Curses are a powerful tool that writers employ in fictional novels. Mumbled by a witch or cast by an evil sorcerer do they have mojo? Going back in history, one would rationalize that there had to be an original vampire.
Go way back to the ‘Scriptures of Delphi,’ and you’ll find a story by an Oracle of Delphi. Delphi had a shrine in Greece, home of Apollo, the sun god, where women were able to give pilgrims the most pressing answers to questions that arose in Life. It was claimed that the Oracle could talk to the gods. This place was a mecca for pilgrims, reaching its height of popularity around 1600 BC.
According to these writings from Delphi, Ambrogio was a young man who wished to travel to Greece to see the Oracle. He went and saw the Pythia, or high priestess of the temple.
The Pythia, a woman of few cryptic words, told him, “The curse. The moon. The blood will run.” Ambrogio was baffled by this message and spent a sleepless night outside of the temple trying to figure it all out.
He met Selene, the Oracle’s sister, in the early morning hours of dawn as she came to attend her sister at the temple. They fell in love, and he proposed. Selene accepted.
Wouldn’t you know it that Apollo had been eavesdropping the whole time. He had the hots for Selene, too. Apollo cursed Ambrogio with a curse that caused the sunlight to burn his skin.
Ambrogio was supposed to meet his beloved at dawn and carry her home with him. But he couldn’t do that now. He took shelter in a cave that led to Hades, making a deal with the god of the underworld.
Of course, things get mucked up along the way. Ambrogio is granted immortality. Selene remains mortal, so she sickens and dies. But Ambrogio is allowed to drink Selene’s blood. This blending of their bloods was a way for the couple to have children after Selene’s death = vampires.
The goddess, Aretmis, makes Selene the goddess of the moonlight. She reaches down from the heavens to touch her beloved and her offspring.
Curses were a way for ancient people to deal with injustice. I guess it’s the logic – I was wronged, now I’m wronging you, too.
Remember the curse when King Tut’s tomb was opened?
Several mysterious deaths happened with members of the archeological team on the opening of the tomb. 1 The media had a field day after ‘Sir Arthur Conan Doyle creator of Sherlock Holmes, suggested that Lord Carnarvon’s death had been caused by “elementals” created by Tutankhamun’s priests to guard the royal tomb.’ 2
Enter the theory of the curse of the pharaohs.
Werewolves, like vampires, suffer under a curse. The mythological creature, or man-wolf, shapeshifts from man to beast because he is afflicted or cursed. The belief in these creatures coincided with the rise in the belief in witches. 3 They became the subject of Gothic horror fiction written in the 18th century. 4 Ancient references appear in Greek mythology of a man turning into a wolf after ritually murdering a child. 5
Polish legends contend that a child born with a caul (part of the amniotic sac on its head) was cursed to be a blood-sucking vampire. 6
So, what’s a mama to do? According to legend, Take the caul and dry it. Feed it to the child on its seventh birthday. This prevents the child from becoming a vampire. 7
Not my version of a really great tasting birthday cake!
The vampire is supposedly cursed. He can’t sleep nights. He has to go searching for humans to drink their blood/life force (another word for soul). He’s a lonely figure who manifests himself in the dark.
Curses are used in literature as plot devices to move the story forward. They have been used historically to warn people. Words are powerful. But if the person takes no heed to the warning, well, he’s on his own.
But simply saying, “You are cursed and are a vampire,” doesn’t cut it either. You’ve got to have some really bad stuf to get that ball rolling. The plan is to have a being that can function who was ‘born’ into the roll.
Vampire lore is demon based. The legend holds that vampires take a human and make that person one of their own kind. Not as easy as shake and bake.
And remember, the original vampires of ancient legend were not rich, glamorous, or sexy noblemen. They were monsters. The Nosferatu kind – hideous, misshapen, and so ugly that the very sight of them terrorizes people to death. (The kind of face that hides in the shadows and lurks in dark alleys.)
So, its logical to see to the medieval mind, how birth defects or some wicked deed could turn you into a blood-sucking monster.
Some believed that if a baby was born on a holy day or a new moon, he/she would become one of the undead. If a baby was born with a third nipple, a red birthmark, or was hairy, he was a candidate to become a vampire. If the child was stillborn, he might be a vampire.
But did you know that being a Turk was a qualification of becoming a vampire? How about being the thief who stole the ropes that were going to be used to bury somebody? Bestiality or suicide could get you there.
So could winds that blew over the corpse from the Russian Steppe. A candle passing over a corpse or dying in childbirth could get you there, too. Having a sleepwalking brother made you a candidate, too. Drowning, getting murdered, and of course, being killed by a vampire was a sure fire way to become one. 8
And remember, the sure fire way to become one is to be bitten by one, so they say. And you don’t have to be drained of all your blood to get that way. According to legend, a few drops will do. So this is my advice, keep your turtlenecks on!