Although rarely reported, vampirism is spreading. Vampires are in our theaters, in our bookstores, on our televisions and-- most importantly-- in our homes. Once feared, Vampires have become desirable and beloved individuals. But how does one become a Vampire?
To understand that, one must traverse back in history to look at the mythology of Vampires. If you believed that they were created by Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, or began with Vlad the Impaler, you'd be wrong. The legend of vampires is much older than that. In fact, some believe that they may have originated at the same time as Adam and Eve.
One word of warning, methods discussed here should not be attempted. There is no proof that they could bring a person back from the dead, and unsuccessfully attempting one of these methods could have deadly consequences. So keep in mind that everything included in this guide is for research and informational purposes only. Be careful!
What is a Vampire?
To begin, we must start by defining vampires. This is no easy task. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word vampire can be traced back to the early 1700s.1 However, the traits that define a vampire have changed through the ages.
Originally, vampires were undead creatures that escaped from their caskets. Some believed that this was caused by an evil spirit possessing the victim's corpse.
Eventually, the beliefs were complicated by the notion that vampires drink blood. At that point, other myths that involved with drinking blood were connected to vampire mythology.
Today, the only characteristic that seems to connect various offshoots of vampirism is the need for blood-- they may or may not be demons or even dead.2
For the purposes of this page, vampires may be reanimated corpses, drink blood or both.
Being Born a Vampire
Since vampires are frequently thought of as being dead, it might seem strange to suggest that someone can be born a vampire or be predisposed to becoming a vampire after dying.
According to South Slavic beliefs, children born or conceived between Christmas and Epiphany are more likely to become vampires.
In Romania, being born the seventh child is enough to make one a vampire if the previous six children were the same sex.
Being born the illegitimate child of parents who were themselves illegitimately conceived.
Being cursed either in the womb or at birth.
Sometimes there were physical signs that indicated people who were destined to become vampires. According to Slavic folklore, children with red hair and blue eyes would become vampires. Luckily, dark hair and eyes were most common in that region. It was also believed that a child who possessed any of the following traits upon birth was destined to one day become a vampire:
An extra nipple.
A distinctive red birthmark.
Missing cartilage in the nose.
A split lower lip.
A membrane, known as a caul, covering the head.
According to Romanian beliefs, a pregnant woman had to guard herself from specific things that could make her unborn child a vampire. These things included:
Having a black cat cross her path.
Not eating enough salt.
Being looked upon by a vampire or witch.
Giving birth prematurely.
Lilith and Cain
One of the origins of the idea that vampires are born and not made comes from Jewish texts. According to the story, Eve was not the first woman created by God. Instead it was Lilith. Unhappy with her life, she left the Garden of Eden. She then made a deal with the angels who were sent to retrieve her, resulting in her transformation into a witch and the mother of all demons. She later paired up with Cain, after he killed his brother Abel. Some say that vampires are the offspring of Lilith and Cain. Although this story is not mentioned in either the Bible or the Torah, it can be found referenced in the story of Beowulf.
Becoming a Vampire Through Actions
If you are not born with the predisposition to become a vampire, then there are certain actions or events that, when they happen during your life, are likely to make you a vampire after you die. Examples include:
Eating the meat of a sheep which was killed by a wolf.
Being weaned too early.
Breastfeeding after being weaned.
Stealing ropes that were used to lower a coffin into its grave.
More commonly, the act which would destine you to become a vampire was something specific which the Christian church considered highly sinful. For example, anyone who was excommunicated would become a vampire because they were unable to receive the sacraments and would therefore die without receiving forgiveness for sins committed. A few other examples of this include:
Living an overall sinful or immoral life, such as a living as a thief, prostitute or murderer.
Dying unbaptized, according to Greek lore.
Desecrating a holy day.
Practicing black magic or witchcraft.
If you're a priest, taking Mass while "in a state of mortal sin."
Being cruel or violent during your life.
Werewolves have long had a connection with vampires. In fact, many believed that when a werewolf died, he or she became a vampire. This also held true for any people that the werewolf killed. Unlike common beliefs, those killed by werewolves would come back as vampires-- not werewolves.
Dying to Becoming a Vampire
Throughout Europe, the manner in which one died could cause that person to become a vampire. Part of this had to do with their beliefs about life and death. For example, according to South Slavic beliefs, the soul must remain on Earth for a certain amount of time. Therefore, if someone died before that time they were doomed to roam the earth as a vampire. Some of the many other ways a person could become a vampire by the way they died include:
Dying a premature death before being baptized.
Dying due to natural forces such as fires or drowning.
Being killed by an animal or another person.
Dying in childbirth.
Dying between Christmas and Epiphany, according to South Slavic beliefs.
Suicide and Judas Iscariot
Committing suicide would also cause one to become a vampire because of how it was viewed by the Christian church. Because it was a sin against God, and because the sinner could not ask for redemption after committing the sin, it was unforgivable. Worse, a person who commits suicide cannot be buried on holy ground, making it even more likely to become a vampire. This belief was so strong that in England, people who committed suicide were buried at crossroads with stakes piercing their hearts.14
Interestingly, the belief that Judas Iscariot is the first vampire comes from this myth. According to the New Testament, after betraying Jesus with a kiss, Judas hung himself. Some believe that Judas did not die but rather was forced to live with his actions for eternity while thirsting for human blood. This myth is also likely the reason behind the idea that those who commit suicide return as vampires and why those with red hair become vampires (Judas' had red hair).
Becoming a Vampire After Death
Once you have died, you might think you are safe from becoming a vampire. Sadly, (or happily depending on how you view it), no. How a body is treated during the time after death and before burial can transform someone into a vampire as well. Some examples include:
If a cat or dog should jump over the body while it is lying in state before it is buried, according to Balkan folklore.
If a chicken flies over the body before it is buried.
Giving a person an object or shaking someone's hand over the body .
If the shadow of a living person falls onto the body.
Passing a candle over the body.
However, there were a few other things that, should they happen, would make a person return from the dead as a vampire. These things include:
Not receiving the proper religious burial rites.
If their brother sleepwalks.
If their murder has been unavenged.
If the wind from the Russian Steppes blows over their body.
In Romania, if they are buried face up.
If the corpse swells before burial.
This fear that a corpse would become a vampire was so common in the 16th and 17th century, that graves were often dug up so the bodies could be checked for signs of vampirism. Churches even documented some cases where corpses exhibited signs of being a vampire.
Depending on the mythology, the vampire may or may not be inhabited by the soul of the person who died. Sometimes, corpses were reanimated by demons. An example of this is the Indian belief of vetala, which were demons who possessed recently deceased bodies.
Becoming a Vampire Through a Bite or Blood
No page on how to become a vampire would be complete without discussing how a vampire's bite and blood can turn an otherwise normal human being into a vampire. It is also one of the more modern beliefs which has become so prevalent that it has overshadowed all the other traditional means of becoming a vampire. According to various beliefs, a person can become a vampire through blood or biting by:
Being bitten by a vampire and dying or nearly dying.
Receiving multiple bites from a vampire.
Drinking the blood of a vampire after being bitten.
These beliefs, although not created by, were hugely popularized by Bram Stoker's novel Dracula and the numerous books and movies which came after it. In fact, many beliefs about vampires can be traced back to that particular story, including the idea that vampires and the story of Dracula are both based on the Vlad Tepes, better known as Vlad the Impaler. In reality, Stoker only borrowed the name "Dracula" from Vlad.
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