They Made A TonicHollywood Is ObsessedSure, We Often Think Of Obsessions Like Sex, Violence, Gigantic Robots, And Of Course Epic Battles Between Good And Evil But Another Obsession Of Hollywood Is VampiresYou Have To Admit, Though, That Theres A Lot To Love About Vampires Immortality, Wealth, Power, And Superhuman Abilities Such As Flight And Strength Yes, They Come With Trade Offs, Such As Incredibly Bad Sunburns, But Every Movie Ive Seen And Ive Seen A Lot, Believe Me Tends To Show Vampires That Are Fairly Happy With Their Lot In LifeMy Exposure To The World Of Vampires Happened In The Late S When I Was In College A Friend Recommended The Anne Rice Novel Interview With The Vampire I Devoured That And Many Of The Sequels Theyre Fun Reads, And They Certainly Set The Tone For A Decade Or Of Vampire Centered EntertainmentI Wont Touch On The Vampires Of The Twilight Series, Mostly Because I Havent Read Any Of The Books But I Will Say This Those Books, However Lambasted They Have Been By Critics, Have Shown That Popular Cultures Love Of All Things Vampire Is As Undying As The Creatures ThemselvesVampires In HistoryWhen Most People Think Of Vampires, They Envision Something That Is A Purely European Creature A Foreign Accent, Victorian Era Dress, And Dark Manor Homes And Castles Its A Common Visual Language For Most Of The Western World, So I Dont Blame Movies And Books For Portraying That Image But Its One Small Facet Of A Legend That Has Hundreds Of ExpressionsThe Single Most Prominent Historical Figure Attached To The Modern Notion Of Vampirism Is, Of Course, Vlad III Of Wallachia, Otherwise Known As Vlad The Impaler Vlad Ruled The Small Eastern European Kingdom Of Wallachia From To He Was Known As Vlad The Impaler Because He Preferred To Execute His Enemies By Impaling Them On Stakes The Ottomans Called Him Lord Impaler After Entering His Kingdom And Finding Forests Of Impaled Victims Vlad Was A Violent Guy, You See Rather Bloodthirsty, You Might SayHe, Like His Father Before Him, Belonged To Something Known As The Order Of The Dragon, A Group Established To Protect Christian Europe From The Invading Ottoman Empire Vlads Father, Vlad II, Was Known As Vlad Dracul, Or Vlad The Dragon When Vlad III Rose To Power, He Took The Hereditary Title And Was Known As Vlad Draculea, Son Of The DragonThat Name Might Sound Very Similar To The Most Famous Vampire Story In The World, And Thats Because Bram Stoker, When Creating His Famous Creature Of The Night, Used Vlad III As His Inspiration Well, Part Of It, But Well Get Into That LaterThe Roots Of Most Vampire Stories, However, Can Be Traced Back To Superstitions Founded In Ancient Cultures All Across The World Western Europe Played Host To Countless Stories Of Reanimated Dead Known As Revenants These Were Animated Corpses That Climbed Out Of The Grave To Torment The Living The Word Revenant Comes From The Latin That Means To Come BackCome Back To Do What You Might Ask Well, Im Glad You Did At First, It Was Just To Terrorize The Living, But As The Centuries Passed, The Legend Became Specific Revenants Were Said To Return From The Grave To Torment Their Living Relatives And Neighbors What Was Key, Though, Was That Revenants Were Specific People, Not Anonymous Zombies Like The Ones From Our Modern Horror Genre These Things Had A Past And A PurposeIn Norse Mythology We Can Find Tales Of Creatures Known As Draugr, Again Walkers, Who Would Return From The Grave And Wreak Havoc On The Living These Creatures Possessed Superhuman Strength, Smelled Of Decay, And Were Pretty Ugly In Appearance They Could Enter The Dreams Of The Living, And They Were Said To Leave A Tangible Object Near The Sleeping Person So That, Upon Waking, Their Victims Would Know Their Dreams Were Real Than They FearedLets Go Back Earlier Than The Middle Ages, Though The Legends Of Some Ancient Cultures Spoke Of Creatures That, While Not Immediately Similar To The Vampires We Know Today, Nonetheless Shared Many Core CharacteristicsFirst, We Have The Greek Myth Of Empusa, Who Was A Daughter Of Hecate Empusa Was Said To Lure Young Men At Night And Then Feast On Their Blood Before Moving On To The Main Coursetheir Flesh Another Greek Tale Involves Lamia, A Mistress Of Zeus Who Becomes Cursed By Zeuss Wife, Hera, And Doomed To Hunt Children, Devouring ThemStories Of Undead Creatures, Or Creatures That Feed On The Blood Of The Living, Seem Nearly As Common As Written Language Itself On Madagascar, An Island Nation Off The East Coast Of Africa, There Are Legends Of A Creature Known As The Ramanga, Which Was Known To Attack Nobles, Drinking Their Blood And Eating Their Nail ClippingsYeah, Their Nail Clippings Deal With ItVampires In Medical ScienceAre Vampires Real Ill Let You Make The Final Decision On That, But What Is Clear Is That Most Of These Stories Find Their Genesis In The Human Need To Explain The Unexplainable For Instance, Early Europeans Used The Myth As A Way Of Explaining Why A Corpse Wasnt Decomposing At The Normal, Expected Rate You Can See Evidence Of This In Bulgaria, Where Graves Dating Back Than Eight Hundred Years Have Been Opened, Revealing Iron Rods Through The Chest Of SkeletonsAnd In A Time When It Was Not Unheard Of To Bury Someone Who Was Thought To Be Dead, Only To Find Out That They Really Werent, You Can Imagine That Stories Would Quickly Circulate That The Dead Were Coming Back To Life As A Result, Taphophobia, The Fear Of Being Buried Alive, Swept Europe And The United States Of Course, Once Medical Science Caught Up, People Got Practical By Building Alert Systems Into Graves, Just In Case The Person Woke Up And Wanted OutI Realize That Being Buried Alive Sounds Like A Rare Occurrence, But It Happened Frequently Enough That Many People Were Sufficiently Paranoid About It To Actually Spend Time Looking For A Solution One Of Those People Happened To Be A Medical Doctor, A Man Named Adolf Gutsmuth In , And Driven By The Fear Of Being Buried Alive, He Invented A Safety Coffin For His Own Interment And He Tested It Out HimselfTested It Out You Bet Dr Gutsmuth Allowed Himself To Be Buried Underground In His New Safety Coffin For Several Hours, During Which He Had Meals Delivered To Him Through A Feeding Tube He Enjoyed A Wonderful Meal Of Soup, Sausages, And A Local BeerSounds Like A Great Date Night DestinationDr Timothy Smith Of New Haven, Vermont, Was Another Paranoid Inventor He Created A Grave That Can Be Visited To This Day If You Happen To Be Passing By Evergreen Cemetery It Was A Crypt Buried In The Usual Manner, But It Had A Cement Tube Positioned Over The Face Of The Body A Glass Plate Was Affixed To The Top Of The Tube, At Ground LevelDr Smith Died A Real, Natural Death, And Was Buried In His Fancy Coffin With A View He Never Woke Up, But Early Visitors To His Grave Reported That They Had A Clear View Of His Decomposing Head Until Condensation Obscured The GlassSide Note Vampires No Longer Scare Me Waking Up Inside A Small Box Buried Six Feet Below The Surface Of The Earth Is What True Fright Looks Like To MeAnother Culprit In Humanitys Use Of The Vampire Label Was Porphyria, A Rare Blood Disorder, But Modern Science Has Pretty Much Closed The Case On That One, Saying That Its Too Far Of A Stretch To Connect The Two Topics Rabies, Of All Conditions, Has Also Been Used As An Explanation For The Rise Of Vampire Mythology Surprisingly, There Are A Lot Of Commonalities Between Victims Of Rabies And Vampires, Such As Sensitivity To Light And Garlic, As Well As Altered Sleep PatternsThe Most Recent Medical Condition With A Strong Connection To Vampire Mythology Was Actually Tuberculosis Those Who Suffer From TB Had No Vampire Like Symptoms, Though, And That Makes This Connection Harder To Explain Its Also, Incidentally, Where One Of My Favorite New England Legends Comes Into The PictureLadies And Gentlemen, Meet Mercy BrownLena Mercy Brown Was A Young Woman Who Lived In The Latter Half Of The Nineteenth Century In The Rural Town Of Exeter, Rhode Island, And She Was A Major Player In What Is Now Known As The Great New England Vampire PanicStories Like Hers Can Be Found All Across Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, And Vermont, Echoed In The Lives Of Others In Similar Situations And The Results Have Surprising Connections To Both The Modern Idea Of Vampires And The Ancient Stories, As We Will SeeThe First Person To Die Was Mercys Mother, Mary Eliza That Was December , And She Fell Victim To What Was Then Known As Consumption, So Called Because As The TB Ravaged The Body, The Person Would Appear To Waste Awayconsumed, If You Will, By The Illness She, Of Course, Was Buried, Because Thats What You Do With A Loved One Who Passes AwayThe Next Year, Though, Mercys Sister Mary Olive Died At The Age Of Twenty Same Illness, Same Symptoms Im Not Sure When The People Of Exeter, Rhode Island, Started To Wonder If The Deaths Were Connected, But It Might Have Been Then, Or It Might Have Been A Few Years Later When Mercys Brother, Edwin, Took IllEdwin, Though, Was Smart He Packed Up And Moved Across The Country To Colorado Springs, Which Had A Great Reputation For The Healing Properties Of Its Dry Climate When He Returned From The West Some Years Later, He Was Alive But Not Doing Well And In December , He Took A Turn For The WorseThat Was Also The Month That Mercy Herself Became Ill Her Tuberculosis Moved Fast, Though They Called It The Galloping Kind, And It Moved Through Her Body Quickly By January She Was Dead, And The People Of Exeter Were Worried Than Ever You See, They Suspected Something SupernaturalNow, This Was Surprising, Considering How Close Exeter Is To Newport Thats The Seaside City Known For The Summer Cottages Of The Wealthyfolks Like The Vanderbilts, The Astors, The Wideners, And The Wets It Was The Pinnacle Of Educated Society Yet Just A Handful Of Miles Away, One Small Town That Should Have Known Better Was About To Do Something Very, Very CreepyEdwin Was Still Alive, You See And Someone Got It In Their Mind That One Of The Women Who Died Before Him, Either His Mother Or One Of His Sisters, Was Somehow Draining Him Of His Life From Beyond The Grave They Were So Convinced Of This, You See, That They Wanted To Dig Them All UpYes All Of ThemOnce They Received The Fathers Permission To Do This Horrible Thing, A Group Of Men Gathered In The Cemetery On The Morning Of March And Began To Dig Up The BodiesWhat They Were Looking For Was Any Evidence Of An Unnatural State Blood In The Heart, Blood Around The Mouth, Or Other Similar Signs The First Body, That Of Mary Eliza, The Mother, Was Satisfactorily Decomposed, Though, So They Ruled Her Out Of Course She Was, You Might Say She Had Been Dead And Buried For A DecadeMary Olive Was Also In A Normal State Of Decomposition Again, Being Dead Ten Years Usually Helps Convince People Youre Really Dead But When They Examined Mercys Bodya Body That Had Not Been Buried Because She Died In The Middle Of Winter, But Instead Had Been Stored In A Stone Building That Was Essentially A Walk In Freezerthey Discovered A Remarkable State Of PreservationShocking, I KnowSo What Did They Do Well, These Superstitious Townsfolk Did What They Learned From Their Ancestors They Cut Out Mercys Heart And Liver Within Which They Found Red, Clotted Blood , Burned Them On A Nearby Stone Which Is Still There, By The Way, Near Her Headstone In The Cemetery , And Then Mixed The Ashes With A Tonic That Tonic Was Then Given To Edwin To DrinkYes, Edwin Brown Drank His Own Sisters Liver And HeartDid It Work Nope Edwin Died Less Than Two Months Later What It Did Do, However, Was Set Up Mercy Brown To Be The First American Vampire I Suppose Its Not Important To Mention That She Wasnt Really A Vampire, Because You Are An Intelligent Person, But It Doesnt Hurt To Say ItAs Unusual As An Event Like This Must Sound, You Might Be Surprised To Learn That It Happened Quite Frequently In , Nearly A Century Before Mercy Browns Exhumation, A Dartmouth College Student Named Frederick Ransom Died Of TB His Father, So Worried That The Young Man Would Leave The Grave And Attack The Family, Had Him Dug Up Ransoms Heart Was Cut Out And Burned On A Blacksmiths ForgeEven Henry David Thoreau Heard Tales Of These Types Of Events, Mentioning One In His Personal Journal He Wrote On September , The Savage In Man Is Never Quite Eradicated I Have Just Read Of A Family In Vermont Who, Several Of Its Members Having Died Of Consumption, Just Burned The Lungs, Heart, And Liver Of The Last Deceased, In Order To Prevent Any From Having ItSo, Of Course, Word Spread About What Happened To Mercy Brown, As It Usually Did When A Body Was Dug Up And Carved Into Pieces Like That Mercys Case Actually Made It Into A Newspaper Called The New York World, And It Made Quite An Impression On The People Who Read ItHow Do We Know Because A Clipping Of That Article Was Found In The Personal Papers Of A London Stage Manager After His Death You See, His Theater Company Had Been Touring America In He Evidently Found The Story Inspiring, So Much So That He Sat Down A Few Years Later And Wrote A BookThe Man Bram Stoker The Book Oh, Im Sure You Guessed That Already It Was Dracula, Published In Praise For The Lore PodcastTruth Can Often Be Much Scarier Than Fictionsomething Aaron Mahnke Proves As He Dives Deep Into The World Of Folklore And The Darker Side Of History In A Quest To Root Out The Fragment Of Truth At The Bottom Of Our Fears Entertainment WeeklyUnlike So Much Horror That Needs Over The Top Viscera To Scare You, This Podcast Leans On Historyfolklore, Myth, The Stuff People Once Thought Was Trueto Tell Its Tales The AtlanticNarrated By Mahnke In A Style That Evokes Spooky Campfire Stories, Lore Is A History Lesson Like No Other Esquire I gave this a two only because I like Aaron s original work This is not that The stories are word for word the same as the podcasts As a longtime fan I could quote half the podcasts from memory I don t need a book full of transcripts I was really hoping for deep dives or new takes on these tales.Oh well at least I could enjoy all the gorgeous illustrations, right Wrong While the pictures are beautiful and well done they are few and far between The hype around this book from Aaron himself made it sound like there would be drawings abound I love Aaron s work, his original novels, and the podcast I want to support him by buying his work because of the joy his podcasts bring That said I feel like I was tricked and fooled I will not be preordering his items in the future I will be sure to read the reviews and make sure I m not fooled again.If you re familiar with the podcasts save your money It s nothing you haven t heard before. If you haven t listened to the podcasts, this is a nice book to read for myths If you have listened to the podcasts, this is basically a transcript of the most popular episodes It was a disappointment. I realized, after reading the first couple of chapters, that this book was basically a reprint of Mr Mahnke s podcast scripts If you ve not listened to the podcast, this is certainly a good introduction to the Mahnke s audio work but the scripts do not make a stand alone book While there are lots of interesting stories, I intensely dislike the fact that Mahnke does not cite his sources He can get away with this on the podcast since time is limited but there is no reason for dissing other authors in a full length book As just one example, Mahnke borrows extensively from the work of Linda S Godfrey in his section on the Beast of Bray Road but never gives her any credit than mentioning her as a local reporter Godfrey has, in fact, written her own full length book on the Beast and several others besides I find such near plagiarism completely unacceptable. When I first read the reviews, I was worried I love Aaron s podcast and I really I love the tv shows but all of the complaints of being podcasts in print had me concerned with how the book and the stories would be laid out I was pleasantly surprised that it reads just like his podcasts, perhaps they are word for word but if you are like me, a crazy busy person, I miss stuff Sometimes, when I listen to podcasts I ll get to the end and am not sure what i heard because the 1,000 other things I m thinking of gets in the way Of course I could go back and relisten, but as a die hard reader, I now have the words in my hands and I can give the stories the attention they deserve.
- The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures
- Aaron Mahnke
- 14 April 2019 Aaron Mahnke