VAMPIRE MYTHS, DISPELLING RUMOR
Because of the popularity of old vampire mythology coupled with television and movies as well as popular books of fiction, the essence of realism in the concept of vampirism has been seriously clouded. People face vampirism with delusions of grandeur, and notions of flight, power and dark desires. Others face it with simple disbelief, because of the strength these popular myths hold in the common mind.
Many of these myths originated because of superstition and fear, rather than the actual vampirism concept as it is today. People such as Vlad the Impaler, who would delight in eating dinner in his courtyard among his impaled and slowly dying prisoners and a young queen who, when splashed by the blood of a torture victim thought it made her skin more beautiful, began to supposedly bathe in blood to keep herself young. These people are among the many who have kept the popular mythologies alive from the dark ages into modern times.
Other factors in some of the myths about 'the living dead' came about due to poor medical practise in ages past. People being buried alive accidentally, then accused of coming back to life, looking pale and sickened. people who suffered wasting diseases, giving them the appearance of today's Hollywood vampires - pale skin and dark ringed eyes, cold as ice to the touch. As well as knowledge we now know today about the effect of death on the human body, such as after-death twitching of the limbs, or the final sigh of breath from the dead lungs. Many of these may have contributed to the olden day myths of the walking dead.
Diseases such as Porphyria and the psychological condition, such as Renfield's Syndrome are examples of clinical vampirism that has also contributed to mythology.
Sufferers of porphyria have pale, flaky skin and are very sensitive to sunlight. Their gums often recede excessively, giving their teeth an elongated and possibly fang-like appearance. Porphyria is caused by a deficiency in the enzyme which helps produce heme, a constituent of the blood which helps carry oxygen through the body. Dr. David Dolphin was the first to suggest that porphyria was the inspiration for at least some of the Medieval vampire myths, contending that some of the sufferers may have been driven to drinking blood in order to relieve their symptoms. As a result, the condition has come to be known in modern times as "the Vampire Disease". This appellation is very misleading, however, as porphyria only superficially resembles the vampirism of folklore and there is no supporting evidence to Dr. Dolphin’s assertion that porphyria sufferers have been driven to drinking blood by their disease.
Renfield's Syndrome, in which the afflicted person experiences a psychological urge to drink blood. This urge is often satisfied with their own blood, and sufferers of clinical vampirism typically bear slashes from razors and knives up and down their arms from where they have drawn blood from themselves. Particularly sociopathic forms of clinical vampirism drive sufferers to attack and sometimes (although rarely) even kill other people in order to drink their blood.
Both these accounts are not 'true' vampirics in the modern sense of the word, and are often mistaken as such which leads to the misconceptions and hatred of other serious vampires.
Below is a list of other popular myths that are simply untrue for the most part in most vampires.
"Vampires can be killed with a stake through the heart." If you shove a large piece of ANYTHING into someone's chest, they will most likely expire, whether they are vampiric or not.
"Vampires must sleep in a coffin during the day because sunlight will kill them." It is true that a lot of vampires have an 'allergy' to the sun, such as intense light sensitivity, easily burned skin or allergic reactions such as rashes, and even resulting major energy loss. However, this can also be present in non vampires and should not be used as a way to distinguish vamps from other people. The coffin part is just pure fantasy, realistically there is nothing a box of wood would do, that a bed can not.
"Vampires are the living dead." An energy deficiency does not make you a dead person. As outlined above, the many olden day mistakes in medical practise are attributed to the creation of this myth.
"Vampires are immortal" While it is theoretically possible to increase one's lifespan through liberal energy feeding, vampires are not resistant to any type of death, and in the end (extended or not) will die just like anyone else.
"Vampires have special powers such as flying" Now this is a dicey subject, basically this myth is untrue like all the others. Vampires can not do anything as spectacular as shape change or fly, however there are those who do possess 'powers' of a sort, such as 'sight', energy shaping to form weapons/armor and the like, and the ability to 'cloak' oneself. These talents however are either born with or learned through liberal amounts of patience, practise and discipline. Much like studying the forms of magic such as wicca. Simply being vampiric does not make you immediately apt in any of these forms.
"Vampires cannot stand Garlic (or other Herbs)" Most herbs, aside from isolated cases of allergies, including Garlic have no effect whatsoever on a vampire beyond what they have on 'normal' people. Many vampires are just as fond of Garlic as other people, enjoying it's flavor on pizza, pasta, and other foods. Cases involving deadly poisons like Wolfsbane or Hemlock are discounted also as these items will kill anyone, including vampires.
"Holy Relics or Holy Water will kill a Vampire, or drive them away" Holy or Blessed objects (of any Religion or faith) or water have no effect on a vampire whatsoever. The myths concerning crosses or communion wafers burning the flesh of a vampire when touched by them are pure Hollywood fantasy, as are any myths that involve vampires turning away from any holy symbol. Splashing Holy Water on a vampire will have no more effect than normal water, it will simply make them wet (and probably quite angry). In fact, like therianthropy, vampires can follow any faith or religion and are not just restricted to satanism or Gothic crowds despite popular belief. The concept of 'good' and 'evil' are also personalized to the individual and have nothing whatsoever to do with being a vampire.
"All vampires form Clans and Councils" This is, perhaps, one of the most persistent and annoying myths there is in the area of vampires. This particular myth has gained strength and spread since the introduction of a roll-playing game by White Wolf called Vampire: The Masquerade (V:TM) which has vampires organized neatly into specific types that congregate in 'clans'. This too is a work of fiction. There are, however, a great many people in the 'Goth' crowd who like to pretend to be vampires that will claim to be in any of the listed clans that you'll find in V:TM. There are also a few online and offline 'communities' that like to form their own 'clubs' and label them clans, complete with councils with the supposed idea of organizing all 'vampire kind'. These people however hold no bearing on any other vampire aside from their own little separate groups, and there is no feasible reason why a vampire needs to be a part of such things.
That said, there is no reason why a real vampire cannot join any of these 'clans' or 'clubs'. Often, it's nice to have people to communicate with who understand the concepts you do. However, do be careful, as always, when meeting new people. Be especially skeptic of anyone claiming to be some sort of leader or 'king' of vampires (or anything else for that matter). Vampire leaders and kings or queens do NOT exist, and anyone trying to exert control over others in such a manner is best avoided and/or ignored.
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