Sunday, September 13, 2009
Let The Right One In
After watching The Vampire Diaries, and being extremely pleased that they employed a few of the most common vampire myths, such as needing permission to cross the threshold, I wondered what that particular myth was all about.
It's one of my favs. The evil vampire lurking outside your home cannot enter unless you give him permission. All the power is in your hands. Unless...he hypnotizes you with his eerie gaze. I've used it in my own stories, allowing that vampires can enter any public place, but need permission to enter a privately-owned home.
So I searched the Internet and didn't come up with much. Basically, vampires can't cross the threshold because, well, it's the 'rule'. But a little deeper digging dig came up with a few more details.
Threshold is a medieval word. Wooden blocks were set down in the doorway and before the floor to keep the 'thresh' or strewn straw on the floors from getting out.
The house is a temple or sanctuary and thus the people living there represent its power. They have the option of retaining the power of the household by refusing a vampire entry, or opening it to evil by inviting the vamp in. It's also a symbol of the soul, so if you say yes, you are basically opening your soul to the evil that wishes entry.
Also in medieval times, crosses of tar or pitch were painted on windows and doors to prevent vampires from entering. Belief was that the vampire who came knocking in the middle of the night would get stuck on the tar and when daylight arrived then he would be rendered powerless.
Another myth, (and this one seems like a LOT of work) is that to prevent a dead body from becoming vampire and returning to the home, it must be removed from the home in a manner which would prevent return. So the corpse would be carried out feet first (it's eyes often covered so it could not see the way back in). Or it could be carried through a window. Or a hole would be opened in a wall to push the corpse through then mortared back up so it could not then discover where it had been brought out. And the one that would require the most work was taking the body out underneath the threshold (which would require some heavy lifting and heck, major construction, if you ask me.) Thus, the vampire could never cross over the threshold because he'd gone out under.
Any other reasons behind the myth you've heard of? Or are you like me and just happy with the reason that it's a 'rule'.
I've seen the device used in most movies and many books, but what's the most unusual or original means of employing the 'crossing the threshold' myth you've seen or read about?