Chapter II: The Generation of the Vampire


It may now be asked how a human being becomes or is transformed into a vampire, and it will be well here to tabulate the causes which are generally believed to predispose persons to this demoniacal condition. It may be premised that as the tradition is so largely Slavonic and Greek many of these causes which are very commonly assigned and accredited in Eastern Europe will not be found to prevail elsewhere.

The Vampire is one who has led a life of more than ordinary immorality and unbridled wickedness; a man of foul, gross and selfish passions, of evil ambitions, delighting in cruelty and blood. Arthur Machen has very shrewdly pointed out that "Sorcery and sanctity are the only realities. Each is an ecstasy, a withdrawal from the common life." The spiritual world cannot be confined to the supremely good, "but the supremely wicked, necessarily, have their portion in it. The ordinary man can no more be a great sinner than he can be a great saint. Most of us are just indifferent, mixed-up creatures; we muddle through the world without realizing the meaning and the inner sense of things, and, consequently our wickedness and our goodness are alike second-rate unimportant... the saint endeavours to recover a gift which he has lost; the sinner tries to obtain something which was never his. In brief, he repeats the Fall... it is not the mere liar who is excluded by those words;1 it is, above all, the "sorcerers" who use the material life, who use the failings incidental to material life as instruments to obtain their infinitely wicked ends. And let me tell you this; our higher senses are so blunted, we are so drenched with materialism, that we should probably fail to recognize real wickedness if we encountered it.)"2

Huysmans has said in Là Bas: "Comme il est très difficile d'être un saint, il reste à devenir un santanique. C'est un des deux extrêmes. On peut avoir l'orgueil de valoir en crimes ce qu'un saint vaut en virtus."

It has been said that a saint is a person who always choses the better of the two courses open to him at every step. And so the man who is truly wicked is he who deliberately always choses the worse of the two courses. Even when he does things which would be considered right he always does them for some bad reason. To identify oneself in this way with any given course requires intense concentration and an iron strength of will, and it is such persons who become vampires.

The vampire is believed to be one who has devoted himself during his life to the practice of Black Magic, and it is hardly to be supposed that such persons would rest undisturbed, while it is easy to believe that their malevolence had set in action forces which might prove powerful for terror and destruction even when they were in their graves. It was sometimes said, but the belief is rare, that the Vampire was the offspring of a witch and the devil.

Throughout the trials and in the confessions of witches there are many details of the coitus of the devil and the witch, but those examples given by Henri Boguet in his great and authoritative work Discours des Sorciers (Third edition, Lyons, 1590) may stand for many. He devotes Chapter XII to the connexion of the devil and the witch: "L'accouplement du Demon avec la Sorciere et le Sorcier... 1. Le Demon cognoit toutes les Sorcieres, & pourquoy. 2. Il se met aussi en femme pour les Sorciers, & pourquoy. 3. Autres raisons pour les quelles le Demon cognoit les Sorciers, & Sorcieres." More than one witch acknowledged that Satan had known her sexually, and in Chapter XIII Boguet decides: "L'accouplement de Satan auce le Sorcier est réel and non imaginaire.... Les uns donc s'on mocquēt... mais les confessions des Sorciers que j'ay eu en main, me font croire qu'il en est quelque chose. Lautant qu'ils ont tout recogneu, qu'ils auoient esté couplez auec le Diable, & que la semeuce qu'il iettoit estoit fort froide... Iaquema Paget adioustoit, qu'elle auoit empoigné plusiers fois auec la main le mēbre du Demon, qui la cognoissoit, & que le membre estoit froid comme glace, lōg d'un bon doigt, & moindre en grosseur que celuy d'vn homme: Tieuenne Paget, & Antoine Tornier adioustoient aussi, qui le membre de leurs Demons estoit long, & gros comme l'un de leurs doigts." That eminent scholar and demonologist, Ludovico, Maria Sinistrari, O.S.F., tells us in his De Demonialitate "it is undoubted by Theologians and philosophers that carnal intercourse between mankind and the Demon sometimes gives birth to human beings; and that is how Antichrist is to be born, according to some doctors, for example, Bellarmine, Suarez, and Thomas Malvenda. They further observe that, from a natural cause, the children thus begotten by Incubi are tall, very hardy and bloodily bold, arrogant beyond words, and desperately wicked." S. Augustine, De Ciuitate Dei, XV, 23, says: "Creberrima fama est multique se expertos uel ab eis, qui experto essent, de quorum fide dubitandum non esset, audisse confirmant, Siluanos et Panes, quos uulgo incubos uocant, inprobos saepe extitisse mulieribus et earum adpetisse ac perigisse concubitum; et quodsam daemones, quos Dusios Galli nuncupant, adsidue hanc immunditiam et tentare et efficere, plures talesque adseuerant, ut hoc negare impudentiae uideatur." "And seeing it is so general a report, and so many view it either from their own experience or from others, that are of indubitable honesty and credit, that the sylvans and fawns, commonly called incubi, have often swived women, desiring and acting carnally with them; and that certain devils whom the Gauls called 'Duses' do continually practise this uncleanness and lure others to it, which is affirmed by such persons and with such weight that it were the height of impudence to deny it." Charles René Billuart, the celebrated Dominican (1685-1757) in his Tractatus de Angelistells us: "The same evil spirit may serve as a succubus to a man, and as an incubus to a woman." The great authority of S. Alphonsus Liguori in his Praxis confessariorum, VII, n. iii, lays down: "Some deny that there are evil spirits, incubi and succubi, but writers of weight, eminence and learning, for the most part lay down that such is verily the case." Sinistrari, as we have noted, says that the children born of the devil and a witch are "desperately wicked," and we have just seen that persons of more than ordinarily evil life are said to become Vampires.

With the exception of England, -- for witches were invariably hanged among us, -- the universal penalty for witchcraft was the stake; and cremation, the burning of the dead body, is considered to be one of the few ways, and perhaps the most efficacious manner, in which vampirisin can be stamped out and brought to an end. That witches were hanged in England is a fact which has often been commented upon with some surprise, and persons who travelled in France and Italy were inclined to advise the same punishment should be inflicted at home as in all other countries. It was felt that unless the body were utterly consumed it might well prove that they had not stamped out the noxious thing. In Scotland, in 1649, when Lady Pittadro, who was incarcerated upon a charge of sorcery, died before her trial, her body was buried in the usual way. But considerable excitement followed and there were instant complaints to those in high places since the Scotch General Assembly considered that the body should have been burned and the following entry occurs among the records: "Concerning the matter of the buriall of the Lady Pittadro, who, being under a great scandall of witchcraft, and bein incarcerat in the Tolbuith of this burgh during her trialI before the Justice, died in prison. The Commission of the General Assembly, having considered the report of the Committee appointed for that purpose, Doe give their advyse to the Presbyterie of Dumferling to show their dislike of that fact of the buriall of the Lady Pittadro, in respect of the manner and place, and that the said Presbyterie may labour to make the persons who hes buried her sensible of their offence in so doeing; and some of the persons who buried hir, being personallie present, are desired by the Comission to show themselvis, to the Presbyterie sensible of their miscarriage therein."3 Again in 1652 some persons who had been resident in France and who probably had followed the famous prosecutions at Louviers expressed their surprise that in England the gallows and not the stake was the penalty for this species of crime. In the Louviers case, a horrid record of diabolism, demoniac masses, lust and blasphemy, on 21 August, 1647, Thomas Boullé, a notorious Satanist, was burnt alive in the market-square at Rouen, and what is very notable the body of Mathurin Picard who had died five years before, and who had been buried near the choir grille in the chapel of the Franciscan nuns which was so fearfully haunted, was disinterred, being found (so it is said) intact. In any case it was burned to ashes in the same fire as consumed the wretched Boullé and it seems probable that this corpse was incinerated to put an end to the vampirish attacks upon the cloister. At Maidstone, in 1652, "Anne Ashby, alias Cobler, Anne Martyn, Mary Browne, Anne Wilson, and Mildred Wright of Cranbrooke and Mary Read, of Lenham, being legally convicted, were according to the Laws of this Nation, adjudged to be hanged, at the common place of Execution. Some there were that wished rather they might be burnt to Ashes; alledging that it was a received opinion among many, that the body of a witch being burnt, her bloud is prevented thereby from becomming hereditary to her Progeny in the same evill."4

It is even recorded that in one case the witch herself considered that she should be sent to the stake. A rich farmer in Northamptonshire had made an enemy of a woman named Anne Foster. Thirty of his sheep were discovered dead with their "Leggs broke in pieces, and their Bones all shattered in their Skins." Shortly after his house and several of his barns were found ablaze. It was suspected that Anne Foster had brought this about by sorcery. She was tried upon this charge at Northampton in 1674, and "After Sentence of Death was past upon her, she mightly desired to be Burned; but the Court would give no Ear to that, but that she should be hanged at the Common place of Execution."5

These two categories are those to which, it is generally believed, cases of vampirism may be assigned, and the remainmg classes are almost entirely peculiar to Czecho-Slovakia, Jugo-Slavia, Greece and Eastern Europe.

The vampire is believed to be one who for some reason is buried with mutilated rites. It will be remarked that this idea has a very distinct connexion with the anxious care taken by the Greek and Roman of classical times that the dead should be consigned to the tomb with full and solemn ceremony. Example might be multiplied upon example and it will suffice to refer to the passage in the Iliad where the soul of Patroclus is represented as urgently demanding the last ceremonial observances at the tomb.

"Sleep'st thou, Achilles, mindless of thy friend,
Neglecting, not the living, but the dead?
Hasten my funeral rites, that I may pass
Through Hades' gloomy gates; ere those be done,
The spirits and spectres of departed men
Drive me far from them, nor allow to cross
Th' abhorred river; but forlorn and sad
I wander through the wide-spread realms of night.
And give now thy hand, whereupon to weep;
For never more, when laid upon the pyre,
Shall I return from Hades; never more,
Apart from all our comrades, shall we two,
As friends, sweet counsel take; for me, stern Death,
The common lot of man, has op'd his mouth;
Thou too, Achilles, rival of the Gods,
Art destin'd here beneath the walls of Troy
To meet thy doom; yet one thing must I add,
And make, if thou wilt grant it, one request.
Let not my bones be laid apart from thine,
Achilles, but together, as our youth
Was spent together in thy father's house,
Since first my Sire Menœtius me a boy
From Opus brought, a luckless homicide,
Who of Amphidamas, by evil chance,
Had slain the son, disputing o'er the dice
Me noble Peleus in his house receiv'd,
And kindly nurs'd, and thine attendant nam'd;
So in one urn be now our bones enclos'd
The golden vase, thy Goddess-mother's gift."
     Whom answer'd thus Achilles, swift to foot:
Why art thou here lov'd being? why on me
These several charges lay? whate'er thou bidd'st
Will I perform, and all in one short embrace,
Let us, while yet we may, our grief indulge."
     Thus as he spoke, he spread his longing arms.
But nought he clasp'd; and with a wailing cry,
Vanish'd, like smoke, the spirit beneath the earth.6

Next


Notes

1 Apocalypse, xxi, 8: "But the fearful and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters and all liars, they shall have their portion in the pool burning with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." Also, xxii, 15: "Without are dogs, and sorcerers, and unchaste, and murderers, and servers of idols, and everyone that loveth and maketh a lie." ^

2 The House of Souls, London, 1906, pp. 113-118. ^

3 Scotch Historical Society, xxv, p. 348. ^

4 A Prodigious and Tragicall History of the Arraignment... of six Witches at Maidstone... by H. F. Gent, 1652, p. 7. ^

5 A Full and True Relation of the Tryal, Condemnation, and Execution of Ann Foster, 1674, p. 8. ^

6 The Iliad of Homer, "Rendered into English Blank Verse. By Edward Earl of Derby." John Murray, 1864. Vol. II, Book xxiii, ll. 82-119. ^