The heart, one of the most important parts of our being, as well as a vampire’s. Without it, how would that delicious blood pump throughout their entire body? It’s well known to be the source of power for a vampire, and its removal or destruction is usually all that is needed to destroy them. Therefore, the heart is often the main target for vampire hunters, whether through staking, piercing or by being forcefully ripped out.
While some prefer to behead a vamp, others, in Europe particularly, adhere to the idea that the heart must be removed to properly destroy one of the undead. Certain regions believed in the importance of the heart more than others, such as Romania, where the vampire species known as the strigoii was thought to possess two hearts. The second heart was said to contain the vampire’s devilish unlife, and if someone were to pierce this second heart a river of blood would spurt high up into the air.
The methods used to rid a vampire of it’s heart (or the power the heart held) varied – in Serbia it was cut out, boiled in wine, and placed back inside the cavity. In areas where the Greek Church held power, the heart was removed by the town butcher, who had the horrific task of rummaging through the corpse via the stomach (since for some reason the incision to remove the heart wasn’t in the chest). Once he got to the heart, he would then grotesquely rip it out, killing the supposed vampire. This plan of attack didn’t work for the Yugoslavian Gypsies who believed contact with vampire blood would drive one insane.
Others went the simple route by easily burning the heart, or by just piercing it with a wooden stake or a heated needle (witch rendered the organ totally useless).
So while the method of destruction changed from country to country, the general idea that a vampire’s heart was its power source was fully believed by most everyone.