On the 9th of March 2011 I read a post wherein a notable observer wrote:
“That being the case, a question that, if not asked often, is at least asked persistently by some is, “who are the Gods and Goddess of Vampirism?” The answer is easier than you might think. Boys & girls there ain’t none.”
I thought about this for a while and then I thought why wouldn’t there be? From the dawn of human history mankind has used the concept of the “influence” of deities to explain things that, to them, were otherwise inexplicable. So, I set about researching and reading and I came up with a preliminary list that seems to be represented in several places around the net.
The nominees for Vampyre God/ Goddess are:
Anubis (Egyptian), Apotamkin (a.k.a. The Cold One – N. Amer. Indian), Aswang (Malaysia)
Cama-Zotz (Mayan – God of Bats ), Ceres (Roman), Coatlicue (Aztec – the serpent-skirted goddess), Chronti-Chronti (South America), Civatateo (Aztec)
Dionysos (Greek), Durga (Hindu)
Gurumukas (Australian Aboriginal vampiric spirits)
Hekate (Greek), Hel (Germanic, Nordic and Icelandic)
Kali (India – Hindu)
Lilith (Semitic), Loa, The (Voodoo), Loki (Nordic, Icelandic)
Morana (Slavic), Mormo – See Hekate
Nachtzehrer (Germany), Namorodos – (More little undead creatures), Neuntoter (Germany), Nora (Hungarian), Nyx (Greek)
Pihuechenyi (huge winged vampire snake of South America)
Rakshasa (India – Hindu)
Sekhmet (Egyptian – the powerful one), Siva (India, Hindu – the destroyer), Selene: (Greek)
Thanatos (Greek), Tiamat (Mesopotamian /Babylonian-Akkadian), Tlalteuctli (Aztec)
Xipe Totec (Aztec – Our Lord the Flayed One)
Yama (a.k.a. Dharmapala: Tibet, Nepal – The Lord of Death), Yara-Ma-Yha-Who (Australian Aboriginal)
With this list, drawn together from several sources, I set about with basic definitions of gods/ goddesses and deities and then applied the following series of definitives to the identification and description of each of the nominees:
1) Does the being feed off the living in sanguinarian or pranic ways?
2) Does the being feed to subsist or survive?
3) Are the beings victims alive or not when they are fed from?
4) is the being a deity or a spirit?
Deity – n.
4. a person or thing revered as a god or goddess: a society in which money is the only deity. 5. the Deity, God; Supreme Being.
God ( often lowercase ) a supreme being according to some particular conception: e.g. the god of mercy.
Goddess ( often lowercase ) a supreme being according to some particular conception: e.g. the goddess of agriculture.
Spirit: A supernatural, incorporeal being, especially one inhabiting a place, object, etc., or having a particular character: evil spirits.
The next step is to examine the attributes, legends and tales regarding the nominees.
In considering the nominees we apply the question of the attributes of vampirism against the known/ reported attributes of each and, while this consideration may not be entirely complete, it yields a wealth of information on the deities that are at the forefront of vampire folklore. As always, in any endeavour of this nature, I invite anybody to come forward with any other information they feel relevant and/or any other candidate they consider worthy of consideration.
The top 6 candidates
6: Kali (India – Hindu) Kali is the most terrible and malignant aspect of the goddess Sakti (see also Durga) though the name Kali is an epithet applied to several goddesses. She is the central figure of the sakta cult in Bengal. Her consort is generally perceived as Sˇiva, whom she aids and abets in his more malignant aspects. She is also one of the Mahavidya personifications of the Sakti of Sˇiva. In her earliest form she may have been the personification of the spirit of evil. She is depicted variously with long ragged locks, fang-like teeth or even tusks, lips smeared or dripping with blood and claw-like hands with long nails. Her tongue often protrudes. Kali is depicted wading through gore on the battlefield and drinking the blood of her victims. Frequently she holds a severed head in one of her hands and a large sword in another. There are also more benign aspects of Kali. She slaughters demons and sometimes her hands are raised in blessing. The conflict of her personality follows the widely held notion that out of destruction comes rebirth.
In Hindu legend “Kali destroys Raktabija by sucking the blood from his body and putting the many Raktabija duplicates in her gaping mouth.”
Undoubtedly these descriptions have made this deity a favourite for the role of Goddess of Vampires but the question still remains, why did she drink the blood of her victims, presumably already fallen on the battlefields? Did she consume to subsist or survive? Was it a ritual “vanquishing” of her enemies?
5: Hekate (Greek) Specifically a goddess of pathways and crossroads. Where paths met, a triple figure of Hecate rose from masks placed at the junction. Offerings were left in roadside shrines and at junctions. In later times she tended to become syncretized with the goddess Artemis. Her association with vampirism, particularly with the drinking of blood, probably stemmed from her involvement in dark magic, known as the magic of the left-hand path, and the foul nature of her servants. Among her evil entourage were the demons known as Mormos (singular mormo) and the fiendish phantomlike vampires called Empusas (singular empusa).Hecate, whose position in witchcraft and magic has remained constant over the centuries, was an influential figure in linking vampires with sorcery and evil magical rites. The common association with crossroads is also important since one of the favoured burial spots for suspected vampyres was at crossroads.
Hekate is also the patron of Medea and other witches, and in some parts of Thessaly she was worshiped by occult bands of female moon-worshippers and in variations of the Demeter legends traveled by night – another vampyric association.
4: Hel (Germanic, Nordic and Icelandic) Another likely candidate, she is queen of the otherworld, also known as Hell, and she takes command of all who die, except for heroes slain in battle, who ascend to Valhalla. The association with vampires would then seem to stem from this common notion that she “takes command of all who die” thereby condoning the actions of those whom might return as vampires.
3: Selene (Greek) Another often quoted and popular nominee is Selene but before she was Selene The Moon Goddess, she was a simple human woman named Selene who worked at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi. Either way, Selene worked as a Maiden of the Temple, who assisted the Oracle and cared for the temple. Selene was a worshiper of Apollo (Greek mythology), the sun god, originally, until he cursed her true love Ambrogio who, it is held, eventually became the first vampire. The couple was given protection by Apollo’s sister Artemis, the moon goddess, and they moved to Ephesus to worship and work for Artemis at her famous temple there.
Ambrogio was immortal and did not age, but Selene was still mortal and eventually became older and presumably sick. In exchange for their protection, Artemis insisted that the couple could never touch (Artemis was a virgin goddess and all of her closest followers were virgins as well). Therefore the couple never had children. On Selene’s deathbed, Artemis allowed Ambrogio, now a vampire, to drink Selene’s blood. Their combined blood could create their “children” after Selene’s death, essentially turning any human who drank the blood into a vampire.
Selene died and Artemis made her an immortal goddess of the moon. Specifically, “Selene the moon goddess” is actually “Selene the moonlight goddess”. Selene is the personification of the moonlight that finds its way to Earth. In this form, she can finally touch her husband and children.
From this we can clearly see that Ambrogio was a vampyric being but not necessarily a deity in his own right (still under investigation) and although he bit Selene and consumed her blood the suggestion that it was only their “combined” blood that could create other vampyres would not necessarily make Selene, automatically, the goddess of vampyres. She could, however, be considered as the “Mother” of all vampires.
2: Cama-Zotz (Mayan – God of Bats) A serious contender, Cama-Zotz was described as a man-bat, with a sharp nose, large teeth and claws. A widely feared figure among the Mayans he served dual purposes. He was integral to the basic agricultural myth built around the cycle of growing maize. In his descent he brought death to the maize grain at the time it was buried in the earth ~ a necessary step leading to its rebirth in the harvest. He was also a greatly feared and bloodthirsty cave God associated with the underworld. An obvious link was made, early on, with the vampire bat.
1: Yama (a.k.a. Dharmapala: Tibet, Nepal – The Lord of Death) If there is a strong claim to being the God of Vampyres then it would have to be Yama, The Lord of Death. He is revered in Tibet as a guardian of spiritual practice, and was likely revered even before the conversion of Tibet from Bön to Buddhism in the 40th century. In popular belief in Theravādin Buddhist countries, Yama sends old age, disease, punishments and other calamities among humans as warnings to behave well. When they die, they are summoned before Yama, who examines their character and dispatches them to their appropriate re-birth, whether as a human, to a heaven, or to one of the hells that Yama presides over.
It is said that Yama , who, like the Nepalese Lord of Death and the Mongolian God of Time, subsisted by drinking the blood of sleeping people. This Tibetan god had a green face and a blue-green body. In his clawed hand he held the Wheel of Life.
According to The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead, by J. Gordon Melton: “Yama, the god of death, was a Hindu vampiric deity who also appeared in the mythology of Tibet , Nepal, and Mongolia. People were thought to become subject to Yama because of the performance of evil deeds during their earthly life. Following death, the soul of such a person passed out of the body with the excreta rather than through the top of the head as it should. The soul, called a pret, then spent a year wandering about in a state of unhappy restlessness while awaiting the final judgment of Yama. It was always thirsty because the god of water watched to keep it from drinking. During this period Yama attacked the pret, and living relatives would offer invocations to keep it free from beating and bruising. In Tibet, Nepal, and Mongolia, Yama was pictured as vampiric, complete with fangs and blood.”
Discussions of other candidates:
Primarily a mortuary god, Anubis also takes the form of a black dog or jackal usually in a lying down or crouching position, ears pricked and long tail hanging. . Less often he appears in human form with a canine head. The imagery of a dog probably originated from observation of bodies being scavenged from shallow graves and the desire to protect them from such a fate by manifesting Anubis as a dog himself. The Book of the Dead has him standing by the scales in which the heart is weighed in the Hall of the Two Truths, and he is sometimes known as the “claimer of hearts.” Anubis was perceived to superintend the embalming of kings and courtiers in the mortuary and the subsequent binding with linen bandages. In the Greco-Roman period he became a cosmic deity of earth and sky somewhat removed from his older function.
While there is, unarguably, a connection with death and funerary rites there is no evidence that Anubis manifested or presided over the consumption of human blood for the purpose of subsistence.
Apotamkin (a.k.a. The Cold One – N. Amer. Indian) This creature is unlike most other vampire folklore because it’s exclusive to the Native American people. The Apotamkin was a bona fide vampire however, with all the abilities and super strengths of other vampires that we know. It was believed among Native Americans that the Apotamkin would feast on the blood of any animal or human. However, even with this subsistence by blood feeding there is no suggestion that the Apotamkin was divine in its own right.
According to the book Vampire Universe by Jonathan Maberry, the Apotamkin is a legend of the Maliseet-Passamaquoddy tribe.
Aswang (Malaysia) The word Aswang was used to describe a variety of different creatures that were, in essence, analogous to vampyres, werewolves, ghouls and witches. In folkloric literature the Aswang could be found under any of these headings.The flying Aswang, or “blood-sucker”, usually appeared as a beautiful woman whom engaged in vampyric activities at night, always returning home to resume her normal life before dawn. In this instance the creature does not even possess the attribute of a revenant and might, more properly, be considered an astral vampire.
Ceres (Roman) Her daughter in the upper world is the goddess of the underworld Proserpina who was abducted by Pluto. As the embodiment of vegetation, Ceres neglects the natural world during the period that her daughter remains below ground with Pluto (winter), but restores nature annually when Proserpina is returned to her. Thus, as a goddess associated with abundance she flies against the grain of the destructive aspects of the vampire.
Coatlicue (Aztec – the serpent-skirted goddess) The creator goddess of the earth and mankind and the female aspect of Ometeotl. One of the group classed as the Tetoinnan complex. She has 400 sons, the stars of the southern sky, and is the mother of the goddess Coyolxauhoui. Later, as a widow, she was impregnated by a ball of feathers as she was sweeping the “serpent mountain” of Coatepec near Tula. Her other children decapitated her as punishment for her dishonor, but she gave birth to the sun god Huitzilopochtli who subsequently slew Coyolxauhqui and her brothers, thus banishing night for day. The Great Temple at Tenochtitlan commemorates this primordial battle.
Coatlicue is known iconographically from a colossal headless statue dated to the late Aztec period, circa AD 1300, which stands in Mexico City. The hands and feet are clawed and the figure bears a necklace of human hands and hearts with a skull pendant. A skirt is formed from snakes and two snakes arising from the neck meet to form a face. Down her back hang thirteen leather cords festooned with snails. According to tradition Coatlicue feeds off human corpses.
This latter observance, I would suggest, allows for ‘cannibalistic’ attachments rather than vampiric.
Chronti-Chronti (South America) – Still under investigation
Civatateo (Aztec) A type of witch-vampire found among the Aztecs of Mexico, coming to the attention of the Europeans in the sixteenth century as a result of the Spanish Conquest. Said to be the servants of the gods Tezcatlipoca (a moon deity) and Tlazolteotl (also associated with the moon), the civatateo were also given the honorific title of civapipiltin (princess), as they were noblewomen who had died in childbirth. They supposedly returned to the earth to wander on broomsticks, haunting crossroads and holding a type of sabbat. Crossroads were consequently avoided at night, and great offerings of food were placed in shrines there to placate the creatures who otherwise might attack the living. Children were their favorite victims, dying horribly of a type of wasting disease. The civatateo were described as hideous, with white faces, their arms and hands covered in a white chalk called ticitl, crossbones painted upon their tattered dresses. Again, with the statement, “Said to be the servants of the gods..” we can see that they were not ascribed with divinity in themselves.
Dionysos (Greek) This suggestion was a surprise and puzzle to me and will require some deeper reading in the Greek mythologies. Thus far, and as far as I can see, there is no direct evidence of this deity being linked with vampires or vampirism. Dionysos is a deity associated with a curious form of mass, intoxicated frenzy encouraged by festivals of wine-drinking. He has a retinue of male, phallic satyrs wearing animal masks and joined by female maenads. Although a gigantic phallus was carried in rituals honoring Dionysos, he is not a fertility god and the phallic symbolism is purely that of sexual arousal and carousal.
Other than in the opening of the Homeric epic material, Dionysos scarcely appears in literature. There was a major wine-drinking festival (Ionic-Attic) known as the Anthesteria, Greater and Lesser Dionysia festivals with strongly phallic connotations and the sacrifice of goats, an Agrionia festival (Dorian-Aeolic) and most recently the Athenian celebration of Katagogia which marked the legend of Dionysos emerging from the sea. None of the legends, scant though they are, appear to invest Dionysos with any connection to vampirism.
Durga (Hindu) Durga is one of the angry and aggressive aspects of the goddess Sakti, whose earliest role in Hindu mythology is to fight and conquer demons but who also personifies the Sakti or female aspect of any male deity. She may be depicted wearing a necklace of skulls. She is associated with the Himalaya and Vindhya mountains and is often depicted slaughtering the buffalo-demon Mahisa by thrusting her trident into his body. In a contrasting aspect in later Hindu traditions, Durga takes the role of a mother goddess and consort of Sˇ iva, she also becomes partly syncretized with Parvati. She is also linked with the fertility of crops. In this capacity her most important festival is the Durga Puja, celebrated at harvest time. In general Durga is perceived in northern India as the gentle bride epitomizing family unity, while in southern India she is revered more in her warlike and murderous aspect. While in her warlike aspect we would expect to find connections to blood, or rather bloodshed, in the main this deity is a constructive enemy of evil and thus defies another of the ascribed aspects of vampires.
Empusa (Greek) Seemingly another contender, these vile, vampire-like creatures in Greek mythology, were usually members of the wicked hordes in attendance to the mysterious goddess of magic Hecate. They served with the Mormos and were described as demons who could assume from time to time the guise of flesh and blood. the key, I would suggest, is the word “vampire-like” and the report of their changeling attributes. Demi-goddesses perhaps but deities in their own right?
Gurumukas (Australian Aboriginal vampiric spirits) – Still under investigation
Isis (Egyptian) Isis is the mother of the god kings of Egypt and both elder sister and consort of Osiris. She impregnates herself from his corpse as he is entering the underworld as its ruler, and from Osiris’s semen conceives Horus, to whom she gives birth in the papyrus swamps at Khemmis in the Nile delta. Thus, since Horus instilled himself into the king of Egypt during life, and Osiris took over on death (see also Horus and Osiris), the ruler was perceived to suckle at the breast of Isis. From the New Kingdom (circa 1500 BC) onward she is also associated with a device not dissimilar to the ankh symbol and known as the “Isis knot.” The symbol was incorporated into a bloodstone amulet known as the tyet. In legend she is responsible twice for restoring Osiris, once after Seth has thrown his body into the Nile and again after Seth has dismembered it. From these epithets we can clearly see that although Isis was inextricably linked with the underworld she was in fact a nurturing, protective and life-giving deity.
Lilith (Semitic) Lilith is commonly known as a succubus, but again the stories are conflicting. Many of the legends refer to her flying through the night and sucking the blood of children. One account says that this is actually a position of honor. Since she had the courage to defy Adam and god, who had established Adam as dominant, she was given the role of the avenging hand of god. It then became her task to take vengeance upon children for the sins of their fathers by killing their children. Only a properly prepared and blessed amulet could repel Lilith’s attack. Other, more patriarchal accounts, say that Lilith never had children herself (Eve was the mother of all humanity) so in spite she hunts and kills the children of Eve and Adam. Similarly, some think that she seduces men as they sleep because she was forsaken by Adam and is now forever possessed by desire. Others say that she is the ultimate object of desire for all men since she refused Adam, and she is their most secret wish, which is why she comes to them. Also known as Lili, she probably originated as Lilitu, Another version portrays her as the queen of succubi, leader of the night demons who prey on men, drawing out their seed and often their blood in the hope of causing misery and death. Lilitu A Babylonian demon, often considered an evil spirit of the night.
Lilitu probably had an influence in the formation of the Hebrew Lilith. Although Lilith is often, and repeatedly ascribed certain vampyric attributes there is no suggestion of divinity and thus she cannot properly be considered a goddess. A patron, perhaps but not a deity.
Loa, The (Voodoo) The Loa resemble Catholic saints, in that they were once people who led exceptional lives, and are usually given a single responsibility or special attribute. (also Lwa or L’wha) are the spirits of the voodoo religion. They are also referred to as Mystères and the Invisibles, in which are intermediaries between Bondye (Bon Dieu, or good god)—the Creator, who is distant from the world—and humanity. Unlike saints or angels however, they are not simply prayed to, they are served. They are each distinct beings with their own personal likes and dislikes, distinct sacred rhythms, songs, dances, ritual symbols and special modes of service. Contrary to popular belief, the loa are not deities in and of themselves; they are intermediaries for a distant Bondye. One interesting note is that human and Loa depend upon each other; humans provide food and other materials; the Loa provide health, protection from evil spirits and good fortune. Following an animal sacrifice; this may be a goat, sheep, chicken, or dog that are usually humanely killed by slitting their throat; blood is collected in a vessel. The possessed dancer may drink some of the blood. The hunger of the Loa is then believed to be satisfied.
Loki (Nordic, Icelandic) Loki is a mischievous, Machiavellian, humorous, sometimes sinister character. He is also a scandal-monger. He was indirectly responsible for the death of Balder (directly so according to Snorri) and fought with Heimdall. Sometimes he appears as a hero rescuing gods from various predicaments through cunning. He also stands for evil, though less often, and was compared strongly by Christian times with the Devil. Able to change shape at will—said at various times to have impersonated a mare, flea, fly, falcon, seal and an old crone.He also allegedly sired the world serpent, the mistress of the netherworld, Hel, and the wolf Fenrir which will devour the sun at Ragnarok. One of his prominent attributes, said to come from antiquity, is that of accomplished thief. The only connections that could be construed from this are his association with the ruler of the netherworld, Hel, and his alleged shapeshifting abilities. Other than that there are no real anecdotes that associate Loki with vampires.
Morana (Slavic) A malevolent spirit, pan-Slavic, who takes the shape of straw, a white horse, white shadow, leather bag, white mouse, cat, or snake. The Mora sends sleep and nightmares to humans, then tries to suffocate them. She chokes people and sucks their blood, especially children. The key phrase here is “spirit”. Morana is not listed as a deity in Slavic pantheons.
Mormo – See Hekate, as servants of the deity but not deities in themselves they do not meet the requirements for consideration.
Nachtzehrer (Germany) A species of vampire found among the Kashubes of northern Europe and in parts of Germany, including Silesia and Bavaria. Created from interment of a once living person becoming a revenant it displays no deific attributes.
Namorodos – (More little undead creatures) – Still under investigation
Neuntoter (Germany) A German vampire species found especially in Saxony, traditionally a great carrier of plagues, usually seen during severe epidemics. The name neuntoter (the “nine-killer”) comes from the generally held belief that it takes nine days for this vampire to be fully formed in the grave. Again, attributable to a once living person becoming a revenant but having no deific attributes.
Nora (Hungarian) The Nora is a Hungarian sprite or imp. When not invisible, he appears as an unusually small bald man who runs on all fours. The nora sucks the breasts of women who are of less than perfect moral character. Covering the affected breasts in garlic cures the swelling and prevents the Nora from attacking again. Again, displaying no specific attributes of a deity.
Nyx (Greek) The goddess who is regarded as the essence of the night. Her sons were the twin brothers Hypnos, god of sleep, and Thanatos, god of death. Despite the obvious connections with both death and night, there are no supporting tales to suggest that Nyx was anything more than a nature personification. I have not found any references specifically to vampires or vampirism at this time.
Pihuechenyi (huge winged vampire snake of South America) – Still under investigation but appears, at this time to be a spirit incarnation rather than a deity.
Rakshasa (India – Hindu) A powerful species of Indian vampire, considered a type of demon, goblin, or ogre. Mentioned in the Veda, its name means “the injurer,” and it is an enemy of all humanity. The rakshasa ( also rakhas, orrachhas) can change its form at will, appearing as a dog, owl, vulture, or some other creature, arriving at night and fleeing before dawn. When seen in their natural state, they are stained with blood and have adamantine teeth, matted hair, and five feet. The female, known as the rakshasi, assumes the form of a beautiful woman, luring men to their deaths. In modern folklore, the rakshasa live in trees, inducing vomiting and indigestion to all who trespass on their territory at night. A young boy will be transformed into a rakshasa if he can be induced to eat human brains. Here again there is no particular reference to a single, or group of, deity.
Sekhmet (Egyptian – the powerful one) A popular choice for many and oft quoted, in truth however there is little in her legend to suggest that she was imbibing blood in order to survive. She is said to breathe fire against the enemies of the pharaoh and, like HATHOR in her attempt to destroy the human race, she can be the vengeful “eye of Re.” She is sometimes linked with Hathor who is described as the “mistress of the house of Sakhmet.” In a more benign aspect, Sakhmet is a guardian goddess against disease.
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.
It appears then, that her primary role was as an avenger and war deity rather than specifically a vampyric one.
Siva (India, Hindu – the destroyer) Sˇiva, another nominee, is a deity with the linked roles of both creator and destroyer of life, more generally the latter. He personifies the inexorable passage of time and out of destruction he creates new life. He may have evolved from the Vedic storm god Rudra, though he is now thought to be an older pre-Indo-European deity whose attributes appear on seals from the Indus Valley civilization. His consort, or more precisely his female aspect, is Sakti, but he is also closely linked with the terrible KALI and the goddess SATI.
The Saivite sect envisage Sˇ iva as creator, preserver and destroyer and he is manifest in three aspects of his own divine power. As the ascetic, represented by the Yogi, he is in his destructive aspect. His consorts are Kali and Durga. He destroys without emotion. The Yogi is naked, smeared with ashes and with matted hair, sitting under a banyan tree holding a beggar’s bowl.
As the “lord of the dance,” Nataraja, Sˇ iva’s steps follow the rhythm of the universal forces. He dances in a circle of fire, treading upon the dwarfish figure who is the personification of ignorance. In this aspect he can be drawn as a jolly figure, a drinker of wine and a hunter. As the linga, the form of Sˇiva which devotees generally worship, he is the symbol of creative powers. In his cosmic capacity he appears as Nataraja.
So, here we have a multi-disciplinary deity whose roles vary depending upon the requirements of the worshippers. There is little evidence to suggest that any of his activities include vampirism and other than his connections to Kali there is little suggestion that he consumes blood.
Thanatos (Greek) A minor god of death. According to legend, he is one of the two sons of Nyx, the goddess of night, and lives in a remote cave beside the river Lethe which he shares with his twin brother Hypnos, god of sleep. Like his mother Nyx, there is no clear connection to vampirism other than his associations with death and the night.
Tiamat (Mesopotamian /Babylonian-Akkadian) While still researching this deity as one of civilizations primordial deities, the only information to hand at present is that Tiamat is the power of the ocean waters and is intimately involved with the Babylonian creation story. She combines with the underground fresh waters of Apsu to give birth to eleven monstrous beings and is said to have been enraged by the death of Apsu at the hands of Enki and at the behest of a group of gods headed by Marduk. In revenge she forms other deities in the primordial cosmos into a rival group and chooses, as her second consort, the minor god Kingu to lead her army against Marduk.
Tlalteuctli (Aztec) The personification of the rock and soil, upon which humans lived. A terrifying figure whom, though female in essence, was pictured as a huge toad with blood covered jaws. The question, therefore, is where did the blood come from? Eating animals? Eating people? Was the blood necessary to survive? There are simply too many unanswered questions at this time and further investigation is required before admitting this deity as a favoured nominee.
Vesta (Roman) Another puzzling, to me, nomination, Vesta was worshiped with considerable celebration in the various public Vestalia festivals, but she was also popular as a household guardian. She enjoyed a small sanctuary at the foot of the Palatine Hill. She is generally depicted as a woman of great beauty holding a lighted torch and a votive bowl.
Her mortal attendants are the Vestal Virgins, selected for office as guardians of the sacred flame from the age of six for a minimum of thirty years, during which they were expected to maintain strict vows of chastity on penalty of burial alive.
Perhaps there is a slender chance that one of these ladies, once buried, somehow made their escape and thus became identified as a revenant associated with Vesta. Unlikely, and there seem to be no other vampyric associations per se.
Xipe Totec (Aztec – Our Lord the Flayed One) A god of spring and a symbol of the annual renewal of vegetation. Often represented in ritual by a priest wearing the flayed skin of a human sacrifice, seen to be the new vegetation of the earth which emerges after the rains. The skin was worn for twenty-one days. Aside from the association with human sacrifice, which may well have entailed the ritual consuming of blood of the victim, there appears no evidence that this deity was actively ascribed vampyric traits.
Xipe Totec is also the tutelary god of precious metallurgists, including goldsmiths
Yara-Ma-Yha-Who (Australian Aboriginal) A vampiric creature, but not a deity in itself, who had no teeth and an oversized head. The tips of fingers and toes were described as terminating in octopus like suckers. The Yara-ma-yha-who would camp in the tops of wild fig trees and drop on its victims draining enough blood, with the octopus like pads, to leave them weak and immobile but not, initially, kill them. It would return later to swallow the victim whole, drink water and sleep but on awakening would regurgitate its meal. According to legend, if the regurgitated person was still alive they survived an attack. If a person was taken, and held captive by the vampire they would slowly change into one of the creatures.
“Vampires and Vampirism”; Montague Summers. Dover Publications Inc., New York. 2005
“The Vampire in Lore and Legend”; Montague Summers. Dover Publications Inc., New York. 2001
“The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of The Undead”. Visible Ink Press, Detroit – London. 1999
It is my conclusion, and belief, that if there is/was a deity of vampires then Yama, the Tibetan God of Death would be that deity. This divine entity incorporates the most comprehensive and complete set of attributes that we have come to associate with vampires and vampirism in a historical context.
Yama – Tibetan God of Death
Further and more detailed information on this fascinating deity can be found at Answers.com; below is a precis of the introduction complete with textual links.
He is one of the Guardians of the directions and represents the south. Yama is also the god of justice and is sometimes referred to as Dharma, in reference to his unswerving dedication to maintaining order and adherence to harmony. It is said that he is also one of the wisest of the devas. In the Katha Upanishad, among the most famous Upanishads, Yama is portrayed as a teacher. He is the father of Yudhisthira (also known as Dharmaraja), the oldest brother of the 5 Pandavas and is said to have incarnated as Vidura by some accounts in the Mahabharata period.
Yama in the Ṛgveda
Only three vedic hymns (10.14, 10.135, and 10.154) in the Ṛgveda are addressed to him. There is one other (10.10) consisting of a dialog between Yama and his sister Yami. Yama’s name is mentioned about 50 times in the Ṛgveda but almost exclusively in the first and (far oftener) in the tenth book.
Agni, who is a conductor of the dead, has close relations with Yama. In RV 10.21.5 Agni is said to be the friend (kāmya) of Yama, and in RV 10.52 Agni is Yama’s priest, serving as the burner of the dead. Agni, Yama, and Mātariśvan are mentioned together as the names of one being, along with other forms of the divine, in RV 1.164.46, which says that “learned priests call one by many names.”
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