The Vampires Of Greece!

Although vampires are a common theme in many countries, they hold a very special position in Greece.No matter where you travel,there is always a tale of a vampire.

The concept of dead,drinking blood,to speak to the living,exists from the ancient times in Greece.
In Homer’s Odyssey, when Odysseus needs the advice of the dead seer Teiresias and travels to Hades to find him,the dead spirit must drink blood,in order to communicate with him.

“Then there came up the spirit of the Theban Teiresias, bearing his golden staff in his hand, and he knew me and spoke to me: `Son of Laertes, sprung from Zeus, Odysseus of many devices, what now, hapless man? Why hast thou left the light of the sun and come hither to behold the dead and a region where is no joy? Nay, give place from the pit and draw back thy sharp sword, that I may drink of the blood and tell thee sooth.’

“So he spoke, and I gave place and thrust my silver-studded sword into its sheath, and when he had drunk the dark blood, then the blameless seer spoke to me and said

Homer’s Odyssey

Apart from the dead souls that needed blood,there were creatures that had all the qualities of the vampires as we know them today.Empusa, Lamia,and striges,although not undead,they were the precursors of the modern vampire.Empusa was the daughter of the goddess Hecate and was described as a demonic, bronze-footed creature. She feasted on blood by transforming into a young woman and seduced men as they slept before drinking their blood.

Lamia was the daughter of King Belus and a secret lover of Zeus. However Zeus’ wife Hera discovered this infidelity and killed all Lamia’s offspring; Lamia swore vengeance and preyed on young children in their beds at night, sucking their blood.

Like Lamia, the striges, feasted on children, but also preyed on young men. They were described as having the bodies of crows or birds in general, and were later incorporated into Roman mythology as strix, a kind of nocturnal bird that fed on human flesh and blood.

Lamia

Bearing little resemblance to its Ancient Greek precursors, the modern Greek vrykolakas has much in common with the European vampire. Belief in vampires commonly called vrykolakas, though also referred to as katakhanades, on Crete, persisted throughout Greek history and became so widespread in the 18th and 19th centuries that many practices were enforced to both prevent and combat vampirism.
The deceased were often exhumed from their graves after three years of death and the remains placed in a box by relatives; wine was poured over them while a priest would read from scriptures.(a practice that is still common until today) However, if the body had not sufficiently decayed, the corpse would be labeled a vrykolakas and dealt with appropriately.

In Greek folklore, vampirism could occur through various means: being excommunicated, desecrating a religious day, committing a great crime or dying alone without proper burial. Other causes included having a cat jump across one’s grave, eating meat from a sheep killed by a wolf, being cursed,those who practice black magic and of course the victims of the vampires. Vrykolakas were usually thought to be indistinguishable from living people, giving rise to many folk tales with this theme.
Crosses and antidoron (blessed bread) from the church were used as wards in different places. To prevent vampires from rising from the dead, their hearts were pierced with iron nails whilst resting in their graves, or their bodies burned and the ashes scattered. Because the Church opposed burning people who had received the myron of chrismation in the baptism ritual, cremation was considered a last resort.

In many Greek islands they used put the cemetaries in islets,near the main island,because they believed that vampires could not cross the sea(sea water is considered a weapon against vampires).There are many islets that are considered to be vampire colonies.
Some of the most well known are:
Islet Bau-Across the port of Mykonos
Islet Hecate-Near Delos
Reef of Panagia-Northern Evia
Islet Kameni-Santorini
Islet grave-Kefalonia
Islets Nekrothikes and Plati-Pserimos
Vrikolakonisia-Nothern Skyros
Islet Kalathas-Chania,Crete
Demon islands-Nothern Sporades
Islet Goni-Inouses
Islet Venetiko-Chios

Tales about vampires:

Vampires in Mykono
In the island, according to legend, in the 18 century,lived a terrible pirate. When the people found the corpse lying in a field, made the burial, to rest in peace. Immediately after the funeral he makes his appearance in several places and causing irreparable damage. Transformed into Vourvoulaka as they used to call them.

They organized processions,they undig the corpse,took out his heart and threw it in an area called Kardiokaftis(heart burner).But he was not exterminated and returned to the scene of the crime seeking redemption. The only way to ensure peace is the beheading of a Turkish sword.

Crete
I was told this story,by a relative.In the late 60s,a man left his wife and went to work in Germany.The wife was unfaithful and she got pregnant by her lover.One day she got a letter from her husband that was telling her to travel to Germany,because life was good there and he didn’t want to return to Crete.She decided to tell him the truth and asked him to send her a medicine to abort the baby.He felt betrayed and instead she sent her poison.
One friend of the wife saw the bottle and warned her not to take it,but she did and she died.By the church it was considered suicide and they didn’t gave her a proper burial,but insted they buried her in her farm.
A few days later her friend saw her wandering around,with the baby in her arms.She told the village priest and they went on a Saturday morning,opened her grave and found her alive.She told them that they are lucky,because it was Saturday and she couldn’t harm them,but she would kill them first chance she had.The priest after reading some prayers he burnt the body.

In Crete they say that if you walk alone at night and you hear someone call your name,don’t answer,because it’s a vampire and if you ignore him,he cannot hurt you.

In Northern Greece they believe that people who were born on saturday have special abilities.They can see spirits and fight vampires.They are called Savvatianoi.One such story comes from the village of Soho,that a Savvatianos had trapped a vampire in a barn and nailed him on the wall.

Around 1700 in Evia vampires were considered responsible for a great plague,that left many dead behind.The dead bodies were burned with iron.

In Alonniso the tales speak of black shadows,that attack people and grap them from the neck.

In Skopelo the vampires appear as skeletons and in Samothraki as invisible with flaming bodies.

In the islands of Saronikos they talk about malformed vampires.

In Chios they wear white shrouds and in Tino the vampires use their supernatural powers to smite and kill people.

In Attica,in the mountain of Immitos,the vampire lives in a cave and when he escapes he tries to take over the houses of the living.He is described as swollen and ugly.

In cemetaries in many areas around Greece corpses have been found nailed to their coffins,so they won’t be able to leave their graves.

About Andrew

Co-founder & lead investigator of Paranormal Encounters. I've experienced the paranormal all my life, having encountered ghosts, angels and demons. I live in a haunted house and when not exploring and researching the unknown, I enjoy single malt Scotch whisky & potato chips (though not necessarily at the same time).