When I read this piece last year called “Bloodlines: A History of the Modern Vampyre”, I was more than shocked to find that the author was seventeen years old. There is an esoteric knowledge behind his style, and you can tell that he knows his subject matter inside and out. Not only that, but I love how he keeps to the vampires of tradition. I enjoyed reading it so much that I asked Todd Crawford if I could repost it, and he kindly granted me permission to do so. If you enjoy this piece, be sure to like his Facebook page.
It can be found on the blog of Dan Dillard, Demon Author, where it was originally published.
(The following is reposted with Todd Crawford’s permission.)
Sunday, June 26, 2011
Bloodlines: A History of the Modern Vampyre by Todd Crawford
“The vampire cult is the last and most damnable step in [the] exploration of Satanism”. William Schnoebelen
Mankind has always had a fascination with the morbid side of his own subconscious, a temptation luring his mind to probe the graves of his deepest thoughts in the half-hearted attempts of a child to rouse some unsettled demons that may lie there like a ghost inside the local haunted house waiting for a vain child to come knocking on its rickety doorstep. Just as Horror as a genre has become a staple of pop culture, spawning all types from Stephen King to the Two Cory’s and Dan Dillard, the self proclaimed “Demon Author” and myself, but just as deep a staple in the modern culture of cinema, literature, and song as the domain from which its title belongs, the fangs of vampires are as firmly planted. Never can one scan the shelves of Wal-Mart’s already-cluttered magazine and literature aisles without finding themselves immersed in the glittering undead. Rarely does one browse the internet without being plagued by the pale face of Edward Cullen, looking fresh off the set of Tim Burton’s abysmal adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Only, this isn’t the latest lackluster Burton outing, this has become one of the most prominent figures of our times, and one can only ask themselves “What happened?” What has happened to audiences today? What has become of our beloved Hollywood studios (well, beloved may not be too accurate) and the publishing houses we once trusted? (Okay, trusted is definitely an exaggeration.) Well, that is why I, Todd Crawford, am here to tell you exactly what has become of the traditional vampire mythologies, and why it may be too soon to throw the curtains open and cast away all thoughts of successful future vampire endeavors.
Bram Stoker, (in)famous for writing the masterwork Dracula, is often cited as the pioneer of the vampire genre, but although his classic novel undeniably brought attention to the vampire in the mainstream eye through its pages and countless film adaptations the legends of the undead rising to drain the living of their blood and virginity had long before existed. Every society has had its share of deities and devils explaining that which science could not, from the Romans and Greeks to modern-day Christ. The most common relation to vampires was real-life illnesses that plagued civilizations before health care was as advanced as it has become today. Tuberculosis is the guiltiest by association, sporting symptoms that could invoke the most damnable offenders of the underworld in the uneducated minds of the Victorian-era population. The pale discoloration of the ill’s flesh, and sensitivity to the light by their swollen, reddish eyes was certainly questionable. The weak heartbeat and rapidly declining temperatures then, were alarming, but not nearly as undeniably supernatural as the coughing up blood, which in the old ages could only mean one thing: the vampire-in-question had previously consumed the blood of others. How else could one explain the spreading illness of those who shared a household with the sickly? Well, back then that seemed like a much more logical answer than Tuberculosis having been a contagious and fatal disease. A similar ailment of the times, known as Porphyria, a unique brand of hemophilia which causes those under its spell to suffer from receding gums and lips, gave the illusion of fangs to become more and more apparent as the sickness infects its host. There has been one recorded case of one inflicted from Porphyria’s condition to actually heal with the digestion of external blood, which replaced the lack thereof in their own system. The now-primitive medical standards of the times had caused for subjects of both disorders to have been prematurely buried, resulting in cases of the dead appearing to rise from the grave once the buried are roused from their not-so-eternal slumber. Another debatable source of the vampire’s rise is the defilement of the Christian religion. The first ever recorded mention of a vampire was in fact from a Babylonian prayer! To quote Nick Kushner, “The Vampire in one regard is an inversion of the mythology of Christ. Both entities rise from the dead but as Christ offers his body and blood for his disciples to feast upon in communion with him, the vampire as contrary to this, devours the flesh and blood of his victims in order to make them one with him.” As a fellow author, and also a self-proclaimed wordsmith it comes across as a degradation to one’s ego to admit another superior in conveying a message, but sometimes, as is the case in this study, it’s better to appreciate a quote of such perfection rather than lamely attempt (and fail) to imitate it.
Now what did Stoker bring to the table? First of all, a modern (at the time of its release) update on the Forbidden Fruit connotations The Bible had established in the Book of Genesis. If one considers Jonathan Harker and Mina as the proverbial Adam and Eve’s of the tale, and Dracula the serpentine agent of Satan tempting them not with eternal knowledge, but eternal life in immortality. Stoker’s interpretation of the vampire was already decked in the style of the modern vampire, as a seductive and decadent figure. The Count Dracula resides in the golgothic estate of a Victorian (well, of modern architectural design for the time of its writing) mansion, which some have speculated to be a phallic symbol of itself. It should be explained, without any further ado, that during the Victorian Era, sexual repression was at a high due to cultural and religious contradictions, and it took an unholy being to indulge in such “Satanic” (or human, but that’s a Blog for another day) practices. The homoerotic undertones of biting another man on the neck would have more men sleeping with stakes at their bedsides than eternal damnation on Earth. The act of submitting to a superior being than a human, (I can hear Tony Todd purring as Candyman “Be my victim…” as I type this) has its Freudian connotations, as well as the oral gratifications of fangs as phallic symbols. To further this Freudian psychology, it has been said that the image of the vampire withdrawing in the daylight to its tomb to be allegoric for the rejection of society and symbolic of crawling back into the mother’s womb. The triumph of a human ritualistically slaying the vampire being that of an Oedipal nature. (Kimberly, 40,41) After being stalked and bitten by a vampire, the women he pursued (notably soon-to-be-wives) forfeit their innocence in favor of sexual dominance over their male peers. Although Stoker’s Dracula was not the first effort to bring the dead to life, the popularity of his novel ushered in literally countless vampire novels, films, and both film adaptations and unofficial sequels to his own book. (The latest deemed an “official” sequel, being that of Stoker’s own great grand-nephew, Draco Stoker.)
In the 70’s and 80’s, a new breed of vampire was born. Rising star and current voice of Horror, Stephen King, his own interpretation of the bloodsucking mythologies in a novel called Salem’s Lot, which would go on to be adapted into a television miniseries by Texas Chainsaw-director, Tobe Hooper. Clive Barker, introduced to the mainstream by King himself, offered his own unique vision of the undead in the sixth and final Book of Blood in his debut series of short horror fiction, Cabal. Barker later went on to direct a film version of the tale under the title Nightbreed. Anne Rice was also gaining popularity in the literary world with her vampire-oriented Lestat series, before renouncing the undead late in her career and becoming an evangelical novelist. On the silver screen is where the modern vampire really began to take its form with outings such as the cult hits Lost Boys, Fright Night, and Near Dark. Each of the films demonstrated the traditional portraits of the undead, but rather than an unholy state of being haunting the foreskin of the Earth, the vampires were plagued with addiction as blood junkies. The faces of this new generation of the undead were depicted as alarmingly human in stark contrast with their more demonic predecessors, and a newfound edge was given to the then-old traditions of the parable.
It was not until the 90’s and New Millennium that the final stake in the proverbial coffin of the traditional vampire is driven home with action and romance shit-oriented films such as Underworld and Twilight. Vampires have become something to aspire to, the Forbidden Fruit traded in exchange for baseball bats and the Book of Mormon. (And I don’t mean tickets to South Park-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s controversial play!) Vampires have become followers of the religions and victims of the sexual repression they were created to defy, and in this juxtaposition their nature is demystified, leaving the purpose of their existence unfulfilled and hollow. Not all has been lost in the cycle of the vampire, drawn and complete, as demonstrated in such films as Let The Right One In based on the “awe”-and gag-inducing novel by John Ajvide Lindqvist (Try pronouncing that one!) or The Thirst by Oldboy director Park Chan Wook. Although the present day may seem bleak for vampires and fans of the undead alike, the future is looking continuously more promising as the pretentiously-dubbed Twilight Saga draws to an end and the Dawn of the Vampire is fading to black. After all, it is nightfall when the vampires are at their best.
Sure, we’re all familiar with the blood sucking vampires of pop culture, and how can I leave out the shiny love-struck type? But unless you’re hardcore into the supernatural, there is a type that you may not be aware of. The psychic vampire. And they are every bit as scary as the blood suckers, but not quite as scary as the teen-angsty kind. Then again, what is?
I’ve had experiences with what I believe to be psychic vampires (a.k.a. Energy Suckers or Life Suckers), and in general mundane chat, my friends complain to me of people who make them feel lifeless, and in the instances where I tell them about psychic vamps, they get that “You hit the nail on the head!” look on their faces. PsyVamps are the kind of people you go out of your way to avoid. The pop up at your work cubicle and invite you out to lunch, but you kindly decline, explaining you just have way too much work to catch up on as you frantically try to close out your game of Solitaire but the computer is so old it freezes on the screen. Or it’s Girl’s Night Out and everyone is having a great time until this person shows up and suddenly, everyone wants to call it a night. You feel guilty for constantly giving them the brush off so you make plans with them, only to regret it as soon as soon as you get into their car feeling like a trapped rabbit, knowing this lunch date isn’t going to be quick and painless. But there is a difference between people we just plain don’t like and and actual psychic vampires. And just because someone exhibits the signs, it does not make them a psychic vampire, either.
“But Joslyn,” I hear you saying. “How can I tell if someone is a true PsyVamp, or if they’re just simply annoying?” Great question! Well, it’s very simple really. We all have someone we just don’t “mesh” with and maybe even try to break away from if we can. That’s normal. So to illustrate, I will use the stereotypical annoying person personality profile. Hmm…I think I just might fit into this category.
Annoying people are generally kind, good-hearted and high-spirited. They might laugh at all of their own jokes while everyone else feigns a giggle. They fancy themselves to be the life of the party. When you’re having a good time, everyone walks away but the annoying person will usually follow. They can be a bit know-it-all and one-up you, and you cringe just being near them. And they often provide everyone with a good laugh at their expense. But the psychic vampire differs in a few aspects.
A psychic vampire is generally depressing to be around, but do not necessarily suffer from depression. There are various types of depression, from a chemical imbalance to hitting a rough patch on the road of life. I’ve known people who are depressed and have had my own experiences with it myself. The difference between a person suffering with depression is that you don’t feel depressed when you’re around them. A psychic vampire, on the other hand, will make you feel depressed when they’re near you, even for a few minutes, and they don’t even have to say a word to accomplish it. They are very negative, tend to complain about everything, and they’re often selfish. They rarely do anything for others without personal gain. They are needy and jealous in relationships which can wear upon the object of their friendship or affection. They might cause you high stress levels. And when they enter a room, everyone else gravitates to the other side because a PV normally exudes a type of aura. You may not be able to see it, but you can definitely feel it. But the psychic vampire, being a bit anti-social, will usually sit by themselves unlike your average everyday annoying person. Like annoying people, they might also be know-it-alls, one-up you, and are just generally hard to talk to. PV’s never have anything positive to say about anything or anyone, and their negativity drains the energy of those around them. It’s almost as if they enjoy complaining. Some of them won’t let you get a word in edgewise, and you’re forced to listen to them for hours. Because their own energy level seems to be running on empty (and when I say “energy” I’m not talking about being active, but rather about one’s “Qi”), they must feed off of others to thrive, rendering the victims lethargic. Now, being that PV’s are often anti-social, they might want to be the center of attention but rather feel they have to be around people in order to feed. There are exceptions to every rule, of course. In some cases, PV’s are very low-key until they get into a group of people when they liven up. But the main way to tell a PsyVamp is not how they act or what they say, but rather by how they make others feel in their presence. The effect is particularly noticeable when a PV feeds off of a normally happy, high-energy person who suddenly stops laughing or becomes more serious, or when it is noticed by several people.
Dealing with PsyVamps is difficult. If you’re proud of a project you’ve been working on and you’ve gotten some really great feedback, they burst your bubble by some snide little comment. When you’re talking to one of those obnoxious non-PV “I know everything” people, you might just roll your eyes, but with a psyvamp, it might make you feel more frustration than vexation. You can’t talk about anything around them without being on your guard because the most innocent conversations can turn into interrogations. But the biggest thing that I have noticed is that unshakable dark cloud feeling that rolls in with them and causes a downpour on everyone’s parade. When you’re in their presence, you may notice a shift in your own mood. People get confused when I try to explain “energy” to them in this scenario. A psychic vampire has no “Qi” energy and has to feed of of yours. In doing so they drain your own “physical” energy leading to that Oh So familiar “drained” feeling of physical and mental exhaustion. After two minutes with them, you might feel like you’ve been doing hours of construction work while trying to figure out one of Einstein’s mathematical equations. You may also notice that this person isn’t just having an effect on you, but everyone else. You know those people that never say a negative word about anyone? Well, even they find it hard not to complain about a PsyVamp. If you were a balloon, you’d be completely deflated by the time a PsyVamp is done with you.
Know anyone like that? Well, you’re in good company! And the thing is, most psychic vampires don’t realize they’re even doing it. They’re just average people going about their daily routine. For the most part, a PsyVamp feeds off of anyone and everyone he or she comes into contact with. And yet again, there are exceptions. Sometimes, the victims of PV attacks are chosen a little more carefully. Some PV’s feed off of those closest to them. Their spouses, their children, maybe a son or daughter-in-law or even a school bully feeding off of a certain kid or kids. Verbal abuse is highly characteristic of a pyschic vampire. By bringing down another’s self-worth, they are able to take it in for themselves. They might even seem satisfied after succeeding in bringing you down. My own opinion of this is that when you don’t allow it to affect you, there is no energy for them to take from you, and that’s why they leave you alone. It isn’t always that easy because some of them won’t quit until they have eaten away, so to speak, at your very core until there’s nothing left. Be wary, as prolonged exposure to a PsyVamp may actually begin to skew your own perception into a negative reality. They bring you down, man. They just bring you down!
And then there are the PsyVamps that know exactly what they’re doing. Some are even some skilled at OBE’s and use those Out-of-Body experiences to feed upon someone in that vulnerable state of sleep. Theoretically, sleeping and even daydreaming are the times when the mind is more prone to an attack because your mind is in a relaxed state, making it easier for this type of vampire to feed.
All over the world, there are cases of Old Hag Syndrome. Generally, it is the same. Sleep paralysis followed by a crushing pressure on the chest and usually sensing a presence in the room with you or maybe even seeing the face of an old hag and even the hot, putrid breath in your face. Some people see alienoid creatures, dark shadows, or even a person (familiar or a stranger), and scores of other things in the corner of the room or pinning them down, accounting for the feeling of someone sitting on their chests. It is thought that we see what our own culture has popularized, and that it is perhaps a figment of the imagination in the natural occurrence of sleep paralysis. I do believe there is a percentage of sleep paralysis that is natural. I’ve had it quite a few times myself and at first it was scary. Now it doesn’t bother me that much, but to not be able to move, speak or even scream for help is frightening. And with panic can come hallucinations. However, there is a line of thought that blames creatures for sleep paralysis and loss of energy, claiming that whatever guise they assume, it is the work of a psychic vampire. Many people who are chronic sufferers of sleep paralysis claim that when they wake up, they feel as if they haven’t slept a wink.
I’ve made a special note about the people I have classified as psychic vampires and try to stay away from them if I can help it. And if I can’t? Then all I need is a little time to prepare, preferably a few days so I can get in the zone. Now, you can’t really go around accusing people of this type of thing because there’s no way to know if psychic vampires really exist or not. However, it doesn’t hurt to protect yourself from someone you suspect to be a PV. I try to create a mental block to their negativity and/or personal attacks. Maybe crack a joke or completely ignore them by countering their remark with something positive. It’s my coping defense to reflect the bad Qi so it won’t eat at me. The biggest thing is to not let them bring you down with words, and by doing so, you can reserve your own energy. But once you feed them, they’ll come back for more. Think of it like a raccoon; if you keep your garbage secure, they’ll give up and start digging through the neighbor’s trash knowing they’re not going to get an easy meal.
And I’ve also found some rituals that seem to guard against psychic vampires. Wearing a crystal can help. Amethyst worn in a medicine bag or on a necklace might help, particularly if it is over your heart. This helps the person wearing it to become conscious of any attempt someone might make at getting at their heart and allows them to put up that mental barrier. And even just having crystals around that repel negativity can be a huge help. It’s like ritalin to a psychic vampire in that it seems to have an effect on them, but from a logical stance it may actually be that it has an effect on me and how I deal with them. In some cases it works like a cross to the Bela Lugosi types, because they can’t stand to be around the crystals for too long without feeling uncomfortable and wanting to leave. “Where might I find some crystals?” you ask? Well, you’re in luck because I’ve got connections. Amethyst, regular quartz, smoky quartz, just about any kind of quartz, and red jasper among so many others. I’ve got all kinds, not only because of their intrinsic beauty and aesthetic qualities, but because I find them to be helpful. And if someone is desperately in need of crystals for whatever purpose, please don’t hesitate to contact me and I will put you in contact with the person whom I buy mine from.
Something I have noticed about psychic vampires is that it seems they do not like the smell of sage. Sage to a PsyVamp is like garlic to a blood sucker. I realized this when I was around people I thought to be psychic vampires during sage smudging rituals. They had the same reaction as movie vampires had to garlic. The sneer, the gagging, the squeals of “Get that stuff away from me!” What is the significance of this? Well, sage is known and used for repelling bad energy. Coincidence? I don’t think so. I also have hookups for sage, and I definitely need to purchase some more pretty soon.
So, the next time you’re around someone you believe to be a psychic vampire, try those methods to protect yourself. Put up a mental guard so that any offense will roll right off, leavinng you untouched. Remind yourself that they are just trying to get to you, and that you’re not going to allow it. Wear crystals or carry them in your pocket. And last, but not least, smudge yourself with a sprig of sage if you’re going out with them. If they are planning to pop on over for a visit, do a smudging on the area where you normally entertain your guests. Heck, do the whole house if you feel it necessary. (Note: Sage and crystals may also work on those you don’t want to be around for too long and I’ve even heard cases where it is said to be effective against those with negative intentions toward a person.)
Maybe these people aren’t really psychic vampires. Maybe there’s no such thing as a PV, or any other type of vampire for that matter. Maybe they’re just negative and rub off on those around them, much like a positive person makes everyone happy with their mere presence. But if they do exist, I’m prepared. I have my crystals, my sage, and just in case I run into the blood sucking variety, they’ll think twice about taking a bite out of my juggular because I love pizza. And pizza sauce usually contains the Number One homeopathic vampire repellent. That’s right. Garlic! A slice a day keeps the vampires away!