Vampires and vampire-like creatures have been found in the folklore of every civilization, every culture, every religion since the beginning of recorded time. New Orleans is no exception. New Orleans was settled in the early 1700’s and it was during this time in Europe that massive vampire hunts were occurring.It was a tradition that began in the early 1200’s in Eastern Europe and over hundreds of years spread into Western civilizations. Vampire hunters, usually church representatives, were digging up the dearly departed, driving wooden stakes through the corpses, then beheading and burning the body.Causes of vampirism varied. For instance, one could be predisposed at birth for vampirism. Having been born at certain times of the year (New moon, Holy days), born with a red caul, with teeth, or with an extra nipple were sure signs. If the child was born with excess hair, white hair, red hair, a red birthmark, or with two hearts, the theory persisted. The 7th son of a 7th son was believed to be doomed to vampirism. If the child was weaned too early, suckled after weaning, or died prior to Baptism, vampirism was suspected upon death. If the pregnant woman received a curse or was stared at or attacked by a Vampire, the child would be cursed to vampirism. This type of predisposition was considered a genetic defect, like a mutation, and vampirism was inevitable.Vampirism can be obtained after birth as well. Typically, being fed upon seven or more times, without dying, would guarantee one to become a vampire. But, numerous things can happen after one’s death that can lead to vampirism: Committing suicide, practicing Sorcery or Witchcraft, eating sheep killed by a Wolf, leading an immoral life (prostitutes, murderers, alcoholics, rapists), dying without Last Rites, having a cat jump over the corpse/coffin, having a shadow fall on the corpse, no burial or improper burial rites, death by violence, or death by drowning.There are of course ways to prevent vampirism should any of the above occur: A number of different things might be done in order to take steps to prevent that body from ever returning from the grave. Weighting the eyes down with coins, tying the mouth closed or stuffing with garlic, were common practices. As were placing coins or dirt on the eyes. Our ancestors would cover mirrors in the house and stop the clocks in the home of the deceased.In Louisiana, many families still practice a custom called "sitting up with the dead". When a family member died, someone within the family, or perhaps a close family friend, would stay with the body until it is placed into one of our above ground tombs or is buried. The body is never left unattended. There are many reasons given for this practice today, most commonly, respect for the dead. This tradition however, actually dates back to Vampire Folklore in eastern Europe. In doing this, you were watching for signs of paranormal activity. If a cat was ever seen to jump over, walk across, or stand on top of the coffin; if a dog was seen to bark or growl at the coffin; or if a horse shied from it, these were signs of impending vampirism and at that point you would take steps to prevent the corpse from returning from the dead. Commonly used procedures would include burying the corpse face down, and burying at a crossroads. Often times, family members would place a sickle around the neck, tie body parts together or mutilate the body, usually by decapitation and placing the head at the bottom of feet. The most common remedy for impending vampirism was to drive a stake into the corpse, decapitate it and then burn the body to ashes. This method was the only way to truly destroy the undead. By the 1700’s, these practices were going on all throughout western Europe, particularly in France and Germany, where many immigrants were migrating to New Orleans. Believers insist that vampires could have been smuggled over in ships with the settlers. The early French settlers brought over brides from Europe who transferred their belongings in large wooden casket-like boxes. But according to folklore, even though Vampires prefer the night, they are not destroyed by daylight. It was common for the vampire to walk about during the day. They generally hunted and fed at night. They would not have needed to be smuggled in coffins in the hulls of ships. This idea is that of fictional writers such as Bram Stoker. More than likely, vampires would have entered the ships like anyone else and blended in well with society.If being a murderer, rapist, or other criminal element would predispose one to vampirism. it is easy to see how they would have become so prevalent in New Orleans. The city did start out as a penal colony. All of the original settlers would have been predisposed to it! Once they blended in with the mortals, they could easily feed on the population without raising much suspicion. With people dying in great masses from diseases such as yellow fever, who’s going to notice another body here or there?New Orleans has always had a high murder rate, not to mention, a lot of missing persons! The French Quarter has always been a very mysterious and seductive place. Many a person has mysteriously disappeared, many of whom were never known to have been here in the first place. Runaways commonly come to the French Quarter to hide out, as do people with "pasts". If no one knows you are here, how will they know if you should disappear? If you just "drifted in", people will assume you just "drifted out", as well.
Vampirism and Disease.
In many cultures, Vampirism is believed to be nothing more than aberrant behavior resulting from adverse mental or physical conditions. Porphyria, a human blood disorder, is believed by many to be a condition that has resulted in many "Diagnosed" Vampires. The patient suffering from Porphyria becomes extremely sensitive to light. In addition, skin lesions may develop, and the teeth become brown or reddish-brown in color. The gums recede giving the canine teeth a "fang-like" look.Like the diabetic who replaces insulin with injections, blood transfusions can be effective in reversing the effects of Porphyria. It is believed that in medieval Eastern Europe, nobleman may have been instructed by their physicians to drink blood to reverse the disorder. Because so many royalty had a tendency to marry within the same family, it is easy to see how recessive genetic disorders such as porphyria may have been more prevalent among the nobleman.
Vampire Lore The word vampire was first used in 1734: "The bodies of deceased persons animated by evil spirits, which come out of the graves at night time to suck the blood of many of the living and thereby destroy them."By 1862 Vampire meant a terrible BORE of a person.And by 1911 vampire meant "a woman who intentionally attracts and exploits men" and by 1918 (July 9) the New York Times mentions a play called "The Vamp" starring Enid Bennett.Also the Verb to vamp means "to behave seductively and exploit".
There are 2 kinds of Vampire: the spirit of a dead person or a corpse reanimated by his own or another person ( ethereal or physical)
Becoming a Vampire:1.The 7th son of the 7th son2.A cat jumping over corpse turns the corpse into a vamp (England); in Romania the same but the cure (antidote) is to put a piece of iron into the corpse's hand or place Hawthorn in the coffin3.A baby born with teeth or a caul or stillborn4.A dead body that has been reflected in a mirror5.Someone bitten by a vamp6.Suicides7.People who die suddenly & violently8.Those who do not receive proper burial9.People who have eaten he meat of a sheep that has been killed by a wolf10.Having red hair11.By renouncing the Eastern Orthodox religion (which is why the peasants may have thought Vlad was a vampire)12.By being excommunicated by the Greek Orthodox church13.Wild dogs jumping over a corpse. The art of Fooling and Controlling Vampires (and the dead in general)These are methods of turning away evil:1.Take the most tortuous route home from the cemetery in order discourage ghosts from following you2.Wear unfamiliar clothing (disguise)3.Wear grotesque makeup (disguise)4.Impaling the corpse or breaking its legs and severing its head (so it can't see and can't run ... that ought to do it!). A severed head was sometimes placed underneath the buttocks to prevent the corpse from putting its head back on5.Pelt the corpse with pebbles as it's being lowered into the grave6.Spread Poppy seeds on the path from the graveyard ... vampires MUST stop and pick up every one and if you spread enough of them, by the time they have picked them up it's dawn and time to go back to bed (the graveyard)7.To detect them ... take a young virginal boy or girl and put them on a horse of a SOLID colour and the horse must also be virgin and never have stumbled. If the horse refuses to pass over a grave then you know a vampire lies there8.The wooden stake of impalement HAS TO BE made of rosebush, ash or an asp tree. Sometimes a red hot iron will do.9.All vampires have to be buried face down after they have been killed10.In Romania, young women seeking to avoid giving birth to a vampire should eat salt (for its purifying powers)11.Crossing the arms of a corpse12.Burying the corpse with a sickle around its neck so if it sat up it would decapitate itself13.Putting a thorn under the tongue to prevent it from sucking blood14.Inserting a needle into the navel15.Placing the heart on the head16.Cutting off the feet17.Cutting the knee ligaments (very common)18.Staking can be accompanied by driving a sacred nail into the head.
Miscellaneous Rome interpreted corporeal incorruptibility as a reward for sanctity Dhampirs are sons of vampires in Yugoslavia & the Balkans who (for a fee) would chase down their alleged vampire fathers and kill them for local villagers Black is the European colour or mourning but it is white in China and yellow in ancient Egypt Vampire bats are found ONLY in Mexico and Central and South America; usually feed on cattle but have attacked humans. Vampire bats were discovered and so named by CORTES in Mexico. The bat is the only mammal that can fly. Many Vampires prey (at least at first) on family & loved ones usually violating a taboo Polish & Russian vamps are out from noon to midnight and in Russia a vamp is the child of a witch and a werewolf In Greece Vampires have blues eyes; in Poland they have sharp, pointed tongues Vampires are said to have hairy palms (just as Wer-wolves) Tradition says that GARLIC sprang up where Satan placed his left foot as he departed from Paradise after the temptation and the Fall Coffins were thought to be used originally to keep animals from digging up corpses The big vampire mania in Europe is from 1723-1735 Necrophiliacs were thought to be vampires Aristocrat's disease (teeth & gum disease & photosensitivity as well as hair and nails glowing fluorescently) is called Porphyria Necrophagism (eating corpses) Necrosadism (mutilation of corpses to induce sexual excitement)
Folklore: Why Garlic? In Medieval times doctors thought that plague was caused by bad air (corruption of the air) hence "to fight fire with fire" as it were, garlic was used to fight disease -- along with other strong smelling things like incense, perfume,cow dung, human faeces and Juniper
A Vampire By Any Other NameAfrica: The Loango and in Ashantiland the AsanbosamAssyria: Ekimmu (EKIMINU) a malignant spirit (half ghost half vampire) haunts its victims and sometimes attacks them; caused by no proper burialBabylonia: Lilitu (in Hebrew Lilith or Adam's first wife in Talmudic lore); she becomes a succubus attacked infants and children and bringing erotic dreams to men. The Talmud itslef does not mention preying on children; that was added later.Brazil: The Jaracaca which attacks only young mothers with babiesBulgaria: The Obour has only 1 nostril and a pointed tongueChina: The P'O which has greenish white hair, claws cruel eyes. Caused by a cat jumping over a corpse. Vampires take possession of a human body but unlike European ones, Chinese vampires have never been human at any time; they are called Ch'Iang Shih (sometimes Ch'Iing Shuh)Crete: Vampires are called KatalkanasDenmark: Mara is a female vampireGreece: Vrukalakos and anyone with red hair is suspect; also a Lamia which has the head & breast of female & the body of serpent. It has the same function as Lilith. Some sources say in Greece Lamia is not a vampire but a ghoul ...as is a Empusa.The Roman version of Lamia is Strix (the plural is Strigae) and in Italian it's Strega (which now means "witch").Germany: The Alp which sucks blood and the nipples of victims. There is also the Mara or Mora which is a succubus who straddles sleeping men causing horrible nightmaresHungary: Pamgri or VampirIreland: The Druids spoke of Dearg-DulsIndia: The Baitol which is a vampire but it possesses corpsesMalaysia: The Langsuitis a woman who wears a gown, has long nails and long jet black hair to her ankles and she has a hole the back of her neck which she uses to suck the blood from children. To cure her, stuff the hole with as much hair as it will hold and cut her nails.Portugal: The Bruxsa is actually a cucubuth (a critter that is both a Wer-Wolf and a Vampire) that attacks travellers & their own (the Bruxsa's own) childrenRomania: The Nosferat is a stillborn illegitimate child of two people who are similarly illegitimate. It can shape change (any variety of animals and can be male or female).Scotland: Baobham are groups of beautiful girls who drain blood from victims.
Vampire Epedemics:For 400 years after Vlad the story of Vlad was a "best seller" in print especially in the German language but Dracula stories also abounded in Hungarian, Romanian Greek and Turkish Eastern Europe was aflame with a vampire scare at the beginning of the 18th century: Chios (1708); Belgrade (1725 and 1732); Serbia (1825); Hungary (1832); Danzig (1855) The early vampire craze kicked off with The Story of Peter Pogojowitz in 1725; he was just a peasant who died and was thought to be a vampire so they had to exhume the bodyIn France in 1746, Dom Agustin Calmet published a treatise on ghosts and vampires (he was a Benedictine Monk) Gilles de Rais (aka de Retz): He was a French national hero fighting with Joan Of Arc. After the death of Joan and the crowing of the Dauphin, he went weird and tortured children (mainly boys ... 200 of them). He would order his servants to stab them in the jugular vein so their blood would shoot all over him and whilst they bled to death he'd masturbate over them. He was accused of sitting on he bowels of a boy and drinking his blood while the boy lay bleeding to death and accused of sodomy. Brought to trial in 1440 and written about in Joris Karl Huysmans' novel La-Bas (1891)
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