Origins of vampires
Where do we find first vampires? Every culture had some pagan beliefs well before we accepted new religions but some traditions are still well preserved. Unfortunately our Serbian orthodox religion did not preserve majority of those beliefs but we still have one culture that even today cherish they traditions and especially cult of the dead. These ethnic groups are Vlasi. They live in eastern part of Serbia and even today they tradition is extremely strong.
Name Vlah (Vlasi plural) are cultural group that originate from Dacia, Thracia and Moesia but after Slavic people came to Balkans they moved from rich planes near Danube to eastern part of today’s Serbia. They speak Serbian and their native Vlah language. Majority is Serbian orthodox religion but as I said they still refuse to discard their tradition and beliefs and we can all just thank them for that.
It is very important to see that cult of dead is just small part of that bigger cult of magics that Vlasi believe in. Cult of magic incorporates just all that you can imagine from spells and chanting to supernatural beings and much, much more. Just the sheer number of terms that they and we use for all that magic stuff is enormous and bigger part is untranslatable to English. Just for chanting we have 4-5 different terms that represent do they and how much magic they involve. It’s the same thing when we start to address those supernatural beings and these beings are not good or bad. And the numbers are big here too, fairies represented as vlve, ale and vile that save from something or enchant travelers , demons that are not demons in our sense of the word but the ones that have some obligation to do something or protect some group as Muma Paduri that protects girls and women in general or something similar. There is no such thing as black and white here. Majority has some group of people that they protect and other that they despise based on sex, age and a lot of other things. If you would like to read more about this subject I encourage you to read this essay written by Jovic Emina. Theres a lot of interesting stuff there written pretty amply about Vlah culture and cult of magic in general. It is written in Serbian but with a little help of Google translate you will be able to understand the main picture. Second great resource is to watch this documentary also in Serbian language but hopefully we will get English subtitles pretty soon. One thing that I need to point out is that dance for the dead. I still feel some fear while just watching it.
As far as we are concern we know only one type of vampire. And Vlasi have few more types. As said before we have a living and dead vampire, then we have vampires that did not find their way to afterlife or they chose to become vampires to protect their homes and loved ones. Based on Vlah’s beliefs people can turn into vampires in several ways:
If they were doing some bad things during their life called Muronj. This vampire has compulsion to be in material world. They need to rest their soul and pay their debts before they go to the afterlife. Vlasi have a number of rituals to show to that particular type of vampire how to make up for their sins and find their way out of material world.
A living vampire, not just those that consume resources and don’t contribute to community, but even children that are born during so called nonbaptised days from Christmas till we call it Bogojavljenje meaning the day when Christ was baptized in Jordan river (from January 7th till January 19th – don’t forget we are orthodox and we have different calendar).
One special kind are those that died suddenly and in some weird way they didn’t had a candle on their grave or their relatives didn’t perform rituals needed to made their way to afterlife.
Deceased that was jumped over by some animal during rituals before burial most commonly cat, but even some other animals or even a man. There is a danger even if something was transferred over his body. They had some ill fate and for the first 40 days they are running around on streets asking themselves what happened to them. Some manage to remember where their home is and they are coming back to it every evening. Sometimes they have their looks, sometimes they transform into a bird or some other animal. In general this vampires need to get proper guidance to afterlife by performing rituals and if they don’t receive those rituals they are unable to find that way and they are still among us.
Talason is the only type of vampire that Vlasi like and want them near them. Talason’s are special kind of vampires that are connected with some building which they guard. Most common is their home and they will do everything to protect it and everyone that live in it. Talason’s are vampires that don’t “reproduce” in very loose meaning of that word. Reason for that is how they become a vampire. They are walled alive in that building. Old people when they feel that death is coming were eager to make this sacrifice to their loved ones and they were making them to build houses where they will meet their end and become Talason. Even today there is one type of ritual that people do when they build houses. Oldest men in family are every day at building site and he “sacrifices” his shadow to that building. He is constantly watching sun movement and covers fresh made concrete foundation with his shadow. They believe it helps to protect that house and inhabitants especially when that man who sacrificed his shadow dies.