Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Top 3 Apotropaic Means of Keeping Vampires at Bay!

Welcome to Day Three of Vampire Week!  So far we've looked at a disorder that makes a person think he's a vampire and a disease that makes OTHERS think one is a vampire!  Today's post will go in a little bit of a different direction and start with a vocabulary lesson.

'Apotropaic' is a word generally used to mean something that wards off demons and other evil spirits, but is often used to describe the various methods of stopping a vampire.  Technically, it is defined as "preventing or intended to prevent evil," and comes from the Greek word apotropaios, meaning turning away from evil.

So...what ARE some ways of stopping a vampire?  Here are just a few of the many apotropaic objects and practices that are said to not explicitly kill a vampire, but could keep it from killing you!  I want this to be an interactive post, so please list any further examples in the comments!

Vampires Hate Garlic
But WHY do they hate garlic?  Well, mostly because Bram Stoker said so!  Seriously, most of the myths and legends we hold so dear about vampires comes directly from Bram Stoker's Dracula.  However, there is some historical precedence on why vampires have such an aversion to the stinky bulb. For one, vampires are believed to have very heightened senses, including the sense of smell and therefore cannot stand the pungent aroma.  Garlic also has a long history of having healing properties, beginning in Ancient Egypt and spreading into Europe and the Slavic countries.  Garlic was seen as a means of keeping the plague away, and thus to the thought process of these people, also kept evil spirits away since sickness and plague was merely a product of these evil spirits.  Today, we know that garlic contains antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties, as well as a chemical called allicin, which all fight off bacterial infections.

More info from:
Why Mosquitos Won't Bite Someone with "garlic blood"

Vampires Cannot Enter a Home Without Being Invited
I found a very compelling article on where this myth comes from, and apparently it has a lot to do with free will.  God gave man free will, and consequently, he can use that free will to invite a vampire into his own home.  A vampire, being the antithesis of God's creatures, does not have this free-will, and must seek permission from the home's owner before being granted access across the threshold.  Also, a legitimate guest can also give permission since you are essentially and symbolically granting a guest a small piece of "ownership" of the property.  My personal all-time favorite example of this seen in pop culture comes from the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie, when David Arquette's character is floating several stories up, trying to get Pike to let him in the window...and again where the vampires storm the senior dance.  When asked who invited them in, the girl in charge yells, "We did!  They're seniors!"

More info from:
Simply Supernatural

 Vampires Have OCD
Several months ago, during a bout of insomnia, I caught a late night showing on SyFy of Dracula II: Ascension.  I had seen bits and pieces of this movie before, but this was the first time I watched it beginning to end.  It wasn't the best vampire movie I've ever seen, but it was actually the inspiration for this post!  As I was looking up some info behind something I noticed in the film, I first learned the word, apotropaic.  Anyway, I was looking up information on why vampires are so darn OCD!  In the film, in an effort to "stop" the vampire when it broke loose, the characters employed some old tricks.  Apparently, vampires feel compelled to untie any knot they come across and also count any quantity of item, such as beans, seeds, rice or sand.  Obviously, this didn't work because even if the vampire was a little (or a LOT) OCD, he can still accomplish such tasks with lightning speed, making exploiting his anxiety disorder not really useful as a deterrent.  However, in much vampire literature, the exploitation of this arithromania and other OCD compulsions is cited as a method of escape, and it is even said that some suspected vampires had their coffins filled with seeds or grains of sand to prevent them from rising nightly as they spent the entire night counting instead of sucking blood.  Unfortunately, I've yet to determine WHY vampires are prone to this particular mental disorder.  However...if you follow my blog, you MIGHT have a little insight as to my own thought processes and maybe can guess EXACTLY what pop culture connection I made from this little fun fact:

It is unclear as to whether or not Jim Henson studios was aware of  a vampire's OCD, or if The Count's arithromania  was simply a play on words, lol.

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