Every culture around the world has a creation myth, flood myth, apocalypse myth, and a vampire myth. This makes vampire mythology a worldwide phenomenon that taps into fears and ideas universal to humanity.
First, vampires exploit the fear of the dead rising from the grave. Like many myths, there is something historically accurate about this idea. Ancient peoples, lacking sophisticated medical knowledge and equipment, could mistake unconscious states for death only for the deceased to wake up, sometimes after being buried!
Blood as a source of life was well-known to ancient peoples, so it was not difficult to imagine as a means to bring death back to life. Unearthed corpses could also exhibit a reddish liquid around the mouth.
Mythology connects appetite to the ideas of life and death. Stories of Persephone and Izanami becoming trapped in the underworld after eating its native food establish the connection to death. Likewise, eating is linked to the idea of immortality through the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden, the golden apples of the Norse goddess Idun, and the peaches of China.
· Jewish: Lilith (Talmudic tradition). Adam’s first wife wanted to be on top (yes, in that way) and became mother of demons and stealer of children. Often attributed as the first vampire or succubus.
· Hindu: Kali. Goddess of time, death, and change. Kali is both feared and venerated. Her great appetite for blood allowed her to defeat the demon Raktabija, saving the world.
· Greek: Persephone. Queen of the underworld. Half dead and half alive. Kidnaped by Hades (later marrying him), she ate pomegranate seed in the underworld. Spends half the year in the underworld.
· Japanese: Izanami. Creation goddess who died during childbirth. Trapped after eating from the underworld.
· Native American: Wendigos (Algonquin) are formerly human and associated with cannibalism. Skin-walkers (Navajo) result from a cursed ritual. Combination of werewolves and vampires (sort of).