How Wolf Spirits Turned Into Vampires

How Wolf Spirits Turned Into Vampires

From spirit to undead, Eastern folklore melded with Greek beliefs to create Dracula.
313
views

When we think vampire, we think Count Dracula, and we have Bram Stoker to thank for that. During the vampire mania of Europe in the 17th and 18th century, folklore became grossly exaggerated and the vampire of the Victorian era was born. However, if you want to look at one of the first mentions of traditional vampirism, you have to go to Greece.

th to 17th centuries. Refugee folklore melded with local beliefs to create new monsters. Enter the Greek vrykolaka.

The very term vrykolaka is derived from the Romanian viraculac which roughly translates as ghoul, ghost, or demon. In fact, most Eastern European countries have a very similar name: in Serbian vukodlak, in Polish wilkołak, and Lithuanian vilkolakis. The Turkish word uber meaning witch is also similar.

It was an evil spirit or entity of supernatural origins which could possess a human form, but most often took the form of a wolf or dog. Think werewolf. This is where vampirism and werewolves intersect. They were correlated with the eclipse, a demon hound devouring the sun for an eternal night.

The Greek vrykolaka had roots in these stories. At its start, it was supernatural. Inhuman. A demon or specter, malevolent ghoul. But it wasn’t flesh. It appeared in the daylight. It didn’t drink blood. It harmed humans, yes, but by suffocating them. It was believed a vrykolaka would sit on a victim, smothering them or crushing the breath from their chest. No blood.

Then something changed. This Slavic/Romanian demon became human, the dead has risen. A revenant. That’s because the Greeks blended the viracolac with their own beliefs. And there were three. One: Blood contained power, a life force if you will. Two: a body could be brought back to life. Resurrected. And finally, three: supernatural beings drank human blood.

You can see the common vein of thinking here; a demon could possess a body, drink the life-force of the living, and become flesh. Look at the Greek tragedy, the Iliad. “Odysseus fills a pit with sheep's blood to feed the shade of the seer Tiresias. Once the ghost has drunk the blood, he is able to speak.” Blood gave the supernatural power. This was common knowledge to the Greeks, same as we believe vaccines cause autism.

So, how is a Greek vampire born? The most common way is an improper burial. But one could “turn” into a vrykolaka after death through suicide, a violent death, or a sinful life. A person is murdered. A family buries a relative quickly after dying of disease, not waiting for the priest and risking its spread. An alcoholic dies, he returns thirsty for more ale… and the blood of his neighbors.

These bloodthirsty revenants became a real crisis for the Greek peoples. The Isle of Santorini became a hub for exorcists and vampire slayers. The profession was as common as scribes and healers. It was believed a vrykolaka couldn’t swim across the sea. So, to protect the mainland, bodies believed to have turned were sent by boat to the Isle.

This blending of supernatural lore with Greek beliefs birthed the vampire. The malignant revenant of someone once dead began as a demon who wanted to steal the sun and smother people. And the superstition of the vrykolaka persists today. “The vrykolakas is said to knock on the doors of homes, and if the residents do not answer right away, the creature will pass on to the next residency.” A Greek will answer only if you persist with a second knock.

Cover Image Credit: Graham Ridgewell

Popular Right Now

To Every Father Figure In My Life, Thank You

You didn't have to be who you are, but I'm grateful.
1287
views

Another Father's Day has come and gone. To some of us, it's less of a celebration of thanks and more of a salt on an open wound type of deal.

You see, some of us don't have a biological father to celebrate on fathers day. My dad passed away when I was very little, some people were abandoned by their fathers, so on and so forth. But that doesn't mean we don't have a few positive male role models in our lives.

So I want to say thank you to my father figures.

When my dad was no longer around, so many people in this community and throughout my life stepped up to keep an eye on me. Thank you for teaching me what I deserve. Thank you for teaching me how to be the best I can be. Thank you for teaching me kindness and humility. Thank you for wiping the dirt off my face when I fell down. Thank you for giving me a man to look up to and a hero.

It is important for you to know that you didn't have to do all you did for me, but I am forever grateful for the support. I wouldn't be the person I am today, or have the dreams I do or the motivation to accomplish them without you.

Nobody could ever replace my dad, but your support and love can be held in just as high if not higher regard.

So thanks again, for doing what you didn't have to do; being a step dad, a grandpa, or just a family friend, thank you for being my father figure.

Cover Image Credit: Dalle Rutledge

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

9 Things I Miss About Florence Now That I'm Home

It's been a month since I left
112
views

I've been home for about a month now and when I arrived back in SC I was so incredibly happy about being back and seeing familiar things are understanding what people were saying around me. Lately, I've been finding myself reminiscing about my semester abroad and I realized how many things I loved about Florence. While there are quite a few things I don't miss, like the constant smell of cigarette smoke and the rain, here are a few things I miss about Florence now that I've been back for a while.

1. My roommates

Maggie, Kate, and Rachel were the best roommates a gal could ask for! I tell people at home stories about you guys all the time (mostly when I have to explain doing Maggie's pasta making dance), which is weird because they don't know you at all. It's so wild that we went from living in our tiny apartment and seeing each other every day to being miles away from each other.

2. Being able to walk anywhere in the city

Charleston is kind of similar but not in the same way. In Florence, you're never more than 10 minutes away from anything you could ever need (except chick-fil-a) and I appreciated that.

3. Conad

"The Nad" as Kate would say. I went to this grocery store almost every single day, whether to buy stuff for dinner, just a pack of cookies, or a baguette on my way back from class. I loved Conad and I LOVED only spending 15 euro on groceries that held me over for a whole week.

4. Sitting on Ponte Alla Carraia with a cup of gelato in my hand

In my previous articles, I mentioned how I got gelato almost every single day. Well, the bridge by my apartment is where I would perch myself and enjoy some people watching, the sunset, and most importantly my gelato. I've inserted a picture from the last night I was there and everything was so incredibly golden.

5. Piazzale Michelangelo

A classic spot on any tourist itinerary but something that you should never skip seeing. The hike up there wasn't ideal but the view was wonderful.

6. Taking the train

I LOVE traveling by train. It was so convenient (well for me anyway) and so relaxing. I know people take the AMTRAK here but I don't so this was special for me.

7. Pizza

I don't want to be that bitch when I say that I don't think I will ever have the desire for American pizza ever again. Il Pizzaiolo has a little piece of my heart forever and I just can't eat Dominos anymore (well at least not yet).

8. Going to Zara every other day

I might have had a small shopping problem while abroad. Whenever I went out for a walk I would end up in one of the two Zaras that were only 5 minutes from my apartment. I couldn't be tamed. I don't have a Zara anywhere near me at home so I guess I'll have to settle for shopping online

9. All of the rat dogs

I didn't think I loved the truly tiny dogs but now I want like, 12.

There many more obvious things that I know I miss too, like the history and seeing the Duomo every day on my way class but these things just ring true today. I didn't think I would miss Florence already, but I kind of do.

Cover Image Credit: Ellinor Lindahl

Related Content

Facebook Comments