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The belief in vampires stems from superstition and mistaken assumptions about postmortem decay.

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The first recorded accounts of vampires follow a consistent pattern: Some unexplained misfortune would befall a person, family or town — perhaps a drought dried up crops, or an infectious disease struck. Before science could explain weather patterns and germ theory, any bad event for which there was not an obvious cause might be blamed on a vampire.

Vampires were one easy answer to the age-old question of why bad things happen to good people. Villagers combined their belief that something had cursed them with fear of the dead, and concluded that perhaps the recently deceased might be responsible, having come back from the graves with evil intent.

Graves were unearthed, and surprised villagers often mistook ordinary decomposition processes for supernatural phenomenon. For example, though laypeople might assume that a body would decompose immediately, if the coffin is well sealed and buried in winter, putrefaction might be delayed by weeks or months; intestinal decomposition creates bloating which can force blood up into the mouth, making it look like a dead body has recently sucked blood.

These processes are well understood by modern doctors and morticians, but in medieval Europe were taken as unmistakable signs that vampires were real and existed among them.

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The best way to deal with vampires, of course, is to prevent them from coming back in the first place. A few centuries ago in Europe this was often accomplished by staking suspected vampires in their graves; the idea was to physically pin the vampire to the earth, and the chest was chosen because it's the trunk of the body. This tradition was later reflected in popular fiction depicting wooden stakes as dispatching vampires. There was no particular significance to using wood; according to folklore, vampires — like djinn genies and many other magical creatures — fear iron, so an iron bar would be even more effective than a wooden stake.

Other traditional methods of killing vampires include decapitation and stuffing the severed head's mouth with garlic or a brick. In fact, suspected vampire graves have been found with just such signs.

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According to a Live Science article, "The body of the woman was found in a mass grave on the Venetian island of Nuovo Lazzaretto. Whether that burial reflected an accused vampire or not, other graves are much clearer. If your local villagers neglected to unearth and stake a suspected vampire and he or she has returned from the grave, there are steps you can take to protect yourself.

The exact method varies around the world, but in some traditions the best way to stop a vampire is to carry a small bag of salt with you. If you are being chased, you need only to spill the salt on the ground behind you, at which point the vampire is obligated to stop and count each and every grain before continuing the pursuit. If you don't have salt handy, some say that any small granules will do, including birdseed or sand.

Salt was often placed above and around doorways for the same reason. Some traditions hold that vampires cannot enter a home unless formally invited in.

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This may have been an early form of the modern "stranger danger" warnings to children, a scary reminder against inviting unknown people into the house. There are, of course, a few truly vampiric animals, including leeches, lampreys and vampire bats. And in all these cases the vampire's intent is to draw enough blood for sustenance, but not enough to kill the host.

But what about human vampires?

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There are certainly many self-identified vampires who participate in gothic-inspired subcultures. Some host vampire-themed book clubs or secret bloodletting rituals; others wear capes or get vampire-fang dental implants. It's all frightening and fun, but blood drinking is another matter entirely.

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  6. The problem is that blood is toxic; because it is so rich in iron — and because the human body has difficulty excreting excess iron — anyone who consumes blood regularly runs a real risk of haemochromatosis iron overdose , which can cause a wide variety of diseases and problems, including liver and nervous system damage. In one form or another, vampires have been part of human culture and folklore in different forms for millennia, and the bloodsuckers show no signs of going away any time soon. Psychedelic Rock. Caligaris Gruselkabinett Dr. Add Review ultimathulerecords July 8, Report.

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