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How to Kill a Vampire

Now that you have your official Ernst Blomberg vampire killing kit filled with the requisite vampire killing tools, you are ready to hunt. Good. Now all you have to do is find a vampire and use the contents of your kit effectively to dispatch the nosferatu. Here are some traditional methods to achieve the goal of becoming an effective Dhampir, or vampire hunter:

Causes of Vampirism
Preventing Vampirism
Identifying Vampirism
Using the Tools

Causes of Vampirism

Knowing the traditional causes of vampirism can help you find and positively identify a potential revenant. Naturally, this varies by region, as these creatures are bound by the traditions of their own folklore.

It goes without saying that those who have been fed upon by a vampire are at immediate risk of becoming vampires. This is well established in Romanian tradition and beyond.

Slavic Regions - According to some Slavic folklore, the span of your entire life provided many opportunities to become a vampire (upir in Slavonic). Persons born with a caul (a protective membrane, considered a good omen in some cultures if handled properly) are likely to become vampires. However, this fate could be avoided by drying the caul, grinding or burning it, and feeding the ashes to the child when they reached seven years old. Apparently vampires under the age of seven are manageable.

Similarly, anyone born with teeth (especially two teeth) or a tail, or even having been conceived on certain days of the year are also at risk of becoming vampires.

Anyone that has demonstrated a talent for magic or immorality is at risk of becoming a vampire - especially if they were excommunicated. Likewise, anyone who endures a suffering death, or an unnatural or untimely death (such as suicide) will likely become a vampire soon. Finally, anyone improperly buried, or interred without observing the proper burial rituals should be considered a high risk for vampirism.

Serbia - Any Serbian who had a horrible appearance, had missing fingers or toes, or had any appendages that seemed 'similar to those of an animal' was believed to be a vampire (wampire, wampira or wukodlak to the Serbs).

A person who died alone or unseen would become almost certainly become a vampire. Once deceased, the risks increased. If a corpse swelled or turned black before burial, the risk was high. During interrment, if an animal jumps or a bird flies directly over the corpse or the empty grave, it may cause a return of that corpse.

Interestingly, in Serbia, vampirism is not exclusive to people. Dogs, cats, plants (especially melons kept indoors too long) and even agricultural tools could become vampires of sorts. Beware the hoe that walks at night in Serbia.

In the case of Serbian vampired Arnold Paole (1726), Paole and other villagers attempted to protect themselves by smearing blood (including that of a known vampire) on their bodies - this was later blamed as a cause of vampirism in the same village. Also of interest in this case was the eating of grave-dirt from a suspected vampire - believed to ward off vampirism. Other villagers reportedly became vampires after eating the meat of sheep or cattle killed by other vampires.

Bohemia At least one Bohemian vampire case was caused by a person suffering an unusually violent death. Nearby in Silesia, a suicide victim likewise became a vampire.

Southern Russia If you talk to yourself in southern Russia, you might be at risk of becoming a vampire, called a googooka In the Ukraine, having a red face or being born with a tail are certain signs. Living an evil life can also lead to vampirism.

Romania - In the motherland of vampire lore, any person born with a caul (see Slavonic regions, above), an extra nipple, a tail, or extra hair was a candidate strigoi. Any child born early or out of wedlock, or whose mother's path was crossed by a black cat is also at risk. If the pregnant mother does not eat salt, she will be considered a vampire or witch, and her child will certainly be a vampire. The seventh child, if the previous six were the same gender, will likely become a vampire.

Also at risk of becoming a vampire is anyone who dies an unnatural death, or dies or before baptism.

Finally, if you see a Romanian with red hair and blue eyes, get the stakes ready.

Greece - In Greece, being excommunicated or cursed, desecrating a religious day, or even committing a profoundly criminal act offers a ticket to becoming a Vrykolaka. Anyone who consumed meat from a wolf-killed sheep would also return.

As in Serbia, dying alone or unseen also puts Greeks at risk.

Poland - Anyone who died outside of the rites of the church was at risk of becoming a vampire. Anyone who was hyperactive or had a very red face was also a likely revenant.

Preventing Vampirism

Along with understanding the causes of vampirism, knowing what steps to take to prevent an outbreak is also a critical element of combatting the legions of the undead.

Romania - In Transylvanian tradition, the threat of vampires could be offset by twin brothers yoking a pair of twin oxen to a plow, and cutting a furrow around their village. This apparently provides protection to the entire village for a while. If the village is already being stalked by a vampire, find someone to run backwards up a hill with a lit candle and a turtle. You're very welcome.

In a home where someone has recently died and lies in repose, an egg would be broken and a iron nail would be driven into the floor beneath the funeral bier. After burial, a small group of elderly women would visit the grave the evening after the funeral and drive five pegs of hawthorn (or old knives) into the grave-earth: one over the deceased's chest, and the other four at his arms and legs. Otherwise, the women may surround the grave with a red woolen thread, set the thread alight, and wait until it was completely burned, thereby containing the vampire. Alternately, to walk around the grave on the anniversary of the vampire's death while smoking has been shown to be effective.

A Pomana, or funeral feast is required immediately after the funeral, and also after a fortnight, then at six weeks, and then on each anniversary of the death for the next seven years. Another Pomana is required if the deceased appears to a family member in dreams. Failure to comply will typically result in the deceased becoming a strigoi.

According to Olcott, vampire expert Dr. Scoffern described an effictive method for stopping a vampire’s ravages wherein the the grave of the vampire is beaten with a hazel twig by a virgin of not less than twenty-five years old.

According to N. I. Dumitrascu, the bones of a suspected vampire in Romania would be disinterred, sprinkled with wine, and reinterred with a church service and prayers. This was effective in preventing further outbreaks.

On St. Andrew's Eve, all lamps must be extinquished, and all objects in the house turned upside-down, so that if a vampire comes, it cannot ask any of the objects to open the door. On St. George's Eve, shirts should be worn inside-out (I have seen this practice used to confuse other supernatural beings in Europe). You should sleep in your bed upside-down, with a knife or scythe under your head, sharp edge outward.

Serbia - In 1726, Arnold Paole (or Arnod Paole, Arnont Paule) suspected that he had contracted vampirism. As a cure, he ate soil from the vampire's grave, and smeared himself with the vampire's blood. Perhaps the blood was not a good idea. He later broke his neck (see sudden/unexpected deaths) and returned as a very well documented vampire. Five years later, the application of blood was blamed in turning a villagewoman named Stana into a vampire after her death.

Poland - Having found a local vampire, the Polish would take the blood of the vampire and mix it with flour, then bake this dough into bread. The bread was throught to be a cure for anyone who had been bitten by the vampire. Dom Calmet cites the 'blood bread' as a preventative, to be consumed by family members. A similar remedy was observed in the Mercy Brown case, in which the heart and liver of the suspected vampire were burnt, and their ashes mixed with water, to be consumed. This is not always effective.

Generally, the sign of the cross can be made over a suspected vampire's mouth to prevent it from rising, or by having a small cross or coin placed in its mouth. A block of wood may be placed under the chin to prevent it from reaching and eating its burial shroud. Adding a net, or a bag of sand/poppy seeds would also keep the vampire tangled or busy counting in its coffin.

Bohemia - In 1344, a woman of the village of Lewin was suspected of being a vampire. Upon exhumation, it was found that she had 'devoured more than half of her veil,' which is consistent with the Polish belief of vampires eating their burial shrouds. This account was told by Wenceslaus Haecius in his Böhmische Chronica over a hundred years later. Czech vampires are often believed to posess two hearts, echoing the duality of their souls in natural/supernatural behavior.

Identifying Vampirism

Even in cases where vampiric activity is assured, it may take some sleuthing to positively identify the revenant, or just as effectively, its grave. Again, techniques and traditions vary by geographic region. Perhaps the most conclusive method, described by Olcott in 1891, is to drive a stake through the heart of the corpse - if it cries out or writhes in agony, it is a vampire. Generally, any corpse displaying uncharacteristic 'ruddiness' or 'healthiness' in the grave (including the fresh skin of adipocere, growth of hair, teeth, and nails) is certainly a nosferatu.
Romania - A white horse will not cross the grave of a vampire, but instead will stamp and fuss before it, and will not pass over it. According to Florescu/McNally, horses are known for their ability to smell the undead. A gander will also not cross the grave of a vampire. Dom Calmet stipulates that the rider should be a virginal young boy, mounted bare-backed on a 'stallion, yet-chaste, and perfectly black." This is the only reference I have observed to both the rider and horse being virgins.

The souls of vampires are considered to be incarnated in death's-head moths, as well as some butterflies. (These should be impaled with a pin.)

Other indicators - the suspected vampire's family/livestock die off rapidly, he returns from the dead to visit his family. Often, a hole (about the size of a serpent) is found near the vampire's tombstone. This is used by the vampire when leaving the grave.

Romanian vampires cannot drown, as they always float. They also have special powers over the rain, causing storms or drought.

Names - strigoi/strigoica (male/female), moroii or the Wallachian murony, varcolaci and svarcolaci, pricolici, siscoi (Transylvanian), oper (Ruthenian), vidme (Bukovina), and possibly diavoloace and vidme, which have horns.

According to Florescu/McNally, the term 'strigoi' originated in the prose of revered Romanian-language poet Ion (Creanga) Budai-Deleanu (1760-1820) in his work Tiganiada (Gypsy Epic), derived from the Latin 'strix' meaning hag or goblin.

Slavic Regions - Vampires may appear as butterflies (as in Romania, above), echoing an earlier belief of the butterfly symbolizing a departed soul.

In the regions of Bohemia and Moravia, the posessions of a vampire would be seen to move about by themselves.

In the southern Slavic regions, a vampire was believed to develop through several distinct physical forms. During its first forty days, it began out as an 'invisible shadow,' gradually gaining strenght from feeding on human blood. From that form, it would progress to become a nearly invisible jelly-like boneless mass. Only after continued feeding would it become of fully human form, matching the appearance of the deceased. Such a vampire could now blend in with other humans, and even father children who would very likely become vampires themselves. These children of vampires also had the ability to see (and effectively hunt) all vampires. The most effective of these vampire-fathered hunters (dhampir) were born on Saturday.

Names - upir or up'rin the old Bohemian language, similar to the Polish upior Apparently based on the older Slavic root opyrbi, or opji/wupji. Also viesci/vjeszczi or njetop.

Ukraine - Ukrainian vampires are distinguished by their red faces and the presence of a tiny tail. There were cases (during cholera outbreaks) in the 19th century where this was conclusive enough to cause people to be taken and burned alive.

Names - Googooka in southern Russia. Similar to the Polish names, upier or upior are used in the Ukraine and Byelorussia.

Serbia - Vampires in the Kosovo area are generally invisible to most people, but can be seen by a twin brother and sister born on a Saturday who wear their clothes inside out. An entire village could be protected by these twins, who could also see the vampire outdoors at night, after which the vampire was obliged to flee.

Names - wampire, wampira or wukodlak in Serbian.

Greece - Conclusive identification of vrykolaka is difficult, since Greek vampires were usually thought to be indistinguishable from normal people. Greek vampires, once discovered, were often taken across the sea to a remote island for reburial, as this prevented the creature from returning.
Names - varcolac, vrykolaka, or the more contemporary bronkolakas.

Poland - Historically, vampires in Poland are identified by their movement in their coffins, especially if they have been eating their burial shroud. They generally may appear between noon and midnight, often seen near crossroads. It may also be found ringing a church bell at night, which will only be heard by their next victims.

Names - upier or upior for males, upierzyca for female vampires.

Using the Tools

Saturday is generally the best day to kill a vampire, as on all other days it will be wandering at night. Avoid St. Andrew's Eve and St. George's Eve, when they are considered to be the most active.
Usage and Technique
The Stake

Using a mallet (or bare-handed), the stake is typically to be driven into the heart of the suspected vampire. In Russia or northern Germany, the creature is staked through the mouth, as 'pinning' to the grave is effective. Dom Calmet specifically cites an account of a vampire where villagers "fastened it to the ground by driving a stake through it." In some regions of north-eastern Serbia, there are reports of stakes being used through the stomach.

Since 'noisesome exhalations' are likely to occur, prepare to be startled. Worse yet, 'other wild signs' may occur, and may include the sudden turgidity of certain male elements. Ahem. Blood from the nose, ears and mouth are often common, especially if the vampire has recently fed.

Historically, the wood of choice varies by region. Hawthorn (glog in Bulgarian) is preferred in Serbia, oak in Silesia, and Holly in other parts of eastern Europe. 'White thorn' is referenced as being used in Bohemia. Ash (which is similar to oak) is used in Russia and the Baltic states. Gypsies of Romania would occasionally substitute iron spikes for a stake. Similarly, the Greeks would pierce the heart of a slumbering vampire with iron nails. There are also reports of swords being used for this purpose, and even iron forks in Zarnesti Often, the vampire is reburied facing downward to prevent it from rising to the surface again.

One noteworthy exception to the effectiveness of staking is the case of 'The Blow (alternately Blov or Blau) Vampire' in Bohemia in 1336. In this case, when the vampire (named Myslata) was staked through the heart, it said "They hurt me much, when they gave me a stick to defend myself from the wolves." Subsequent cremation was successful.
Usage referenced in Romania by Emily Gerard in 1888. Used (successfully) in the case of Peter Plogojowitz in Kisilova, Serbia in 1725. Serbian vampire Arnold Paole was put down by a stake (with much groaning and bleeding) and burning in 1726.
Pistol Vampires in the Balkans could reportedly be killed by a shot. Emily Gerard documented the use of a pistol-shot through the coffin to kill a lesser vampire in Romania (Transylvania). One account of a German Blomberg text provides detailed instructions for firing a pistol 'downward,' which is consistent with this technique.
In 1888, Emily Gerard documented this technique being common in Transylvania.
Garlic In Romania, garlic would be placed in the mouth of the suspected vampire, often in combination with other practices (such as decapitation, below). European folklore considered garlic to be a powerful tool in warding off vampires (and other evils), often hung on windows or rubbed into keyholes and on chimneys to 'lock' the house. Windows should be 'annointed' with garlic in the sign of the cross, and kept shut. Powdered garlic (common to many kits) can also be cast about to ward off evil.

By some accounts, millet seed may be used like garlic.
Called 'Usturoi' in the old Romanian.
Crucifix Forcefully displaying a crucifix reportedly causes some discomfort to vampires, which may aid in identification and protection from the undead. By some accounts, faith is a critical element to this approach. Vampire movies suggest that direct contact of the crucifix on the vampire is a severe deterrent, often causing burns. However, I have found no folkloric accounts to support this belief.
Effective on Greek vampires, but that may require an orthodox crucifix.
Rose In Romania, a cutting of wild rose would be laid across the coffin, its thorns intended to keep the vampire from rising.

Vampire expert Dr. Scoffern recommends the grave be beaten with a hazel twig by a virgin older than twenty-five.
Observed in Romania by Emily Gerard in 1888.
Cremation Cremation of the heart, then scattering the ashes over the grave was common in Romania. Cremation and scattering of the entire vampire is the tactic of last resort in Greece, since the Church opposed burning people who had been baptised.

In the Romanian case of Dinu Gheorghita, the vampiric problems persisted until the heart was removed, burned, and the ashes mixed with water for the children to drink.

In Bohemia, it was believed that the vampire would only burn successfully if the firewood included thatching from a church.

While effective, cremation of vampires may create other problems - Dom Calmet describes a case wherein a vampire was set alight: "The corpse screamed most furiously, shook his feet and hands as if alive, and when they thrust stakes again through him, he roared loudly, and discharged large quantities of florid blood."
Cremation is supremely effective, since according to Olcott, "there are no vampires save in countries where the dead are buried." Following staking, Serbian vampire Arnold Paole was reduced to ashes in 1726, effectivly ending his career as a revenant. Likewise, 'The Blow Vampire' of Bohemia (1336) was ultimately put down by cremation after staking was less than successful (as documented by Neplach in Summula chronicae tam Romanae quam Bohemicae, first compiled in 1356).
Decapitation Decapitation - Preferred in Germany and western Slavic regions. Actual decapitation is more difficult than depictions in film, and especially sharp implements (knife, axe, or shovel) will be helpful. This kit included a serious cleaver, clearly up to the task. If the vampire has progressed to a more pronounced state of 'transformation' in the grave, the acidopere may be easier to cut than normal skin. Expect a mess and consider bringing a change of clothing.

This practice is made even more effective by reburying the head either between the feet, under the body, or seperately altogether. Care should be taken to position the head face-down, which prevents it from chewing back to the surface.

In Transylvania, the head of a stubborn vampire would be cut off, the mouth filled with garlic, and returned to the grave.
Widely documented, including Gerards's commentaries. Decapitation was also effective in the cases subsequent to Arnold Paole in Medveda, Serbia, on January 7, 1732. Prior to his treatise on vampires Dom Calmet also documented the beheading of a suspected vampire in Poland. The vampire, who had served Count Simon Labienski, was grinning and displayed movement in its grave. Its blood was taken on a handkerchief, and those in attendance drank from it to end the problem.
Pins Pins - The vampires body or clothing could be spiked to the earth with large pins (similar to staking) to prevent the creature from rising. In Romania, gypsies would use iron needles in the heart, mouth, eyes, ears or between fingers to inhibit a return. Pins of hawthorn were used for similar purpose.

In Bohemia, pins or nails were driven into the skull of the suspected vampire. This practice could be combined with decapitation for extra effectiveness.
Common in Romania. In Poland, a nail would often be driven into the vampire's forehead. Pinning in Bohemia was documented for the Austrian emperor by the Count de Cadreras around 1720 while gathering information on events at the village of Haidam.
Lemon Placed in the mouth of the (presumably deceased) potential vampire in Saxon regions of Germany. It is unclear if this method is effective on a confirmed vampire.
Rarely seen outside of Saxon regions.
Holy Water Blessed water is universally esteemed for its ability to turn the forces of evil, including vampires. Either applied to the undead at a distance (with prayer), or to be injected, or modernly, applied by super-soaker. Called Agheazma in old Romanian. Possibly used in conjuction with holy annointing oil, called Mir in old Romanian. In Greece, bread blessed in the church, called antidoron, could ward off the undead.

In one Romanati case, the vampire was disinterred, and undressed. His clothing was returned to the coffin and doused with holy water, and then the grave was closed. The body, and seperately the heart, were burned elsewhere.
Widely seen, including a Polish account of settling a vampire by applying holy water to its grave earth.
Syringe and Formulas Seen together in some Blomberg kits, presumably for injection of holy water or Blomberg's New Serum into the body of the suspected vampire. One account of a German text provides the ingredients, which include holy water, garlic extract, honey, and salt. Other alchemical powdered compounds abound in these kits, but most do not lend themselves to injection.
Seen in some kits, but largely unrepresented in folklore.
Alchemical Powders Most observed vampire killing kits include a wide selection of archane compounds of ancient origin. A partial list would include Vampirism (white powder, presumably a cure), Emetic Tartar for Putric Fever, Verde-Gris, Agrimony (herb), Elixir of Vitriol, Daffy's Elixir for Purging (emetic), Dr. Anthony's Fire, Dr. Boerhaave's Fever Powder, Tincture of Jalap, Brimstone (sulfur), and Cardvus Benedictuse.
See Contents of Vampire Killing Kits for detailed descriptions of these compounds.
Holy Soil Presumably to be sprinkled into the grave of a suspected vampire to sanctify the soil, it is called Pamant in old Romanian. Probably obtained from a consecrated churchyard.
Consecrated soil goes along with proper burial ritual. Arnold Paole (Serbia, died 1726) consumed earth from a vampire's grave as a cure for his presumed vampirism. It didn't work.
Candle/Holy Incense

Blessed candles or holy incense may be lit, presumably to repel evil.
Occasionally seen, largely in support of proper burial rituals, epecially in orthodox faith.
Presumabaly included to strengthen the fortitude of the vampire killers. Use of rosary is also presumably a component in successful completion of some proper burial rituals.
Occasionally seen in kits.
Forceps/Pliers A specialized set of orthodontic pliers called (or maufactured by) Dentol, specifically designed for pulling teeth (especially fangs) has been observed once, but seems to be a more modern accessory. While pulling the teeth of a vampire would presumably reduce its effectiveness (and possibly its undead social status), it would not kill the vampire outright. This approach is only recommended if you are enjoying the vampire's company.
Found in this Blomberg kit.
Knife Useful for the practice of decapitating a suspected vampire, but such a task is easier said than done with a sharp axe. If your kit has a knife, it had better be a really big knife. Chances are, knives are valued more for their general utility in opening wooden coffins, etc.
Occasionally seen.
Prayer Book/Bible A prayer book, called chirilica in Romanian, can strengthen the resolve of aspiring vampire killers. Other kits include a Bible. Other than the Lord's Prayer, it is not clear what verses may be most effective in turning the undead.
A Romanian prayer book may be seen here.

Good luck, and happy hunting.