Religions Featuring Vampirism

Some will be surprised to learn that while the practice of blood drinking and also that of energy-feeding was practiced in numerous extinct religions of old,  there are vestiges of the vampire in even modern religions today.

Modern Religions Featuring Practices Which Relate To Vampirism:

1) Christianity (Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, Eclectic)

The blood sacrament  of Christian practice, Mass, Communion etc is a strong reference to vampirism in which the symbolic consumption of “the blood (and flesh) of Christ” by the faithful is the ritual by which they mark their “salvation” from sin by the death or “sacrifice” of Christ. The Roman Catholic version of this ritual (“Mass”) is a literal consumption of blood and flesh. This is a ritual by which it is claimed that the bread and red wine are literally transformed into the actual blood and flesh of Christ. Protestant and Evangelical versions are markedly different because they feature a disclaimer that these are merely symbols, although they too symbolically claim to consume the flesh and blood of Christ. This is still seen as a consumption of the life-essence of another, but is somehow justified in the minds of believers despite other bans on blood drinking in the Christian bible, mostly in the Hebrew Old Testament.

In the Christian Old Testament, which is largely based upon the Hebrew Torah, the drinking of any blood (and especially Human blood) is forbidden as being ritually unclean. Blood is reserved for God alone – “… for the life of the creature is in the blood”… “The blood is the life” – a much quoted piece in the original Dracula and in many Vampire fiction and literary works since.

In the Roman period, Christianity became a synthesis of Mithraistic thought on eternal life gained from the blood of the sacrificed savior (like a bull), the ultimate sacrifice, and Jewish rituals of ritual animal sacrifice. The cannibalistic elements of the Christian Communion, the Eucharist, and the imagery of the blood of Christ washing away sins and granting eternal life (like Mithras), are all derived from this Roman merging of Judaism and early Christianity with Mithraism. The transformation of Mithras into a Bull or Ram which preceded the eating of his flesh and blood directly parallels the Christian view of Christ as a Lamb of God being led to the slaughter and the death and resurrection of Christ, his statement that his disciples should eat and drink his flesh and blood to wash away sin and gain eternal life.

Southern Baptist upbringing teaches that the wine or grape juice and bread or biscuits used in Communion is IN FACT the flesh and blood of Christ.

If one were to confront a member of this religion on this detail, it is a certainty that they would point out rather defensively that “it is only grape juice” – while failing to see that this denial is exposing the lie built into the foundations of its own construct. If it isn’t REALLY blood, why insist so vehemently in their liturgy and dogma that it is?

Non Main-stream Sub-sects of Christianity:

Jehovah’s Witnesses – this Christian offshoot not affiliated to any mainstream Christian tradition has its devotees so focused on blood that it borders on questionable ethics and practice. The dogma of this faith forbids its adherents not only from consuming any blood products in food or drink, but also from receiving organ transplants and blood transfusions. It seems they take the  Old Testament ritual law about “the blood is the life” literally, believing also that the life-essence (spirit/energy) of the creature is in the blood. Some Kin believe that these strange principles (which often cost lives) result from the possibility that the Jehovah’s Witnesses believe in the existence of Vampyres and the link between prana (chi, life-essence in the blood) and energy work.

The Amish, Mennonites, and Jehovahs Witnesses clearly state that they believe Communion is a completely symbolic memorial in honor of Christ’s death.

2) Judaism

In the classic Jewish period, the Temple in Jerusalem had gutters built into the stone floor around the altar. Large numbers of sheep, cows, goats, and birds were killed daily to appease the Jewish god, causing literal rivers of blood to flow from the Temple. Cleansing by blood was an established part of Jewish tradition of the period.

In Judaism all mammal and bird meat intended for eating (not fish) is salted to remove the blood. Jews follow the teaching in Leviticus, that since “the life of the animal is in the blood”, no person may eat (or drink) the blood. According to the Torah, blood is only to be used for special/sacred purposes in connection with worship (Exodus chapters 12, 24, 29). In the first century, Christians, both former Jews (the Jewish Christians), and new Gentile converts, were in dispute as to which particular features of Mosaic law were to be retained and upheld by them.

The Christian apostles decided that, among other things, it was necessary to abstain from consuming blood: “For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well, Fare ye well.” —King James Version — Acts, 15:28-29 References are also made in  Matthew 26:29 and Hebrews).

These New Testament Christian verses repeat certain elements of the Jewish law, and include the prohibition regarding blood, thus making it also binding upon the Early Christian church. See also Council of Jerusalem and the Seven Laws of Noah. This Apostolic Decree is still observed today by the Greek Orthodox Church.

3 Islam

Islam, an offshoot of Judaism, also has ritual laws which prohibit the consumption of blood or blood products in food or drink. In Islam the consumption of blood is prohibited (“Haraam”). Halal animals should be properly slaughtered to drain out the blood. Unlike in other traditions, this is not because blood is revered or holy, but simply because blood is considered unclean or “Najis”, with certain narratives prescribing ablutions (in the case of no availability of water) if contact is made with it.

4) Neo-Pagan and Witchcraft and Ethnic Traditional Religions

Some Pagan groups do mix small amounts of the blood of those attending a gathering in a chalice, which is then consumed by all as an act of becoming one with each other in the belief that if everyone in a group shares the combined blood – then, symbolically, they are all joined as one. In Wicca and European witchcraft, small amounts of blood are sometimes used in spell craft, usually to either link individuals together, or to give extra energy to a spell.

The Maasai in Africa still drink cow’s blood. This isn’t so much as to take in the spirit of the cow, but is a survival mechanism to cope with arid conditions where not much water is available. It also seems to be one of their main sources of iron. Another tribe also in Africa mixes some of the blood of a living cow with milk as a thirst quencher. The effectiveness of this practice has been questioned by Western standards, but confirmed by visiting experts in documentaries.

Historically speaking, there has been much said about the ancient beliefs of hunters, who believe that drinking the blood, or eating the organs of an animal that has been killed, will bring to the hunter some of the qualities of that animal. The same has been said of the practice of cannibalizing one’s defeated enemies in numerous cultures, including the Maya and Pacific Island cultures.

In the Santeria, the blood of a sacrificed animal can open a channel of communication with the Orisha’s, but it’s not clear if they actually drink the blood to achieve this.

5) “Satanism” or Luciferianism

The general collective paths sometimes labeled as “Satanism” do not have any blood drinking rituals, unless you count the “Demonolators” who are also pantheistic and therefore stretch the technical definition of “Satanism” to its limits. Daemonolatry features a ritual where drops of blood from each participant in the rite is placed in a chalice of wine and drunk by everyone present, but that practice has reportedly been abandoned since HIV/AIDS came on the scene and people started to learn more about blood-borne diseases.

While there are numerous paths identifying as Luciferian or even as “Satanist”, there is no official  representation for such paths in South Africa, which enjoys religious freedom. Therefore, such groups are legally entitled to practice openly, but it seems choose not to, most likely due to the pressure they would endure at the hands of conservatives and Christian fundamentalists.

Some occult crimes in this country are still ignorantly and incorrectly blamed on “satanism” and these often involve blood sacrifice, murder and grave robbery – which frequently link back to individuals with mental illness and to traditional African belief-practices such as “muti” rather than actual Satanism. With few actual “satanists” willing to speak out or explain what exactly their religion is about, and with mounting conservative Christian hostility based upon propaganda and misapplied stereotypes, these misconceptions are likely to continue and even escalate.

Extinct Religions Featuring Forms of Vampirism:

1) Ancient Mesopotamian Religions

Sumerian Religion

There were no organized set of gods; each city-state had its own patrons, temples, and priest-kings. The Sumerians were probably the first to write down their beliefs, which were the inspiration for much of later Mesopotamian mythology, religion, and astrology.

The Sumerians worshipped:

Anu as the full time god, equivalent to “heaven” – indeed, the word “an” in Sumerian means “sky” and his consort Ki, means “Earth”.
Enki in the south at the temple in Eridu. Enki was the god of beneficence, ruler of the freshwater depths beneath the earth, a healer and friend to humanity who was thought to have given us the arts and sciences, the industries and manners of civilization; the first law-book was considered his creation,
Enlil, lord of the ghost-land, in the north at the temple of Nippur. His gifts to mankind were said to be the spells and incantations that the spirits of good or evil were compelled to obey, Inanna, the deification of Venus, the morning (eastern) and evening (western) star, at the temple (shared with An) at Uruk.
The sun-god Utu at Sippar, the moon god Nanna at Ur.

These deities were probably the original matrix; there were hundreds of minor deities. The Sumerian gods thus had associations with different cities, and their religious importance often waxed and waned with those cities’ political power. The gods were said to have created human beings from clay for the purpose of serving them.

Akhkharu
The noted Sumerian word for “vampire” is Akhkharu. According to Sumerian myth there were three basic kinds of vampire, the Ekimmu, the Uruku/Utukku, and the Seven Demons. In Assyrian demonology, Akharu are evil vampires.

In Sumerian culture, Utukku could be evil or benevolent. In contemporary Akkadian mythology, they called this type of vampire Uttuki. Uttuki serviced the underworld with seven evil demons. These demons were the offspring of Anu, a Mesopotamian god (the One God) and Antu, an Akkadian goddess.

The kindly vampire races from ancient Sumeria were known as the Utukku (also Uruku), which were very benevolent vampiric beings, in which some of them looked almost human/angelic and the other half looked like half human and lion beings. They were apparently very kind and generous and protective of the human race but were not very accepted by their aggressive counterparts, the Ekimmu.

The Ekimmu apparently were evil vampire races of Sumerian or Akkadian legend, according to which they helped imprison the Utukku and humanity.

There doesn’t seem to be much literature on the net based on these beings, but there are a lot of books about them – books based on worldwide vampire folklore for example. Although there are many resources on Utukku, little is known about this Mesopotamian/Sumerian vampire. It has been portrayed in today’s culture as video game characters, figures in literature, and movies but the Utukku still remains mysterious.

There seems to be much cross-pollination of ideas between neighboring cultures of the time, much as there is in the world today. Take for example the minor detail that today you can watch TV in every country and notice at least one item, be it news, actuality or sport, that features an American accent – or buy a burger from Mc Donalds. In the same vein, the ancient Egyptians believed that the souls of the dead could return as vampires and it seems this belief passed on to the people of Asia Minor, because they believed their goddess Ishtar went to the Underworld searching for her dead son Tammuz – and threatened the gods that she would cause “the dead to rise and devour the living”, and even the Chinese had legends about hungry spirits too. This proves to me that while you can draw borders and lay down laws – you cannot contain ideas. Ideas spread like a drop of blood in a glass of wine.”

2) Egyptian Religions (Combined from various sources)

Of all the ancient cultures we know of today, no other is as detailed and complete as that of Egypt. A culture that spanned almost 4000 years, it has fascinated the world since the time of antiquity.

Predynastic Egyptian cultures developed around 5500–3100 BCE. They began using agriculture around 5000 BCE. the earliest recorded date in the Egyptian calendar was 4241 BCE. Copper was used by Egyptians and Sumerians at a time when Western Europe was neolithic, without metals or written records.

Aset
The land of Kemet was one rich in the history of modern vampires everywhere. In fact the Kemetic Order of Aset Ka, also known as the Asetians are a current day group of vampires that gives worship to the Kemetic Goddess Aset, often spoken of as being the mother of vampires. However, there is mention of vampires in even earlier cultures such as that of the Sumerians. (Source)

Aset Ka was not the only Kemetic Netjer/Netjert (or God/Goddess) that has a place in vampiric history however. There were many that have held a place in our history either as the source of symbols we currently use, customs we take on as our own, or as one of the many Netjer/Netjert that we feel personally drawn to.

Hathor/Sekhmet
“Often regarded as the wife of Thoth, in later references she has been also depicted as the wife of Ra-Horakhty (Ra/Horus) or in earlier references as the mother of Horus. She was the Nejert that represented the personification of feminine love, joy, music, dance, foreign lands, and motherhood. She was believed to be the one that welcomed all into this life and the next by helping mothers through childbirth and by greeting the dead when they pass into the afterlife. She is also often depicted in animal form as a cow goddess and has had, since the days of ancient Kemet, a cult following that uses this cow as one of it’s many symbols of worship. As is often the case with pantheons throughout history, there are sometimes similarities that overlap. Hathor is one of the female deities that is also associated with the Greek goddess Aphrodite.

There is a story about Hathor that has particular interest to someone bearing an eye on vampiric history. Kemet had once been separated into Upper Kemet and Lower Kemet. The unification of the two regions was the result of a twenty eight year war of brutal proportions. The casualties on both sides were high. At the end of the war, peace returned to the land of Kemet and calm resumed, laying the way for a prosperous age in which the pharaoh Mentuhotep III reigned. The tale that follows this war is the one of which I speak.

It is said that Ra (represented by the pharaoh of Upper Kemet) no longer had the respect of his people (those of Lower Kemet) and they had begun disobeying him and otherwise shirking his authority. According to the myth, Ra communicated through Hathor’s third eye (or Maat) and told her of his impending assassination that was being planned by the people in the land. It angered Hathor that the people she herself had created and brought into this world would do such a thing as to plan this heinous event. She was so angered in fact that she became Sekhmet, the war goddess of Upper Kemet. Hathor (as Sekhmet) then went on what has been called a bloodthirsty slaughter that could not be stopped. Upon seeing the effect his news had on his precious Hathor, Ra became regretful of the ensuing chaos and chose to stop Sehkmet from continuing her slaughter. To do this, he decided it best to trick Sekhmet and so he poured vast amounts of blood colored beer onto the earth below. Thinking that he was pouring out blood for her in reward for her service, she drank it with frenzied delight, so much of it that she became drunk and fell into a slumber. After waking from this slumber, she had once more returned to her normal, gentle, loving, joyful self as his beautiful Hathor.

You can see how this reference to such bloodthirst which is normally kept tightly reigned in within the soul of Hathor, in the form of Sekhmet, can be equally representative of the plight of the modern day vampire. Just below the surface hovers a predator that thirsts for the lifeforce of others. And yet, also true is the fact that for most modern vampires, such thirst and hunger is held in the strictest of control, locked away in a part of themselves that can only find a way to the surface under traumatic events or the danger of loved ones.”

Origins
There is speculation that Sekhmet was turned into a blood-thirsting creature by the goddess Lilith, it was the goddess named Sekhmet that had a reputation for drinking blood. Records of earlier times showed Sekhmet as a warrior-goddess of Upper Egypt.

Then there is the legend telling how Sekhmet was another facet of the goddess Hathor as detailed earlier.

With the passage of time, a cult developed which consisted of devotees to the blood-drinking Sekhmet. The cult started to gain prominence and during the 12th dynasty the Pharaoh (Amenemhat I) shifted the capital of Egypt to a location now known to be the center for this cult. This was the city of Ijtawy. It is well known that in ancient Egypt the governing powers, royal bloodlines and religion were all strongly linked together.

War
Historical records have shown that Sekhmet was considered to be a warrior goddess in Upper Egypt. After every battle that cult of devotees to this deity would celebrate an elaborate Festival to appease their goddess. Annual festivals were conducted at the beginning of each year where participants would intoxicate themselves along with which dancing and music were a common part of these festivals. It was believed that through these actions the Egyptians could appease the goddess because of which their opponents would face destruction. She became the protector of Pharaohs and was there to lead them into war.

Hunting
The Egyptians would depict her as a lioness that had a reputation of being Egypt’s most fearless hunter. They also believed she was a protector during times of war and she was regarded as being a source of guidance by the Pharaohs.

Other
The same goddess can be seen wearing a solar disk in many of her depictions. Consequently she was associated with attributes like justice and had the responsibility to keep order. She was seen as the avenger of wrong. She was the goddess to women as she ruled over menstruation. Wherever she is depicted, she is shown in a red gown, representative of her connection to blood.

Various other powers were attributed to Sekhmet. These include the ability to bring disease as well as its cure. Mention of Sekhmet can also be found in historical records made by ancient physicians. Priests of the time also associated the goddess with doctors. Physicians and surgeons during the Middle Kingdom were sometimes made reference to the goddess. It was not uncommon to see priests associated with Sekhmet as being on the same level as doctors.

3) Greek Traditions

In ancient Greece, the term “lamia” was and is still used meaning “blood drinkers”. Lamia originally were spirits of the underworld who were tormented and who would drink the blood of small children. This legend certainly went to the Romans (who applied it to mean vampires as well as witches) and later acquired more power and a certain level of voracity with the general superstition that burdened the miserable Catholic-dominated people of the Middle Ages.

(From Wikipedia)
“Ancient Greek mythology contains several precursors to modern vampires, though none were considered undead; these included the Empusa, Lamia, and striges (the strix of Ancient Roman mythology).

Over time the first two terms (Empusa and Lamia) became general words to describe witches and demons respectively. Empusa was the daughter of the goddess Hecate and was described as a demonic, bronze-footed creature. She feasted on blood by transforming into a young woman and seduced men as they slept before drinking their blood. Lamia was the daughter of King Belus and a secret lover of Zeus. However Zeus’ wife Hera discovered this infidelity and killed all Lamia’s offspring; Lamia swore vengeance and preyed on young children in their beds at night, sucking their blood.” This is similar to some versions of the Lilith legend, relating to Lilith preying on children of Eve because God is supposed to have destroyed her offspring. “Like Lamia, the striges, feasted on children, but also preyed on young men. They were described as having the bodies of crows or birds in general, and were later incorporated into Roman mythology as strix, a kind of nocturnal bird that fed on human flesh and blood. The Romanian vampire breed named Strigoï has no direct relation to the Greek striges, but was derived from the Roman term strix, as is the name of the Albanian Shtriga and the Slavic Strzyga, though myths about these creatures are more similar to their Slavic equivalents. Greek vampiric entities are seen once again in Homer’s epic Odyssey. In Homer’s tale, the undead are too insubstantial to be heard by the living and cannot communicate with them without drinking blood first. In the epic, when Odysseus journeys into Hades, he is made to sacrifice a lamb so that the shades there could drink its blood and communicate.”

4) Roman Traditions

In ancient Greece, the term “lamia” was and is still used meaning “blood drinkers”. Lamia originally were spirits of the underworld who were tormented and who would drink the blood of small children. This legend certainly went to the Romans (who applied it to mean vampires as well as witches) and later acquired more power and a certain level of voracity with the general superstition that burdened the miserable Catholic-dominated people of the Middle Ages.

Roman Mythology – The Striges
Feeding on the blood of children, the striges also had young men in their sights when it came to searching for a feast. Also referred to as a strix or strixes, ancient Romans told legends about a creature that was seen as a nocturnal sort of bird that brought about bad luck and had a taste for feeding on the flesh and blood of humans – much like the vampire. A big difference between the striges and vampires was that they were not the product of something that had once been dead and had risen, but was actually something that evolved into an owl-like creature.

The ancient Romans believed that Lemures, or Larvae, vampire-like ghosts of the dead, returned to haunt their living relatives and cause them harm. In order to exorcise these malevolent spirits and banish them from the home, ritual observances called Lemuria were held annually on May 9, 11, and 13. These rituals required the father of every home to rise at midnight, purify his hands, toss black beans for the spirits to gather, and entreat his dead ancestors to return to the spirit world.

Blood-drinking Cults
(Source)
“Many ancient societies worshiped blood thirsty gods. This caused people to begin to associate blood with divinity, leading to the development of the early vampire cults. Regardless of the spiritual value, some people have always had a desire to drink blood and the reasons are as varied as the practitioners. In some societies the practice was accepted, as in ancient Egypt. But in others, vampirism became considered deviant behavior and condemned.

During the glory days of Rome, vampire cults abounded. Roman citizens, mostly females, began to believe in the concept delivered to them by captive peoples that drinking the blood of fertile females would cure the infertile. Likewise, for males, blood drinking was a way to become more potent. It wasn’t long before blood drinking cult members started to get sick and spread their sicknesses to others. Though it’s doubtful that these people understood much of anything about the diseases transmitted through blood, Roman physicians did see a connection between blood drinking and the spread of sickness. Eventually, the Roman government moved against the cults and outlawed the practice.

Some members of vampire cults refused to stop drinking each others blood and continued to meet in secret, despite the physical dangers and threats of severe punishment. When this was discovered and sickness continued to spread, the Roman government dispatched paid assassins to hunt down and kill the renegade blood drinkers. Because they were paid by the number of cult members they killed, these early vampire hunters became legendary. Seeking to get rich from their trade, there is no doubt that these “pay per kill” assassins took the lives of as many innocent people as they did cult members.

The weapon of choice for the Roman vampire hunters was a small, easily hidden dagger. This allowed them to infiltrate the secret cult meetings and then attack without warning. The daggers were highly ornate leaving the Roman public with the impression that the assassins were on a divine mission. The handles were in the shape of a cross and looked very much like any ornate, modern crucifix! In an attempt to scare off the government sanctioned assassins, cult members began to spread stories designed to frighten their trackers. They claimed that drinking blood gave them the ability to change into fierce animals and devour any attackers.”

Mithraism 

The cult of Mithras was popular in the Roman Empire with many Emperors following, not just the populace. It had seven sacraments, the same as the Catholic Church, baptism, and communion with bread and water. The Eucharist hosts were signed with a cross, an ancient phallic symbol which originated in Egypt, and the Egyptian cross (the ankh) still shows the original form which included the female symbol.

“More important even than the Vedic and Zoroastrian influences, the Mithras cult had a strong impact on Christianity. Mithras was the son of Ormuzd, and as a god of light himself, he engaged the powers of darkness, Ahriman and his host, in a bitter struggle. Mithras triumphed and cast his adversaries into the nether world. Mithras, too, raised the dead and will find them at the end of time. He, too, will relegate the wicked to hell and establish the millennial kingdom. […]

Drews, too, believes that it was the influence of Persian, notably Mithraic, thought which led to the gradual transformation of the human figure of Jesus into a Godhead. Robertson thinks that the rock-tomb resurrection of Jesus is a direct transference of Mithras’ rock birth, and that Jesus also became a sun-god like Mithras, so that they share their birthday at the winter solstice. Robertson, Niemojewski, Volney and others assert that as son-god Jesus had twelve apostles representing the twelve houses of the zodiac.” – “Jesus Versus Christianity” by Alfred Reynolds (1993)

“Judgement: The faithful to Mithra believed they would live in bliss after death until the Judgement of mankind. Mithra would then unlock Paradise for the faithful and come to Earth and kill all the unbaptised. All the dead would return from their graves to be judged. All the wicked, the rejected and unbaptised would be destroyed by Mithra by fire, and those accepted into Paradise would live with Mithra forever with eternal life. After the annihilation of the unfaithful Mithra ascends into Heaven, at the end of time, after his Messiah has brought salvation to the saved, in a chariot of fire.”

The Cult of Mithras, the “Lord of Light” also featured the drinking of blood: “The bull is seen as a symbol of Spring, of rebirth, and a very common carving is of Mithras cleansing himself in the blood of a bull. Ritual killing of bulls and washing in its blood was believed to be necessary for cleansing, eternal life and salvation. This was followed by a meal of the bulls flesh. Life anew could be created from the flesh and blood of the sacrificed bull. If a bull was not available a substitute was used by poorer congregations, such as a ram, bread or fish.” The adherents of Mithras believed that by eating the bull’s flesh and drinking its blood they would be born again, just as life itself has been created anew from the blood of the bull. Participation in this rite would give not only physical strength but lead to the immortality of the soul and to eternal light. Justin also mentioned the similarity between the Mithras ritual and the Eucharist” “According to the Mithraic myth, he would undergo a cultic transformation into a bull [or] a ram. He would be killed and his flesh and blood (or wine representing his blood) would be consumed by the faithful. The pictoral and sculpted scenes presenting this sacred meal were the ones which enraged Christian sensitivities, and many smashed-up Mithraeums show the traces of the fury of Christian iconoclasts. Tertullian [160CE-240CE] mentioned (De praescre., 40) this ritual of the Mithras which was a ‘devilish imitation of the Eucharist’. He also mentions that the Mithraists enacted the resurrection.” – “Jesus Versus Christianity” by Alfred Reynolds (1993)

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