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In movieland we have come across Vampires that speak their own dialects, in some fiction too but where do these languages come from.
In the Movie “Blade”, for example, at one point in the movie Jared Nomak turns to camera and delivers a portion of dialogue – what language was it?
In the book ‘Encyclopedia Fictional and Fantastic Languages’, J. Matthew Pearson explains;
“As the vampires are an ancient race, they have their own language, and for this film, UCLA Linguistics professor Victoria Fromkin was hired to design a Vampire language (Fromkin is also the creator of the Paku language from Land of the Lost
Not enough of the language is provided in the film to construct a grammar or morphology, but phonetically the Vampire language sounds Slavic and is often mixed with Czech and Russian by the film’s director, suggesting that the Vampire race is Eastern European in origin (perhaps Transylvanian?)”
One would tend to suppose that since the majority of the tales of historical Vampires originated in, and near, the Balkan States that we should rationally expect the same sort of scenario and, if we are going to go “by the book” that started it all, in modern parlance, then we would have to expect that the “official” language of Vampyres would be some form of early Romanian.
What about Modern Living Vampires? What language should we employ, as a symbol of our unique identity and our… if I may use the term, unity?
Now this is gonna be a bit of a trip, just like the article Vampire Deities 2017, okay, maybe a bit less ‘tongue-in-cheek’ but if you would care to accompany me let’s take a look at the possibilities, maybe learn some shit along the way…
Written communication – development of
The earliest writing systems, dated to the Bronze Age, did not just fall out of the sky, nor were they the product of an ‘epiphany’… they were based on earlier systems of symbol usage that can’t be properly described as writing. These systems are most usually named “proto-writing”. Such “symbol” systems emerged in the early Neolithic period, as early as the 7th millennium BC, of which the oldest known examples are the “Jiahu symbols” from China.
Similarly, the Vinča signs exhibit an evolution beginning with simple symbol sets that gradually increased in complexity until they achieved the highest development represented in the Tărtăria tablets of c. 5300 BC
The hieroglyphic scripts of the Ancient Near East (inc. Egyptian, Sumerian proto-Cuneiform, and Cretan) emerged from these earlier systems so that it becomes impossible to discern at what point “writing” actually became recognisable, or able to be classified, as writing. “Slavic runes” (7th and 8th centuries AD) and the “quipu” of the Incas (15th century AD) may well be classified as being of a similar nature.
Writing, as it is now generally classified, emerged in a number of Bronze Age cultures, most notably, the cuneiform system of Sumeria, Egyptian hieroglyphs, Cretan hieroglyphs, Chinese logographs, Indus script, and Olmec scripts of Mesoamerica.
So, now, a big jump forward to the “Ogham Alphabet”
Ogham (/ˈɒɡəm/; Modern Irish [ˈoːmˠ] or [ˈoːəmˠ]; Old Irish: ogam [ˈɔɣamˠ])
Early Medieval – An alphabet used to write the early Irish language (in the “orthodox” inscriptions, 1st to 6th centuries AD), and later the Old Irish language (scholastic ogham, 6th to 9th centuries).
Although the majority of the inscriptions in the ‘language’ consist of personal names according to the High Medieval Bríatharogam, names of various trees can be ascribed to individual letters.
There is some argument that the earliest known Ogham inscriptions date to about the 4th century AD,  but James Carney believes its origin is rather within the 1st century BC.  The actual use of “classical” ogham seems to have been, according to experts, most prolific in the 5th and 6th centuries around the Irish Sea, however, considering it phonetically it is clear that the alphabet predates the 5th century.
Some scholars consider it a mere cipher of its template script (Düwel 1968:  points out similarity with ciphers of Germanic runes). The majority of scholars favour the Latin alphabet as the template,  although the Elder Futhark and even the Greek alphabet have been touted as progenitors.  A “Runic” origin, it has been pointed out, would explain the presence of “H” and “Z” (letters unused in Irish) as well as the presence of vocalic and consonantal variants “U” vs. “W” (unknown to Latin writing and lost in Greek.)
We can see, from this VERY brief history, the mention of both Slavic and Germanic Runic systems and thus we might well look upon Runes as the ‘not altogether missing’ link between ancient and modern languages.
Runes (Proto-Norse: ᚱᚢᚾᛟ (runo), Old Norse: rún)
“The letters in a set of related alphabets known as runic alphabets, which were used to write various Germanic languages before the adoption of the Latin alphabet and for specialised purposes thereafter. The Scandinavian variants are also known as futhark or fuþark (derived from their first six letters of the alphabet: F, U, Þ, A, R, and K); the Anglo-Saxon variant is futhorc or fuþorc (due to sound changes undergone in Old English by the names of those six letters). [ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runes]
The three best-known runic alphabets are as follows;
The Elder Futhark (around 150–800 AD)
The Anglo-Saxon Futhorc (400–1100 AD)
The Younger Futhark (800–1100 AD).
Nb: The Younger Futhark is divided further into the long-branch runes (also called Danish, although they were also used in Norway, Sweden and Frisia); short-branch or Rök runes (also called Swedish-Norwegian, although they were also used in Denmark); and the stavlösa or Hälsinge runes (staveless runes). The Younger Futhark developed further into the Medieval runes (1100–1500 AD), and the Dalecarlian runes (c. 1500–1800 AD).
The process by which Runic script became dispersed is contentious but it is worthwhile noting that the oldest known Runic inscriptions are found in Denmark and northern Germany, not near Italy. A “West Germanic hypothesis” suggests that the runic systems were spread by movements of the Elbe Germanic groups, while a “Gothic hypothesis” presumes that it was a product of East Germanic expansion.
“The word ‘Rune’ comes from the Germanic root run- (Gothic runa), meaning “secret” or “whisper”, while in Old Irish Gaelic, the word rún means “mystery”, “secret”, “intention” or “affectionate love.” Similarly in Welsh and Old English, the word rhin and rūn respectively means “mystery”, “secret”, “secret writing”, or sometimes in the extreme sense of the word, “miracle” (gwyrth).” [ref: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Runes]
Now, I can see the question that is forming among you dear readers, the obvious question, “What in the name of all the gods does this have to do with Vampires, and more especially Modern Living Vampires?”
A great number of “modern” Vampires that I know, and that I have been in communication with, favour worshiping in age old manners, in recognising the “ancient” deities and historical methodologies of worship; indeed, as an energy worker I have conducted rituals along similar lines, also, a great number of the modern Vampire culture describe themselves as Pagan, synonymous with neo-pagan, practitioners.
Paganism is a term first used in the fourth century by early Christianity for populations of the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism, either because they were increasingly rural and provincial relative to the Christian population or because they were not Milites Christi (soldiers of Christ).  In the 19th century, paganism was adopted as a self-descriptor by members of various artistic groups inspired by the ancient world. In the 20th century, it came to be applied as a self-description by practitioners of Modern Paganism or neopagan movements who incorporate beliefs or practices different than those in the main world religions.
“Contemporary knowledge of old pagan religions comes from several sources, including anthropological field research records, the evidence of archaeological artifacts, and the historical accounts of ancient writers regarding cultures known to classical antiquity. Forms of these religions, influenced by various historical pagan beliefs of premodern Europe, exist today and are known as contemporary or modern paganism, also referred to as neopaganism.”
In Pagan practices and traditions the Ogham alphabet and the Rune systems were the province of a few “learned” persons and the systems were used to pass along information and messages in a secretive manner, a hidden manner. Indeed, this is one of the very tenets by which modern groups, covens, Houses and other organisations operate.
Runes, one method for both communication and divination, perhaps, given these two factors, a system of secular practice as well. One of the questions that has always been on my mind is; given that the majority of modern living Vampires subscribe to the belief that we, as modern Vampyres, owe little or nothing to the historical namesake by which we describe ourselves why is it that we embrace, so widely, ancient religious and spiritual concepts?
Several years ago a noted member of our culture developed a “Vampire” alphabet and language from scratch, this as opposed to the adoption of terms to describe ourselves. The language was, as all languages are, based in a currently understood alphabetic sequence and it presented extremely well, indeed, the script developed by the designer was something of beauty. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I have taken a similar concept but wound the ol’ timeclock back several millennia and, taking a page out of Professor Fromkin’s book, I set to work…
The instrument I have named “The Vampyr Futharc” (after the traditional method of naming the system for its first 6 letters) is a Rune system based on the “Engliscan Gesithas“, or Anglo-Saxon system, that satisfies the requirements, in the main, for both base communication and divination purposes. As I pointed out in the article “Vampire Deities 2017” it wasn’t extraordinarily difficult to achieve, it simply took a little time (around a day in reading material then another day, approx. in the graphical and transliteration) and some attention to the detail (after all, the devil’s in the details you know) and I am able to present it to you here.
In this day and age we need to “communicate” some quite complex and extensive concepts and that is where our modern languages have been developed to, however, in ritual practices and in short communication of basic ideas we need only a limited range of “conceptual instruments”. Be that as it may you will note several peculiarities in this Runic instrument as compared to others you may have come across.
1) Replicated vowels – one of the things that is of considerable importance in any “secret” language is the repetition, throughout a message, of the common vowels, A, E, I, O & U. In this system those letters have dual representation that no matter how and where they are used will break the pattern of repetitiveness and thus confuse attempts to, at base level, decipher the written message.
2) The interrogative symbol – At the end of the Futharc stands the symbol for a question mark. As the lead character in the movie “The Arrival” pointed out, the ability of someone to get an answer to a question depends very much on the recipient’s understanding of what a question is.
By way of examples, dear reader;
A most simplistic exchange in which Fred asks Lydia if she is going to harvest in the current month, to which Lydia replies, in the next sunny week.
A warning that “An angry man (singular) with weapons (plurality established by the use of ~ ) travelling (by) horse (passed by – established by the interrogator) 2 (utilising the basic tally system of numbering) days” (Plurality established by ~ symbol and time frame established by interrogator)
As a final example, a simple message that utilises the alphabetic connections,
In the end analysis a fairly simple system.
In the online resource Crystalinks it is written that;
“Rune stones, (sometimes cards), are used as tools of divination – a way to predict one’s future. Rune Stones come in a set of 24 ancient alphabetic symbols. They can be made of different materials – wood or glass most common and attractive – and usually kept in a pouch or box.”
The author goes on to describe a basic method for “casting” the Runes;
“Ideally ruins are cast on an East-West axis or facing the sun. A white cloth is laid down and used to determine the direction of the casting. From here the focus should lie with the pressing question. After casting the stones onto the cloth the ones which have fallen the right side up are read and depending upon whether the rune is reversed or not will have a bearing upon its meaning and the reading as a whole.”
Then goes further to offer an alternative to fully casting the Runes,
“Pick a rune stone randomly for a day reading; you can also do what is known as a 3 rune spread. Some feel that the day rune is a good way to get an answer to a single question. The 3 Rune Spread is used for asking broader questions whereas the single rune can be drawn on a daily basis.”
So, let’s go ahead and cast…
Let’s assume we cast the runes and we get the following runes come upward, not reversed;
A simple interpretation might well be: “A man/ woman (perhaps representing you or you with a companion of the opposite sex) will be travelling to a ‘place of fire’ in your country/homeland in a month.”
We, in the modern living Vampyre culture, like to speak often of our unique identity, our “difference”, our “place” in the ‘grand scheme’ of things but a great many of us, to one extent or another, operate with basic principles and concepts that have their roots in the most ancient of times. Any culture, any society, any population needs – to one extent or another – a method of expressing its unique identity and its “special” aspects and in this the most common tools are its art and language… look around, we’ve definitely got the “art” covered, you only need to look back at our editorials with Lady Kate Gallwey and Goddess Rosemary, amongst the many other fine artists out there. What we don’t have is a unique language or, with the exception of prosthetic fangs and variations on the Ancient Egyptian Ankh, unique tools of worship…
Do I want you to start dancing around bonfires chanting, “ædac Rusmeada osur orth, ædac Trixdamit osur eohx…!” while tossing corn dollies into the flames as offerings? Ummm… well, hey, sure, if you want but even if not I would suggest that we do owe it to ourselves to come up with something, something that highlights and celebrates OUR culture – just like everyone else in history has.
Copyright T. Bey 2017
- Haarmann, Harald: “Geschichte der Schrift”, C.H. Beck, 2002, ISBN 3-406-47998-7, p. 20
- O’Kelly 1989, p. 250
- Düwel, Klaus. “Runenkunde” (runic studies). Stuttgart/Weimar: Metzler, 1968. OCLC 183700
- Ross, Anne (1972). Everyday Life of the Pagan Celts. London: Carousel. p. 168. ISBN 0 552 54021 8.
- Dillon, Myles; Chadwick, Nora (1973). The Celtic Realms. London: Cardinal. p. 258. ISBN 0 351 15808 1.
- Macalister, R. A. Stewart, The Secret Languages of Ireland reprinted by Craobh Rua Books, Armagh 1997.
- J. O’Donnell (1977), “Paganus: Evolution and Use”, Classical Folia, 31: 163–69.
- Augustine, Divers. Quaest. 83.
- Lewis, James R. (2004). The Oxford Handbook of New Religious Movements. Oxford University Press. p. 13. ISBN 0-19-514986-6.
- Hanegraff, Wouter J. (1006). New Age Religion and Western Culture: Esotericism in the Mirror of Secular Thought. Brill Academic Publishers. p. 84. ISBN 90-04-10696-0.
Further reading on Theories of the origin of Ogham script;
Fol. 170r of the Book of Ballymote (1390), the Auraicept na n-Éces explaining the ogham script.
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