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Michael Bell
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Posted By Michael Bell

No stories today (well, maybe an excerpt or two) because I need to stop telling stories and get to work. I have to make sense of all of these fascinating narratives. I’ve been poring over the sixty or so vampire incidents that I now have collected, looking for patterns and correlations in the various procedures employed in the rituals. I’ve tentatively identified four basic types of actions: 1. An inaugural action in which the ritual performers confront the corpse or corpses; 2. A diagnostic action that leads the performers to conclude that a corpse is either inert or a threat to the living; 3. A transformational action that is intended to neutralize or eliminate the threat; 4. A healing action to restore the health of those whose consumption is blamed on the threatening corpse.

The inaugural action almost invariably consists of exhuming the suspected corpse or corpses. The following excerpt from Yankee magazine is one of the few exceptions where a corpse did not need to be exhumed: “I was at the funeral of your great-uncle John. He died of old-fashioned consumption just as other members of the family before him. I was one of several who made up our minds to stop the run of consumption in that family, so we stayed in the cemetery until the relatives had gone, then we lifted the casket from the open grave and turned it over. So your great-uncle John was buried face down, and it ended consumption in that family.”

Diagnostic actions, which sometimes are bypassed,  usually entail examining the corpse for undecayed flesh or “fresh” (liquid) blood in the “vitals” (the heart, lungs and liver) or, more rarely, looking for a vine or sprouts growing from the corpse or in the coffin. Transformational actions include burning the corpse or burying it face down or burning any or all of the vitals. When a vine or sprout is involved, it is cut and then may be burned or buried, sometimes with the corpse or the vitals. When healing actions are stipulated, they prescribe inhaling or standing in the smoke of the burning corpse or ingesting the ashes from the burned vitals. In one variant, unique as far as I know,  a man wore the ashes from his deceased brother’s heart in small box suspended from a string around his neck.

2 Comment(s):
ForSaKeN said...
As far as I know the of Mercy Brown was the last significant case of anti-vampire ritual being performed on a corpse in New England. But in Romania we had such a ritual in a village in 2005... I sure hope it will be the last.
November 17, 2011 04:12:43
Shermalee Ochoa said...
I am looking for information on Vampires Grasp. I have two ancestors that died from it according to their tombstones. One died in the 1777 and the other in 1783, both in the town of Willington, Ct. They were brother and sister. What can you tell me about this?
July 10, 2011 11:06:43
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