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Traits of vampires

  • Vampires, being already dead, do not need most normal things required for human life, such as oxygen. They often have a pale (for vampires from literature and cinema) or ruddy (for those from folklore) appearance, and are cool to the touch from the perspective of humans.
  • Vampires are sometimes considered to be shape-shifters , though this feature is more commonly present in fiction than in the original folklore.
  • Some vampires can fly. Sometimes this power is supernatural, other times it is connected to the vampire's ability to turn into flying creatures (e.g., bats , owls , flies ) or into lightweight forms (e.g. straw , dust , smoke ) and then create winds as a means of propulsion.
  • Vampires typically cast no shadow and have no reflection. This mythical power is largely confined to European vampiric myths and may be tied to folklore regarding the vampire's lack of a soul. In modern fiction, this may extend to the idea that vampires cannot be photographed.
  • Some traditions hold that a vampire cannot enter a house unless he or she is invited in. This concept has been referenced throughout the history of vampire fiction (from Samuel Taylor Coleridge 's poem Christabel , through Bram Stoker 's novel Dracula to Stephen King 's novel Salem's Lot , and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer ). Generally, however, a vampire can come and go at will after being invited once.
  • Vampire powers are often limited during the day or in daylight. In some cases sunlight may burn or kill vampires, or they may be comatose during the day.
  • Vampires may be reluctant to enter or cross bodies of water, particularly running water.
  • Some tales maintain that vampires must return to their native soil before sunrise to take their rest safely. Others place native soil in their coffins, especially if they have relocated. Still other vampire stories such as Le Fanu's "Carmilla" maintain that vampires must return to their coffins, but sleep in several inches of blood as opposed to soil.
  • Vampires in some tales have very specific dietary requirements while others do not. However, most tales of the undead feature vampires that cannot eat (or at least cannot gain nourishment from) normal human food. In most cases they sustain themselves by sucking living people's blood or life force ; this seems to be a requirement for their continued existence regardless of whether they are able to absorb other food and drink, or gain anything from such.
  • Werewolves are sometimes held to become vampires after death, and vampires are frequently held to have the ability to transform themselves into wolves.

  • Apotropaics , or objects intended to ward off vampires, include garlic , a branch of wild rose , and all things sacred (e.g., holy water , a crucifix , a rosary , or sacred objects from other faiths ). This weakness on the part of the vampire varies depending on the tale. Garlic is confined mostly to European vampire legends. In myths of other regions, other plants of holy or mythical properties sometimes have similar effects. Holy water and other holy symbols depend upon the culture. In Eastern vampiric myths, vampires are often similarly warded by holy devices such as Shinto seals.
  • There are three main ways to destroy a typical European vampire: a consecrated bullet, a wooden stake through the heart where two roads meet, or decapitation . This includes other means of death that effectively removes a vampire's head, such as incinerating the body completely.
  • Old folklore from Eastern Europe suggests that many vampires suffered from a form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder , being fascinated with counting. Millet or poppy seeds were placed on the ground at the grave site of a presumed vampire, in order to keep the vampire occupied all night counting. Chinese myths about vampires also state that if a vampire comes across a sack of rice, s/he will have to count all of the grains. Aside from the Muppet character of Count von Count on television's Sesame Street and a fifth season episode of the X-Files titled Bad Blood , this characteristic seems to have largely disappeared from popular culture.

 

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