The History of Vampires

The word “vampire” comes from the German word vampir, which origins from the old church Slavic word opiri and the Serbian verb piriti which means “to swell”. It is also connected with the Greek word apyros, which translates to “not undergone by fire”.

Vampires are not a modern occurrence since vampires, or creatures that resemble vampires, are frequently described in nearly all cultures around the world. The Indian goddess Kali, for example, has fangs and drinks blood, and her temples are usually located close to crematory grounds. In the ancient Egypt, around 2000 B.C., people worshipped the goddess Sekmeth, who in one myth slaughtered humans, became full of bloodlust and could only be sated by drinking alcohol, colored as blood. Furthermore, in the Jewish demonology, the demon Lilith is sometimes refereed as the “mother of all vampires”.

There are several theories to why the belief of vampires has appeared in history. From the medieval time until the nineties, several phenomena seemed to support the belief of the living dead. Today, several of these phenomena can be explained by scientifically reasons. Michaël Ranft, a writer, was one of the first who tried to explain vampirism. In his book “De masticatione mortuorum in tumulis” he concurred that relatives to a person that had recently passed away touched the corpse, and may therefore be exposed of diseases or may be severely upset concerning the death, which in turn may lead to illnesses. (During this time it was not uncommon that the person was laid for “lit de parade”, which meant that you kept the body in the house for a couple of days before the funeral.)

Natural phenomena, such as movement of the body due to rigor mortis or the withdrawing of skin which exposes nails and hair (which easily may give the expression that the nails or hair has grown after the death) can also lead to the conclusion that the person has in fact been active after death. The withdrawing of the skin also exposed the teeth more, which made them resemble carnivorous fangs.

However, vampires are known to be superior to humans, and maybe they just are too skilled to be captured and studied. They may instead secretly laugh at us humans and our explanations.

After all, who knows what is lurking out there in the dark?

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