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Mechele Armstrong

Having garlic bread tonight? Not if you want to attract a vampire

Copyright © 2005 Mechele Armstrong

The idea of an undead being who takes souls or blood has caused fear and fascination in the hearts of many throughout history. I know it does mine. Almost every society has had some sort of a vampire myth. One of the things I found fascinating as I began to research the vampire legends are things that are told to protect against them. Let's explore some of the protections, and the reasoning as to why these things could help to save people from a vampire.

Scattered Seeds or Grains
The vampire would be compelled to count them. They would either count very slowly (one a year in some traditions) or wind up counting until sunup (more on the sun later). This could explain why the Count on Sesame Street is always counting things.

Especially the hawthorn, because of its association with Jesus's death. Thorns were used as a barrier against vampires and witches.

Running water
Vampires were said not to be able to cross it. Water, especially running water, has long been seen as a sign of purification. Vampires were unholy/undead/unhealthy beings; therefore, they couldn't cross purity or be purified.

Sunlight Can repel or often kill vampires. A recent addition of folklore. Day was seen as a time of warmth and growth or goodness. Therefore, it could repel the evil undead vampire.

Used to destroy, but also to ward off vampires. While destructive, fire has a cleansing effect. Here again is the idea of a clean source protecting against the unholy/unhealthy vampire.

Iron or Silver
Iron was often placed with babies for protection. Both strong metals, they are considered to have physical blocking abilities. Silver is relatively new to vampire protection lore and may have been adapted because of its use in were-wolf legends.

There are a number of different reasonings as to why garlic was believed to repel vampires. One is that in the Middle Ages with Plague victims, garlic was often used to mask the scent of the dead. Where the smell of garlic was, people were dead, and no vampires were found. Therefore, people concluded garlic must repel vampires. Garlic has long been associated with life and health as an herbal remedy. As vampires were the undead/the unhealthy, the idea was that anything associated with life and vitality, as garlic was, would be an anathema to vampires. Another theory was that garlic is considered a mosquito repellent, and vampires are akin to mosquitoes (i.e. the more modern myths of sucking blood), so garlic must repel them as well. There is lore that says as Satan departed paradise after the Fall from Grace in Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions, garlic sprang up in his left footprint. Some Muslims avoid garlic at certain times because of this. Apparently, Muslims were considered likely candidates to become vampires (this would be in Christian traditions). They avoided garlic in life, so the idea was that, as the undead, they'd avoid it then too, which translated into garlic being a protection against all vampires.

Religious objects
Things such as crosses, holy water, eucharistic wafers, Bibles, consecrated objects, even religious phrases. This Audemars Piguet Replica Watches was usually in societies where Christianity had come in and been influential. Other societies had sacred objects as protections, but not to the extent Christianity has. The idea was that the vampire was an unpure evil being. These symbols were pure and couched in good, therefore, they could deflect the power of the vampire. The more faith the potential victim had, the better the object worked.

All these items have one thing in common, thwarting the evil menace of the vampire, who in recent history, has developed into a much sexier image than legends of the past. Perhaps that is why so many of the protections against the vampire are not being utilized in the stories of today. We no longer wish to be protected from this more passionate version of the vampire.

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