A few months ago, I read that there are “real life”, blood-drinking vampires living in New Orleans. Known as the New Orleans Vampire Association, or NOVA, more than 50 people are claiming a health disorder were they need to drink animal or human blood in order to survive. The Atlanta Vampire Alliance have stated that there are roughly 5,000 people in the US that identify as vampires. These communities of “vampires” have sprung up all around the country, with New Orleans and Atlanta on the top of the list. The website, RedFin, actually posted a list of the ‘10 Best U.S. Cities to Be a Vampire‘, with Philadelphia taking first place. Is this all just wishful thinking, or is it the real deal? This all got me thinking about the modern vampiric culture that people love and the millennium-old folklore behind it.
Vampires are supposedly worldly creatures, appearing in multiple cultures that had not yet communicated with each other. Much like the ancient idea of aliens, dragons, and the afterlife, they all seem to contain a lot of similarities. The African “obayifo,” the Russian “upyr” and the Malaysian “penanggalan,”all have a taste for children while the Indian “vetalas” and the Scottish “baobhan sith” lust after men.
It’s hard to pin point one sole origin of the vampire, and legend has it that vampires must be created by another vampire. Some say that the first vampire arose in ancient Egypt, a demon arising from sorcery to this world from another. Many other popular myths begin in the Dark Ages, a time of extreme superstition. Some of the oldest accounts of vampires portray them as a demonic and immortal entity.
One of the oldest origin stories is that of Lilith. Supposedly the first wife of Adam, Lilith was banished from the Garden of Eden for not being submissive to him. As such, her offspring were promised to be that of demons. The story goes that Lilith would steal young children from their beds, only to be consumed for power and would also seduce men in order to procure demonic offspring. The fatal breeding and consumption of children ended with the ritualistic drinking of the blood, thus making the violent Lilith known as the Mother of Vampires.
The most modern account of the origin of vampires comes from the Scriptures of Delphi, which now act as a sort of mythological reference system. These state that the first vampire started out as a young Greek man named Ambrogio. But the legend of vampirism that we hold to this day really started to take a hold in 18th century Western Europe, after it flew in from the Balkans and Eastern Europe. At this time, panic erupted, leading corpses to be burned and mutilated and wild accusations of local vampires. This only escalated throughout time.
More and more myths arose about vampires, seeming to solidify them. Vampires were said to sleep in coffins and light fire at the touch of sunlight. Vampires don’t cast shadows, aren’t visible in mirrors, and have fangs perfect for puncturing skin. People held on to these rumors to try and identify a vampire and, as they seemed to always anticipate an attack, would protect themselves with wooden stakes, holy water and garlic. Today, all of this seems like paranoid superstition. But if I was taught repeatedly that there were un-dead corpses that shed bloody tears, had psychic hypnotic and telekinetic powers, and they wanted to drink my blood, I would be scared too.
Now much of our world is shrouded by stories of modern vampires with their own love affairs and their own 21st century lives. More and more people seem to want to adopt to that life style. Case and point: The Atlanta Vampire Alliance and New Orleans Vampire Association. With all these rumors and crazy proclamations, it’s hard to hold true of the base and history of this infamous lore. This century-old vampiric mania begs the question: if not today, had vampires ever once existed on our earth? And if they did, are they here now?