Mythology of True Blood and the Sookie Books

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Angel of Death

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:22 am

Don't Fear the Reaper
The Angel of Death
By Aslinn Dhan

All our times have come
Here but now they're gone
Seasons don't fear the reaper
Nor do the wind, the sun or the rain..we can be like they are
Come on baby...don't fear the reaper
Baby take my hand...don't fear the reaper
We'll be able to fly...don't fear the reaper
Baby I'm your man...

The Reaper- Blue Oyster Cult

Long Shadow: This one wanted to die.
Sookie: How do you know?
Long Shadow: We are Death. They all do, in their own way.

S1 E4 True Blood

Eric: Are you Death?
Godric: Yes.
Eric: But you are a little boy.

S2 E5

And behold! I saw a pale horse and a pale rider and he who sat upon it was Death. The Revelation of John Douay Rheims Catholic Edition of the Bible.

We have seen it's image in rock videos, album and cd covers, movies and works of art, but what do we know about the personification of death and how is it seen through the cultures and are Vampires the angels of Death?

Stephen King once wrote that death was a mystery and writing a secret. As long as men have been on the earth and experienced the last breath of life leaving the body, we have been horribly fascinated with the notion of death. We have even given death a face.

The skeletal form, shrouded or enshrouded, carrying his scythe is pulled right out of the Bible. In the Book of Revelation, when God has decided to gather up the last of the earth, he sends Death, with a crown upon it's skull and the reaper in it's hand to mow down all that stands to prepare for the judgement and ultimate end of the world and the rebirth of the new.

In our imaginations, we have created an angel no one wishes to see. This being is the herald of the end of life as you know it. In art and literature, the reaper is without compassion, horrible in it's representation of man's final decay, and merciless. It exists in all cultures. The Valkyrie, for one, were warrior women of Valhalla who came to claim the souls of the brave. Among the Celts, the death angels were among the Mabh, the servants of the goddess who embraced and sometimes physically loved the dying warriors on the battlefield as they gave up their last breath. Among the Lakota Sioux, the White Buffalo Woman also came to claim the dead and dying. The Cherokee believed the daughters of Selu, the earth mother of the Corn, came to escort brave ones to the Nightland.

Egypt was highly death centered in her culture and had Anubis, the carrier of the dead (yep, that's why they call the air company in True Blood Anubis Air) who helped the dead cross the river of death to the afterworld where they would face tests to see if they were righteous enough to go on to eternal bliss. In Greek and Roman mythology, you have the Ferryman who will transport you to the otherworld across the River Styx, the river of death. Greeks and Romans were buried with coins on their eyes and in their mouths to pay the Ferryman.

The Mayan carried bits of jade to pay their way to the Jaguar god to be admitted into their land of rest. In Hindi tradition, Yama gathers up the dead and dying in his lasso and brings them to have their lives accounted for to see if they are reincarnated or if they have been enlightened enough to go into the state of bliss and be integrated into the one soul.

In the Occult, the image of death, such as found on the tarot card is a symbol of change. Of all the cards of the 72 card deck, I think this symbolizes the Vampire the most because of the change that occurs when a Vampire is made.

No matter your personal belief in the after life, there are tales that challenge the notion of death. And the Vampire is one of them. But are they death, as Longshadow explained?

That the Vampire does not die a natural death, in that they grow old and eventually die causes their story to become the conundrum to the notion that all earthly flesh in it's state of earthly and corruption escapes the final end of the story set before us in most religions and precludes the need for salvation. But Vampires die, often at the hands of the "righteous", in violent, painful ways, melting to nothingness. If anything, the Vampire is simply a reminder that not all is eternal, longlived perhaps, but not eternal and subject to the end of days as we all are. Theirs just seem to be more horrific.

The Vampire is a victim of circumstance, in their making and in their means of survival. Montague Summers wrote in his book, Vampires and Vampirism:

The Vampire has no choice, he is the creature of the night, damned to his existence, evil because it feeds off his fellows. But you would do this moonlight devil the same as you would a dog in the heat of it's madness, but you may have pity in your heart because they have no human soul to save. (page 325)


Sources: Egypt and Her Cults by Answar Abdi Rubin, The Legends and Religions of the Hindi by Mark Davidson Richardson, The Noonday Devil by Sarah Mitchellson, The Encyclopedia of the Occult by Lewis Spencer, Vampires and Vampirism by Montague Summers, Death and Dying: A Cultural Synopsis by David Hume, The Tarot by A. S. MacGregor, The Spirit Book by Raymond Buckland, The Encyclopedia of the Occult by John Michael Greer.


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That Viking Vampire

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:22 am

That Viking Vampire By Aslinn Dhan

Eric slid out of the booth and rose to his considerable height--about six foot four. His mane of blond hair ripped down his back, and his blue eyes sparkled from his white, white face. Eric has bold features, high cheekbones, and a square jaw. He looked like a lawless Viking, the kind that could pillage a village in no time at all; and that's exactly what he had been. Dead as a Doornail, page 29-30.

Though there is much in Norse mythology about men who become animals, there are but brief references in the Norse legends to creatures who can be construed as Vampires.

In the world of the Norse, only those things with corporeal form were given much thought. Straight forward contact with enemies or threats were regarded as more dangerous than the ethereal realm of dead. What little there was written about spirits could go either way, the spirit could be good or evil. Not a gigantic revelation.

There were some beliefs, however that some of these ghosts could and did act in a Vampiric way and the best way to deal with these creatures was they way the Norse dealt with most threats in their world, they used a sword and decapitated them or, as in the rest of Europe, staked them through the heart.

In the ancient Eyrbyggia Saga from Iceland, the story goes that Thorolf, the first settler of Iceland died and rose from his grave after he was buried. Cattle that went near his grave were spooked or went insane and died. He haunted his wife and she died. As a remedy, the people dug Thorolf up and buried him somewhere else, but he returned. Finally his grave was opened again and the body was burned and the ashes scattered. Though there is no direct mention of Vampirism in the saga, the fact that wife died after his visitations has Vampiric suggestion.

In the Grettis Saga, there was a tale about a man who was mistreated by his employer and when the man died, he fed upon the people of the employer's household until he wwas dug up and decapitated.

Closer to the more familiar Vampire legend is the belief in the Mara, or Night Mare. The Night Mare was a wraith that ran down the night darked roads of the villages, taking hapless night travelers on a wild ride. The Night Mare is also thought of a kind of Succubus who visited men in their sleep and crouched on their chests and sucked their breath and sometimes sucked their blood while they slept. She also did something that is a classical characteristic of some Roman and Greek myths concerning the Fates.

The three Fates were Clotho, the spinner of the thread of life, the one who measures the length of a man's days, Lachesis, the caster of lots, who determined the path a man's life may go, and Atropos, who cut the thread of a man's life at the end of his days.

Much like Clotho and Atropos, the Night Mare of Norse mythology counts down a man's life by counting his teeth. Once she has finished counting the teeth and the man has not awakened, his soul is hers to feast upon.

This counting behavior is not unusual in the Vampiric lore. Sabine Baring Gould in his book The World of the Vampire noted that Vampires are what we would could today obsessive compulsive. If someone is in the shadow of the Vampire, all the intended victim need do is show the Vampire their hair. The Vampire will immediately begin counting the hairs of the victim's head. If they can remain calm and not break the Vampire's concentration, the Vampire will happily sit and count the hairs on one's head til dawn catches them above ground.

With the emergence of Eric's character and the story of his being made in True Blood we will all be waited with bated breath to see how things work out for that Viking Vampire.

Sorces: The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton, The Norton Book of Norse Mythology, Edward Keith, editor, Edith Hamilton's Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton, and The World of the Vampire by Sabine Baring Gould


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To Sleep, Perchance to Dream I & II

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:23 am

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream By Aslinn Dhan

Sookie: "Bill, what's wrong?"
Bill: "I had a dream is all, you go back to sleep," Espisode Six- True Blood

Ever think about the expression "sleep like the dead"? That profound, imperturbable sleep that comes to you from exhaustion, illness or drink?

The notion of Vampires needing sleep, rather than simple exile from the sun, is one under a fair amount of scrutiny in the lore of the Vampire. Though ancient lore suggests that Vampires lie down in the grave or in their coffins to escape the sun, more modern writers seem to suggest that Vampires, like humans, need their rest.

The term "Vampire sleep" comes from Bram Stoker. Van Helsing goes into Dracula's castle and finds the three Vampiric women in their Vampire sleep. Upon finding Dracula, Stoker writes in Chapter Four:

He was either dead or alseep. I could not say which_for the
eyes were open and stoney, but without the glassiness of
death_and his cheeks had the warmth of life through the
pallor, and the lips were as red as ever. But there was no sign
of movement, no pulse, no breath, no beating of the heart. I
bent over to find any sign of life, but in vain.

Apparently, Dracula needed his times of rest, which he took primarily during the day, becoming vulnerable to any and all attacks. But, Stoker notes, though he is fairly immobile, he was still aware of his surroundings, conscious of things around him. Jonathan Harker was about to stake Dracula at one point as the Count was lying at rest and when Dracula moved his head a little, Harker dropped his stake and ran.

The Vampires in the world of Charlaine Harris are fairly unconscious. In Club Dead part of torturing a Vampire was to keep the Vampire awake after sun up. Sookie often talks about Bill going to Vampire sleep as terrifying because, as she put it, he simply died. In All Together Dead when Vampires have to be removed to safety in daylight hours, their human charges have to work hard at either waking them or hauling them out, dead to the world.

One of the fascinating things about Charlaine Harris' approach to dealing with Vampire behavior is the notion of down time. In down time, the Vampires go on "screen saver". As Sookie notes, Vampires do not feel the need to justify filling space, they don't fidget, and when they have the chance they simply stop in stasis and remain that way until they are spoken to, or someone moves the mouse, so to speak. Sookie explains that must be the way they got through their long lives and avoided unneccesary wear and tear on their psyche's as time passed before their eyes and they adapted to constant change in dress, manners and mores.

In the world Alan Ball creates, Bill, sleeps but though he sleeps under the floor boards of his house (and sometimes the soil of the graveyard) he sleeps the more natural sleep of the living. When he shows Sookie his resting place, there are books for him to read if he wakes during the night or to read himself to sleep and he has a light with a switch down there so he can illuminate his resting place. And Bill even dreams.

These are fairly unique characteristics of the notion of Vampire sleep.

Source: The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton

Part Two

To Sleep, Perchance to Dream Part II
Dream Sending

As I was perusing Dracula, late in the night, like you do, I found this interesting little tid bit and investigated it.

In witchcraft, there is a magikal way to send messages and intentions through dreaming. This talent, called dream sending, is rooted in the long held belief that dreaming is the symbolic life of the astral soul, the sentient part of yourself while you sleep.

Dreaming and dream sending appear in the book Dracula. In the book, when Jonathan Harker is held captive in castle Dracula, he has a nightmare in which he is attacked by three Vampiric women. Despite the warnings of Count Dracula, he falls asleep in a forbidden part of the castle. The women begin to seduce Harker, in the dream, and is nearly bitten by the Vampire Brides when Dracula himself stops them. Of course, those of us who have read the novel know this is what happened. The Vampiric women send Jonathan Harker a clear signal of what they are going to do.

Further, Dracula communicates to both Lucy Westerna and Mina Harker through the use of dream influence. Mina even reveals to the Count each step of the plot to kill him by Van Helsing and the rest as they travel in Dracula's wake.

In the gothic soap opera Dark Shadows much of the back story and forshadowing of events is told through the dreaming lives of the characters. Barnabus Collins, who plays the Vampire hero in the show, often relates information and strengthens bonds between himself and others through dreams.

Sources: The Annotated Dracula by Bram Stoker and edited by Matthew Crum, The Elemental Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes, Dream Weaver: The life of the dreaming prophet Edgar Cayce by Charlotte Cavanaugh


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Shaking Up

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:23 am

Shackin' Up
Vampires Who Live Together
By Aslinn Dhan

Bill: "They live in a nest, and when Vampires live in a nest, they often become more cruel, they become laws unto themselves, whereas Vampires such as I, who live alone, hold on to some semblence of our former humanity." Episode Three- True Blood

The notion of creating community or an artificial family among Vampires is something that is fairly new to the Vampire mythos. The first record of Vampires cohabiting is of course Dracula, when Jonathan Harker meets Dracula's Vampiric wives. Why Dracula chose these women is a mystery to scholars of the book. According to Vampire lore and legend up to that point Vampires have no interest in one another. Another Vampire in a single Vampire's territory means there is another predator in their hunting grounds.

Perhaps the notion is meant to show that Dracula has always been searching for Elizabet, his doomed wife, for many years and when he found some fragment of her in another woman's being, he turned her in a desperate attempt to capture it. Apparently, however, Dracula tires of them and keeps them in some form of bondage as their maker. In Dracula the Count interrupts his Vampire wives from feeding on Jonathan Harker. They complain "Are we to have nothing?" With this plea, Dracula produces an new born baby and gives it to his wives to satisfy their hungers.

In Interview with a Vampire, Anne Rice suggests that Vampires actually enjoy having a partner, a companion with whom they can travel, hunt and otherwise hobnob with. That was Lestat's desire when he made Louie. His reasoning for making Claudia is an attempt to give someone to Louis to take care of so he would be less introspective, less self absorbed in his self loathing. And in the film, Claudia asks Louie to make her a companion for herself, as she senses that Louie would like to go with Armand.

The European Vampires in Le Theatre Vampyre live in a classical nest, as much for comraderie than protection. And they do seem very strange to Louie. Louie sees them as self absorbed, absurd caricatures of Vampires, living the life of Vampire absolutely and completely with all the arrogance of Vampires we even see today in True Blood. Within their nest, they have their own laws. They are shocked to see Claudia. "We never make them so young, so defenseless," Armand tells Louie. "There is no greater crime among us," says a Vampire. "What crime?" asks Louie. "Kill your own kind," he answers.

In the film Lost Boys, Keifer Sutherland is the leader of the Vampire nest there in Santa Carla. They gather like a gang inside the sunken lobby of what appears to be a hotel where they have made their nest. Again, it appears the young Vampires live together for comraderie, for the energy they build for themselves before they go to hunt. The whole point of the story is so that the head Vampire can have a wife to help him take care of the lost boys.

True Blood is no different. Liam, Diane and Malcolm live together for the friendship and good times. The nest of Stan Davis in Living Dead in Dallas, the nest/court of Russell Edgington in Mississippi in Club Dead, and the nest/court of Queen Sophie Anne in Louisiana are examples of the smallest Vampire families to the largest. In this world, nest mates even call themselves brother and sister.

Despite the Vampire's claims of superiority, they long for a structured, non-judgemental setting so they can be themselves, feel comfortable and accepted, somewhere where they have people around them of similar tastes and attitudes. In other words, a family and home.

Sources: The Annoted Dracula by Bram Stoker and Matthew Crum. The Anne Rice Reader by Sheila Donahue, The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton, and The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley


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Explanations for Vampirism

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:24 am

Say What?
Explanations About the Cause of Vampirism
By Aslinn Dhan

As stories about Vampires and Vampirism began to flood across Europe, there were many attempts at trying to explain the phenomenon. Some generally ignored the reports and chalked it up to superstition. But there were many who tried to figure out the basis for the story.

One of the things they noticed about the reports of Vampirism was the person who was supposed to be a Vampire usually reappeared after dying from a lingering illness. Because of reported sightings, the people would then dig up the corpse and made several observations about the corpse. They all seemed to be in good condition, even healthy condition, though they were still dead. The bodies had no sign of decay. The skin had a rosy coloring on it, as if it were still warm and alive. The hair and nails appeared to grow. Like a snake, when the skin peeled away, there appeared to be fresh skin underneath. There was still blood present and when the corpse was subjected to a pin prick, it bled. Some observers noticed that in some cases of men, there was an erection.

If a stake was driven into the body, it seemed to try to raise up in reaction and sometimes, the body "moaned" as it was staked. There were even reports of evidence that there were bite marks on the fingers and hands, a sign of auto vampirism. Then there was the tricky situation involving cases of premature burial, where the person is in a state of rest so profound that it appears dead and lays that way for several days and is buried, only to have the person wake at their viewing or in their coffin, under the ground.

Premature burial was so prevelant a situation that Montague Summers offers a lengthy discourse in his book The Vampire: His Kith and Kin about it as an explanation for Vampirism before laying his case that there were real Vampires that walked among us.

Then there is always the possibility of ignorance about the processes the body goes through after death, especially before the time of professional embalming. Many people did not know that decay could be greatly delayed by sealing the corpse in fairly airtight conditions, or that when things decayed, heat was generated, and that blood tended to pool in the body and then resurface itself as the muscles and tissues began to disolve in decomposition, or that rigor mortis is not forever, that within a few hours, the body actually begins to soften and become pliable again.

Vampire epidemics was thought to be the spread of some class of disease. High on the list was Plague. Pnuemonic (interferring with the lungs) and Bubonic (lymphatic) plague killed milions in the dark ages all the way up to the 1660's when nearly a thrid of England's population died of the disease. We've also spoken of tuberculosis.

Rabies epidemics were common, wherein in the final stages, the victims went mad and tried to bite and brutalize those around them. Even in modern times, porphyria is stated as the possible Vampire disease. Porphyria is the name given to a family of seven diseases. Collectively, it is a disease of the blood, causing the body to be unable to make heme, an important component of blood. It is characterised by extreme light sensitivity, anemia, and evidence of bloody tears and urine and in men, ejaculate. It was reported that George III of England (yes, the king we Americans fought during the Revolution) was afflicted with porphyria.

Pope Benedict XIV declared the myths of Vampires and any other children of the night as a way for greedy priests to make money by charging people for exorcisms and special rituals to keep a creature in the grave.

In !980, a reseacher named Paul Barber analyzed all the arguments explaining the myth and various cases of Vampirism being told around the world. He came to the conclusion that the myths arose out of ignorance of the death process and concluded there were no real Vampires, that people who had bloodlust were simply mentally ill.. Reports of seeing the dead was the mourning of loved ones.

There is still a persistent belief in Vampires today. Despite everything we now know about the death process, there are those who still believe that the dead can still rise and walk among us. Perhaps that is the true immortality here, that so long as people still believe, they shall never truly die.

Sources: The Vampire Book by J Gordon Melton. The Physician's Desk Reference to Disease, The Merk Manual of Disease, Dead and Buried: the Ways of Death in the Nineteenth Century by Clayton Hume, The Papal Encyclical on Matters of Superstition by Pope Benedict XIV (1860), The Social Effects of the Plague in Europe by David Houseman, The Vampire: His Kith and Kin by Montague Summers.


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The Tracks of my Tears

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:24 am

The Tracks of My Tears
The Vampire Cry
By Aslinn Dhan

I pulled a Kleenex out of the box on the baker's rack and dabbed at my face. Bill was crying, too, and I handed him one. He looked at it in surprise, as if he expected to see something different-maybe a mongrammed cotton handkerchief. He patted at his own cheeks. The Kleenex turned pink. Living Dead In Dallas, page 288

The notion of Vampires crying is not unique to the world created by Charlaine Harris. Though they are universally thought of as creatures devoid of a soul, thus unable to feel true emotion, Vampires are often described as weeping. Though the situations and characteristics vary, intense sadness, anger and frustration can cause the Vampire to express the most intimate sign of emotion by crying.

Some of the folklore says that Vampires cry true tears of saline, like living humans. Others say that Vampires weep ammonia or urine. Still others speak of tears of blood. The notion that Vampiric tears are bloody may be based on the belief there are human diseases which cause Vampires, or inspired the belief in Vampires. Diseases like porphyria, which caused bloody tears. Other diseases like hemmoragic fever, caused blood to come out in urine, sweat, feces, semen, saliva, and in tears.

But if Vampires cry, why do they cry bloody tears. Some take a very pragmatic approach. Vampires cry bloody tears because of their diet, they don't consume anything but blood, ergot, they produce bloody tears. Others, like our oft cited friend, Montague Summers writes in his book Vampires: Their Kith and Kin, "The tears of the damned are tears of extreme suffering. As these creatures [Vampires] are creatures of Satan and among the damned, their tears, if left to leave their eyes, stream as red as the blood they drink," (p 182)

In Judeo-Christian mythology, the devil, himself cries. When Lucifer is cast out of heaven into Sheol he loses the radiant beauty he once had when he was the angel Lucifer, The Light Bringer. He looks up at heaven, curses God and cries tears of blood.

John Polidori, in his book The Vampyr, says the Vampire cries tears of blood because he is cut off from God and mourns the loss of Holy Communion and the loss of true earthly love. This description jives with what we know about Polidori, who was a defrocked and excommunicated priest. (He was a homosexual and pedophile and companion of Gordon, Lord Bryon) For him, the Vampire is himself, trying to cope with lusts he felt he had no control over and the loss of salvation because of who he was.

Lord Byron, himself excommunican't, endowed his Vampire with the ability to cry as well, though he writes that his Vampire used it to cozen the women who would feel pity, thinking that because the Vampire cried tears of blood, he must suffer more from melancholy. An unrepentant atheist, Byron may have also been attempting to mock Christ, who sweated blood at the Garden of Gethsemane.

Modern tales of Vampire depict Vampires crying as well. Bram Stoker's Count Dracula cried lavender tears, as the Vampire consumes the rich blood of his victims and what is left is a pale colored fluid in their bodies. In the film, Pale Blood the Vampires also have a pale colored blood (sort of pale pink or lavender). In Francis Ford Coppola's film adaptation of Dracula, the Count cries pale tears of a lavender color and evn loses his beauty, which may be a result of the profuse loss of blood, making him age and even become something a little less human.

In the film The Wisdom of Crocodiles, Jude Law portrays a Vampiric man who is dying because he will not feed from a woman he fell in love with. His blood begins as red but turns pale as he comes closer to death. In the end, the Vampire dies in a puddle of thick pale fluid, his face stained with tears of the same matter.

Sources: The Vampire: His Kith and Kin by Montague Summers, Satan: The Myth, Lore and Religious Study of Lucifer by Alexandra Storr, The Vampyr by John Polidori, The Vampyre: A Fragment by Gordon, Lord Byron, The Vampire Book by J Gordon Melton.


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Cannibalism

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:25 am

Who's Good to Eat Around Here?
The Skinny on Cannibalism
By Aslinn Dhan


Okay, I know what you are saying out there as you peruse this essay. You are saying man, is she off target. But the truth is, Vampire and Werewolf stories are deeply rooted in man's taboos and fears of being eaten. And it goes back to the first organized groups of prehistory man.

There is much debate about how man lived in the dawn of human existance. There are some anthropologists who believe that before the ice age, man was primarily a vegetarian animal, living off the fruits and vegetables of the land. Protein was largely in the form of grubs and bugs. Large scale meat consumption was not until the time of the ice age when it was difficult to get the vegetable foods in any quantity to survive. This is when early man begins to observe the great hunters of the world they knew, the great cats and the organized animals who lived in their own communities, like the wolf.

Meat was high energy, high nutrition food. It could be stored in the ice and snow, the animals made a variety of foods, like soups and stews as well as roasted meat and their skins and hides could be made into warm clothing and shelters. The blood was also very nutritious and on though it could not be stored, it could be used right away. Hunters who were perhaps far from home and hungry would drink the blood of their kill and have energy to haul the meat back to the others. Blood then becomes sacred to the hunter.

Eventually, the weather breaks up and the land softens from it's layer of ice and plants begin to spring back up. People begin, once again, to eat vegetables but to their diets they add meat. Meat and taters, not just a modern idea. And, man being who he is, learns that certain grasses and herbs and simple salt made meat even more savory.

But when did man begin to kill other humans for food? No one can really pin point it. There may have simply been times of desperation. When the game was gone and the vegetation was gone and all that was left was each other. And since man is like any other animal, you simply had to know where the choicest cuts were and then, there was always the blood. And chemically, human blood is as nutritious as animal blood. Especially back then, when men were still primative and there weren't many diseases borne in the blood.

But, as man's identity became more complex, taboos began to form about all aspects of life, including eating. Dietary restrictions based on religion and social practices are not new, they have been with man since his dawning. One of the things that early man realized fairly quickly was that cannibalism decreased your numbers. And you needed numbers to help with the daily tasks of living.

However, as in all things men do, they tended to become fixated or addicted to what was considered rare or taboo. While some people might accept the neccesity of cannibalism during times of distress or starvation, others felt entitled to it. Or addicted to it.

For example, there are cases of cannibals who were so enthralled with eating human flesh and drinking human blood, that they become outcasts. Tecumsah, the great Shawnee statesman and warrior had a brother who was an inveterate cannibal, so much so that he was eventually expelled from the tribe. The Aztecs and Inca were noted for their blood sacrifices and consuming the dead of warriors and those "chosen by the gods". Celts, Norse, and African tribes also indulged in cannibalism.

To try and understand the man who simply craved human flesh without neccesity or cause, early man usually attributed these cravings to the spirits, the Wendigo, for example. The Aztecs had Lord Night Wind, who could alternately be benevolent or cruel, depending on his disposition. The Celts and the Norse believed the spirits of animals possessed those who craved long pig. Faeries were often the blame for creating blood lust. Asians tended to point the finger at vengeful ancestors who felt they were not being given appropriate respect by their progeny.

In Greek and Roman mythology, King Lycan was said to have been a cannibal and even invited Zeus to a great feast featuring human flesh and this caused him to be cursed as a werewolf by Zeus.

Vampires were said to be the reanimated corpses of cannibals. This especially held with the belief that once a man eats human flesh he will crave it always.

As man becomes even more sophistocated, cannibalism is considered even more of a taboo. Even religious scholars are writing treatises on the evils of cannibalism. It is noted that Nostradamus predicted in his prophesies that man would become maneaters in the end of days. To be a cannibal is to be a savage, beyond the reach of salvation and God's love.

Acts of cannibalism are considered signs of the devil. And because early thinkers did not understand things like psychological and social disassociation, paranoia, schizophrenia, and antisocial behavior and even multiple personality, the only source for this madness was the devil.

And cannibalism was not simply defined as the eating of human flesh, but the drinking of blood.

Cannibalism is not something from the far past or the dark ages of man's history. There is a villian's gallery of men and women who practiced cannibalism, most notably, Elizabeth Bathory, Vlad Tepes, Jack the Ripper, Andre Chikatilo, Jeffery Dahmer, Richard Ramirez, Ed Gein and a host of other modern day ghouls.

But, somewhere along the way, the Vampire has been disassociated with the gruesome idea of cannibalism. Perhaps it is because they are interested in only the blood. Perhaps it is because we have sexualized them to an extent that their blood drinking is fetishistic. Werewolves are still vicious creatures. But the Vampire has managed to clean up his act so to speak and become alluring, despite the fact they long to feed on us, even those they love.

Sources: Man to Wolf by Robert Eisler, Man of the Ice Age by Alexander Cook, Noble Savage by Stephen McCallister, Of Monsters and Men by Andrew Hall, If You Hunt Monsters by Robert Ressler


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Back in Black: Gothic and Vampire subculture

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:25 am

Back in Black
Vampires and Weres in the Gothic Subculture
By Aslinn Dhan

"Life is dark, life is sad, all is not well, and most people you meet will try to hurt you." Voltaire (musician)

"You laugh at me because I am different. I laugh at you because you are all the same" tee shirt on a 12 year old goth in Huntington, WV.

There are two ways to look at the word Gothic. Gothic, as in literature, is a genre of writing that tells story of taboos and mysteries. The plots of the story found in the Gothic genre are settings where the hero/heroine is isolated in house or castle, surrounded by people who know some or all of the secret that is creating the atmospheric tension, laden with taboos against culture or custom with supernatural or psychological undertones.

Tales like Jane Eyre or Turn of the Screw or Southern Gothic like Streetcar Named Desire and even To Kill a Mockingbird all contain the elements of the classic Gothic literary genre.

Then you have the Gothic lifestyle. This has it's underpinnings in the 50's beatnick movement and traveled through the 60's and 70's with the burgeoning punk and early metal scene. Goths adopt an air of overall disdain for the ordinary or mainstream as artificial or stifling. They see the world as a dismal place and death as the cure for all that ails the world. The Gothic movement is in perpetual mourning for freedom and the death of personal choice because of societal expectations. The world of darkness is not so much a world of evil but a congregation of those seeking solace from the over bright, over hyped world of mainstreamed ideals that may make you look alive, but kill the soul.

Over time, however, the Gothic movement has taken a serious rap to the image with things like the Columbine massacres and various joy murders perpetrated by people who the press paints as goth because it is simply easier to point at them and label them as goth. Being goth means being other and being other means you should be afraid, be very afraid.

And being other, the goths are fascinated and invested in the look, fashion and ideals of the supernaturals of myth and legend. Vampires, werewolves, and witches are natural members of the Gothic world. It may be that these creatures represent the noble beauty of the Vampire of myth and legend, the savagery of the man who embraces the beast, the ultimate nonconformist, or the person so in tune with the natural world that the artificially lit, plastic world of the mainstream is defeated with the wave of the hand and the mumbling of a few well chosen words. To embrace the beauty, savagery and magik of the supernatural world is to be above the mainstream.

Goths adopt a funereal look, mimicking the Vampiric stereotype, they have their own music and their rules. Though not necessarily tolerant, they are not necessarily confrontational. They simply want to be left alone. Religion and politics are a part of the artificial world. Believe it if you want, leave it alone if you want. Just leave me out of it, go sell crazy somewhere else.

In the world of Charlaine Harris, the Gothic style is adopted by the Vampires of Fangtasia to fulfill the expectations of humans who want to walk on the dark side. Humans, they note, have a certain expectation of what Vampires are and how they are. To sell the image of Vampire and be successful business people, Eric and Pam adopt the Gothic image. As Charlaine Harris notes, Eric is a jeans and tee shirt type of guy and Pam is better suited to pastels (Alice in Wonderland with fangs). But when on display, they know how to dress the part. The werewolves adopt a less goth, more motorcycle gang look, as they are pack animals. Witches look like everyone else.

But this all goes back to the notion of other. What is it you want to convey with your look? Does wearing all black make you a bad guy? Does wearing pastel colors make you look harmless? Will wearing a dog collar get you laid? It all depends on how those things make you feel.

Sources: Goth: More than Basic Black by Sean Hattery, Social Implications of the Gothic Movement by Michael David Hone, Art and Artifice: The Goth Movement by Margret Walker, Going Goth by Terry MacDonald, The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton, and The Werewolf Book by Brad Steiger


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Reflections of a Vampire

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:26 am

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Reflections of a Vampire
By Aslinn Dhan

Sookie: "Hey, I thought you couldn't see yourself in the mirror!"
Bill: "We spread many of the myths about ourselves. If we could be seen in the mirror, that was one way we could prove we were not Vampire." Episode Seven True Blood

The idea that Vampires can not be seen in the mirror was begun in Bram Stoker's Dracula and perpetuated ever since. But where did Stoker get the idea?

The idea comes from the myriad of myths about the dead and as Vampires are animated dead creatures, the mythos of the mirror was included in the Vampire "culture".

Legends have it that mirrors reflect the soul. Mirror was covered in the deathroom of the sick because there was a belief that the soul would not move on, sort of like a spiritual Narcissus who fell in love with his reflection, so much so that he could not bear to leave it for anything.

In Southern and Appalachian belief, if the mirror in the deathroom was not covered, the image of the dead would be trapped in the reflective surface forever. In others, mirrors were considered gateways of the kingdom of the dead and the presence of the dead body would entice entities both good and evil to come through the mirror and inhabit the body.

The Irish had very strong superstitious beliefs about death and the mirror being covered was one of them. Another was the act of tying the legs together so the dead could not rise and walk. In modern times, as Irish immigrants in America began filtering into law enforcement, it is believed this act of restraining the feet led to the use of the toe tag, a symbolic gesture to the ancient superstition.

There is also the tale that Satan could be identified in the mirror. Since the devil can take on a pleasing shape, if he stood before the mirror, his true form could be seen and he would be known for what he is. In ancient times, early exorcists carried mirrors in their kits to force the devil to see his true face and flee from his victim.

Because Vampires have been historically portrayed as being without a soul because they are dead and because they are evil, the popular addition to the mythos makes sense though it is not a part of more ancient Vampire lore.

Sources: The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton, Vampires and Vampirism by Montague Summers, Vampires in Lore and Legend by Montague Summers, Malleus Malificarum by Kramer and Sprenger, and The Roman Ritual of the Catholic Church


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Vampires and Werewolves in the movies

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:26 am

I Want to be in Pictures
The First Celluloid Vampire
By Aslinn Dhan

Nosferatu was the first film adaptation of Bram Stoker's Dracula. FW Murnau had not successfully secured the rights to the book from Widow Stoker so, the director simply thought that he could change a few key elements and it would be perfectly alright.

Of course, one of the most stressful parts of a film is finding the right cast. Think of the great roles. Clark Gable as Rhett Butler. Would you believe me if I told you Margaret Mitchell wanted Groucho Marx cast as Rhett? It's true.

Murnau knew that the most important role to cast was the Count (Orlock in his film, one of those all important changes he made to try to avoid copyright infringement). After the entire cast was found, they moved them to Prague for filming. Everyone asked Murnau who he had cast as the Count.

The actor he cast, he explained, would join them soon and he would be everything they imagined a very old Vampire to be. They began filming the beginning of the movie. The cast and crew waited for the appearance of the Vampire.

The man Murnau cast was a German actor named Max Schreck. He simply appeared on the set one night, completely gadded up as the count. This is when he gave his cast certain rules about their contact with the Count, as Murnau called him.

The Count would not appear before dark and would always be in make-up and in character. You were to address him as Count. Count Orlock would not be dining with the cast and crew and he had made his own arrangements for his care. Max Schreck believed, the director explained, in total immersion into the character. And boy was he immersed.

In casual conversation, Schreck told of his being made Vampire, explained the way Vampires feed, their taboos and traditions, and the fact that there weren't many true Vampires left. He observed all the taboos we have been accustomed to in all the Vampire fiction we enjoy today: the invitation into a mortal's home, the fear of religious artifacts, fear of mirrors, and the inability to cross running water (something no evil creature can do). Murnau could photograph him for the movie because "he allowed it" if he rescinded his permission to be photographed, his image would not appear in the film. His manner was so strange and so creepy, his co-stars did not like being alone with him between takes. It did not help when one of the camera men supposedly died. Schreck even bit the actor who was playing the "Renfield" character during a scene and it frightened the man into a panic attack.

Rumors and legends began to form and grow. There was a tale being told that during a break after doing one scene, the Count caught a bat in mid flight and bit off it's head, Ozzie Osbourne style, and drained it of it's blood. The actor portraying the "Van Helsing" character said that he was on the set with Schreck and was about to do the "mirror test" and discovered that Schrek cast no reflection.

Had Murnau hired a real Vampire to play the part of a Vampire? "A Vampire playing the part of a human playing a Vampire. How avant garde," as Claudia said(Interview with a Vampire). Anyway, that is what the legend said. With the film's later troubles with Mrs. Stoker, and the copyright infringement problems and the notoriety it received, though very few actually saw the film, the legend grew.

The legend said that Murnau met Schreck who revealed to him that he was a real Vampire, several centuries old. Murnau told him about the project he was getting ready to do, the film version of Dracula. According to the legend, the Vampire was uninterested until he mentioned the name of a beautiful actress the Vampire confessed to being attracted to. Supposedly, he made a deal with Murnau to do the part if he could have the actress in the end to feed from her. Murnau, desperate to get his project off the ground, agreed to his demands.

The Count was difficult to handle, and boy was he creepy, but he looked and acted just the way a Vampire should act on the film. Legend has it that when the director got ready to film the final scene, the actress in question would actually stake the Count. If he were a real Vampire, and Murnau believed he was, he would die from being staked. Thing was, as the legend goes, the actress was a laudanum addict and was in no shape to stake anyone. So Murnau came up with another plan. The Count would greet the sun. This would of course go along with many of the other changes he made to try to get around Widow Stoker.

So they begin to film the iconic scene, the ugly rat faced, rat fanged Count Orlock is creeping up to the bedside of his lovely victim. He leans down, leering at her. He leans closer, caressing her face, cupping her breast, stroking her neck. He puts his face in her neck, nuzzling her and then he bites her! Legend goes on to say that he drained the pour drugged actress of her blood and as a result the Vampire is drugged, too. ("Good, I could use a cocktail!") The crew then raises part of the set to let the sunshine into the room and Orlock whirls around and goes up in a puff of smoke. Murnau rolls film the whole time. What the audience will see will be the real death of a real Vampire.

The story takes on greater dimensions through the years. There is a story that the actor Max Schreck appeared in no actor's union roles, no other films, and is recorded in no employment lists. It was as if he did not exist.

So, was Max Schreck a Vampire? Actually no. Schreck did go on to make a few other films, but they were supporting roles. Because of the extensive amounts of make-up and the fact the film did not surface for some decades after his death, he went virtually unknown.

But here's a little something to ponder. The actress in Nosferatu? She really did die at the end of the film. She was found to be overdosed and strangely anemic, there was hardly any blood in her at all.

Source: The Shadow of the Vampire: The true story of the classic film Nosferatu by Kenneth Howard and Shadow of the Vampire (2000) film and The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley and Strange Stories Told About the Making of Gone With the Wind by Patsy McDonald


Werewolves

I Want to be in Pictures, Too
The First Celluloid Werewolf

The first film to portray a werewolf was a silent picture made in 1913 by Bison Films of Canada. It was called simply, The Werewolf

The plot is fairly simple. A Native American shaman turns her daughter into a werewolf to kill white settlers. The transformation scene uses an actual wolf.

Because of the quality of celluloid film to decay, no more than ten minutes exist of the original 45 minute film.

The first major film to be made about werewolves was made in 1935 and it was called The Werewolf of London. and starred Henry Hull. Hull's character goes to Tibet to find a rare flower called the moon poppy. He finds the flower but in the process, he is bitten by a strange creature. Once he returns to London, he begins his monthly transformations into a werewolf.

A strange man from Asia comes to him and explains that Hull is a werewolf. What the Asian man does not tell him is that he too is a werewolf and he begins to murder hapless people in London. Hull pursues the werewolf and kills him.

Hull tries to make an antidote out of the moon poppy which he has been told will cure him of his lycan'thropy. In the meantime, however, he accidentally murders his wife in his wolf form. The police come and shoot him and when he dies, he regains his human form.

Sources: The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley.


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The Blood is the Life

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:27 am

True Blood
The Blood is the Life
By Aslinn Dhan

We all have it. That sticky, coppery, red stuff that pulls oxygen through our bodies and gives us life. It is also heavily symbolic. We speak of bloodlines, nobility or culture or family ties borne in the blood. Women menstruate and shed blood during birth, men shed blood in hunting, some traditions even do a ritual called "blooding" when a young boy hunts and kills for the first time and is smeared with the blood of his first kill. Blood is shed for war, for celebration, for bonding and for salvation. Blood truly is the life.

The symbolism of blood in every culture in the world cannot be ignored. It is endowed with magik and a sense of marvel. The importance of blood makes up many of the taboos and traditions of both ancient and modern societies today and differ from one culture to the next.

In religious cultures, blood sacrifice for expiation of sin or for the blessings of the gods is a regular phenomenon. In hunting cultures, wearing of the blood on the skin or blessing weapons with blood was similar to the use of holy water. In war the drinking of the blood of your enemies was thought to endow the victor with the strengths and courage of their foe, and one could seal the bonds of friendship, love and priesthood with blood.

The early Hebrews were commanded by God to avoid the drinking or eating of blood because blood was the life force of all animals. God tells Noah in Genesis:

But you must not eat the flesh with the life, which is
the blood, still in it. And further, for your life-blood, I will
demand satisfaction; from every animal I will demand it,
and from a man also will require satisfaction for the
death of his fellow-man.

He that shed the blood of a man, for that man, his blood
shall be shed; for in the image of God has God made man.


And the color of blood, once it hits the open air, turns red and that color is full of sacred importance. Red is the color of power, or royalty and of rage. It is the color of wine. Because of it's life giving properties, it is associated with fertility, especially semen. It is sexually charged because of the act of sex itself when a woman is deflowered.

In Christian practices, the saving power of Christ's sacrifice comes through the brutal letting of his blood during his trial, punishment and crucifixion. His institution of the rite of Holy Communion is central to the rituals of Christians and the symbolic use of wine or grape juice to stand in for blood suggests the power that even mere symbolic blood has.

As early non-Christian beliefs began to enter the consciousness of the early Christian philosophers, the Vampiric lore began to take on an additional dimension. The notion of everlasting life (spiritual) through the drinking of Christ's blood in Holy Communion and the the physical eternal life(or, at least the incredibly extended life) of the Vampire, began to take on the spectre of the blasphemous. The idea that a creature who is technically dead, who walks only at night, who claims to be able to extend the "gift" of "eternal" life without benefit of Christ's saving grace was considered dangerous, irreligious and the act of evil.

Anne Rice was what Catholics called "fallen away". She eschewed the teachings of the Church and it's strict often overbearing rules, especially on women. As she wrote about her Vampires, she explored the notion of Holy Communion and the blood drinking of her Vampires. In Memnoch the Devil Memnoch takes Lestat to the crucifixion and Lestat tastes the actual blood of Christ. This leads to a great epiphany for the Vampire as he tries to understand his role in the world and his relationship, or apparent lack thereof, with God. In later years, however, after a devistating illness brought on by diabetes and the death of her husband, Anne Rice has abandoned her Vampire stories for writing books about the Church, having found her way back.

In True Blood, when Amy and Jason do V together for the first time, she explains that using Vampire blood was what Holy Communion was really meant to be about, not the rituals of the Christian Church. The ecstasy she and Jason experiences with the V is tantamount to the intimacy that Christians are supposed to have with Holy Communion but is somehow lost with repetition and strictitures on who is worthy of taking Communion.

Bill expounds on the importance of the blood exchange with Jessica when he tries to explain the mystical nature of her Vampiric transformation. "I drained you of your blood and your blood was replaced with mine and then I shared my essence with you when we slept in the ground. It's magical, even we don't understand how it works"

Blood is more than the stuff that runs through our veins. It is endowed with all things concerning life. That is why it is prevelant in most all horror stories and legends of the children of the night.

Sources: The Anne Rice Reader by Sheila Donahue, The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton and The Malleus Malficarum by Kramer and Sprenger and The World of the Vampire by Sabine Baring Gould


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The Inquisition

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:27 am

The Inquisition
All the questions you are afraid to answer
By Aslinn Dhan

Magister "Are you questioning my authority? I am the Magister_ I was trained in the Inquisition." Episode 9 True Blood

Depending on who you ask, the question what was the Inquisition will be answered in many ways. And what does it have to do with the legend and lore of Vampires, Werewolves and Shapeshifters? A lot.

It took the Christian church about 1000 years to really organize, develop the creed, study the scriptures (after they were collected and put in some general order), regularize the rites and rituals, and set up the various missions, religious orders, and general identity. There were numerous conferences and gatherings of religious thinkers, scholars and philosophers. Their goal was to set up a uniform and united church that would be both hometown based and missionary.

It was also a time when the Church was creating her relationships with Kings and other ruling governments all over the known world. To convert the monarch and have him bend to the will of the church in both matters of state and religion was an important one. And by the end of the first millennium, the church was as powerful as the kings. After all, you had to be anointed by the Church in order to be the king with his God-given rights to rule the people.

Though the Church was happy to be a part of secular government, they were very interested in making sure everyone was a Christian. Clinging to beliefs thought of as old fashioned, or heathen or pagan was irritating and troublesome. But some beliefs were cultural and long ingrained in the practices and thought of the people.

In the matter of the children of the night, the Church first held a benevolent, amused view that belief in Vampires and Werewolves and Shapeshifters was superstition. The Church had no real position on their reality or non-reality. It was something to simply discourage. That is Church as a universal ruling and deciding body. Local priests often dealt with the matters of the undead and supernatural. They were as much ingrained with the cultural and local beliefs of the people and they still clung to the notion that the noonday devil could come into the world by the pale moonlight.

Strangely, it was not an issue to the Church until they heard reports that priests in what we would call Eastern Europe were burning some of the dead. Now, the Church frowned on cremation because it denied the Resurrection. In the Christian religion the faithful believes there will come a day when all those who died faithful to the Church would be resurrected body and soul to first stand before God and be judged and second to be rewarded with entry into heaven. If you were cremated, the body was gone and could not be resurrected. The modern Church now accepts cremation so long as the person does not use the act of cremation as a statement of unbelief in the Resurrection.

Upon investigation, priests and people alike told stories of people, who because they were cursed, rose from the grave and fed on their fellow humans or changed into a snarling and evil beast who fed on their fellow humans. Which ever it was, you were lunch. The Church maintained that this was superstition, a minor evil but one that must be stopped and forbade any form of cremation or other deviation from the rites of Christian Burial.

Eventually though, the Church experts on evil, called demonologists, began to write some rather lurid papers on the invisible kingdom of Satan on earth. The Devil, they said, was everywhere and no where as deeply as the witches.

You didn't have to be a witch to be accused of witchcraft. You could be a luckless midwife, an herbalist, a primitive veterinarian, a juggler or ventriloquist (Yes, really), a budding anatomist, a stargazer, or a faithful Jew or Muslim. And all that had to happen was to be accused.

This is where the Inquisition began. Now the priest wasn't simply your confessor, he was your Inquisitor. And if you didn't answer the questions correctly, you were in a world of hurt. Literally.

Torture ranged from being questioned for hours on end to the most brutal forms of physical pain. Rape, castration, being burned, blinded and having hands, feet, and tongues cut off were common tools of the Inquisition. Men, women and children and animals were subjected to every known horror devised by man. If you were accused you were dead meat, but none more so than the hapless woman.

Women had no civil rights. They were considered weak and evil because of the sin of the garden when Eve tempted Adam. They could hear the whisperings of the devil more clearly than a man. They could cause impotence, abortions, cause storms and droughts, they killed crops and herds, and they had sex with the devil in the form of incubus and they called succubus to torment men.

They also cavorted with the undead and the unnatural. You know who I mean. Those pesky night feeders who seduced and savaged the innocent that drank the blood and ate the flesh.

Kramer and Sprenger wrote in their Malleus Malificarum or Witch Hammer that "The witch has access to the world of evil. They call upon the devil in his many guises to do their will and every soul they collect gains them favor in the form of powers from their king." (257)

But, the priests note, the devil only uses a sort of glamour. This glamour convinces ordinary folk that they are blood drinkers and werewolves and able to take animal shapes and forms. The devil cannot do anything without the willingness of the person to do it and without the permission of God.

The permission of God? Certainly. In the book of Job, the Lord had a get together with the angels of heaven. Satan, having once been an angel, crashes the conference. He tells God that people are turning away from him. God says, that isn't so, check it out, there's Job. He's a great believer.

The devil counters that of course Job is a believer, look at him. He is rich, he has a wonderful wife and family, he has servants and slaves and cattle and a fine home. Take all that stuff away and he'll turn his back on you. God said, okay, I'll make a deal with you. You may do anything you like, save kill him, and I know that Job will never turn his back on me. God gave permission to the devil to do whatever he liked to Job except kill him. So, you have to have the permission of God.

People accused of being Vampire or Werewolf were tested. Just as those who were accused of being a witch. Over time, the priests of the Inquisition began to collect the lore they were at first told was superstition and added this information to their witch hunter manuals. It is from many of these books that we have the Christian elements to to the Vampire and Werewolf lore we have today.

Today, the Church is embarrassed by the history of the Inquisition. Many Church scholars try to soft pedal, reinvent and even cloak the truth of the evils of the Inquisition. As a Catholic and something of a historian and folklorist myself, I think it is wrong to have a history that does not acknowledge the reality of history. After all, if you do not know history, you are doomed to repeat it.

Sources: The Malleus Malficarum by Kramer and Sprenger, The World of the Vampire by Sabine Baring Gould,The Vampire Book by J Gordon Melton
The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, Vampires and Vampirism by Montague Summers, The Vampire in Lore and Legend by Montague Summers, The Werewolf in Lore and Legend by Montague Summers, The Roman Ritual of the Catholic Church and The Truth About the Inquisition by Bishop Paul Gellen


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Native American Myths of Vampires and Werewolves

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:28 am

Native American Mythos and Werewolves and Vampires By Aslinn Dhan

Because Native Americans practiced their own nature based religion, shape shifting was an integral part of the spiritual system of most Native American tribes. There are, however, no true Vampire tales among the Native Americans with the exception of the Wendigo.

Despite what we have seen on shows like Charmed and the b-horror movie The Wendigo, this spirit is a human, usually a man who is seen during times of famine.

The story comes from the American North East to the North West and is shared by many tribes including the Sioux and the Mohegan (not be confused with the Mohicans), the Shawnee, Cherokee and the Massopoquoddy.

Legend has it that a man was in a village struck with hunger. It was the dead of winter. In desperation he killed one of the old people of the village (though some tales say it was his father, others say one of his children) and ate him. When the chief found out, he was banished from the village in terrible snow storm where he perished. His body was found frozen on a lonely deer path and left there as a warning to anyone else who might consider perpetrating the desperate but barbarous act of cannibalism.

Later, two hunters from another village come into this man's village and they told a story of how they were camped not far and a stranger in tattered clothes and very starved with brown stains on his mouth and hands came and sat by their fire. The two explained they had started out with four in their party but when they woke the next morning they found their friends were dead and had been partially devoured.

The chief consulted with the medicine man/shaman to ask about this stranger with the strange brown stains on his mouth and hands. The shaman said that it must be the man they cast out and they must find his body and give it the proper funeral rituals. When the chief went to look for the body, it was gone, there was not even a hair to indicate a body had ever been there.

The legend grew and as others told the tale the creature acquired the name Wendigo, which loosely translated means Night Walker. And it was further said that any village who refused charity to a stranger would be visited by the Night Walker who would take the flesh, blood and souls of the people of the village who did not know how to be courteous and generous to the starving stranger.

The Harcourt Book of Native American Legends by Johnathon Ferrar and Merideth Vasquez and Taboo Tales of the Cherokee by Mary Christian-Fox and The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley


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The Crossroads

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:28 am

The Crossroads
By Aslinn Dhan and Renee, Child of the Night

by Robert Johnson

I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knee.
I went down to the crossroads, fell down on my knee.
Asked the Lord above for mercy, "Save me if you please."

I went down to the crossroads, tried to flag a ride.
Down to the crossroads, tried to flag a ride.
Nobody seemed to know me, everybody passed by.

I'm going down to Rosedale, take my rider by my side.
Going down to Rosedale, take my rider by my side.
You can still 'barrelhouse', baby, on the riverside.

Going down to Rosedale, take my rider by my side.
Going down to Rosedale, take my rider by my side.
You can still 'barrelhouse', baby, on the riverside.

You can run, you can run, tell my friend-boy Willie Brown.
You can run, you can run, tell my friend-boy Willie Brown.
And I'm standing at the crossroads, believe I'm sinking down.

Renee made mention of the crossroads and it inspired me to put together this bit of information to go with her little tid about the crossroads.

First of all, the crossroads were originally described as a place where the road splits, creating a three way intersection. This is because the number three is a magikal number in many religions: The three Fates, the triune goddess: Maiden, Mother and Crone, the Law or Return of Three, the Holy Trinity. Later it simply became an intersection of two roads, like a cross or X.

Crossroads are prime magikal areas. In Faery mythology, the Fae go from one rade to another, taking familiar roads and paths, leaving magik along the way. The greatest concentrations of magik were at the crossroads, where Fae and wise human alike can use it to work their good work.

Followers of the Old Religion used to leave food at the crossroads for Hecate, the goddess of the Wise Ones (commonly known as Witches) In Vou Dou and Hoo Doo, the crossroads was the home of Legba (Elegba or Eliugia) the maker of deals and the guardian of magikal places. Magik workers use the crossroads to do their best work.

The Japanese erected Phallic (penis shaped) symbols to protect travelers. And the most common practice in nearly all cultures was to hang criminals at the crossroads to prevent them from going to purgatory and thus preventing them from being forgiven and eventually going to heaven. Suicides and Vampires were buried at crossroads to prevent them from rising up and lock their souls in the earth to prevent them hauntings. And people were indeed staked in the chest to prevent hauntings as well before they are buried in the crossroads.

As well as the literal crossroads, there are the metaphoric crossroads, which is midnight, the place between night and day. The Metaphysical, especially dealing with magik and the gods and spirits and with fertility, and as Christianity rose up and destroyed the Old Religion, it became a sinister place to make deals with the devil, as Robert Johnson is reported to have done.

Sources: The Element Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes, The Witch Book by Raymond Buckland, The New Encyclopedia of the Occult by John Michael Greer, and Faeries by Brian Froud and Alan Lee


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Hands Proclaim the Man

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:29 am

Hands Proclaim the Man By Aslinn Dhan

One of the things that has been discussed in the forum at True-Blood.net and on some articles about the show is the way the Vampires seem to have this reddish stain on their nails and cuticles and the reddish cast to their eyes. This is just a little bit why.

In the mythology about blood and cannibalism, there are myths about the fact that if you indulge in these sorts of activities that your hands will bear the signs that can never be washed off.

This sort of leads into the reason too that the Vampires have bloody tears and are red around the eyes, sort of permanent sort of "pink eye" coloration around their eyes, most obvious in Caucasian Vampires.

According to Montague Summers, Vampires are marked forever in several ways for their blood lust. He remarks that the Vampire's hands are always stained with the blood of their victims (as well as their mouths and eyes). In one investigation of a suspected Vampire, the corpse had a red discoloration of the finger nails and the cuticles. Of course, as we know more about the way a corpse goes into decay, we know that soft tissues often become a pooling spot for blood and leaves the areas discolored.

There are also legends about eating meat raw that leaves the hands stained with blood. This is even noted in the book To Kill a Mocking Bird when Jem describes Boo Radley as having stained hands from eating animals raw. In the Bible, when Cain kills Abel, Cain's hands are stained with the blood of his brother.

This condition trickles into the Vampire mythology when Bram Stoker tells us about Dracula, who not only had filthy hands but hands covered on the palms with hair (an allusion to Oananism or masturbation). The Count also had foul breath and discolored teeth and long nails and reddish rims of his eyes, all the hall marks of a predator and the eater of raw flesh and drinker of blood.

The use of a stain on the nails and cuticles and the reddening around the eyes of our Bon Temps Vampires is a nod to the old lore. And Stephen Moyer has mentioned that getting the stuff off is real chore in and of itself.

Sources: Vampires in Legend and Lore by Montague Summers and The Annotated Dracula by Matthew Crum


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Maenads

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:29 am

Maenads By Aslinn Dhan

The god of wine, Dionysus or Bacchus, enjoyed beauty, order, joy and celebration. They could also be the bringers of chaos, war and bloodshed. The maenads are an example. Maenads were the female followers of Dionysus, the most significant members of the Thiasus, the retinue of Dionysus. Their name literally translates as “raving ones”. Often the maenads were portrayed as inspired by him into a state of ecstatic frenzy, through a combination of dancing and drunken intoxication. In this state, they would lose all self control, begin shouting excitedly, engage in uncontrolled sexual behavior, and ritualistically hunt down and tear animals (and sometimes men and children) to pieces, devouring the raw flesh. During these rites, the maenads would dress in fawn skins and carry a thyrsus, a long stick wrapped in ivy or vine leaves and tipped by a cluster of leaves, weave ivy-wreaths around their heads, and often handle or wear snakes.

Maenads, also known as Bacchantes, were beautiful women who loved wine and dance and song and they loved and served their god, Dionysus. Who wouldn’t want to serve the beautiful and lusty god? But they had one problem: drinking wine and celebration made them mad, insane and full of bloodlust.

Dionysus represents these two absolutes. This was one reason why he was associated with wine. Wine intoxication (alcohol, or any substance in general, really), has one of two effects. In small doses, with moderate use, you have a spanking good time.

Enjoyable and positive, joyous and merry. Yet when you are smashed, there is an opportunity for our carnal natures to come out, partaking of violence and sex in excess.

Maenads would travel over the mountains and the forests, savage and wild and capture and kill anything in their path and eat the bloody shreds in a frenzy greater than any wild animal. According to Homer, the blind singer:

Oh sweet upon the mountain
The dancing and the singing
The maddening rushing flight
Oh sweet to sink to earth outworn
When the wild goat has been hunted and caught
Oh the joy of the blood and the raw red flesh

Their legend made them something of a demi-god, not quite divine, but worthy of sacrifice and tribute. While the gods were interested in order and beauty in their temples, the maenad had no temples but they did have the forests. Anyone wishing to make a gift to the maenad would take the gift to any meadow or small clearing in the woods and stake live animals, especially deer or goats, in an obvious spot along with wine and other precious edibles. This sometimes included virgin boys and girls and drugged warriors.

The activity of the maenads seem to relate to the religion of the Minoan culture. It may be that they have their origin as priestesses of that culture. The art of that culture has been shown to demonstrate a concern for the continuity of life. The rending of animals is an expression of that continuity. It was believed that the rending released the life force of the animal in a way that allowed it to be absorbed by the worshiper when the raw flesh of the victim was eaten by the worshipper. Dionysus can be identified with the bull of Minoan religion and the Minotaur of Greek Myth. A consistent interpretation of the Minotaur myth is that he rent his victims when he devoured them. The maenads can be related to priestesses who danced before the victims in a way that would excite the bull to rend them by goring and tossing them. The bull was then, himself sacrificed by the priestesses in an attempt to bring the life force of the bull upon them. It should be noted that bulls are much more capable of rending their victims than maenads would be.

Between frenzies, the god Dionysus would care for the maenad and set up forest shelters for them to rest and bathe and eat and frolic. He would also meet the forest women to make love, as Dionysus was a lusty god. But after they were rested and sexually fulfilled, the maenads would begin their worship and drink heavily of wine and go out a hunting again.

Daphne says that Maryann is a maenad, but that she is much more than that. That is because maenads were anointed to be the primary wielders of this arcane knowledge of balance about the universe, and that is why they were the priestesses of Dionysus. They inspired both the “good” and the “bad” in people, all in the name of Dionysus, The Green Man, The Horned God.

We can see this in Maryann. She clearly has two sides to her. She clearly is attempting to inspire goodness in people, all the while also having them confront the full reality of their human existence. In the context of the show, this obviously will fuel many of the themes surrounding good/evil, life/death/rebirth and so forth. I feel that the Maryann storyline is meant to be a hub of symbolic meaning of the show. Maryann also relates well to the mythical goddess Circe (nymph, witch, enchantress) who lived in a mansion, drugged her victims (Odysseus’s crew) with food laced with magical potions then turned them to pigs.

Sources: Mythology: Timeless Tales of the Gods and Heroes by Edith Hamilton and The Giant Book of Greek and Roman Divinities by Cassandra Eason, Mythology, Edith Hamilton, Greek Theatre Performance: An Introduction by David Wiles, Intoxication in Mythology: A Worldwide Dictionary of Gods, Rites, Intoxicants,and Place by Ernest L. Abel, Circe, Maenads, Women Followers of Dionysus

Additional research by Mike Crowley, Muvee Junkee, and Cevin.


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Vampires, Love and Sex

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:30 am

Vampires, Love and Sex
August 4, 2009 by aslinn dhan dragonhawk

Tara: Do you think they can love a person?
Lafayette: Who knows what they can do. (Episode Six: True Blood)

In our little Sookieverse, the thing we are most interested in is the love story between Bill and Sookie and possibly another attractive Vampire (You know, old what’s his name? Don’t want to do any spoilers, but you know who I mean ).
Sexuality and love are underlying themes of Vampire lore. If you consider the tale of Lilith and Adam, the story of Vlad and his doomed lover Elisabet, and Dracula and Mina, love and sex are the primary cause of their ferocity. But can we say that Vampires love?

Ancient tales of Vampire love are troubled and full of conflict. Some Vampires are pretty cold emotionally and remorseless. Think Elizabeth Bathory who was guilty of rape and murder. She simply used her blood lust to indulge in all forms of taboo. The legend of Vlad Tepes includes the story that his wife was holed up in his castle while he was fighting the Turks. The Turks wanted to weaken moral of his castle by sending a notice that Vlad had been killed in battle. Elisabet was despondent and committed suicide. When Vlad heard this, he became enraged. In modern mythology, Vlad then turns his back on God because the church refused a Christian burial for Elisabet because she was a suicide (this act of refusing God is largely mythology). But the fact that Vlad was enraged by her suicide probably contributed to his ferocity.

In Dracula, the Count meets Mina Harker and falls in love with her because she resembles a woman he loved before he became Vampire. His desire to win her and make her an eternal bride and lover is his goal. But she is not the first woman he has made a companion. In Dracula, the Count has three Vampiric wives already.

In the early Vampiric literature, the notion of sexual desire is eclipsed by the desire for blood. Bloodlust becomes a heavily coded symbol of sexual lust. It is interesting to note, however, that Vampires become asexual, that is they do not have sex, but their seduction is about the act of drinking, not about sex.

Anne Rice continues with this theme. Louie and Lestat do not ever have sex, but they get a level of sensual gratification from blood drinking. The notion of feeding is intensely more sexually fulfilling than actually having sex. And because the Vampires are asexual, their choice of victim does not matter. The so called homosexual themes in Anne Rice’s Vampire books are misplaced since it is the blood and not intercourse that the Vampires crave.

In films the first film Nosferatu, based on the book Dracula, the Count is an ugly, demonic/rodent like creature who would not be sexually appealing. The film Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi begins the notion of the sexy Vampire. His foreign good looks, deliberate way of speaking, and masculine elegance begins the truer sexual element to the Vampire mythology. The suggestion of sex between he and Lucy and his sexual desire for Mina are played up for the audience. We fear him but we are drawn to him. He is a monster, but he’s erotic and desirable.

Since then, Vampires are definitely sexy. They even begin having sex with human victims they wish to put the bite on.

With the rise of the sexy Vampire, the act of destroying the Vampire takes on a sexual dimension: the stake through the heart being the most obvious, and if you spent as much time as I have watching the old Hammer films of the 60’s and 70’s then you know what I am talking about. She is the lover of some handsome young man and she is seduced and “made” by a Vampire. The Vampire hunter gives the human suitor the stake and tells him to stake her. His final act of penetration with the stake not only reclaims her soul from damnation but he reclaims her as his lover.

Source: The Vampire Book by J. Gordon Melton and The Anne Rice Reader by Sheila Donahue and The Annotated Dracula by Bram Stoker and edited by Matthew Crum


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The Mother Goddess

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:30 am

Posted by Aslinn Dhan:
One of the objects that young Sam picks up at Maryann's house is an image of the mother goddess. Worshipped for centuries by the early people everywhere, the mother goddess is the symbol of fertility, sexuality and creation.

Depicted in various ways, the most common depiction is of a faceless female form with breasts, a large belly, obvious female genital cleft and open arms, as if in embrace. She is the incarnation of earth herself.

With the coming of more male oriented religions, primarily in the ice ages, when reliance on planting and gathering waned and hunting came to the forefront, the mother goddess was shunted to one side. With the dawn of Christianity, she was effectively replaced by the Virgin Mother of Christ, depicted as a young girl with full features, especially full hips and breasts, depicting her as the holy vessel of God's Son.

In Egypt, Isis was the mother goddess and was loved and worshipped by even the Romans, well before the arrival of Cleopatra into Rome. Women who had trouble conceiving often went to temples of Isis to receive her special blessings.

Modern Goddess worship often centers around images of Diana, though this may be something of an oxymoron, since Diana was a virgin goddess. Other mother goddess archetypes include the images of the moon, with the 1st quarter moon representing the maiden, the full moon the mother and the last quarter moon the crone.

Sources: The Elemental Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes, Goddess Alive by Elizabeth Dougan and Where There is Magik, the Goddess is Afoot by Starsinger.


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Pan, Minotaur, and the Horned God

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:31 am

Pan By Aslinn Dhan

Pan was the son of Hermes. Part man and part goat, he was the noisy merry demi-god of the forests and the mate of the wood nymphs. Pan was considered ugly but he was so jovial that all female creatures adored him. He often accompanied Bacchus, also known as Dionysus and played his merry melodies on his flute, encouraging the women to dance, among them the Maenad. He is also associated with Echo and Syrinx and even spread rumors among the gods that Hercules dressed as a woman.

Pan is the demi-god of virility and reproduction and men often wore a symmbol of Pan, a phallus, to help them reproduce sons. He is also the guardian of the shepards and goatherders and the workers of the vinyards.

When Early Christians sought a face for the Devil, they picked on poor Pan because of his goat ears and horns and legs. The Bible also used the symbols of sheep for the faithful and the goats for the unsaved so this made Pan the likely candidate for the face of Satan.

Sources: The Encyclopedia of Mythology by Eric Flaum and Edith Hamilton's Mythology by Edith Hamilton.

The Bull By the Horns
Minotaur

In Greek and Roman mythology, King Minos had a wife named Parsephae and Parsephae fell in love with a beautiful white bull. Her love and lust was unquenchable. She approached Daedelus, the one famed for the waxen wings and the ill-fated son, Icarus, to build her a hollow cow so she could mate with the beautiful white bull.

Parsephae became pregnant by the bull and gave birth to a creature with the head of a bull. Minos, being angry that his wife had cuckolded him, forced Daedelus to design and build a great labyrinth and the bull was placed into the center of it.

For his role in his wife's infedelity, Daedelus was consigned to an island with his son Icarus. There he figured out a way to escape the island by fashioning wings of feathers and wax. He explained to Icarus that the wings would melt if he flew too high into the sky. Icarus, too caught up with his flight, flew too close to the sun and his wings melted and he fell into the sea.

In the meantime, when there were disputes or other problems in the kingdom, King Minos used the minotaur as a test. If the person in question could find their way through the labyrinth, their crime was forgiven. This did not often happen and the hapless person was torn to bits by the minotaur.

In ancient times, when people went to the coliseums to watch gladiators and animal fights and all manner of bloody play, there were groups of girls and boys who were trained to dance with the bull. This dance consisted of the girls and boys standing off the bull, grabbing the bull by the horns and flipping themselves onto the bull's back. This athletic feat was always considered high entertainment, but it also took a toll on the dancers as not many actually successfully jumped onto the bull's back.

Sources: The Encyclopedia of Mythology by Eric Flaum and Edith Hamilton's Mythology by Edith Hamilton


The Horned God

When early people began to contemplate the notion of the gods and goddess that controlled their lives and environments, the people understood the world and their most basic theology through what they saw all around them. They saw the trees, the sun and the moon, the stars, and the animals that shared their visual world. When higher thought began to create notions of Creator and people began to ask the questions of how they got here on the planet, they turned to the things they knew.

They knew about the seasons and they knew about human nature but they had no reference for the face of the divine. So they observed nature and chose among them creatures that would physically represent for them the face of the god. In some cultures, it was a bear, or a jaguar, or an elephant, but in others, it was the bull and their god took on the countenance, based on the creatures in their environment, the strongest and most virile of the animals.

The notion of a horned god was the acknowledgement of the god's virility and strength. He was like the animals they saw in their everyday lives. He, or at least his animal form on earth, was a source of food and shelter and wealth. Depictions of the gods showed the humanoid creature wearing horns, his sign of strength and in some cultures, the sign of his wisdom.

Egyptians, the Hindi, the Celts and the Norse even the Romans all had some representation of the horned god. He was looked to in matters of strength, fertility (because one of early man's most sacred duties after hunting and protecting his people was the act of replenishing the tribe) and bravery. Fetishes and statues and pictures were centered in their religious lives.

The horned god also became the lover/consort of the earth mother. From their joining, came the seasons of warmth and plenty and cold and death, all in balance. The two were divine equals, dependent on one another. The people even reenacted the marriage and joining of the two with specially selected members of the community standing in for the presence of the god and goddess and acting out the celebration of conception and eventually birth. Children born of this symbolic union and were called children of the gods, or god children. (yes, that is where that expression comes from)

With the rise of Christianity, the Church wanted to convert those who still worshipped nature in all it's forms. At first, they simply wanted to convince the people that the gods and goddesses simply did not exist, that there was only one God and he was quite different from the gods and goddesses they knew. But when this did not work, they came up with an idea.

The Devil, Satan, the Adversary, is depicted in the Bible as a fallen angel, the angel of the Morning Star and for some this image of the devil was conflicting. They simply could not relate to the notion of a heavenly creature becoming something so evil. So, they decided to give Satan a make over. They gave him horns.

Now the Church could say that the old gods were not just myths that the unsaved made up to understand the way things were, the old gods, especially the horned god was the devil. In the times of the Inquisition, the witches confessed to all sorts of deeds, but the thing they most confessed to (and remember, this was generally during torture) was consorting with the horned god, in short, the devil.

In occult texts, we see use of the pentacle star, the entwined five pointed star with a single point on top. This is the symbol of witches from time in memorial. The top point represented the spirit or soul or chi of all living things and the other points represented the cardinal compass points, north, south, east and west, and the four elements, earth, wind, fire and water, and for some the guardian angels or Arch Angels: Gabriel, Michael, Uriel(aka Ariel) and Raphael.

In the early occult, the transversed star, or "upside down" star was not about evil but about balance. It represented the universe: trials, tribulations, the removal of obstacles, refocus, and regeneration. It was never a symbol of Satan.

The blame for this misunderstanding was not the fault of the Church, however. Blame this instead on Anton Sandazor LaVey, the founder of the first Church of Satan. A former carnival barker and mentalist, he annexed the shape, which references a creature with horns, as the symbol of Satanism. The same for transversed cross. Early Christians used the transversed cross for many centuries as the symbol of Peter, who was crucified upside down, according to Roman records because he reportedly said, when he learned he was to be crucified: "I am to die as my Lord died, and for this honor, I am wholly unworthy," The Romans agreed and crucified him upside down.

The obvious use of the imagery in True Blood is of course using popular but misunderstood use of symbolism.

Sources: The Horned God by Scott Cunningham, The Goddess Alive by Margaret St. Clair, The Witches Bible by the Farrars, The Reinvention of Satan by Father Michael Grolier, The Malleus Malificarum by Kramer and Sprenger, Ancient Signs and Symbols by Michael Airey


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What's your Daemon?/The Devil Inside

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:31 am

What is your Daemon?
By Aslinn Dhan

Everyone got in bunch about a lovely little book series and an even lovelier film, The Golden Compass about magikal people and their spirit companions called a daemon. That is because no really knows what a daemon is and how it works in the mythos of the ancient world and how the word was annexed by Christianity.

Daemon is a Greek word describing any supernatural helper. When Christians were trying to translate the Bible, they used the most expedient word, demon, to describe the lesser servants of Satan, the Adversary. When women gifted with supernatural abilities needed a magikal assist, they conjured their daemon to help them.

Among the daemons or demons, were the humunculus, the familiar and the fetch. The humunculus was an artificial man, made sort like a crude clone, who would do whatever the maker needed. The familiar was usually either a spirit who appeared in the shape of an animal or it was an actual animal who was endowed with an overly perceptive ability to assist a person in their magikal dealings. A fetch was a mini-me, who looked exactly like the conjurer except they were about 12 inches tall, and could do any number of tasks.

And then there is the Christian notion of demons. Demons came in all forms. For example, Beelzebub, the Lord of the Flies was the demon of disease. Asmodeus was the Lord of Deception, Mephistopheles was the Deal Maker. They all served a purpose in the demonic world.

In the world of Charlaine Harris, demons operate on a completely different plane than we are used to. They simply are a part of our world. Sookie meets her first demon in the short story One Word Answer and then we see more of him in Definitely Dead and All Together Dead. This demon's name is Mr. Cataliades and is the Queen of Louisiana's personal lawyer and representative. His nieces Diantha and the late Gladiola also act in the story (tho Gladiola only briefly). Bill tells Sookie a little about demons. For one thing, they have to be burned when they die, the earth will not consume them and neither will bugs or other animals. Their bodies will not rot and sex with them is "caustic". (Presumably, it does more than burn when you pee. :'() And they can be vicious if they are not kept in check. If you are unlucky enough to get pregnant by one of these things, you're just plain unlucky.

Demons have been courting humans since the beginning of the whole war between ood and evil and just as we have desired to give Vampires a soul, we also wish to redeem the demons of Satan's kingdom by giving them souls as well. In the series Angel, there were various demons and half demons who just wanted to be ordinary members of society. In Charmed, we had the very yummy Cole Turner (also a lawyer. WHat exactly are we to infere about the legal profession?) who desperately wanted to be Phoebe's main man er demon.

In mythology, we have incubus and succubus, who seduced men and women in their sleep, sometimes feeding off their blood (like some folks we know down in Louisiana). To make yourself desirable to an incubus or a succubus, you need only think erotic thoughts, open yourself up to fantasies of sexual love, allow your libido to become more active. (excuse me, just thinking :Smile) That's how you let the right wrong one in.

Sources: The Encyclopedia of the Occult by Michael Greer, The Encyclopedia of Occultism by Lewis Spence, The Field Guide to Demons, Devils and Imps by Jeffery Thorton, The Element Encyclopedia of the Undead by Judika Illes and John and Caitilin Matthews

The Devil Inside
What is Exorcism

"The Devil inside, the Devil inside, every single one of us has the Devil inside"- Devil Inside by INXS

Darkness- "There can be no light without dark, for I am a part of you all!" Legend

And Jesus said, "Who are you?" and the spirit cried out "Legion, for we are many," and Jesus put forth his hand and expelled the demons from the possessed and cast them into a herd of pigs and they ran into the sea and drowned. The Book of Matthew

As long as there has been the notion of evil spirits, there have been rites and rituals to rid the tormented of their possessors. Shamans, witches and priests have studied the world of evil as well as they have studied the world of the divine. In some cases, their fanatical fervor to understand the world of darkness have led them to be a sort of worshipper by proxy, expressing belief in the power of evil sometimes over the power of good.

The most visually impacting ritual comes from the Catholic Church. Because Catholicism is a religion of many religious symbols and actions for example, making the sign of the cross, the use of holy images and relics and articles and using rigid rituals well recognized by everyone even if you are not Catholic or Christian, when one says exorcism, one automatically thinks Catholic.

As a writer, you have to know what you are writing about and one of the first instances of knowing that and author actually researched and interviewed people during the writing of a book was when I read The Exorcist for the first time. William Peter Blatty actually based his story on a news account of a young boy who had been possessed by the devil and went on an odyssey of several years trying to rid himself of the demon to whom he played host.

The Catholic Church has very rigid guidelines for the procurement of an exorcism. The criteria are: speaking a language the victim has never known or studied, unbelievable physical strength, paranormal ability (telekinesis, telepathy (uh-oh), poltergeist phenomenon), swift changes in personality or physical appearance, odors and smells, aversion to all religious symbols, not simply Christian ones.

The exorcism ritual it's self is very brief, about twenty minutes long. It contains various prayers and exhortations to God, the use of religious paraphernalia (holy water; the parts of the priest's vestments, mainly the stole; crucifixes, and the Host (the wafer of Holy Communion)), and the final command in the name of God and Jesus Christ to leave the victim being inhabited. The ritual is them repeated over and over again until the demon finally obeys.

The exorcist is commanded to be free from serious sin, to have taken communion, to have fasted, and had last rites. He must be pious and well educated as the wiles of the evil spirit. He must strong and never wavering in his faith in God. One doubt can be a disaster on the part of the priest.

In modern times, however, we are more apt to say the person who claims to be possessed has some mental defect or disease. In a paper I wrote in high school psychology class, I read the books The Exorcist and Sybil. Sybil was about a woman who had multiple personality disorder, a disease that many experts believe is the real form of possession. And today's priests will often recommend counseling rather than exorcism because of what we have come to know and understand about mental illness.

The use of the ritual of exorcism is mainly based on the person's belief that they are indeed possessed and their faith that an exorcism is what will cure them. This form of psychosomatic belief in a benign cure is the basis for Lettie Mae's exorcism in True Blood. When Tara discovers that the hoodoo priestess, Miss Jeanette, is a fake, her faith is shaken, but Lettie Mae believes absolutely that the exorcism cured her of her demons.

The hoodoo exorcism is perfect example of sympathetic magik, mimicking the act of Christ. Miss Jeanette uses objects, her witch stones, her drumming and chanting and the drowning of the possum, now inhabited by Lettie Mae's demon.

Tara's killing of her demonic self is a form of sympathetic magik as well. Though drug induced, Tara believes that she is a "troubled, f*cked up person, unboyfriendable and difficult to love." To kill her symbolic self is to kill what she finds disagreeable about herself, the child she was and the way she was raised and how that "childhood trauma" made her the disagreeable person she saw herself as.

In a nut shell, that is what exorcism is about. The evil or petty bad things we do to ourselves become a part of our being. Sometimes, to rid ourselves of these demons, we feel we must take these drastic steps.

On the other hand, there are those who accept their evil natures, shrug off personal responsibility and simply proclaim "The Devil Made Me Do It". In today's modern world, it is easy to substitute any of the garden variety mental diseases that plague our world today. Much like Uncle Barnette saying "I couldn't help myself," when he sees Sookie at her grandmother's funeral.

In the Malleus Malificarum and in Bram Stoker's Dracula Vampires are treated as demons. To purify the resting places of Vampires with holy water, the Host, the rite of exorcism acknowledges the legendary belief in their innate evil. For Sookie, one of the most irrtating aspects of her relationship with Vampires, Bill in particular, is that so much of what they do seems to be beyond their control. Their being Vampire seems to be the excuse they all have for behaving less than human. For Sookie it is the same as saying the devil made them do it, showing they do not have the ability to control themselves.

Sources: The Roman Ritual, The Douay Rheims Edition of the Holy Bible (Catholic), The Exorcist by William Peter Blatty, The Malleus Malificarum by Kramer and Sprenger, The Elemental Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes, The Annotated Dracula by Bram Stoker and edited by Matthew Crum.


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Lycanthropes of the Middle East

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:32 am

Lycan'thropes in the Middle East
By Aslinn Dhan

Though legends of the children of the night are far scattered and not particularly well defined in the Islamic world, there is a curious sect still known today in North Africa, The Middle East, and the Sudan. It is the most remarkable example of Lycan'thropic ritual behavior in the modern world and still be seen today.

Isawiyya is a fanatical sect of Muslims founded in the early 1500's by fakir and mystic Sheik Abu Abd Allah Sidi Muhammed ben Isa as-Sofiani al Mukhteari, also known as Ibn Isa. (praise Allah, good luck trying to say this gentleman's name)

The followers of Sheik Ibn Isa vow to love Allah above all else and to fight the enemies of Allah with all their might and to do so they call on the powers and energies and ferocious characteristics of the animals. Because the Sheik believed he had the supernatural ability to talk to the animals, his followers were asked to assume the faces of the animals they wished to inhabit them. And as the Sheik's name means "The Hairy One" Isa being the Arabic version of the name Esau, , who in the Bible was very hairy, Ibn Isa had the power to calm the beast to work for the good of Allah, even to making the poison of snakes and other venomous creatures harmless.

Each group of new initiates must go on a pilgrimage before they are deemed worthy of participating in the sect's rituals. Before the pilgrimage, they sacrifice a young bull or calf, dressed in women's clothes, becoming a human substitute (again, praise Allah). As the ritual progresses, the brothers and sisters (very unusual in Muslim religious and cultural practices) begin to dance, much like the whirling dervish, twisting and turning until the outside world is a blur and they are in communication with Allah. When the group is especially wound up in religious ecstasy, they fall upon the body of the sacrificed animal and tear it apart and eat the beast raw, like a pack of animals.

Modern day observers also noted that the initiates also ate bowls of scorpions and small snakes to demonstrate their belief that Allah would give them the powers and energies of these creatures and protection against their venom.

Source: The Mystical World of Islam by Terigue Mustafa Islam and The Werewolf Book by Brad Steiger

The Supernatural World in Islam
The Djinn

To delve into the world of the supernatural in Middle Eastern Culture, one must first be introduced to the Djinn.

The Djinn are alternately good and evil. They are spoken of in the Koran as the helpers of the devil, Satan. They are thought of as lesser demons, who live in the world to harass, mislead, and seduce people into an evil life. Favors done for you by the Djinn are for a fee, usually something the human would find distasteful or immoral.

From the Djinn come all supernatural creatures. Usually, in an attempt to frighten people enough, the Djinn will let loose the children of the night in order that they will summon a Djinn to help them.

Vampires in Middle Eastern thought are demon-human hybrids. One of the tales of Vampires is a story of a man who loved his young wife. But his first wife was jealous of her, so she conjured a Djinn who made a very old Vampire rise up and seduce her, turning her slowly into a Vampire. As the young wife began to change, the woman began to crave blood, and at first practiced auto-vampirism, then began to chase down the children belonging to the other wives to have little sips of their blood. The man consulted a wise man who told him that he must kill his young wife because she is becoming a demon. The man can't bring himself to do it because he loves her so well. Finally, however, the young wife turns on her husband and he must kill her, by cutting her head off. He does, however discover the deception of his first wife and decapitates her as well.

Werewolves in Middle Eastern thought are much the same except the creature in question is usually a wild dog of the desert and not a wolf, and follows many of the same rules of the European werewolf tradition.

But you wouldn't have these troubles if you didn't have the Djinn. So how do you get rid of a Djinn? With iron, same as you do with faeries.

Source: The Vampire Book by J Gordon Melton, The Werewolf Book by Brad Steiger, The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley and The Element Encyclopedia of Magical Creatures by John and Caitlin Matthews


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Lupercalia and Bacchanalia

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:32 am

Let's Have A Party
The Feast of Lupercalia
By Aslinn Dhan

This is the big first hunting feast in the life of a young Roman boy. The feast is celebrated around February 15 on the feast of the wolf god Lupercus. During the celebration, the boy is blooded, that is smeared with the blood of his first kill. During the feast a young goat, symbolic of the herd animals the Romans cared for. A dog is also sacrificed, symbolic of the guardians of the herd.

After the blood is mixed together, two children of noble birth are baptized with the blood and then are wiped clean with a piece of wool dipped in milk. If the children laugh while being cleaned, they demonstrate their lack of fear of blood and their protection from not only natural wolves but werewolves.

There is also another belief that the blooded children would then be above the law and would from then on be an outlaw and a lycanthrope, free to prowl the countryside.

Source: The Werewolf Book by Brad Steiger

The Bacchanalia

The Bacchanalia was the supreme feast celebrating the god Bacchus or Dionysus. Headed primarily by women, but also joined by men, the god of wine and agriculture was summoned to the feast with dancing and drinking revelry and sex.

The feast included dancing, music, processionals and masks and costumes celebrating the free spirited nature of the god. Many of the same things we see in modern Carnivale, the celebration before Christian Lent, come from the old Bacchanalian celebration. The symbols of Dionysus were used, to include cymbals, drums, rhythm sticks, and animal representations of leopards and panthers and lions. Revelers carried stalks of fennel and priaptic wands, short staffs topped with pine cones to resemble the phallus.

Maenads, the organizers of the feast, danced the bull dance, erotic pantomime dances, and labyrinth dances. They also danced a sort of ecstatic, unstructured dancing, moving in a flexible, loose way characterized with the raising of the arms, as if in praise, twirling and swirling, and deep back bends. They also danced in circles, much like the whirling dervishes and often danced with fire.

This sort of organized ritual dancing and orgy was very popular for much of the ancient times, but even found detractors who said their unorganized form of worship went against ordered society. Livy, in his commentaries, denounced the Bacchanalia and in some parts of the pagan world, this celebration was outlawed.

Source: The Elemental Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes, The Commentaries of Livy by James Donaetian, Pagan Pageantry by Charles Duff, Dancing in Fire by Sean Gryffyd.


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Juniper, Wolfbane and Nettles

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:33 am

Juniper
By Aslinn Dhan

Carl: Taste this
Maryann: Very good, could use more Juniper. True Blood Season Two Episode Three

Juniper is the primary ingredient in gin, but what else does the lore say about the plant?

According to magikal lore, the juniper was used many ways. It was used by the Delphian Oracle as incense. The resin or sap of the bush was collected and dried to be placed on a brazier or in a coal urn to add to the aromatic steams that put the oracle in her divinatory trance.

Early Celts used the resin and leaves in much the same way and claimed that they had direct connections to the gods. Often, this was mixed with Mistletoe, another sacred plant to the Druidic Celts. They also made herbals for medicine as it seemed to have a mild narcotic effect, as an astringent to clean wounds and houses, and as an offering to the gods who would pay attention to the mortals who used juniper in their prayers.

In ancient Greece and Rome, the plant was cooked to create a wine or other herbal drink called a posset to open the mind to the gods, to connect with the gods to celebrate them and frolic and otherwise commune with them. In ancient religions, sex was as important as prayer and couples were invited to have sex in the temples and before the gods to create magikal energy and create a conduit so the gods could be among mortal men.

In Modern Witchcraft practices, this use of sex in worship is called the Great Rite and though it is practiced still in some magikal circles, it is practiced in private between a high priest and priestess. When the rite is complete, the other members of the circle rejoin the couple and absorb the magikal energies created by them with the Great Rite.

Sources: 1001 Magikal Herbs and Their Uses by Andromeda Starr, What Dreams May Come: Magik, herbs and the sacred connection by William Shepard, The Complete Book of Witchcraft by Raymond Buckland, The Book of Celtic Magik by Lewis Spencer, The Book of Greek and Roman Magik and Religion by Sybeline, The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl, Love and the Goddess by Maxine and Scott Halpern.

Warning: This bit of herbal lore is included merely for educational purposes and to add to our growing base of knowledge of the mythology of Vampires and Werewolves. Do not under any circumstances use any herb without consulting a trained and licensed physician.

Wolf Bane- What is it?

"Yeah, the full moons were a b*tch. There was an herbal drink his Irish Grandmother used to make. He learned how to make it himself. It was foul beyond belief, but he drank it on full moons when he had to be on duty and had to be seen at night and that helped him maintain__But you didn't want to be around him the next day..." From Dead to Worse (224)

Even a man who is pure in heart and says his prayers by night/ May become a wolf when the wolf bane blooms and the moon is full and bright. The Wolf Man (1941)

Wolf Bane, also called Monk's Hood, is a member of the buttercup family. It is broken into two family groups: aconitum and eranthis. The aconite family is the most dangerous. Aconite is a cardio suppressor and is used in a clarified form in the manufacture of drugs designed to regulate the heart. This drug is also found in foxglove, which the Native Americans used to calm the nerves. In very small amounts, the herb can be used as a sedative and pain reliever.

It can also be a hallucinogen, creating a sense of otherness for the person who uses it. It is most commonly used as a tonic or as an ointment.

It is called wolf bane because the flowers come up during the wolf moon, in the autumn. According to legends, wolf bane will cure werewolves and kill wolves. A small particle will kill most small animals. Bears and other foraging animals will avoid it. Even a small amount of the juice of the herb will make a person's skin numb and tingly.

Wolf bane is also well known in mythology as the plant Medea used to kill Theseus after he defeated the Amazon women. Medea is one of mythology's greatest witches, along with Hecate.

It is also used to make the werewolf potion. If there is person who wishes to become a werewolf, a witch will mix the potion for them and rub it on the person seeking transformation or they will anoint an amulet for the same purpose.

Aconite is also a component of the Zombi potion.

Source: The Werewolf Book by Brad Steiger, The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Beyerl, The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes, The Book of Werewolves by Sabine Baring Gould.

Something More Than Just Crabgrass


In episode 11, Maryann comes out of woods on a frightened Lafayette with a bit of vegetation in her hand. She explains that it is horse nettle, also called bull’s nettle, the Devil’s tomato and the apple of Sodom….Boy do the folks writing for True Blood need a crash course in herbology.

All nettles are members of the nightshade family and are to some degree poisonous. The more obnoxious thing about the nettle is the stinging fine hairs that grow on the fibrous stems and leaves of the plant. In their raw state, they are a skin irritant and may even cause a rash. Because they are members of the nightshade family they do have a mild level of toxins, but you would have to eat more than your fair share to become sick and even them you are likely to have only a severe case of diarrhea. Nettles, in proper amounts, and cooked like greens, removing the stinging nettles, are very nutritious, have tons of vitamins, and lots of iron.

Back before modern medicine, nettles were used to clean one out, as tonic for the kidneys and as na expectorant for the lungs. It does have a bitter flavor but this was favored to cleanse a tired pallet and as seasoning for wild game. It was also thought of as an abortive, that is it would induce a miscarriage (though this may be herbal myth and should never be tried) and as a wash to stimulate child birth (sort of an old fashioned petosin).

It was also thought of in magical circles as an aphrodisiac. A potion of nettle tea or a warm poultice on a tired man was thought to bring him to life and ready for love.

The Apple of Sodom is kin to the mandrake and grows exclusively in Israel. Mandrake, also called the may apple, was thought to be the soul of seeds blown onto the ground during an act of Oananism (male masturbation) or through the automatic orgasm of man who has been hanged. It gets it’s name because it is thought to be found grown primarily in the location of the Biblical Sodom and Gomorrah and is not related to the Devil’s Tomato.

It is also well known as an aphrodisiac and as a sedative.

Both plants and their fruit can also be used as a gate way to spiritual communion with the gods and is used in the most notorious of potions of all in magic, the flying potion.

Sources: The Complete Herbal by Nicholas Culpepper, The Master Book of Herbalism by Paul Bereryl, and Magical Herbalism by Scott Cunningham


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Repository of Souls

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:33 am

Repository of Souls
By Aslinn Dhan

"There is a way a warrior can protect his soul in battle, by placing it in the tree tops, or burying it in the ground," Black Elk, Lakota Sioux war leader.

The notion that one can protect their soul and preserve it against harm is an ancient one. Egyptians believed that in the embalming process, the heart was the throne of the soul and personality. The brain was considered waste and not preserved at all. It was pulled unceremoniously through the nose and tossed int he embalming cauldron. Still appropriate as every living creature has just enough brains to tan it's own hide.

The heart was carefully preserved and soaked in natron infused oils and dried and sealed in a canoptic jar and carefully buried with the body. Other African tribes did the same thing and eat the heart was to consume the spirit of someone in the practice of the Aztecs. But what about the soul of the living person?

There are a multitude of ways the soul can be preserved. This is through mystical transfer of the soul into a container. They may use bowls or jars or even the ubiquitous egg. The ritual would capture the essence of the soul, the spark of life and seal it into a container that would then be hidden.

European Witches and Vou Douists made poppets (the notorious voo doo doll) out of clay or wood and deposit tag locks: hair, nail clippings, blood, urine, and semen. They may write spells or charms to include with the samples, and put in charmed stones or bones or other personal symbols and then they would hide it, usually burying it. Many witches who work with the spirits through necromancy or other summoning rituals may do this for personal protection.

One of the most popular methods is the witch jar. A witch would take a small jar with a lid and fill it with herbs and salt and all the things that might go into poppet and hide the object. In Italy, it was not uncommon for a woman to bring her child to see a Stregia, a witch, to have a jar or poppet made and the object would be passed to the child at adulthood for them to care for.

Eggs are perfect repositories for the soul, especially if it is for a short time only. The egg would be washed in rainwater, given a nest, and placed under the bed of the person needing protection. The egg would be fed either small amounts of milk or sugar. After the danger had passed, the egg would be buried so that it would open and release the spark of life into the universe and find it's home again in it's body.

Source: The Witch Book by Raymond Buckland, The Ways of Egyptians by Mohammad el Sharas, The Serpent and the Rainbow by Wade Davis, The Elemental Encyclopedia of Witchcraft by Judika Illes


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Sign of the Werewolf

Post  Guest on Tue Jan 11, 2011 7:34 am

Sign of the Werewolf
By Aslinn Dhan

"Well, it's written in the star light/ And in every line of your palm" Dire Straits- Brothers in Arms

In the classic Universal film The Wolfman the sign of the werewolf was the outline of the five pointed star. It appeared on the palms of the wolfman's next victim. But there were signs that the person was a werewolf and usually on the hands, presumptively because everyone saw the hand whereas other parts of the body were hidden by clothing or hats.

And because the werewolf legends are so inextricably woven together, many of the signs were considered signs of the Vampire, as well. If one knew these signs, then action could be taken to protect yourself and find the werewolf in your midst.

To identify the werewolf, one of the first signs was hair on the palm. The origins for this varies. One of those are the connection with the ancient myth that if you masterbated or had impure thoughts, you would have hair on your palms. This sexual connection also suggests that you had been open to the evils of the incubus or succubus, the demons who visited you in the night and influenced impure thoughts as you slept. There is also the notion that werewolves (and Vampires to an extent) were hypersexual, that they had increased sexual desires and needs, more in the way of an animal or demon than a civilized, Christian person.

Hair on the palm also suggested that werewolves never completely lost the animal self between the full moon phases. Also, the werewolf is far warmer than an ordinary person. This is something Sookie notes as her experiences with other supernaturals increased. She constantly contrasts the warmth of shifters and weres to the deathly coolness of the Vampires she was connected with.

"He was so warm after Bill, whose body never got up to
warm. Tepid, maybe." Living Dead in Dallas
(54)

Another way to recognize the werewolf among you was the color of the palms. If they seem to be dark or rusty red colored, the person was definitely thought to be werewolf because the blood of raw flesh being eaten, especially human flesh, never washed off. Then there are the teeth. The werewolf, even in his human state, has stronger, more animal like teeth with longer canines than regular people. For example, in another time, Stephen Moyer, our own Bill Compton, would have been suspected of being a werewolf because of his longer canine teeth.

Werewolves are also thought to have a strong scent, a wilder, animal-like smell, more like a dog or wolf. And their breath, it was said, was to smell of raw flesh. If you observe the eyes of a werewolf, they have the feral look and animal coloring and shape of the werewolf. In Dead as a Doornail, when Sookie meets the leader of the weres of Hot Shot, she remarks that his eyes could never pass for human because of the purity of his were blood.

Strength, of course is another hallmark of the werewolf. And this is evident whether in his human form or his wolf form, as the spirit of the creature inside him increases his own physical strength.

So keep your eye on your neighbor, whether it is a big hairy guy who can lift the tail end of a pick up truck with one hand,or that pizza delivery boy with hairy palms, or a handsome Britisher with longer than normal canines. You just never know when you are rubbing elbows with someone just a little more than human.

Sources: The Werewolf Book by Brad Steiger, From Wolf to Man by Robert Eisler, The Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves and Other Monsters by Rosemary Ellen Guiley


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Re: Mythology of True Blood and the Sookie Books

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