[Author's Note: At University (in the early 2000's), I took a Sociology class on the myth and symbolism of Witchcraft, and as part of the class, I ended up writing a paper on the mythology and folklore of vampires, which then lead me into a paid gig writing vampire articles for a while. So I've decided to share these articles of vampire myth and folklore here ~ C ]
The first thing people think of when they hear the word 'Vampire Hunter’ (or even 'vampire' for that matter!) is 'Buffy'. But as most of us know, Buffy The Vampire Slayer is a fictitious show - at least in how vampires are portrayed - they do not burst into piles of dust once staked through the heart for one!
The average person then thinks a vampire hunter is 'someone trained to hunt vampires'. You're thinking 'Pretty self-explanatory. End of Story’. But how did this phenomenon come about? It was most likely due to the paranoia in early Europe of the dead coming back to life and bringing the plague and other nasty diseases along with them. Because of this fear, people, to hunt out vampires and to rid the community of them, devised many tricks.
One of these methods was to have a naked virgin girl ride through a Cemetery at night on the back of a stallion. Whichever grave the Stallion refused to walk upon was that of a vampire. Not a very empirical test, I'd say. Since probably the middle ages, people have made it their mission to protect themselves and their families from the scourge of the vampire. Hence they would go out searching for people who fit the profile of vampires - therefore becoming vampire hunters. Better to rid yourself of a problem before it starts, wouldn't you say?
There are some people in our society today that claim to be vampire hunters. This includes Rt. Reverend Sean Manchester, who is president and founder of the Vampire Research Society. He is also one of the members of The Ghost Club Society which was founded in England in 1993, but based on an original ghost society out of Cambridge in 1851. The membership also includes author Daniel Farson, great-nephew of 'Dracula' author Bram Stoker.
There have been several cases in which self-proclaimed vampire hunters have appeared in court with Sean Manchester being one of them. In 1970, Allan Farrow was arrested in St. Michael's Churchyard with a hammer and stake in his possession. He confessed to police that he was on his way to Highgate Cemetery (a famous cemetery for vampire sightings in the 1970's).
At Highgate Cemetery in London, England, an interesting widespread Panic or hysteria came over the members of the community. In the 1970's reports of a vampire in this cemetery were rumored. Most likely the 'vampire' was created by people's imagination. However, that did not stop the 'vampire hunters' from coming out in full force). Unlike Farrow, Manchester claims to have destroyed his vampire.
The tools of the vampire hunter include what everyone would expect: a wooden stake and mallet, a crucifix, holy water, catholic Eucharist wafers, and of course, some kind of manual or instructions such as the ever popular Malleus Maleficarum, used in the famous Witch Trials of Salem, Massachusetts.
Apparently, as one may or may not be surprised by, there are vampire Hunter 'kits' available for purchase on the internet and eBay. I came across one with all the above mentioned instruments available for $70 (I am assuming US)
The Malleus Maleficarum, published by the Church in 1486 was the Handbook for the discovery and eradication of witches. It also covered vampirism and their link to Satan, as well as how to deal with getting rid of them.
By the 1600's, this book was being used as the 'bible' of witch and vampire hunters across Europe. It also included excerpts of early vampire sightings.
Apparently by the 1930's, the vampire's greatest problem was that of vampire hunters (historically).
Beings called Dhampirs are believed to be a vampire's child and are the only people capable of seeing invisible vampires. Therefore, they often lend out their services as vampire hunters. This seems a bit paradoxical to me.
There are basically three types of Vampire Hunters:
1) Those that watch too many vampire movies and TV (Buffy etc).
2) Those who are religious zealots who believe that vampires are evil (could Reverend Manchester fall into this category?) and
3) those people who are completely serious, know what vampires are and still want to get rid of them. No matter which type you think the person is, it is best (for the sake of everyone, vampire and non) to stay away and report any serious threats to the proper authority. Half of the time these people are crazy, or are just immature kids with nothing better to do and too much time on their hands.
Want to read more vampire lore? Then read this!