Werewolves, Zombies and Vampires, Oh My!

Oct 27, 2009 by

By Lisa Campion

As we are coming into Halloween, I get to blog about some of my favorite subjects, like death, the undead and monsters. And this is Lisa’s Halloween Blog, after all, so if you are not in the mood for a romp through the murky underworld of death, myth, zombies, vamps and the shadowy parts of yourself, you might want to skip this one. (As if!)

I truly love the undead.  And it’s not just me, the world is crazy for all kinds of supernatural beasties.  Even the unlovely, brain eating zombies are back in vogue. (As if they could EVER go out of style!)  I love zombies. Why?  I think these ghouls represent a shadow aspect of ourselves that we explore through archetypal stories. Werewolves are the ravening animal/beast within all of us. Zombies represent the unconscious parts of us, which actually consume consciousness itself.  They eat BRAINS, the seat of our consciousness.

And the Vamps, well they are sexy, seductive, all powerful and immortal. Who wouldn’t want a piece of that?

Vampires are all the rage these days. You can’t even walk three feet without tripping over one. We have Edward and Bella, True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Vampire’s Apprentice. Seems like if you want to write a book or get on TV, there had better be some blood sucking involved somewhere.

These modern, new fangled stories all pale in comparison to the ultimate teen-angst vamp fest, Buffy the Vampire Slayer.  Buffy rules! Before there was Buffy, we had Anne Rice and the neurotic, but erotic Lestat.  Of course, the Granddaddy of all vampire melodramas is the original nosferatu himself, Bram Stoker’s Count Dracula. Amazingly, Stoker wrote this classic way back in 1897 and if you have never read it, it’s still a treat. It’s a wonderful, erotic, Victorian bodice ripper, and throat nipper of the best kind.

Stoker pulled on a lot of folk tales and some history to make up his mythical creature, since the Prince of the Night has been around for a lot longer then 1897.  The Victorians were morbidly obsessed with death, I think because so many people used to die back then. Mortality rates were ridiculously high and death was everywhere. The Victorians also had an odd obsession about being buried alive, glass coffins were derigeur for the wealthy and some coffins even had a bell on the top of them that you could pull from the INSIDE in case you “woke up” from death and found yourself in a coffin!

Apparently, determining the difference between a deep coma and actual death was a little trickier back then. These days we have medical equipment that does a decisive job. Today, you are either DEAD or ALIVE, and MOSTLY DEAD isn’t an option. Back then, you had to hold a mirror up to someone’s nose to see if they were breathing (breath makes condensation on the mirror) or wait till the body actually started to decompose. (Eeew.) Apparently mistakes were made.

Check this one out on the Creep O’ Meter.  The Victorians loved death portraits and they were hugely popular. After someone died, a photographer would come in and snap a few pictures of the dead person for the family album. Guess they didn’t have to worry about the subject moving!  (Doh!) Hard to fathom that as an appealing memoir, but I have seen whole photo albums from back then, just filled with the family’s death portraits.

Also hair from a dead person would be taken and formed into jewelry (Double eew) that looked like Celtic knots. Of a dead person’s hair.  That you would wear as jewelry. Call me crazy, but diamonds are a little more appealing!  Sometimes even vials of blood where worn as necklaces to commemorate a dearly departed one. Every era has their fashion faux pas!

Getting back to The Count (My favorite version of Count Dracula is The COUNT from Sesame Street. One cookie, two cookies, three cookies, HA HA HA!) Stoker pulled from old Romanian folk tales (And BTW, the Romanians made the Victorians look a bunch of pansies.) mixed with historical information about a real Count. His name was Vlad Tepes, otherwise known as Vlad the Impaler. He was not a nice man. Born in 1431 (ish…) he was the son of a warlord and although there is a lot of myth and legend surrounding him, suffice it to say that he killed lots of people in highly unpleasant ways and was thought to have sold his soul to the devil for power, thus cursing himself to a “life” of the undead. Apparently, when he died, captured by his enemies, he was drawn and quartered, burned at the stake, and beheaded.   Dracul was one of his titles, and it means son of the devil. Charming guy.

Another source Stoker used was a queen from that era who perhaps was suffering from some mental wellness issues and thought she could live forever and stay eternally young by drinking and bathing in the blood of her servants. Apparently she had quite a servant turn over at her castle and was thought to have killed (and pretty much eaten) thousands of Virgins.

Stoker smooshed these two lovelies together and the Vampire as we know him was…er… born.

Myths of the undead and vampires exist in every culture and all the way through history into the ancient world. Many of the legends were an attempt to explain the nature of death and disease. During the time of the plague, vampires were thought to come back from the dead and infect healthy people. As good an explanation as any, if you don’t know how contagion really works.

There are fairly modern cases of this right here in New England in the 1800’s where several vamps were suspected of killing healthy family members. These vampires were victims of tuberculosis, a long, wasting illness that was highly contagious. After the TB victim had died and another family member sickened, it was believed that the undead had come back from the grave to feed off the living. I think this theory was supported by the fact that TB sufferers often have blood on their lips, on account of hacking up blood from their lungs all day, probably.

The scared New Englanders dug up some graves and cut the heads off the corpses just to be sure. The story goes when they dug up Aunt Sallie, she still looked pretty fresh (told you this blog was going to be gross…) and thus reinforced the whole idea of the undead.

Technically, it IS possible to become a vampire, if you have enough knowledge of the occult. If you look at this from an occult perspective, the legends of vampires come from the fact that some people die only a little bit. (We are back to MOSTLY dead.)

We really die in two stages. The body dies and then the spirit that is the personality of the person has to let go too. This is sometimes referred to as the astral body. And when the astral body lets go, you die the Second Death.  Vampires of legends refuse to take the Second Death and stick around as a ghost, really.

If someone holds onto their form, at least astrally, they become ghosts (stuck dead people), and they refuse to allow the death process to fully disintegrate their personality.  This happens sometimes because they fear death and ensuing “judgment” and sometimes they are just stubborn.  Murderers, murder victims and suicides are at prime risk for this vampire-like behavior.

The story goes that the astral form rests inside the body during the day, “sleeping” in the grave. Then at night, the astral form leaves the body and steals energy from the living while they are asleep. Technically, if you do this enough to a living person, you could kill them. As they get stronger, with their stolen life force energy, they can actually briefly materialize and become solid for short periods of time. At this point, they up the ante and instead of taking just life force energy, they take actual blood. Blood being the ultimate form of life force energy.

Does this happen often?  I don’t know. I have heard of cases where it has–on battlefields, dungeons, prisons camps and other unholy parts of the world.  Although I have never seen such a case myself, I do believe it could be true.

There are a few ways to rid yourself of a vampire spirit.  Burying such a body on hallowed ground, at a crossroads or crossing over running water will prohibit the spirit from regaining power during their daytime rests.  Crossing water or crossing roads confuses the spirits.  In the old days, these people were buried at crossroads to prevent the soul from wandering.  Crosses and holy water really do work.  And so does garlic.  Why?  It has a high concentration of sulfur, which is very yucky to dark spirits.  Anyone who chooses this path is on the lam from God; it is a choice into darkness. But don’t worry “real” vampires are something that is seldom actually seen.  Becoming an actual vampire is entry into an unholy existence and requires a level of occult knowledge, will and power that most people, thankfully don’t have.

To continue on this cheery topic- hey it is the Halloween blog, ok? I promise I’ll talk about fluffy bunnies, maybe at Easter!  There are actually blood drinking humans around that live as vampires do. Seriously.  Hard for me to understand this, but from what I heard, it’s a life style choice that involves blood play during sex and living a dark, Goth inspired life.  Different strokes for different folks, I guess. Certainly blood is our life force energy and is totally sacred stuff, as well as being a psychically and spiritual charged substance. It is literally your life force energy in liquid form.  Certain ancient tribes would drink the blood of their enemies in order to gain their strength or wisdom. Or get their blood born diseases.  Yikes!

Looking at vampirism from a psychological perspective is whole different story. If we view these creatures from an archetypal perspective, we see a shadow aspect of ourselves. In this case, who wouldn’t want to be a vamp?  You get to live forever, be indestructible  (mostly) rich, strong, and preternaturally sexy and charismatic. You get to have whatever you want, whenever you want it and live forever as an immortal. Rich. Powerful. Sexy.  Immortal. Sign me up!  So what if you have to give up your soul in the process, those souls are just the fun police anyway, right?

Isn’t there something completely seductive about the idea of getting whatever you want, anyway you want it without a pesky conscience to ruin the fun?  Yeah baby!  Welcome to your lower self. Your lower self (Your unconscious, your first three chakras, your id, however you want to call it.) always wants that stuff, but we can’t fess up to it, mostly. So we get our jollies vicariously through these stories. That is what is so appealing about the vampire. The vamp SEDUCES you, using hypnotic control they become irresistible, you can’t help giving into them, because really there is this underground part of you that WANTS TO.

I knew this when I always cheered for the vampire.  Stupid vampire slayers!

Getting back to the Victorians, they loved the erotic aspects of the undead too. Being such a repressed society, the notion of being forced by the strength of someone else will to have an erotic experience, is well…. Hot!  It’s classic. The scantily clad woman who you know is actually dying to get some, finally has her even scantier resistance swept aside by the mesmeric power of the vampire’s will.  Yowza.

These days we get the powerful, sexy, rich guy vamp that falls hopelessly in love with a mortal woman and vows to love her forever, protect her from the darkness and give her eternal life and youth. Hmmm, wonder why that is popular?  Everyone woman on the planet right now is trying to figure out how to get their own Edward (Cept for you Team Jacob gals…)

When we look at these tales as representing the shadow aspects of ourselves we can easily understand their enduring popularity.  We need the werewolves, zombies and vampires to help us explore and experience our own shadow selves, it’s juicy down there in the lower self and we know we can’t really act it out, but through these myths and archetypes we get a taste of our own shadow and it’s delicious!  Happy Halloween!

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