Things that go bump in the night
One of the most prolific scares of the dark is that of encountering the undead! The most famous of the undead is the vampire, but, they are not the only undead that lurk in our shadows and imagination. Several happenings caused the vampire to become widespread in history; not the least of which was the fact that people were accidentally burying the living. The methods for pronouncing a person dead were not accurate or reliable….matter of fact, so common was the misdiagnosis, especially, during cholera outbreaks, that a string was tied around the finger or foot of a newly buried corpse and attached to a bell above ground, so that if the person awoke and panicked they could be heard and hopefully dug up in time, giving birth to the phrases “Saved By The Bell” and “Graveyard Shift”.
Of the other undead roaming in the dark are ghouls and zombies, which seem not to mind the sun, unlike other undead. Ghouls are some of the scariest of the undead, maybe cause they are not as well known as their more famous counterparts. They are also reminiscent of vultures. The ghoul is an ugly creature, who’s appearance represents his true nature. They have long dirty, claw like nails. Their bodies more resemble those of a dog than a human. Most accounts have them with distorted gaits, attributed to all the time they spend in tunnels and other low ceiling dwellings of the dead. However, in a gory way, the ghoul has a specific and sometimes much needed niche in the cycle of death. The ghoul scavenges the dead, he feeds on the flesh of the departed. Want to know more? Mr. Robert Lamb has written a very informative article on Ghoulology 101 that I certainly cannot improve upon and is very worth the read if one finds one’s self in need of ghoul knowledge.
The next of the undead are the zombies. These poor hapless creatures are humans that either through virus or contact or curse were transformed into mindless masses that seek out healthy living humans and attack them. Thus, zombies play on the taboo of cannibalism. Ironically, many ancient cultures believed in the consumption of your enemy. Consuming his blood and or heart as a means to take his strength into your own body. The blood was considered sacred as the source of life or one’s life force. And long before the compilation of Grey’s Anatomy the heart was considered the house of the soul. Even today those things of emotions and more are attributed to the heart, even though medicine tells us it is merely a muscle.
The rock star of the undead world is the lord of the night, the beguiler of innocents, the predator extraordinaire….commonly known as Vampire! (Although I am pretty fond of Frankenstein)
While modern day lore seems to give most credit of the myth of the vampire to Bram Stroker, there have been legends and myths and tells of demons or predators or creatures that are more powerful, faster, and more cunning than regular men. Creatures that seem to never age and appear to be immortal, whom survive by feasting on the blood of living creatures, namely man. But where did these legends originate? And what makes a creature a vampire?
In today’s mythology of Hollywood, the vampire is etherally attractive and charming, is wealthy and powerful, heals extremely quickly and is very hard to kill. Some consider the vampire an undead while others consider them demons. As one strolls through the stories of the ancient past one can see where vampires have always existed. From Shezmu of Egypt, to demons of Greece and Rome, right into the nightmares of Victorian times.