The Originals (2013-2018)

The Originals is the first spin-off from the supernatural drama The Vampire Diaries, and it further expands the universe by providing a rich background story to many of the characters first met in the parent series.

In particular, we learn more about Klaus Mikaelson and his family, the first vampires to ever exist.

Their story unfolds in the French Quarter of New Orleans, a neighborhood they built and once ruled over but has since been taken over by Klaus’ own protege, Marcel.

Klaus is determined to regain control, but must also fight to keep his daughter safe from external threats against his family and the entire supernatural world.

Empusa

The Empusa is a shapeshifting creature of the night, though she also appears at midday. She is an eidolon, an illusory phantom, with an appetite for the flesh of her victims. All of which aligns well with the Titaness Hekate, who is sometimes the mother of Skylla, and often associated with ghosts and haunts.

The Empousa appears in The Frogs by Aristophanes and may have had a role in the Eleusinian Mysteries, which may stem from her association with Hekate. She can appear as a cow, mule, woman, or a dog. With the exception of the mule, Hekate can appear as any of those animals according to lore. In each of these roles, the Empousa is a fearsome creature who resides in the underworld, another connection to Hekate, who is sometimes known as the Queen of that realm. The Frogs puts Empousa in Hekate’s train, a creature bound to Hekate’s will.

Some scholars believe that Hekate and Empousa began as one, with the monstrous creature being an epithet for the Goddess. Yet, Empousa is also described as a vampire-like daimon who will devour her victim. Most surviving stories suggest that the Lamiai, including Empousa, were used as boogy-men, to scare children into following rules. 

Hekate and Empousa share an underworldly nature, an association with the Dead, with the same figures of cow, woman, and dog, as well as both wearing bronze sandals, and being an, at times, fearful figure. It is no surprise that scholars believe that they, at the very least, have some common origin.

Hekate-Empousa,
Who haunts the day and night,
Come forth from the Underworld,
You who attends the sacrifices for the Dead,
Stay your hand from those I love,
And be kind,
And many will be the offerings poured in your honor,
Oh Hekate-Empousa,
Bless us,
Phantasmal Goddess.

Jigarkhwar (JIG-are-quor)

Oftentimes called the female equivalent of the Jigar Khoy, the jigarkhwar of the Sindh region of India is, although similar in many ways, distinctively different type of vampiric witch. The jigarkhwar uses her power of hypnosis to place a person into a trancelike state in order to steal his liver. After the organ has been stolen, the vampiric witch returns to her home and cooks it. While this is occurring, the victim falls suddenly ill. As soon as the last bite of the liver is eaten, the person’s life-energy has been consumed, and he dies. The spell can be reversed as long as a single bite of the liver remains uneaten. As soon as it is eaten, the person’s fate is sealed.

Source: Crooke, Introduction to the Popular Religion,

Iara

An iara is a vampiric spirit or vampiric witch from Brazil, depending on the way it died. If a person dies violently, or before his time, or outside the Catholic Church, or if a body is not given a proper Catholic burial or is buried in the jungle, that person will become the vampiric spirit type of iara. However, if a living person sells his soul to the devil for power, he will become the vampiric witch kind of iara.

The iara, no matter how it came to be, can, in its human guise, sing a beautiful, sirenlike song that will lure men out into the jungle. There is a protective chant that can be uttered as soon as a man hears the iara’s song, but he must be quick, otherwise he is doomed to fall prey to it. Once the iara has secured a victim, it shape-shifts into a snake with red eyes and, using a form of mesmerism, hypnotizes its prey, after which it will drain off his blood and semen. It leaves the bodies of those it has killed near waterways.

Source: Bryant, Handbook of Death

Medieval Vampire Defense

If your local villagers neglected to unearth and stake a suspected vampire and he or she has returned from the grave, there are steps you can take to protect yourself. The exact method varies around the world, but in some traditions the best way to stop a vampire is to carry a small bag of salt with you. If you are being chased, you need only to spill the salt on the ground behind you, at which point the vampire is obligated to stop and count each and every grain before continuing the pursuit. If you don’t have salt handy, some say that any small granules will do, including birdseed or sand. Salt was often placed above and around doorways for the same reason. 

Some traditions hold that vampires cannot enter a home unless formally invited in. This may have been an early form of the modern “stranger danger” warnings to children, a scary reminder against inviting unknown people into the house.

Medieval Ways To Identify A Potential Vampire

Interest and belief in revenants (one that returns after death or a long absence) surged in the Middle Ages in Europe. Though in most modern stories the classic way to become a vampire is to be bitten by one, that is a relatively new twist. In his book “Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality” (Yale, 2008), folklorist Paul Barber noted that centuries ago, “Often potential revenants can be identified at birth, usually by some abnormality, some defect, as when a child is born with teeth. Similarly suspicious are children born with an extra nipple (in Romania, for example); with a lack of cartilage in the nose, or a split lower lip (in Russia) … When a child is born with a red caul, or amniotic membrane, covering its head, this was regarded throughout much of Europe as presumptive evidence that it is destined to return from the dead.” Such minor deformities were looked upon as evil omens at the time.

A Romanian Guide To Finding A Vampire

Finding a vampire is not always easy: according to one Romanian legend you’ll need a 7-year-old boy and a white horse. The boy should be dressed in white, placed upon the horse, and the pair set loose in a graveyard at midday. Watch the horse wander around, and whichever grave is nearest the horse when it finally stops is a vampire’s grave — or it might just have something edible nearby; take your pick.

Real Vampires

There are, of course, a few truly vampiric animals, including leeches, lampreys and vampire bats. And in all these cases the vampire’s intent is to draw enough blood for sustenance, but not enough to kill the host.

But what about human vampires? There are certainly many self-identified vampires who participate in gothic-inspired subcultures. Some host vampire-themed book clubs or secret bloodletting rituals; others wear capes or get vampire-fang dental implants. It’s all frightening and fun, but blood drinking is another matter entirely. The problem is that blood is toxic; because it is so rich in iron — and because the human body has difficulty excreting excess iron — anyone who consumes blood regularly runs a real risk of haemochromatosis (iron overdose), which can cause a wide variety of diseases and problems, including liver and nervous system damage.

In one form or another, vampires have been part of human culture and folklore in different forms for millennia, and the bloodsuckers show no signs of going away any time soon.

Jiangshi (Hopping Corpse)

The myth of the hopping corpse of China comes from a story titled The Corpse Who Traveled a Thousand Miles. It is a tale about a wizard who enchants corpses to hop home so that they may receive proper burial and their P’O (soul) can be laid to rest. It has been speculated that if smugglers did not invent the tale, they most certainly capitalized upon it by dressing up as these corpses and hopping to scare away superstitious local law enforcement.

According to the myth, a corpse that has had its yin shocked and its P’O disrupted will become a vampiric revenant. Events that can cause this to happen are if a cat jumps over a corpse, moonlight falls on it, or the body was not sent back to its home for proper burial. If the P’O will not leave the body, the soul cannot be laid to rest.

A hopping corpse is described as wearing burial clothes from the Qing Dynasty and is accom- panied by monks, mourners, and Taoist priests. Its eyes are bulging out of its sockets and its tongue is lolling from its mouth. Its arms are out stretched and it smells horrible enough to make a man fall unconscious.

A hopping corpse hunts by its sense of smell, and when it finds someone, it goes right for the throat, either biting right in the jugular or strangling the person to death. It has the power to kill a person instantly with a single touch, never grows tired, and can fly if need be.

Yellow and red Chinese death blessings placed on its forehead will slow it down, as will throwing long grain rice at it, since it will be compelled to count them. It can be warded off for a while, as it is afraid of chicken blood, straw brooms, and Taoist eight-sided mirrors. However, to destroy a hopping corpse, only long-term exposure to dawn’s light or by burning it and its coffin to ash will work.

Asanbonsam

Asanbonsam (Ah-SAN-bon-some)

Variations: Asambosam, Asanbosan, Asasa-bonsam, Sasabonsam

The asanbonsam terrorizes mankind from southern Ghana in Togo and along the Ivory Coast of Africa. Although it is rarely encountered, it looks like a human with hooks for its hands and feet. Its preferred method of hunting is to patiently sit in a tree and wait for some luckless individual to pass directly underneath it. When this happens, the asanbonsam will use its hooks to snatch up its prey and drain it dry of blood. When times are lean, it will venture into a village at night and sip blood from a sleeping person’s thumb. Fortunately, the regular sacrifices of a goat and the spilling of its blood on the ground will keep it satisfied enough to not hunt within the village.