3 Weird Ways to Confuse a Vampire

Arkane Curiosities

If a vampire has you on their menu, you can reach for a stake or garlic. But another solution is to simply confuse the vampire. Through the years, people have surmised various weaknesses of these nocturnal bloodsuckers and come up with different ways to perplex them. A confused vampire is one that won’t be feasting on you.

Force the Vampire to Do Some Math

Many cultures contend that vampires are obsessive to the point of compulsion. They will count various objects, no matter how many, until the job is done. We can use this to our advantage.

Germans would scatter seeds (poppy, mustard, oat or carrot) around the grave of a suspected vampire. The undead was compelled to count all the seeds before leaving the grave to seek blood. Although this seems like a simple task, often the vampire found themselves delayed till daylight. The Kashubs of Poland believed a vampire could only count a single seed a year, thus keeping it busy for centuries. 

Knots could also delay a vampire. Nets were often buried with the deceased forcing the undead to untie all the knots.

A more macabre practice was to leave a dead cat or dog on your doorstep. In this case, the vampire must count all the hairs on the animal. Personally, I would opt for the seeds. 

Trick the Vampire with Poop

Never has the poop emoji been so powerful. No garlic or crucifix at hand? Just shove a bowl of excrement in the vampire’s face.

In Europe, vampires were thought to exit the grave through small holes (the size a serpent might make). In Bulgaria, they placed bowls of feces (or poison) right outside these holes. The vampire, it seems, is so famished that it will consume the first thing it comes across, devouring the bowl of excrement. 

Get the Vampire Drunk

A happy vampire is one that won’t invade your home. Sometimes a bottle of whiskey was left in the grave with the corpse. If the vampire became too drunk, it might not be able to find the home of its relatives, preventing it from feeding on you. 

In Romania, people would bury a bottle of wine with the corpse. After six weeks, they dug up the bottle and drank it, offering a form of protection from the strigoi (a Romanian vampire).

Tim Kane

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3 Weird Ways to Stop a Vampire (Carpet, Hairpin, Lemon)

Arkane Curiosities

Vampires rise from the grave to bite our necks and gulp down our blood. Not a great situation if you’re on the punctured side of the equation. The best way to cope with these bloodsuckers is to make sure they never get out of their coffins in the first place.

Wrap the Vampire in a Carpet

In areas of Eastern Europe, people bound the knees (or sometimes even the whole body) of a suspected vampire with a rope. This prevented the corpse from clambering out of the grave. People would take this one step further, and wrap a rug around the bloodsucker to completely immobilize it. In Ireland, people would pile stones on the grave to keep the Dearg-dul (Irish vampire) from rising. 

In the case of the recently discovered vampire in Poland, the corpse had a padlock on her left big toe to symbolize that she would never rise again. Serbians took this one step further and cut off the toe of a Vlkoslak (a Serbian vampire).

Poke the Vampire with a Hairpin

Various sharp objects have been found in vampire graves, all meant to discourage the undead from leaving the grave. The discovery of a female skeleton buried with a sickle across her neck was not the first anti-vampire method. The idea with the sickle was to cut the head off if the vampire should rise.


Image credit: Miroslav Blicharski / Aleksander. Photograph:( Others )

Hairpins or thorns would also prevent a vampire from rising. These objects were inserted either under the tongue or in the navel. In Bulgaria they wrapped their version of a vampire (Krvoijac) with wild roses. The thorns of these were seen as a deterrent. 

When dug up, people noted that some corpses looked plumper than before (due to the swelling of the body after death). Pins or thorns were thought to keep the body from swelling.

Give the Vampire a Lemon

A certain German vampire called Neuntöter was afraid of lemons. Placing a lemon in its mouth when buried would keep the vampire in its grave (they would sometimes cut off the head between 11pm and midnight). 

The lemon has long been seen as a treatment for illness and poison. The ancient Romans used lemon juice to cure colds and fevers, while the Egyptians would drink the juice to protect against poison. Ancient Greeks claimed that eating lemons could help people survive being bitten by a poisonous snake.

Tim Kane

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3 Weird Ways to Kill a Vampire (Needle, Bullet, Sock)

Arkane Curiosities

It’s the middle of the night and a bloodsucking undead is traipsing through your house. You reach for your trusty stake… Wait! This is the 21st century. Nobody has a stake lying around. So what are some other ways to kill a vampire?

1 Kill a Vampire with a Needle

Vampires have two hearts. The human heart they had in life and a second heart, located at their navel. The Romanians believe (present tense, mind you) that a needle jammed into the navel will pierce the second heart. This is the one that keeps the vampire alive after death.

Beware the Splatter

Even if you use a tiny needle, you need to watch out for vampire blood. Vampires were seen as squishy blood balloons. Their blood was so corrupt, that anyone who touched the stuff would go insane. In olden days, vampire hunters would drape an animal hide over the body when staking. These days, a plastic tarp will do. 

2 Shoot the Coffin

Vampires need to sleep off their blood-drinking binge in a nasty and foul coffin. A consecrated bullet, shot through the wood of the coffin, would “bless” the resting place and the vampire would no longer be able to enter. It wasn’t sunlight that killed the vampire (this was invention of Hollywood) but rather exhaustion from lack of sleep. 

3 Steal His Sock

Yes, you heard that right. Vampires are rather possessive of their footwear. Steal bloodsucker’s left sock (considered the “evil” one because the Latin word for left is sinister). Fill the sock with rocks and toss it in a nearby stream or ocean (but not a lake). The nosferatu will go searching for their sock and will have to dive into the water to retrieve it. Moving water has long been the death knell for the undead. 

There you have it. Three modern solutions to your own vampire infestation. 

Tim Kane

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Teeny Haunts: The Tree the Owns Itself

The very idea of a tree legally owning itself captured my attention. The tree gained it independence sometime between 1820 and 1832, courtesy of one William Henry Jackson. He owned the land and was so fond of the tree that he enacted a deed to ensure it would remain standing.

I, W. H. Jackson, of the county of Clarke, of the one part, and the oak tree … of the county of Clarke, of the other part: Witnesseth, That the said W. H. Jackson for and in consideration of the great affection which he bears said tree, and his great desire to see it protected has conveyed, and by these presents do convey unto the said oak tree entire possession of itself and of all land within eight feet of it on all sides.

Some of this is shrouded in legend. The tree (and the dubious deed) didn’t gain prominence until a front-page article ran in the Athens Weekly Banner on August 12th, 1890.

According to law, this deed would have no legal standing. However the city of Athens has honored the tree and preserved its legal standing.

Teeny Haunts: Polybius

The myth of the cursed arcade game called Pollybius is legendary, but its history is a convoluted one. As a kid who grew up during the heyday of video arcades, I can attest to their allure. I recalled getting $20 from my mom to amuse myself for the afternoon. I ended up blowing it all on Space Ace. My mother wasn’t too thrilled to see me back at the office a hour later asking for more money.

Tempest was one of my favorites, and a contemporary game to the mythical Polybius machine. I admit, I had never heard of this legend until stumbling upon it at the Encyclopedia of the Impossible (run by the wonderfully creepy Lucia Peters). I do know, that if I had discovered such a machine in my local arcade haunt (Yellow Brick Road), I would have put a quarter on the screen to mark my place in line.

The story for Polubius involved some shadowy government agency setting up video games to experiment with mind-altering techniques on us poor arcade kids. This not too far fetched as the CIA ran a program called MK-Ultra to research mind control and to develop psychic powers. An excellent example of this is the movie Dreamscape with Dennis Quaid, where the government creates dream assassins.

Dreamscape, 1984

Another example is the much underrated The Fury by Brian DePalma involving the power of telekinesis.

The Fury with Amy Irving, 1978

From there, it’s just a hop skip and a jump to Stranger Things and the experimentation on Eleven.

Millie Bobby Brown as Eleven in Stranger Things, 2016

Of course the Polybius experiment never seemed that successful. Players would say they heard a woman crying or see twisted faces in the corner of their vision. Nightmares, blackouts and insomnia also plagued those who dropped a quarter in the slot.

The name Polybius refers to a Greek philosopher (circa 208 BC) known for his affinity with puzzles and cryptography. His name means “many lives” possibly a reference to the three lives you get on a typical arcade game. The company that developed the machine was Sinneslöschen, broken German for “sense-deleting”. After four weeks, the game would vanish, the experiment over.

The legend of the cursed Polybius game really took off in the 2000s with listings on internet chat boards like Reddit. You can read the whole sordid history over at the Encyclopedia of the Impossible. Suffice it to say, there is ample evidence that this legend might have been manufactured after the fact. No testimony from the 1980s has emerged about the mind-altering machine.

However, if Polybius really did twist your thoughts, maybe those who experienced the game are not allowed to remember. Could the arcade unit resurface one day, in a swap meet or antique show? Who knows? But i you discover it, be warned. When you slide that quarter into the slot, it just might be the last thing you remember.

Stay creepy,

Tim Kane