Creatures of the Night

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Creatures of the Night

There is no known culture on this planet that has not at one time or another cowered in fear because of the savage attacks of a nocturnal predator known as a therianthrope, a human-animal hybrid such as a werewolf, "werebear," "werelion," or a "were-something." Such creatures were painted by Stone Age artists more than 10,000 years ago and represent some of the world's oldest cave artand they probably precipitated some of the world's first nightmares.

Some time in those fierce and frightening prehistoric years when every day was a struggle for survival for the primitive hunter-gatherers there came the realization that the flowing of a victim's vital fluid after a fatal attack from a cave bear's claws and jaws was connected with the release of the life force itself. Blood became sacred. Once the association was made between blood and the life force, a large number of magical and religious rituals became centered around the shedding of blood, and thousands of members of ancient priesthoods have raised chalices filled with the dark, holy elixir of life over thousands of altars stained with both animal and human blood.

As respect for the spiritual quality of human life evolved, the sacrifice of men, women, and children was considered forbidden. And while in less civilized times the drinking of an animal's vital fluid had been deemed an appropriate way in which to absorb the strength or virility of the lion, the bear, or the boar, religious law now admonished against both the drinking of animal blood and the eating of meat from which the blood had not been thoroughly drained.

The Old Testament book of Leviticus (17:14) acknowledges that blood is "the life of all flesh, the blood of it is the life thereof," but the children of Israel are instructed that they "shall not eat of the blood of no manner of flesh; for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off." Again, in Deuteronomy 12:2024, the Lord warns, "thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth afterOnly be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. Thou shalt not eat [blood]; thou shalt pourest it upon the earth as water."

Similar warnings against the ingesting of blood for religious or health reasons were soon a part of the teachings of all major faiths and cultures. But while culture, magic, and religion had amassed thousands of years of prohibitions concerning the shedding of blood, what could be more repulsive to the human psyche than the hybrid half-human, half-animal monsters bite the throats and drink the blood of men, women, and children? Vampires rose from their dank graves by night to sustain their spark of life through the drinking of blood. Werewolves devoured the flesh and blood of their victims by night or day. How could people defend themselves against these blood-hungry creatures when they also had the ability to shapeshift into bats, wolves, and luminous fogs? And then there were the supernatural beings, such as the incubus and the succubus, who were more interested in seizing human souls than in sucking human blood.

It is difficult for those living in the modern world to imagine the night terrors of our ancestors as they prepared to face the demon- and monster-riddled world after sundown. Today, vampires, werewolves, and creatures of the dark have become the subjects of entertainment, scary movies, and thrilling television programs that bring relief from the tensions of the real world of homework, peer acceptance, work-related stress, taxes, and providing for one's children. Yet there seems within each human being a desire to be frightenedsafely frightened, that isby those dormant memories of those demon-infested nights when the creatures waited in the shadows to seize their victims. As one watches the late-night creature feature on television and hears that strange sound outside the window, the thought pops uneasily into the mind that all things are possibleeven those things that everyone knows cannot possibly exist.

Delving Deeper

Bord, Janet, and Colin Bord. Unexplained Mysteries of the 20th Century. Chicago: Contemporary Books, 1989.

Clark, Jerome, and Loren Coleman. The Unidentified. New York: Warner Paperback Library, 1975.

Coleman, Loren. Curious Encounters. Boston and London: Faber & Faber, 1985.

Gordon, Stuart. The Encyclopedia of Myths and Legends. London: Headline Books, 1994.

Jones, Alison, ed. Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore. New York: Larousse, 1995.

Keel, John A. Strange Creatures from Time and Space. Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett Publications, 1970.


Named for its seeming penchant for attacking goats and sucking their blood, the Chupacabra ("goat sucker") both terrified and fascinated the public at large when it first burst upon the scene in Puerto Rico in the summer of 1995. From August of 1995 to the present, the monster has been credited with the vampirelike deaths of thousands of animals, ranging from goats, rabbits, and birds to horses, cattle, and deer. While some argue that the creature is a new monster, others point out that such entities have always existed and been reported by farmers and villagers in Puerto Rico and Central and South America.

The beast has been observed by numerous eyewitnesses as it attacked their livestock, and they have described it as nightmarish in appearance. Standing erect on powerful goatlike legs with three-clawed feet, the monster is generally described as slightly over five feet in height, though some reports list it as over six and a half feet. Its head is oval in shape and it has an elongated jaw with a small, slit mouth and fangs that protrude both upward and downward. A few witnesses have claimed to have seen small, pointed ears on its reptilianlike head, but all who have seen the Chupacabra after dark state that they will never forget its red eyes that glow menacingly in the shadows. Although its arms are thin, they are extremely powerful, ending in three-clawed paws.

A most unusual attribute of the Chupacabra is its chameleonlike ability to change colors even though it appears to have a strong, coarse black hair that covers its torso. Somehow, the creature is able to alter its coloration from green to grayish and from light brown to black, depending upon the vegetation that surrounds it. Another peculiarity of the beast is the row of quill-like appendages that runs down its spine and the fleshly membrane that extends between these projections, which can flare or contract and also change color from blue to green or from red to purple.

Some witnesses have claimed that the Chupacabra can fly, but others state that it is the beast's powerful hindlegs that merely catapult it over walls, small trees, and one-story barns or outbuildings. It is those same strong legs that enable the creature to run at extremely fast speeds to escape its pursuers.

It wasn't long after the night terrors began in Puerto Rico before reports of Chupacabra began appearing in Florida, Texas, Mexico, and among the ranchers in Brazil's southern states of Sao Paulo and Parana. In Brazil, the ranchers called the monster "O Bicho," the Beast, but there was no mistaking the brutal signature of the Chupacabra on the mutilated corpses of sheep and other livestock. And the description provided by frightened eyewitnesses was also the samea reptilian creature with thin arms, long claws, powerful hind legs, and dark gray in color.

On May 11, 1997, the newspaper Folha de Londrina in Parana State, Brazil, published the account of a slaughter that had occurred at a ranch near Campina Grande do Sul when in a single corral 12 sheep were found dead and another 11 were horribly mutilated. While some authorities attributed the attacks to wild dogs or cougars, those who had been eyewitnesses to the appearance of the beast argued that the creature that they had seen walking on its hind legs and seizing livestock by the throat had most certainly not been any kind of known canine or cat.

Rumors concerning Chupacabra's origin began to circulate at a furious pace. From April to September 2000, the bloodsucker in Chile slaughtered more than 800 animals, and both the people and the authorities were becoming concerned about what kind of monster was running amuck in their country. Some witnesses to the bloody rampages of the creature described it as a large rodent, others as a mutant kangaroo; still others perceived it as a winged, apelike vampire. A number of authorities began to speculate that the Chupacabra-type creatures had been manufactured by some secret government agency, a bizarre hybrid of various animals, created for whom knew what purpose. A number of clergymen issued pronouncements stating that the creatures were heralding the end of the world. UFO enthusiasts theorized that aliens brought the monsters to test the planet's atmosphere, in order to prepare a mass invasion of Earth. Anthropologists reminded people that tales of such mysterious, vampirelike monsters that sucked the blood out of livestock had been common in Central America for centuries.

A widely popular story spread throughout Chile that Chilean soldiers had captured a Chupacabra male, female, and cub that had been living in a mine north of Calama. Then, according to the account, a team of NASA scientists arrived in a black helicopter and reclaimed the Chupacabra family. The creatures, so the story claimed, had escaped from a secret NASA facility in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile where the U.S. space agency was attempting to create some kind of hybrid beings that could survive on Mars.

On August 30, 2000, Jorge Luis Talavera, a farmer in the jurisdiction of Malpaisillo, Nicaragua, had enough of the nocturnal depredations of Chupacabra. The beast had sucked the life from 25 of his sheep and 35 of his neighbor's flock, and he lay in wait with rifle in hand for its return. That night it seemed that Talavera accomplished what no other irate farmer or rancher had been able to do. He shot and killed a Chupacabra.

Scott Corrales, Institute of Hispanic Ufology, reported that a specialist of veterinary medicine examined the carcass and acknowledged that it was an uncommon creature with great eye cavities, smooth batlike skin, big claws, large teeth, and a crest sticking out from the main vertebra. The specialist said that the specimen could have been a hybrid animal made up of several species, created through genetic engineering.

However, on September 5, 2000, the official analysis of the corpse by the university medical college was that Talavera had shot a dog. A furious Luis Talavera declared that the officials had switched carcasses. "This isn't my goatsucker," he groused as the college returned the skeleton of a dog for his disposal.

Today, Chupacabra reports continued unabated from nearly all the South American countries. While the creature remains controversial and arguments ensue whether it is some kind of vampire, extraterrestrial alien, or a creation of some secret branch of the U.S. government, frightened and angry people complain that whatever Chupacabra is, it continues to suck the blood from their livestock.

Delving Deeper

Astuya, Juan Carlos. "Chile Homeowner Terrified by Chupacabras." Trans. by Scott Corrales. La Estrella de Valparaiso, October 14, 2001. [Online]

Corrales, Scott. Chupacabras and Other Mysteries. Murfreesboro, Tenn.: Greenleaf Publications, 1997.

. "How Many Goats Can a Goatsucker Suck?" Fortean Times 89 (September 1996): 3437.

Del Valle, Fernando. "The 'Goat Sucker' Legend Claws Its Way into Texas." USA Today, May 15, 1996.

Ocejo-Sanchez, Virgilio. "Eyewitness Describes Flying Chupacabras." Trans. by Mario Andrade. Septem ber 21, 2001. [Online]


The ghoul is linked with both the vampire and the werewolf in traditional folklore, but there are a number of obvious reasons why the entity has never attained the popularity achieved by the Frankenstein monsters, Draculas, and Wolfmen of the horror films. The category of ghoul encompasses a number of different entities. One type of ghoul, like the vampire, is a member of the family of the undead, continually on the nocturnal prowl for new victims. Unlike the vampire, however, this ghoul feasts upon the flesh of the deceased, taking the corpses from cemeteries and morgues. The ghoul more common to the waking world is that of the mentally unbalanced individual who engages in eating or otherwise desecrating the flesh of deceased humans. Yet a third type of ghoul would be those native of Arabic folklore, the ghul (male) and ghulah (female), demonic jinns that haunt burial grounds and sustain themselves on human flesh stolen from graves.

It is easy to envision how the legend of the ghoul began in ancient times when graves were shallow and often subject to the disturbances of wild animals seeking carrion. Later, as funeral customs became more elaborate and men and women were buried with their jewelry and other personal treasures, the lure of easy wealth superseded any superstitious or ecclesiastical admonitions that might have otherwise kept grave robbers away from cemeteries and from desecrating a corpse's final rest.

Then, in the late 1820s, surgeons and doctors began to discover the value of dissection. The infant science of surgery was progressing rapidly, but advancement required cadavers and the more cadavers that were supplied, the more the doctors realized how little they actually knew about the anatomy and interior workings of the human body, and thus the more cadavers they needed. As a result, societies of grave robbers were formed called the "resurrectionists." These men made certain that the corpses finding their way to the dissecting tables were as fresh as possible. And, of course, digging was easier in unsettled dirt. The great irony was that advancement in medical science helped to perpetuate the legend of the ghoul.

Delving Deeper

Fodor, Nandor. Between Two Worlds. New York: Paperback Library, 1967.

. The Haunted Mind: A Psychoanalyst Looks at the Supernatural. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Hurwood, Bernardt J. Vampires, Werewolves, and Ghouls. New York: Ace Books, 1968.

Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Masters, R. E. L., and Eduard Lea. Perverse Crimes in History. New York: Julian Press, 1963.


The Golem is the Frankenstein monster of Jewish tradition, but it is created from virgin soil and pure spring water, rather than the body parts of cadavers. It is also fashioned by those who purify themselves spiritually and physically, rather than heretical scientists in foreboding castle laboratories who bring down electricity from the sky to animate their patchwork human. Once the Golem has been formed, it is given life by the Kabbalist placing under its tongue a piece of paper with the Tetragrammaton (the four-letter name of God) written on it.

According to certain traditions, the creation of a Golem is one of the advanced stages of development for serious practitioners of Kabbalah and alchemy. Instructions for fashioning a Golem according to the Talmudic tradition was set down sometime in the tenth century by Rabbi Eliezar Rokeach in The Book of Formation, and in his modern adaptation of the ancient text, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan stressed that the initiate should never attempt to make a Golem alone, but should always be accompanied by one or two learned colleagues for it can become a monster and wreak havoc. When such a mistake occurs, the divine name must somehow be removed from the creature's tongue and it be allowed to revert to dust.

The most famous Golem is "Yossele," the creature said to be created by Judah Loew Ben Bezalel (15251609) to help protect the Jews of Prague from the libel that the blood of a Christian child was used during the Passover Seder. There are many accounts of how Yossele saved Jews from reprisals directed against them by those citizens who had been incited by the anti-Semitic libel. Once the Golem had served its purpose, the rabbi locked it in the attic of Prague's Old-New Synagogue, where it is widely believed that the creature rests to this day. The synagogue survived the widespread destruction directed against Jewish places of worship by the Nazis in the 1930s and early 1940s, and it is said that the Gestapo did not even enter the attic. A statue of Yossele, the Golem of Prague, still stands at the entrance to the city's Jewish sector.

Delving Deeper

"Frankenstein and the Golem." Jewish Gothic. [Online]

Kaplan, Aryeh. Sefer Yetsirah: The Book of Creation in Theory and Practice. New York: Samuel Weiser, 1990.

Unterman, Alan. Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend. London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1991.

Winkler, Gershon. The Golem of Prague. New York: Judaica Press, 1994.


In Old English impe means a young plant shoot or a tree sapling. Over the years, the word came to refer to smallish entities that were direct offspring of the Devil and sent from hell to do evil deeds to humans on Earth. Imps might well be called junior demons, and one of their principal assignments, according to Christian authorities, was to disguise themselves as black cats, owls, ravens, or some other animal and serve as a witch 's familiar. In many of the transcripts of the European witchcraft trials, the demonic spirit given by the Devil to a witch to do his or her bidding was referred to as an imp.

In most of the descriptions of imps given by witches or those theologians who claimed to have exorcised the entities, their appearance apart from the animals they possessed was always a solid black in color. Since they were creatures without souls sired by the Devil, imps were condemned to be dark shadow beings, forever denied the light of God.

Over the centuries, the meaning of the word has lost its satanic implications. When one speaks of someone having an impish smile, one is likely to mean that that individual has wry sense of humor. To refer to children as "little imps" suggests that they are mischievous, rather than malignant.

Delving Deeper

Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore. New York: Larousse, 1995.

Michelet, Jules. Satanism and Witchcraft. New York: Citadel Press, 1939, 1960.

Walker, Barbara. The Woman's Dictionary of Symbols & Sacred Objects. Edison, N.J.: Castle Books, 1988.


According to ancient tradition, there are two main classifications of demons that sexually molest humansthe incubi that assault women and the succubi that seduce men. Both sexual predators are said to have been born as a result of Adam's sexual intercourse with Lilith, a beautiful demonic entity, often said to have been his first wife, or in other traditions, a fantasy wife created to alleviate his loneliness before the advent of Eve. The incubi were said to seduce unsuspecting women by appearing to them in the guise of their husbands or lovers, and as one might suspect, the incubi played an important role in the history of the Inquisition. Even pious nuns appeared before the tribunals, attesting to their affliction by persistent incubi that tried to persuade them to break their vows of chastity. Epidemics of demon possession and erotomania swept such convents as Loudon, Louviers, Auxonne, and Aixen-Provence.

In his book Eros and Evil, R. E. L. Masters remarked on the scant amount of records from the Inquisition concerning the experiences of men who succumbed to seductive succubi in contrast to the enormous number of recorded instances in which women yielded to the sexual attentions of the incubi. Such lack of reports did not imply that succubi were less seductive than incubi, but rested on the belief of the inquisitors and clergy of the day that women were "naturally inclined to viceand would always put up defenses more feeble than those offered by males."

The incubus could prove to be a jealous lover. In April 1533, according to old church records, an incubus became enraged when he discovered his human mistress in the arms of the son of the tavernkeeper at Schilttach, near Freiburg. In his furious state of mind, the incubus not only set the tavern ablaze, but he burned the entire village to the ground.

Church authorities dealt with the problem of how a spirit could develop a corporeal body by advancing such theories as these: incubi fashion temporary bodies out of water vapor or gases; they have no actual physical bodies, but they possess the power to create an illusion of corporeality; they inhabit recently deceased corpses and animate them for the purpose of sexual intercourse with the living; they actually have material bodies that they can manipulate into any shape they desire.

Father Montague Summers theorized that such demons as the incubi might be composed of that same substance known as ectoplasm from which the spirits of the dead draw their temporary body during materialization seances with mediums. He reasoned that such psychic drainage could occur if a frustrated young person encouraged the attentions of an evil entity by fantasizing about erotic materials.

Delving Deeper

Fodor, Nandor. Between Two Worlds. New York: Paperback Library, 1967.

. The Haunted Mind: A Psychoanalyst Looks at the Supernatural. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Masters, R. E. L. Eros and Evil. New York: Julian Press, 1962.

Spence, Lewis. An Encyclopedia of Occultism. New Hyde Park, N.Y.: University Books, 1960.

Jersey Devil

Some witnesses say that the Jersey Devil that haunts the Pine Barrens in southeastern New Jersey is a cross between a goat and a dog with cloven hoofs and the head of a collie. Others swear that it has a horse's head with the body of a kangaroo. Most of the people who have sighted the creature mention a long tail, and nearly all of the witnesses agree that the thing has wings. But it doesn't really fly as much as it hops and glides.

Whatever the Jersey Devil is, people have been sighting it in the rural area in South Jersey since 1735, which, according to local legend, is the year that it was born. Rather than some monstrous animal that was somehow spawned in the one million acres of pines that still remain some distance from the state's cities and refineries, the Jersey Devil has at least a semi-human origin. It seems that there was a prominent family in South Jersey whose patriarch demanded a large number of heirs to carry on the Leeds name to future generations. While that might have been well and good for Mr. Leeds, when she learned that she was about to bear her thirteenth child, Mrs. Leeds decided that she had enough. She had grown tired of being continually pregnant to satisfy her husband's ego. In a fit of rage, it is said that she cursed the unborn child within her and cried out that she would rather bear the devil's child than give birth to another Leeds for posterity.

Visualizing the image of Satan, Mrs. Leeds decreed that she wished the child to be born with claws and fangs, fierce and wild as some vicious beast. The old legend said that Mrs. Leeds was granted her angry wish of revenge. The baby was born a monster with devilish fangs, claws, tail, and cloven hoofs, but the extremes of its viciousness soon eclipsed the borders of Leeds's curse. The little monster ate every one of the other Leeds children and escaped out of the chimney to begin its reign of terror among the farmers and villagers of the region.

For well over 200 years, terrified witnesses have claimed to encounter the Jersey Devil. The most famous series of sightings occurred in January 1909 when hundreds of men and women reporting seeing or hearing the frightening creature. So many people refused to leave the safety of their homes that local mills were forced to shut down for lack of workers.

As with so many of its kind, local folklore has it that the Jersey Devil serves as an omen of tragedy and war. According to some witnesses, the being was sighted just prior to the onset of the Civil War (186165) and again before the start of the Spanish-American conflict (1898) and World War I (191418).

Delving Deeper

Clark, Jerome, and Loren Coleman. The Unidentified. New York: Warner Paperback Library, 1975.

Jones, Alison, ed. Larousse Dictionary of World Folklore. New York: Larousse, 1995.

Keel, John A. Strange Creatures from Time and Space. Greenwich, Conn.: Fawcett Publications, 1970.

Seibert, Trent. "Scary Legend Has Roots in Wilderness of New Jersey." Denver Post, June 2, 2001. [Online]


According to certain mystical traditions, the demonic sexual molesters known as the incubi and the succubi were the children of Father Adam's consorting with a beautiful fallen angel named Lilith, who in the view of certain Jewish mystics, was Adam's wife before the creation of Eve. Succubi appear to men as beautiful, sensual women, tempting and promising, but they also may be vampires thirsting for human blood. While those males who consort with a succubus often meet an untimely end, on occasion their interaction with the entity brings about a horde of demonic children, who will one day gather at his deathbed and hail him as their father.

Lilith, according to the Midrash, preys not only on males as they lie sleeping, but also upon mothers who have just given birth, as well as their newborn babes. Amulets of protection against the approach of Lilith may be found in many traditional Jewish bookstores.

The plural form of "Lilith" in Hebrew is "lilim," which is found in Talmudic and Kabbalistic literature as a term for spirits of the night. Sometimes the word lilith is translated as "night-owl," which would seem to refer to Lilith, the succubus, having wings and being capable of flight. Sometimes, according to Hebrew scholars, the term lilith represents "wind-spirit," and in Hebrew the word for "spirit" (ruach) also means wind. Lilith is often depicted as a beautiful woman with long, unkempt hair and large batlike wings.

Delving Deeper

Fodor, Nandor. Between Two Worlds. New York: Paperback Library, 1967.

. The Haunted Mind: A Psychoanalyst Looks at the Supernatural. New York: New American Library, 1968.

"Jewish Vampires." Jewish Gothic. [Online]

Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subversive Spirits. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Unterman, Alan. Dictionary of Jewish Lore and Legend. London and New York: Thames and Hudson, 1991.


Contrary to the glamorous image popularized by motion pictures depicting handsome vampires and their beautiful "brides," the appearance of a true vampire in folklore is grotesque, a nightmarish creature of the undead with twisted fangs and grasping talons. After Bram Stoker's novel Dracula (1897) became a popular stage play, and, in 1931, a classic horror film, the image of the vampire as a hideous demon was transformed into an attractive stranger who possesses a bite that, while fatal, also promises eternal life. The vampire of legend, a demonic presence, wrapped in a rotting burial shroud, intent only on sating its blood-lust, was forgotten and replaced by the beguilingly romantic figures that have appeared ever since in films and popular novels.

The cinematic depiction of the vampire in F. W. Murnau's Nosferatu (1922) presented a much more accurate characterization of the traditional vampire. In this film actor Max Schreck's loathsome bloodsucker creeps about in the shadows with dark-ringed, hollowed eyes, pointed devil ears, and hideous fangs. With his long, blood-stained talons, his eggshaped head, and his pasty white complexion, Schreck's Nosferatu looks more like the creature of the undead as seen in the collective nightmares of humankind throughout the centuries. E. Elias Merhige's Shadow of the Vampire, released on December 29, 2000, teased audiences with the unsettling suggestion that the monstrous Nosferatu (Willem Dafoe) who assumed the title role in the classic film by F. W. Murnau (John Malkovich) was actually portrayed by a real vampire, rather than an actor.

The vampire legend is universal, and every culture has its own name for the monster. The word itself rises from the slavonic Magyar vam, meaning blood; pir, meaning monster. To cite only a few other appellations for the vampire from different languages, there is the older English variation, vampyr; the Latin, sanguisuga; Serbian, vampir; Russian, upyr; Polish, Upirs; and the Greek, Brucolacas. From the villages of Uganda, Haiti, to the Upper Amazon, all indigenous people know the vampire in its many guises. Traditional Native American medicine priests, Arctic Eskimo shamen, and Polynesian Kahuna all know the vampire and take precautions against those who were once human who are now undead and seek blood by night to sustain their dark energies.

With each succeeding generation, the dark powers of the vampire have grown. His hypnotic powers have become irresistible, and his strength is that of a dozen men. He can transform himself into the form of a bat, a rat, an owl, a fox, and a wolf. He is able to see in the dark and to travel on moonbeams and mist. Sometimes, he has the power to vanish in a puff of smoke.

Over the centuries certain precautions have been determined, such as liberally applying wolfbane and sprigs of wild garlic at every door and window. A crucifix can be worn about one's neck and placed prominently on several walls. And if people are truly serious about putting a stop to the nocturnal predator, they can hunt down his grave or coffin and place thereon a branch of the wild rose to keep him locked within. If that doesn't work, then the only courses of action remaining are to pry open his coffin during the daylight hours while the vampire lies slumbering and pound a wooden stake through his heartor, perhaps a bit safer, destroy the coffin while he is away and allow the rays of the early morning sun to scorch him into ashes.

In 1982, parapsychologist Stephen Kaplan, director of the Vampire Research Center in Elmhurst, New York, discovered a vampire subculture living among the general population. Kaplan estimated that there were approximately 21 "real" vampires living secretly in the United States and Canada. He spoke to many of these self-professed creatures of the night, some of whom claimed to be as old as 300 years, and he established the demographics of vampires, placing Massachusetts in the lead with three; followed by Arizona, California, and New Jersey, with two each; and the remaining 15 vampires scattered throughout the other states and provinces.

Today, with the ever-growing popularity of the Gothic movements, the various vampire role-playing games, the continuing bestselling status of the Anne Rice vampire novels, and the high ratings of television series based on vampires and the occult, it would be an impossible task to estimate the current population of those who define themselves as some facet of the term "vampire," or to establish any but the most approximate demographics. Millions of readers and viewers have agreed with Rice that the vampire is a romantic, enthralling figure. The author's major vampire character, Lestat de Lioncourt, and her series of books in the "Vampire Chronicles" series, portray the undead as far from grotesque, shroud-wrapped monsters. Rice has stated that she perceives the vampire as an individual who never dies, who exerts a charm over people, then accepts their blood as a sacrifice that he might live. In her opinion, the image of the vampire is alluring, attractive, seductive, and the idea of being sacrificed to keep such an entity alive becomes rather romantic.

In the November 24, 2000, issue of The New York Times, Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson reported on the city's vampire scene that has been going strong since the mid-1990s and the many nightclubs that cater to the "daylight-challenged" in their article, "Vampires: Painting the Town Red." The journalists describe the activities in "dens" where as many as 300 "undead heads" dance, drink, and make merry late into the night. The dress code in such establishments is "gothic," "dark-fetish," "faerie," "Wiccan," or "Celtic" and the overwhelmingly predominant color of the clothing is black. On the "rare occasion" when a patron of these vampire havens smiles, Mittelbach and Crewdson noted, one can make out "the glint of white fangs."

Other researchers have discovered that these "Human Living Vampires" believe that they require blood in order to function at their highest level of proficiency. They realize that they are not really immortal beings, but they may feel that they have extrasensory abilities that border on the supernatural that are accentuated with the ingestion of human blood. Most often the vital fluid is obtained from willing donors who permit the vampires to make small cuts or punctures in their flesh and lick or suck the blood.

The vast majority of those enthralled by the vampire lifestyle are those young people who find dressing the part of an attractive and seductive member of the undead appeals to their romantic sensibilities. For them it is like being able to dress up for Halloween at least one night per week all year long.

While role-playing as vampires and victims may be considered quite harmless as long as the participants know when to draw the line between fantasy and reality, those who cross the boundaries of mental abnormality into blood fetishism and obsessive blood-drinking may gradually develop a psychosis that can force them to mutilate or even kill others. On February 1, 2002, a 23-year-old woman who said that she became a vampire in London, then murdered a man in Germany and drank his blood, was jailed for the crime.

According to psychologists, the true lair of the vampire must be sought in the hidden recesses of the human mind, rather than in secluded burial vaults. The desire to assume the guise of a vampire, is highly suggestive of pathologically immature, dependent personalities, who cannot fend for themselves in normal everyday living, but who must attach themselves to a more productive personality, just as the vampire attaches itself to those hosts on whose blood it feeds. Such individuals almost always subconsciously desire to return to the state of complete dependence characteristic of the prenatal state. Psychoanalysts often discover that in those pathological cases in which subjects believe themselves to be vampires the grave or coffin comes to symbolize the womb. The vampire's dependence upon the grave or coffin as a place of safety seems again to betray a deep longing for the prenatal security of the womb. The act of sucking a victim's blood is in itself significant, for many psychologists state that such an act would be a sign of mother-fixation.

Delving Deeper

Fodor, Nandor. Between Two Worlds. New York: Paperback Library, 1967.

. The Haunted Mind: A Psychoanalyst Looks at the Supernatural. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subver sive Spirits. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Melton, J. Gordon. The Vampire Book: The Encyclope dia of the Undead. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Visi ble Ink Press, 1998.

"Self-styled Vampire Reveals British Link." The Guardian, February 1, 2002. [Online],3604,642870,00. html.


Unlike the vampire, werewolves are not members of the undead who promise everlasting life in exchange for a little bite on the neck. When werewolves are in their human form, they can walk about tranquil forest paths or bustling city streets appearing as ordinary as anyone on his or her way to work or shopping. They needn't fear the scorching rays of the rising sun. They have no use for a coffin in which to sleep during the daylight hours. They have no dread of mirrors that may not show their reflection. Crucifixes don't distress them in the least, and they themselves would probably use garlic for seasoning.

Contrary to the legend popularized by Hollywood horror films, one does not undergo a painful transformation into a wolf after being bitten or scratched by a werewolf. According to the ancient traditions, those who became werewolves were generally of two types: 1) Power-hungry sorcerers who deliberately sought the ability to shapeshift into the form of a wolf through an application of black magic so that they might more effectively rob or attack their victims. Those who became werewolves through incantations, potions, or spells took evil delight in their savage strength and their ability to strike fear into the hearts of all those whom they encountered. 2) Innocent men or women who ran afoul of a sorcerer who had vengefully placed a curse of lupine transformation upon them. Those innocents who had become werewolves against their will may have been filled with disgust at their acts of slashing, ripping, and often ingesting the flesh of their human victims, but they were powerless to resist such gruesome and murderous desires while they remained under the spell that had been placed upon them.

According to a number of ancient magical texts, one of the methods by which one might willingly become a werewolf was to disrobe and to rub completely over one's naked body an ointment made of the fat of a freshly killed animal and a special mixture of herbs. The person who wished to accomplish the lupine transformation should also wear a belt made of human or wolf skin around the waist, then cover his or her body with the pelt of a wolf. To accelerate the process of shapeshifting, the apprentice werewolf should drink beer mixed with blood and recite an ancient magical incantation.

The prefix were in Old English means "man," so coupled with wolf, it designates a creature that can alter its appearance from human to beast and become a "man wolf." In French, the werewolf is known asloup garou; in Spanish, hombre lobo; Italian, lupo manaro; Portuguese, lobizon or lobo home; Polish, wilkolak; Russian, olkolka or volkulaku; and in Greek, brukolakas.

Native American tribes tell of bear-people, wolf-people, fox-people, and so forth, and state that in the beginning of things, humans were as animals and animals as humans. Stories of women who gave birth to werecreatures are common among the North American tribal myths. Early cultures throughout the Americas, Europe, Asia, and Africa formed totem clans and often worshipped minor deities that were half-human, half-animal. Norse legends tell about hairy, humanlike beings that live in the underworld caves and come out at night to feast on the flesh of unfortunate surface dwellers. To the people of the Middle Ages, there was little question that such creatures as werewolves truly existed, and the Inquisition was certain to include these demonic entities in their arrests.

Switzerland can lay claim to the first official execution of werewolves, when in 1407, several individuals so accused were tortured and burned in Basel; but the inquisitors in France have the dubious distinction of recording the most cases of werewolfism in all of Europe30,000 between 1520 and 1630. The werewolf trials began at Poligny in 1521 when, after enduring the torture chamber, three men admitted to consorting with she-wolves and demons in order to gain the power to transform themselves into wolvesthen they confessed to having killed and devoured many small children over a 19-year period. They were summarily burned at the stake.

The famous case of Gilles Garnier, who was executed as a werewolf at Dole, France, in 1573, provides grim details of attacks on numerous children, in which Garnier used his hands and teeth to kill and to cannibalize his young victims. In view of the heinous crimes and Garnier's confession that he was a werewolf, the court was quick to decree that he should be executed and his body burned and reduced to ashes.

The infamous werewolf Peter Stubbe of Cologne revealed that he possessed a magic belt that could instantly transform him into a wolf. To return to human form, he had but to remove the belt. Although the authorities never found his magical werewolf belt, they beheaded him for his crimes in 1589.

According to testimony in the case against Jacques Roulet in 1598, a group of hunters came upon two wolves devouring the body of a 15-year-old boy. Since they were well-armed, the men pursued the wolves and were astonished to see the pawprints slowly becoming more humanlike. At last, they tracked down and apprehended a tall, gaunt man with long matted hair and beard, barely clothed in filthy rags, his hands red with blood and his long nails clotted with human flesh. The loathsome creature identified himself as a vagabond named Jacques Roulet, who with his brother and a cousin possessed a salve that enabled them to assume the form of wolves. Together, the three werewolves claimed to have attacked, killed, and eaten many children in various parts of the countryside.

Sometimes it becomes difficult to establish the line of demarcation that separates legendary accounts of werewolves and other wereanimals devouring human victims from the early historical records of savage human predators ambushing their victims by night. In the Middle Ages, large bands of beggars and brigands roamed the European countrysides after dark, often dressed in wolfskins and howling like a pack of wolves on the hunt. In the rural areas of France, Germany, Lower Hungary, Estonia, and other countries, these nocturnal marauders were called "werewolves." The old Norwegian counterpart to werewolf is vargulf, literally translated as "rogue wolf," referring to an outlaw who separates himself from society. In addition to these human wolf packs that preyed upon isolated farmers and small villages, historical records are replete with illustrations of ancient warriors who went into battle wearing the skins of wild animals, hoping that the ferocity and strength of the beasts would magically rub off on them. Most often, in the Northern European tribes, the fierce animal of choice was the wolf or the bear.

In ancient Scandinavia, the Norse words ulfhedhnar ("wolf-clothed") and berwerker refer to the wolf or bear skins worn by the fierce Viking warriors when they went "berserk," war-mad, and fought with the fury of vicious animals against opponents. In the Slavonic languages, the werewolf is called vlukodlak, which translates to "wolf-haired" or "wolfskinned," once again suggesting the magical transference desired from wearing the skin of a brave animal into battle.

Interestingly, the popular conception that one becomes a werewolf after having been bitten or scratched by such a creature of the night originated not in ancient tradition but in the motion picture The Wolf Man (1941). Such werewolf deterrents as sprigs of garlic, wolf bane, and the deadly silver bullet were also created for classic werewolf stories from Frankenstein Meets the Werewolf (1943) to An American Werewolf in Paris (1997). Even the ancient "gyspy folklore" repeated by Ankers, the heroine in The Wolf Man, was created by Siodmak: "Even a man who's pure in heart and says his prayers at night, may become a wolf when the wolfbane blooms and the autumn moon is bright."

Just as certain humans imagine themselves to be vampires, others believe themselves to shapeshift into wolves. Psychologists recognize a werewolf psychosis (lycanthropy or lupinomanis) in which persons so afflicted may believe that they change into a wolf at the full moon. Those who are so disturbed may actually "feel" their fur growing, their fingernails becoming claws, their jaw lengthening, their canine teeth elongating. In their paper "A Case of Lycanthropy," published in the American Journal of Psychiatry in 1977, psychiatrist Harvey Rosenstock and psychologist Kenneth Vincent discussed the case history of a 49-year-old woman who received daily psychotherapy and antipsychotic drugs and who still perceived herself as a wolfwoman with claws, teeth, and fangs. Medical personnel would manage to get the woman under control until the next full moonwhen she would snarl, howl, and resume her wolflike behavior. Rosenstock and Vincent stated that the woman was eventually discharged and provided with antipsychotic medication, but she declared that she would haunt graveyards until she had found the male werewolf of her dreams.

Delving Deeper

Clark, Jerome, and Loren Coleman. Creatures of the Outer Edge. New York: Warner Books, 1978.

Eisler, Robert. Man into Wolf. London: Spring Books, n.d.

Fodor, Nandor. Between Two Worlds. New York: Paperback Library, 1967.

. The Haunted Mind: A Psychoanalyst Looks at the Supernatural. New York: New American Library, 1968.

Mack, Carol K., and Dinah Mack. A Field Guide to Demons, Fairies, Fallen Angels, and Other Subver sive Spirits. New York: Henry Holt, 1998.

Steiger, Brad. The Werewolf Book: The Encyclopedia of Shape-Shifting Beings. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Visible Ink Press, 1999.