Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Eldritch: Halloween 028

So… Seamus mentions vampire killing methods. Personally, I prefer my vampires in a state of undeath, rather than total death, but, well, sometimes a bad vamp needs to be put down (I prefer death by ruler or stereo these days). But how is vampire-killing supposed to be done? Well, truth is, no one seems to be able to completely agree on that, because folklore is inconsistent like that. Now, I’ll readily admit that vampires aren’t my forte, but this, like all of my little articles, is a collection of few brief comments on folklore, so I feel that can talk a little on the subject.

The best-known method of vampire killing is, of course, a steak through the heart. Of course, some folks will say one wood is better than others for vampire-killing (such as maple, aspen, rowan or hawthorn, to name a few) but truth is, I expect that if you’re being attacked by a vampire, any ol’ stick will do the job. Personally, if I’m ever attacked by a vampire, I pray it’s in a sushi joint. Looots of chopsticks. However, I digress. In some tales, slaying vampires was very complicated, such as in The tale of Abhartach from Ireland, where the undead must be slain with a sword of yew and buried upside down, along with other things such as placing a rock over the gravesite and surrounding that place with thorns. But what about sunlight, you ask? That’s a pretty well known means of killing vampires. Well, truth is, depending on the type of vampire, sunlight might not save you. Sure, the Strigorii of Romania could be defeated by sunlight, particularly the first rays of morning sun, but other varieties can still get you.

Other killing methods include decapitation, burning, and even exoticism, which is a more modern, christianized method, like stakes and holy water. (People tell me that I misspelled stake there.  However, that is the correct spelling, really X D. You see, the blood from the fresh steak will distract the vampire, preventing it from feeding on the living and causing it to die when it's forced to hunt until the sun comes up. Classic vampire folklore there, truely.  Okay, I'm kidding, but it amused me, so I'm keeping the typo.) Personally, I prefer the first method, though sometimes the means of decapitation is very specific, such as using a gravedigger’s shovel, and some suggest that stuffing the mouth with various herbs will seal the deal. Honestly though, I wouldn’t get my fingers anywhere near a vampire’s mouth under any condition (Unless I really liked the vampire). While I expect it would smell bad, and thus I’m less keen on it, burning the vampire’s body is also a pretty secure means of vampire death, in my opinion. Though, sometimes it can be real simple. For instance, the vampiric Wood Wives of the Germanic countryside could be killed by simply burning small bits of wood. How simple is that?

Meanwhile, there are less drastic means of protection… such as, in the Philippines, the shapeshifting (and thus, werewolf-associated) monstrous aswang (I dare you to say that name out loud without giggling) can be warded off with salts and herbs… of course, some say that herbs work better than salts, depending on the type of aswang, and the herbs used vary. Oh, the joy of varying folklore. According to a history channel documentary I saw (I’m so sorry, I wish I remember which it was; I’d love to cite it) cramming a brick into the mouth of the dead kept them from vampiric activities, and in other sources, sometimes, protecting oneself can be as easy and using garlic or turning your clothes inside-out. My absolute favorite protective method, however, is the scattering of seeds. Apparently some vampires are obsessive-compulsive and would have to count all of the spilled seeds… remember The Count in Sesame Street? Yeah. There’s actually folklore behind his behavior.

However, while in some places a werewolf is supposed to become a vampire after death, my favorite means of killing vampires is the use of a white wolf… which not only keeps vampires inside their graves by haunting cemeteries, but also can kill the vampire ‘by strangulation.’ In addition, some Gypsies said that a vampire was to wander the world until it met with a wolf, which would rend it limb from limb. I suppose if it’s in the nature of wolves to maul vampires, it’s no wonder that werewolves and vampires don’t get along in modern media (and here, I thought they were all ripping off Abbot and Costello).

So, should your life ever end up with too many vampires in it, at least there are a few solutions, aside from closing whatever book you’re reading. And speaking of books, before I get to the “You should read” list, I hear that Bob Curran has published a book of Irish vampire myths called “Bloody Irish.” Heck, I haven’t even seen the book in person (so I can’t vouch for it being any good or not), but I’d take a look at it just for the name. If you’re looking for a way to entertain yourself in a less werewolfy and more vampiric way this St. Patty’s Day, that may be a rout for you. Personally, I’m gonna spend it with werewolves and sidhe, myself.

And, as always, you should read:
The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters --Rosemary Guiley
Vampires –Dr. Bob Curran
The Beast Within --Adam Douglas
The Werewolf in Lore and Legend --Montague Summers
The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures --John and Caitlin Matthews
Vampires -- Rosemary Ellen Guiley

Other possible books of interest:
They Bite – Jonathan Maberry and David F. Kramer
Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts from the Darkside – Brad Steiger

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