Thursday, 19 February 2009

Vampire Antidotes and Repellents

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Items considered by some as useful antidotes and weapons in the pursuit of vampires are no substitute for serious study and painstaking research, and the following list is by no means comprehensive.

Aconite (Aconitum Napellus): There is little, if any, mention of this in the anecdotal or folkloric literature. There is a reference in the 1931 film Dracula made at Universal Studios. Aconite is poisonous for humans.
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Bullets: While there are several references to bullets and silver bullets, shooting at vampires will not prove remotely effective. A silver bullet is the legendary method of killing werewolves. Making home-made bullets is dangerous, unless you know what you are doing. Hot metals can cause injury and attempting to melt silver may be hazardous.
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Decapitation: "The only certain method of destroying a Vampire appear to be either to consume him with fire, or to chop off his head with a grave-digger's shovel, or drive a wooden stake through his heart," according to Montague Summers. He does not say that another method of decapitation would not suffice and probably only mention's a sexton's spade in the assumption that the exorcism is taking place in a graveyard and that such an instrument would be something nearby which could be used. Almost confirming his anticipation of a cemetery environment, Summers advises: "Saturday is the day of the week on which the exorcism ought by right take place, because the spirit then rests in the tomb."
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Fire: Cremation is usually best left to professional undertakers. However, it is the most effective way to purify a contaminated environment and/or corporeal shell inhabited by a demonic entity.
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Garlic: There is no harm in garlic. It is actually very good for you. It nevertheless has a long tradition for warding off evil spirits, including vampires. It was recognised as a powerful antidote by the Ancient Egyptians and also the Israelites.
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Knives: Ineffective against vampires or any other supernatural manifestations. Montague Summers nevertheless reveals that in Dalmatia and Albania the wooden stake is sometimes, probably unwisely, sustituted with a dagger blessed by a priest.
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Mirrors: Not much folkloric support for the use of mirrors exists. They are nonetheless effective as a repellent for reasons explained on page 28 of The Vampire Hunter's Handbook.
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Saint John's wort (Hypericum perforatum): Christians began placing Saint John's wort, perhaps the most powerful herb for this purpose, in doorways to repel demons. Christian priests have also used this herb to cast away evil. The name St John's wort apparently refers to John the Baptist, as the plant blooms around the time of the feast of St John the Baptist in the summer. St John's wort has been used for centuries to treat mental disorders and nerve pain. The frequency and severity of side effects with St John's wort extract are clinically insignificant, especially when compared to the well-known side effects of tricyclics and other antidepressants. There have been no deaths due to St John's wort toxicity, a stark contrast to the thirty-one deaths per one million prescriptions produced by synthetic antidepressants. It has also been used as a sedative and a treatment for malaria, as well as a balm for wounds, burns, and insect bites. St John's wort is used nowadays by some for depression, anxiety, and/or sleep disorders. The flowering tops of St John's wort are used to prepare teas and tablets containing concentrated extracts. St James' wort (not to be confused with St John's wort) or Ragwort (Senecio jacobeae) is a common native British Plant named after the saint. Research has shown that a very significant amount of Ragwort is required to kill. This can be several stone in weight. St James' Wort is not a poison of any consequence to humans and the plant and poses no serious risk to people. There are no cases that have every been reported where poisoning to human beings has been found to have been caused by St James' Wort which tastes so bad that animals are repelled by it. The amount that would need to be consumed by a person to damage them would be enormous. It is only mildly poisonous and there is no serious risk of liver damage from handling the plant, from its pollen or from being contact with it in any way. There are mild toxins present which can be absorbed in minute amounts through the skin but these do not pose any significant risk to the public. There are many more dangerous substances present in other plants and alcohol consumption is a far bigger risk to the livers of the general population.
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Salt: On pages 60, 87 and 180 of The Highgate Vampire, the author readily attests to the efficacy of salt as a barrier against demons. Yet it was only one of numerous repellents employed throughout that case. While salt was one of the important components of liturgical exorcism (Dölger 1909: 92–100; Böcher 1970: 235–238; Schneider 1987: 348–353), the saints hardly ever used it. An interesting example of salt usage can be found in the Vita of Pope Leo IX (ca 1050–1060). Once, when Leo IX was praying, a local peasant, whose daughter had been taken over by demon, came to him and addressed him. On the peasant’s intense request the Pope agreed to heal the girl. He found a grain of salt nearby, blessed it and put it in the girl’s mouth: at this very moment the girl’s mouth started to bleed and she was freed of the demon. Salt, with its preservative properties, had always been treasured as precious in the ancient world, and seen as a symbol of incorruption and wisdom. Its use was commanded by God: Leviticus 2: 13-14 ~ "Whatsoever sacrifice thou offerest, thou shalt season it with salt, neither shalt thou take away the salt of the covenant of thy God from thy sacrifice. In all thy oblations thou shalt offer salt. But if thou offer a gift of the firstfruits of thy corn to the Lord, of the ears." It was seen by God, as recorded by Moses, to act as a symbol for that which can't corrupt: Numbers 18: 19 "All the firstfruits of the sanctuary which the children of Israel offer to the Lord, I have given to thee and to thy sons and daughters, by a perpetual ordinance. It is a covenant of salt for ever before the Lord, to thee and to thy sons." Its first recorded sacramental use was by Eliseus (Elisha) to restore waters of a well: 4 Kings 2: 19-22 "And the men of the city, said to Eliseus . Behold the situation of this city is very good, as thou, my lord, seest: but the waters are very bad, and the ground barren. And he said: Bring me a new vessel, and put salt into it. And when they had brought it, He went out to the spring of the waters, and cast the salt into it, and said: Thus saith the Lord: I have healed these waters, and there shall be no more in them death or barrenness. And the waters were healed unto this day, according to the word of Eliseus, which he spoke. And, of course, there is Our Lord's calling His people 'salt of the earth' and warning of salt that loses its savour (Matthew 5:13, Mark 9, Luke 14)," and there is St Paul's warning in Colossians 4: 6 to "Let your speech be always in grace seasoned with salt: that you may know how you ought to answer every man." Salt is used in two main ways in the Church. In Baptisms: like the baptismal waters, salt is blessed and exorcised. Then it is put on the tongue of the catechumen during the Baptismal Rite. Also, salt is used in the preparation of holy water and for the use of the faithful. Regular salt is exorcised and blessed and is used in the preparation of holy water. It is also given to the faithful for their everyday use, eg for sprinkling around rooms, doorways and yards, to protect against evil etc. Because of its exorcism and blessing, it is a powerful repellent in keeping away demons. To obtain blessed salt, just take ordinary salt to your priest and ask him to bless it. Regular salt, ie not blessed, is also used to purify the priest's fingers after Unction. Salt was considered so valuable that Roman soldiers were paid, at least in part, by salt, or "sal" in Latin. This is the root of our word "salary."
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Silver: Holding a silver object or cross is an antidote. However, various liquid and powdered silver compounds are dangerous. Melt down silver into bullets and you are liable to inhale toxic fumes and be contaminated with silver poisoning. This is equally toxic if you plan on playing with silver nitrate, nitrite or any one of a hundred silver compounds. Silvering of mirrors is also toxic. Acetone and the various chemicals used can permanantly stain your skin blue-gray, or burn your human skin off.
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Silver Colloid: This is a tricky subject, as silver has been used for hundreds of years as an antibiotic/antiparasitic. Taking colloidal silver internally for weeks on end will nevertheless make you sick, as most things would if you took them every day. Colloidal silver is also tricky because there is a delicate and specific process of making it. There are plenty of really tainted products out there about which you need to be aware.
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Impalation: Impalation through the heart with a sharpened wooden stake, according to folklore, is an effective remedy for vampirism.
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Wolfsbane: see Aconitum Napellus.



The pungent herb Allium Sativum (wild variety: Allium Vineal), better known as garlic, is deemed by many to be effective as a repellent against evil spirits. In 450 BC, Herodotus, the Greek historian, in Euterpe: Concerning the History of Europe, remarks about an inscription inside the Cheops pyramid at Gisa, built circa 2900 BC, that attests to the value of garlic’s arcane properties. It was invariably employed to ward off evil spirits. Garlic has been grown and used for five thousand years. It lowers blood cholestral and reduces the risk of clotting, and is an effective food-remedy for almost every condition known to man. It aids digestion and maintains and improves health, being antibacterial and a powerful antibiotic. It increases the assimilation of vitamins, and itself contains vitamins B and C, calcium, phosphorous, iron and potassium; though it is not a sanctified item in the struggle against the Devil.
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Holy water, of course, is a sanctified item in the struggle against the Devil. The use of holy water in the earliest days of the Christian Era is attested by documents. In the earliest Christian times water was used for expiatory and purificatory purposes. As, in many cases, the water used for the Sacrament of Baptism was flowing water, sea or river water, it could not receive the same blessing as that contained in the baptisteries. On this particular point the early liturgy is obscure, but two recent discoveries are of very decided interest. The Pontifical of Scrapion of Thumis, a fourth-century bishop, and likewise the "testamentum Domini," a Syriac composition dating from the fifth to the sixth century, contain a blessing of oil and water during Mass. The formula in Scrapion's Pontifical is as follows: "We bless these creatures in the Name of Jesus Christ, Thy only Son; we invoke upon this water and this oil the Name of Him Who suffered, Who was crucified, Who arose from the dead, and Who sits at the right of the Uncreated. Grant unto these creatures the power to heal; may all fevers, every evil spirit, and all maladies be put to flight by him who either drinks these beverages or is anointed with them, and may they be a remedy in the Name of Jesus Christ, Thy only Son."
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As early as the fourth century various writings, the authenticity of which is free from suspicion, mention the use of water sanctified either by the liturgical blessing just referred to, or by the individual blessing of some holy person. St Epiphanius records that at Tiberias a man named Joseph poured water on a madman, having first made the sign of the cross and pronounced these words over the water: "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, crucified, depart from this unhappy one, thou infernal spirit, and let him be healed!" Joseph was converted an subsequently used the same proceeding to overcome witchcraft; yet, he was neither a bishop nor a cleric.
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It is known that some of the faithful believed that holy water possessed curative properties for certain diseases, and that this was true in a special manner of baptismal water. In some places it was carefully preserved throughout the year and, by reason of its having been used in baptism, was considered free from all corruption. This belief spread from East to West; and scarcely had baptism been administered, when the people would crown around with all sorts of vessels and take away the water, some keeping it carefully in their homes whilst others watered their fields, vineyards, and gardens with it.
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However, baptismal water was not the only holy water. Some was permanently retained at the entrance to Christian churches where a clerk sprinkled the faithful as they came in and, for this reason, was called hydrokometes or "introducer by water," an appellation that appears in the superscription of a letter of Synesius in which allusion is made to "lustral water placed in the vestibule of the temple". This water was perhaps blessed in proportion as it was needed, and the custom of the Church may have varied on this point. Balsamon tells us that, in the Greek Church, they "made" holy water at the beginning of each lunar month. Pope Leo IV ordered that each priest bless water every Sunday in his own church and sprinkle the people with it: "Omni die Dominico, ante missam, aquam benedictam facite, unde populus et loca fidelium aspergantur." Hincmar of Reims gave directions as follows: "Every Sunday, before the celebration of Mass, the priest shall bless water in his church, and, for this holy purpose, he shall use a clean and suitable vessel. The people, when entering the church, are to be sprinkled with this water, and those who so desire may carry some away in clean vessels so as to sprinkle their houses, fields, vineyards, and cattle, and the provender with which these last are fed, as also to throw over their own food." The rule of having water blessed for the aspersion at Mass on Sunday was thenceforth generally followed.
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There are two Sundays on which water is not and seems never to be blessed: these are Easter Sunday and Pentecost. The reason is because on the eve of these two feasts water for the baptismal fonts is blessed and consecrated and, before its mixture with the holy chrism, the faithful are allowed to take some of it to their homes, and keep it for use in time of need.
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But by far the most powerful repellent against evil, not least vampires, is the Host, the Body of God.
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"The laws of most counries invariably look upon exhumation as a most serious offence and no longer is it permissible to disinter a suspected vampire with view to carrying out the necessary exorcism. ... The more courageous exorcist, wearing protective measures, might want to confront the vampire as it leaves its tomb and attempt to end its pollutions by quickly employing methods already described. This last procedure should not be attempted under any circumstance without a minimum of two, similarly protected and armed, steadfast colleagues in attendance to lend support. There is no stronger defence against the snares and onlsaughts of this unspeakable evil than the Most Holy Sacrament, the Host, which should be handled by a person in holy orders where possible. The invocation of the Lord's Most Holy Name disarms and crushes the devil [demon]. The most powerful safeguard against demoniacal outrage lies in the protection of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
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(The edited quote regarding exhumation and the Host is taken from page 25 of
The Vampire Hunter's Handbook.)
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