We all have our favorite version: whether it's an elegant Count in a spooky faraway castle whose mind control leaves us eating bugs, a charismatic French Lord who breaks our hearts and puts them back together again, or a sparkling dude hung up on some teenager and baseball, we all have a version of vampire mythology that we love.
But where did these myths come from? Who (or what) was the "original" vampire? Is any there truth to the stories?
Historians believe that the belief and fear of "vampires" may be as old as humanity itself, however not necessarily how we view them today. Most cultures across the globe have some version of a vampire myth, many with similar qualities suchs as blood sucking, immortality, mind control, or transformation into animals.
Ancient Hebrew myth tells of "aluka" literally meaning "leech", a demon who literally attached itself onto horses and humans and drained their blood. These female demons could fly by unleashing their long hair; they could also transform into animals and could only be killed by starving and then stuffing the corpse's mouth with earth before burial.
Then there's legends of "Adze", the firefly vampire, from the Ewe people of Southern Togo, who could transform from a bug into a human like monster with sharp talons, a hunchback, and jet black skin. It is said that they would suck the blood of children and eat their liver and heart. The only way to stop this vampire is by catching it, often in coconut water in palm oil, where it's spirit will be slowly tortured
The "Lobishomen" is from Brazil and is said to be a small, monkey like creature with a yellow face and black teeth. This vampire usually preys on women, sucking some of their blood and causing the women to turn into nymphomaniacs. The only way to kill this creature was to cut it with steel.
The "Yara-ma-yha-who" is an Aboriginal legend parents told children as a cautionary tale from leaving the tribe. It was a short creature with a large head, red skin, a large mouth with no teeth, and fingers and toes like the suckers of an octopus. It would sit in trees until someone approached, latch on and drain it's blood. It would then swallow their entire body whole, regurgitating the still living person later. Every time someone got caught by the "yara-ma-yha-who", they would survive but be one step closer to turning into one themselves.
The "Ekimmu" is believed to be one of the oldest vampiric myths, dating sometime before 4000 B.C.E. It was said to be the malevolent spirit of a dead person unable to find peace in the afterlife. They would drain humans of their blood and life force, cause disasters, and spread disease, The Babylonians and Sumerians would use spirit bowls inscribed with magical spells in order to protect themselves against them. Some say that they never died out and still exist among the homeless population in large cities, still feeding and spreading torment.