This is a page that focuses on religious and theological issues, as well as providing comprehensive teaching from a classic Catholic perspective. As you read the articles, it is my hope they will educate and bless you.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Truth Behind Myths and Legends Part IV - Vampirism

I have been working on this series for some time, and as I continue to do so, it is getting more interesting especially considering the trends in popular culture today.  After a week of dealing with hard-headed Greek Orthodox laypeople, a bitter anti-Catholic self-professed Messianic Jew, and an ill-informed Evangelical girl who thinks it's a "sin" to burn a demonic book like the Quran, I am realizing the Church needs to be made aware of the forces that are assaulting her from inside and out.  Many Christians are so deluded by some things that are in popular culture that they are a hair's-breadth from hell, and yet the deception continues.  In the near future, I am going to address an article to a study about the Remnant Church, because there needs to be more teaching on the subject.  However, today, I need to continue what we were talking about with a teaching about something that is gaining a lot of attention and interest, and though many feel it is mere legend or fairy tale, I am going to be showing you that some of this stuff is very real by sorting out the truth from the myth.  Therefore, let us get started.

How many of you know of the "Dracula" legend?  I am sure at some point many of us older folks have seen the classic 1930's film with Bela Lugosi dressed in a tux and cape and sporting fangs, and his heavy Eastern European accent saying "I vant to suck your blahd..." is iconic as far as most people's perception of what a vampire is.  It has inspired a lot of Halloween hijinks, made a lot of costume people rich, and even when I was a kid I was drawn to that fictional character as I liked his tux!  When I became a Christian though, I lost all desire to be enamored by such things, and over the years as I have grown God has begun to open my eyes to some things.  The book that the Lugosi film was based on is Bram Stoker's Dracula, which was written in 1897.  Stoker used a 15th-century Wallachian prince named Vlad the Impaler as his inspiration for the character, based on a lot of legend and hearsay that was handed down over the years.   The real Vlad the Impaler though would have actually had more in common with Russia's Ivan the Terrible than he would have with Lugosi's character, as simply put Vlad was just more or less a brilliantly ruthless tyrant and nothing more than that.  In some ways, he was a hero; in others he was an evil man.  But, a vampire he was not.  The ruthlessness with which Vlad dealt with his enemies, in particular the Islamic Ottomans who were trying to conquer Europe at that time, is the source for much of the "Dracula" persona.  Vlad was, for instance, called the Impaler for a good reason - the way he executed his enemies was by shish-kabobing them on stakes on his palace grounds, and in essence he had a "garden" of executed, decomposing bodies around his castle ramparts, and was said to eat his lunch in the middle of that mess, which later evolved into crazy stories about him drinking the blood of his enemies, etc.  No evidence suggests he engaged in such practices though, and actually he was not even insane - rather, he was a rather efficient ruler who knew how to use terror and intimidation to let people know he was in charge.  Many other rulers have done the same over the centuries, so in that aspect there is nothing really too unique about Vlad doing this either.  But, at times fiction tends to be more convincing than truth, and the fiction over the years have turned Vlad into a darker monster than he probably was, and thus Stoker picked up on that for inspiration.  Related to this as well is an Eastern European vampiric creature called a stregoi, and some legends say that Vlad became one of these when he died.  This stregoi mythology is one of many dealing with vampire-like creatures that circulate in a variety of cultures throughout the world.  For the most part, these are legend, but may have a real - and sinister - source that goes back to times of antiquity.  So, let us examine that now.

It goes back actually to Levitical law in the Bible, when Moses, through inspiration from God, imposed sanctions against the consumption of blood by the Hebrews.  This is actually an early gift of God to people, because He was in effect teaching them hygeine as well as what would later be a basic medical knowledge.  This was at a time when pagan cultures were doing all sorts of bizarre stuff, including human sacrifices in which blood and flesh were often consumed from the sacrificial victim.  The barbaric practice of human sacrifice was strongly condemned by Mosaic law, and Scripture today still prohibits it.  Often though, human sacrifice involved both the consumption of human flesh - cannibalism - as well as the drinking of human blood - or vampirism.  Blood is universally accepted as being the life of the creature it inhabits, and some pagan cultures attached great significance to blood rituals in that by either self-mutilation (the Maya in Central America, as a matter of fact, went so far as to pierce their genitals with stingray barbs in the delusion that somehow the letting of blood would show them favor with their rain gods) or by the letting of blood from a sacrificial animal or human and drinking it because they thought that doing these acts would ensure one of two things:

1.  The blood was an appeasement to a god in return for something - rain, fertile crops, many children, etc.
2.  The consumed blood would increase one's own attributes - strength, longevity, fertility, etc.

In reality, we as Christians know that these things were a mockery or fake, futile deceptions on the part of demons to either defame or substitute the only TRUE sacrifice of Blood given for us, and that is the shed blood of Jesus Christ on the Cross for our sins.  Demons knew this long before the first coming of Christ, because they saw that for some reason God placed a special meaning on blood, and thus they sought to deceive man with corruptions of that.  In early times, Satan had even went so far as to delude people into thinking CHRISTIANS were consuming real blood in the Eucharist in order to bastardize the proclamation of the Gospel, but our theology of the Eucharist is a mystery of faith that we understand ONLY through being born again of the Spirit of God.  It is amazing the lengths Satan goes through to discredit the Gospel and its core message, but he fails to realize that God is much greater than he is, and thus God's plan is perfect and complete.  As a matter of fact, back when a dispute arose in the early Church about whether or not Christians of Gentile background should be compelled to keep Judaic law, the Church Council in Jerusalem basically said in Acts 15:29 that Gentile Christians were to observe only four things:

1.  Abstain from meat offered to idols
2.  Abstain from blood
3.  Abstain from things strangled
4.  Avoid sexual immorality

So, the prohibition on blood consumption was upheld by the early Church, and with good reason - from a scientific point of view, the blood is the conduit through which waste is removed from the body as well as being a supplier of necessary elements that sustain life, and in that waste in the blood were toxins and other such things that could be potentially dangerous.  The prohibition on things strangled went along the same lines, because kosher preparation has as its key procedure the draining of blood by slitting the throat.  If the blood was allowed to remain in an animal carcass, it could speed up decomposition as well as retaining toxins that would saturate the meat, and thus it would be unhealthy.  Even today, government standards for butchers, grocery stores, and restaurants have similar procedures in place about proper preparation of meat, and it stems back to this.  God, then, created healthy living practices for us to follow that we still practice today.  And thus, blood consumption is still discouraged even in today's society for similar reasons that they were in Levitical law.

That being said about consumption of blood, let us now talk about vampirism directly.  A vampire is a person who drinks the blood of others for a variety of reasons, and it is very much tied into occult practices.  The reason they do this is to gain the "life force" of the victim to increase their own attributes.  This is something that ties into a discipline of the occult known as spiritism, which more or less says that the "spirit" or life force of the person can be passed to another through the consumption of their body or blood.  Today, we are witnessing a resurgence of such activity in this youth subculture called "Goths" and although many cult experts don't classify this form of vampirism as religious in nature, there are subcultures within the "Goth" subculture that are  occultic, and we are seeing today the rise of vampire "churches" and temples, for instance, in many cities.  The reason I say this is that there are two groups of practioners of this stuff, one believing in the literal drinking of another's blood while another group believes in what is called "psychic vampirism," which means they "feed off of" auric/psychic energies of their companions in the practice.  Right there, we see a religious connection, and it is of no surprise either as "Goths" are prime candidates for initiation into occultic groups, although with many "Goths" all it is about is the fashion and politics as well.  Nonetheless, whether involved innoculously for the "look" or seriously into the "scene" itself, this Gothic subculture is not something that should be encouraged.  And, now in the past couple of years there have been these Twilight movies that have racked up the ratings in theatres, and those are making vampirism some romantic quest and thus recruiting more interest in the lifestyle.  This is an end-time trap of  Satan to deceive young kids into a lifestyle that is hideous and against all God stands for, and the timing of it is no accident.  With the gradual rise in occultic activity over the last several decades - stuff like Dungeons and Dragons, Pokemon, Harry Potter, a renewed interest in the Qabala due to high-end celebs like Madonna embracing it, and now the Twilight enterprise - influencing youth culture, I see that the enemy is priming and recruiting a generation of young people by deception regarding the supernatural, and it is nothing to take lightly.  Years ago, churches used to be on guard against this stuff, but nowadays in this new world of the "lovey-dovey, seeker-friendly, purpose-driven" so-called "gospel," much of that is ignored.  As a matter of fact, some self-professed "Christian" groups actually endorse stuff like Harry Potter and other occultic nonsense, and I even understand now that there is a "Christian Goth" movement!  People do not realize that this stuff is nothing that born-again Christians should be messing around with, and with professed "Christians," including high-profile leaders, embracing this stuff, they are weakening their own testimonies.  Vampires, I do believe, are very real - they are not the romantic stuff of the Twilight films, nor do they look like Bela Lugosi - and I want to quickly address a theory I have regarding what participation in this activity can lead to.

Involvement in the occultic religions is a serious business, and is a time bomb you don't want to be next to when it goes off.  Occultists - especially committed ones - do believe in spiritual forces, and they constantly attempt to manipulate such forces in order to gain something, be that knowledge, strength, longevity of life, etc.  The spiritual forces they mess with though are demons, and demons exact a high price for their "services" - they will possess, oppress, and eventually destroy those who serve them, all under the delusion that it is the occultist in charge of things.  And, demon possession is real, people - it is not pretty, and not something that people should get mixed up in.  Furthermore, demons are also disembodied spirits, and can manifest those vessels they are invited to possess in any way they choose.  That being said, a person involved in vampirism is also more than likely going to open themselves up to demonic influence, and when they do, it is possible that as a demon gains control in them and manifests itself, it can alter the appearance of the person into something sinister.  I will go into that more in the next study when I talk about werebeasts and such, but vampires too can take on attributes and physical characteristics of those things possessing them.  If they do not receive deliverance and are born again by the shed Blood of Jesus Christ, they will die in that bondage and will be spending eternity in hell with the very demons that possessed them being their tormenters.  And, in this last day, the battle is intensifying:  Satan is getting more blatant and bolder, and people who are disillusioned with what they feel is "status-quo" religion are wide open for his deception.  As a matter of fact, I want to go on record as saying to expect more unusual supernatural things to happen on both sides of the lines, as God's Spirit is moving as well.  We live in exciting times, so let us not become so rationalized in our thinking that we dismiss what we may be seeing more of one day.

That all being said, I will close for this study, but will be back next time to discuss what werewolves are, and the separation as well of the mythology from the facts.  God bless you.