Wednesday, October 28, 2020

"On Those Who Burn Vampires" (A Greek Orthodox Christian Manual from 1867)


In 1867 a popular 82 page manual for Greek Orthodox Priests was published to aid them in the administration of Holy Confession. This book was called Nomocanon: Various Prayers and Discourses (Νομοκανονικό. Εὐχὲς καὶ λόγοι διάφοροι), and it can be found in many old libraries of Greek monasteries and seminaries. On pages 67-69 there is advice on how a Priest ought to deal with those who burn vampires, with the section titled "On Those Who Burn Vampires" ("Περί των καιόντων τους Βουρκολάκους"). In Greek, a vampire is known as a "vrykolakas", though there are various spellings and pronunciations in Greek, and a Greek vampire may have certain characteristics not familiar to other vampires of folklore from other countries. For the author of this text, vampires were real. The issue was not that people believed in vampires; vampires obviously existed. The issue for spiritual fathers was how to deal with those who burned their undead bodies. Here is an excerpt from this chapter:

"Those who burned the vrykolakases and were soaked in their smoke, should not receive communion for at least six years. Vrykolakases were the submissive instruments of the devil, who appeared at night wandering here and there, often harming, destroying and prophesying the future. In this way they who are many days, and even many years, dead return among the living, as one who is young with flesh and bones.

So when people rushed to burn the undead, having previously dug their grave and seen the vrykolakas full of blood, with long hair and nails, they should have known that his cursed relic would also be resurrected on the Day of Judgment. And since he will stand before the fearsome and impartial Judge, then he will be sent to the outermost eternal fire, eternally damned, unless he truly repents of his sacrilege.

When such a satanic demon was identified, the priests would have to be called to perform a Supplicatory Canon to the Theotokos and a Sanctification of the Waters. Then, they should do a liturgy and ask for the help of the Panagia for all of them, but also to perform a Memorial Service with kollyva, to chant the exorcisms of Baptism and the exorcisms of Basil the Great, and then to sprinkle the gathered crowd with the holy water and with the excess to sprinkle the vrykolakas, and by the grace of God the unclean demon will flee...."

There,  now every Orthodox Priest should know how to deal with vampires and their hunters.