I'm at a loss and feeling a little insecure. Not that I would hang garlic in the windows and dare not invite anyone into my house (although caution is never in short supply), but still, this bloody morsel is big.
A Vampire. The Undead, the Creature of the Night... by golly, where to begin? With Bram Stoker, who turned a half-forgotten demon into a media star? Or a list of Internet sources...
Fortunately, there is a way. Just choose one angle, and I choose ethnography and the Slavic area. For more than obvious reasons.
The belief in vampires is widespread throughout the world, due both to the aforementioned author of Dracula and the fact that creatures feeding on human blood are indeed found all over the planet. It should be noted, however, that in its original form, it is a lycanthropic cult, and the true hero of hundreds of books and films should be a werewolf.
But it isn't, and Bram Stoker's influence, though not the only one, is clear.
The first part of the famous novel (admit it, who's read the whole book?) is set in Transylvania, a territory that, for the inhabitants of Western Europe, had the charm of a kingdom of wizards and mystery. One of the biggest bestsellers of Stoker's time, Verne's Le Château des Carpathes (The Carpathian Castle) was published in 1892, five years before Dracula. Transylvania, of course, was just territory to be conquered after Gothic fiction had exploited the medieval castles of France and Italy. And it offered - besides a wild landscape, equally wild inhabitants, and an equally troubled history - a generally conceived demonology.
We know that Bram Stoker made the main hero of his work a real historical figure - Prince Vlad IV of Transylvania. Tepes, also known as the Impaler - and Dracul, or Dracula, which meant nothing other than the title Dracon(arius), bestowed on Vlad III by the Emperor Constantine, which meant the Bearer of the Dragon Banner. For the Tepes had always fought the Turks, and they were basically willing to fight anyone and even befriend anyone if it meant independence for Transylvania or considerable advantages. However, Vlad IV had such distinct predilections that he stood out even in an age that considered impalement, mass burnings, and other pastimes to be a common way of applying the law. Our dear Dracul built up such a strong reputation that even in 1999, before the solar eclipse that delighted all Central Europeans, the inhabitants of the village where Tepes' castle stood six hundred years ago were terrified, expecting the fulfillment of the prophecy that the Impaler would rise from the dead at the upcoming astronomical phenomenon.
The real treasure trove of ethnographic material concerning vampirism, however, is a little further south in Bulgaria. Not coincidentally.
Even the Old Slavic word opir reveals Turkish origins. The second clue is the spread of indigenous vampires – from China to Central Europe. And if we look into the history, we find that it closely follows the area of the Turcotarian outbreaks. Avars, Mongols, Hungarians. And also the Bulgarians. They arrived in the territory north of Greece – and here, thanks to the political situation at those times, an interesting phenomenon occurred. While everywhere else the invaders were a threat and a danger, the Slavs welcomed the nomads in this area, because they needed a strong ally to help them against Byzantine expansionism. For the Bulgarian raiders, the possibility of creating a state came in handy. The two nations soon merged, and each adopted cultural matters from the other. Although one version of the origin of the vampire tales suggests that it was the nomadic habit of drinking horse blood and the pathological fear of Europeans that accompanied the raiders that brought these legends together, the more likely explanation is really cultural.
The Turcotarian peoples brought with them a change in burial ritual – while the Slavs burned their dead, the invaders buried them in the ground. The Bulgarians, now a Slavic nation, adopted this ritual. Along with it, the Mongols fear the Beyond and the dead. Later, thanks to the influence of Christianity, which also rejected burial by fire, the breeding ground for vampirism was secured.
In Bohemia, we find the earliest recorded case in the Neplach Chronicle, which took place in 1336 in the Kadaň region.
Among the Slavic human demons, which originally included mainly the werewolf, the Mare, or the mavka, the vampire thus migrated with the Mongols. What will ethnography tell us next?
We have found out why the vampire is. But how does one become one – and I am referring now to a specific person – a vampire?
Forget about making vampires by sucking the blood of poor victims who, being thus turned into vampires, continue to expand the army of the undead exponentially. Now, that's never been believed – and the simple maths proves that something is not working here, or we are all vampires. The main reason, however, lies not in mathematics, but in the fact that turning into the Undead originally does not carry the attribute of horror and terror.
There are two ways in which man could become undead. The first is more or less deterministic – a suicide, a sorcerer, or a werewolf became a vampire. Also, a child, sired by a witch and a werewolf. Or a child who had teeth at birth (Don't panic if you find pre-milk teeth, dentes connatales, in your offspring. This can really happen, and your little one is definitely not a vampire.)
Even a person of impeccable lineage may not have avoided the afterlife experience. All it took was for a man to walk over his corpse, an animal to run over it, or a bird to fly over it and bring life back.
The marching transfusion station - I'm not refuting this anymore - preserves its corporeal shell from decay by drinking human blood, with children among its most frequent victims. The vampire doesn't disdain animal blood either. Only animal blood is fed to real vampires, bats of the subfamily Desmodontinae. These tiny creatures, no more than a few centimeters long, do not use suction in their teeth but lick the blood from the wound with their tongues. The corresponding enzyme in their saliva reduces blood clotting and leaves the blood pub open way over opening time. But this is nature magic, not demonology.
Vampires of the latter, unwanted, group often target their own family – a wonderful way to settle scores with relatives or in-laws after death. The vampire's sexual urges don't leave with death. Nothing prevents him from having sex with his (living) wife, but the children born from this union are boneless.
As for the daily (actually nightly) regime, know that the vampire we have revealed rises from the grave at the stroke of midnight, if the moon is shining, and returns with the first crow of the rooster. He appears in his own original form, of course, but because he is also granted metamorphic powers, the vampire can transform into an animal. His favorite was originally not the bat, but one of the geographically close beasts, in Europe most often the wolf, in Asia the tiger. Which again alludes to the origins of the lycanthropic cult. As a truly supernatural being, the vampire can turn into inanimate things also. A haystack or a snow globe are examples.
That would be. There is only one more, but very important chapter of our short excursion - How to do them?
Ethnography will again tell us the relevant practices, but at this point backed up by the authority of archaeological science.
Thus: do you have a vampire?
As has been observed in early Slavic burial sites, a stake or spike driven into the heart, mouth or groin almost always works. Was it different in your case? Then turn the corpse on its face. Still nothing? Cut off the head and place it between the legs. Tie hands to a chest. Not yet? How about putting a pebble or a coin under the tongue? Still hanging around at night, bothering the neighbors? Try the nomadic trick of chopping off feet or legs below the knees. The Mongols used to do that. And it helped. Not for you? I won't give you Van Helsing's phone number, but just try burning the corpse. This last instance contradicts the burial ritual and therefore the entire faith, but if you can't do it any other way, then your Avar religion must go.
Now you should be done worrying. A ...
By the way, you know that book called, damn it ... it's written by Mr. Smullyan, the mathematician, published in 1978, I mean, you know the book called What Is the Name of This Book? It's about logic, and there's a whole chapter devoted to logic puzzles involving vampires and Count Dracula. I'm not gonna try any of them on you because they're some of the harder ones. But Smullyan also proves the difference between a mathematician and a physicist, and I'll stop there.
The house is on fire. You have a hydrant and a hose. What do we do now? You connect the hose to the hydrant and start extinguishing, simple as that. But what if you wake up the next morning and you're faced with a problem where you own a hydrant, a hose, and a house that's not on fire.
If you thought of setting the house on fire to convert the problem into one you can solve, then you are of a mathematical nature. So if you've read this far, then you know how to do it.
And you have a vampire?
The Vampire (1897) by Philip Burne-Jones, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
19.7. 2023 (17.4. 2002)
(based on Czech folk traditions)
The most demonic creature of Christian demonology, of course, comes from a much deeper past (like the Arabian jinn). Many evil demons from pre-Christian mythologies found new job in this company; other originally harmless or good beings were later assigned to the devils – the most famous devil's form is basically a copy of the appearance of the ancient Greek god Pan.
The usual – and official – theory of the origin of the devils is the famous quarrel between the Lord and his first representative, Lucifer. An unsuccessful attempt at a coup ended in defenestration – the laws of physics cannot be fooled when falling from a celestial height, so the fallen angels burrowed deep beneath the earth's surface. There they set up a dissenting company called Hell – from there they went out into the world to tempt humanity. Not unlike an insurance agent, the devil made contracts signed in human blood.
The Czech idea presents the devil in human form, with a hoof (sometimes without, but always limping), but it is not the only one – the devil takes on many different forms. And all sorts of names. Devils are no fun, and their name was taboo for sure. That's why the entire Christian world has created dozens, maybe hundreds of nicknames. Each of the regional varieties of devils differed in some way, and of course there were many stories, tales and legends about them. And that's why I'll stop here and for now. See the devils in action, stuffing sinners into cauldrons, and wait. Links to the entire devil army will gradually appear here.
Here it is, in alphabetical order:
Abigor, Agares, Akiabel, Amacarak, Armers, Asaradel, Asmodai, Asmotheus, Astorah, Astaroth, Azazel, Baal, Bael, Balam, Barbatos, Barcayal, Beelzebub, Belfego, Belial, Beltebor, Berlic, Bune, Byleth, Caym, Čechman, Cerberus, Čerchan, Čerchmant, Čermák, Černast, Černý, Červ, Červivec, Chamas, Čmert, Culicchia, Ďas, Decarabia, Eligor, Farfanicchio, Farfarello, Fistolo, Forneus, Furfur, Gomory, Hebelfurch, Hutgin, Jalbl, Lucifer, Mammon, Martinet, Mephistopheles, Murmus, Naberus, Nedobrý, Orias, Oze, Pursan, Rohatý, Runzefal, Santu di caulu, Santu di pantani, Sidonai, Stolas, Sytry, Tamuel, Tentennino, Tharung, Tichci-tacchi, Zaleos, Zepar, Zlý, Zwarte Piet
Illustration by Herrad of Landsberg, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
No, I'm not going to get into entomology and orcharding here. I'll stick to hell demons and home this time. In Czech countries, that is. The devil is, of course, a well-known creature there, and, thanks to the innate Czech disdain for authority, not so negative guy in recent centuries. Rather a stupid one, who could be deceived by any simpleton. According to some legends, even a positive figure, punishing human wickedness.
Otherwise, we also believed in the famous fall from heaven, in which the impact of some angels was mitigated by water, who then became hastrmans (water demons), or rocks (thank you very much), who then took up the trade of forest and rock spirits.
The Bohemian devil in his original form always resembles a man. However, he limps, either for no apparent reason or because of a hoof on one leg. Small horns in the hair are another identifying feature, and the devil later managed to get rid of the claws on his hands. Fashion has remained unchanged for centuries; Czech Hellions prefer black or wear green hunter´s uniforms. Of course, they are gifted with the art of changing into an animal – most often a black cat or a dog of the same color and fiery eyes. The pan-European devilish popularity of transforming into a goat was not so common.
Just like all over the continent, devils have built a number of buildings and made many landscaping works – they built castles in Dvůr Králové, Ronštejn, bridges or gates in Lanšperk, Dobříš and elsewhere. And they left various traces, whether in stones (Jihlava, Železná Ruda, Humpolec) or in the form of stones themselves (Vyšší Brod, Stříbro, Velké Meziříčí). They also plowed furrows, climbed hills, the list would be long and include several dozen places.
And why the evil worm? Devil is a taboo word and had to be replaced by descriptions, as is the custom with many other unpleasant things. In Czech lands, therefore, this demon was called:
Rohatý, Čerchmant, Čechman, Čerchan, Čermák, Černast, Červ, Červivec, Čmert, Jalbl, Nedobrý, Ďas or Černý.
Ugh. I'd better come out into the daylight and fresh air for a week.
Asmodeus is one of Hell's elite. He may have taught King Solomon long ago, but according to later information, he is in Hell's hierarchy as Minister of Finance, for he is Hell's banker.
Hell is a highly organized enterprise. Judge for yourselves: according to an old source, besides Asmodeus, the chief almsman in the government is Dagon (we shall come back to him), Sukkor Benoth is the chief of the eunuchs, a certain Kobal is the theatre director, Verdelet is the master of ceremonies, Nybbas is the court jester.
And since hell is underground, it was necessary to build earthly expositions. The ambassadors in important positions are as follows:
Belfego in France
Tharung in Spain.
Hutgin in Italy
Martinet in Switzerland
Belial in Turkey
A number of capacities have, of course, been engaged in official demonological research, so you can see other functions and other names at another time and place. For the devils are innumerable and those named several thousand.
14.8.2023 (5. 6. 2002)
As has already been said, the most general idea of the origin of the devils is that they are brought from heaven. The opposition, led by the seraphim Lucifer, lost its struggle, as is well known, and was exiled; for a long time, its members retained the angelic title, which was only later replaced by the name demon. However, to spare the honest believing soul from uncertainty, the adjective sinful (later fallen) began to be emphasized at first.
The sins of these dissenters are recounted, for example, in the Book of Enoch, an ancient (recognized as early as the second century after Christ) and long-lost writing. It retained its authority for a long time in Byzantium, or among the Eastern Christians, but before the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire, it had passed from the top charts of religious writings. It was only in the eighteenth century that it was discovered in Ethiopia and later in a Greek version. The biblical astronaut Enoch, who visited the Heavens and learned the political background, revealed in it (in chapters seven and eight), among other things, the exact culprits. In addition to the general transmission of knowledge of magic to the people, the following gentlemen in particular committed the following crimes:
Azazel, to whom, according to other sources, a goat was sacrificed on the edge of the desert, was the originator of the later arms race, for he taught mankind to make swords, shields, and armor. In order that the other half of mankind should not be envious and that there should be something to use weapons for, he also educated man in the manufacture of mirrors, bracelets, and jewelry, and laid the foundations of cosmetics.
Amacarak taught natural healing and witchcraft, while Armers, on the other hand, taught the art of disarming various spells.
Barcayal, Tamuel and Asaradel tried to impose the science of astronomy on the people – the first one taught celestial bodies to observe, Tamuel popularized astronomy in its entirety, while Asaradel was a highly specialized selenologist, engaged in research on the moon's movements. To do justice even to later preferred astrology, Akiabel taught the interpretation of omens and divination.
There was more, of course, and Enoch's work is supported by the official source, the book of Genesis. We have no choice but to recall one of the most famous phrases:
That the sons of God saw the daughters of men that they were fair; and they took them wives of all which they chose.
Beelzebub is not only one of the most famous devils (along with the names of the supreme prince, or Lucifer, and his colleague Satan, it has become synonymous with the entire nation) but also one of the oldest. He was guaranteed to have existed long before the Jewish religion. The Hebrew Ba' al zevuv or Ba' al-zebub is often referred to as the Lord of the Flies; if he ever was, he certainly did not command myriads of this nasty disease-spreading insect in its attack on mankind. Although the epidemiology of the ancient peoples was not up to the level of today, one and one could already add up and protection from flies was the concern of a number of deities (Zeus Apomnis, for example). According to some, the deity of the city was Zebub, but Judaism definitely renamed him Ba'al zvuv, or Lord of the House. The etymology of his name, however, is much more complex, the Semitic root -zvl denoting dunghill (Arabic zivl), the Talmudic zabal denoting unclean. The Lord of the House could also express membership in a particular house or cult, or euphemistically denote the underground abode of the dead or demons.
According to certain sources, even Jesus was possessed by Beelzebub; the Lord of the Flies, however, also gave the son of God the power to defeat other demons.
To Beelzebub I will add another variant of the hierarchy of hell, this one is by Johann Pock and dates from 1723. According to it, he stands at the head:
followed by the heads of the various departments, along with the number of subordinates
Grand Duke Beelzebub, commanding 95 legions of devils overseeing murder and violence
Asmotheus and his 90 legions, focused on immorality.
Astorah, commanding 85 legions to whisper lies
Satan and 80 legions of devils, inciting pride and arrogance
Chamas, commanding 75 legions and intemperance in food and drink
Mephistopheles, with 70 legions, as known from the case of Dr. Faustus, looking after sorcerers and witches
Beltebor commanding 65 legions for the miserly.
Baal with his 60 legions overseeing the adepts of the secret sciences.
Hebelfurch and 55 legions of devils for the light-hearted
Mammon, commander of 50 legions dedicated to the service of the rich
Runzefal and 45 legions looking after the sloths.
But the list is not complete.
He is said to have come by his name and existence by accident – when the prophet Isaiah mocked a certain king of Babylon, who grandly went to war and then lost. Lucifer is, in fact, the Morning Star (or Venus, but let's not complicate that with astronomy), and Isaiah mocked the fall of the boastful king, reminding us that he fell into hell on his ascent to heaven, which was meant figuratively.
Others, however, picked up on the saying, and just as the Romans appointed their spiritual pontifexes, the guardians of the bridge over the Tiber, though the Etruscans meant the term figuratively, so the ruler of hell, the fallen seraphim, got his name. The Czechs have further modified it to the really lowly Luciper. Official demonology considers the ruler of hell to be rather Satan or rather an unnamed demon. Lucifer became the ruler of the Underworld much later and is spoken of more in literary tradition
Another man of the infernal hierarchy (and for a time the last high representative of the Underworld on this page), is, as has already been said, the supreme and essentially non-specific demon. Satan is actually a more pretentious word for the demon or the devil, the worship of the devil being known as Satanism.
We'll add another Hell‘s hierarchy to Satan. It comes from the pen of the physician Johann Wier, who wanted to attack Satan by divulging this information (to break Satan's monopoly, to quote the original. Thus truly speaking: ne Sathanicae factionis monopolium usque adeo porro detilescat, as it is written in the Pseudomonarchia daemonum. Here again, we find the commanders with their legions (which have their origin already in the Gospels).
The king, according to Wier, is
Bael, who has 66 legions at his disposal. He is followed by, for example:
Agares (31 legions)
Count (or Duke) Barbatos (30 legions)
Pursan (22 legions)
Eligor (60 legions)
Abigor (60 legions)
Naberus and Cerberus (19 legions each)
Zepar (26 legions)
Sydonai and Asmodai (70 legions)
Forneus (29 legions)
Astaroth (40 legions)
Furfur (26 legions)
Murmus (no men)
Duke Gomory (26 legions) riding a camel in the form of a beautiful maiden
Decarabia (30 legions)
Oze (without subordinates)
Balam (40 legions) with three heads, one of a man, one of a bull, and one of a sheep
Stolas (26 legions)
Prince Sytry, otherwise known as Bitru, with a leopard face, transforms himself into a perfect man and seduces women
King Byleth on a floating horse, whose arrival is announced by a clamor of all kinds of musical instruments
Duke Bune, who takes the form of a three-headed dragon, a necromancer
Praeses Caym, the raven,
Marquis Orias, appearing in the form of a lion with a serpent's tail
Count Zaleos, a soldier on a crocodile
and many others. There are 68 names of infernal nobles in Wier's writings.
According to the local court protocol, one can summon them by title only at the time appointed for intercourse with the parties: the king from three in the morning until noon, then from nine until Vespers. Marquesses from one to noon, dukes from one to twelve, praeses at dusk, earls every hour.
21.8.2023 (10.7. 2002)
The twentieth of the seventy-two demons of The Lesser Key of Solomon also has a lion's head. He rides a bear, holds a viper in his hand, commands twenty legions, and is announced by trumpeters, like Paimon. As one of the kings of Hell he reveals treasures, answers questions truthfully, and to the magician is a hundred to procure a truly useful assistant.
According to the Pseudomonarchium Daemonum, a king and prince of Hell; according to Lemegeton, a mere marquis. Commands thirty legions of devils, knows the power of all herbs and healing stones. When summoned, he appears in the form of a pentagram, assumes an anthropomorphic form at the caster's command, and also controls metamorphosis into any bird. It also supplies feathered creatures as the wizard's domestic helpers. It is most powerful in March.
Stolas, one of the dignitaries of Hell, appears in bird form, more precisely as a raven or a long-legged owl, adorned with a crown, since he is a grand prince. Commander of twenty-six legions of demons, expert in astronomy, gems and poisonous and medicinal plants, at least that is how the most famous volume of Legemeton, Goetia, gives information about him. A legendary work of demonology, which designates among the seventy-two representatives of hell, summoned and bound by Solomon (this Jewish ruler of the minus tenth century, but according to the grimoire of the century deepest plus fourteenth), Stolas by the number thirty-six, and assigns to the demons the seals of tin. He also notes that after being evoked, he takes on human form.
Illustration: Collin de Plancy (Dictionnaire Infernal) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
"Things just happen. What the hell."
* Terry Pratchett. Hogfather
Welcome to my world. For the longest time I couldn’t think of right name for this place, so I left it without one. Amongst things you can find here are attempts of science fiction and fantasy stories, my collection of gods, bogeymen and monsters and also articles about things that had me interested, be it for a while or for years. (There is more of this, sadly not in English but in Czech, on www.fext.cz)