A vampires is a mythical creature who overcomes death by sucking the blood from living humans. The most common variation of the myth portrays the vampire as a dead person who rises from the grave at night to seek his victim from the realm of the sleeping. The vampire is a popular theme of film makers who have started with Bram Stokers's novel (Dracula) and added a number of variations to the theme, e.g., the ability to fly (like the vampire bat); a lust for beautiful women as victims who then become vampires upon being bitten; fear of the symbol of the Christian cross; the repelling power of garlic or garlic flowers; and death by sunlight or by a special stake driven through the heart, a fitting death for a character commonly believed to be based on the 15th century warrior, Vlad the Impaler. However, according to Elizabeth Miller, author of Dracula: Sense & Nonsense (Desert Island Books, 2000), Bram Stoker did not base his vampire Count on Vlad the Impaler. He borrowed Vlad's nickname (Dracula) for a vampire character he had already conceived (and tentatively named Count Wampyr).
Legends of bloodsucking creatures are found in many cultures throughout history. One of the more popular bloodsuckers of our age is the chupacabra. The vampire is also a popular literary subject. Hence, there are numerous descriptions of the origin, nature, powers, etc. of vampires. What seems to be universal about vampire myths is their connection with the fear of death and the desire for immortality. The ritual drinking of blood to overcome death has been practiced by many peoples. The Aztecs and other Native Americans, for example, ate the hearts and drank the blood of captives in ritual ceremonies, most likely to satisfy the appetite of their gods and gain for themselves fertility and immortality. Also typical were the rites of Dionysus and Mithras, where the drinking of animal blood was required in the quest for immortality. Even today, some Christians believe that their priests perform a magical transubstantiation of bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ to be eaten and drunk in the quest to join God in eternal life.
We might say we've made progress in our ritualistic quest to overcome death. First, we sacrificed humans and drank their blood to keep the gods alive and happy, or to join them in overcoming death. We later came to substitute bulls or other animals for humans to achieve our goal. Finally, we progressed to a vegetarian menu of bread and wine. Even so, the basic truth is depressing: for anything to live, something or someone else must die. Whether this truth sets you free or not depends, I suppose, on your place at or on the dinner table. Since we are deep into metaphors, we may as well note here that the vampire has become a metaphor for those who define and create themselves by destroying others. People whose lives center on destroying other people's lives by disempowering them, who reduce their victims to dependent subjects to be lorded over, have been called spiritual vampires. Some of the therapists, ministers and gurus I've written about elsewhere in the Dictionary could be called spiritual vampires, very aptly.