Revenants and dhampirs


In his brief on vampiric lore, Donald Morse mentions two variants of vampiric figures who have been adopted by recent popular fiction; the revenant and the dhampir.

On revenants, he writes:

“The vampire usually attacks family members and friends… two other types of vampires exist. One is the typical Dracula kind: intelligent, suave and romantic. He can select others and convert them into his type vampire by an elaborate blood transferral ritual between the vampire and the initiate. The other type of vampire is any one bitten by a vampire without ceremony. That type is called a revenant. He is unsophisticated and has a very hard ‘life’. He bites and ‘kills’ anyone in sight. Those he bites, become revenants. Unlike a true vampire, a revenant’s body decomposes. As a result, he is more monstrous-appearing. Revenants are responsible for vampire epidemics. The vampire’s trusted helper (who guards his coffin, procures necessities for him, and keeps away others) is a revenant.  Aside from his personal revenant, the vampire is a loner.” (186)

Morse presents this information as ‘the’ story, which clearly it is not (oral legends shift and morph in many ways), but there are concepts here – that of the LONER, for example, as opposed to one with FAMILY AND FRIENDS (which raises consideration of how the vampire treats family and friends – and the community that exists around a dead person…); this idea of PHYSICAL DECAY (as opposed to IMMORTAL PERFECTION AND YOUTH) is also interesting!

On dhampirs, he writes:

“The child of a marriage between an invisible vampire and a gypsy is known as a dhampir. A dhampir is the only person who can destroy an invisible vampire. The destruction is performed during an elaborate ceremony. The dhampir: blows his nose; turns in all directions; whistles; darts in a hunting mode; strips to his underwear; displays his shirt; peers through his shirt; attacks the unseen vampire; whistles again; and announces the vampire’s destruction. As bizarre as this appears, it has been practiced well into the twentieth century.” (188) Bizarre, yes – and I think Richelle Mead’s version is infinitely more fun (and possibly draws on more exciting sources), but anyway, Morse continues: “In 1959, a vampire-killing by a dhampir was reported in the balkans.” (188-189; his reference is to Garden, N. Vampires. J.B. Lippincott, Philadelphia, 1973))

I’m sure there are more interesting sources to follow, but this one caught my eye. It also amused me, but the point of interest to me here is the focus on BREEDING between natural and ‘unnatural’ beings; the POWER OF SUCH BIOLOGY and the suggestion that SLAYING IS AN INHERITANCE….

Ref: Donald Morse (1993) ”The stressful kiss: a biopsychosocial evaluation of the origins, evolution, and societal significance of vampirism’ Stress Medicine 9; 181-199


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