Blog Post Number 8
“VAMPIRES: FROM MYTH TO MURDER” The Dark Histories Podcast, 7 October 2017, https://www.darkhistories.com/vampires-from-myth-to-murder/
This podcast talks about the origins of the vampire dating back to a poem said to have existed in the eleventh century, as well as many other examples of vampires being referenced in history. In the 18th century is when the boom of the vampire genre began. This led to an increase in the production, and consumption of novels that tell stories of vampires who stalk the night, and feed off the blood of their prey. In 1871 the first novel that depicted the vampire in a more seductive manner was created. It also discusses the legacy and cultural impact of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. The modern pop culture portrayal of the vampire draws the most inspiration from stokers depiction. The concept of a blood sucking creature who feeds off man however can be traced back all the way back to ancient Mesopotamia, Greece, Maya, China and Aboriginal cultures. In fact, it appears that almost every culture has some sort of folklore which describes shapeshifting bloodsuckers with supernatural powers. It also talks about how there have been numerous burial sites in Europe, where the bodies have been decapitated, buried upside down, pinned down with iron stakes, or restrained in some manner. It also discusses a possible real life example of a vampire attack where a man who was supposedly dead, was reported to have murdered a number of people in a village. This led to the government digging up his body where it was discovered it had not decayed at all, and his hair and nails were longer than the day he had been buried. This led to the villagers putting a stake through his chest and cremating his body. Now we know the scientific reasons for this, but at the time with their lack of medical knowledge it’s no surprise these stories cemented the legacy of the vampire.
Besides the argument that Vampires aren’t real, and the main reason for these beliefs being superstition, the podcast doesn’t make a central argument. Its only purpose is to recount the history of the vampire throughout history and folklore. My topic relates to the podcast simply by being about vampires and not much more, but it is a good source of information for people like me who have no previous knowledge on vampire lore.
One of the contributions to my topic from this podcast to my topic is that the idea of the vampire is not unique to eastern Europe. It is actually rather interesting that cultures in Asia, the middle east, Australia, the Americas, and Africa all depict nocturnal creatures that shape shift and feeds off human blood. So the fear of some sort of supernatural predator seems to be ingrained in the mind of all humans as a part of our psychology.
This new information was actually rather interesting, and makes me wish I had picked a different research topic, since the examples of vampire attacks in history are very intriguing. The fact that vampires are also thought to have been responsible for disease or famine was also something that I never had known about.
“Vampires: A Brief History of Obsession — (Exploring Vampire Folklore)” Mythology and Fiction Explained, 28 October 2020.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dwrmV68ZnfM
Before the 18th century the term “vampire” never actually existed, but was started by a series of mysterious marks on corpses, and suspicious activities around graveyards. These stories started around the balkans region, as well as in Romania and other eastern European countries. The original term to describe these primitive blood suckers were called Strigoi. There are also examples of Strigoi attacks, and people fighting them in Romania. It was also common back in that period for people to nail shut the coffin or stake the heart of red headed men who have died. The podcast also describes vampire-like creatures from around the rest of the world. The common tropes are an aversion to sunlight as well as a need for blood to sustain themselves.
This podcast overlaps with my topic by discussing the nature of the vampire as a monster. All cultures’ depiction of the vampire before the 19th century paints the vampire more as predatory supernatural animals or possessed corpses, rather than romanticising them. I feel if I am able to tap into some of these older myths and folklore surrounding vampires then I can get a better understanding of their nature.
As far as new contributions is how the burial practices at the time emphasized the legitimate fear people had. To the people living back then these weren’t mere stories. They felt like they were genuinely under attack at times and in order to prevent these attacks in the future they had no problem descrating peoples corpses before burial.
I think the most new information is this podcast was a further in depth look at other non European cultures depiction of vampire like creatures. One thing I wish they’d discuss would be how these myths affected these cultures’ burial practices too.