As a rule, I don’t do vampires. And when I do do vampires, I prefer this:
or even this:
But Zoraida Grey and the Voodoo Queen took an interesting turn the other day which required a bit of research into the phenomena of blood suckers.
So let’s define terms. The history of the word goes back at least as far as the 11th century to the Old Russian word upyri but the idea of the blood sucking undead is older still. The Babylonians had Lilitu (which may or may not have been the precursor to Lilith–Personally, I think Lilith got a bad rap but that’s a whole other post.)
Our concept of vampires really started in the eighteenth century and was updated in movies. Before that, vampires took many forms and some of them are pretty weird.
- The Zotzil people of Chiapas, Mexico, tell stories about Death Bats. Neck cutters, as they are affectionately known, also haunt secluded parts of Trinidad and Ecuador.
- Iceland reports two kinds of draugur–which means Ghost but not your normal Caspar who gets his kicks moving furniture and frightening ghost hunters by closing doors or touching their hair. Nope, these spooks have a lot in common with the undead. First, they are dead but not quite. Second, they tend to prey on the living. Though they don’t suck your blood, they will drag you back to their graves and turn you into apprentice draugur if you aren’t careful.
- A great many stories are told about beautiful women vampires. The Celts have the Dearg Dhu–a beautiful woman who committed suicide rather than marry a brutish suitor. She came back from the grave for revenge. This seemed to be enough of a problem that villagers got into the habit of putting heavy stones on the graves of young women to prevent their return.
- The Malaysian Penanggalan are women who use black magic to obtain or restore beauty. She detaches her head and the head flies around in the night looking for the blood of pregnant women.
- Civatateo is a vampire witch in Aztec tales. She was a noblewoman who died in childbirth. She comes back and bites children who then die of a wasting illness. The living place cakes in the shape of butterflies on shrines at the crossroads to prevent an attack.
- Tlahuelpocmimi is a vampire witch from Mexico. They can shapeshift into different forms, but always have a glowing aura which is a handy identifier. These vampires are born with the curse of vampirism which makes them testy.