There have been countless depictions of vampires throughout time, differing from culture to culture and watered down even more by the film and book industry. So what have I learned about it if we was to discover vampires actually existed as depicted in lore? What intolerances do they have, which tools can help me? Can an atheist protect themself?
There is a belief that silver exists on both the material and spiritual world which gave rise to the use of silver weapons being effective against vampires. This has many a time been stressed solid silver, the electroplated stuff being ineffective. I’m not sure why… it’s still silver isn’t it? Maybe it needs to be in purest form to hurt the impure? It seems to some cultures just the touch of silver is efficient enough to scorch a vampire, thus a knife or silver bullet, through the heart or not, have been depicted countless times.
This is a sure way to rid yourself of a vampire if you can get close enough. Staking it through the heart will stop it from rising again. It is thought by some the stake needs to stay in place, for if it is removed the vampire may rise again. Your best stake material will be wood given its availability , preferably hawthorn but oak and ash are also popular. (It is thought Jesus’ crown of thorns was made of hawthorn. Some religions claim he wasn’t put on a cross either but a torture stake.) The majority of lore accepts any wood will do. A few may suggest a mis-aimed stake may still harm the creature but not destroy it. A silver spike will have the same effect, and iron is thought to follow suit as well given this metal’s link to the fae, but has been rather forgotten in lore after silver.
There are many blood loving parasites out there and quite a few are said to be repelled by garlic not only because of its strong flavour but also its unmistakable strong scent. With a vampire having heightened senses including smell, it is quite believable that garlic will stifle those extra strong senses, weakening the creature maybe to a point of suffocation. Some sources have suggested it’s touch is harmful as well in the same way a Holy symbol would be. Given how easy it is to obtain, surely it can’t hurt having a piece to hand. Garlic is also usually stuffed into the mouths of decapitated vampires as an extra precaution to prevent it rising again.
You’d have to have led a pretty sheltered life to not know of the vampires aversion of crosses or crucifixes. These Holy icons must have featured in 99% of vampire stories, but along the way certain rules have come to light. For example, apparently it’ll only work if you have absolute faith in it. With that, the atheists usually end up becoming vamps meal that night. But this begs the questions “Faith in what exactly? Does it have to be a God? ” The Doctor Who story The Curse Of Fenric featured haemovores which were weakened by faith. A soldier used his army emblem to repel them because of his faith they would defeat the opposition. I have noticed many reference silver crosses. We already know vampires are harmed silver so this is probably a combination of two weapons it one, and once again they are said to burn at the touch of a cross. I recently looked at a chart of religions appearing over time. The second oldest – Wuism – has the first cross symbol associated with it and dates back dozens of millenia before Christianity. It is also a solar cross, a circle surrounding it representing the sun…its light is a vampires greatest threat. In modern Christianity the Celtic cross has this sun integrated into its design. I personally have every faith the sun will rise each morning, so hey atheists it appears we can use a cross of a certain style. It just needs that sun integration. The solar cross is a pagan protective symbol, the four divisions of the sun made by the cross itself representing the four seasons of the year. Suicide victims used to be buried in the center of crossroads to stop them rising as vampires.
The likelihood of catching a vampire out in this way is very slim given it will retreat back to its resting place long before dawn. However direct sunlight is fatal to a vampire, those intense rays of light burning through its every atom turning it to ash, or if very old turning it to dust as its ages crumble to the floor. It is emphasised in moderm vampire mythology that it is the ultraviolet content of sunlight that causes this effect, just like it burns us if we are in it too long. Indeed, in my short story Quasar Zone, a vampire met his end witlessly entering a lazertag arena filled with UV lights and disintegrating infront of the players. I have already covered a few crosses along the religious spectrum have sun symbols blended within them so it is indeed a big hand to non-theists.
This is a fairly modern component in vampire hunting lore. It is said they will cast no relection in a mirror which is a great way to expose them. Mirrors are also said to cause vampires discomfort when looking into them, this may only work when the mirror is silverbacked. Another interesting use is that mirrors can reflect sunlight, so its no wonder they cause panic among the vampire community. This particular method was wonderfully demonstrated in the film Dracula 1973AD in a fight between Van Hellsing and Johnny Alucard.
I already covered the bit on harlic seperately, and also mentioned hawthorn. Wild roses aka Dog Roses are frequented in vampire legend as well. And why not? Thorns are like miniature wooden stakes afterall. The Dog Rose is written to be placed on coffin lids to prevent the vampires from rising at all. It’s also depicted that the touch from the petals will burn vampire skin. Other thorned plants that turn up as a defence against vampire include, buckthorn, blackthorn and aspen holly and linden for more stakes.
If you manage to obtain an item blessed by the clergy you are quite armed for facing a vampire. Holy water will act like a strong acid or poison. The touch of consecrated soil (graveyard dirt etc), or even a blessed weapon or item of clothing if you can convince a priest or reverend etc to do so. Holy text such as a bible is supposed to have the same effect as a cross, although I’m guessing the faith must be solely in the associated religion in this case.
Our heads contain our minds and as such, our very spirits. Thus the decapitation of a vampire sends its very soul back to rest in the hereafter. Extra precautions usually involve stuffing its mouth with garlic. Some will even go as far as cremation so that everything is burned away. Of course, maybe you’d get lucky enough to set it ablaze while its still active with a flaming torch or molotov cocktail perhaps.
This weakness has always fascinated me and it’s another one that extends to several unholy creatures. A couple of theories as to why this is a weakness is that running water is purer than the rest, or the biblical stance is that Jesus was baptised in a river taking him closer to God, so no wonder a vamp would go nuts. Rain is sometimes not thought to be enough, rather like silver plated stuff versus solid silver quarm. Vampires cannot pass running water and are supposedly destroyed if immersed in it.
So to round off, this is a subjective topic and we all interpret things in our own ways. But I hope you have enjoyed my little page dedicated to one of our most well known creatures of the night.