Anti-Vampire Rituals Practiced in Bulgaria up until 25 Years Ago
Bulgarian archaeologist Nikolay Ovcharov has said that anti-vampire rituals, which have been practiced since at least the 13th century, only stopped being practiced around 25 years ago.
According to pagan beliefs, people who were considered bad during their lifetimes might turn into vampires after death unless stabbed in the chest with an iron or wooden rod before being buried. People believed the rod would also pin them down in their graves to prevent them from leaving at midnight and terrorising the living. The legends formed an important part of Bulgaria’s folklore, as well as other countries throughout Europe.
“We are not medieval people to believe in vampires but in the past people believed that they existed and conducted ceremonies to prevent the dead from turning into these devilish creatures,” said Ocharov.
Ceremonies were conducted to prevent so-called vampires from rising from their graves. "The Vampire" lithograph by R. De Moraine (1864). (Wikipedia)
The archeologist, nicknamed “Bulgaria’s Indiana Jones”, added that only 25-30 years ago in some of the Bulgarian villages there was a special person responsible for sticking the dead bodies with stakes – a ritual aiming to prevent the body from turning into a vampire.
Throughout Bulgaria, the remains of over 100 vampire-treated people, all of them men, and all of them prominent citizens, have been found. One of these “vampire” skeletons was discovered in 2012 in Bulgaria’s historical coastal town of Sozopol, and, more recently, a skeleton of a "vampire" was discovered on Bulgaria's Perperikon, a 7,000-year-old sacred site deep in the Rhodope Mountains.
An 800-year-old skeleton found in Bulgaria stabbed through the chest with iron rod. (Wikipedia)
The pagan rite was also practised in neighbouring Serbia and other Balkan countries, and several months ago ‘vampire’ burial sites were discovered in Poland. Most people acknowledge that the rituals are based on superstition and folklore, however, there remain a small minority of people who still believe that actual blood-sucking vampires do exist.