energy began – and the outmanned Turkish army backed out.

At the end his fight against the Ottoman Empire took his life. In 1476 he fell into a trap, his bodyguards were stalked and Tepes beheaded. His head was brought to Konstantinopel, his body buried in an abbey near Snagov. But when his grave was opened, there was nothing in …

Another story is about Elisabeth Bathory, the Countess of Blood. Born at the end of the 16th century, Elisabeth Bathorny was one of the richest royals in Hungary and she became a very influential monarch – what was very rare at this time.

There are many tales and myths about her family – like her brother was an insane Satanist and her sister a witch who sacrificed her own child as blood-victim. When Elisabeth was a child she had to watch two of her siblings being raped and hung up. Later when the offenders were caught they were tortured to death in front of her – and it’s told that she enjoyed it.

The night before her wedding with Ferenez Nadasdy (he was famous for his cruel raids) the drunken King Matthias II entered her room to ask her to marry him. After he left Elisabeth he beat her chambermaid near death. The whole wedding party got poisoned and so the king’s privilege about ‘the first night’ was irrelevant.

After the wedding Elisabeth was mostly alone, her husband was at raids. She killed time by orgies and torturing young women, mostly virgins. One of the girls yelled loud that Elisabeth pierced a scissor into her throat and cut the vocal chords. When pestilence came to Hungary the countess buried all people near her, ill or healthy, alive. Her mother told her in deathbed that two babies of her nanas died because Elisabeth needed so much milk.

But the name ‘Countess of Blood’ arose by reason of Elisabeth Bathory killing 600 women and then bathing in their blood. During the torturing blood was spread on her skin and she thought it made her look much younger. The torturing became more and more brutal – she ripped flesh from her prey and chewed it, virgins had been tortured under her supervision before they’d been killed. She didn’t care about the dead bodies (without blood) and so she only told her footmen to take them to near fields.

Her cousin Count Gyorgy Juraj Thurzo attacked her in 1610. He found her next to a girl which was empty of blood – and in her other rooms there had been a lot of other alive tortured girls. That was the end of the ‘Countess of Blood’ – the people who helped her were executed and Elisabeth was murdered in her room (only a little spot for food was left open) where she died four years later.

But let’s come back to 2009. There are two elements which are similar between the vampires 400 years ago, for example Edward Cullen. One is the fact that they are not dead anymore, and the other is that they need this fascinating essence, this red fluid which is running through our veins and which is a symbol for life: blood!

Humankind recognized very early that too much loss of blood means the person is going to die. That’s why they thought blood is the secret of life. But also blood is a symbol for ruin. Normally we only see it if something bad happens and all the knowledge about blood-infections it’s some kind of a loose cannon. It’s life-safer and life-taker.

According to the Islamic world Allah formed people from a blood-lump. Warriors from natives drank blood to gain strength. Aztecs made blood sacrifices to influence nature. Other traditions and religions say to respect or to avoid blood. Even in the Catholic Church (symbolized) Christ’s blood is to be drunk during the sacrament. On the other hand some sects forbid blood-transfusion.

Today we are in a civilized modern world – but still blood has something very mystical and is more than only organic matter. Blood is red and red is attached to interdictions and to erotic, too. And no other of all the horror-creatures is that bond to human blood than a vampire. Maybe that’s the reason why vampires inspire so many feelings in us.

So what do you think, myth, superstition or reality? Join us in the Forum for discussions.

Check back by the end of the month we’ll be featuring Werewolves!