The Merriam-Webster definition of a vampire is "the reanimated body of a dead person believed to come from the grave at night and suck the blood of persons asleep." Tales of the dead craving blood thrive in so many cultures and the stories date back to ancient times.
Take the mythological story of Ambrogio, an Italian adventurer who was cursed by the sun god Apollo to never walk in the sun again because he fell in love with one of Apollo’s maidens named Selene. Ambrogio further angered Artemis (Apollo’s sister), who cursed him so that he could never touch silver. He went on to cut a deal and gave his soul to Hades. Artemis then pitied him and gave him the gift of eternal life and let him have Selene. Ambrogio returned to Florence, Italy, and started a vampire clan.
Another is the story of the Lilu, or Lilith, from Babylonian times, who is hailed as the demon queen mother. Lilith is portrayed as Adam’s first wife, who was born as his equal (not from his rib) and refused a subservient lifestyle; therefore, she was banned from the Garden of Eden and went off to spawn demon vampire children with Cain (murderer of his brother Abel). She is depicted as a winged half-woman, half-creature who preyed on children and pregnant women. "And demons shall meet with monsters, and one hairy one shall cry out to another, there the lamia has lain down and found rest for herself…" -Isaiah 34:14. Wiccans and other occultists embrace and offer up incantations and sacrifices to Lilith. However, save for a women’s movement that praises her independence from Adam, there are very few instances where Lilith is revered as anything other than a demon.
There are Hebrew, Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Slavic, Russian, Celtic, Asian, and other inspired vampire legends. Our society has a fascination with tales of the blood-sucking undead. Many of today’s top books, movies, video games, and television programs are a reflection of the craze.
What many don’t realize is that there is a culture of people who proclaim themselves to be vampires, and it isn’t just a fringe group. These self-proclaimed "real" vampires live among us, every day, from all walks of life. They are doctors, nurses, lawyers, accountants, salesclerks, bartenders, friends, neighbors, or family members. Vampirism is alive and thriving, unlike legendary vampires, who are quite dead. Some of them feed on blood donors (hematophagy), while others feed off of psychic or sexual energy. Ingesting blood in such a manner is extremely dangerous, with huge risks associated with contracting HIV or hepatitis. There are vampire clubs, vampire balls, vampire magazines, and vampire porn. The modern-day vampire culture lends itself to a combination of Gothicism, sadomasochism, and sanguinarian characteristics. There is a sense of eroticism associated with vampires and sexual practices that include blood rituals. Guess you could say that if you’re dating a vampire, love really bites.
Some real illnesses that are associated with vampires include the rare disease porphyria, which is also called the "vampire" or "Dracula" disease. It causes vampire-like symptoms, such as an extreme sensitivity to light. Also, hemeralopia (day blindness) and anemia have been associated with vampirism.
Some members of this culture are sinking their teeth into a trend that is a very expensive procedure and considered a body modification. They are opting for "vampfangs," or permanent fangs implanted by a dental professional. These fangs are similar to a permanent cap on a tooth, and there is a wide array of styles and lengths from which to choose. Reportedly, those who opt for this procedure get many "bite" requests. After receiving the fangs, consumers need to relearn how to eat and speak with the implants. Teeth need to be in excellent health before attempting these implants. They are not recommended for rotting teeth or if the person suffers from any chronic gum disease. The vampfangs can be contoured at any time to make them look less like that of a vampire.
Some find the vampire mania sexy; others consider it dangerous. Inevitably, the popularity of this trend will start to wane. What will take its place? What’s next? Zombies are in vogue, although eating brains and not being very mobile make them somewhat less appealing. Perhaps werewolves are due for resurgence? How about angels for a change of pace?
- Food: vampires. National Geographic Web site. http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/places/culture-places/food/us-vampires-pp/.
- Howe Gaines J. Lilith: seductress, heroine or murderer? Bible Archeology Web site. September 4, 2012. http://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/people-cultures-in-the-bible/people-in-the-bible/lilith/.
- Martinez-Ramundo D, Martelli J. Coming out of the coffin: vampires among us. ABC News Web site. November 27, 2009. http://abcnews.go.com/2020/real-life-vampires-lifestyle-secret/story?id=9173328.
- Radford B. Vampires: the real history. Live Science Web site. October 29, 2012. http://www.livescience.com/24374-vampires-real-history.html.
- Vampire fang implants. Vampires Web site. October 26, 2009. http://www.vampires.com/vampire-fang-implants/.
- Vampire hunters. Wikipedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vampire_hunter.
- The vampire origin story. Gods and Monsters Web site. http://www.gods-and-monsters.com/vampire-origin.html.