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Halloween - It's Origins, Customs, and Legends

Halloween Customs | Halloween Origins | Witches | Vampires | Ghosts | Werewolves | Mummies | Irish Legends

Vampires

One scary character you’re destined to see in the shadows on Halloween night is a vampire. Our western culture has some deeply rooted connections to the ghastly bloodsucker. We find tales of vampires all over the world and throughout time. With her Vampire Chronicles, contemporary author Ann Rice has most recently revived an undying interest in vampires. This series of dark novels explore the seductive, secretive world of vampirism and her books Interview with the Vampire and Queen of the Damned spawned the popular movies of the same name.

Before Rice, it was Bram Stoker’s Dracula that bridged the legend into modern culture. Vlad the Impaler has been identified as the historical Dracula. He became the ruler of Wallachia, (present-day Romania) just south of the Carpathian Mountains in 1456. Twenty years earlier, Vlad’s father had been a member of the Order of the Dragon, a Christian brotherhood dedicated to fighting the Turks. The name Dracula literally means “son of Dracul” or “son of the dragon.” Dracula’s serial, brutal methods of killing and displaying his enemies' corpses earned him the name the Impaler.

The idea of drinking another’s blood goes back to early religious practices. Human sacrifice and cannibalism remain highly taboo subjects, but indeed these rituals are embedded firmly in pre-Christian doctrine. The consumption of the body was a ceremonial act to ensure continued unity with the deceased. Blue bloods are said to have become so by drinking the blood of martyrs, thereby ensuring them a direct link with god. The rites of the Sacrificial King seem ghoulish to us now, but to our early ancestors, this was a way to directly communicate with deity. The one to be sacrificed was happy to serve to his people as a direct messenger to god.

Some contend that the story of Jesus borrowed from this Sacrificial King concept as Jesus was considered a martyr for his people, was made to wear a false crown of thorns, and placed above his head was a sign that bore the letters INRI. These are the Hebrew letters Yod Nun Rish Yod, which stand for Jesus, King of the Jews. The act of devouring the martyr was ritualized at the Last Supper with the taking of the Eucharist.

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever." – John 7:53-58.

Continue to Part V - Ghosts

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About The Author
Wendy Brinker is an artist and writer in Columbia, SC. Read more of her essays at www.meridiangraphics.net or view her commercial work at www.drpmedia.co.

 

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