A Wazimamoto

May 28, 2009 at 1:23 am (Interesting Vampires, Vampires around the World) (, , )

Recently I read YELLOW MOON by Jewell Parker Rhodes. This story takes place in New Orleans and has a very unique form of vampire. This spirit rises from the ocean, drawn by the sounds of music, it latches on to a person and drains them of blood. With each new victim it becomes more substantial and recovers more of its memory.

The novel’s heroine is Dr. Marie Laveau, a descendant of New Orleans’ great voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. She herself is a fledgling Voodoo priestess, still learning about her own powers. Powers which are pitted against this creature who is leaving an ever increasing trail of bodies and ghosts across New Orleans. In the music rich atmosphere of New Orleans, where sin and corruption fester, the creature finds a perfect home.

During Marie and Detective Daniel Park’s hunt for this creature, they met with a professor who finally names the creature. It is an African vampire, that comes of the times of Colonialism, a wazimamoto.

In an interview at http://hermitosis.blogspot.com, Jewell Parker Rhodes explains “Stoker’s Dracula seeks immortality; the wazimamoto, a vampire created from colonial oppression in Africa, seeks to destroy cultural traditions. For Africans, the British, French and Portuguese tried to steal “cultural blood.” So, Africans created oral tales of a vampire that drains blood. In America, we can talk about the slave traders as wazimamotos and folks who are mentally enslaved, who learn from the oppressors to hate their selves and their culture, can become wazimamotos, too.”

I assumed at first that the wazimamoto was a creation of the author, but I found there are some historical references. Author Luise White recorded the oral traditions which talk about the wazimamoto, in Speaking with Vampires, Rumor and History in Colonial Africa. Jewell Parker Rhodes has definitely remodeled it to suit her needs, linking it to the spirit of John, an enemy destroyed by the original Marie Laveau.

I found it most interesting how Marie Laveau kills it. She uses Voodoo, destroying the gris-gris bag that is linked to the original soul. She also uses the power of musicians and their music, not only to call the creature, but to overwhelm it. And finally as a medical doctor, she uses science. Because it came from the sea, it is partially made up of physical matter, a bacteria which she discovers is destroyed by penicillin. So she sprays it with penicillin and it dissolves. Another vampire bites the dust

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The Original Source

May 7, 2009 at 1:56 am (Classical Vampire Literature, Vampires around the World) (, )

People have been writing about vampires for centuries. The first
written records were eyewitness accounts of vampire infestations.
The first use of the word vampire or vampyre to appear in the
English papers was in 1732 in a report of the story of Arnold
Paole.

Arnold Paole, or Arnont Paule was a Serbian peasant who
reportedly became a vampire after his death in 1726 and caused
four deaths in his village. The villagers exhumed the bodies,
staked and burned them. Five years later, 10 more people
died in a short period of time. When the villagers asked for
help, the Austrian government sent two military doctors, Glaser
and Flückinger, to investigate the case. The outbreak was blamed
on two women who mentioned having contact
with vampires, one had eaten meat supposedly killed by the previous vampires and the other had used vampire blood to protect herself from vampires.

The Austrian officials eventually dug up the bodies of the
victims and reported finding bodies that didn’t seem to have
decomposed, with fresh blood at their mouths, that groaned when
staked. They staked and burned the victims.

Their reports were later widely published. Along with a
similar report of another Serbian Peter Plogojowitz, who
supposedly killed nine villagers in 1725.

You can find an English version of the reports at
http://www.dagonbytes.com/vampires/history/arnoldpaul.htm and
http://www.dagonbytes.com/vampires/history/plogojowitz.htm

Today we understand the signs that the superstitious thought as
proof of vampirism were merely part of the natural decomposition
process. But the reports were taken as concrete proof that
vampires actually existed and fear spread across Europe to
England.

The image of the vampire was a dark, ruddy complexion, long hair
and nails, wearing a shroud, coming from the grave to attack
those nearest and dearest. Throughout the 18th century, when
there were unexplained multiple deaths, fear of vampires like
fear of witches started episodes of mass hysteria.

It was not long before writers began using the terrifying images
of the blood thirsty vampire.

Tomorrow, the first vampire stories.

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