Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vampire Mythology: Dark Reflections

Vampire Mythology

Vampire mythology is as old as recorded time, and stems from many cultures, from ancient Greece, to the early Hebrews, to Asia, to the indigenous cultures of the Americas. The most primal elements of Man’s deepest fears and longings… and of life itself are embodied in the vampire.


Blood, the stuff of life to which even the most primitive of cultures ascribed mystical healing powers which gave rise to millennia of dark, sacrificial rituals and belief in witchcraft which used blood as its source of power. Our fear of the dark and of nightly predators, a fear written into the genes of our remotest pre-human ancestors.


Sex. Our most primal drive and greatest fear, manifesting in dark visions of demonic temptresses and succubi who lure with irresistible promise, then steal life, health and vigor. Vampires, in whichever of many forms they’ve taken over the ages, have often fed on unborn children. Our fear of failure and our hunger for the dark nightly temptations and deceptive illusions behind which they hide, intertwine in vampire myth.


And, of course, the darkest fear of all: death. Our rational minds acknowledge its inevitability, yet our instinct for survival cannot allow us to accept it. Down through the ages, many cultures have fearfully exhumed the bodies of their dead, cremating or dismembering them in fear of their return. Our nightmares abound with visions of the dead rising from their graves to enviously feed on the blood of the living. Yet, a part of us secretly longs to be turned by such creatures, to cheat death as they have and live forever. A part of us envies the vampire for his immortality, and his dark predatory power.

And yet, a part of the vampire envies us for the brief treasures of life now eternally denied him. He walks the night forever, neither dead nor alive, fearing the light of day and coveting it at the same time. The brief rush of warm human blood through his cold veins allows but a fleeting moment of the glorious power of life now only dimly recalled as the barren centuries slip by. The immortal imprisoned in dark, changeless forever envies the brief and fragile mortal, as the mortal simultaneously envies him. Perhaps the vampire casts no reflection because he is a reflection. Of us. And, we of him. He is the reflection of our fears and dark, secret desires. We are the reflection of the life he craves. His deepest craving is peace. The peace of sweet, liberating death as symbolized in the crucifix, which he simultaneously fears and covets.


Mythology often depicts the dead rising as vampires as punishment for the sins and shortcomings of their lives. The hell we create for ourselves comes back to haunt us for eternity. We long to lay it back in its grave with a stake through its heart to still it forever. But, evil begets evil, and never dies. The dance of lures, lies and destruction between human and vampire defines the human condition of endlessly chasing the unattainable. The eternal chase can be a noble quest for a holy grail, or a dark nightly quest for revenge. Either way, the longing is as irresistible as blood hunger, and as eternal as waking death.

Tom Olbert