Satanism Scares and Vampirism from the 18th Century to the Contemporary Anti-Cult Movement
by Massimo Introvigne (a paper presented at the World Dracula Congress, Los Angeles 1997)
Do vampires really exist? And what does this question really mean? Vampirology has been for centuries a chapter of demonology, and vampire scares have a number of connections with Satanism scares. I will, accordingly, first summarize the history of Satanism scares in recent European and American history and in a second part of this paper explore the history of vampirology.
I. Satanism Scares
In 1993 sociologist Jeffrey S. Victor published a book on allegation of Devil worship and Satanism in the United States. On the first page of the book, Victor noted that "some really bizarre things have been happening in this country. These strange happenings may be omens of one of the biggest secret conspiracies, or one of the biggest hoaxes, in recent history".
These "bizarre things" were not happening for the first time. Satanism scares have occurred repeatedly in the modern Western world. Although vampire scares have an origin independent from Satanism scares, the two phenomena have a cultural connection. It is, accordingly, worthwhile to offer first, an overview of modern Satanism scares, and second, a summary of the connections between each main Satanism scare and vampires.
1. Satanism and Anti-Satanism: A Historical Overview
If we define Satanism as the organized worship of what the Bible identifies as Satan or the Devil, by groups which are organized as religious or magical movements, historians agree that Satanism is not a very ancient phenomenon. Rumors of Devil worship surfaced during witchcraft trials in the late 17th century, but there was no suggestion that organized and hierarchical satanic cults existed. The first satanic cult which possibly existed was operated by Catherine La Voisin at the Court of the French monarch Louis XIV. Although some historians are skeptical, the documents of the inquiry by Nicholas de la Reynie, the Police Chief of the king -- who was not a particularly religious man but a rather cold and stubborn policeman -- published by the 19th century historian François Ravaisson-Mollien, make a persuasive case for the celebration of "Black Masses" (the term was coined by La Voisin herself) at the Court of Louis XIV. "Black Masses" were described as rituals mocking the Roman Catholic Mass, in which Catholic hosts were desecrated through sex rituals and children were occasionally sacrificed to the Devil in order to obtain power and love for the wealthy customers of La Voisin . La Reynie's police effectively destroyed the cult, but the emerging press made the incident infamous for decades in Europe and copycat imitations surfaced during the 18th century and during the French Revolution. These episodes were connected by pious Catholic authors to the Revolution itself, which they believed had been masterminded by anti-Catholic Satanists.
Between 1800 and 1865 more than thirty influential works exposing a widespread Satanist conspiracy were published in France and in other countries . New religious movements such as Spiritualism and Mormonism were also believed to be the creation of the Devil and part of the worldwide satanic conspiracy. For example, the anti-Spiritualist Orestes Brownson (1803-1876) expressed his opinion in the United States that only Satan could have been the real author of the Book of Mormon . His theories were adapted in Europe by the Paris lawyer Joseph Bizouard (1797-1870) in his six-volume anti-Satanist work published in 1864 and which became one of the most influential books in the French anti-Satanism scare of the 1860s . In the meantime -- in the second half of the 19th century -- an occult subculture flourished in Paris and Lyon, including both non-satanic and satanic occult societies (some of them operated by defrocked Catholic priests). Journalist Jules Bois (1868-1943) and novelist Joris-Karl Huysmans (1848-1907) explored this underworld, and Huysmans publishedin 1891 a famous novel on Satanism, Là-bas, which included one of the most famous literary descriptions of a Black Mass . The Satanists of the 1880s were not invented by Huysmans; they existed, but they were -- admittedly -- only a few members in two or three small cults in France and Belgium . Again, public opinion overreacted and -- in the wake of the success of Là-bas -- sensational revelations on a worldwide satanic conspiracy were offered to the French public by Dr. Charles Hacks, a medical doctor writing under the pen name of "Dr. Bataille". Hacks published his huge Le Diable au XIXe siècle, whose two volumes appeared between 1892 and 1894, with the help of journalist Léo Taxil, whose real name was Gabriel Jogand (1854-1907) and who had announced with much fanfare his conversion from Freemasonry and anti-clericalism to Catholicism in 1885 .
Taxil supplemented Bataille's stories with more of his own, and the whole affair became increasingly wild. Taxil claimed to be the spokesman for Diana Vaughan, a High Priestess of Lucifer who was converting to Catholicism. Vaughan -- whose name appeared as editor of a monthly journal published in Paris, Mémoires d'une ex-Palladiste -- revealed that a huge satanic organization called Palladism was behind Freemasonry, Spiritualism, occultism and new religious movements, including the then controversial Salvation Army and Mormonism. The arch-rival of Diana was another American girl named Sophie Walder, who had been appointed High Priestess of Lucifer in competition with Diana by the satanic Pope himself, the prominent American freemason Albert Pike (1809-1891) . Eventually, Taxil's stories about Diana Vaughan came under increasing scrutiny by both Freemasons (including the British Masonic encyclopedist Arthur Edward Waite, 1857-1942)  and Catholics (particularly the Jesuit press in France and Germany). The Jesuits were actively engaged in the anti-Masonic campaign but, at the same time, did not trust Taxil. He was finally pressured to introduce the public to the elusive Diana Vaughan (who had never been seen) or admit that her existence was merely a literary device. In 1897 Taxil confessed at a conference in Paris that there was no Palladism nor a worldwide satanic conspiracy at all; his own conversion to Catholicism had been a hoax which he had conceived in order to convince the world how gullible the anti-Masonic Catholics of his time actually were .
Although a body of literature inspired by the Taxil fraud continued to be published well into our century (including L'Élue du Dragon, a 1929 book claiming that U.S. President James Abram Garfield, 1831-1881, had shortly replaced Albert Pike as chief of the worldwide satanic conspiracy before his assassination in 1881) , anti-Satanism was largely discredited after the infamous Taxil hoax. When in the 1930s Russian-born occultist Maria de Naglowska (1883-1936) established an openly satanic cult in Paris, the press was more amused than scandalized, and some newspapers characterized Naglowska's Satanism as an interesting religious experiment . The international press was less kind when British magus Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) shocked his contemporaries by styling himself "the Beast 666" and "the wickedest man in the world". Crowley made use of satanic imagery and is still regarded by many as the founding father of contemporary Satanism. The British occultist, however, was a magical atheist who did not believe in the actual existence of Satan; and although he has been influential on later satanic movements, he could not be regarded as a Satanist in the narrow, technical sense of the term . On the other hand, it is true that Crowley enthusiasts -- including movie director Kenneth Anger -- were instrumental in founding the Church of Satan in San Francisco in 1966, whose notorious spokesman is the former carnival performer Anton Szandor LaVey. To this day LaVey's Church of Satan and its main splinter group -- the Temple of Set, whose leader is Michael Aquino -- are the largest satanic organizations in the world. They are not large. Their combined active membership (not to be confused with their mailing lists) does not exceed one thousand people and is probably even smaller . LaVey's notoriety did have a role in the early stages of the latest anti-Satanist campaign, which can only be understood within the framework of the larger anti-cult propaganda of the 1970s and 1980s.
Summing up, from the Court of Louis XIV to contemporary California the pendulum has periodically swung between Satanism and anti-Satanism. Smaller satanic cults have existed from time to time and have produced -- since Satanism is, by definition, intolerable -- gross overreactions in the form of Satanism scares. The success of the anti-Satanist campaigns has been self-limited by their own exaggerations. The fact that each wave of anti-Satanism has been discredited has allowed new satanic cults to operate for a while, creating in turn a new overreaction, and so on.
2. Anti-Cult and Counter-Cult Movements
The success of the latest Satanism scare in the 1980s can only be understood as a peculiar development in the history of movements which have been created to fight the so-called "cults". Anti-cult movements are not new in American history. In the 19th century nativist organizations devoted to the defense of a Protestant America labeled as "cults" three groups perceived as quintessentially hostile to the American way of life: Freemasonry, Roman Catholicism, and Mormonism . New entries were gradually added -- Seventh-Day Adventists, Christian Science, Jehovah's Witnesses -- while Catholics and Mormons were eventually accepted by most Americans as part of the mainline of the national religious life and anti-Masonism became marginalized. By the end of World War II, hostility towards "cults" was reduced to a bigoted fringe of American Fundamentalism. The situation, however, changed in the 1960s with the emergence of the juvenile counterculture and of new religious movements such as the Children of God, the Moonies and the Hare Krishnas. Their proselytism targeted young adults and college students, leaving their families puzzled and worried when sons and daughters abandoned their secular careers to work full time for a "bizarre" religious movement. The metaphor of "brainwashing" was quickly applied to this apparently unexplainable change in behavior, and a militant opposition first against the Children of God and then against the "big three" (no longer Catholicism, Mormonism and Freemasonry, but now Moonies, Krishnas and Scientologists) spread from California throughout the United States and eventually to many other countries.
The movement against the "cults" was, however, hardly a united front. Students of the organized hostility to the "cults" have recognized the difference between a secular anti-cult movement (claiming to discuss only deeds, not creeds) and a religious counter-cult movement (where the fight against heretic creeds remains crucial). The different anti-cult and counter-cult movements have occasionally cooperated, but their relations have become increasingly difficult in recent years . Within each movement against the "cults" -- the secular and the religious -- differences have also arisen. I have argued elsewhere that both segments of the organized hostility to the "cults" are presently divided in a more moderate "rationalist" and a more extreme "post-rationalist" wing. Within the secular anti-cult movement the "rationalist" wing is composed of professional skeptics who regard the leaders of the "cults" as clever frauds, while the "post-rationalist" wing insists on the theory of "brainwashing", regarded as something magical, or even "the modern version of the evil eye" . Within the religious counter-cult movement the "rationalist" wing argues with logical arguments against the anti-Scriptural heresies of the "cults" and cautions against any attempt to connect the "cults" too directly with the activities of the Devil. The idea that the Devil personally directs the "cults" is, on the other hand, the trademark of the "post-rationalist" wing of the counter-cult movement . I have tried to show elsewhere the different attitudes -- religious and secular, "rationalist" and "post-rationalist" -- using the example of recent anti-Mormonism and of its different and often conflicting wings .
3. The Satanism Scare of the 1980s
In his early studies of hysteria, Sigmund Freud used hypnosis, and for a while became convinced that what he called the "theory of seduction" could explain the genesis of hysteria in female patients. All the patients he hypnotized, in fact, remembered being sexually abused in their childhood, a memory they were not conscious of while not under hypnosis. While Freud was initially persuaded that these memories corresponded to real, historical instances of abuse, he became perplexed when, continuing the hypnotic therapy, almost all the patients "remembered" abuse by Satanists (mostly their parents) in bizarre ceremonies and apparitions of the Devil himself. Freud dismissed these stories as fantasies, abandoned the theory of seduction and went on to formulate the alternative explanation for hysteria which eventually made him famous . Eighty years after Freud's early career, the theory of seduction surfaced again. A Canadian Catholic therapist, Lawrence Pazder, was told by his patient Michelle Smith that she had been abused by a satanic cult of international proportions twenty years before as a child, had witnessed horrible scenes of human sacrifice and cannibalism, had seen the Devil but had forgotten these experiences until beginning therapy with Pazder. Unlike Freud, Pazder concluded that Smith's memories corresponded to true, actual historical events. He persuaded the bishop of his Canadian Diocese to accompany him and Michelle to the Vatican, where their dramatic revelations about Satanism were met with more caution than enthusiasm. Pazder, however, decided to publish a book that eventually became a bestseller, Michelle Remembers, in 1980 . Shortly thereafter Pazder left his wife and four children to marry Smith, herself a divorcee, and the couple had to terminate their relationship with the Catholic Church (which does not condone divorce).
Although Michelle Remembers was written from a religious point of view, it was welcome more by secular mental health professionals than by the Churches. Michelle's story has been interpreted within the context of an ongoing discussion on Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD), a disorder where the same patient "dissociates" into different "alters" who speak with different voices, may have very different personalities and may not remember what the other "alters" think or do. Two Hollywood movies, The Three Faces of Eve in 1957 and Sybil in 1973, popularized this rather spectacular, if rare, disorder. The therapist who had treated Sybil, Cornelia Wilbur, was also instrumental in promoting the theory that MPD was almost invariably the result of severe childhood trauma, often in the form of sexual abuse. Not only was Freud's theory of seduction revived, but also Freud himself was accused of a cover-up for his refusal to treat seriously his patients' memories of satanic abuse. In the 1970s Dr. Wilbur was associated at the University of Kentucky with Dr. Arnold Ludwig and other therapists who were already active in the anti-cult movement. In 1984 the First International Conference on Multiple Personality/Dissociative States was organized in Chicago, where Wilbur delivered the opening plenary address. By 1986 leaders of the Cult Awareness Network, the largest secular anti-cult organization in the U.S., were invited to address the annual Chicago conference, thus forging an effective link between the MPD professionals and the anti-cult activists. The latter simply applied to the satanic cults whose memories surfaced in MPD patients their model of brainwashing and mind control. The result was twofold: as a result of increasing media coverage of MPD, thousands of patients in the United States began claiming that they were "survivors" who had been abused by satanic cults in their childhood; and their therapists and anti-cult activists alike finally repudiated Freud and claimed that the survivors' stories were literally true. They also called for quick action by public authorities to uncover the perpetrators, who were -- they claimed -- members of a vast, "multigenerational" and deadly dangerous satanic conspiracy. Anti-satanists also speculated that MPD does not always arise as a spontaneous protection against traumatic memories but may be "planted" by Satanists, who presumably have access to sophisticated psycho-technologies enabling them to brainwash children to dissociation, making their memories so garbled that future identification of the perpetrators becomes virtually impossible .
Another development took place in the same years. Survivors in treatment for MPD began relating events that took place decades before their memories surfaced again. Influenced by the survivors' stories, some therapists reasoned that the satanic cults were probably still operating, and that many of the children sexual abuse incidents (unfortunately common in the United States and elsewhere) may include an undetected satanic element. The first and the most famous case involved the McMartin Preschool in the affluent Los Angeles suburb of Manhattan Beach. The McMartin case began in 1983, when the principals and a number of teachers of the respected preschool were accused of operating an underground satanic cult, which ritually abused and tortured children. Mental health professionals involved in the case were later accused of having "planted" the stories in the children (some of them were only two or three years old) based on their own persuasion that a satanic conspiracy exists. The McMartin trial was the most expensive in United States legal history and ended in 1990 with no convictions . The McMartin case had an enormous media impact and it surely had something to do with hundreds of subsequent similar accusations of sexual ritual abuses in both day-care centers and in family settings. Although complete statistical data is lacking, it is possible that as many as two thousand cases of satanic ritual abuse of children have been investigated in the decade 1983-1992 . The number of convictions obtained in this ten year-period is a matter of dispute; but skeptical sociologists claim that there are less than five, out of thousands of cases investigated, while anti-Satanists circulate a list of thirteen. Figures are disputed because a specific felony of satanic or ritual abuse has been introduced only recently, and only in some States; in other cases where a conviction for sexual abuse has been obtained it is unclear whether the courts have in fact recognized the existence of a "satanic" element . It is, at any rate, important to distinguish between the stories told by survivors who suffer from MPD and the stories told by children. A bitter debate exists between national lobbies who argue, respectively, that children always tell the truth (Believe the Children) and that their memories are often false (False Memory Syndrome Foundation). However, while not even a single court conviction has been obtained based on the survivors' stories, at least a handful of cases exist in which abusers who appear to have used satanic symbols and paraphernalia have been convicted based on reports by children. There was no evidence that these abusers belonged to international, organized satanic cults and no reports of human sacrifice have been confirmed. Some therapists do not believe in the stories of the survivors, but they do believe that some of the stories of satanic abuse told by children may be true.
It is also important not to confuse the debate on satanic ritual abuse of children with discussions of adolescent Satanism. There is little doubt that gangs of teenagers exist who perform some sort of a home-made mix of satanic rituals (copied from comics, books or movies) and drug parties. These teenagers are often guilty of minor crimes such as vandalism or animal sacrifice. In less than a dozen cases more serious crimes appear to have been committed, including a handful of murders. In these cases it is difficult to determine whether drug, gang-related violence or Satan worship are mostly responsible for the crimes. What is clear is that teenage Satanism is not connected with any international conspiracy, and it is a different phenomenon from both religious Satanism represented by organizations such as the Church of Satan and "ritual" child abuse by adult perpetrators .
Attitudes before the widespread allegations of satanic child abuse in the 1980s reflect the differences between anti-cult and counter-cult movements. Some anti-cult movements -- whose influence was declining in the mid-1980s -- quickly seized the opportunity of adding Satanism to the list of "cults" they were claiming to fight, and became one of the main forces behind the Satanism scare . While "post-rationalist" organizations such as the Cult Awareness Network do accept the claims of survivors at face value, the "rationalist" wing of the anti-cult movement is predictably more skeptical. CSER, the Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion, an organization with connections to CSICOP and with the skeptic press Prometheus Books of Buffalo (New York) -- both active in exposing "cults" from a secular humanist point of view -- reacted very strongly against what it perceived as a superstitious legend. CSER published a report in 1989 in which the Cult Awareness Network was included on a list of "non-experts" on Satanism. The skeptic Committee concluded that the whole idea of a widespread satanic conspiracy was a huge hoax . Surprisingly, the religious counter-cult movement -- although firmly convinced of the existence of the Devil -- was quite slow in adding Satanism to its own list of "cults". Evangelical counter-cultists were suspicious of secular psychiatrists who figured too prominently in the promotion of the Satanism scare. Eventually, however, the "post-rationalist" wing of the religious counter-cult movement (already persuaded that the Devil was behind most "cults") accepted the claims of the survivors. Evangelical survivors, prepared to explain their experience in strictly religious terms, began to develop -- particularly in Pentecostal and charismatic circles -- a technique called "inner healing", where lost memories of childhood abuse are recovered not through secular therapy but through a protracted group prayer on the disturbed individual . The "rationalist" wing of the evangelical counter-cult movement, on the other hand, flatly refused to jump on the Satanism scare bandwagon. The Christian Research Institute -- the organization founded by the late counter-cult activist Walter Martin (1928-1989) -- concluded that "there is still no substantial, compelling evidence that satanic ritual abuse stories and conspiracy theories are true (...). Careful investigation of the stories, the alleged victims, and the proponents has given us every reason to reject the satanic conspiracy model" . Christianity Today, the most influential voice of American Evangelicalism, recommended "skepticism" in a June 1993 article authored by two Evangelical university professors and noted that while "for nearly a decade, American law enforcement has been aggressively investigating the allegations of victims of ritualistic abuse", so far "there is no evidence for the allegation of large-scale baby breeding [i.e. "producing" babies whose birth is not registered with public authorities for sacrificing them in satanic ceremonies], human sacrifice, and organized satanic conspiracies". "We cannot fall victim -- the Evangelical professors concluded -- to sloppy thinking or judgment based on a mixture of fallacies, non-evidence, and subjectivism. 'He who chases fantasies lacks judgment' (Prov. 12:11)" . In March 1994 the same Christianity Today even recommended the ultimate skeptic book on the Satanism scare, satanic Panic by (secular) sociologist Jeffrey S. Victor. The reviewer confirmed, once again, that "to date there has been no investigation that has substantiated the claims of alleged satanic abuse survivors" and quoted John F. Kennedy to the effect that "the great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived, and dishonest -- but the myth -- persistent, pervasive, and unrealistic" .
The most visible conflict was not, however, between "rationalist" and "post-rationalist" groups against the "cults". Sociologists and other academics specialized in new religious movements were united in their militant opposition to the theory of the satanic conspiracy and did much to ridicule the stories of survivors. The publication of the collective work The Satanism Scare in 1991 by noted sociologists and anthropologists was a crucial blow to the survivors' credibility . By 1991 even some psychiatric specialists of MPD were harboring doubts on the factual truth of the survivors' stories, and the difficult decision to allow skeptic anthropologists and psychiatrists to propose alternative points of view in the yearly Chicago conferences on MPD was made, much to the disappointment of militant survivors' organizations such as Voices in Action and others . In 1994-1995 two official reports sponsored by the U.K.  and the U.S.  government concluded that no large satanic conspiracy exists and the large majority of survivors stories are not factually true, although in a few cases abusers may have tried to terrorize children by referring to the Devil or Satanism. These abusers, however, are not connected to international networks of Satanists, secret or otherwise. It may be expected that the reports will cause a decline -- and, eventually, a marginalization -- of the Satanism scares of the 1980, largely based on survivors stories.
II. Vampirology and the Satanism Scares
1. Pre-Classic Vampirology, 1706-1787
Modern scholarship has made abundantly clear that the vampire scares in Eastern Europe (circa 1672-1772) occurred independently from any Western European Satanism scare, based on local folklore and legends. The reception of the Eastern incidents in the West is, however, another matter. Historian Michel de Certeau has noted that Satanism scares are different from earlier witchcraft scares and are a typical modern phenomenon. The widespread social alarm following the French incidents at the Court of Louis XIV (and early possession cases in the 17th century) could hardly be explained without taking into account the growing importance of the press, particularly in the form of dozens of pamphlets, but including early weekly and monthly journals and gazettes . The press kept alive for decades incidents that, in earlier times, would have been forgotten in a few years. It is in the climate created by the countless printed accounts of the first proto-satanic cult operated by Madame La Voisin at the Court of Louis XIV that the most quoted book on vampires in the 18th century reached Western Europe. Magia Posthuma, by Charles Ferdinand de Schertz, published in 1706, related a number of vampire stories from Bohemia and Moravia and, though discounting exaggerations, considered them mostly believable. As a lawyer, Schertz advised against desecrating bodies without a previous regular process before a court of law, involving expert advice by doctors and theologians. Burning bodies of suspected vampires should not be left to ignorant peasants, but should be carried out by legitimate authorities pursuant a due decision by a court of law . That Schertz was taken seriously in countries like Italy, Germany and France -- and was still quoted as an authoritative source well into the 19th century -- could only have happened within the general frame of the Satanism scare created by the La Voisin investigation and its widespread publicity through the press. Evidence that Schertzs reports were widely believed, including by scholars, is also offered by refutations by skepticals. Perhaps the most famous among Schertzs refutations is included in the forty-sixth volume of the huge Universal-Lexicon published between 1732-1754 in Leipzig by Johann Heinrich Zedler. Zedler quotes the incidents mentioned by Schertz and other famous stories -- including Peter Plogojovitzs -- and concludes that vampire scares are due to epidemics of psychiatric illnesses and are mere dreams by peasant populations. The quality of the earth in certain regions of Eastern Europe explains why some buried bodies are found apparently "intact" after months or years. There is, at any rate, nothing mysterious about vampires, and psychiatrists could easily dispose of the related stories. "When we could find a natural explanation for an incident -- Zedler concludes -- we should stay with this explanation without resorting to spirits or occult qualities" . Anti-Schertz skeptics also existed within the Roman Catholic Church. In Italy monsignor Giuseppe Davanzati (1665-1755) archbishop of Trani, wrote in 1743 his Dissertazione sopra i vampiri, denying that vampires existed at all and contradicting the opinion of cardinal Schtattembach, the bishop of Olmutz who in a conversation with the Italian archbishop had typically used Schertzs arguments. Davanzatis refutation circulated widely in a manuscript form, but apparently was not published before 1774 . Most importantly, in 1743 Davanzatis work had been approved in a widely publicized letter by Pope Benedict XIV, who is regarded to this date as an authority in matters of miracles and prodigies, both divine and diabolical, in the Catholic Church. Benedict XIV later returned to the vampire question, branding as superstitious the Eastern European bishops who believed in the reality of the phenomena. He even suggested, in a letter to the Polish archbishop of Leopolis, that "possibly there are priests who support belief in vampires in order to obtain from gullible peasants the payment of exorcisms and Masses" .
It is commonly argued that belief in the reality of vampires in the 18th century was supported by the famous Dissertation by Benedictine scholar Dom Augustin Calmet (1672-1757). Most of those criticizing Calmet -- including some of his contemporaries -- probably did not read carefully his book and trusted the ironical remarks of Voltaire, who -- on the other hand -- had been the guest of Calmet in his abbey of Senones and held the Benedictine in some regard for his prodigious erudition in historical and theological matters. It is true that Calmet, in his 1746 book, amassed in an apparently uncritical way reports of vampire incidents from all over Eastern Europe and became the source of all modern vampirology. On the other hand, recent scholarship tends to regard Calmet, based on his correspondence with a number of fellow Catholic scholars and priests, as much more skeptical than it is usually believed. Since a number of passages in his 1746 book were ambiguous, they were corrected in the second edition, of 1751, where Calmet concludes that he does believe that some corpses may be "conserved" (perhaps because they were buried when the subject was only apparently dead) but he does not believe in vampirism in the usual sense of the term. As we shall see, in the 19th century Calmet will be accused by Catholic demonologists of being a skeptical Enlightenment philosopher in disguise. Italian scholar Nadia Minerva -- in a study of the Satanism scares in the 18th century -- has concluded that Calmet was neither a skeptical in disguise (if he did not believe in vampires, he did believe firmly in a number of other diabolical manifestations), nor the gullible true believer depicted by Voltaire. He tried a "middle way" that he called the "voie raisonnable" ("reasonable way"), arguing that some phenomena were perhaps true but most were not. His peculiar literary style of repeating first all the vampire stories as if they were actually true, then criticizing them in later chapters of the book, maintained however an ambiguity to the whole exercise. Sociologically, thus, Calmet -- whatever his ultimate personal opinions -- plaid the role of a believer and helped many demonologists, particularly in the subsequent century, to argue that vampires did indeed exist . In the 18th century himself vampire scares were halted by Empress Maria Theresa of Austria in 1753 following an investigation by his Court doctor, Gerhard van Swieten (1700-1772). The investigation -- which regarded belief in vampirism as mere superstition -- was written in French and German in 1755 and published in his final version in Augsburg in 1768 . Van Swieten was an Enlightenment skeptic , but his work was well received by the Vatican and eventually translated into Italian in 1787 with a title explicitly referring to Schertzs Magia Posthuma . This Vatican-approved edition of van Swietens skeptical report marks the end of pre-classic vampirology, started with Schertzs book in 1706. In a parallel development, the Satanism scare generated by the first satanic incidents of late 17th century was losing momentum between 1750-1790. As we mentioned earlier, it was revived by Catholic authors who suspected a Satanist conspiracy behind the French Revolution.
2. Classic Vampirology, 1819-1897
As we mentioned earlier, Catholic demonology in the 19th century tried to explain through the action of Satanists -- and, ultimately, of the Devil himself -- two apparently inexplicable historical events who had taken Catholics by surprise: the French Revolution, and the rise of Spiritualism. Most treatises on demonology in France -- the most prolific country in this field -- start in the 19th century with a discussion of the theories of German theologian Johann Joseph von Görres (1776-1848). Görres, a Protestant professor at Munich University, had converted to Roman Catholicism in 1819. His interest in vampires was introduced in the Roman Catholic Church through his conversion, and we could date classic vampirology from this 1819 event. Ironically -- while some modern authors regard Görres as gullible and too ready to conclude that demonic influences are at work  -- in France throughout the 19th century Görres was widely criticized for being too skeptical. In fact, in his seminal work Die Christliche Mystik , Görres distinguishes between three types of mysticism: divine, natural, and satanic. For his time, the German theologian is not too generous in classifying phenomena in either the divine or satanic categories: most are explained as "natural", resorting -- if necessary -- to dubious theories such as animal magnetism or mesmerism. The famous section on vampires of Görres magnum opus is a good example of his theories. Vampirism is indeed discussed within the context of "natural mysticism", i.e. extraordinary phenomena who are neither divine nor satanic in origin. Görres starts with a discussion of the most famous cases and vampirism scares in Eastern Europe, including the case of Peter Plogojowitz. Not surprisingly, he discusses at length Schertzs Magia Posthuma and reports some of the most curious stories from Calmet. Görres explanation of these incidents is entirely natural, but -- as elsewhere in his work -- makes large use of contemporary pseudoscience. In the bodies of the so-called vampires the soul has been separated by the body, and there is no real "human life" left. There could be, however, still a "vital principle", a "vegetal life" still present in the blood and preventing the corruption of the body. This "vegetal life" is enough to explain why bodies of the alleged vampires are found full of blood, and Görres offers comparisons with illnesses where abnormal quantities of blood are expelled from the body. A corpse maintaining a "vegetal life" is, according to Görres, a rare thing; unfortunately, it is also dangerous. The presence of such corpses, even deeply buried, causes an "influx on the living humans" in a comparatively large area around the cemetery. Those under the "influx" of these bodies slowly "loose life", develop an illness "without fever" and die. This illness is also accompanied by "hallucinations" where a victim "believes" to be attacked and to have his or her blood sucked; hence the vampire stories. When the victims of the "vampire" -- in fact a corpse maintaining a "vegetal life" -- die, their body easily in turn maintains the "vegetal life" and becomes another "vampire". The only remedy is to burn these corpses and "the common people, with its common sense, has developed a better view of this problem than scholars with their skeptical mind" . Görres, thus, does not deny that people could actually die because of the "vampires", but prefers a natural explanation -- although based on the dubious theory of "vegetal life" -- without involving the Devil.
The French demonology of the 1850s and 1860s -- confronted, mostly, with Spiritualism -- discussed at length Görres theories but normally criticized the German theologian for not giving the Devil his due. The two most important demonologists of these decades are marquis Jules Eudes de Mirville (1802-1873) and one-time ambassador Henri-Roger Gougenot des Mousseaux (1805-1876), mostly remembered today for his anti-Jewish tirades but well-known also as a demonologist in his time. Their theories were summarized by Joseph Bizouard, whom we have already mentioned. In the United States, Orestes Brownson frankly recognized his debt to Mirville in matters diabolical. Mirville discusses vampires in the fourth volume of the definitive edition of his Pneumatologie. Mirvilles discussion is a summary of the well-known Eastern European incidents and a criticism of doctor Calmeil, a psychiatrist who had regarded vampire stories as mere hallucinations. Mirville remarks that it would not be a great comfort for victims of vampirism to hear that, according to the learned psychiatrist, they have been killed by mere "hallucinations". His discussion of vampirism is, however, somewhat inconclusive. Mirville does not accept "natural" theories but remains uncertain whether vampire bodies are possessed by the souls of the damned (perhaps the same souls once attached to that bodies, according to Eastern European popular belief) or by the Devil himself . Gougenot des Mousseaux solves the problem in 1864 without hesitations. As usual, he takes most of his fact from Schertz, and, as his friend Mirville, criticizes the medical theory of hallucination of doctor Calmeil. He ruthlessly attacks Calmet as a skeptical disguised as a believer. He also criticizes the theory of a French spiritist, M. Piérart, who thinks that vampires are simply poor people buried when still living, in a "cataleptic state", projecting their astral body to take the blood they need in order to survive. Gougenot dismisses Piérarts theory as based on the unproved existence of the astral body. Quoting Kabalistic authors he was familiar with as an anti-Jewish polemist, Gougenot gives his solution. The Catholic Church accepts as a well-established fact that the body of a living human being could be possessed by the Devil. There is no reason to doubt that the Devil could also possess the body of a dead and "animate a corpse". A corpse possessed by a Demon becomes easily "homicide" as the Devil has a "homicide and revolutionary nature". "Blood, blood! This is their better cry; all Devils are vampiric, and why? Because they are the Homicide Spirits of the abyss" .
After these scholarly precedents, it is surprising that the Taxil hoax does not devote to vampirism more than a few pages. Taxil and his co-conspirator doctor Hacks (alias doctor Bataille) were not particularly concerned with Eastern European tales, but rather with living human beings killing people and drinking blood under the influence of Satan. In the second volume of Le Diable au XIXe siècle we meet one such vampire, a "Hindo-African of the Mauritius Islands", allegedly executed on December 12, 1892 for having "vampirized" a young girl, sucking her blood from her neck and killing her in the process. For Bataille this individual, called Dianh, was obviously "in frequent relations with Lucifer". Other examples are given and the message is that vampires, rather than corpses animated by the Devil, are criminal human beings who drink blood and kill people because they are part of a huge Satanist conspiracy . Bataille, here, takes into account a new medical literature describing "clinical vampirism" as a compulsion to drink blood leading to attacking and eventually killing human beings. 1892, the year when the publication of Le Diable was started, is also the year of the English translation of Psychopathia Sexualis, first published in German by psychiatrist Richard von Krafft-Ebing (1840 - 1902), which contains a number of stories of clinical vampirism . It is a well-known fact that Krafft-Ebings work inspired the character of Renfield in Bram Stokers Dracula, first published in 1897. The Count himself, on the other hand, is still -- in Stokers novel -- a rather "Catholic" vampire, duly impressed by Catholic prayers and consecrated hosts. The publication of Dracula in 1897 marks at the same time the triumph and the demise of classic vampirology. Clinical vampirism, as studied by psychiatrists and reduced to a purely secular and medicalized phenomenon, will surface again in the Satanism scares of our century.
3. Modern Vampirology, 1897-1980: The Secularization of the Vampire
The history of clinical vampirism has been documented in 1992 by Richard Noll. Clinical vampirism has been described repeatedly by a number of 20th century psychiatrists, and Noll proposes to rename it "Renfields syndrome in honor of the character in Bram Stokers Dracula". The progression of "Renfields syndrome" is outlined by Noll as follows:
1. A pivotal event often leads to the development of vampirism (blood drinking). This usually occurs in childhood, and the experience of bleeding or the taste of blood is found to be exciting. After puberty, this excitement associated with blood is experiences as sexual arousal.
2. The progression of Renfields syndrome follows a typical course in many cases:
Autovampirism is generally developed first, usually in childhood, by initially self-inducing scrapes or cuts in the skin to produce blood, which is then ingested, to later learning how to open major blood vessels (veins, arteries) in order to drink a steady stream of warm blood more directly. The blood may then be ingested at the time of the opening, or may be saved in jars or other containers for later imbibing or for other reasons. Masturbation often accompanies autovampiristic practices.
Zoophagia (literally the eating of living creatures, but more specifically the drinking of their blood) may develop prior to autovampirism in some cases, but usually is next to develop. Persons with Renfields syndrome may themselves catch and eat or drink the blood of living creatures such as insects, cats, dogs, or birds. The blood of other species may be obtained at places such as slaughterhouses and then ingested. Sexual activity may or may not accompany these functions.
Vampirism in its true form is the next stage to develop - procuring and drinking the blood of living human beings. This may be done by stealing blood from hospitals, laboratories, and so forth, or by attempting to drink the blood directly from others. Usually this involves some sort of consensual sexual activity, but in lust-murder type cases and in other nonlethal violent crimes, the sexual activity and vampirism may not be consensual.
3. The compulsion to drink blood almost always has a strong sexual component associated with it.
4. Blood will sometimes take on an almost mystical significance as a sexualized symbol of life or power, and, as such, an experience of well being or empowerment will be reported by those with Renfields syndrome following such activities.
5. Persons with Renfields syndrome are primarily male.
6. The defining characteristic of Renfields syndrome is the blood-drinking compulsion. Other related activities such as necrophilia and necrophagia that do not have as their goal the drinking of blood are not to be considered aspects of this disorder. 
Noll chronicles the history of a different kind of vampirology, no longer the province of the exorcist or the demonologist but of the psychiatrist. Modern vampirology starts after the publication of Dracula in 1897 and covers almost a century. From 1897 to 1980 psychiatric descriptions of clinical vampires are not scarce (although the disease is by no means widespread), while Catholic and protestant treatises on the Devil almost ignore vampires, and no hint of a ritualistic or religious vampirism surfaces. Interestingly enough, Noll is among the skeptics about the recent Satanism scare and survivors stories. Although sympathetic towards religious people involved in exorcism, often unfairly harassed by secular psychiatrists , Noll does not believe in the existence of the Devil -- nor, for that matters, in the supernatural origins of Christianity . Ironically, however, Nolls collection of medical evidence for clinical vampirism has been quoted by both secular anti-Satanists and evangelical counter-Satanists in the recent scare.
4. Post-Modern Vampirology, 1980-1995
After the publication of Michelle Remembers in 1980, the interest in ritualistic abuse has caused, as we have mentioned, the largest Satanism scare in our century. Within the frame of this scare we have witnessed a renewed interest in vampires, and a new vampirology has emerged. Although the interest is still concentrated on living human vampires rather than on undeads, vampirism is again examined within the context of a ritual and of black magic. Small vampire-based new religious movements do exist, such as the Temple of the Vampire (with "i") based in Lacey, Washington and the Order of the Vampyre (with "y") within one of the largest contemporary Satanist groups, Michael Aquinos Temple of Set. Some of these organizations only practice a metaphorical vampirism, while in others members ritually suck blood from each other (normally not from the neck -- the exercise could be practiced in a non-dangerous way but is painful -- but, less romantically, from a finger pierced by a surgical needle). Survivors have however told therapists much wilder stories. A number of survivors have reported having been attacked during satanic ceremonies by Satanists drinking blood from their necks . If one believes -- as I have argued elsewhere  -- that survivors stories are socially constructed narratives influenced by prevailing cultural trends, it could be easily argued that blood-drinking incidents have recently surfaced in survivors accounts due to the renewed popularity of vampires in the American movie industry. It could not be excluded that recent scholarly studies of vampires  may have in turn influenced some therapists. It is, at any rate, clear that in such secular anti-satanic literature vampires are not corpses animated by the Devil or immortal beings. They are common human beings -- or perhaps uncommon, in the sense of being criminal Satanists. In 1991 Cosmopolitan reporter Carol Page published a successful collection of interviews with such individuals, "real vampires", where she even proclaimed that we are living today in the "age of vampirism" . This is, in part, still a secularized vampirism, the province of the psychiatrist rather than the exorcist. The ritualistic context, on the other hand, introduces a new, post-modern element with respect to the modern, medical phase of vampirology. Nolls study, additionally, is also quoted by Evangelical counter-Satanists who would happily add that these disturbed individuals are clearly inspired by the Devil himself.
Perhaps the most extraordinary work of this literature is Lucifer Dethroned published in 1993 by counter-cult activist William Schnoebelen with his wife Sharon . Schnoebelen is in himself an interesting character. After a short passage in the Mormon Church -- where he made a living as a convert claiming (falsely, as it turned out) to be a former Roman Catholic priest (he had been, in fact, a priest in a small splinter group not associated with the Church of Rome) -- Schnoebelen converted to Evangelical Christianity and started a career in professional counter-cultism claming to be almost an ex-everything: ex-Catholic priest, ex-Mormon, but also ex-witch, ex-Satanist, ex-Freemason, in increasingly lurid accounts. Most of his books have been published by the notorious Chick Publications of Chino (California), well known for its extreme anti-Catholicism . Schnoebelen, thus, has emerged as an interesting figure of moral entrepreneur in modern professional counter-cultism . Not surprisingly, after Hollywood renewed interest in vampires and the success of Anne Rices novels, Schnoebelen has claimed to be also an ex-vampire. The back cover of his Lucifer Dethroned proclaims a moral tale: "If Schnoebelen, crazed by blood lust and headed for murder, could be changed by Jesus Christ, ANYONE can!" (emphasis in original). Schnoebelen relates how, having descended all the degrees of occultism and Satanism, he discovered the "final piece of the puzzle". The ultimate occultism is "VAMPIRISM!" (emphasis in original). Schnoebelen -- who has really been for a while a bishop in the Chicago-based occultist Michael Bertiauxs Gnostic Church -- claims that "the inner rings" of his organization (not named in the book) "were involved with Thelema, the religion of Aleister Crowley. Among these innermost rings were certain select women who were consecrated, dedicated, willing -- even delighted to let me drink their blood. With enough women to choose from, no one woman would loose enough blood to become seriously threatened. They enjoyed the experience, and I was sustained. Thus, I did not have to go outside our rings to pray upon women for their blood -- at first...". Schnoebelen blames Hollywood for having sold to him with the "Dracula" movies "the lie of eternal youth and eternal beauty (...). I know, because I bought that lie - hook, line and fang". "The vampire cult", according to Schnoebelen, is "the last and most damnable step in [the] exploration of Satanism". Catholicism, as usual in Schnoebelens books, is also to be blamed, for his Eucharistic ritual of drinking the blood of Jesus may be propedeutic for Satanists to drinking human blood. Schnoebelen describes a "Mass of St. Vlad", supposedly celebrated in his cult in honor of Dracula. "Special sacramental rum was used instead of the traditional red wine. It was essentially similar to the Orthodox liturgy, except for obvious differences". One of the "priestesses" was involved. "First, I would drink from her neck until she nearly fainted from loss of blood. Then, I would open up my own chest and [the priestess] would drink deeply from my blood. This supposedly transmitted the foreign, demonic enzyme into her body which begun transforming her into a priestess of the Nosferatu. The mass would then conclude with setting the sacramental liquor (supposedly transubstantiated into the blood of Dracula himself) aflame. We would call upon Vlad to come and smile upon the creation of this new child of his". One day Schnoebelen "almost went too far with one of the priestesses. Remarkably, she was enjoying it no end, but I lost control and drunk so much of her blood that she became unconscious". Happily, the priestess did not die but we see Schnoebelen wandering at midnight in Milwaukee watching "the occasional prostitute" and trying desperately to control his "animal urge to wait until she was alone and pull her down the way a lion would attack a gazelle". The good Christian reader is thus led to climax of the story, followed by an immediate anticlimax: "It was at this desperate time that the Lord Jesus Christ entered my life (...) Jesus can save to the uttermost even someone as horrendous and wretched as I had become!" . It is, of course, not impossible that Schnoebelen may have met some "clinical vampires" -- or someone claiming to be a "clinical vampire" -- in the occult subculture. Schnoebelen, however, has invented so many incidents that could not conceivably have happened  that one is not inclined to believe his vampire stories. The Dracula mass as initiation on how to become a good vampire is too similar to Anne Rices Lestat stories about vampire initiation. Schnoebelen, however, is still very much in demand as a speaker in the Evangelical-Fundamentalist counter-cult circuit, and his book offers to counter-Satanists the possibility of integrating vampires into their view of a Satanist conspiracy.
The Dracula mass may never have been celebrated in Milwaukee (although, as we mentioned earlier, simpler vampire rituals do exist in the contemporary occult subculture), but these incidents confirm that vampires do indeed reemerge in any Satanism scare. Since Satanism scares are never very long, but periodically resurface in history, the stories told by survivors to psychiatrists and by Schnoebelen to his Evangelical Christian readers may not be the final chapter on tales about "real" vampires. Denis Buican in a controversial book which includes references to possible political analogies, claims that Dracula has become a archetype, where, "in the same will to preserve a malignant power and a threatened life, those who loose their blood and those who drink it are somewhat confused" . The vampire is, at the same time, an image of evil and an image of how unsure we moderns have become about the origin of evil.
As usual, post-modernity is not a mere return to pre-modern models. In this perspective -- and contrary to many reviews of the movie version of Interview with the Vampire as superficial (and perhaps not politically correct) -- Anne Rices saga is highly significant. Lestats quest is above all about the origins of vampire and, at the same time, about the origins of the universe, of evil, of God. In her fourth novel of the vampire cycle, The Tale of the Body Thief, a friend of Lestat, the occult scholar David Talbot (later to become a vampire himself), relates a vision he had in a Paris café of God and the Devil arguing within each other. Davids theory is that God is not pure spirit, "has a body" and "has made many mistakes". "The Devil became the Devil because he tried to warn God". According to Talbot, there may be more than one Devil. Each Devil may change his mind or grow tired of the job, and be eventually substituted . Anne Rice has argued that Talbots theory is "very much on my mind, the idea that the Devil learns and changes. How do they get him to keep the job? Thats what this book is all about. Its about Lestat learning and changing, and not really wanting to be the Devil" . Still, it is a demon, Amel, who in Rices saga creates the first vampire Akasha, around 4,000 b.C. in Egypt. Akasha then plays a significant role in Lestats story . Vampires and the Devil, thus, are connected, although vampires are also curious about the Devil and unhappy that they do not know enough about him and the universe. This could not be the end of the story, at least in Rices term, as we see in her further vampire novel, Memnoch the Devil, where Lestat finally meets the Devil himself and confronts the whole Christian worldview . A similar post-modern vampire is Saint-Germain, created by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro: like Lestat (and unlike Stokers Dracula) he is not stopped by the symbols of Christianity, while on the other hand he is knowledgeable in the occult sciences and carries the name of a famous 18th century occultist. It is, on the other hand, unlikely that Anne Rice, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro -- or anyone else -- may say the final word on the relationship between God, the Devil, Satanism, and vampires. Perhaps the World Dracula Congress of 1995 will be remembered as the end of a phase of vampirology and the beginning of further developments. At any rate, as archetypes now deeply encoded in the human soul vampires are so powerful that, like the poor of the Gospel, they will likely remain with us until the end of the world.
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