How to Ward Off Vampires and Werewolves
Belief in Things That Go Bump In the Night...
For as long as there have been human beings, there has been fear of the unknown. Certain fears of the dead have turned into fears of the undead...including that of vampires, werewolves, ghouls, and goblins of many kinds. Our ancestors dating back thousands of years had ways to protect themselves from evil spirits and sinister things that go bump in the night.
Whether it was using a specific herb or plant to ward off evil, or whether it was outright hunting the undead creature down and removing it from this earth, our ancestors were convinced that these things existed. And that we had to protect ourselves from them. Here is an encyclopedia of sorts on ancient to modern ways to ward off vampires and werewolves.
Anti-vampire Herbs and Plants
Probably one of the more popular ways to get rid of a vampire is to protect oneself using garlic. Some of our ancestors would wear a garlic rope around their necks if going out at night, while others would hang it above their front doors. Garlic was not only used to protect a household or person from the vampires, but it was also thought to protect against evil spirits of all kinds. Those evil spirits were kept at bay, as well as any illnesses or death that they might have brought with them. The ancient Egyptians even made wreaths of garlic and kept them near their children to prevent evil spirits from sucking on their lifeforce (very similar to the concept of a vampire, isn't it?) Therefore, garlic is a highly protective herb and can be used to protect oneself against the undead vampire.
Aconite (also known as wolf's bane, devil's helmet, and women's bane) is a species of flowering plants that grow in the northern hemisphere such as in Europe and are known to have been used to kill wolves. They are extremely toxic plants and have been used for centuries as poison. Because of the significance that it was used to kill wolves, it has been thought for some years that wolfsbane was also used to ward off various creatures of the night, including vampires.
Agrimony (also called Church Steeples) is a plant that is known to have been included in the vampire kits sold in the 1800s. Because of this plant's ability to aid in identifying witches, it is also used to aid in identifying vampires. It perhaps also had some sort of protective quality against vampires, and it is thought to have been used in spells to protect oneself from evil. In ancient herbal books, agrimony was thought to be able to heal eye diseases. This is perhaps why it was used in detecting or identifying witches and vampires.
Another plant that could be found in a Victorian Vampire Killing Kit, blessed thistle has been used for centuries in cleansing baths and as a means to break curses. Blessed thistle is thought to have been a sacred herb or a holy herb in that it could cure the plague. Because of its holy properties, it was also used to ward off vampires.
Hawthorn has a long history in Europe as being used to protect one's property. They were used as hedge-bushes to keep predators or pests away from one's livestock or gardens. Hawthorn has long been regarded as a sacred plant/tree to the wee folk (the faeries). These trees have very powerful protective energies and are therefore used to protect oneself from evil spirits including vampires. The original maypoles were made out of Hawthorn.
It was said that if one's scatters seeds between oneself and a vampire, that this would give you enough time to escape the vampire's thirst for blood. The reason for this is that vampires were thought to be obsessed with counting things (Hence the Count on Sesame Street). If a person would throw a bunch of seeds over the vampire's coffin or around one's home, this would distract the vampire from hunting for his next meal. Seeds used might have been: grass, carrot, rice, mustard, etc.
Other Ways to Keep Vamps Away
Because holy water was consecrated by the Holy Spirit, it was thought for many centuries to have a protective quality against evils including that of the vampire. People might have sprinkled it around their home to keep the vampires out or perhaps they even sprinkled it around the would-be-vampire's gravesite to keep it buried in the earth and unable to wreak havoc on its still-living family members.
Crucifix and Bibles
Being that vampires were thought to be the evil undead, or corpses that were inhabited by demons, a crucifix was used to keep a vampire away. This is obvious in that it represented Jesus Christ, for whom the vampires were thought to be scared of. The same rule goes for using a Bible to ward off a vamp.
Holy Soil (Consecrated Ground)
Holy soil was occasionally included in a vampire killing kit in the Victorian times. This is because holy soil was literally dirt taken from a churchyard, and therefore it was blessed soil. This was thought to be sacred and could be used to keep a vampire away. Also, it was thought that vampires could not go onto consecrated ground, which means they couldn't enter a churchyard or any other area that has been blessed by a priest.
Certain weapons were thought to have killed vampires, such as the ol' stake through the heart venture. This seems to be one of the most common ways a vampire was killed in Medieval times. Vampire hunters would also chop off a vampire's head or shoot them with a bow-and-arrow or even a pistol.
Note: Please don't attempt this today...it is illegal to desecrate a tomb or to hurt anyone (whether you believe they are a vampire or not).
Candles and Incense
Candles that have been blessed by a priest or used in a church were thought to drive vampires away, possibly because vampires were of the "dark" and candles brought light to the darkness. Holy incense was used in that the smoke was cleansing and could rid a place of all evil.
Vampires are thought to not have a soul and therefore cannot see themselves in a mirror (as a mirror was thought to show one's true self), so mirrors were posted on the doors of a home to distract a vampire from entering.
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Anti-werewolf Plants and Objects
Just as there are plants and objects that can ward off or protect from vampires, our ancestors in Northern Europe and elsewhere also believed certain things could protect from werewolves. Most of the beliefs in werewolves were prevalent in Northern European countries, and much of it was in conjunction with the belief that these werewolves were nothing more than witches who could shapeshift into the form of a wolf. The problem was that these werewolves were dangerous and would go "on the hunt" at the expense of some lone stranger in the woods. Let's learn about the ways to protect from werewolves.
Wolfsbane, also known as Aconite, was legendary for its use to kill wolves...and therefore is thought to have the ability to ward off werewolves. Aconite was also thought to be a potent protector from vampires. It had something to do with the toxins contained therein. It could kill human beings but also had a deadly effect on the undead.
Rye is a type of grain that can be found growing in fields in various places throughout the world. It is thought to be a protector against werewolves and can be grown around the home or hung up in a wreath on your front door.
Mistletoe is a plant that was regarded as a sacred plant to the ancient Celts. They would hang it on their doors or in the windows to ward off evil spirits. Perhaps from this practice, the mistletoe plant has been used to ward off werewolves. A funny fact is that the Catholic Church and other Churches refuse to bring mistletoe into their buildings, because mistletoe is so closely related to the pre-christian religions.
In modern times, Hollywood has shown us that we can kill a werewolf by shooting it with a silver bullet or by cutting off its head. However, these suggestions have no clout in historical reference. The person's only means of protection from werewolves are the plants listed above, or certain other trees grown on one's property such as the Ash tree. Some legends say that a werewolf could be cured of this "disease" by exorcism, as it was thought that an evil spirit was causing the man's transformation into a beast.
Your best bet to protect yourself from a deadly werewolf or pack of werewolves is to stay indoors on a Full Moon and never go walking in the forest by yourself at night. At least not without a pocket full of rye or mistletoe.
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© 2014 Nicole Canfield