Religious symbols as vampire repellents

So, last night Mr. Jeannie and I are discussing vampires. In the movies, they always use crosses and holy water to repel the creatures. Mr. Jeannie points out that these symbols only work if you believe in them. So, a Catholic could use a crucifix, but a Jew would have to use a Star of David or something. (The discussion was more involved, but this was the main point).

This brought up some interesting points:

  1. If you’re a Scientologist, would throwing a copy of “Battlefield Earth” or “Dianetics” at Dracula make him go away? Would members of the “Church of Elvis” be equally protected by velvet Elvises?

  2. Is Atheism a religion? If so, are there symbols that could protect against a vampire, or would they just need to use garlic?

  3. Are Agnostics prettymuch screwed?

  4. If you made up your own religion, then made up symbols to go with it, could you use those symbols to ward off evil?

  5. Speaking of evil, could devil worshippers use upside-down crosses and the like to get rid of vampires?

They discussed this in Matheson’s I am Legend, and in 'Salem’s Lot. The idea is you have to believe. So in the latter novel, the characters could basically put sticks together. For temporary relief anyway.

In I am Legend, its considered superstition- on the part of the vampire. That is, a Jewish vampire would feel repelled by a Star of David, and so on. It’s really a psychological thing. In other words- in their heads.

In Roman Polansky’s “The Fearless Vampire Killers,” one of the vampires WAS Jewish. They pulled out a cross. He gave a little shrug and attacked.

  1. Dunno

  2. I don’t think it is a religion and I doubt there are symbols for it so that wouldn’t work. Probably just use garlic but I doubt that it would work.*

  3. I guess we would be but if we believed holding up a religious image would work then I bet it would. No matter what the image is.

  4. If you believe it will work then it will.

  5. If they were so inclined. But wouldn’t they want to embrace the vampires so they might become like them? Depending on how they feel about vamps that is.

*My idea of a vamp is sorta the ultimate predator. Holy water, crosses, etc won’t work unless you have very true strong faith and even then that might not hold them back for long. As to garlic, running water etc they don’t work at all. The only thing to stop them is to live in a bank safe and never open the door. Of course you could stake them when their asleep during the day but if they are extremely old they just might be able to wake up in time to save themselves…

I’m an atheist. I don’t think it’s a religion so we couldn’t use a cross or anything. I guess if we were attacked by a vampire, we’d just start explaining our system of beliefs and how morals can be derived from a non-theistic viewpoint… and we’d just bore him so much he’d lose the will to attack.

Reality Chuck:

IN “The Fearless Vampire Killers” he didn’t just shrug, he said (In a Jewizsh accent):

“Oy, have you got the wrong vampire!”

In the 1970s Marvel comic “Tomb of Dracula” the Count IS held off by a Star of David pendant, an he admits that ALL religious symbols have an effect on him (although, as he had been Christian, the cross was the most powerful).

In Matheson’s “I am Legend” th hero talks of holding off a Jewish vampire with a Torah.
For the record, this “holding the vampire off with a cross” business isn’t some bit of ancient vampire lore. Bram Stoker originated it in his 1896 novel Dracula". You won’t find it in Sheridan le Fanu or in Polidori or in “Varney the Vampire.”

In the collected tales of the late Susan C. Petrey, Gifts of Blood, she created an ancient race of nocturnal, blood-drinking beings from the Altai and Central Asia called the Varkela. They were employed by Tatars and Kalmuks as horse healers. But the ignorant, superstitious Slavic peasants distorted them into the “vampire” legends and feared them.

One of them is about to make love to a woman when he sees the cross around her neck and recoils. Then he explains that he has nothing against Christianity. The cross is abhorrent to the Varkela because it represents a pre-Christian symbol, the “hammer of the sun.”

Come to think of it, the cross was in use by many cultures long before Christianity, but with historical myopia, they think everything revolves around them. It’s not about religion. The hammer of the sun is harmful to Varkela because they cannot live in sunlight.

Jomo Mojo:

The idea that vampires can’t exist in sunlight is even more recent than Bram Stoker (In the novel “Dracula” the Count actually walks around London in broad daylight – something that the Francis Ford Coppola film got right.). It first appeared in the film “Nosferatu” by Fritz Murnau – th one the Boston Dopers are seeing this weekend, an h subject of the new film “Shadow of the Vampire”. At the end, Cunt Orlock evaporates when struck by the rays of the rising sun. I think Murnau did it as a quick and photographically effective way of ending his film, bt it has become a piece of our modern vampire myth. (I note, by the by, that there is n referece to it in the Bela Lugosi “Dracula”).

I’ve always associated vampiric aversion to crosses with the customs associated with crossroads (burying suicides at crossroads, for example, to ensure that they make no undead trouble) rather than with Christianity. Cheap symbolism for the boundary of life and death it may be, but it makes more sense to a Wiccan that way.

We certainly are turning up a lot of interpretations of crosses, aren’t we?

Le Fanu’s Carmilla couldn’t be warded off with a cross, but she didn’t seem to care much for anything to do with Christianity. I remember there was a scene in the book where she heard people singing hymns and complained about how horrible it sounded.

In Terry Pratchett’s hilarious Carpe Jugulum the modern vampire papa attempts to free his family from the old superstitious nonsense. He shows his children flashcards of various holy symbols so that they will get used to them. In the end this plan backfires – there are so many holy symbols that they can’t help but see one everywhere they look.

I dunno, but that little fish I’ve seen on the backs of cars-- you know the one I’m talking about: it’s a fish that has evolved legs and has the word “DARWIN” written inside it. That’s as good a symbol for atheism as any I can think of.

I note that in the movie (dunno about the novel; I haven’t read it), the Count walks around London on a particularly rainy and dreary day. Every inch of him from the neck down is covered (he’s even wearing gloves), and he’s wearing a top hat and sunglasses.

You’ll also note that at the end of the movie, the carriage carrying the Count’s coffin is in a mad rush to get him back to his castle before the sun rises.

So I guess it’s only direct sunlight that is deadly to vampires.

Being fictional, obviously any writer can make their own rules regarding vampires. The challenge is to make them sufficiently different from the “classic” rules so that the work is fresh, but not so different that there is no relation to the classic mythos.

The Susan Petrey novels described by Jomo Mojo sounds like an interesting scenario.

I don’t remember much of Anne Rice’s vampire mythos, but I think I was somewhat unsatisfied by them. The vampires were described in almost completely non-supernatural way; religion played no part until the origin was described (which I guess I won’t discuss at the risk of spoiling it for those haven’t read it.)

WOw! I knew vampires were sexy but I didn’t know they were that sexy.

You’ve given me the idea for an erotic entertainment involving chocolate syrup. I will call it: Cunt Chocula.