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"Mind you do not slip, for the road behind and ahead is wet with blood. Man-robbers are now more numerous than gold-robbers. If they are intent of robbing people of reason and awareness, what then will they make of him who is unaware of himself?" -- Jalal Al-din Rumi The Reality of Immortality The vampire is immortal. The vampire defies death. The vampire can give the gift, or curse, of immortality to other men and women. That is the essence of the vampire "myth." Some religious adherents insist that their God lives, today, in human form, but immortal. Many past religions insisted that their God lived and claimed immortality for him. Only a few religious systems, notably Judaism, Islam, and some forms of Buddhism, worship an abstract God that has no divine, immortal, human counterpart on earth. The materialistic, naturalistic (and sometimes atheistic) world-view that developed in Europe in this millennium rejected all these claims. Most scholars went so far as to deny that immortal religious figures like Hercules, Romulus, Osiris and Jesus Christ ever had a real existence. They claimed that these figures were mythological creations of the human imagination. In particular, since the Christians had already convinced most people that Greek, Roman, and other gods were mythological, scholars wrote many a book trying to convince people that Jesus Christ either never existed or, if he did exist, did not rise from the dead. But scientists today are beginning to make immortality imaginable even for those of us born mortal. A recent Scientific American article surveying publicly known research [Why Do We Age? by Ricki L. Rusting, December, 1992, p. 130] offers a variety of experimental ways of extending life well into a second century. Most important, research verifies that there is a strong genetic component to longevity: each species of life has a basic life-span, within which is some degree of variation. Perhaps the ancient Gods, including those discussed in this book, were merely exceptionally endowed men and women. Perhaps they lived to be 120 in an age when living to be 40 was unusual. Or perhaps they lived far longer; some may be alive today, two millennia or more after their births. Later chapters will focus on the historical record. What I say here must remain, at present, speculation: a consideration of possibilities. This book will focus on those men and women claiming to have been humans who somehow triumphed over death. I cannot claim to say much about vampires in general: perhaps only a few have tried, or been successful, at setting themselves up as gods. If there were more immortals, perhaps they found life to be better posing as businessmen, or as bums, rather than posing as gods or sages. But to look for vampires in the historical record, they must be in it; and religious cults of sufficient size tend to show up in the history books. The Resurrection of the Dead Consider one definition of a vampire: "a corpse that becomes reanimated" [Webster's New World Dictionary]. In most of the cases of beings claiming to be Gods presented in this book, Godhood came only after death. Therefore it is often assumed that immortality was in the spirit, not in the flesh. Those who deny that vampires exist claim that "the spirit" was memories of the living, perhaps in dreams or a result of temporary schizophrenia. When Krishna, Orpheus, or the Blessed Virgin Mary appears to someone in our present time, the skeptics again call it a hallucination or dream. Many people, however, maintain that the spirit is something separable from the body. They might argue that since a voice can be sent by radio waves, and a computer's intelligence stored on a magnetic tape, perhaps some medium exists that supports human consciousness, apart from the brain. In that case, presumably, longevity or immortality would rest on the nature of the medium and the coherence of the mind and personality. But against this whole theory is the plain claim that the corpses of the ancient gods were, in fact, reanimated. Skeptics claim that, since reanimation is impossible, either they were not really, totally dead, or those with a stake in the nascent religion hid the dead body and lied about it. Certainly in ancient times, as in the present day, some people came so close to death that those who observed them genuinely believed they had perished. And certainly men lie, especially when their egos or livelihoods are at risk. In the world of plants and animals, however, reanimation is a much more common feat. Many animals can regenerate a lost limb or tail as easily as humans can heal a flesh wound. Most children have observed a mosquito or fly that, having been swatted and left for dead, has resurrected itself. Perhaps some humans have that ability. Then there is the possibility that we are not dealing, in the case of vampire-gods, with humans at all. Perhaps they are a distinct species, related to man as man is related to gorillas. Or the gods were a result of a mating between immortal beings and ordinary humans, as is claimed in the stories of Dionysus, Hercules, Jesus Christ and others. Perhaps the rash of women claiming to have been abducted by UFO's in the past two decades will find that their children are immortal or have unusual abilities. One informant who claims to know real "vampires," humans who do not age or age only slowly, says that while they are not sure what causes their condition, a common theory is that it is simply a rare and recessive gene or set of genes. This could explain why most immortals chronicled in this book were the result of some sort of sexual liaison that today is considered incest. The most common circumstances were men mating with their female descendants, and sisters mating with their brothers, both of which would tend to make a recessive gene manifest (and in fact usually results not in immortality, but in degeneration). The incestuous relations of the Greek gods are well known, as was the habit of the Egyptian pharaohs of marrying their sisters, perhaps modeling themselves on Isis/Osiris/Horus. Holy Grail or Night of the Living Dead? The title of this book is: Vampires or Gods? For the ordinary person, this is the crucial question. One definition of Gods that fits our subjects is "various beings conceived as supernatural, immortal, and having special powers over the lives and affairs of people" [ibid]. However, with the rise of monotheism each religious cult claimed its particular God was the Supreme and only Deity. A Roman or Greek had several Gods to choose from, and might, in good judgement, at one point serve Mars and at another Venus. Modern worshippers usually put all their eggs in one basket. To believe that rising from the dead is sufficient to be credentialed as the Supreme Being is to put yourself at grave risk. You may not be worshipping a God, but a vampire. The vampire, to preserve its own immortality, is likely to be more interested in your soul or life energy than in mere blood. Or, if vampires have no special spiritual qualities, they may be interested in servants for their worldly empires. Blood and Wine Because of the fame of Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, many people are aware of the (perhaps mythological) particular case of a man who rose from the dead: Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (not Transylvania, though he spent part of his childhood there), also known as Dracula, the son of Dracul (from the Romanian word for Dragon). The idea that vampires drink blood is closely associated with Dracula, whose resurrection from the dead was correctly seen by the Wallachian and Transylvanian peasants (who had been pagans) as directly prefigured by Jesus Christ's meal of blood and human flesh just before his crucifixion. Dracul and Dracula introduced Catholicism to Wallachia; the Order of the Dragon promised eternal life to those nobles who would forcibly convert their subjects to Catholicism. Dracula did not claim to be a God. Very likely only a few immortals find that convenient. Instead he went on to be a powerful figure in the Catholic Church, largely responsible for its successful Inquisition in Spain and the conquest of the New World. Rumors abound that to this day he lives in the Vatican and acts as an adviser to the Popes. However, drinking blood does not appear to be a recipe for immortality. Many people have tried drinking human or animal blood and found that it has no effect upon the aging process. Most of the Immortals examined in this book have no reputation for drinking blood, though a few do. Many, however, (Mithras and Krishna, for example) are warrior Gods who encourage men to spill their blood in battle. And others such as Dionysus and Jesus were closely associated with drinking wine. Others derived their resurrection from the powers of their wife or mother. Before the Roman/Greek era female gods were perhaps commoner than male gods, but little written material remains from that epoch. Cybele is one woman who was believed to have achieved immortality after starting as a human; this was attributed to her baptism in the blood of a bull. Fangs, Bats & Etc. I should say a word about fangs. Movie vampires always have them. None of the vampires discussed in this book, not even Prince Dracula, were depicted with fangs before or after death. The most natural source of this idea is, of course, the need to break the skin to drink blood; for which the fangs of various carnivorous animals doubtless served as models. But the mythical aspect is better served by the association of many vampire-gods, especially Dionysus, with fanged snakes. Bats are now associated with vampires, and not just through Dracula. There are the infamous vampire bats of South America that bite cattle and then lick up the blood with their tongues. But they are not immortal. Very likely the fact that bats spread rabies, which seems to cause a demonic frenzy in humans, contributed to this myth. Many of the vampire-gods were associated with animals, but none with bats. Jesus Christ could appear as a dove (though more often he was called the Lamb of God) and Quetzalcoatl was also represented as a bird/snake. Even the lowly mosquitoes and biting flies probably contributed to current vampire-lore. But the purpose of this book is not to attempt to dispel every accreted article of myth, but to clarify the central truths about the vampire-gods. I would not claim that all immortals are inherently evil. There is much evidence that some immortals dislike the exploitation of mortal humans by their unscrupulous brethren. Claims abound of the many ways some immortals have helped humans. But this may be the ancient, vampire's equivalent of modern corporate advertising campaigns. Hypocrisy has always had a field day in the religious domain. Vampires may care no more for humans than many humans care for animals. I have put forward many ideas in this short introduction. I believe it is important for people to examine the evidence for themselves, and form their own conclusions. In fact, this entire book can only introduce the topic. Many of our immortals have had volumes written about them, and many men and women claiming to be gods have been ignored herein because of a poverty of information about them. Hopefully those who want to pursue the subject further will find the list of sources at the end of each chapter helpful, as well as the general references at the end of this book. "Paranoia is knowing what is really going on." -- William S. Burroughs
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