Legends about vampires or vampire-like beings appear throughout world folklore, to include India, China and Greece.
The current incarnation of the vampire is usually linked to old Eastern European myths and superstitions. These stories inspired several vampire novels. The most enduring of these is Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897).
In the eighteenth-century, Eastern European reports of vampirism ran high, sometimes taking two related forms of
- Physical vampirism – robbing another person’s vitality by drinking their blood
- Spiritual vampirism – psychic possession of another person’s free-will and theft of their vitality
Traditionally, vampires reside in or around graveyards, having a strong aversion to daylight. And they rise at night to stalk their victims. Repelled by the holy cross, these agents of darkness are known as the undead.
In the 1970s and ’80s, moviegoers wore character costumes and recited dialogue from the film, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, perhaps entering into a state of consciousness which anthropologist Lévi-Bruhl called participation mystique. In 1974, Neil Young released a song called Vampire Blues.
A more recent newspaper report of alleged vampirism in Toronto tells of a man who forcefully cut and drank the blood of a young woman. The woman was initially horrified and pressed charges, resulting in the aggressor’s imprisonment. Over time, however, she began to feel united and in love with him, making daily visits to him in prison.
Paranormal researchers and psychics explain vampirism in terms of a restless earth-bound spirit or so-called tramp soul that takes control of psychologically weak and vulnerable individuals.
By way of contrast, vampire nightclubs seem to be harmless, non-violent and socially acceptable outlets for individuals seeking to experience the numinous aura of the Jungian shadow. A comparable situation might be the upstanding priest who enjoys horror movies during his off-hours.
But clearly not everyone maintains a mature, adult perspective on vampires. Violent murders have been committed by teens in vampire cults who take the Goth lifestyle to a tragic extreme.
In modern times, however, the vampire is generally held to be a fictitious entity, although belief in similar vampiric creatures such as the chupacabra still persists in some cultures.¹