Origins of Vampires
Vampires are beings of folklore and mythology that basically exist by feeding off the lifeforce of humans and/or animals.Usually, they are “undead” or ressurrected corpses, who live off the blood of other beings. Most popular legends refer to the blood-drinking Undead in Eastern Europe, but many other various cultures and regions have similar creatures. Some are non-human, or animal, bats, dogs, spiders, et cetera. Vampires are an extremely popular inspiration for various fictional works discussed later.
Vampirism itself is the act of drinking a human or animal’s blood. It is a form of cannibalism, however less often occurring, and is popularly regarded throughout modern fiction and legend, as a way to gain supernatural powers. Historically speaking, it was also a way to intimidate an enemy, for the opposing force to claim that they ate flesh or drank blood, and can reflect a culture’s spiritual beliefs.
The word vampire is widely distributed throughout various cultures and languages. The English word vampire, could have been derived from many possible languages, the most forestanding, the German “Vampir” and French “Vampyre”. The German word, vampir, is derived of its many similar variations in most Slavic languages.
The first recorded use of the word is believed to have been used in Old Russian, Upir, in a Book of Psalms, transcribed by a priest, in 1047 AD, who stated that his name was “Upir Iikhyi”, which means “Foul Vampire”. This was debated later, as it was the translated version of the name of a famous Swedish rune carver.
In Babylonian demonology, there were vampiric beings called Lilu, and further back, in Sumerian legend, were Akhkharu, who would prowl the night killing newborns and pregnant women. The Jewish adapted Lilith from one of the demons, called Lilitu. There are vampiric beings in India, found in Sanskrit folklore, called vetalas; ghouls who inhabit corpses. The Indian religion Hinduism has various mythological legends of blood-drinking gods and goddesses, and also humans, considering reincarnation is a part of Hinduism, and one leading a sinful, or unclean life may be reincarnated as reanimated corpse attacking the living at night. The Egyptian goddess Sekhmet became enslaved to her bloodlust after killing humans, and was only sated by drinking alcohol tinted to look like blood. The strix, appearing in Roman stories, was a nocturnal bird who fed on human flesh and blood.