For those of you who insist on stockpiling garlic cloves and spend your evenings whittling stakes, I thought you would have interest in knowing the history concerning Vampire repellents!
As you well know, legends of the undead have existed for nearly as long as mankind has walked the earth. Artifacts have been excavated from ancient dig sites which validate their long-lived legends. Not all of these ancient relics exalt their existence, some, in fact, were created with the intention of protecting the bearer from the wiles of the blood sucking wretches that were known to both civilize and destroy.
The Lilith Amulet
This particular amulet (and others like it) were excavated at a burial site in Ur; it is dated back beyond 2500 B.C.E. Lilith and her children were said to roam the land during this era. (More information on the Legend of Lilith can be found in my past blogs) It was a well known fact, in these times, that Lilith herself vowed no harm would come to those who wore the amulet, particularly pregnant women or their infant children.
Also found in the same and later eras was the Scarab amulet. Both the Egyptians and Sumerians associated the Scarab with the sun God Ra. Ra was given praise for rolling the new sun across the sky therefor renewing the bodies of his worshipers both is a physical and spiritual sense. The light of Ra’s sun was known to cleanse both humans and earth of the evil spirits that roamed the land during the dark hours.
Everyone knows that Vampires detest even the sight of Garlic, but why? Garlic was known to be a sacred herb, so highly regarded was it’s worth that half of the pyramid builders wages were paid in garlic. The herb was used in the embalming process; it was believed that its powers would repel evil spirits from inhabiting the bodies of the deceased therefore prohibiting the soul of that person from finding his way back to his body in the afterlife. The mystical powers of garlic do not end here. Amid many other beliefs, ancient Europeans knew that the pungent aroma would deter blood sucking insects. Other cultures, along with that of the Egyptian lore, believed that garlic cured infections and killed bacteria. It was in early European legends where the conception of Vampirism was first initiated via a virus.
Crucifixes, silver and sunlight
Three of the most commonly known Vampire deterrents known through history all hale from the same legend. The story of Judas Iscariot, betrayer of Christ, is one of the more well known Vampire origination theories. Judas, after having been paid in silver coins to betray Jesus, was so distraught by his own actions that he hanged himself in a nearby tree. This is where the story ends in most traditional religious literature. Ah, but as legend would have it; there is always more. After Judas’ soul abandoned his body, God brought him back to life, in a matter of speaking. Judas was cursed by God to wander the earth in darkness until the day of reckoning. In his eternal wandering, Judas would know the pain of losing all he knew and loved lest he cast his own curse upon them. Never again would Judas feel the warmth of the sun on his face and forever he would thirst for the blood of the living. It is because of Judas’ betrayal that Vampires loathe the symbol of the cross and silver, it is an ever present reminder to them of how they came to be the tormented souls that they are.
Running water repels Vampires
This belief stems from both Greek and Asian legends. It was thought that the purity of running water was seen as offensive to the Vampire. The Greeks would often relocate those suspected of being or becoming Vampire to isolated islands with the belief that they would not be able to tolerate the salt water for long enough to make their return to the mainland and feast on those that had opposed them.
Wooden Stakes through the heart
The act of staking or impaling has endured for centuries, even in the time of ancient Babylonia. The belief was a stake driven through the heart of a possessed or reanimated body would rid it of the evil that had claimed it. Later in European regions, anyone that dies while suspected of being or becoming one of the undead was typically staked to the ground and decapitated thus preventing the body of rising from its grave.
Vampires and OCD
European folklore concerning Vampires often depicts them with arithmomania, such as a compulsion to count seeds or grains of rice. It was for this reason that seeds would be scattered about the grave of those suspected of being or becoming Vampire. Legend states that the newly undead would be so distracted by counting that they would never make it far from their grave before sunrise.
So there you have it, the history behind most of the well known Vampire deterrents known throughout legend and lore. Much more information concerning the legends of Vampire origination can be found by searching my blog.