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Ancient Beliefs of Vampires – Egypt & India

By Yona Williams    4/25/09

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Sekhmet.jpg
When you think of vampires, one of the first things to come to mind may include fangs that dig deep into the neck of a victim so that blood is sucked away. However, the notion of a vampire meant many different things throughout time. The concept of a bloodsucker (or one that ate flesh) has a past that dates back to ancient beliefs. In this article, you will encounter worldwide associations that include the Egyptians and Indians.

Sekhmet – Egypt

In Egypt, it was the goddess named Sekhmet that had a reputation for drinking blood. Records of earlier times showed Sekhmet as a warrior goddess of Upper Egypt. Depictions presented her as a lioness and she quickly became known as the more fearless hunter that the Egyptians had ever known. Legend has it that her breath was responsible for creating the desert. Overall, the pharaohs saw her as their protector and when it came time to enter war and other battles, it was she who delivered guidance.

A cult emerged in Egypt devoted to Sekhmet. It grew to the point that it was so prominent that when the first pharaoh of the 12th dynasty (Amenemhat I), shifted the capital of Egypt to Itjtawy, the center for her cult was also moved. During ancient Egyptian days, religion, governing powers, and the royal bloodlines were all linked in some way over the course of 3,000 years.

Sekhmet was also known as a solar deity, which is why she is sometimes shown wearing a solar disk. Because of these associations, she is connected to justice and keeping order.  The color red is prominent in visual records of the goddess, as she is dressed in the color – a direct connection to blood. Other links to this goddess include the goddesses Hathor and Bast, and the Eye of Horus, which served as an ancient Egyptian symbol of deity protection and royal power.

When it came to the power of Sekhmet, she was known to bring disease, but also provided ways to cure sickness. Physicians and surgeons during the Middle Kingdom were sometimes made reference to the goddess. In the past, it was not uncommon to see priests associated with Sekhmet as being on the same level as doctors.

In an attempt to appease the goddess, festivals were celebrated at the end of battles, in hopes that destruction would befall their opponents. Annual festivals were held at the start of each year, where drinking to the point of intoxication was quite common. Dancing and the playing of music helped strike up the mood. It was believed that these actions could tame the wild streak of the goddess.

Kali – India

An ancient Indian goddess named Kali has been depicted as displaying fangs in her mouth and wearing a garland comprised of skulls or corpses. Some records show her connected to the drinking of blood, but she has always stood for death and destruction in Hindu mythology. While she is associated with negative occurrences, she is today seen as a goddess that represented time and change. In paintings and other illustrations, she is seen as dark and violent.

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