The superstitions and beliefs attached to folklore vampires suggest their connection with ancient pagan gods and goddesses of death and the underworld, from where, of course, new life arises. Why did the folk retain these beliefs and customs, for example, in their burial rituals and stories even in the face of the church’s disapproval? And why, since the eighteenth century have vampires and their “lore” recurrently revived in literature to become a constant fixture in our modern pantheon of folk figures? Do they mean the same to us as they did to the peasant folk? Well, yes, because they have something to say about immortality, about the desperate desire of mortal beings to live forever, to hold on to their selves, on this earth, with their friends and family. And they allow us to contemplate all the ramifications inherent in this desire, from the scientific impossibility of its ever being realized to the ethical and spiritual desirability. I have a Richard III t-shirt that says, “How far would you go to be a king?” The vampire leads us to ask, “How far would you go to live forever?” Would you drink blood from your cat? Would you insult a priest? Would you sleep in the dirt? Vampire literature from Varney to Dracula to Edward asks these questions, including, Would you want to live forever anyway, and if so, why?
For more of Mary's musing on vampires, check out part 1 of this ongoing series, and scare up a copy (yes, we went there) of Vampire God.
We'll offer up more of Mary's vampire posts as the month rolls along. Check back often.