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James Randi Educational Foundation

An Encyclopedia of Claims, Frauds, and Hoaxes of the Occult and Supernatural

Introduction | "R" Reading | Curse of the Pharaoh | End-of-the-World Prophecies

Index | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | Y | Z

vampire Known in Poland as an upir and in Greece as a brucolaca. In Slavic countries, it has been believed that a child born with a tooth already developed will become a vampire.
      Traditionally, the vampire is an “undead” person, often a suicide, who survives ordinary death by feeding on human blood, that of beautiful young maidens being much preferred. The blood is ingested through a bite wound on the victim's neck. It is said that some new vampires are the result of infection brought about from such a bite.
      The person thus affected must sleep by day in a coffin in contact with earth from his or her mother country in order to sustain the pseudo-life state. Sunlight is invariably fatal to vampires. Only that, a stake through the heart, a silver bullet in the heart, or the destruction or sealing up of the resting place can finally kill a vampire. They do not cast shadows, nor do they have reflections in a mirror.
      In 1730, there was a widespread panic in Hungary, where the legend was very strong. Adolescent girls reported nightly visitations from these creatures, much to the concern of the church.
      Bram Stoker's novel Dracula (1897) benefited from the fact that the vampire bat (Desmodus rotundus) had been discovered and studied in South America and seemed to provide an animal counterpart to the legend. In fact, the bat took its name from the mythical monster.

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