Friday, May 18, 2012

Supernatural Friday: Vampires: Part 2

It is interesting that author Sherrilyn Kenyon has written paranormal romances concerning being called Dark Hunters (sort of vampires, but good guys), all going back to the Greek goddess, Artemis. The ancient Greeks had feared vampiric like the Lamia, a demon with the head and torso of a woman and the lower body of a snake (and I am not talking about the Medusa). One of the versions of the legend, Lamia was one of Zeus' mortal lovers. Filled with anger and jealousy, Zeus' wife, the goddess Hera, made Lamia insane so she would eat all her children. Once Lamia realized what she had done, she became so angry that she turned into an immortal monster, sucking the blood from young children out of jealousy for their mothers.

The Greeks believed in and feared the empusai, the malicious daughters of Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft. The empusai could change form and they rose from Hades (the underworld) at night as beautiful women. They seduced shepherds in the field, devour ing them afterwards. A similar creature, the baobhan sith, appears in Celtic folklore.

There have been creatures like vampires in the mythology of Asia. Indian folklore describes a number of nightmarish characters, including rakshasa, gargoyle-like shape-shifters who preyed on children, and vetala, demons who would take possession of recently dead bodies to wreak havoc on the living. In Chinese folklore, corpses could rise from the grave and walk again. A k'uei was created when a person's p'o (lower spirit) did not pass onto the afterlife at death, usually because of bad deeds during life. The p'o, angered by its horrible fate, would reanimate the body and attack the living at night. One particularly vicious sort of k'uei, known as the Kuang-shi (or Chiang-shi), had the ability of flight and take on different forms also. Covered in white fur, these fiends had glowing red eyes and bit into its prey with sharp fangs.

Nomadic tribes and traveling traders spread different vampire legends throughout Asia, Europe and the Middle East. As these stories traveled, their various elements combined to form new vampire myths. In the past 1,000 years, vampire legends have been especially pervasive of eastern European contributions.

Next Friday, I will post about the folklore of the European vampires—who insoired the novel, Dracula and many modern vampire novels, and what most people think of as vampires.

1 comment:

Gerri Bowen said...

Very interesting, Pamela!