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Vampire

Vampir - Dušan Božić
A vampire is a demonic creature known to all Slavs. People can turn into vampires after their death, as well as during their lives. For the nature of vampires to be understood better, something should be said about the Slavs’ belief of the life after death.
            The Slavs believed that a person has the body and the soul which are inseparable during their lives. After death the soul separates itself from the body and goes to another world – the world of the dead (Nav). However, according to the tradition and customs preserved until nowadays, the journey to another world lasted for 40 days. During that time the soul visited the home of the deceased, and dwelled in the places where the deceased had most often dwelled. If the death was difficult, it meant that the deceased was unwillingly parting with his soul. It was believed that good, honest and just people part with their souls more easily than the evil and the unjust. The evil, as well as those who found it difficult to part with their soul on their dying bed were the ones who usually turned into vampires. It mostly happened within the forty days, before the soul entered another world (Nav). However, the soul of the evil could not access the other world, so it remained trapped in the world of the living. Such soul would return to its body and the dead person would become a vampire. If a soul was trapped, it could reenter the body even after the forty days.
            The deceased whose grave had been crossed over by an animal could also turn into a vampire. The cat was usually mentioned as a culprit. There was also a belief that if the person’s body was not burnt after their death, their soul could remain trapped inside their body forever, in this world, and that the person could become a vampire.
            In various parts of the Slavic world, the vampire is called by different names: vukodlak (werewolf), lampir, lapir, vjedogonja, jedogonja, and most often – upir. A Proto-Slavic word for ‘fire’ is pir, and un signifies negation. Unpir, or upir is a word for a creature that fire cannot harm, that is, it signifies a being condemned to be trapped inside the body of a person which was not burnt.
            A vampire was imagined as a blood-coloured man, with no flesh or bones, filled with a red gelatinous mass. It was believed that a vampire could be destroyed if his skin was damaged. In that case, the gelatinous mass would leak out of his body. Vampires are said to have often returned to their wives, and even to have had children. The children of a vampire could be either humans or vampires, depending on the gender of the vampire and of the child. If they were of the same sex, the child would become a vampire, too. A vampire could be invisible, and he also appeared as a man, or as a dog, sometimes even as a wolf. He could pass through the slightest opening or a hole. Vampires did evil deeds. They usually strangled their victims and drank their blood. People could not notice them, but domestic and farm animals grew restless during their presence.
            Different precautions were taken for the purpose of destroying a vampire, such as putting thorns around the grave so that the vampire would damage his skin. These measures appeared along with Christianity and the disappearance of the habit of burning the dead. The Slavs believed that hawthorn had magical qualities, so a hawthorn stake was the most efficient weapon in the battle against vampires. Cajkanovic is of an opinion that a hawthorn stake was used to hammer the deceased to the coffin; however, his skin would also be damaged by the act. Wine used to be poured into the mouth of the deceased because it replaced the blood and satisfied the vampire’s lust for blood.
    
Vampir - Ana Milojković Omi
        A person could become a vampire during their life if they were possessed by the evil spirit; however, in certain areas, it was thought that one could even become a vampire during their life due to the lack of spells cast on a child at an appropriate moment, or if a person signs some kind of a contract with demonic forces. Living vampires also did evil deeds and drank blood, they brought diseases; however, it was more difficult to destroy them. A living vampire was also called koldun by the Russian, and prikoljish by the Vlahs.
            The vampire is mentioned in The Nestor’s Chronicle; in Dusan’s Code, a penalty was prescribed for those who dug up vampires, whereas a 7th century Nomocanon prescribes a penalty for burning a werewolf. Vampires became a particular sensation in Europe at the beginning of the 18th century. It is believed that the first mentioning of the notion in Western Europe occurred in the Austrian magazine Vossische Zeitung number 98, which was published in 1725. There was a report of the death of Petar Blagojevic (Peter Plogojowitz) after which ten more people died, who said that Blagojevic had contacted them. The team of doctors was even sent from Vienna. After the grave had been dug up, the non decomposed body of Blagojevic was found with traces of blood on his teeth.

Nikola Milošević
Translated by Jelena Salipurović