Tuesday, October 22, 2013

In Search of the Vampire

Max Schrek as "Nosferatu" 1922
Who can turn into a vampire?
The 7th son of a seventh son. Okay, I just won't have seven kids...
Someone who has been excommunicated... those born with teeth or a caul (whatever the hell that is), and unbaptized children can become vampires. So, watch out who you open the door to on Halloween night!

The vampire is not a recent invention by authors or film makers. Sorry, Twi-hards. In ancient Babylon a deity was known to drink the blood of babies. She was named Lilith. It is said Lilith was Adams first wife (and became his ex very quickly. See? Even God thought that under certain circumstances a divorce is probably the best thing). She left poor old Adam and became queen of the demons and evil forces. So, okay, Eve isn't such a bad bitch after all just because she cozied up to a snake and ate an apple? Hmm.

"European vampires are said to have red hair and a harelip". Dracula wasn't a red head.

Records of the Living Dead (no, not the band), were found in China during the sixth century BC. Sightings of vampires have been recorded throughout the world. But it's Europe which was rich in vampires. The Bubonic Plague was believed to be the work of vampires. The movie "Nosferatu" with Max Schreck (above), has scenes of rats on the ship--synonymous with the Black Plague. Nah, no one would think that rats would have anything to do with the plague back then (it was the fleas who were infested from the rats, actually). Anyway, because people were dropping like flies and bodies piling up in the streets from it, they were in a great rush to bury them--sometimes not checking to make sure they really were... dead... Nosferatu really depicts some of these things well. And for a 1922 silent movie it was probably quite horrific, in its day.

Which led to things like people being buried alive and trying to claw their way out of the coffin, and when exhumed they found the body covered in blood from injuries they sustained in attempting to claw their way out of their graves. Which lead to more of them thinking "Yep, by golly, I knew old Ed was a vampire."

In my search for the vampire during my teenage years, I've come across many explanations as to why there were such beliefs. Some are like the above. And there were more bizarre things I unearthed, as follows.

I've uncovered a few interesting facts that is probably so far removed from modern man that you really have to get your brain around some of it and understand how people once lived (excuse me for getting a little Richard Leakey on you here). It was understood very early on by man, the ancient hunter, that blood is the life--literally--because when blood flowed out of the wound of a beast or a man, that life drained away too. Yes, Van Helsing, "Blood is the Life!" Thus such hunters would smear their bodies with the blood of either the animal they hunted, revered, or their enemy's blood. It's probably a good thing we get our meat from grocery stores now.

Stories that have been absorbed into folklore are those that fit nicely with the vampire theme. This is one of those weird stories about diseases which mimicked ideas about vampires.

Early on I found a book in which I found a curious rare disease known as erythropoietic protoporphyra. Say that three times fast! It was not diagnosed until the 19th century, but it wouldn't take a stretch of imagination to connect the dots. This disorder made the body produce too much porphyrin--a substance basic to red blood cells. The result is redness of the skin, eyes and teeth, a receding upper lip and cracks in the skin that bleed when exposed to sunlight. Doctors of the time could only treat the condition by locking the patients away during the day and encouraging them to drink blood to replace what they lost by bleeding. But the rumors of such nocturnal blood drinkers would probably lead to superstitious folk to sharpen stakes and light the torches.

Yes, I was a vampire (lore) hunter, and was so glad when someone actually went to the trouble of finding out that Dracula--or Drakulya--actually existed. For the longest time we only thought Dracula was the figment of Bram Stoker's imagination. He obviously did a lot of digging into vampire folklore and had gone into Romanian, German, and Hungarian history, for it would be there he would come across the bloodletting tyrant known as Vlad Tepes, aka "Vlad the Impaler" who ruled in the 15th century in--yes--Transylvania. He was a prince and tyrant in times when such people ruled the world and no one went into their country and bombed them because of it. But he was very horrible, and I won't even go into detail on what he did here. If you wish to know more, just Google Vlad the Impaler.

Or...here's a great book and it's still available to anyone who is a vampire aficionado.

"In Search of Dracula" was the most thorough, well researched book of it's kind and I finally had a lot of my questions answered. I bought this book in 1973.
A true history of Dracula and vampire legends
by Raymond T. McNally and Radu Florescu
This book has helped me in researching both the vampire lore, as well as Vlad/Dracula, himself. The history on Vlad The Impaler, was useful when I went to write my third book in the Sabrina Strong series, Vampire Nocturne, because I used Vald the Impaler in this story.

Since I had always wanted to write about vampires, Dracula was always lurking back there, waiting to come out and so here, in Vampire Nocturne, I've written him in as true a form as I could to make him believable.

If you are intrigued and want to read more, tune in again.
Also... I'm asking for people to comment on this post and the next posts up until Halloween when I will be giving away one ebook, of the winner's choice from my three Sabrina Strong books, Vampire Ascending, Vampire's Trill, or Vampire Nocturne (eBooks only, or if need be an HTML version).
I will base winner on how many posts they have commented on. If there is a tie I'll have to do a number in the hat thing. (I hate raffle copters--they suck!) So, do make a comment if you want to win!

So, them's the rules, my pretties. If you have yet to buy a copy and want to win one of these, start commenting. The next post will be at the end of this week, so keep watching for them. Or better yet become a follower and maybe join up on the emailing list. That way you won't miss the next post!

Stay tuned for the next installment: The Historian, an intriguing book by Elizabeth Kostova, and other books of interest.
Please comment if you are interested in the prize of one eBook. Or, if you just want to comment, and tell me either way to include your name in the contest below! Offer ends October 31st!

4 comments:

  1. That's a very peculiar medical condition you mention there, Lorelei.

    I have read the Historian, not long after it came out.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes. I need to go and check and see what more I can find via Internet. This information was in an old book.

    ReplyDelete
  3. my favorite post, Lorelei!
    really good!

    ReplyDelete

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