Russian vampir, South Russian upuir, probably from the root
pi, to drain, with the prefix va, or av. A dead person who returns
in spirit form from the grave for the purpose of sucking
the blood of living persons, or a living sorcerer who takes a special
form for destructive purpose. Websters International DictioValkhoff,
Marius Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed.
nary defines a vampire as a blood-sucking ghost or reanimated
body of a dead person; a soul or re-animated body of a dead
person believed to come from the grave and wander about by
night sucking the blood of persons asleep, causing their
The belief in vampires is an ancient one. It was found in ancient
India, Babylonia, Greece, and for a time accepted by
early Christians. The conception of the vampire was common
among Slavonic peoples, especially in the Balkan countries and
in Hungary, Bohemia, Moravia, and Silesia.
In these territories from 1730 to 1735, there was a claimed
epidemic of vampirism, but it was by no means confined there.
In Russia and the Ukraine it was believed that vampires were
generally wizards or sorcerers, but in Bulgaria and Serbia it was
thought that any corpse over which a cat or a dog jumped or
over which a bird flew was liable to become a vampire. In
Greece, a vampire was known as a broncolaia or bourkabakos,
which was identified with the Slavonic name for werewolf, vlkodlak,
or vukodlak. The vampire, too, was often supposed to
steal the heart of his victim and to roast it over a slow fire, thus
causing interminable amorous longings.
Marks of Vampirism
Vampirism is said to be epidemic in character where one instance
is discovered it is almost invariably followed by several
others. It is believed that the victim of a vampire pines away
and dies and becomes in turn a vampire after death, and so
duly infects others.
After the disinterment of a suspected vampire, various wellknown
signs are looked for by experienced persons. Thus, if
several holes about the breadth of a mans finger are observed
in the soil above the grave, the vampire character of its occupant
may be suspected. The corpse is usually found with wideopen
eyes, ruddy, life-like complexion and lips, a general appearance
of freshness, and shows no signs of corruption.
It may also be found that the hair and nails have grown as
in life. On the throat, two small livid marks may be observed.
The coffin is also very often full of blood, the body has a swollen
and gorged appearance, and the shroud is frequently halfdevoured.
The blood contained in the veins of the corpse is
found, on examination, to be in a fluid condition as in life, and
the limbs are pliant and have none of the rigidity of death.
Examples of Vampirism
Many tales of vampirism have been recorded. Charles Ferdinand
de Schertz, in his work Magia Posthuma, printed at Olmutz
in 1706, related several stories of apparitions of this sort.
One, among others, was of a herdsman of the village of Blow
near the town of Kadam in Bohemia, who visited several persons
who all died within eight days.
At last, the inhabitants of Blow dug up the herdsmans body
and fixed it in the ground with a stake driven through it. The
man, even in this condition, laughed at the action of the people
about him and told them they were very obliging to furnish him
with a stick with which to defend himself.
The same night, he extricated himself from the stake, frightened
several persons by appearing to them, and caused the
deaths of many more individuals. He was then delivered into
the hands of the hangman, who put him into a cart in order to
burn him outside the town. As they went along, the carcass
shrieked in the most hideous manner and moved as if it were
alive, and upon being again run through with a stake, it gave
a loud cry, and a great quantity of fresh blood issued from the
wound. At last, the body was burned to ashes.
Augustine Calmet, in his Dissertation on Vampires appended
to his Dissertation upon the Apparitions of Angels, Demons, and
Ghosts (English translation, 1759), gave several instances of
It is now about fifteen years since a soldier, who was quartered
in the house of a Haidamack peasant, upon the frontiers
of Hungary, saw, as he was at the table with his landlord, a
stranger come in and sit down by them. The master of the
house and the rest of the company were strangely terrified, but
the soldier knew not what to make of it. The next day the peasant
died, and, upon the soldiers enquiring into the meaning
of it, he was told that it was his landlords father who had been
dead and buried above ten years that came and sat down at
table, and gave his son notice of his death.
The soldier soon propagated the story through his regiment,
and by this means it reached the general officers, who
commissioned the count de Cabreras . . . to make an exact enquiry
into the fact. The count, attended by several officers, a
surgeon, and a notary, came to the house, and took the deposition
of all the family, who unanimously swore that the spectre
was the landlords father, and that all the soldier had said was
strictly true. The same was also attested by all the inhabitants
of the village.
In consequence of this the body of the spectre was dug up,
and found to be in the same state as if it has been but just
dead. . . . The count de Cabreras ordered its head to be cut off,
and the corpse to be buried again. He then proceeded to take
depositions against other spectres of the same sort, and particularly
against a man who had been dead above thirty years, and
had made his appearance there several times in his own house
at meal-time. At his first visit he had fastened upon the neck of
his own brother, and sucked his blood; at his second, he had
treated one of his children in the same manner; and the third
time, he fastened upon a servant of the family, and all three
died upon the spot.
Upon this evidence, the count gave orders that he should
be dug up, and being found, like the first, with his blood in a
fluid state, as if he had been alive, a great nail was drove
through his temples, and he was buried again. The count ordered
a third to be burnt, who had been dead above sixteen
years, and was found guilty of murdering two of his own children
by sucking their blood.
The gentleman who acquainted me with all these particulars,
had them from the count de Cabreras himself, at Fribourg
in Brisgau, in the year 1730.
Other cases alluded to by Calmet are as follows
In the part of Hungary . . . on the other side of the Tibiscus,
. . . the people named Heydukes have a notion that there are
dead persons, called by them vampires, which suck the blood of
the living, so as to make them fall away visibly to skin and
bones, while the carcasses themselves, like leeches, are filled
with blood to such a degree that it comes out at all the apertures
of their body. This notion has lately been confirmed by several
About five years ago, an Heyduke, named Arnold Paul, an
inhabitant of Medreiga, was killed by a cart full of hay that fell
upon him. About thirty days after his death, four persons died
suddenly, with all the symptoms usually attending those who
are killed by vampires. It was then remembered that this Arnold
Paul had frequently told a story of his having been tormented
by a Turkish vampire, in the neighbourhood of Cassova, upon
the borders of Turkish Servia (for the notion is that those who
have been passive vampires in their life-time become active ones
after death; or, in other words, that those who have had their
blood sucked become suckers in their turn) but that he had
been cured by eating some of the earth upon the vampires
grave, and by rubbing himself with his blood. This precaution,
however, did not hinder him from being guilty himself after his
death; for, upon digging up his corpse forty days after his burial,
he was found to have all the marks of an arch-vampire. His
body was fresh and ruddy, his hair, beard, and nails were
grown, and his veins were full of fluid blood, which ran from
all parts of his body upon the shroud that he was buried in. The
hadnagy, or bailiff of the village, who was present at the digging
up of the corpse, and was very expert in the whole business of
vampirism, ordered a sharp stake to be drove quite through the
body of the deceased, and to let it pass through his heart, which
is attended with a hideous cry from the carcass, as if it had been
Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed. Vampire
alive. This ceremony being performed, they cut off the head,
and burnt the body to ashes. After this, they proceeded in the
same manner with the four other persons that died of vampirism,
lest they also should be troublesome. But all these executions
could not hinder this dreadful prodigy from appearing
again last year, at the distance of five years from its first breaking
out. In the space of three months, seventeen persons of different
ages and sexes died of vampirism, some without any previous
illness, and others after languishing two or three days.
Among others, it was said, that a girl, named Stanoska, . . . went
to bed in perfect health, but awoke in the middle of the night,
trembling, and crying out that the son of the Heyduke Millo,
who died about nine weeks before, had almost strangled her
while she was asleep. From that time she fell into a languishing
state, and died at three days end. Her evidence against Millos
son was looked upon as a proof of his being a vampire, and,
upon digging up his body, he was found to be such.
At the consultation of the principal inhabitants of the
place, . . . it was considered how it was possible that the plague
of vampirism should break out afresh, after the precautions
that had been taken some years before and, at last, it was found
out that the original offender, Arnold Paul, had not only destroyed
the four persons mentioned above, but had killed several
beasts, which the late vampires, and particularly the son of
Millo, had fed upon. Upon this foundation a resolution was
taken to dig up all the persons that had died within a certain
time. Out of forty were found seventeen, with all the evident tokens
of vampirism; and they had all stakes drove through their
hearts, their heads cut off, their bodies burnt, and their ashes
thrown into the river.
Methods of Extirpation
The commonest methods of extirpation of vampires are beheading
the suspected corpse, taking out the heart, impaling
the corpse with a white-thorn stake (in Russia an aspen), and
burning it. Sometimes more than one or all of these precautions
Instances are on record where the graves of as many as thirty
or forty persons have been disturbed during the course of an
epidemic of suspected vampirism and their occupants impaled
Persons who dread the visits or attacks of a vampire sleep
with a wreath made of garlic round the neck, as garlic is supposed
to be especially obnoxious to the vampire.
When impaled, the vampire is usually said to emit a dreadful
cry, but it has been pointed out that intestinal gas may be
forced through the throat by the entry of the stake into the
body, and that this may account for the sound.
The method of discovering a vampires grave in Serbia was
to place a virgin boy upon a coal-black stallion which had never
served a mare and to mark the spot that the horse refused to
pass. An officer quartered in Wallachia wrote to Calmet, giving
him an instance of this method.
A Bulgarian belief was that a wizard or sorcerer may entrap
a vampire by placing some food for which the vampire has a
partiality in a bottle. When the vampire enters in the shape of
fluff, the sorcerer can seal up the flask and throw it into the fire.
Scientific Views of Vampirism
The British custom of piercing a suicides body with a stake
would appear to be a remnant of the belief in vampirism. Such
beliefs were also to be seen in the Polynesian tii, the Malayan
hantu penyardin (a dog-headed water demon), and the kephn of
the Karens, which devoured human souls.
The English anthropologist E. B. Tylor considered vampires
to be causes conceived in spiritual form to account for
specific facts of wasting disease. The Russian folklorist Alexander
N. Afansyev regarded them as thunder gods and spirits of
the storm, who sleep during winter in cloud coffins and rise
again in spring.
Calmets difficulty in accepting vampires was that he could
not understand how a spirit could leave its grave and return
there with matter in the form of blood, leaving no evidence that
the surface of the earth above the grave had been stirred. But
this view might be combated by the theory of the precipitation
In modern times, it is easy to understand how individuals in
an unrecognized condition of cataleptic trance might have
been prematurely buried alive and upon regaining consciousness
have struggled to escape their horrible plight. Their bodies
would have exhibited many of the signs associated with
It is now also generally known that some individuals suffer
from a morbid fascination with human blood, and it would have
been easy in the past to associate such unnatural appetite with
vampirism. The infamous Countess Elizabeth Bathory of Transylvania
(d. 1614) was reputed to have murdered nearly 700
young women in the belief that their blood would keep her
No doubt the observed activities of the various types of vampire
bats (Desmodus Rufus, Didemus Yungi, Diphylla Caudata, Desmodus
Rotunda) in sucking blood from cattle and horses have
helped to spread legends of vampires. The vampire bat drinks
20 ccs of blood per day and has been known to attack human
beings. It also spreads rabies, thus enhancing stories of a vampire
Psychic Theories of Vampires
Some individuals seem to have the ability to draw some kind
of psychic energy from others. Every stage performer or public
speaker is aware of the rapport which exists between performer
and audience, and many have become expert at gaining confidence
and power through some instinctive techniques of centralizing
and transforming psychic or nervous energy.
The common experience of out-of-the-body travel or astral
projection has sometimes been associated with visits to other
individuals, as well as contacts with frightening elementals on
the astral plane. Some occultists appear to have mastered techniques
by which they can astrally project, and visit their victims
while asleep and drain their vitality from them.
During the nineteenth century, the French Spiritualist Z. J.
Piérart attempted to reconcile the theory of premature burial
with astral projection by those who died after being buried
alive. He wrote
Poor dead cataleptics, buried as if really dead in cold and
dry spots where morbid causes are incapable of effecting the
destruction of their bodies, the astral spirit enveloping itself
with a fluidic ethereal body, is prompted to quit the precincts
of its tomb and to exercise on living bodies acts peculiar to
physical life, especially that of nutrition, the result of which, by
a mysterious link between soul and body which spiritualistic science
will some day explain, is forwarded to the material body
lying still within the tomb, and the latter is thus helped to perpetuate
its vital existence.
Adolphe dAssier, in his book Posthumous Humanity (1887),
admitted that the body of the vampire may be dead but the
spirit earthbound and obsessed with the idea that the physical
body must be saved from dissolution. Consequently the dense
astral body feeds on human victims and, by some mysterious
process, conveys the blood into the tomb.
Both speculations furnish explanations of the attestation of
numerous ancient chronicles that fresh blood was found in the
exhumed and uncorrupted body of dead people suspected of
Following the occult boom of the 1950s, Bram Stokers powerful
but much neglected masterpiece Dracula was taken up
again, examined by critics and found to be as full of vitality as
during Stokers own lifetime. Almost by contagion, it has generated
a plethora of horror movies, plays, and other vampire
Vampire Encyclopedia of Occultism & Parapsychology 5th Ed.
In Britain, the Dracula Society, with its general interest in
Gothic themes, pioneered tourist expeditions to Transylvania,
and in Stokers Ireland, a Bram Stoker Society was founded to
honor a much neglected Irishman. Through the 1980s and
1990s, the most active organization was the Count Dracula Fan
Club, headquartered in New York City. However, in 1999, the
club announced its closing.
Much of the interest in vampires has also been carried by fan
clubs that have grown out of television series. Dark Shadows
fandom, from the 1960s, had retained its vitality for over 30
years and still attracts 400-600 members to its annual meeting.
Another set of fan clubs sprung up from Forever Knight, the
series featuring a vampire policeman from Toronto. As the
century ended, vampire fandom received an unexpected boost
from the successful series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
In the 1990s, interest in vampires shifted largely to the Internet
where thousands of sites cover all aspects of the vampire
world. Over 2000 sites alone were devoted just to the Buffy the
Vampire Slayer show in 1999. Vampire Junction, formerly a fan
magazine, was one of the first to make the transition to the Internet
and emerged as one of the most complete guides to vampires.
(See also Dracula; Magia Posthuma; Monsters)
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Calmet, Augustine. Dissertations Upon the Apparitions of Angels,
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. The Phantom World; or, The History and Philosophy of
Spirits, Apparitions, & Co. 2 vols. London Richard Bentley,
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of Wisconsin Press, 1998.
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