Vampire

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Incubus, 1870, artist unknown
Vampire by Edvard Munch.

Vampires, in mythological or folkloric lore, are beings who subsist by feeding on the life essence (generally in the form of blood) of living creatures. Theosophical literature explains that this mythological concept is based on real occult phenomena and describes a variety of entities, both embodied and disembodied, that can act in this way.

General description

In writing about the subject, H. P. Blavatsky stated:

The "vampire" theory can hardly be a superstition altogether. Throughout all Europe, in Germany, Styria, Moldavia, Servia, France and Russia, those bodies of the deceased who are believed to have become vampires, have special exorcismal rites established for them by their respective Churches. Both the Greek and Latin religions think it beneficent to have such bodies dug out and transfixed to the earth by a pole of aspen-tree wood.[1]

From an occult point of view a vampire is an entity who feeds from the vitality of living creatures. The common reference to blood is due to the fact that the latter is the physical manifestation of kama-prana, the vital principle that maintains the animal and human bodies alive. In Mme. Blavatsky's words:

The circulation of Life, Prâna, through the Body is by way of the Blood. It is the vital Principle in us, Prânic rather than Prâna, and is closely allied to Kâma and to the Linga-Sharîra. The essence of the Blood is Kâma, penetrated by Prâna, which is universal on this plane. When Kâma leaves the Blood it congeals.[2]

Theosophical teachings state that human beings can act as vampires either while alive or after death. In addition, non-human entities such as the "shells" can behave in a similar way.

Embodied vampires

In answering the question "What is the rationale of 'Vampirism'?" Mme. Blavatsky answered:

[It is] the involuntary transmission of a portion of one’s vitality, or life-essence, by a kind of occult osmosis from one person to another—the latter being endowed, or afflicted rather, with such vampirizing faculty. . . . [This] is a blind and mechanical process, generally produced without the knowledge of either the absorber, or the vampirized party. It is conscious or unconscious black magic, as the case may be. For in the case of trained adepts and sorcerers, the process is produced consciously and with the guidance of the Will. In both cases the agent of transmission is a magnetic and attractive faculty, terrestrial and physiological in its results, yet generated and produced on the four-dimensional plane—the realm of atoms.[3]

As an example of this, Mme. Blavatsky pointed to Mme. Frederica Hauffe, who was known as the "Seeress of Prevost":

The seeress was very plainly a magnetic vampire, who absorbed by drawing to herself the life of those who were strong enough to spare her their vitality in the shape of volatilized blood. Dr. Kerner remarks that these persons were all more or less affected by this forcible loss.[4]

The "volatilized blood" may refer symbolically to the principle of kama-prana or to an actual dematerialization of matter, which is known to be possible in the Occult Science.

Psychic vampire

C. W. Leadbeater's view

C. W. Leadbeater explained the phenomenon of "vampirism" in a more detailed way. Due to a lack of elasticity in their Linga-Sharîra (etheric body), those affected cannot assimilate the vitality they gain from food, air, and the sun, and become an "sponge" unconsciously draining those who are around:

One who has thus the misfortune to be an unconscious vampire may be compared to a gigantic sponge, always ready to absorb any amount of specialised vitality which it can obtain. If he confines himself to seizing upon the bluish-white radiations, which every normal person throws out, he will do no harm, for the matter of which these are composed has already been received and dealt with by the person from whose aura it is taken. But usually this is not all that he takes, for on the approach of the vampire this outpouring is greatly stimulated by his drawing force, so that not only the already-utilised bluish-white fluid is lost, but by intense suction the whole circulation of the vitality through the body of the victim is so hastened that the rose-coloured matter is drawn out with the refuse through all the pores of the body, and the unfortunate original owner has not time to assimilate it; so that a capable vampire can drain a person of the whole of his strength in a visit of a few minutes.[5]

This absorption of other people's vitality, however, does not really help the vampire, since it is immediately lost:

If such a person were helped by the strength which he draws from his healthier friends, one might at least regard it as an act of charity to allow him to deplete one; but the fact is that these unfortunate people are themselves incapable of retaining what they take, so that they gain nothing from the transaction, while their hapless victims lose health and strength.[6]
The vampire invariably wastes the substance which he thus nefariously acquires. It rushes through him and is dissipated again without proper assimilation, so that his ever-present thirst is never satiated.[7]

Regarding how they can be helped, C. W. Leadbeater wrote:

The only thing that can really be done to help a confirmed unconscious vampire is to supply the vitality for which he craves in strictly limited quantities, while endeavouring, by mesmeric action, to restore the elasticity of the etheric double, so that the perpetual suction and corresponding leakage shall no longer take place. Such a leakage invariably flows through every pore of the body on account of this lack of etheric elasticity-- not through a sort of tear or wound in the etheric body, as some students have supposed; indeed, the idea of anything in the nature of a permanent tear or wound is incompatible with the conditions of etheric matter and the constitution of the etheric double.[8]
As to the protection against them, he says that to create "A strong [etheric] shell is one way of guarding oneself against such vampirism, and there are many people for whom at present it may be the only way open".[9]

Disembodied vampires

There is also another phenomena described as "vampirism" by Theosophical authors that does not involve embodied people. In her Theosophical Glossary, Mme. Blavatsky refers to the Russian folklore on vampires, the "vurdalak" (вурдалак):

Voordalak (Slav.). A vampire; a corpse informed by its lower principles, and maintaining a kind of semi-life in itself by raising itself during the night from the grave, fascinating its living victims and sucking out their blood.[10]

In a footnote to the article "Notes on Modern Egyptian Theosophy" she states the vurdalaks "are the Vampire shells, the Elementaries who live a posthumous life at the expense of their living victims".[11] Elementaries and Shells are two kinds of vampires; they are not physical beings but what common folklore would call "spirits".

Elementaries

According to the Theosophical teachings those who are killed or die suddenly in an accident, if strongly attached to the earthly life and its passions, may become disembodied psychic vampires or elementaries. In one of The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett the Mahatma K.H. wrote:

If sinful and sensual they wander about — (not shells, for their connection with their two higher principles is not quite broken) — until their death-hour comes. Cut off in the full flush of earthly passions which bind them to familiar scenes, they are enticed by the opportunities which mediums afford, to gratify them vicariously. They are the Pisachas, the Incubi, and Succubi of mediaeval times. The demons of thirst, gluttony, lust and avarice, — elementaries of intensified craft, wickedness and cruelty; provoking their victims to horrid crimes, and revelling in their commission! They not only ruin their victims, but these psychic vampires, borne along by the torrent of their hellish impulses, at last, at the fixed close of their natural period of life — they are carried out of the earth's aura into regions where for ages they endure exquisite suffering and end with entire destruction.[12]

There is another kind of elementary that is usually more dangerous. Mme. Blavatsky refers to soulless personalities condemned to the eighth sphere who manage to escape their fate:

When, through vice, fearful crimes and animal passions, a disembodied spirit has fallen to the eighth sphere — the allegorical Hades, and the gehenna of the Bible — the nearest to our earth — he can, with the help of that glimpse of reason and consciousness left to him, repent; that is to say, he can, by exercising the remnants of his will-power, strive upward, and like a drowning man, struggle once more to the surface. . . . A strong aspiration to retrieve his calamities, a pronounced desire, will draw him once more into the earth’s atmosphere. Here he will wander and suffer more or less in dreary solitude.[13]

These entities frequently become vampires:

His instincts will make him seek with avidity contact with living persons. . . . These spirits are the invisible but too tangible magnetic vampires; the subjective dæmons so well known to mediæval ecstatics, nuns, and monks.[14]
If there is still a magnetic relation existing between the vampire (elementary) and its buried physical body, it will return to the grave. If there is no such relation, it will follow other attractions. It craves for a body, and if it cannot find a human body, it may be attracted to that of an animal. The gospel account of the swine into which Jesus drove the “evil spirits” may be a fable in its historical application, but it is a truth, not only a possibility, with reference to many such parallel cases.[15]

Shells

Another kind of psychic vampire are "shells," the psychic remnants of the Ego left behind upon entering Devachan. Mme. Blavatsky wrote:

The three higher principles, grouped into one, merge into the state of Devachan . . . and the eidolon of the ex-Personality is left alone in its new abode. Here, the pale copy of the man that was, vegetates for a period of time, the duration of which is variable and according to the element of materiality which is left in it, and which is determined by the past life of the defunct. Bereft as it is of its higher mind, spirit and physical senses, if left alone to its own senseless devices, it will gradually fade out and disintegrate. But, if forcibly drawn back into the terrestrial sphere whether by the passionate desires and appeals of the surviving friends or by regular necromantic practices-one of the most pernicious of which is mediumship--the “spook” may prevail for a period greatly exceeding the span of the natural life of its body. Once the Kamarupa has learnt the way back to living human bodies, it becomes a vampire, feeding on the vitality of those who are so anxious for its company. In India these eidolons are called Pisâchas, and are much dreaded, as already explained elsewhere.[16]
Bereft as it is of its higher mind, spirit and physical senses, if left alone to its own senseless devices, it will gradually fade out and disintegrate. But, if forcibly drawn back into the terrestrial sphere whether by the passionate desires and appeals of the surviving friends or by regular necromantic practices-one of the most pernicious of which is mediumship--the “spook” may prevail for a period greatly exceeding the span of the natural life of its body. Once the Kamarupa has learnt the way back to living human bodies, it becomes a vampire, feeding on the vitality of those who are so anxious for its company. In India these eidolons are called Pisâchas, and are much dreaded.[17]

The Vampire shells may feed from the vitality in people and animals, or directly absorb the non-physical emanations from spilled blood:

Nothing likes to starve: each body as well as each principle has a powerful attraction and craving for those elements which are necessary for its subsistence. The principles of lust, gluttony, envy, avarice, revenge, intemperance, etc., will rush blindly to the place to which they are attracted and where their craving can be temporarily gratified;––either directly as in the case of vampires by imbibing the emanations of fresh blood, or indirectly by establishing magnetic relations with sensitive persons (mediums), whose inclinations correspond with their own.[18]

Vampires and Séances

One reason why the Theosophical literature discourages participation in séances is because they attract different kinds of entities, among them psychic vampires:

Student.—Why are visitors at a séance often extremely and unaccountably tired next day?

Sage.—Among other reasons, because mediums absorb the vitality for the use of the “spooks,” and often vile vampire elementaries are present.

Student.—What are some of the dangers at séances?

Sage.—The scenes visible—in the Astral—at séances are horrible, inasmuch as these “spirits”—bhuts—precipitate themselves upon sitters and mediums alike; and as there is no séance without having present some or many bad elementaries—half dead human beings,—there is much vampirising going on. These things fall upon the people like a cloud or a big octopus, and disappear within them as if sucked in by a sponge. That is one reason why it is not well to attend them in general.[19]

C. W. Leadbeater's view

C. W. Leadbeater also described disembodied vampires of various sorts. He wrote:

It should be noted that [suicides], as well as the shades and the vitalized shells are all what may be called minor vampires; that is to say, whenever they have the opportunity they prolong their existence by draining away the vitality from human beings whom they find themselves able to influence. This is why both medium and sitters are often so weak and exhausted after a physical séance. A student of occultism is taught how to guard himself from their attempts, but without that knowledge it is difficult for one who puts himself in their way to avoid being more or less laid under contribution by them.[20]

However, these are not the only cases. There are "even more vile but happily rare possibilities" which were more common in the remote past of the fourth root-race, but can "be found occasionally even now, though chiefly in countries where there is a considerable strain of fourth-race blood, such as Russia or Hungary". This involves people who...

... live a life so absolutely degraded and selfish, so utterly wicked and brutal, that the whole of his lower mind may become entirely enmeshed in his desires, and finally separate from its spiritual source in the higher self. . . . The abandoned personalities must always be a very small minority. Still, comparatively few though they be, they do exist, and it is from their ranks that the still rarer vampire is drawn.[21]

This kind of personality is normally condemned to annihilation in the eighth sphere. But, as Leadbeater explains:

If, however, he perishes by suicide or sudden death, he may under certain circumstances, especially if he knows something of black magic, hold himself back from that appalling fate by a death in life scarcely less appalling – the ghastly existence of the vampire.
Since the eighth sphere cannot claim him until after the death of the body, he preserves it in a kind of cataleptic trance by the horrible expedient of the transfusion into it of blood drawn from other human beings by his semi­materialized astral, and thus postpones his final destiny by the commission of wholesale murder. As popular "superstition" again rightly supposes, the easiest and most effectual remedy in such a case is to exhume and burn the body, thus depriving the creature of his point d' appui. When the grave is opened the body usually appears quite fresh and healthy, and the coffin is not infrequently filled with blood.[22]

Online resources

Articles

Theosophical journals have printed many articles about vampirism. the Union Index of Theosophical Periodicals lists 39 articles about this subject.

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. X (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987), 227.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 396-397.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 396-397.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 463.
  5. Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Hidden Side of Things (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1986), 326.
  6. Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Hidden Life in Freemasonry (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1988), 140.
  7. Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Hidden Side of Things (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1986), 327.
  8. Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Hidden Side of Things (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1986), 327.
  9. Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Hidden Side of Things (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1986), 327.
  10. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 366.
  11. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), 170.
  12. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 68 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 198.
  13. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 352-353.
  14. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1972), 353.
  15. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), 211.
  16. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 172.
  17. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Theosophical Glossary (Krotona, CA: Theosophical Publishing House, 1973), 172.
  18. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. VI (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1989), 210-211.
  19. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. IX (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1974), 107.
  20. Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Astral Plane, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1910), 57.
  21. Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Astral Plane, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1910), 58-59.
  22. Charles Webster Leadbeater, The Astral Plane, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1910), 59-60.