THE alleged Vampire has always been a popular character in tales of mystery and imagination. There is a considerable literature concerning his doings, from the famous novel Dracula to serious studies of the medieval witch-trials, for which the reader is referred to the bibliography at the end of the book. In these pages, however, I do not want to avail myself of second-hand evidence, nor of incidents which took place in other centuries and under primitive conditions, for it might be argued that with the passing of such conditions from our midst, the problem of vampirism, like the problem of typhus, has gone too, and need not trouble us. From my own experience I am of the opinion, however, that this is not so, and that the peculiar condition which the ancients called vampirism may account for certain forms of mental disturbance and the physical ill-health associated therewith.
When psycho-analysis was first introduced into England I took up the subject, and became a student, and eventually a lecturer at a clinic that was founded in London. We students were soon struck by the fact that some cases were exceedingly exhausting to deal with. It was not that they were troublesome, but simply that they "took it out" of us, and left us feeling like limp rags at the end of a treatment. Someone happened to mention this fact to one of the nurses engaged in the electrical department, and she told us that the same patients equally "took it out of" the electrical machines and that they could absorb the most surprising voltages without turning a hair.
At the same place, in the course of my psycho-analytical work, I came across a number of cases where a morbid attachment existed between two people, most commonly mother and daughter, or two women friends; sometimes also between mother and son, and in one case I met socially, between a man and a woman. It was always the negative one of the pair who came for treatment, and we were able to benefit them considerably by psycho-therapeutic means. They always showed the same symptom-complex, a sensitive temperament, pallid complexion, wasted form and general debility, sense of weakness, and easy fatiguabilty. They were also invariably highly suggestible, and were therefore easy to handle. Consequently we were usually able to get good results pretty quickly in such cases.
The curious point, however, was that the breaking of the morbid rapport caused a marked disturbance and even semi-collapse of the dominant partner in the alliance. We found it necessary to insist upon a separation if a cure were to be effected, and the separation invariably disagreed very actively with the dominant partner.
At that time I explained everything in terms of the Freudian psychology, but even so, I could not help being struck by the curious effect a separation had upon the person who was not supposed to be ill, and that as the one went uphill, the other went down.
I am of the opinion that what Freud calls an Oedipus complex is not altogether a one-sided affair, and that the "soul" of the parent is drawing upon the psychic vitality of the child. It is curious how aged Oedipus cases always look, and what little old men and women they are as children. They never have a normal childhood, but always are mentally mature for their years. I persuaded various patients to show me photographs of themselves as children, and was much struck by the elderly, worried expression of the childish faces, as if they had known all of life's problems and burdens.
Knowing what we do of telepathy and the magnetic aura, it appears to me not unreasonable to suppose that in some way which we do not as yet fully understand, the negative partner of such a rapport is "shorting" on to the positive partner. There is a leakage of vitality going on, and the dominant partner is more or less consciously lapping it up, if not actually sucking it out.
Such cases are by no of means uncommon, and clear up rapidly when the victim is separated from the vampire. Whenever there is a record of a close and dominating bond between two people with the devitalisation of one of them, it is a good plan to recommend a temporary separation and observe the results.
Such cases as these, however, may more justly be described as parasitism than vampirism. Such psychic parasitism is exceedingly common, and explains many psychological problems. We will not pursue the subject in these pages, however, as it is outside the scope of our present enquiry, and is merely mentioned for illustrative purposes. Vampirism, as generally understood, is a very different matter, and we shall do well to reserve the term for those cases wherein the attack is deliberate, applying the term parasitism to the cases wherein it is unconscious and involuntary.
In my opinion, true vampirism cannot take place unless there is power to project the etheric double. All the records of vampirism that we have give an account of something much more tangible than a haunting. In Western Europe the occurrence seems to be comparatively rare in modern times, but in Eastern Europe and in primitive countries it appears to be by no means uncommon, and innumerable well-authenticated cases occur in books of travel.
Commander Gould, in his exceedingly interesting book, Oddities, gives an account of vampirism among the Berberlangs of the Philippine Islands. His account is based on a paper printed in the Journal of the Asiatic Society, Vol. LXV, 1896. These unpleasant people, according to Mr. Skertchley, the author of the article which Commander Gould quotes, "are ghouls, and must eat human flesh occasionally or they would die. . . . When they feel a craving for a meal of human flesh they go away into the grass, and having carefully hidden their bodies, hold their breaths and fall into a trance. Their astral bodies are then liberated. . . They fly away, and entering a house, make their way into the body of one of the occupants and feed on his entrails.
"The Berberlangs may be heard coming, as they make a moaning noise, which is loud at a distance and dies away to a feeble moan as they approach. When they are near you, the sound of their wings may be heard, and the flashing lights of their eyes can be seen dancing like fire-flies in the dark."
Mr. Skertchley declares that he himself saw and heard a flight of Berberlangs pass by, and visiting next day the house he saw them enter, found the occupant dead without any sign of external violence.
Compare Mr. Skertchley's account of the Berberlangs lying in the long grass and throwing themselves into trance with Mr. Muldoon's account of "The Projection of the Astral Body," with which every student of occultism ought to be familiar, for it is undoubtedly a classic of occult literature, being a practical account of occult experiences and detailed instructions how to go and do likewise.
But to return nearer home. In the course of my experience of the byways of the human mind, which, from the nature of my work, has been, like Sam Weller's knowledge of London, extensive and peculiar, I have only known one case of genuine vampirism, according to the sense in which I use the term, and this was not one of my own cases, though I knew the persons concerned, but was handled by my original teacher, whom I have already referred to in connection with the case of the good lady who chased me with a carving-knife. I have made use of the facts of this case as a groundwork for one of the stories in The Secrets of Dr. Taverner, but the actual facts are such that they were unsuitable for a work supposedly designed to amuse.
At that time I was doing the tutorials in abnormal psychology at the clinic I have spoken of, and supervising the work of the other students; one of them took counsel with me concerning a case that had come to her in private practice, the case of a youth in the late 'teens, one of those degenerate but intellectual and socially presentable types that not infrequently crop up in old families whose blood is too blue to be wholesome.
This lad was taken as boarder in a flat which the student shared with another woman, and they soon began to be troubled with curious phenomena. About the same time every evening the dogs in a neighbouring mews began a furious outcry of barking and howling, and a few moments later the French window leading on to the verandah would open. It did not matter how often they got the locksmith to it, nor how they barricaded it, open it would come at the appointed time, and a cold draught sweep through the flat.
This phenomenon took place one evening when the adept, Z., was present, and he declared that an unpleasant invisible entity had entered. They lowered the lights, and were able to see a dull glow in the corner he indicated, and when they put their hands into this glow, felt a tingling sensation such as is experienced when the hands are put into electrically- charged water.
Then began a mighty spook-hunt up and down the flat, and the presence was finally cornered and dispatched in the bathroom. I have staged the incident somewhat more picturesquely in my story, but the essential facts are the same. The result of the dispatching of this entity was a marked improvement in the condition of the boy patient, and the elicitation of the following story.
The boy, whom we will call D., was in the habit of going to sit with a cousin who had been invalided home from France suffering from alleged shell-shock. This young man was another scion of a worn-out stock, and it transpired that he had been caught red-handed in that unpleasant per version called necrophilia. According to the story elicited from the parents of D., this vice was not uncommon on certain sections of the Front, as were also attacks on wounded men. The authorities were taking drastic steps to put it down. Owing to family influence the cousin of D. was able to escape incarceration in a military prison, and was placed in the care of his family as a mental case, and they put him in the charge of a male nurse. It was while the male nurse was off duty that the unfortunate young D. was misguidedly employed to sit with him. It also came out that the relations between D. and his cousin were of a vicious nature, and on one occasion he bit the boy on the neck, just under the ear, actually drawing blood.
D. had always been under the impression that some "ghost" attacked him during his crises, but had not dared to say so for fear of being thought mad.
What may have been the exact percentages of neurotic taint, vice, and psychic attack, it is difficult to say, nor is it easy to decide which was the predisposing cause that opened the door to all the trouble, but one thing stood out clearly to all beholders, that with the dispatch of the psychic visitant, not only did D.'s condition clear up immediately, but after a short, sharp upheaval the cousin also recovered. The method of dispatch used by the adept, Z., was to pin the entity inside a magic circle, so that it could not get away, and then absorb it into himself through compassion. As he completed the operation, he fell over backwards unconscious. It was, in fact, the same method that I was instructed to use in dealing with my were-wolf, but it is a much more formidable task to absorb and transmute the projection of another person than to absorb one's own, and could only have been accomplished by an initiate of a very high grade, which Z. indubitably was.
His opinion concerning the case, though there was no means of obtaining independent confirmation of this, was that some Eastern European troops had been brought to the Western Front, and among these were individuals with the traditional knowledge of Black Magic for which South Eastern Europe has always enjoyed a sinister reputation among occultists. These men, getting killed, knew how to avoid going to the Second Death, that is to say, the disintegration of the Astral Body, and maintained themselves in the etheric double by vampirising the wounded. Now vampirism is contagious; the person who is vampirised, being depleted of vitality, is a psychic vacuum, himself absorbing from anyone he comes across in order to refill his depleted resources of vitality. He soon learns by experience the tricks of a vampire without realising their significance, and before he knows where he is, he is a full-blown vampire himself, vampirising others. The earth-bound soul of a vampire sometimes attaches itself permanently to one individual if it succeeds in making a functioning vampire of him, systematically drawing its etheric nutriment from him, for, since he in his turn is re-supplying himself from others, he will not die from exhaustion as victims of vampires do in the ordinary way.
Z. was of the opinion that D.'s cousin was not the primary vampire in the case, but was himself a victim. Being a youth of unstable morale, he speedily acquired the vampire tricks, and the earth-bound soul of some Magyar magician exploited him. Through his act of biting and drawing blood from the neck of his cousin, this entity became transferred to young D., preferring pastures new to the depleted resources of its previous victim. Probably it alternated between the two, for it was not constantly with D.
Exactly what Z. did we do not know, for he was exceedingly secretive concerning his methods, but in the light of subsequent knowledge I should imagine that he absorbed the etheric energy of the earthbound soul, and thus deprived it of its means of resisting the Second Death. Merely to drive the resisting soul out to the Judgment Hall of Osiris would have involved leaving behind an astral corpse, which for some time would have continued to give trouble.
It may be interesting to note in connection with this case that during the time that Miss L. was at the occult college in Hampshire we had some rather curious happenings. There was an outbreak among us of exceedingly bad "mosquito bites." The bites themselves were not poisonous, but the stabs were of such a nature that they bled freely. I remember waking up one morning to find a patch of blood the size of the palm of my hand on the pillow; it had apparently come from a small puncture just behind the angle of the jaw. Several others had similar experiences. I have never seen anything like it, either before or since, nor did it occur again after Miss L. left.
I did not tell the adept Z. about it at the time, and later, when I was reminded of the incident and mentioned it, the opportunity for investigation had gone by. He expressed the opinion that it was a vampire's work, and cited similar cases which he had met with in the course of his experience. He said he had seen cases in Africa where the victim had become so bloodless that it was with difficulty that a specimen of blood could be obtained for examination, for it could hardly be induced to flow from the debilitated tissues.
Nothing can be done for such cases by medical science. They are dying by inches, and yet no organic disease can be demonstrated. Nevertheless, their appearance is that of a person sinking from repeated hemorrhages.
When vampirism is suspected the thing to do is to go over that person's body inch by inch with a powerful magnifying glass, and the search will probably be rewarded by the discovery of numerous minute punctures, so minute that they are not discovered by an examination with the naked eye unless they reveal themselves by becoming infected and suppurating, when they are usually mistaken for insect bites. They are bites right enough, but not those of an insect. The places to look for them are around the neck, especially under the ears; down the inner surface of the forearms; on the lobes of the ears; about the tips of the toes and, in a woman, upon the breasts.
It is said that a person with vampire tendencies develops abnormally
long and sharp canine teeth, and I have myself seen one such case, and a curious
sight it was. The two canine teeth, the pair that come between the incisors
and the double teeth, were half as long again as the others, and terminated
in points of needle-like sharpness.
True vampirism in Western Europe appears to be rare, but Z. was of the opinion that many obscure cases of tropical debility in which anemia played a prominent part, might be attributed to this cause.
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