If the community was convinced there was a vampire among them or if there had been reports of attacks in the near communities, search parties would be dispensed to the graveyard.
The idea may seam far off to some, but we`re not referring to gatherings similar to those presented in the movies [in “angry torch-carrying mob” scenes].
One cannot fully understand the emotions that drove the peasants back then… grief over loving someone [remember that usually the family members were present during the ritualistic eradication of the so called vampires], fear over losing another family member, confusion and impossibility to go against the majority.
Since it was believed that vampires have the ability to hypnotize the caretakers into protecting them during the day – when the vampire is confined to his coffin, if the gravediggers were protective of several graves, those were scrutinized first.
§ In the case of a careful inspection at the cemetery, the following were considered proof of vampirism:
– holes in the ground
– disarranged dirt on and around the grave
– unusual [dens] fog, especially at nightfall
– scratches on the tomb stones
– fallen and/or dismantled crosses
– tracks on remote or auxiliary exits from the cemetery
– sounds similar to sighs herd from inside the graves during sunset
– strange animal behavior, such as: birds not singing, dogs barking and refusing to enter the cemetery, geese get restless around certain tombs, horses refuse to advance towards certain graves.
§ When opening a coffin, people would look out for:
– eyes and/or mouth open
– unusually pale or reddish face
– teeth or fangs that are larger than normal [not necessarily sharp]
– bloated body [people assumed it was due to the drinking of blood]
– hair longer that at the burial
– long and/or transparent fingernails
– flexible extremities
– lack of decomposition
– blood around the mouth and/or in the coffin
– white liver [when removed]
๑۞๑ Related: ๑۞๑
† Vampire Accounts
§ Those that died as a result of presumed vampire attacks along with those believed to be “living vampires” were suspected of coming back from beyond the grave so they would benefit of special burial rituals:
– abiding by all the Christian burial customs [it was believed that for 40 days the soul of the departed would remain bound by the family members and the place it once lived in]
– destroy the vampire that caused the death
– all the windows should be open while the body was in the house so that the spirit can freely leave
– keeping certain animals at bay [black cats, ravens etc.]
– keeping the corpse out of the way of shadows and direct hit of moonlight
– covering all mirrors and water surfaces from the household [it was believed that a spirit can remain trapped in it`s own reflexion]
– shutting the eyes of the dead as soon as possible after the death occurred
– putting silver coins on the eyes and/or filling the mouth with garlic
– mutilating the body by piercing it through the heart with a wooden stake
– removing the heart from the body and burying the corpse without it
– putting a crucifix or a book of prayers besides the corpse in the coffin
– [in some regions of Western Europe] positioning the body as follows: hands and legs tied with rope, forcefully shutting the mouth [stuffer with garlic] and securing the head so that it won`t open, wrapping in rugs and nets
– beheading the corpse and placing the head between the legs or in a separate grave
– the body would be burn to ashes
§ After the religious ceremony was over, special arrangements were made at the grave site.
– certain items may be placed on the grave [candles, knives, daggers, wooden stakes] so that if the corpse would try to get out it would encounter obstacles and hurt itself
– an altar was made near the cross, containing: holy water, wild roses, garlic and crucifixes.
– on the paths from around the grave the family would scatter rice, pieces of garlic, wild roses and rocks from the bottom of a river.
๑۞๑ Related: ๑۞๑
† Vampire Accounts