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Mythology of True Blood and The Sookie Books

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Re: Mythology of True Blood and The Sookie Books

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 13th 2010, 11:37 am

Observations on Witchcraft: An Essay

I have a lot of respect for all practices that are used for the good of all people. I think if you have a special gift or talent, like the Craft, you should use it to improve the lives of others. When you do that you improve your own life, the return of three, so to speak.

All religions have their own brand of magik. Some call it miracles, some call it kismet, some call it fate, but like Bill said, we all run on magik.

I am basically indifferent to other people's religious or spiritual practices. Not in an apathetic way, but in way that allows me to appreciate the practices of all and draw strength and knowledge and wisdom from it.

I mean, to say there is no magik is to deny the essential spark of life. Not the hocus pocus sort of Charmed or The Craft sort of magik, but the every day magik of the wind and the rain and the seasons, the magik of growing things and of dying things. The eloquence of the soul, a belief that there are wonders of wonders to behold.

I believe firmly that no matter what religious tradition you adhere to, there is the face of God, and just as Jesus said there are many mansions in my father's house, there are also many faces of the father and for some, it may not be a male face at all.

Though my priest would vehemently disagree with me, the representations of God in art and thought are the facets of one God, containing the features of all people, all points of view.

I see God in the faces of ordinary people and things, I see magik in ordinary things. Witchcraft, yarb doctoring, philosophy, religion, are just roads to understanding God's purpose. The sad thing about it is people are so arrogant and wrapped up in the man made understanding of God, that we guard our truths like a jealous miser and we eschew the beauty of other people in the midst of their own spiritual path.

I think that is why I fascinated with Eric at the moment. His path is so savage and difficult and painful but beautiful at the same time.

There is a common magik. The next time you cook a pot of soup, even if you are just heating up a little Cambell's on your stove top, think as you stir (and if you are like me you stir with a wooden spoon) about the things you want this soup to do. Nourish people, comfort, heal, bring good conversation, and stir the soup as you think about it. That is a spell. You have stirred your cauldron and said a spell over it and made it a potion. See, no complicated rituals, no chalk drawings on the floor, no smoking herbs...just a person making a little soup for supper. But how powerful, to infuse something so simple with the best wishes for the universe.

So, does that make me a witch? Maybe. But think about what witch really means. The word is derived from the old English/ Anglo-Saxon word wicce and that means wise. And truly wise people seek to send out the positive force of energy out into the world. So perhaps, we are all wicce, those of us who desire peace and beauty in the world.

Aslinn Dhan

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Secrets of the Voodoo Tomb

Post  Aolani on February 13th 2010, 3:00 pm

Secrets of the Voodoo Tomb

Among the sites associated with New Orleans voodoo is the tomb of its greatest figure, Marie Laveau. For several decades this “voodoo queen” held New Orleans spellbound-figuratively, of course, but some would say literally, as legends of her occult powers continue to captivate. She staged ceremonies in which participants became possessed by loas (voodoo spirits) and danced naked around bonfires; she dispensed charms and potions called gris-gris, even saving several condemned men from the gallows; and she told fortunes, healed the sick, and herself remained perpetually youthful while living for more than a century-or so it is said (Hauck 1996; Tallant 1946).

Marie Laveau
A “free person of color,” Marie Laveau was the illegitimate daughter of a rich Creole plantation owner, Charles Laveaux, and his mistress Marguerite (who was reportedly half black, half Indian). Marie was probably born about 1794. At the age of twenty-five she married a carpenter named Jacques Paris, also a free person of color, who soon went missing and was presumed dead. Following the custom of the time, she began calling herself the “Widow Paris.” Soon, she entered a common-law marriage with one Christophe de Glapion with whom she would have fifteen children, but as late as 1850 a newspaper still referred to her as “Marie Laveaux, otherwise Widow Paris” (Tallant 1946, 67).

The Widow Paris learned her craft from a “voodoo doctor” known variously as Doctor John, John Bayou, and other appellations, and by 1830 she was one of several New Orleans voodoo queens. She soon came to dominance, taking charge of the rituals held at Congo Square and selling gris-gris throughout the social strata. Marie worked as a hairdresser, which took her into the homes of the affluent, and she reportedly developed a network of informants. According to Tallant (1946, 64), “No event in any household in New Orleans was a secret from Marie Laveau.” She parlayed her knowledge into a position of considerable influence, as she told fortunes, gave advice on love, and prepared custom gris-gris for anyone needing to effect a cure, charm, or hex.

If she did not actually save anyone from a sentence of death, she allowed such stories to flourish. “The Widow Paris thrived on publicity,” observes Tallant (1946, 58). “Legend after legend spread about her and she seems to have enjoyed them all.”

The legend of her perpetual youth is easily explained: She had a look-alike daughter, Marie Laveau II, who followed in her footsteps. About 1875 the original Marie, bereft of her youth and memory, became confined to her home on Rue St. Ann and did not leave until claimed by death some six years later. “It was then,” reports Tallant (1946, 73), “that the strangest part of the entire Laveau mystery became most noticeable. For Marie Laveau still walked the streets of New Orleans, a new Marie Laveau, who also lived in the St. Ann Street Cottage.”

The Wishing Tomb
Controversy persists over where Marie Laveau and her namesake daughter are buried. Some say the latter reposes in the cemetery called St. Louis No. 2 (Hauck 1996) in a “Marie Laveau Tomb” there. However, that crypt most likely contains the remains of another voodoo queen named Marie, Marie Comtesse. Numerous sites in as many cemeteries are said to be the final resting place of one or the other Marie Laveau (Tallant 1946, 129), but the prima facie evidence favors the Laveau-Glapion tomb in St. Louis No. 1 (figure 1). It comprises three stacked crypts with a “receiving vault” below (that is, a repository of the remains of those displaced by a new burial).

A contemporary of Marie II told Tallant (1946, 126) that he had been present when she died of a heart attack at a ball in 1897, and insisted: “All them other stories ain't true. She was buried in the Basin Street graveyard they call St. Louis No. I, and she was put in the same tomb with her mother and the rest of her family.”

That tomb’s carved inscription records the name, date of death, and age (62) of Marie II: “Marie Philome Glapion, décédé le 11 Juin 1897, ágée de Soixante-deux ans.” A bronze tablet affixed to the tomb announces, under the heading “Marie Laveau,” that “This Greek Revival Tomb Is Reputed Burial Place of This Notorious ‘Voodoo Queen’ . . . ,” presumably a reference to the original Marie (see figure 2). Corroborative evidence that she was interred here is found in her obituary ("Death” 1881) which notes that “Marie Laveau was buried in her family tomb in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1.” Guiley (2000) asserts that, while Marie Laveau I is reportedly buried here, “The vault does not bear her name.” However, I was struck by the fact that the initial two lines of the inscription on the Laveau-Glapion tomb read, “Famille Vve. Paris / née Laveau.” Obviously, “Vve.” is an abbreviation for Veuve, “Widow"; therefore the phrase translates, “Family of the Widow Paris, born Laveau"-namely Marie Laveau I. I take this as evidence that here is indeed the “family tomb.” Robert Tallant (1946, 127) suggests: “Probably there was once an inscription marking the vault in which the first Marie was buried, but it has been changed for one marking a later burial. The bones of the Widow Paris must lie in the receiving vault below.”

The Laveau-Glapion tomb is a focal point for commercial voodoo tours. Some visitors leave small gifts at the site-coins, Mardi Gras beads, candles, etc.-in the tradition of voodoo offerings. Many follow a custom of making a wish at the tomb. The necessary ritual for this has been variously described. The earliest version I have found (Tallant 1946, 127) says that people would “knock three times on the slab and ask a favor,” noting: “There are always penciled crosses on the slab. The sexton washes the crosses away, but they always reappear.” A more recent source advises combining the ritual with an offering placed in the attached cup: “Draw the X, place your hand over it, rub your foot three times against the bottom, throw some silver coins into the cup, and make your wish” (Haskins 1990). Yet again we are told that petitioners are to “leave offerings of food, money and flowers, then ask for Marie’s help after turning around three times and marking a cross with red brick on the stone” (Guiley 2000, 216).

When I visited the tomb it was littered with markings, including single Xs; an occasional cross, heart, pentagram, etc.; and a few inscriptions or other graffiti, sometimes accompanied by initials (figure 3). One comment read: “Her eyes / lit up with Fire / For the dreams / she entertained . . . / Seems something in her / knew already / just how well / They'd burn. / A.R.P. / 11-19-00.” The predominant markings were sets of three Xs-suggesting that the folk practice is undergoing transition (the specified number of raps, turns, etc. apparently becoming transferred to the number of Xs).

Although some of the markings are done in black (as from charcoal), most are rendered in a rusty red from bits of crumbling brick. One New Orleans guidebook says of the wishing tomb: “The family who own it have asked that this bogus, destructive tradition should stop, not least because people are taking chunks of brick from other tombs to make the crosses. Voodoo practitioners-responsible for the candles, plastic flowers, beads, and rum bottles surrounding the plot-deplore the practice, too, regarding it as a desecration that chases Laveau’s spirit away” (Cook 1999). Echoing that view, another guidebook advises: “On the St. Louis tour, please don’t scratch Xs on the graves; no matter what you've heard, it is not a real voodoo practice and is destroying fragile tombs” (Herczog 2000).

The scuttlebutt, according to the professional guide I commissioned (Krohn 2000), is that the practice may have evolved from ordinary graffiti which was then transformed by an early cemetery guide into a pseudo-voodoo custom that brought him tips. One writer wryly observes of the wishing practice that there is “no word on success rates” (Dickinson 1997).

Perturbed Spirit
Given the belief that Marie Laveau’s spirit can be invoked to grant wishes, it was inevitable that there would be alleged sightings. According to the author of Haunted City (Dickinson 1997, 131): “Tour guides tell of a Depression-era vagrant who fell asleep atop a tomb in the cemetery and was awakened to the sound of drums and chanting. Stumbling upon the tomb of Marie Laveau, he encountered the ghosts of dancing, naked men and women, led by a tall woman wrapped in the coils of a huge snake.” Or so tour guides tell. But did the “vagrant” perhaps pass out from drink and have a vivid dream or hallucination? How much has the story been embellished in the intervening two-thirds century or so? Do we know that the alleged event even occurred? These are among the problems with such anecdotal evidence.

The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits asserts: “One popular legend holds that Marie I never died, but changed herself into a huge black crow which still flies over the cemetery.” Indeed, “Both Maries are said to haunt New Orleans in various human and animal forms” (Guiley 2000). Note the anonymity inherent in such phrases as “popular legend” and the passive-voice construction “are said to.” In addition to her tomb, Marie also allegedly haunts other sites. For example, according to Hauck (1996), “Laveau has also been seen walking down St. Ann Street wearing a long white dress.” Providing a touch of what literary critics call verisimilitude (an appearance of truth), Hauck adds, “The phantom is that of the original Marie, because it wears her unique tignon, a seven-knotted handkerchief, around her neck.” But Hauck has erred: Marie in fact “wore a large white headwrap called a tignon tied around her head,” says her biographer Gandolfo (1992, 19), which had “seven points folded into it to represent a crown.” Gandolfo, who is also an artist, has painted a striking portrait of Marie Laveau wearing her tignon, which is displayed in the gift shop of his New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum (and reproduced in Gandolfo 1992, 1).

With a bit of literary detective work we can track the legend-making process in one instance of Laveau ghostlore. In his Haunted Places: The National Directory, Hauck (1996) writes of Marie: “Her ghost and those of her followers are said to practice wild voodoo rituals in her old house. . . .” But are said to by whom? His list of sources for the entry on Marie Laveau includes Susy Smith’s Prominent American Ghosts (1967), his earliest-dated citation. Smith merely says of Marie, “Her home at 1020 St. Ann Street was the scene of weird secret rites involving various primitive groups,” and she asks, “May not the wild dancing and pagan practices still continue, invisible, but frantic as ever?” Apparently this purely rhetorical question about imaginary ghosts has been transformed into an “are-said-to"-sourced assertion about supposedly real ones. In fact, the house at 1020 St. Ann Street was never even occupied by Marie Laveau; it only marks the approximate site of the home she lived in until her death (then numbered 152 Rue St. Ann, as shown by her death certificate). That cottage, which bore a red-tile roof and was flanked by banana trees and an herb garden, was demolished in 1903 (Gandolfo 1992, 14-15, 34).

Many of the tales of Marie Laveau’s ghost, if not actually invented by tour guides, may be uncritically promulgated by them. According to Frommer’s New Orleans 2001, “We enjoy a good nighttime ghost tour of the Quarter as much as anyone, but we also have to admit that what’s available is really hit-or-miss in presentation (it depends on who conducts your particular tour) and more miss than hit with regard to facts” (Herczog 2000). Even the author of New Orleans Ghosts II-hardly a knee-jerk debunker-speaks of the “hyperbolic balderdash” which sometimes “spews forth from the black garbed tour guides who are more interested in money and sensationalism than accurate historical research” (Klein 1999).

A Haunting Tale
One alleged Laveau ghost sighting stands out. Tallant (1946, 130-131) relates the story of an African-American named Elmore Lee Banks, who had an experience near St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. As Banks recalled, one day in the mid-1930s “an old woman” came into the drugstore where he was a customer. For some reason she frightened the proprietor, who “ran like a fool into the back of the store.” Laughing, the woman asked, “Don't you know me?” She became angry when Banks replied, “No, ma'am,” and slapped him. Banks continued: “Then she jump[ed] up in the air and went whizzing out the door and over the top of the telephone wires. She passed right over the graveyard wall and disappeared. Then I passed out cold.” He awakened to whiskey being poured down his throat by the proprietor who told him, “That was Marie Laveau.”

What are we to make of this case? (Perhaps the reader will want to pause here and reflect on the possibilities. . . .) Let us assume, provisionally, that such an event did transpire, although the narrative has possibly been affected by the well-known influences of misperception, memory distortions, the unconscious temptation to embellish, and other factors. We can begin our analysis by noting a few clues. First, it seems significant that Banks was a customer in a drugstore; this suggests he may have been ill and/or on medication. Second, it seems curious that he “passed out cold” from a mere slap, perhaps especially a ghostly one. (It seems contradictory that ghosts-which are reputedly non-physical, often being reported to pass through walls-are able to perform physical acts.) A third clue, I think, comes from the contrast between the first part of the story, wherein the woman appears quite unghostlike and acts in concert with the real world, and the second part, in which her behavior (flying through the air) seems consistent with an hallucinatory experience. Putting the clues together gives us the following possible scenario: Banks visits the drugstore because he is unwell, possibly seeking to get a prescription filled or refilled. An elderly woman comes in, recognizes him (perhaps from some years before), and is bemused that he fails to recognize her. Suddenly, from the effects of his illness or medication or even alcohol, Banks passes out, but in the process of swooning and falling to the floor he hallucinates. This may have involved his brain perceiving the lowering of his body in relationship to hers as the converse action-as her rising above him-and so triggering a dream-like fantasy of her flying. (Hallucinations can occur in normal individuals with various medical conditions, including high fevers and reduced respiration rates, as well as alcoholic states and many other conditions. And hallucinations “share much in common with dreams” [Baker 1992].)

The various elements in the story may have become confused-misconstrued and misordered as to sequence-as Banks teetered on the brink of consciousness. For example, although the woman may have slapped him in anger, another possibility is that she did so slightly later in an attempt to revive him. Similarly, the proprietor may have run to the rear of the store not because he recognized the “ghost” but in order to fetch the whiskey with which to revive Banks. Subsequently, while seeming to have “witnessed” the entire event (Hauck 1996) and to have identified Marie Laveau, the store owner may in fact only have been commenting on the perceived events that Banks related. Over time, as Banks repeated and rehearsed his tale, it became a dramatic, supernatural narrative about Marie Laveau. States psychologist Robert A. Baker, “The work of Elizabeth Loftus and others over the past decade has demonstrated that the human memory works not like a tape recorder but more like the village storyteller, i.e., it is both creative and recreative” (Baker and Nickell 1992).

Such impulses may be especially strong in a climate of magical thinking. They have helped foster the many tales and claims about Marie Laveau. In addition, according to the Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History (Salzman 1996), “the legend of Marie Laveau was kept alive by twentieth-century conjurers who claimed to use Laveau techniques and it is kept alive through the continuing practice of commercialized voodoo in New Orleans” (figure 4).

Baker, Robert A. 1992. Hidden Memories: Voices and Visions from Within. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 274-276.
Baker, Robert A., and Joe Nickell, 1992. Missing Pieces: How to Investigate Ghosts, UFOs, Psychics, and Other Mysteries. Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 217.
Cook, Samantha. 1999. New Orleans: The Mini Rough Guide. London: Rough Guides Ltd., 110, 112.
“Death of Marie Laveau.” 1881. Obituary, Daily Picayune (New Orleans, La.), n.d. (after June 15), reprinted in Gandolfo 1992, 38-39. Dickinson, Joy. 1997. Haunted City: An Unauthorized Guide to the Magical, Magnificent New Orleans of Anne Rice. Secaucus, N.J.: Citadel Press.
Gandolfo, Charles. 1992. Marie Laveau of New Orleans. New Orleans, La.: New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum.
Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. 2000. The Encyclopedia of Ghosts and Spirits, second ed. New York: Checkmark Books, 213-216.
Haskins, Jim. 1990. Voodoo & Hoodoo. New York: Scarborough House, 59-61.
Hauck, Dennis William. 1996. Haunted Places: The National Directory. New York: Penguin Books, 192, 193.
Herczog, Mary. 2000. Frommer’s 2001 New Orleans. New York: IDG Books Worldwide, 158, 186.
Krohn, Diane C. 2000. Personal communication, December 3.
Klein, Victor. 1999. New Orleans Ghosts II. Metairie, La.: Lycanthrope Press, 64.
Nickell, Joe. 2001. Voodoo in New Orleans, Skeptical Inquirer January/February: 26(1).
Salzman, Jack, et al., eds. 1996. Encyclopedia of African-American Culture and History, vol. 3. London: Simon & Schuster and Prentice Hall International, 1581.
Smith, Susy. 1967. Prominent American Ghosts. Cleveland, Ohio: The World Publishing Co., 139-140.
Tallant, Robert. 1946. Voodoo in New Orleans, reprinted Gretna, La.: Pelican Publishing Co., 1990. (Except as otherwise noted, information about Marie Laveau and her daughter is taken from this source.)

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Crone Stones

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 15th 2010, 2:47 pm

Crone Stones

Tara: "What are you going to do with those rocks. Don't you need a Ouija board and some chicken bones?"
Miss Jeanette: "These are the Crone Stones, they have been in my family since Africa. Twelve generations were in my family but the stones chose me," True Blood Episode Seven

What are "crone stones" and are they real? Called Holy Stones or Witch Stones among those who practice the Craft, a stone which has a naturally made hole in it is considered true and real magik. They are the embodiment of all the elements: Earth, Air, Fire and Water and Spirit. Earth in that they are made of the earth, air as the stone is smoothed and shaped by the winds, fire, as the earth was formed and the rocks were shaped by the heating and cooling of the earth and further effected by the warmth of the sun, and water, which is likely the source of the hole in a witch stone.

The witch practitioner can use the stone in many ways. The stone can be used as a portal for the summoning of spirits, it can be used as something like a cauldron, with herbs and spices and other materials packed in it so it can be burned. It can be used to see the future, where the seer simply looks through the whole during divinations, it can be used as a key hole to unlock the door between one world to another during a conjuration.

The way the character Miss Jeanette is using the stones is actually pretty typical of the use of a witch stone during a curing or exorcism. She creates an astral door for the demon possessing Lettie Mae to exit from. Though what she is doing has more to do with the powers of suggestion than being exorcised, her use of this ancient tool is well rooted in the practices of the Craft.

The smaller witch stones were often used by people as talismans. They were used for fertility, the hole symbolic of the vagina and the opening of the womb for fertility. The stones were carried by sailors, who ordinarily hated witches, who would use the stones to conjure a wind when a boat was captured in the doldrums (a time where there is not much wind or current). A sailor need only blow through the stone's hole to conjure a stiff wind. Girls looking to be married would carry the witch stone their pockets and sneak peeks through it to look for Cupid's kiss, a sign that a boy was the right one for her. Prostitutes often carried witch stones to conjure costumers.

In some stories of witchcraft, the witch stone was used like a magikal walkie talkie between witches who used them like a portable ear, whispering messages into the hole and sending the message to a sister or brother witch listening through his own stone. The first celestial cell phone.

The witch stones were considered so precious, they were passed down in wills and other documents to other Crafters and even covens. They were carefully cared for and kept safe in small reliquaries and ornate pouches.

Source: The Elemental Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes, Elemental Magik by Scott Cunningham

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The Tarot

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 15th 2010, 2:50 pm

The Tarot

I once played poker with a deck of tarot cards. I got a full house and three people died- Steven Wright, commedian.

Divinations take on many forms. Some folk do dream interpretation, others cast runes, some read palms, some crystal gaze and scry, others use the tarot deck.

The tarot deck was developed slowly over a couple of centuries and was used primarily for card games. It varied in number of cards and images, but consisted of suits and royalty cards. But it's secondary use was as a divinatory tool.

The Tarot is divided into The Major and Minor Arcana. The Major Arcana contain cards like the Empress, the Hierophant (sometimes called the Pope), the Death card, Justice, The Devil, The Lovers. The Minor Arcana are divided into suits: the pentacles, the cups, the wands and the swords.

Each card has a mundane translative meaning and an esoteric or magikal meaning. And the meaning of each card is influenced by the card or cards surrounding it. Each card is illustrated in a manner that suggests other hidden qualities of the seeker, being interpreted by the reader.

There are also a mutitude of lays, or patterns in which the cards are thrown and this is based on the taste of the reader and their cultural turn. The most common lays are the Celtic Cross, the Zodiac lay, Thor's hammer, and the Twins of Fate lay, which is meant for a reader throwing for two people at the same time, usually a couple.

The most famous and often seen Tarot deck is the Ryder Waite deck (my personal favorite) Arthur E. Waite was a member or the Rosaecrusians, a magikal order cofounded with him by Wiliam Butler Yeats. Waite incorporated ancient imagry with Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Roma, Egyptian and occult images. He felt that all religions contributed to the magikal world and tried to convey that through the art on each card.

In True Blood, one of the characters draws a Justice card. Justice is obviously about wrongs being righted but it also a card that suggests balance, mediation, the influence of the law, not just man's, but nature's and the revealing of secrets. It is all coming to a head in Bon Temps.

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Sources: The History of the Tarot by Madame Bladvadsky, The Tarot Key by A.E. Waite, Tarot and the Mysteries of Divinations by Tarotstar, The Meaning of Witchcraft by Gerald Gardner, The Elemental Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes.

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The Oracles

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 15th 2010, 2:51 pm

The Oracles
Dodona and Delphi

In the continuing saga of Sookie Stackhouse and her entree into the mysterious world of the Vampire, she is witness to a Vampire death and must testify to what she saw before the Ancient Pythoness. It is explained to her that the Ancient Pythoness is the original Oracle consulted by Alexander when he went on to conquer his kingdom. But what is an Oracle and how is it being used by Charlaine Harris?

And Oracle in most mythologies are women who have special powers to understand and divine the past, present and future. They were linked to the gods and believed to be semi-divine themselves because of their constant contact with the gods and with the dead. They were also endowed with clairvoyance, telepathy and telekinesis.

There are two famous Oracles in legend: The Oracle of Delphi and the Oracle Dodana. They were so famous, in fact, that Michalangelo depicted them on the ceiling of the Sisteen Chapel. The Oracle of Delphi reportedly told Herodotus not to wage war by crossing a great river and he disregarded her words and did so and he lost most of his men in the crossing and then lost many more in the subsequent battle.

Most Oracles implemented the incubation method of divination, that is they slept to open up the astral self to the gods who would then inform them. It is from this method that Edgar Casey divined the future and sought cures for the sick. Some were scryers, who gazed into pools of water or the plumes of dense smoke to divine the future, believing that the gods gave her wisdom to interpret the signs and symbols she saw.

So who was the Ancient Pythoness in the book? The python or serpent, was the symbol of the female goddess, the mother goddess revered in most pre-Christian cultures. Some of these oracles or diviners owned a large serpent, but some simply cultivated a relationship with the goddess symbolized by the serpent. To be referred to as a pythoness was to be considered a high priestess of the mother goddess.

In legends of St. Patrick, the saint who ran all the snakes out of Ireland, Patrick was said to have simply called on the name of God and the snakes left the island, slithering into the sea. What may have really happened was Patrick may have actually won a war against the pagan mother goddess cult. This cult was likely brought by the Norse. There are snake symbols found in glyphs and decorations of the grave and ritual sites of early Celts. The reason there are no native snakes to the island may simply be geography, being far too cold and wet for the habitation of snakes.

And whether Charlaine Harris realized it or not, the notion that Vampires would consult someone called the pythoness simply works. Vampires are often associated with snakes, especially the infernal "white worm" the death snake depicted as a particular evil of the devil. And her story that the Ancient Pythoness was rewarded even in her old age with being made Vampire fits as well, as the mythology suggests that there is still a great and ancient oracle still dreaming and the person to find her will learn the secrets of the end of days.

All cultures have their own version of the Oracle and the snake of creation. For example, the Norse, whom we have mentioned, have a particular attachment to the snake because of the legend of the Midgard Serpent and it's participation in the death of the gods.

Egypt of course has the cobra and it symbolizes rebirth or eternal life. (Which again, fits in Vampire mythology) It also whispers in the ear of the Pharaoh, the god-king, when important decisions are meant to be made.

In Christian belief, of course the serpent is the devil and tempts Eve into eating the fruit of the Tree of the knowledge of good and evil, causing the fall of man. Lilith is often depicted in the coils of a snake, and the Cherokee believe that the snakes created a raft for the righteous man and woman to float upon when the land was swallowed by the waters (their version of the Great Flood, which also exists in every known culture).

To the Hindi, the snake was the guardian of Lord Krishna who lay as a child in the shade of a great cobra's hood. The snake also features in the Bagavadgiva, which portrays the snake as the imparter of wisdom and judgment.

Sources: The Bagavadgiva, The Holy Bible, The Egyptian Book of the Dead, Legends of the Cherokee by Margaret Ortiz, Butler's Lives of the Saints, The Cultus of the Snake by Leonard Falshine, The Spirit Book by Raymond Buckland, Myths and Folklore by Henry I. Christ.

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The Summerland and Faerie Funerals and Valhalla

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 15th 2010, 2:56 pm

Into the Summerland

Among all religions, including the religions and traditions (trads) of the Wiccan, there is a belief in a place of rest and reward for the faithful after death. Even in mythology for the world of the fae, there is a place of rest and it is called the Summerlands.

In the primitive world, the time of winter was a bleak, dark, lonely, and hungry time. It was a time of hunger and fear. Spring and summer and fall were times of planting, warmth and finally of harvest. When one contemplated the rewards of the next world, one thought of the pleasures of summer, then the trees bore sweet fruit, when the animals grazed on sweet grasses and provided wonderful meat and fish were busy and hungry in the streams and ponds. In the Summerlands, these visions of plenty were eternal.

Among the Celts, and their culture extended from Ireland and down into Northern Spain and across into Germany and the edges of Scandinavia. They shared a similar culture and languages who belonged to the Goidic Root Languages, a primitive family of languages with prehistoric roots, that has it's own language growth and development apart from the Indo-European languages that we speak today in the form of Modern English, French, German, Spanish and Italian. Along with similar language, they had similar religious beliefs, sprinkled liberally with the cultural practices borrowed from other cultural to create a unique mixture of pratices and beliefs.

The Celtic year was broken up into feasts, beginning with Samhain, followed by Yule ( or the Winter Solstice, an important part of Norse tradition and absorbed into Celtic culture with the far flung traveling and conquering of towns by the Norse. This feast was annexed by Christianity to regularize the calendar. We still practice the old Norse traditions with the Christmas tree, the use of evergreens to symbolize longevity, the Yule log, which is still a part of German and Scandinavian celebrations and even Santa Claus), Imbolc, in February, Ostara in April/May, coinciding with Christian Easter (Christianity annexed Ostara in an attempt to not only regularize the feast day but to replace pagan religious practices with a Christian feast), Beltaine marks the late spring and early summer when planting is done, Litha is mid to late summer and the preparation for the harvest, Lughnassa is the harvest of the first fruits, Mabon the second and Samhain the final, completing the cycle of the year.

When examined as a whole, man's life was like the wheel of the year. His world is full of plenty and promise, growing steadily older until he dies, to be resurrected in the spring to the world of plenty. So the things of all earth are born, live and die and go on to to a greater world. This world to the Celts was the Summerlands.

In mythology as recorded by the bard Amergin, the first poet of Ireland, he tells the tale of he and his people starving in Iberia, what we call Spain today. They had heard from Norse tradesmen about a wonderful Island full of food and clean water and the blessings of the gods. With nothing more than this story and the sure knowledge that they would surely die if they stayed, a group of Iberians, led by Amergin, sailed north to the island they named Hibernia, the land of the Iberians.

There they met the Sidhe (shee) the faery people of the island and there they made war with these people until they surrendered to the humans. It was said that Manannan MacLir, the last known King of the Fae, taught the Iberians about the culture of the Sidhe and they adopted these practices as their own. This included a belief in the faery heaven, Summerland.

As Christianity swept the known world, the knowledge of the Old Ways were lost except in fragments of Amergin's poems and the quiet cultural practices and story telling of the Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Manx and Brittany (Northern French) Celtic people. It was from these fragments that in the mid 1950's that Gerald Gardner, considered by many who follow the principles and practices of Wicca to be one of the fathers of the religion, gave new life to the early beliefs and knowledge of the Old Religion and reintroduced the belief in the Summerland.

In contrast, the Cherokee believed in the Sunland, the land to the east, the land of the Cherokee and the land of life, where the sun rose. The land of death, of separation, the land of night was called the Nightland. To die was to go west, to the land of the dead. This was one of the greatest reasons for the resistance of the Cherokee to head west, and the one given the least amount of interest by the whites. They resisted going to the West, because this was the land of ghosts, the land were those who had gone before them went to reenact their human lives in the dark shadows of eternal night. And in many ways they were right. For every Cherokee who made it through the Trail of Tears, ten Cherokee died of cold, starvation, exhaustion and disease.

Sources: Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Samhain to Ostara by Ashleen O'Gaea, Celebrating the Seasons of Life: Beltaine to Mabon by Ashleen O'Gaea, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes, Field Guide to the Little People by Colum McAirt, Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee

Faerie Funerals

"You look like Faeries at your own funeral," Legend (film)

Though Faeries enjoy a very long life, they are not immortal. With our reading of the death of Faeries in Dead and Gone, it is important to speak of the manner of Faerie death. The Fae have a long history of war in their world with both man and among themselves. The fabled land of Tir Nan Og, the land of eternal youth and beauty is the heaven of the Fae. All Faeries desire to go on to this land and from time to time, they even admit humans who prove themselves to be worthy of the honor of going to Faerie paradise.

During the time of the potato famine in Ireland and during other times of trouble and strife on the island, there were stories that the Wee Folk had taken the abused and poor humans on the cusp of their world into Tir Nan Og. The same id true among stories of the Trail of Tears in the Cherokee that even whole villages of Real People were hidden by the Handsome Little People, the Cherokee version of Faerie, in small mountains and even under deep streams and pools.

Faeries who live in the world of humans routinely faked their own deaths. Because they had such longevity, they would stage their deaths through accidents and sicknesses and reappear in another place, resuming their lives, living among men. Even among Faeries who do not live in the world of humans, sometimes fake their deaths simply to party. The Faerie wake is never sad, they mourn the loss of their friends by being happy that they have crossed over to Tir Nan Og. But because Faeries do not normally die often, they fake a death from time to time to drink and frolic and make love.

When Faeries die, their bodies do become Faerie Dust. There is no greater concentrated magik than the remains of a Faerie. (I personally cringe when Sookie routinely waters Faerie dust into the ground, it could be a powerful source of magik for her and Amelia, who if she were any kind of witch would never allow the dust to be lost) In the land of the Fae, the dust is shared among the rest of the Faeries and any undistributed is given to magikal places: henges (like Stonehenge), Faerie circles (where mushrooms grow in rings) and Faerie Raids (small soft hills and mounds where the Fae live. Then there is a great party with music and drinking and practical jokes and bawdy stories and even a few sad stories because it is said that the tears of the Fae make flowers and grasses grow.

Source: Faery by Brian Froud and Alan Lee, The Elemental Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John and Caitlin Matthews, Faeries, Sprites and Gnomes by Amy Garrison, Field Guide to the Little People by Colum McAirt, Faery Ways by Padraig Cullum, Tales of the Great Potato Famine by Sinead O'Donahue, American Indian Myths and Legends by Alphonso Ortiz, The Trail Where They Cried: The Removal of The Cherokee by Daniel Littlefeather.



Lo there do I see my father
There do I see my mother and my brothers and sisters
There do I see the line of my people to the beginning of time.
They do call out to me
And bid me take my place among them
In the Hall of Valhalla
Where the brave live forever.

From the film The Thirteenth Warrior

Companion: Do you think there will be Women in Valhalla?
Eric: Where ever I go, there will be women. S2 E5 True Blood

Valhalla, which is translated to mean Hall of the Slain was but many parts of the heaven of the Norse people. Asgard was considered the place of the gods and admittance was strict. Only the very best of the people could ascend to Asgard and only those who died bravely in battle could go to Valhalla.

The souls of the brave dead were escorted into Valhalla by the Valkyrie, which means Choosers of the Slain. They were the celestial maiden warriors who walked through the battle fields and claimed the brave Norse who die fighting. In their culture, courage could never be defeated. Not even by death.

In Valhalla, the warriors would fight during the day time hours, which was thought to be the principle pleasure of the respectable Norse warrior and would feast and frolic in the evening, having been healed. There they would be served by the most beautiful women, given pleasure, and eat and drink the best food and wine.

But even this place was expected to have turmoil as the Norse Apocolypse began to surface and hearald the end of the world. Ragnarok is the Norse idea of the end of the world and there was thought to be a great war on both the heavens and earth and the Brave Dead of Valhalla were expected to fight along side of the gods against the ultimate evil, the Midgard serpent. The gods and their allies and the serpent and it's allies will all die and there would be a new heaven and new earth and it would be ruled by the All Father, the creator of all the gods.

Source: Myths and Folklore by Henry I. Christ and Edith Hamiton Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton and The Religions of the Pagans by Terry James

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Aslinn Dhan

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Cherokee and Navajo Shape Shifter Tales

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 15th 2010, 3:00 pm

The People of the Panther
A Story of the Cherokee

Being that I am Cherokee and Iroquois, I love my Native American roots. I am currently reading Mankiller: A Chief and her People. This is the life story of Wilma Mankiller who was the Principle Chief of the Cherokee Nation in Oklahoma and the first female Principle Chief of any Native American Tribe.

As she tells the story of her life, she also tells short folk stories. This is one of those stories. It made me think of the mysterious people of Hotshot and their magikal and close knit ways.

A hunter was in the woods one day in winter when suddenly he saw a panther coming toward him and at once began to prepsre to defend himself. The panther continued to approach him and just as he was about to shoot him the panther spoke. The panter asked the man "Where are you going?" and the man said he was hunting. "Well," said the panther, " we are getting ready for our Green Corn Dance ( a ritual celebration of the Cherokee) and it would be better if we hunt together and share what we kill." The man agreed and took off into the woods with the panther.

After a while, they saw a deer and the man made to shoot it. "No, brother," the panther growled, "This deer is too small." so they continued on. They saw another deer and again the man took aim and the panther again stopped him. "No brother, that deer's hide is poor, that means it is sick and not good enough to eat." Againt they further into the woods. A great fat buck came bounding out of the trees and the man took aim and shot it and the panther went and finished it off with a swipe of his paw. The man field stripped it and the panther, a great huge animal, put it across it's shoulders and held it steady with it's great long tail and bade his friend follow him to his lodge.

There the man saw a very handsome lodge and inside a great dancing circle and other panthers dancing and celebrating the great feast. The other panthers welcomed the man in their midst, brought him the choicest pieces of meat and smoked and entreated him to tell them stories and dance with them. For many weeks the hunter stayed among the panthers and they became as his brothers and sisters.

But soon, the man realized he must make his way home, and each step he took away from his friends his heart grew sadder and sadder and he longed for them. When he finally returned to his own people, he tried to tell them what had happened and the people believed he was a singing bird, or had been made mad by being in the forests so long by himself. Finally, in desperation, he tried to find his way back to the handsome lodge of his panther brother but could not remember just where it was. It is said he died searching for it, because once someone finds true happiness and forsakes it, he can never be truly happy again.

I've Got You Under My Skin
The Skin Walkers of the Navajo

Tribal cultures all practice some level of animism, that is the belief that one can assume the spiritual if not physical appearance of an animal. The Navajo have a very strong belief in the connectedness of the human world and the spiritual world and embraces the notion that we are all brothers under the skin.

There are two principal reasons one would seek transformation into an animal. One is the simple fact that animals can travel longer distances in relatively lesser time. It is said among the Navajo when the shamans need to congregate, they simply shifted into animal form and traveled to the meeting place.

In the 1970's there was a recorded incident where some Navajo boys were driving down a dark desert highway when they saw a large, hairy, dog-like creature keeping speed with them, running along side the car. When the driver sped up, the creature did the same. After some time, the boys stopped the car and watched the creature continue it's journey. When the boys told their story, they were looked at with skepticism. The driver of the car said he'd wished he had a camera that night so he could have proof that he and his friends had actually seen a skin walker.

The second reason one might want to shift is for spiritual reasons. Spiritual transformation precludes any physical transformation. It is understood that the shape shifter will not physically change but will draw upon the energies, strengths, nobility and wisdom of that creature. Even in Christian thought, we are told to observe and imitate the animals. In Job 12:7-8 it reads

7.) Even birds and animals have much they could teach
8.) Ask the creatures of earth and sea for their wisdom

The Navajo and many other Native American tribes receive their personal animal guide and protector through the vision quest, a stylized ritual of meditation that shuts down all psychological barriers and opens one up to the spiritual and magikal world of nature allowing the spirit animal attracted to you make it's presence known and begin teaching you the path you should follow.

The characteristics the suppliant absorbs are the noble aspects of the creature, not what would be considered "ruthless or bloodthirsty". The process of transformation is far different from the workings of sorcerers of old who sought transformation for the ability to maim and murder and terrorize. This more subtle transformation is to increase personal strength, tribal ties and to honor the animal and gain wisdom from it.

Once you have performed your vision quest and have received your totem animal in the form of a fetish or token, you return to your state of awareness. You have within you all the qualities of the totem animal and you may call on that animal to help you at anytime and over your lifetime develop even greater bonds not only to your animal self but to the tribe and to mother nature.

Sources: Laughing with the Gods by Sun Bear, Traditions and Practices Among the Navajo by Michael Singinghawk, Dancing with the Elders by John War Eagle, Transformative Magik by Cassandra Easson, Man to Wolf by Robert Eisler, The Werewolf Book by Brad Steiger, The Holy Bible (Catholic Study Edition)

A Tale of the Cherokee

Animals living in the forests of wild America were the source of fascination and magik and lore among the aboriginal people of pre-European colonialization. The bear, the puma, the wolf, were the strongest and most revered of the forest creatures. These creatures were instilled with god-like qualities and honored and respected by the native peoples.

The bear was thought among the Cherokee to have once been human. A distant cousin of the canine, these intelligent creatures were thought to have once been men who were honored above all men to become a new and greater race of people. When a bear was killed for food, the animal was greatly honored, and the rituals around the hunting of bear were complex, meant to appease the Great Spirit and the spirit of the bear.

To kill a bear merely for sport was to court danger. Not just physical danger but spiritual danger. The bear's spirit could revenge itself by sending another bear to kill you. The bear could also send the spirit of the Wendigo to you (a sort of Native American version of the Vampire) and have it not only kill you but your family and your village.

According to the Cherokee, the bear was created by the Great Spirit when a righteous man was killed for no good reason. The Cherokee did not differentiate between murder and accidental death. If you caused the death of another you would suffer justice one way or another.

The Great Spirit sent the righteous man's soul into the body of his dog, but since the man's soul and wisdom was greater than the size of his dog, the Great Spirit caused the dog to change and transform to create a physical body large enough to contain him.

In this form the bear was able to seek justice. As he was the first bear, the Real People (Cherokee) decided that this was an important sign from the Great Spirit and the Cherokee began to form a belief that when great people died they became these huge creatures. As the mythos developed, the Cherokee began to understand that the bear could help them sustain themselves through the dark winters and keep them warm and well fed as they awaited the spring.

This belief comes from another tale that the Real People were starving and their wise men and elders came to meditate on the situation. As they meditated in the sweat lodge, they had a single shared vision of the bear coming out of the forest and telling them that they should take his life and use his body to nourish the starving but to remember always that there was a human soul inside him and they should do this with honor and respect. When they came out of the sweat lodge, they saw a great bear walking calmly through the village and reared up on his hind legs and suddenly died and fell to the earth. The head man told the people to immediately honor the bear and thank the Great Spirit for his gift.

The Cherokee developed the ritual over the years. It is a complex ritual of dancing, chanting and re-enactment of the first man who became a bear all the way through to the bear's sacrifice. The man who enacts the part of bear first purges himself with a special elixir called the Black Drink, an emetic made from the bonesett root and leaves that causes vomiting and diarrhea. He is then ritually bathed and painted white, to represent the soul of the righteous man. Once he is painted white the Real People mourn him briefly as he lays curled in the center of the dance grounds. Then the shaman comes with his bear pelt and lays it upon the man and prays over him, chanting prayer seven times, a sacred number for the Cherokee. Then man then rises with the bear pelt around him and he is a bear, the bear's spirit has possessed him completely as he wears the skin. He mimics bear behavior, digging for roots and grubs and eating berries, pretending to catch fish in the stream, rubbing against the bark of trees.

The Real People then begin to pray the prayer of the hungry villagers and the bear begins to show himself to the people and in imitation of the sacrifice of the great bear, he raises himself up and offers himself to the hunters. When he is "killed", the man in the bear skin is carefully wakened from his transformative trance and brought back to the world of men.

Sources: Laughing with the Gods by Sunbear, Myths, Rituals and Magic of the Cherokee by Shawn Morgan, Skinwalkers: Becoming more than Human by Eric Souter

Aslinn Dhan

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Vampires, Werewolves and Faeries oh my!!

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 15th 2010, 3:04 pm

Vampires, Werewolves and Faeries, Oh My

In the surreal world of Sookie Stackhouse, we discover a whole world of fantasy creatures who just want to be one of the guys at the local bar, the gal at the supermarket, the irresistitably handsome person sitting by you at the movies.

The Fae, or Faery Folk are universal in the mythical world. All cultures and tribes and people's have some version or variation of the faery in their religious and cultural story telling.

Faerie is a generic term for a host of creatures that live in the mythical world.

Gnomes- you know these characters in mythology in their many forms. The first time you probably met these fellows were in Snow White and Seven Dwarves. When the legendary tales recieved several treatments in the telling of their tale, they got the sanitized treatment.

Gnomes come in many varieties: Garden gnomes, who care for and tend the flowers and vegetables and herbs in the garden of a human who pays them tribute, usually in form of beer and lumps of bread and cheese or dishes of milk, or sugar. Forest gnomes, who care for the animals and trees and waters of the natural world. And Industry gnomes, who mine gold,silver, coal, and diamonds and gems and other useful ores. They also take part in the trades as leather workers, black smiths, tailors,masons and other builders.

Goblins- these are cousin creatures to the gnomes, but feel themselves quite above the gnomes in rank. They are shrewd, sly and wealthy. They don't like humans and they don't trust them.The exception to this is their fondness for stealing and raising human babies. They are also dab hands at healing and curing. And though popular mythology depicts them as shrunken and ugly, there were many who were quite beautiful. They were also great story tellers and though they had little tolerance for humans, if placated with whiskey and food, they would settle themselves down to tell stories for as long as they tolerated the company. The stories always had a tendency to put human's wrong footed or meeting a tragic end. As Christina Rosetti wrote in her poem "The Goblin Market":

Come away oh human child
In the forests and through the wild
With a faery hand in hand
The world's more full of suffering
Than you can understand

Leanan Sidhe- Leanan Sidhe (pronounced "shee") are the faeries we think of when we hear the word faery. Beautiful, magical, powerful, they are the tiny fagile looking faery who feature themselves in popular faery art and culture.

Some Leanan Sidhe are considered the Vampires of the faery world because they are not above drinking either faerie blood or human blood, especially the blood of children.

Bean Sidhe- Bean (pronounced "ban") is simply faery woman. She is also called the washer woman. She weeps and washes the clothes of women who die in childbirth. In popular culture, Bean Sidhe has been depicted as a screaming wraith. She is anything but. Bean Sidhe has been known to baby sit human chidren, birth sheep and even act as a midwife to faery and human folk alike. If a human woman had a Bean Sidhe as a midwife, that human child had a faery godmother for life.

Sources: The True Stories of Popular Faerie Tales by Lady Wilde, Field Guide to the Little People by Colum McAirt, Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee, With a Faerie Hand in Hand: The Fantasy Poetry of the Romantic Era by Niall Sheridan

Scotland's Bonny Vampires
Baobhan Sith

The baobhan sith, the Scottish version of the Bean Sidhe (banshee), takes a sinister turn in the lore of Scotland. A mixture of faery and Vampire, the baobhan sith is a beautiful woman dressed in green who stalks travelers on the lonely roads at night. They especially like young men, whom they entice off the road and lead them into a dance where they are glamoured. The Vampire dances with them til just before dawn when they are exhausted and the Vampire then feeds from them, usually to death.

The surest way to kill this Vampiric faery is the use of iron, since she is primarily a faery who acts in a Vampiric way.

Source: Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guilley

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Aslinn Dhan

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Roma Lore of Vampires and Werewolves

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 15th 2010, 3:04 pm

The Gypsies
Werewolves and Vampires in Roma Lore

If you are a faithful watcher of Hammer and Universal monster movies, then you know that there is most often a Gypsy in the mix. Dark, exotic and nomadic, these people are a strange race that owes no allegiance to the Church or the state and like being the kings of the road.

The word Gypsy is a misnomer. It comes from the early belief that the Roma people were a tribe of Egyptians who began to reach out beyond the world of post Christianity Egypt, when the great Pharaohs were gone and Egypt in her glory is covered by the sands of time. Now, it is generally thought that the Roma people are of East Indian extract, but again, you will have those who disagree.

The Roma people are primarily thought of as Pagans, but the truth if is, they follow a very primitive form of Christianity mixed with a belief in the world of the supernatural. Their world is peopled by lesser gods, demons, faeries and spirits who they seek to placate as they travel throughout the world. They speak a language that seems to take bits and pieces from every language but not enough of any language in particular. Cultural influences also create dialectic forms of Roma. For example, the Roma in Ireland, also called 'tinkers', speak Roma and then a mixed language dialect of Roma and Irish Gaelic.

Throughout history, the Roma have been targets for persecution. In the Malleus Malficarum and the Compendium Malficarum, the witch hunters said that "Killing gypsies are the same as killing lice from the body of Christ (the Church)". (MM, 162) Martin Luther wrote that a man might find the blessings of God and the rewards of heaven "if a man kills a Gypsy" ( Antoinine, 342) Even in modern times, Adolf Hitler declared the Roma "non-human" and over 400,000 were murdered in concentration camps. They were considered the carriers of disease, harbingers of the devil, thieves and child snatchers.

It was not until the 1950's that we see more authoritative writings on the Roma people. Professor Michael Haversham of Oxford University in England, wrote in his book The Roma that "They are the beautiful and carefree people of Europe, much as the American Indian in the US. We must try to learn all we can of the lore and traditions of these people before it disappears for all time." (2)

Among the rich lore the professor collected were of the Werewolf and the Vampire. The Roma lived with the personal belief in these two entities. They did not necessarily despise them, but wished them to leave the Roma people alone and not interfere with their lives.

The most important ritual of the Roma were rituals surrounding death. The body of the dead, their material possessions, the distribution of wealth and the care and guardianship of their wives and children were extremely important. If one did not follow the rituals to the letter, the dead would arise as Vampire, or the offender of the dead would be cursed as a Werewolf.

Before the dead were buried, the wise woman and man of the village had to cast the tarot cards and the runes and consult the stars to decide the best time to bury the dead. Haversham writes: "One man had died and was laid out in his caravan for nearly a month while the people consulted every authority to determine the best day for burial. During this waiting period, the troupe's virgins cleaned the body, trimmed his hair and beard, sewed new clothes or patched his best clothes and covered the body in oils and spices to do honor to the body until all taboos and concerns could be addressed. And only a virgin could touch a dead man, else when the women had a child it would be cursed as a werewolf." (73)

But even then, something might happen to cause a Vampire to rise. If the Vampire is a man, his wife can expect a visitation from him on the seventh night after burial and he would have one last night of sex with her, lusty and insatiable, until the creature was satisfied that she was pregnant. The child born of a Vampire father was not seen as cursed. The Little Vampire (as they were called) would not be a Vampire at all, but one who is sensitive to the Vampire race and would recognize a Vampire no matter where they traveled and warn the others in the troupe of the presence of the Undead. (This sort of hearkens to Sookie's ability to see the little glow of Vampires)

Werewolves were also tolerated, though it was generally accepted that even people they loved who happened to be Werewolves were dangerous as they lost their human personalities. One troupe who traveled through the Russian steppes even had a Werewolf chieftain. On nights of the full moon, the Roma people would eat their meal early, tie off the perimeter of the camp with rope garlanded with monkshood, also known as wolf-bane or dog-bane. The chieftain would then leave the camp before moonrise and change into his wolf form. In Haversham's book the travelers reported that they would bed down early, to avoid meeting their chieftain. One old Roma woman said: "I never worried when the chieftain walked the earth because though he was a wolf, he was still our chieftain and I believe he protected us like the leader wolf protects his pack." (473)

Source: Malleus Malficarum by Kramer and Sprenger and Montague Summers, Compendium Malficarum by Francesco Guazzo and Montague Summers, The Roma and the Great Christian Schism by Pierre Antionine, The Roma by Michael Haversham, The Werewolf Book by Brad Steiger,The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley,The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring Gould, The World of the Vampire by Sabine Baring Gould, The Vampire in Legend and Loreby Montague Summers and The Werewolf in Legend and Lore by Montague Summers

Aslinn Dhan

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Recorded Cases of Vampires and Werewolves

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 15th 2010, 3:08 pm

Vampires in America

There are two cases of Vampires in America that are most notable.

Case One:

The Ray Family

Jewett City, Connecticut, 1845-1854

It was a family of seven, mother, father and five children. It was known that the father and three of the children died in rapid succession of tuberculosis. TB was known as the wasting disease and sometimes as the Vampire's Disease because the patients, before they died, would take on a rosy, healthful appearance. Suspicion that the family may be victims of Vampirism began to surface when the remainder the family began having dreams of the deceased members coming to the house, begging to be let in.

In reaction, the mother asked that the bodies be exhumed. The story reports that the bodies were in remarkable good shape and they even had a healthy glow about them. The family requested that the bodies be reduced to ash to stop the spread of the disease. Henry David Thoreau wrote in his journal: "I have just read of a family in Vermont who, having had several members die of consumption, just burned the heart, liver, and lungs of the deceased in order to stop any further contamination."

Keep in mind, tuberculosis was a mysterious disease and much occult belief was attached to it. And keep in mind, the time period of the 1840's through the 1890's was thought of as the Victorian Era in history. There was a lot of interest in the occult and supernatural and Spiritualism as a movement and anything that could not be answered by science was considered a possible occult phenomenon.

Case Two:

The Mary E. Brown Family

Exeter, Rhode Island 1883-1892

It begins with the death of Mary in December 1883 of tuberculosis. She followed to the grave by her eldest daughter six months later, also succumbing to TB. In 1888, her son Edwin and younger daughter, Mercy, contracted the disease. Mercy died in January 1892 while Edwin clung to life.

The family decided they were under attack by a Vampire and exhumed the bodies of Mary and her two daughters. The mother and eldest daughter were already just bones, but Mercy was eerily pink and seemed to merely be sleeping. In fact, Mercy was found to be lying on her side, with her knees bent and her hands under her cheek. It was decided that Mercy was a Vampire and her heart was removed from her corpse and burned and reburied. The ashes of the heart were given to Edwin in tea to attempt a cure, but it didn't work. Edwin died.

To this day, Mercy Brown is considered the Vampire of Exeter, Rhode Island.

While many may say that this is a sad example of the course of an evil disease, how would one go about explaining the fact that Mercy was found in sleeping pose inside her coffin? Believe it or Don't :o

Source: The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton.

What Rough Beast
Two Recorded Cases of Werewolves

Here are two recorded and well discussed cases of werewolves. One is in 1700's France and one in America that spanned three years between 1989 to 1992.

The Beast of Gevaudan (1764-1767)

Gevaudan is located in the south central region of France. During this terror, as many as 100 people died which led to a panic that many more would be killed. Witnesses claimed that the creature was a strange sort of wolf mix that made it more vicious and merciless as a hunter.

A poster that was printed up described the beast to be: Reddish brown with dark ridged stripes down the spine of the animal. It resembled a wolf and some other creature, perhaps a hyena. It had an extremely large jaw, six claws on each foot, with a strange mixture of cries that sometimes even mimicked a horse's whinny.

Stories spread like wild fire claiming that the beast was a werewolf and neighbors actually began to point the finger of blame at each other, and even testify that they witnessed one neighbor undergoing transformations into the beast on nights of the full moon.

Primarily out of fear that there would be another witch style hunt in the region, King Louis the XV took special interest in the story and hired a succession of wolf hunters to capture the beast. All their attempts failed until a very large wolf and his mate were killed. The animals did appear to be some strange cross breed of wolf with some other canine.

The Beast of Bray Road (1989-1992)

Elkhorn, Wisconsin

In 1989, a young woman named Lorianne Endrizzi saw a creature along the side of Bray Road at around 1:40 in the morning. She said that it walked upright, on two legs, had the head and snout of a dog or wolf, had human hands which ended in sharp claws. The creature was covered in dark, coarse fur. It was worrying a bit of road kill and snarled and howled at her as she slowed to see just what it was on the side of the road.

A year or so later, a custodian at the local Catholic School called police and reported seeing the beast standing or digging on the Indian Mound that was a part of the school's property. He gave a description of a creature standing about 6 1/2 feet tall and having from the neck down the body of a man, but from the neck up the head of a wolf and was covered in dark brown or black fur.

Reports of seeing fleeting glimpses still are a part of local lore.

Sources: The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

Aslinn Dhan

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Vlad Tepes: The Real Son of the Dragon

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:27 pm

Vlad Tepes
The Classical Vampire

It is believed the character of Dracula in Bram Stoker’s novel was based upon the historical figure Vlad Tepes (pronounced tse-pesh), who ruled Wallachia in the mid 15th century. He was also called by the names Vlad III, Vlad Dracula and Vlad the Impaler. The word Tepes translates to "impaler" and was so coined because of Vlad’s propensity to punish victims by impaling them on stakes, then displaying them publicly to frighten his enemies and to warn would-be transgressors of his strict moral code. He is credited with killing between 40,000 to 100,000 people in this fashion.

Origin of the name "Dracula"

King Sigismund of Hungary, who became the Holy Roman Emperor in 1410, founded a secret fraternal order of knights called the Order of the Dragon to uphold Christianity and defend the Empire against the Ottoman Turks. Its emblem was a dragon, wings extended, hanging on a cross. Vlad III’s father (Vlad II) was admitted to the Order around 1431 because of his bravery in fighting the Turks. From 1431 onward Vlad II wore the emblem of the order and later, as ruler of Wallachia, his coinage bore the dragon symbol.

The word for dragon in Romanian is "drac" and "ul" is the definitive article. Vlad III’s father thus came to be known as "Vlad Dracul," or "Vlad the dragon." In Romanian the ending "ulea" means "the son of". Under this interpretation, Vlad III thus became Vlad Dracula, or "the son of the dragon." (The word "drac" also means "devil" in Romanian. The sobriquet thus took on a double meaning for enemies of Vlad Tepes and his father.)

Historical Background

For nearly one thousand years Constantinople had stood as the protecting outpost of the Byzantine or East Roman Empire, and blocked Islam’s access to Europe. The Ottomans penetrated deep into the Balkans during this time. With the fall of Constantinople in 1453 under Sultan Mohammed the Conqueror, all of Christendom was suddenly threatened by the armed might of the Ottoman Turks. The Hungarian Kingdom to the north and west of Wallachia, which reached it's zenith during this same time, assumed the ancient mantle as defender of Christendom.

The rulers of Wallachia were thus forced to appease these two empires to maintain their survival, often forging alliances with one or the other, depending upon what served their self-interest at the time. Vlad III is best known by the Romanian people for his success in standing up to the encroaching Ottoman Turks and establishing relative independence and sovereignty (albeit for a relatively brief time).

Another factor influencing political life was the means of succession to the Wallachian throne. The throne was hereditary, but not by the law of primogeniture. The boyars (wealthy land-owning nobles) had the right to elect the voivode (prince) from among various eligible members of the royal family. This allowed for succession to the throne through violent means. Assassinations and other violent overthrows of reigning parties were thus rampant. In fact, both Vlad III and his father assassinated competitors to attain the throne of Wallachia.

In 1444 Hungary broke the peace and launched the Varna Campaign, led by John Hunyadi, in an effort to drive the Turks out of Europe. Hunyadi demanded that Vlad Dracul fulfill his oath as a member of the Order of the Dragon and a vassal of Hungary and join the crusade against the Turks, yet the wily politician still attempted to steer a middle course. Rather than join the Christian forces himself, he sent his oldest son, Mircea. Perhaps he hoped the Sultan would spare his younger sons if he himself did not join the crusade.

On receiving news of Vlad Dracul’s death the Turks released Vlad III and supported him as their own candidate for the Wallachian throne. In 1448, at the age of seventeen, Vlad III managed to briefly seize the Wallachian throne. Yet within two months Hunyadi forced him to surrender the throne and flee to his cousin, the Prince of Moldavia. Vlad III’s successor to the throne, however—Vladislov II—unexpectedly instituted a pro-Turkish policy, which Hunyadi found to be unacceptable. He then turned to Vlad III, the son of his old enemy, as a more reliable candidate for the throne, and forged an allegiance with him to retake the throne by force. Vlad III received the Transylvanian duchies formerly governed by his father and remained there, under the protection of Hunyadi, waitng for an opportunity to retake Wallachia from his rival.

Vlad III was born in November or December of 1431 in the Transylvanian city of Sighisoara. At the time his father, Vlad II (Vlad Dracul), was living in exile in Transylvania. The house where he was born is still standing. It was located in a prosperous neighborhood surrounded by the homes of Saxon and Magyar merchants and the townhouses of the nobility.

Little is known about the early years of Vlad III’s life. He had an older brother, Mircea, and a younger brother, Radu the Handsome. His early education was left in the hands of his mother, a Transylvanian noblewoman, and her family. His real education began in 1436 after his father succeeded in claiming the Wallachian throne by killing his Danesti rival. His training was typical to that of the sons of nobility throughout Europe. His first tutor in his apprenticeship to knighthood was an elderly boyar who had fought against the Turks at the battle of Nicolopolis. Vlad learned all the skills of war and peace that were deemed necessary for a Christian knight.

In 1444, at the age of thirteen, young Vlad and his brother Radu were sent to Adrianople as hostages, to appease the Sultan. He remained there until 1448, at which time he was released by the Turks, who supported him as their candidate for the Wallachian throne. Vlad’s younger brother apparently chose to remain in Turkey, where he had grown up. (Radu is later supported by the Turks as a candidate for the Wallachian throne, in opposition to his own brother, Vlad.)

More than anything else the historical Dracula is known for his inhuman cruelty. Impalement was Vlad III’s preferred method of torture and execution. Impalement was and is one of the most gruesome ways of dying imaginable, as it was typically slow and painful.

Vlad usually had a horse attached to each of the victim’s legs and a sharpened stake was gradually forced into the body. The end of the stake was usually oiled and care was taken that the stake not be too sharp, else the victim might die too rapidly from shock. Normally the stake was inserted into the body through the buttocks and was often forced through the body until it emerged from the mouth. However, there were many instances where victims were impaled through other body orifices or through the abdomen or chest. Infants were sometimes impaled on the stake forced through their mother’s chests. The records indicate that victims were sometimes impaled so that they hung upside down on the stake.

Vlad Tepes often had the stakes arranged in various geometric patterns. The most common pattern was a ring of concentric circles in the outskirts of a city that was his target. The height of the spear indicated the rank of the victim. The decaying corpses were often left up for months. It was once reported that an invading Turkish army turned back in fright when it encountered thousands of rotting corpses impaled on the banks of the Danube. In 1461 Mohammed II, the conqueror of Constantinople, a man not noted for his squeamishness, returned to Constantinople after being sickened by the sight of twenty thousand impaled Turkish prisoners outside of the city of Tirgoviste. This gruesome sight is remembered in history as "the Forest of the Impaled."

Although impalement was Vlad Dracula’s favorite method of torture, it was by no means his only method. The list of tortures employed by this cruel prince reads like an inventory of hell’s tools: nails in heads, cutting off of limbs, blinding, strangulation, burning, cutting off of noses and ears, mutilation of sexual organs (especially in the case of women), scalping, skinning, exposure to the elements or to wild animals, and burning alive.

Vlad Dracula began his reign of terror almost as soon as he came to power. His first significant act of cruelty may have been motivated by a desire for revenge as well as a need to solidify his power. Early in his main reign he gave a feast for his boyars and their families to celebrate Easter. Vlad was well aware that many of these same nobles were part of the conspiracy that led to his father’s assassination and the burying alive of his elder brother, Mircea. Many had also played a role in the overthrow of numerous Wallachian princes. During the feast Vlad asked his noble guests how many princes had ruled during their lifetimes. All of the nobles present had outlived several princes. None had seen less then seven reigns. Vlad immediately had all the assembled nobles arrested. The older boyars and their families were impaled on the spot. The younger and healthier nobles and their families were marched north from Tirgoviste to the ruins of his castle in the mountains above the Arges River. The enslaved boyars and their families were forced to labor for months rebuilding the old castle with materials from a nearby ruin. According to the reports they labored until the clothes fell off their bodies and then were forced to continue working naked. Very few survived this ordeal.

Vlad Tepes’ atrocities against the people of Wallachia were usually attempts to enforce his own moral code upon his country. He appears to have been particularly concerned with female chastity. Maidens who lost their virginity, adulterous wives and unchaste widows were all targets of Vlad’s cruelty. Such women often had their sexual organs cut out or their breasts cut off, and were often impaled through the vagina on red-hot stakes. One report tells of the execution of an unfaithful wife. Vlad had the woman’s breasts cut off, then she was skinned and impaled in a square in Tirgoviste with her skin lying on a nearby table. Vlad also insisted that his people be honest and hard working. Merchants who cheated their customers were likely to find themselves mounted on a stake beside common thieves.

The End of Vlad III

The Turks finally succeeded in forcing Vlad to flee to Transylvania in 1462. Reportedly, his first wife committed suicide by leaping from the towers of Vlad’s castle into the waters of the Arges River rather than surrender to the Turks. Vlad escaped through a secret passage and fled across the mountains into Transylvania and appealed to Matthias Corvinus for aid. The king immediately had Vlad arrested and imprisoned in a royal tower.

There is some debate as to the exact length of Vlad’s confinement. The Russian pamphlets indicate that he was a prisoner from 1462 until 1474. However, during this period he was able to gradually win his way back into the graces of Matthias Corvinus and ultimately met and married a member of the royal family (possibly the sister of Corvinus) and fathered two sons. It is unlikely that a prisoner would be allowed to marry a member of the royal family. As the eldest son was about 10 years old at the point Vlad regained the Wallachian throne in 1476, his release probably occurred around 1466.

Vlad Dracula was killed in battle against the Turks near the town of Bucharest in December of 1476. Some reports indicate that he was assassinated by disloyal Wallachian boyars just as he was about to sweep the Turks from the field. Other accounts have him falling in defeat, surrounded by the ranks of his loyal Moldavian bodyguard. Still other reports claim that Vlad, at the moment of victory, was accidentally struck down by one of his own men. The one undisputed fact is that ultimately his body was decapitated by the Turks and his head sent to Constantinople where the sultan had it displayed on a stake as proof that the horrible Impaler was finally dead. He was reportedly buried at Snagov, an island monastery located near Bucharest.

The Origins of the Vampire Myth

It is certainly no coincidence that Bram Stoker chose the Balkans as the home of his famous vampire. The Balkans were still basically medieval even in Stoker’s time. They had only recently shaken off the Turkish yoke when Stoker started working on his novel and the superstitions of the Dark Ages were still prevalent.

The legend of the vampire was and still is deeply rooted in the Balkan region. There have always been vampire-like creatures in the mythologies of many cultures. However, the vampire, as he became known in Europe and hence America, largely originated in the Slavic and Greek lands of Eastern Europe.

A veritable epidemic of vampirism swept through Eastern Europe beginning in the late seventeenth century and continuing through the eighteenth century. The number of reported cases rose dramatically in Hungary and the Balkans. From the Balkans the plague spread westward into Germany, Italy, France, England and Spain. Travelers returning from the Balkans brought with them tales of the undead, igniting an interest in the vampire that has continued to this day.

Philosophers in the West began to study the phenomenon. It was during this period that Dom Augustin Calmet wrote his famous treatise on vampirism in Hungary. It was also during this period that authors and playwrights first began to explore the vampire myth. Stoker’s novel was merely the culminating work of a long series of works that were inspired by the reports coming from the region.

Did Bram Stoker base his Dracula upon the historical Dracula?

Although it is widely assumed, even among scholars, that Bram Stoker based his novel upon the historical figure of Vlad Tepes, there is at least one prominent scholar who challenges this assumption. Her name is Elizabeth Miller, a professor with the Department of English at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her primary argument is that Bram Stoker kept meticulous notes of his references in creating Dracula, and none of the references contain specific information about the life and/or atrocities of Vlad Tepes.

There is fairly strong evidence the two Draculas are connected. Arguments in favor of this position include the following:

* The fictional Dracula and the historical Dracula share the same name. There can be no doubt that Bram Stoker based his character upon some reference to Vlad Dracula.
* Stoker researched various sources prior to writing the novel, including the Library at Whitby and literature from the British Museum. It is entirely possible that his readings on Balkan history would have included information about Vlad Tepes.
* Stoker was the friend of a Hungarian professor from Budapest, named Arminius Vambery, who he met personally on several occasions and who may have given him information about the historical Dracula.
* Some of the text of Stoker’s novel provides direct correlations between the fictional Dracula and Vlad Tepes (e.g., the fighting off of the Turks--also, the physical description of Dracula in the novel is very similar to the traditional image of Vlad Tepes.).
* Other references in the novel may also be related to the historical Dracula. For example, the driving of a stake through the vampire’s heart may be related to Vlad’s use of impalement; Renfield’s fixation with insects and small animals may have found inspiration in Vlad’s penchant for torturing small animals during his period of imprisonment; and Dracula’s loathing of holy objects may relate to Vlad’s renunciation of the Orthodox Church.

Professor Miller counters each of these arguments. In particular she notes the only reference provided by Stoker in his notes that contains any information about Vlad Tepes is a book by William Wilkinson entitled An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia (1820), which Stoker borrowed from the Whitby Public Library in 1890 while there on vacation. The book contains a few brief references to a "Voivode Dracula" (never referred to as Vlad) who crossed the Danube and attacked Turkish troops. Also, what seems to have attracted Stoker was a footnote in which Wilkinson states "Dracula in Wallachian language means Devil." Stoker apparently supplemented this with scraps of Romanian history from other sources. Professor Miller argues that The Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia is the only known source for Stoker’s information on the historical Dracula, and that everything else is mere speculation.

As far as Stoker’s acquaintance with the Hungarian professor Vambrey, Miller notes that the record only documents two meetings between the two individuals, and there is no evidence that Vambrey ever spoke of Vlad Tepes, vampires or Transylvania during their visits.

As far as any likeness between the historical Vlad Dracula and descriptions provided in the novel, professor Miller notes that it is most likely Stoker drew his description of Count Dracula from earlier villains in Gothic literature, or even from his own employer, Henry Irving.

In conclusion, Miller makes an assumption of her own: In the novel Stoker provides thorough historical detail obtained from his various references. Had he known about the atrocities of Vald Tepes, Miller argues, surely he would have included such information in his novel.

Source:The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton, Vampire in Lore and Legend by Montague Summers, Vampires and Vampirism by Montague Summers, The Shadow of the Vampire: The true story of the classic film Nosferatu by Kenneth Howard, The Element Encyclopedia of the Undead by Judika Illes and John and Caitilin Matthews, The Psychic Vampire by Elisabeth Huston, Judeo-Christian Myths and Legends by Sylvia Langston, and The Life of the Impaler by John Davies

Aslinn Dhan

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Queens of the Night: The Lady Vampire

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:28 pm

Femme Fatale
The Vampiresses

Here comes the woman,
With the look in her eye,
Raised on leather,
With flesh on her mind.
Words as weapons,
Sharper than knives.
Makes you wonder
How the other half die?--INXS The Devil Inside

Whoa here she comes,
Watch out boys she'll chew you up!
Whoa here she comes,
She's a maneater!--Hall and Oates Maneater

What Dracula did for sex during the Victorian Era with it's metaphors of penetration and oral sex, the Vampiress did for sex in the sixties and seventies. As with most things Anglo-Saxon, the stories of Vampires in literature were male dominated. Vampiric women were relegated into the shadows as venomous, life sucking b*tches without the true sexual allure of the male Vampire with his burning, hypnotic gaze and long white fangs.

But with all things liberating in the counterculture movement, the image of the female Vampire was explored and some say exploited but now it was the woman who would be the murderous lover who stalked her prey and used her own sexuality to get what she wanted. She would be as strong and as clever as her male counterparts and she would be blood thirsty.

Hammer Films began to explore the mystique of the female Vampire and her allure in the very late fifties and early sixties. They created female Vampires that hearkened back to the Lilith/Lamia mythos which painted these photo negative Eves as sexually aggressive and real huntresses. They were not virginal and demure like the woman of Dracula's desire, Mina Harker. They were the ones who knew about the flesh and they knew what to do with it.

The images of the fanged femme fatale are incredibly psychological. Freudian scholars remarked that the emergence of the Vampiress plays on men's fears and desires: the desire to be dominated by woman, to be seduced by her raw sexuality and fear of her mouth. Both the one under her nose and the one south of her naval. The image of the woman with a full compliment of fangs mimics the ancient fear of the vagina denta, the vagina with teeth, which desires to emasculate him just at the point of release. The Greek Lamia and the Irish Sheela Na Gig is often depicted with teeth in their genitalia.

Still, Hammer depicted her as the Victorian woman, still dressed in her long white dress, though it may be blood stained to represent her unwholesomeness and her lack of virginity, like Ophelia in Hamlet, who goes insane when she is spurned by Hamlet and appears in the royal court in her stained white dress to indicate that she has lost her chastity and her lover has been faithless. It is not until the later sixties that we see the Vampiress as the sex siren.

Vampirella, the first of these liberated Vampiresses and the mother of the likes of Violet (Ultraviolet) and Selene (Underworld), comes to us through the comics. Though still under the strict guidelines of the comic book laws, Vampirella sails under the radar as an underground comic but attracted fantasy artists like Frank Frazetta and Boris Valejos. Clad in leather and high heeled fetish boots with large breasts and round hips, she was enough sex and danger to increase the pulse of any man who saw her and desired her. And like Billy Bob Vampire in the beginning of True Blood, this gal will f*ck you and then she'll eat you.

Releasing the Vampiress from her bonds as the weaker sex even with the fangs made her more liberated than even her super hero sisters like Wonder Woman and Super Girl. And she was the mistress of her own sexuality. Though women's rights activists said that Vampirella was being exploited by the artists who created her, they argued that Vampirella chose the clothes she wanted to wear when she rolled out of the coffin in the evening, lady super heroes were relegated to their costumes, which exploited them even more because they didn't have a choice but wear those dumb costumes.

Source: The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Images of Females in Male Psychosis by Adrian Shelton

Aslinn Dhan

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The Great Debate: I Am Legend: Are Vampires and Zombies the Same?

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:29 pm

The Great Debate
I Am Legend
Are Vampires and Zombies the Same?

If you break down the defintition of the word Vampire and the word Zombie, you get basically the same thing, a reanimated corpse. But would really classify Dracula, Louie and Lestat, Angel and Bill and Eric and Pam zombies? No, and here is why.

Vampires are not in state of decay. They are undead, dead but still animated complete with personalities. They have lives and rules and they can be intellectually stimulated and they can learn. They are physically intact. There is a question of course about the condition of their souls, (or the lack thereof(?)) but for all intents and purposes they are sentient beings, if not "living" in the heart beating, growing older sense of the word.

Zombies, however are not. They do decay. In the book The Serpent and the Rainbow, Wade Davis interviewed a woman who said that she saw her deceased husband working in a field and when she approached him, she could smell the odor of decay on him, and noticed that his soft tissue was decaying ie. his nose, lips, ears, and the tips of his fingers. Zombies are also slow, not just mentally, but physically. He understood her words if she kept her commands simple: Stop, sit, stand.

But we have to differentiate between the zombies of lore and the zombies of popular films like Night of the Living Dead. In the movies featuring zombies, they become cannibalistic, and this is explained in one of the movies that being a zombie is painful and eating human flesh, particularly the brains, alieviates some of that pain. Zombies have no other sense of recognition of people and things except that they recognize the living from their dead compatriots.

The thin grey line between the zombie and Vampire may have bee further blurred by the story and the subsequent movie I Am Legend. Richard Matheson wrote this short story chronicaling the life of his main character in a post apocolyptic world wherein much of earth's inhabitants have become Other. Matheson never calls them Vampire nor does he call them zombie. They share characteristics of both. The creatures avoid the sun, they eat humans, and they are very strong and seem oblivious to pain. They are mutant humans that the survivor must avoid in order to live.

There have been various incarnations of the story: The Last Man on Earth with Vincent Price and The Omega Man, played by Charleton Heston. And in all the stories, the V-word or the Z-word are absent. They are simply monsters who prey on the survivors, man or animal, but they prefer the former.

With the dawn of modern Vampire stories and the added dimension of more graphic sex (sex has always been a part of the Vampire story, though it is cloaked in the metaphors of fangs and penetration of the neck and sucking than the actual act because of the sexual climate of the Victorian era from which much of our Vampire lore comes) there has been a discussion about necrophilia. Are Lucy and Mina and Sookie necrophiles because they have sex with Vampires?

No. The fetish for dead love is something again which has a thin line between the love of the dead and people who have sex with Vampires. Necrophiles love the dead to be absolutely, finally, definitely dead as a doornail. If they deign to sleep with living partners, they want them to lie absolutely still to the point of being floppy. If they are extreme necrophiles, like Jeffery Dahmer or John Wayne Gacy, they simply kill their lovers and then do whatever they like. Dahmer even said that he was trying to make a human zombie who would be pliant and stupid and allow him with no struggle whatever, to do what he likes.

People who in fiction love a Vampire, loves a creature who is the ultimate oxymoron, a living dead creature (sort of like plastic silverware). They do not breath, they do not have a heart beat, and they are frozen in the condition they were in when they were made. But they have minds, intellects and can form emotional bonds with a living creature and a sort of racial/tribal bond with members of their own kind.

Zombies simply don't. And tell me, when was the last time you wanted to have hot sex with a zombie?

Sources: The Ultimate Encyclopedia of the Undead by Brad Steiger, The Vampire Book by Brad Steiger, The Elemental Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John and Caitlin Matthews, The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and other Creatures by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, and The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis.

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Fangs!!! I'm gonna live forever

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:30 pm

Fangs!! I'm Gonna Live Forever!!

Okay, laugh, smirk, chortle over the title. I did.

An orthodontist's nighmare, the Vampire is best recognized by his or her large dangerous teeth. But did Vampires always have their amazing Colgate smile? According to the mythology, not always.

In the beginning of the tales of Vampires, we are introduced to a creature that though has a human shape and form, was filled with the beastly desire for blood. But how did they get that luscious red nectar? Were we always just walking juice boxes waiting to be sipped from through the straw like features in the space below the Vampire's nose?

The Vampire was not always equipted with fangs. Their own human like teeth were employed, leaving nasty wounds that killed their victims instantly. In art, the Vampire was depicted as having a very strong discolored teeth, but otherwise very normal looking. Of course lore said that because the Vampire drank human blood, their teeth always bore the stains of blood as well as their lips.

This is why the lore is a little fuzzy about the notion of Vampire love for human mates. Instead the lore usually depicted Vampires loving another Vampire, made by the lovestricken bloodsucker.

The addition of fangs may well be a fluke. Montague Summers writes of a situation where a man is thought to be a Vampire. He'd died some time ago and had been seen afterward stalking the city after dark. To confirm whether the man in question was a Vampire, he was dug up and upon examination, the man's lips were drawn back in a snarl and his canine teeth (not the "eye" teeth that grow in beside the front teeth) appeared to be longer and even sharper looking than a normal person's. So they gave his body the treatment: exposing it to sunlight, which seemed to have a burning or shriveling effect, staking the corpse in the chest, destroying the heart, cutting off the head and stuffing the mouth carefully with garlic before it was reburied.

Now, we know that some people have what is known as a feral smile, where certain teeth look a little longer and sharper than others. (Stephen Moyer, who plays our Bill is known to talk about the fact that he has his "own fangs" and in an earlier role for British TV, he played a Vampire and they simply whitened those teeth instead of making him a denture to wear) And of course, we also know that when the body begins to dessicate or dry out, the lips pull back into a snarl (this is especially true before embalming) and the gums recede, giving one the impression that along with hair and fingernails, the teeth have grown, as well.

But why do Vampires now have fangs? Blame it on Bram Stoker. Stoker's Dracula had a feral smile, one that appears to Jonathan Harker to be like a wolf's smile, complete with longer than natural canine teeth. In the late 20's, Lon Chaney Senior played a Mr. Hyde type character in a film called London After Midnight and Chaney, being the man of a thousand faces, also built his dentures to make all his teeth sharp and pointy, more like a shark than a wolf, but just as menacing.

When Bela Lugosi was cast as Dracula, he did not have fangs. Biting and sucking were merely implied as the count draped a satin covered arm over his victim and bit her.

It was not until Hammer studios that we have Vampires with fangs. Christopher Lee was the first of the incarnations of Dracula who would wear prostetic fangs. Made like a partial, the fang caps would fit over his eye teeth and clip on the inside of his mouth behind his front teeth. Then with his mouth full of karo syrup and red food coloring, Lee became the Vampire we know today, from him comes Louie and Lestat and Claudia, Serena and Angel, Vampirella, Blackula, and our own loveable Vampires, Bill, Eric, Pam and Chow.

I wouldn't want to pay their dental bills, nor would I want to be their dentist. Imagine your dental hygeinist cleaning Pam's teeth? Open wide and say "ah".

Source: Vampires in Legend and Lore by Montague Summers and The Vampire Book by J Gordon Melton and The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.

Aslinn Dhan

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Who Made Who: Vampires and their Makers

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:31 pm

Who Made Who? Who Made You?
Vampires and their Makers

One of the pivitol themes of the third book and oviously during this season is the relation a young Vampire has with their maker. Bill has a tumultuous relationship with his maker and Eric seems to be seeking out a very old Vampire who may or may not be his maker and of course we have the Jessica, the young teen age Vampire who is straining against the bit in her relationship with Bill, her reluctant maker.

But what about the mythology? Is there a relationship between the maker and the makee and is it as complicated as the ones on our favorite show?

Since Vampires and their legend has been forming through the dawn of time practically, we know quite a bit about Vampires, even if your only resource is the movies or TV. For the most part, Vampires appear to be pretty much on their own as far as being made and then having to survive in the world. They learn what they are and what the limitations are by themselves.

It is not until we get in more modern Vampire legends that we see the evolution between Vampire and maker. But the beginning of this relationship seem rooted in that first of popular Vampire stories, Dracula.

In Bram Stoker's book, Stoker leads us to believe that Dracula is the first Vampire, made because he cursed God. The Vampiric wives are his to command and apparently he cared for them enough to show them how to be Vampire.

In Interview with a Vampire Louie is Lestat's creature and is his companion. Louie explains to Armand that his maker's maker taught him nothing, that he and Claudia were in search of Vampires who could tell them how Vampirism started, how they became these creatures. Obviously there was little more to be known by the French Vampires either, as they simply seemed indifferent to their own past.

In the world of Vampire, Charlaine Harris has pulled up another part of the mythos and created a brand new nuance to the ancient culture of the legendary creature. I am sure that as time passes, this bit will take on more meaning in the mythology as other incorporate this twist in their own tale.

Sources: The Vampire Book By J Gordon Melton

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Vampirism: The Sanguine Fetish

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:32 pm

The Sanguine Fetish

Not long ago, as I was researching some things for a story I am planning, I sat down and spoke with a psychiatrist friend of mine. She is a wonderful woman who helped me a lot with my first book, In the Pale Moonlight, and we have been friends ever since. As we sat, catching up, I told her about the show True Blood and our lovely forum and the things I had been writing for this thread.

"You know, Aslinn, Vampirism is classified as a fetish," she said. I told her that I hadn't known that and she went on to explain and gave me some lovely off-prints to read and this is what I found out.

First of all, a fetish is a sexual or psychological ritual that promotes to the fetishist a feeling of well being and sexual fulfillment. It can be anything from wearing leather or undergarments of the opposite sex under their clothes, or practicing bondage or drinking small amounts of blood, either your own or someone elses.

People who practice Vampirism as a fetish explain that the taste of blood is comforting and reassuring and mystical, that sharing blood with another is an act more intimate than even sex or birth. They attach a great deal of power and emotion to the charcteristics of the blood. The blood of children is said to endow them with youth and vitality and a sense of innocence. In an article written for the APA, a man said that he first tasted children's blood when he was a young father and one of his children came to him with a bloody knee and he "kissed it to make it better" as one might do to soothe your child and stop them from crying. He said he licked his lips afterwards and tasted the blood on his lips and found that he was some what intoxicated by the taste and felt quite well and energetic afterwards.

The blood of respected people, or people considered wise are thought to endow the drinker with the ability to solve problems and find confidence. According to the same APA paper, a woman was caring for her father and she was changing his IV. A drop of blood splashed on her hand and before she realized it, she licked the blood off her hand. She discovered she had clarity of thought and suddenly seemed to understand things better.

This isn't a new thought in the world of Vampire lore. Elisabeth Bathory thought that the blood of young girls would keep her young and she murdered scores of women and girls so that she could bathe in human blood and keep her youthful appearance.

All of this tends to jive with the belief that the character of a person is carried in the blood. The notion that such intangible qualities such as bravery and wisdom and goodness are ingrained even in the blood of these individuals seem to hold in the stories of the Vampire.

And though not an obvious part of early Vampire lore, it is certainly a part of the lore we are seeing played out in True Blood. One of the things my friend said, as she was a passive viewer of True Blood, was that Vampires seemed to have few compunctions about who they take blood from (they will drink from anyone, regardless of moral character), but they do have favorites.

"Even your favorite, Bill, is this way, Aslinn, though I am sure that he must notice that Sookie's blood is not as sweet as once it was," she said.

"How so?" I said, interested.

"Well, when Bill meets Sookie, she is a virgin. And when the bad Vampires were threatening to bite her, the girl Vampire says, 'Virgin blood is the best tasting blood'," she explained, "Then, when he is with her for the first time, he bites her first, then makes love to her. That one little sip from her is all the virgin blood he gets from her. How sad for him. He should have left her be and fed from her only so he could enjoy the pure nature of her blood."

"Yeah, perhaps, but Sookie's blood is a little different because she is a little different but she doesn't know it yet and neither does he," I said.

"In what way?" she asked.

"Well, Sookie isn't entirely human. She has a hint of faery blood in her, and though she isn't a virgin any more, there is something different about her blood because of that tiny little streak of faery in her," I said.

This was an intriguing notion to her and I could see her interest was peaked. I told her she should read the books and tell me what she thought of them. I talked to her for a long time about the topic. One of the last questions I asked her was: "Have you ever met a Vampire?"

"No," she said. "But under the right situations, I think I would like to."

So would I.

Sources: Sanguine Fetishism in Psycho-sexual Role Playing by Dr. Rafe Everly, BloodSexMagik: Vampirism and Sex by Dr. Sharon Roman

Thanks to Dr. Paula Whited for her friendship and insight.

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Werewolves and Vampires and Science Fiction (?)

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:34 pm

Science Fiction (?)
Werewolves and Vampires

Dr. Frankenstein: "It's Alive!!! It's Alive!! My creation is alive! Oh that I would be as God!" Frankenstein (1931) Censored sequence

We are used to seeing monsters who are created through the world of science. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is considered the first book of science fiction. She takes what the scientists knew about the human anatomy and the elements of electricity and plenty of metaphysical thought and combined them to create the Monster. If you haven't ever read the book, it would be interesting for you to note that the Monster had a name. His name in the beginning was Adam, like the first man God created. Her story of the man made man was a commentary on science and it's awesome responsibility to humanity and the ways that responsibility can be abused.

And though this may be the first written science based horror novel, the idea is not unique in story telling. The Jews have a story of a being called the Golem. Golem was made by a group of rabbis, using both science and faith, to create an indestructible creature who would protect the Jewish people. He was made of clay and was larger than life. To bring him to life, an inscription was made on his forehead in Hebrew. To deactivate him, one need only rub away the inscription. The legend was so prevalent that when Hitler heard rumors of a Golem in the Warsaw ghetto, he sent his SS and a scientific team to go and find the creature and learn how it is used.

Homunculus is an age old creature rumored to have been made by witches as servants. There are various recipes for the homunculus, using things like afterbirth, heavy metals like lead, blood, semen, roots and herbs and fermented in the ground for a number of days, usually from full moon to full moon, when the homunculus will then be born and follow the instructions of the witch.

If you look at the way the Werewolf and Vampire mythos begins, both begin with a bite, as a type of infection, transferred by the bite. Both have transformative powers, endowing the creature with super human abilities. It also has the power to strip them of their humanity. The use of curatives: silver, garlic, wolfbane, hawthorn, or roses suggests the possibility of inoculation against the "disease".

As science becomes more sophisticated, so does it's involvement in these ancient stories. For example, look at the book The Island of Dr. Moreau. Dr. Moreau is a scientist interested in breeding a group of humans who have both human and animal qualities. This leads to a group of mutants, neither human nor animal. The monster in Alien through the film franchise undergoes mutation in film three when the monster pops out of a dog. Then in four, there is the DNA scrambled "construct" made of Lt. Ripley's blood.

For Vampires, look at the film Life Force which have Vampires coming from outer space, a starving race looking for food. In the film Perfect Creature the Vampires are not made in the traditional sense but born in a lab, genetically created all male with the natural urges for blood bred out of them until a virus comes up and resurrects the old hungers. And the desire to breed. The Vampires want most of all to be able to reproduce themselves sexually.

Even in Charlaine Harris' world, the Vampires are out of the coffin because they have adopted the use of synthetic blood and an official explanation as to why they are Vampire: a virus. Though this is meant to be the official explanation, Sookie and the characters close to Vampires know the simple truth and that is their Vampire neighbors are dead. Or Undead.

But stories that seem to cheat death through science is simply a desire to avoid the inevitable truth that we will all die someday. That is primarily because we aren't sure of what comes next. The fear of the next step into something or nothing makes us fascinated with the notion of immortality, or at least a greatly extended life. That is why Vampires and werewolves fascinate us still, after all this time. Even the werewolf has it's allure with it's strength and "hard-to-kill-ability" attracts us.

Source: The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton, The Werewolf Book by Brad Steiger, The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes, The Arbitel of Magick by Robert Turner.

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Psychic Vampires

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:35 pm

Psychic Vampires

Have you ever known some one whose personality and over dramatic life simply drains the sun from the sky, leaving you emotionally spent afterwards? If you have, then you may have been in contact with a psychic Vampire.

Psychic Vampires are people who consume life force in the form of chi, or the energies that living things, especially humans, project in the form of auras. Psychic Vampires must only involve themselves in your personal space to absorb your chi. Psychic Vampires also enjoy chi absorption through exposure to excitement in crowds, as in bars or sporting events when emotions run high, at sites of violence or during sex.

Psychic Vampires may very well cultivate the Vampiric/Goth look but most are unassuming people. They have no interest in harming their host and are fairly innocuous.

The Psychic Vampire comes to us with the growing interest in the processes of the mind. The first thought on Psychic Vampirirsm is the notion that humans create energies all around them and it is through harnessing these energies that humans can manifest change in the natural world, the basis of magik.

There was also thought that the Vampire was not a real creature, not a corporeal creature, but an astral self, that we all act as Vampires sometime in our life, probably more often than we think. In the metaphysical world, the astral self is your most free and independent self and by learning to send out your astral self, you can maintain your physical self and be stronger. And when your physical self dies, the astral form of your being still exists and walks the earth.

We are most in tune to our astral self and the astral selves of others when we sleep. As our physical bodies wind down, we release our astral selves to explore the world independently. From this notion of the astral self, we may have discovered the origins of the creatures incubus and succubus and even the Nightmare.

Though some thinkers attribute the idea of the atral self to the metaphysician Paraclesus, the notion is actually more modern. In the 1960's the premier writer in psychial research, Scott Rogo, writes that the Psychic Vampire, also thought of as the astral self, is the revenant or ghost who causes an inexplicable draining of vitality.

Spiritualists and modern mystics who consider themselves as representatives of the Ascended Masters (great philosophers who have passed through this plane of existance like Buddha, Mohammed, Jesus and others) claim that all of our modern ills, such as addictions to drugs, alcohol, sex, violence, are all attributable to be possessed by Psychic Vampires who must be exorcised (for a nominal fee, of course).

Noted satanist, Anton LaVey, taught his members to resist the energy of Psychic Vampires (notably any Christian who might try to convert the member from the satanist belief. "Jesus Christ," Anton LaVey liked to note, "was the most insidious of the Psychic Vampires." (Marchant, page 87)). This was a way to teach his members discipline and deepened their mindset toward the beliefs of the satanic church.

Sources: The Vampire Book by J Gordon Melton, The Life of the Notorious Anton LeVey by Guy Marchant, The Psychic Vampire by Elisabeth Huston, Dream Lovers by Stephanie Michaelson, and Psychic Self Defense by Dion Fortune

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Healed: WHat does Vampire Blood do to Mortals?

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:36 pm

What does Vampire Blood do to Mortals

Bill: "Want to drink the blood they collected? I understand it makes humans feel more healthy, improves their sex life," Episode One True Blood

Sookie: "Did you feed on the Rattrays?"
Bill: "Yes, after I'd given you my blood, while you were healing. You drank a lot of my blood,"
Sookie: "What will that do to me?"
Bill: "Well, you'll have keener senses"
Sookie: "What else?"
Bill: "Your libido will be more active,"
Sookie: "Anything else?"
Bill: "I'll always be able to feel you. I can find you real fast. If you were ever in trouble that can come in quite handy," Epsiode Two True Blood

With that arched eyebrow, Eric was telling me that this was my best bet, that he would try not to hurt me, that being tied to him was infinitely preferable to being tied to Andre.

I knew all this not only because I wasn't stupid but because we were bound together. Both Eric and Bill had had my blood and I theirs. For the first time, I understood there was a real connection. Didn't I see the two of them as more human than Vampire? It was the blood exchange. All Together Dead (p. 177-178)

Van Helsing: "The Vampire has baptised her in his own blood," Bram Stoker's Dracula (film)

The central characteristic of the Vampire story is the blood. While legends of antiquity are indifferent to the notion of a blood bond or the potential properties of Vampire blood in an "unmade human" the first instances of potency of Vampire blood in humans who have not been made Vampires comes from the Stoker's novel Dracula.

Dracula creates blood bonds with humans and other Vampires alike as he goes through his travels in Stoker's novel. With his Vampiric wives, number one, as their maker and with the poor pre-True Blood fangbanger Renfield (whom he drives mad, as some humans who consume Vampire blood do in True Blood and the Charlaine Harris novels) and with Lucy as her seducer and maker and with Mina as her suitor when they go to desecrate his resting place at Carfax Abbey. The blood bond forged between Mina and Dracula creates a psychic link wherein Dracula can hear the plans of Van Helsing and Jonathan Harker as they travel to capture Dracula and kill him before he can get home.

In the film version of Dracula, Mina becomes more sexualized after having the Count's blood, as she attempts to seduce Van Helsing as they camp on the mountain going up to the castle.

The suggestion of healing from Vampire blood is not obvious. Taking in consideration that blood typing was unknown at the time of Bram Stoker's writing, Van Helsing's blood transfusion in the vain attempt at saving Lucy Westerna's life may suggest some sort of change, certainly in the quality of Lucy's blood. Her human blood was dying and required blood. If you think about it in those terms then you can ignore the detractors who scoff at Van Helsings crude untyped blood transfusion and say: He wasn't transfusing blood for Lucy, he was transfusing blood to feed the Vampiric blood in Lucy's blood stream so it wouldn't completely consume Lucy's blood.

But what about healing properties? We know that Vampires can heal themselves when they have been injured to a certain extent. And if you are a devotee of Hammer films, you know that Dracula has been reanimated by either complicated spells or rituals or by simply removing the stake from the ash and bone riddled remains where it miraculously heals it's self.

In the film Interview with a Vampire, the initial feeding wound of the maker, Lestat to Louie, is healed. Claudia is healed as well as she is certainly dying of malaria (or plague) when Lestat and Louie fed from her and made her Vampire.

The notion of healing properties of Vampire blood in Humans may be a play on the belief in the spiritual healing power of Christ's blood. Since all things through Christ are spiritual until the Resurrection and eternal life for Vampires is physical and temporal, the ability to heal, rather than "save" may be a Vampiric mirror reflecting the Vampire's position as in between the worlds of life and death and eternity.

Sources: The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton, Vampires: His Kith and Kin by Montague Summers, The Anne Rice Reader by Sheila Donahue

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Requiet in Pacem: The Vampire's Resting Place

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:37 pm

Requiet in Pacem
The Vampire's Resting Place

Bill places his hand flat on a panel under the stairwell and gently pushes. There is a light clicking sound and and the panel opens to reveal a dark, closet like space. He crouches down and opens a trap door hidden under a carpet in his floor. You can see the sandy earth beneath the house and two or three books. He stands and looks at Sookie

Bill: This is where I spend my days.
Sookie: Does anyone ever get in there with you?
Bill: This is not a place for you.
Sookie: So, we'll never sleep beside each other.
Bill: No one else knows where I rest. Episode Seven True Blood

Crypts, vaults, coffins, closets, basements, windowless rooms, crawlspaces, inside walls, the earth itself becomes the daytime hiding places of the Vampire. What is the significance of the places that the Vampire chooses to sleep? Is there a deeper, more significan't reason for the Vampire's lair other than the fact they are dead until dark.

In Egyptian lore, the Vampire sleeps in the necropolis, the city of the dead, not far from the center of Egypt. Though in modern times, the necropolis was meant to mean the cemetery, in Egypt, it was the funereal and preservation district, the place where funereal preparation businesses flourished as the belief in eternal life was more and more closely linked to earthly physical preservation. The Vampire lived in the dark places, the secret places of death to feed and walk, unnoticed by the people who lived and worked there as well.

And then, there is the act of death and burial itself among many cultures which may cause the Vampire to be born. If you remember the essay on The Roma, their funeral rights were very complicated and had to be performed carefully or a Vampire or a werewolf would be borne of the improperly performed ritual. If the ritual is flawed, then the dead arise and walk among the people and return simply to the last place it was at rest, it's grave or resting place.

With Bram Stoker's Dracula, the Vampire had to sleep not only in a coffin or box, but a coffin or box of the homeland soil. If you recall, Dracula bought several pieces of property around London. At first Harker thought it was to control the values of the property around him. Later Jonathan realizes it was so to enable Dracula to have more than one daytime resting place.

Symbolically, the earth is the place of renewal and regeneration. In the depth of the earth somewhere on a metaphysical plane is Hell or Sheol or Hades, the land of the dead. The dead, whether man or animal, decays and becomes a part of the soil it was sprung from and for some, re-materialize in the form of the grasses and flowers.

The Vampire withstands all of that. He goes in the grave and does not decay, he does not return to the earth. It is because, as Bill told Sookie in Living Dead In Dallas, "we are no longer of the same clay." (page 230) They have surpassed the life given them by God and exist as some other beyond the realm of God. And beyond his mercy. To sleep the sleep of the undead is to be lost from the salvation of God.

In Stoker's Dracula and it's various incarnations, Dracula sleeps alone in his coffin but sometimes, when Mina is made a sort of half Vampire, she is found sleeping snuggled against his prone body, not quite sleeping like a Vampire, but not sleeping like a human either.

Bill , whether he means to or not, is drawing an unbreachable line for Sookie, one that she cannot cross. The fact is, Sookie will never be happy with an arrangement where her lover slips out of her bed just before dawn to sleep their deathly sleep.

Sources: The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton and The Annotated Dracula by Bram Stoker and edited by Matthew Crum

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Having My Baby: Vampiric Children

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:39 pm

Havin' My Baby
Can Vampires Have Biological Children?

[. ] "Do you know, I didn't know if you could do it?"
His eyebrows raised interrogatively. "Do...?"
"Get___" and I stopped, trying to think of a pleasant way to put it. I'd seen more crudity this evening than I'd seen in my lifetime, and I didn't want to add to it. "An erection," I said, avoiding his eyes.
"You know better now." He sounded like he was trying not to be amused. "We can have sex, but we can't make children or have them. Doesn't it make you feel better that Diane can't have a baby?" Dead Until Dark (p 72-73)

Of course this is in the world of Charlaine Harris, but the most ancient mythologies say that Vampires routinely have children by mortals. The lore suggests that this is the way lesser demons and imps are made. Most of the Vampire lore points to the legends of incubus and succubus, the Vampiric demon spirits who seduce sleepers by implanting impure thoughts in their head and then having sex with them.

And as mentioned before in Roma lore, a male Vampire may rise and appear to his wife and spend the night having sex with her until he is satisfied that she is pregnant with the Little Vampire, a human who can see Vampires and identify them. Whether a female Vampire can appear to her husband and become pregnant is not mentioned in the lore.

In some of the mythologies, Vampires often settle with a human for the specific purpose of having children, though they may soon abandon the spouse and child to continue their more active Vampire lives.

In later writings of occultists trying to understand the question of the 'natural' instincts and abilities of the Vampire, the lore shifts to renounce the notion that Vampires can reproduce biologically. The Vampire in their natural state is dead, therefore there is no living seed or egg to accomplish the act of reproduction.

There is the notion that Vampires would find the ability to impregnate a human or be impregnated by a human undesireable, particularly if this was one of the ways to make a new Vampire as they would not wish to make too many as they would then be competition for food.

And then, in later lore, the Vampire is stripped of sexual ability and desire is focused on the blood only, making feeding an all purpose lust and release experience, as in Anne Rice's books.

There is a fascinating story from the early 1600's about a small nest of Vampires who actually adopted orphan humans to raise as their 'familiars' who would then care for and guard the Vampires during the day, much like a familiar. Some of these orphans were later made Vampire as a 'reward' for serving their Vampire parents well.

As the Vampire once again became the focus of sexual desirability, the question of Vampires being biological parents were ignored until the film Van Helsing the main plot of which is concerning Dracula's attempts to acquire a supernatural being whose life force is strong enough to feed his many children gotten on his three Vampire brides so they can hatch and be a legion of Vampires.

Sources: The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton and The Vampire and his Kith and Kin by Montague Summers

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Intimations of Immortality

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:40 pm

Intimations on Immortality
Cheating Death

"To walk without fear, to love without regret and to live for all eternity, this dark gift you can give me," Wolf (film)

"Take me away from all this death," Bram Stoker's Dracula (film)

"I give you eternal life and everlasting love," Bram Stoker's Dracula (film)

Louie: "What do you see when you look at her?"
Woman: "I see a child who will never die." Interview with a Vampire (film)

Eric: "Sookie," he said, suddenly serious, "I have been dead a few hundred years. I am used to it. But she is not quite gone. There is a spark. Do you want me to bring her over?"

I was shocked speechless. How could I make that decision?

And while I thought about it, he said, "She is gone." Living dead in Dallas (212)

Sookie: "But that is never going to happen me. And you won't ever turn me." I was absolutely serious.
Eric: "No. I won't ever force you into subservience. And I will never turn you, since you don't want it."
Sookie: "Even if I am going to die, don't turn me. I would hate that more than anything."
Eric: "I agree to that. No matter how much I might want to keep you."
Dead and Gone (179)

Bill: "Drink before the wound closes,"
Sookie: "I don't want to be a Vampire,"
Bill: "You won't be. God-damn it Sookie do you want to live?" True Blood Episode Two

"The monkey's paw!" she cried. "Do you still have it?"
"Of course, but what good would it do us now?"
"You made only one wish, you have two wishes left! Go and get it and wish my boy alive again!" The Monkey's Paw (Saki page 12)

"Sometimes, Louis, they find out dead is better," Pet Semetary (144)

"You told me the aunts have a spell,"
"Yeah, but they said he would come back as something dark, something evil,"
"Jimmy already is dark and evil, and anyway I don't care how he comes back so long as he's got a pulse!" Practical Magic (film)

One of the alluring notions of Vampire and Werewolf stories is their seeming eternal nature. Of course both can be killed, but it is very hard to do and with this hard-to-killablity, the idea of walking through the centuries with little or no fear of death is very exciting to the mortal, so susceptible to disease and so frail in the face of injury. This is particularly so in a time of disease like times of plague when the living who did not catch the dread disease were looked on with suspicion by the sick. There was a tale told in my husband's community in Long Fork, Mill Creek, West Virginia that there were two old women, witchy women, he explained, who did not fall ill to the Spanish flu and it was said that they were well because of the deals they made with the devil.

In later times, suspicions included the possibility of the immune being werewolves and Vampires. Sometimes, it was worth your life to pretend that you had at least a touch of any raging plague rather than appear too healthy while all around you people died horrible deaths.

To cheat death, and cheat God's righteous judgement, was to be an abomination. But how many of us would long to see our dead loved ones, a mother, a father, a grandparent, a beloved wife or husband alive again? What lengths will you go through? And would you love them no matter how they were changed?

What about yourself? What if you were very sure you were dying and you could have access to the means to be healed and virtually immortal? Would you do it? Think carefully? Are you sure?

In the mythos, there are some tales of people seeking out the immortal children of the night and asking for their death ending curse/blessing. They deny the satisfaction of the fates because of their fear of the unknown world that awaits us after death.

In The Epic of Gilgamesh, there is a tale of a woman whose husband was dying and she had heard that living in a cave not far from the city was a creature we in modern times would call Vampire. She went to this creature and asked that it come and cure her husband. The creature explained that it could do this very thing but she had to be sure that this was what she wanted. She begged the creature to come and do whatever was necessary to make her husband well. The creature did. Afterwards it told her that he would never be allowed to go to the next world when he eventually died many centuries from now and he would be different from the husband she had known.

Her husband slept for many days and finally he woke in the night and said he was hungry. The woman prepared him food, but he could not eat it and instead grabbed one of his young children and drank it's blood and ate it raw. The woman was horrified, but she loved her husband and could not turn her heart away from him. Each night her husband rose and complained of hunger and each night he refused her food and took one of his children and consumed them.

Finally, the wife went back to the creature and told him that she wanted her husband to die again. The creature said that she must burn her husband's body in sight of a holy place and that she could not use fire she made. She was puzzled, but she went back and when her husband fell asleep with the dawn, she had his body bound and wrapped in a great robe and taken to the temple of their gods. The sun was bright and fierce and her husband slept still, wrapped in his robes. She began to pray to her gods and they revealed to her the answer to the creature's puzzling caveat. She looked up at the blazing sun and went and unwrapped her husband's body and the light began to burn his body. In sadness she threw herself on top of her husband's body and gave herself to death.

So the notion of everything for a price is real. What would you being will trade for this eternal life? Would you live in the shadows and drink the blood of your fellow men, perhaps killing them in the process? Would you be willing to turn your back on your life and walk away from lovers, friends and children? Would you want to live in fear that you might be found and hated and feared and rightly so?

Or would you embrace your life and welcome your immortality and be relieved that death would never know your name?

Sources: The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton, The Werewolf Book by Brad Steiner, The Encyclopedia of the Undead by John and Caitlin Matthews and Judika Illes, The Epic of Gilgamesh (traditional)

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Renfield: The first Fang Banger?

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:41 pm

R.N. Renfield
The First Fangbanger in Literature

In the book Dracula by Bram Stoker, Dracula's first victim is R.N. Renfield, his real estate broker. When he finds his way back to London, he is definitely mad and is placed in the care of Dr. Seward at the insane asylum near Carfax Abbey. Dr. Seward is so fascinated with Renfield that he tells the poor man "I have to invent a new classification of lunatic," and in his notes, he says that Renfield suffers from melancholia and zoophagy, the desire to consume life.

Renfield believes that he can be of use to his master by devouring things that are alive. He eats insects: Flies, spiders, worms and roaches. He lures birds into his cell and catches and eats those. He kills and eats rats and mice (though these make him sick) and asks for a kitten which he can teach and feed. It is Renfield's belief that each life he consumes is added to his own, making him rich in souls, thus making him a very rich source of nutrition as well. "A Special Vintage" so to speak.

Clinical Vampirism, a mental disorder, is called Renfield Syndrome. Named after Stoker's character, the disorder is characterized by:

1. A morbid fascination with blood at an early age, when the taste of blood becomes associated with positive/negative experiences.

2. First comes the auto vampirism, where the person drinks their own blood. This is followed by the eating of live insects and the biting of animals, usually pets and sipping their blood and progresses to the drinking of human blood from people. Consensual blood drinking usually involves sex. Lust murders may associate drinking blood of their victims as a final act of domination. Drinking blood, whether consensual or not usually involves sexual activity.

3. About the same time, blood takes on a mystical or magikal quality.

4. The afflicted Vampire develops their own blood drinking rituals.

Fangbangers in the world of Charlaine Harris are people interested in having sex with and being fed from by any Vampire. It is the act of being fed from and the allure of sexual mastery by Vampires that draw them to places where they can meet and be associated with and be blood meals for Vampires.

Sources: The Vampire Book by J Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, and The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatry VI by The American Psychiatric Association

Part Two: The Renfield

Renfield Part Two

"The blood exchange has worked both ways," he said. "I've had the blood of many women. I've had almost utter control over them. But they never drank mine. It's been decades, maybe centuries since I gave any woman my blood. Maybe not since I turned Pam."

"Is this the general policy among Vampires you know?" I wasn't quite sure how to ask what I wanted to know.

He hesitated, and nodded. "For the most part. There are some Vampires who like to take total control over a human___make that human their Renfield." He used the term with distaste. Dead and Gone(178)

In Charaine Harris' latest offering to the Southern Vampire Mysteries, Eric and Sookie touch on the subject of the ultra subservient devotee of the Vampire: The Renfield.

Renfield in the book Dracula had gone mad after becoming the creature for the Vampire. He searched for a way to make him absolutely neccesary to the master and to find a purpose in Dracula's world where he would forever serve Dracula in absolute devotion. When that didn't pan out, Renfield declared,"You promised me eternal life; but you give it to the pretty woman," Because he has revealed the promise Dracula made him and tried to warn Mina Harker of the Count's plans for her, Dracula murders his creature, which may have been the best thing for him; his therapy was going no where.

In some literary circles examining literature from a homosexual view, the critics suggest that the promise was not just a spititual one, but one of a love bond. This may well be the suggestion, but for me, the promise is purely of power, to be as Dracula is, to be Vampire and not be this degraded and victimized thing. Had Renfield become Vampire, he would have been a true beast, railing against his weakness which led him to be predated by the Count to begin with.

It may very well have been a favor the Count did for us to destroy his insane servant.

Source: The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton, The Annotated Dracula by Bram Stoker and Matthew Crum, Gay Images in Classic Literature by Anthony DuPlessy, Homoerotic Themes in Vampire Mythology by Cynthia Moore

Last edited by Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:44 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Vampire Hunters

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 3:41 pm

Vampire Hunters

Sam "You know who I wish would come here? Someone like Buffy or Blade or any of those bad ass Vampire Killers, come and take care of Mr. Bill Compton." Episode 4 True Blood

With the dawn of the Vampire story it only follows that you would have Vampire Killers. Considering that most cultures believed the children of the night were evil or demonic, the first Vampire Killers were shamans and then with the ascendancy of Christianity, the priest was your man to go to to get rid of those pesky creatures. The spiritual equivalent of calling the bug man to spray around your house.

Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger were the first to write the authoritative manual on the subject of killing all things evil. Dominican priests, they were charged by Papal Bull issued by Pope Innocent VIII to be the High Inquisitors of Northern Europe. Presiding mainly over the cases of witchcraft, these two priests also heard stories of other creatures, most notably the werewolf and the Vampire.

Because there was no written authority to guide other witch hunters and Inquisitors, they wrote the classical Malleus Malificarum, translated loosely as The Witch Hammer. While the good fathers did not believe that people actually turned into werewolves nor did they believe the dead rose to drink the blood of their fellow citizens, they believed witches could use spells to cause people to believe they were these things and the best way to cure these poor afflicted victims of the devil was to catch and torture and eventually execute the witches, lifting whatever demonically powered curse had been placed on these poor souls. Later, Spanish priest Franscesco Guazzo wrote his own witch hunter manual, the Compendium Malificarum to add to the already popular work.

With the Protestant Reformation, the use of the two witch hunter manuals were still popular, though Protestant ministers usually down played the use of such things as holy water, Marian (Mary) based prayers, and the use of the Host (Holy Communion wafer) as papist and superstitious, they did cling to the notion that torture and confession and execution was the best way to handle the situation when dealing with witches. (So, it didn't really matter which witch hunter caught you, Protestant or Catholic, you were still dead meat)

Then, a Protestant minister named Reginald Scot wrote his own witch hunter manual, created especially for Protestant members. It is basically the same as the Catholic versions, except that along with witches and Vampires and werewolves, he also added Catholics to the list of heretics who were "stake-worthy", so to speak. His book, called The Discovery of Witchcraft, was the staple of Protestant witch hunters.

In America, two rising stars in religious thought and demonology would start a witch hunt that would become famous for ruthlessly rooting out and convicting people on testimony evidence alone. Cotton and Increase Mather were Quaker ministers and scholars of the kingdom of Satan. The most famous of the brothers, Cotton, wrote a book called The Invisible Kingdom. In it, he warns the faithful that the devil and his cohorts in the form of all the children of the night, particularly Incubus and Succubus, demons who act in the same manner as Vampires, live and breathe and enjoy evil lives all around us. When a scrawny little servant girl named Abigail began pointing at the townspeople crying witch in a little nowhere village called Salem, the pastors feverishly referred to The Invisible Kingdom to figure out what to do next.

One of the things that got 20 men and women killed in those dark years of the Salem witch hunts was the notion of spectral evidence. All one simply had to say was "Goody Good appeared to me night before last and sat on my chest and threatened me and scratched me and drank my blood," That was enough for an indictment and and execution.

After the terrors of that time, Increase and Cotton both wrote in their journals and later books that there should have been more to the testimony than spectral evidence. That was mighty white of them considering that 19 people had been hanged and one crushed to death solely based on spectral evidence.

But it was from these real life people that we get the quintessential Vampire Hunters. These are usually grizzled old men who have spent their lives hunting down all forms of evil, collecting every imaginable tome on the subject, and turning to their sense of righteous cause to hunt down those undead demons of the netherworld. Beware evil doers wherever you are!!

The most famous of these Vampire killers is of course Abraham Van Helsing. Just as one thinks of the name Dracula when thinking about Vampires, Van Helsing is the first name that pops up when thinking about Vampire hunters.

Van Helsing uses everything in his arsenal to hunt, capture and kill the undead. Religious artifacts, including a specially blessed wax Host, crucifixes, rosaries, holy water, relics of the saints, The Roman Ritual of exorcism, mirrors, silver daggers, garlic, both the cloves and the flowers (Remember Lucy, they are medicinal) and the ever popular wooden stake made of ash (legend had it that the ash tree was the tree of the true Cross Jesus was crucified on).

Vampire hunters had to be mentally and physically strong. They also had to have impeccable spiritual health as well. When one went out to deal out a little death to one of those evil blood suckers, you had to have a spotless soul and have gone to Church and taken Holy Communion before setting out.

Today's Vampire hunters are quite different. Buffy, a young teenage girl, is one of the most modern of the Vampire hunters in popular fiction. We also have Blade, who is part Vampire, part human, BloodRayne, who is a Vampire who hunts her own kind, Angel, the Vampire with a soul, who fights all manner of evil as well as rogue Vampires, and of course Theodore and Steve Newlin in the Southern Vampire novels. They rely on their wits, their various weapons, to include holy water filled bullets, cross bows complete with ash wood arrows, and the martial arts.

Sources: The Malleus Malificarum by Sprenger and Kramer, The Compendium Malificarum by Guazzo, The Vampire Book by J Gordon Melton, The Invisible Kingdom by Cotton Mather, The Discovery of Witchcraft by Reginald Scot, The Roman Ritual, The Devil Worshippers: A social study of the Salem witch trials by Annamarie Phillips

A Stake to the Heart: Killing a Vampire

A Stake to the Heart
Mythology of Vampire Killing

The most prevelent weapon against the Vampire is the stake to the heart. The old fashioned wooden stake was meant to be sharpened to a point and driven into the heart of the Vampire which would then render him to ashes. The stake also became a phallic symbol in the movies and post Victorian representations of the Vampire when the Vampire killer, usually an aggrieved husband or suitor, would come not just to kill the count but to "release" his lady love from the curse of having been made Vampire.

But what sort of wood should it be? It depends on your local belief about the Crucifixion.

No one knows what tree was used to make the Cross upon which Christ was crucifed but there are plenty of legends. (And if you happen to know any of those legends beyond what I have written here, please add them.) Some say it was the dogwood, that in the time of Christ, the dogwood was a much larger tree but after Jesus was executed, the tree was sorrowful and dwindled down to the elegant tree it is today. Even the blossom becomes a part of the legend as the small red lines inthe petals are symbolic of the five wounds of Christ. Therefore, the dogwood was used in in some areas to make Vampire stakes.

Weeping Willow shares the same common sort of tale with the dogwood and was also used to make stakes. Oak is sort of an obvious choice because it is a very hard wood and was also thought to be the crucifixion tree.

Trees associated with magik were sometimes tapped. Wood from the hawthorn or elm was used because they are thought of as "protective trees" and trees from which wands are made. Holly trees are often used as well. Pine was certainly a handy tree and could have been used, if you wanted to experiment. Maybe you wouldn't if you were hunting Vampires.

Ash seems to be a pretty popular tree. It is said that the ash tree was prized for it's Vampire killing ability because according to legend, that is the wood Peter's staff was suppposedly made of. Peter was the head of the Christian church when Christ ascended and when Peter went to Rome to preach and convert, he thrust his walking stick into the ground at the entrance to Rome and it took root and bloomed, symbolic of the taking root of the Christian faith in Rome. And Charlaine Harris says that the ash is the wood that the stake is made of that is used by the assassin in Club Dead when Sookie is staked.

"I dithered, ashamed and frightened, the decision was made for me. The man with the black hair reached inside his coat and the fanaticism roiling in his head reached fever pitch. He pulled out the long sharpened piece of ash, and then it happened." (Club Dead page 171)

Sources: Judeo-Christian Myths and Legends by Sylvia Langston, By Oak, Ash and Hawthorn by Anantha Moore, The Elemental Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes, The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton, The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Vampires and Vampirism by Montague Summers.

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The Ankh

Post  Aslinn Dhan on February 18th 2010, 7:46 pm

The Ankh
The Ankh

The Ankh was used by Ancient Egyptians as a symbol of eternal life and was later used by the Coptic Christians in Egypt. Formed by a T-cross with a loop, the symbol was one of eternal life and the world beyond the human existence. The loop was thought to represent the universe and the T for man or the microcosm. They are also sex symbols showing the union between man and woman, the god Osiris and the goddess Isis.

Gods and kings and queens of Egypt are often depicted holding the ankh to symbolize their power over life an death. It also symbolizes safe passage through the world of the now to the afterworld. It is the key that unlocks the doors between these two planes of existence. Magikally, it is linked with clairvoyance.

As an amulet, it was often placed in the folds of mummy wrappings and people wore them to protect them from death and to give them knowledge.

Source: Signs and Symbols by Mark O'Connor and Raje Airy

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Re: Mythology of True Blood and The Sookie Books

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