Home | Religion & Spirituality | Vampires in Past and Present - Part I: Etymology, Myth, Legend and History

Vampires in Past and Present - Part I: Etymology, Myth, Legend and History

image Introduction to otherkin people, Part III

Vampires have been called a lot of names around the world. The word “vampir” was of Slavic origin and had been used in Russia, Serbia, Hungary, Poland and Romania. It derived eventually from Hungarian language and means “to drink”.

Vampires have been called a lot of names around the world. The word “vampir” was of Slavic origin and had been used in Russia, Serbia, Hungary, Poland and Romania. It derived eventually from Hungarian language and means “to drink”.

At the beginning of the 18th century the English word “vampire” or “vampyre” had its first appearance. Its origin could have been from the Turkish word “uber” which means “witch”. According to Slavic pronounciation it sounded more like “upyr” and thus became finally the sound/word “vampire”. There have been vampires in the African and French cultures called Loogaroos, deriving from the French word “Loup-Garou” which originally had the meaning of “werewolf” (loup = wolf). “Vrykolaskas” was a Greek vampire and “Ekimmu” a spirit from ancient Babylonia. So it continued throughout the world because vampires left their traces everywhere in myth and legends.


The first known vampire was Lilith, the first wife of Adam before there was Eve. She was said to have left Adam for Lucifer, the Light-Bringer. She was considered evil and was condemned as a vampire. Out of jealousy, she started to kill the children of Adam and Eve by drinking their blood. The term “children of Adam and Eve” refers to human descendants. Lilith is also the queen of death and demons. She was and is still worshipped in a lot of different religions by magicians, sorcerers and witches.


References to vampires can be found as well in ancient civilizations like in Egypt, Greece and Rome. The myth of the destruction of mankind deals with the goddess Sekhmet and is found on the walls of the tomb of Seti. In this myth the blood lust of Sekhmet is mentioned. This is the only myth refering to it and possible other information might have been lost. Some of her names give some deeper connection with vampires: Lady of Transformations, Enrapturing one, Giver of Extasies, Mother of the Dead, Lady of the Bloodbath.

The Greeks believed in the “Strigoe” or “Lamiae”, creatures that ate children and drank their blood. Lamia was the lover of Zeus and Hera, Zeus’ wife, fought her. So she was driven insane and killed and hunted her own and other human children.


In Sumerian myth there are three basic kinds of vampires: the Ekimmu, the Uruku and the Seven Demons. The Ekimmu was said to be created when death happened violently or burial was not handed properly. This creature was of astral nature and believed to be an intentional psychic vampire. The Uruku is described as a vampire which attacked men. In many texts of the Mesopotamian cultures, the Seven Demons are referred to be immortal blood drinkers.


There were also vampires in China, ancient India, Nepal and Tibet. In China, they were called the “kiang shi” and are mentioned as blood-drinking creatures. On ancient cave paintings, the Nepalese “Lord of Death” could be seen standing in a pool of blood. In the holy Indian Vedas, the Rakshasas (destroyers) are described as vampires. Another Indian monster was the bat-like Baital which had not his own blood. In Malaysia, the Penanggalen was sustaining from the blood of children.


In Africa, blood itself, has a rich mythology. There are e.g. Cannibals who are said to have devoured human flesh. Mukasa, the supreme god in Uganda, drank the blood and ate the hearts and livers of animals. Dogirs were some kind of shapeshifters, werewolf-like, who fed on humans. In Uganda and Zimbabwe, people believe that bats are the spirits of the dead who wander the earth to haunt the living while they sleep. The Biloko were dwarve-like spirits of the dead with grudges against the living. In Africa, the belief in Ghosts is very strong. Ghosts are said to prefer eating human flesh as much as to be able to regain a body. Ghouls and Ghoulas (female form of Ghoul) also loved to eat human flesh.


But the both most important characters in vampire history are Vlad the Impaler and Elizabeth Bathory.


Vlad Tepes (the Impaler) was born 1430 in Schaassburg, Transylvania. His father, Vlad Dracul (dragon), was the Prince of Wallachia, a part of Romania. Tepes’ father was imprisoned by the Turks. When his father died in 1447, Vlad was not in the position to take the throne. He fought against the Turks and built Castle Dracula (son of the dragon). It was his brutal methods of seeking revenge against his enemies that earned him the title of the Impaler. Battlefield became littered with bodies of dead and dying Turks, impaled on a long stake that was driven into the ground. After death (his brother Raul killed him), Vlad continued to fascinate. It was said that he has risen because his grave should have been empty.


Elizabeth (Erszebét) Bathory was born a noblewoman in 1560. In contrary to the general point of view, she was Hungarian not Romanian. Bathory is a name of Hungarian origin. She was married to Count Ferencz (Frederic) Nadasdy. During their marriage she had many lovers. She was afraid of growing old and losing beauty. After the death of her husband in 1604, she moved to Vienna and began to dabble in some forms of evil sorcery. When she hit a servant and some blood sprayed on Erszebét’s hand, she felt her skin looked smoother and younger. Convinced that blood of young girls was the secret to eternal youth and beauty, the countess began her reign of terror. She has killed over 600 servants and young girls. When all came out, she was sentenced to life imprisonment due to her nobility. She died in August 1614 in Castle Cachtice. Her reputation as a vampire grew not only from her greed for blood to bathe in to maintain her youth, but also for rumours that surfaced during the trial. It was said she bit the young girls and drank their blood outright.


(to be continued with Part II)