Day 7 of the 31 Days of Myths, Magic, Mayhem, and more…
I will be your host for the evening, and tonight let’s dive into the myths of Vampires- from across the world.
Vampires are a staple of Halloween, made popular by Bram Stokers novel, Dracula, and the popular movies- Interview with a Vampire and Twilight. They are night stalkers, taking blood from the innocent, and amassing wealth and power with their alluring personalities.
I won’t lie- the idea of living forever, enterally beautiful and insanely rich doesn’t sound so bad. But are these stories based on the myths and legends that have been found for centuries around the world?
Or are they a creation of reality?
Myths and legends of the vampire is often believed to have originated in Eastern Europe, more accurately, Bulgaria, over a thousand years ago. The word roughly translates to ‘ghost monster.’ They were non-corporeal, able to spread diseases, but did not consume blood or bite humans.
In ancient Greek mythology, there were no ‘vampires,’ but there were gods with vampire tendencies. The daughter of Hecate, Empusa, was a demonic, bronze-footed creature who transformed into a young woman and seduced men as they slept before drinking their blood. Lamia was the secret lover of Zeus, and when Hera discovered the affair, she killed all of Lamia’s children. Lamia retaliated, killing children by drinking their blood. In the tale, Homer, the dead can’t communicate with the living without drinking their blood first.
In Homer’s tale, the undead are too insubstantial to be heard by the living and cannot communicate with them without drinking blood first. In the epic, when Odysseus journeyed into Hades, he was made to sacrifice a black ram and a black ewe so that the shades there could drink its blood and communicate.
In India, an ancient text, Betal Panchabingshati, describes the vetalas, creatures that inhabit corpses and hang upside down in trees in local cemeteries.
The Hebrew word Alukah translates to leech, synonymous with vampire. In Sefer Hasidim, it describes a creature that is believed to be living but can shapeshift into a wolf.
In Albanian mythology, they have the shtriga and dhampir. The shtriga is a vampire/witch that sucks the blood of babies at night while they sleep and then shapeshifts into a moth, fly, or bee. According to legend, only the shtriga could cure those she had infected. A dhampir creature results from a union between a vampire and a human.
Modern Vampires in America:
It’s 1799, and Stuckley Tillinghast wakes up from a nightmare. In his dream, a mysterious force has destroyed half of his apple orchard. For days, Stuckley believes that his dream is a prophecy, and his fears prove to be warranted when his daughter, Sarah, becomes sick and dies.
Not long after, another daughter gets sick- Ruth. But this one is a little different. As Ruth lays in bed- she claims that Sarah has been visiting her at night. In her dreams, Sarah sits on Ruth and causes her pain. No one can help, and Ruth ends up dying not long after.
Weirdly, Stuckley’s other children get sick, too, each one claiming that Sarah was visiting them in their dreams. And they all die.
At the end of his ropes when, his wife, Honor, and another son get sick. He gets the town involved, and they visit the family’s grave site. They dig up the bodies one by one and find that they are all decomposed, as they should be.
Except for the last one- Sarah. Even though she was the first to die, her body has been perfectly preserved, her eyes open, her hair and nails grown out, and her blood still fresh.
Obviously, she is responsible for everyone’s death.
So, they take her still perfectly formed heart and burn it on a rock before reburying the bodies.
Unfortunately, Stuckley’s son didn’t survive, but his wife did.
According to legend, 7 out of 14 of Stuckley’s children died- proving that his dream WAS a prophecy of his impending doom.
Side note- A descendent of Stuckley claims that only 4 children died– Sarah (22), Ruth (19), Aunstis (17), and James (13).
93 years later and 2.5 miles away…
Edwin Brown was sick. Wasting away to nothing, and no one could seem to help him. He had already lost his sisters, Mary and Mercy, and his mother, Mary. So, when Edwin returned from a medical stay in Colorado and still wasn’t getting better- the town got involved. They were convinced that Edwin’s mother or sisters were undead and using Edwin to bring themselves back from the grave.
Edwin’s father, George, was bullied into allowing his wife and daughter’s (the Mary’s) bodies to be exhumed from the Chestnut Hill Cemetery on 17 March 1892. And surprise, surprise- all they found were bones. But the town was convinced that something sinister was occurring and focused on Mercy’s coffin.
Mercy died two months earlier. While the details of where her coffin was buried are unknown, what is known is that it was difficult to bury a coffin in the middle of winter. So, it was easy to lift the lid and take a peek.
What they found put the fear of the devil in them.
She had turned in the coffin, lying on her side. Her face was pink, and she still had blood in her heart and veins. Dr. Harold Metcalf, the town doctor, told everyone this was a natural occurrence. She had been dead for a short time, and the weather preserved her body.
But they didn’t want to hear him. They knew better.
So, what did they do? You guess it! They built a bonfire, cut Mercy’s heart and lungs out, burned them, and collected the ashes. Except this time, they take the ashes to Edwin’s home, mixed them with water, and forced him to drink his sisters remains.
Ironically, their cure didn’t work. Who would have thought? Edwin died two months later, on 2 May 1892, from tuberculosis.
There were too many stories of vampires for me to have the time to discuss them all in one blog. But I was intrigued to learn that the creature was not a modern invention, and it roots lay far beneath numerous cultures.
“None of us really changes over time; we only become more fully what we are.”Anne Rice, The Queen of the Damned
If tales of legend, myth and fantasy topped with a nice cup of coffee interest you, I suggest taking a look at my book The Writer and the Librarian. It’s a historical fantasy about a middle-aged woman faced with a decision: accept what is written in books or find out for herself the truth behind the stories. Now available on
And on any of your favorite Indie Book Store website!