Vampires make millions for Hollywood, and teenage novels. They are often portrayed as both evil and good, both sexy and disgusting, with a lot of human personality traits and flaws. They are usually hundreds of years old, have seen it all, and might fall in love with mortals. Their most characteristic traits are their vampire teeth, of course, and their insatiable appetite for blood. This is a modern-day vampire as described by Hollywood and books. He’s usually a sexy, broody man restlessly wandering in our human world. But behind the myth, behind Dracula and silver stakes through the heart…is there something more? Where did all of this come from?
Are vampires real? Do vampires exist?
Vampires are not real, but they do exist. Confusing, right? Well, the vampires as in Hollywood movies and legends are not real. However, there are people suffering from clinical vampirism who have an obsession with drinking blood. Moreover, as far as non-human “vampires” go, there are certain animal species that you might associate with vampires. Let’s take vampire bats for example.
These bats sleep all day in total darkness, while hanging upside down from the roofs of caves. During the night, they go out to hunt. They usually feed on sleeping cattle or horses, but there have been cases where they have also fed on people. They would drink their victim’s blood for about 30 minutes; however, they are not able to suck enough blood to kill their victims. Nevertheless, they could cause serious infections and spread diseases.
They’re not exactly the “romantic” type of vampires you were thinking of, we know. That is why we should also approach the matter of the self-called modern vampires of today. Alright, now, don’t freak out! They’re nowhere near what Hollywood has been telling us. Apparently, these people might suffer from a condition called chronicle vampirism which is actually an obsession with drinking blood. They’re normal people like you and me who have chosen an alternative lifestyle called “the vampire lifestyle” or “vampire subculture”.
There are a couple of people who choose to live according to this vampire subculture of lifestyle and there are actually some well-documented stories on them. They hide in plain sight.
Where do vampires live?
Apparently, there are over 5,000 self-proclaimed vampires in the United States. To be clear, these people do not possess any supernatural vampire powers as we have seen in movies. So, there’s nothing to fear if that’s what was going through your mind. Instead, there might be something to pity. These people are actually suffering from a medical condition which makes them drink both human and animal blood in order to sustain themselves. They have chosen to identify themselves as “vampires”, even though this label might bear some negative feelings.
There are several types of vampires lifestyles:
- Sanguinarians who consume the blood of others
- Psychic vampires who claim to claim to feed on the aura/energy of others in order to balance their damaged psychological energy
- Hybrids who consume both blood and psychic energy
- Blood donors who are part of the subculture by allowing “the vampires” to drink their blood
- Role players who acknowledge they are human beings but want to play vampires by dressing up as a vampire and sleeping in coffins and so on.
Now, as crazy as this might sound, you should know that these are normal people and that drinking blood isn’t exactly what Hollywood made it out to be. In order for the procedure to be sanitary, no biting is involved. Although, some adepts of the vampire lifestyles might have chosen to have filed teeth so that they resemble fangs, up to a point. Nevertheless, they are much for show than they are for the apparent, Hollywood-inspired reasons.
So, back to the “drinking of blood”. First of all, it is a quite dangerous procedure for the blood can carry a lot of diseases and infections. So that is why you’ll have to find a trustworthy donor. As we were talking about above, there are “blood donors” who choose to live by the vampire lifestyle.
Now, as we were saying, there’s not biting, but rather inch-long incisions made with a sterilized scalpel on a part of the body that doesn’t scar easily. Medically trained personal might perform the procedure; although some “vampires” might suck it up from the source, in a sort of ritual.
There is paperwork, though; a lot of paperwork involved. From the written consent of the donor to health certificates that show there is no blood-borne disease. This might sound a bit gruesome knowing it is all too real. There are people who choose to live like that and they are by the thousands worldwide. Try not to be too judgy of their rituals and lifestyle and let’s move on to the almighty “real vampires” from movies, to tales and myths!
How to find a vampire?
You can find a vampire on the Internet. By carefully looking for vampire cults and sub cults, you could write to one of them and meet them in real life if you want. They hide in plain sight, look just like us, maybe with a different choice of clothing and some filed, vampire-like teeth. They do not possess super-powers, but some of them claim they feed on other people’s psychic energy or, yes, blood.
Most modern vampires claim that their craving for blood is not voluntary and that it doesn’t have anything to do with blood fetishisms. They were just born this way and start feeling the need to drink blood in puberty or it can follow as a result of a trauma.
This blood craving is called haematomania, and it manifests like a thirst, an addiction with withdrawal-like symptoms. Animal blood or rare steaks might be enough, but most vampires want fresh blood, a few teaspoons once a week.
These people live in close communities and they support each other and understand each others’ needs.
Is there any proof of vampires’ existence?
There’s not much proof of vampires’ existence, but there are a few theories of how they came to exist in our legends and myths and then transcended to modern-day Hollywood and million-making novels. We will discuss them a little later below. Now, the question that’s being posed: Could vampires have ever existed?
Right, well, it seems that mathematically, vampires are not and could have not been real. Why? Well, because a professor from the University of Central Florida says so. Most exactly, he says that if vampires were real and they could only feed on human blood and that if once bitten, a human would turn into a vampire, then vampires would have taken over the world by now.
He does have a point, though. Let’s say that it’s Jan 1, 1600, and there are 536,870,911 people in the world. The first vampire ever bites one human on Feb 1 and we’ve got two vampires. Then, a month later, the two vampires bite other two humans – that’s 4 vampires and so on. So, in two-and-a-half years the whole human population becomes the vampire population. And we’re not vampires, are we?
Still, the question remains. Is there any proof that might suggest the actual existence of vampires as they are depicted today in tales and movies and even video games? Well, there are some theories which might explain why people started to believe in vampires and some archaeological discoveries. Let’s look at one of them!
Archaeologists came across a suspected vampire burial in 2013
Ok, do not freak out! It’s not what it seems. At a highway construction site in Polan, archaeologists unearthed the remains of humans buried with their severed heads upon their legs. This does not prove the existence of vampires. It proves that people actually believed they were vampires and decapitated them before burying them, to make sure they could not rise from their tombs ever again.
That wasn’t the first vampire burial ever discovered by archaeologists. Vampire burials have been discovered in both the Old and the New World. For example, in British Colombia, in 1990, they have discovered the body of a man who had several spikes that would keep his neck, pelvis, and ankles in place, so that he would not rise up from his coffin. Anthropologists studied the skeleton, but they have not discovered anything unusual about him.
In the ’90s, archaeologists found another interesting suspected vampire burial in Connecticut. A man around 50 years old had been buried with his upper leg bones and head laid out in a peculiar pattern in the coffin. After proper examination, the scientists have found out that the man had died of tuberculosis, a disease that makes skin grow pale and causes considerable weight loss, making the man suffering from it look much like a living vampire. Moreover, this disease is highly contagious, so his relatives and those living with him could have got it from him and started looking just like him, fueling the belief that vampires feed off living relatives in their thirst for blood.
Vampire Origin: A Brief History
The modern-day vampires from movies have some pretty scary fangs they use to suck the blood out of humans. They are basically immortal and might get fed up with immortality at some point. You cannot see them in mirrors and they cannot walk in the daylight. They can be killed with a stake through the heart, and they might not like garlic.
The first modern vampire is Dracula who was an aristocrat, living in a proper, spooky castle. The today image is pretty well-established. However, these traits evolved from different traditional beliefs that were held throughout Europe, in the last centuries.
The idea of “vampires” stemmed from the old fear that the buried dead could still harm the living. Since people at that time had little knowledge of how bodies decompose, they would start making up fantastic stories about living dead with shrunk pale skin, long nails, and bloody teeth. They didn’t know that in the following days after a corpse’s death, the nails would still grow, the skin would shrink making the teeth seem longer and a dark “purge fluid” might leak out of the nose and mouth. It sounds horrible and it is a horrible sight. Probably that’s why it scared people so much they had to make up stories of vampires coming out of their coffins and exhibiting these traits.
Decomposing corpses wasn’t the only reason for believing in vampires. Contagious diseases would decimate the populations and before people figured out how they spread, they found it easier to blame it on the vampires. Actually, the spread of diseases and infections might have been the number one origin of vampires. The only way of fighting the diseases was to hunt the vampires and prevent them from feeding on people. No wonder tales of vampires arise only when the plague outbreaks all over the world. But that was until people learned more about contagion and the spread of diseases.
Vampires were seen quite differently all over the world.
Vampires in Italy
A 16th-century skull unearthed in Italy had a brick in his mouth which, historians think, was placed there to prevent the “Strega” (Italian vampires/witches) from leaving the grave and eating other living humans.
Vampires in Germany
In Germany, they had “the Nachzehrer” or “the after-devourers” who would live deep underneath the ground and eat their burial shrouds. This tale could be explained by the natural purge of fluid that gushes out dead corpses and which could have caused the shrouds to sag creating the illusion they had been chewed on.
These Nachzehrers would go aboveground during the plagues. They would go after their surviving family members and hurt them. The only way to prevent them from doing that would be to exhume them and stuff their mouths with soil, stones, or coins in order to prevent them from chewing. This process was described in a 1679 paper called “On the Chewing Dead”, written by a Protestant theologian.
Vampires in the New World
In 1892, a 19-year-old had died of tuberculosis, in Rhode Island. His mother and sister had already died. The neighbors thought it was them who were harming the poor sick 19-year-old, so they exhumed the mother’s grave to find blood in her mouth. They then took her heart out, burnt it, and mixed the ashes in a potion which they then gave to the young 19-year-old man. One month later he died, nevertheless. This wasn’t an isolated incident. A lot of anti-vampire rituals were carried out all throughout the new world in the 18th and 19th centuries.
From strong beliefs to romantic stories
However, people began to realize it was disease and not vampires that would harm their beloved ones. In the 18th century, Pope Benedict XIV declared that vampires were just fiction. Maria Theresa would then condemn the vampire beliefs as superstition and fraud. However, people still believed in vampires until the end of the 19th century. One of the last big vampire scares occurred two hundred years after the Salem witch trials when farmers in New England were convinced their relatives returning from their grave to feed on the living.
It was only after these events, that the modern tales of vampires appeared. These vampires were not only evil creatures thirsty for blood. They were also aristocrats, with fine tastes, knowledge, living in castles, like count Dracula and so on. Then came the love stories, the romantic depictions in which vampires are neither good, nor evil, but also struggling with their own interior turmoil and the morality of feeding off other people’s blood.
And the story goes on. Vampires will probably still fascinate us for decades to come.