Sunday, 31 August 2008

Die sogenannte Werke des Teufels auf den Erdboden

The copy of the 1752 translation of Calmet's book on revenants, Gelehrte Verhandlung der Materi von Erscheinungen der Geisten, und denen Wampiren in Ungarn, Mähren etc. in the collections of the Danish Royal Library is bound with another book: Die sogenannte Werke des Teufels auf den Erdboden published anonymously in Freyburg in 1751. Part 12 of this book deals with 'vampires or so-called blood suckers, and whether they are to be considered the work of the Devil'. I actually put a scan of the opening page of this part in a previous post.

It contains some of the well-known reports on vampires: Those from Kisiljevo and Medvedja, as well as the letter from Kottwitz, in which he poses a question concerning the nature of the phenomena observed in the Serbian vampire cases ('Weiln man hier nun ein ungemeines Wunder daraus macht, als unterstehe mich Dero Particular-Meynung mir gehorsamst auszubitten, ob solches etwas sympathetisches, teuflisches oder astralischer Geister Wirkung sey.') that the anonymous author himself answers by concluding that there is nothing supernatural in the stories about vampires. They are rather to be understood as a combination of natural causes as well as the imagination of the villagers involved.


'Wien ist überhaupt ein guter Ort zur Erforschung der Vampire,' says Heiko Haumann in a paper on vampires in Eastern Europe (Vienna is altogether a good place for researching vampires). Consequently I am very happy to have finally booked flights and a hotel to go to Vienna for a few days later this year. I haven't been there for many, many years, and certainly I wasn't thinking of vampires or magia posthuma back then. Actually, I would probably rather have considered visiting the Borgo Pass or something like that, if I were to visit a place associated with the history of vampires...

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Blood, sweat and tears

Anyone happening to be in Graz in Austria before Oct 26 might want to visit an exhibition called Blut, Schweiß und Tränen: Botschaften des Körpers at the Landesmuseum Joanneum which traces blood, sweat and tears in history, religion, propaganda and art. This includes the history of vampires! Actually, early this year they arranged a talk by Hans-Peter Wiegand on vampires: Von Vampiren und Menschen-Saugern: Geschichte und Hintergründe eines Phänomens.

Friday, 29 August 2008

Saturday, 23 August 2008

Magical company

This has more to do with magia in general than magia posthuma, but one of the places you usually go when visiting Leipzig is the Auerbachs Keller, an underground restaurant that has a history going back to the 16th century. This history is connected with the Faust figure, who is said to have visited the place in the company of Mephistopheles, so the cellar is explicitly mentioned in Goethe's Faust, Goethe himself being a regular guest.

So it's a place every tourist visits, and there's a saying that if you haven't been there, you haven't been in Leipzig. Obviously they are cashing in on all of us who have read Faust and necessarily must go there. In one corner of the Keller there's a souvenir shop with all sorts of souvenirs (see one of the accompanying photos for some examples of the goods), and, well, I ended up spending a few euros there. Happily, the (traditional) food and beer isn't particularly expensive, and it's quite an informal restaurant, so there's no need to bring a tie :-)

Unfortunately, the historical section was closed when I was there, but I have read that you need to reserve a table months ahead if you want to dine in that section, so keep that in mind if you plan to go there.

In the Mädlerpassage of exclusive shops overground, there's a cocktail bar called Mephisto, so you can have another drink or a cup of coffee in the company of Faust and Mephistopheles there afterwards or on another day.

No doubt some of the people involved in debating vampires in the 18th century also went there, so you can consider that when visiting the cellar and the bar.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Perhaps a little too High?

I recently mentioned Peter Haining's Dracula Centenary Book as a disappointment, and I suppose I was disappointed because I have enjoyed many of Haining's anthologies, including e.g. his Dracula Scrapbook, but this one really has the feel of an attempt at an early cash in on the centenary of Stoker's Dracula. Well, as I usually say, this blog definitely isn't about Dracula, but many books about Dracula contain chapters on vampires and magia posthuma, and vice versa, so that's why I mention this particular book.

Old friends will perhaps recall that I wrote about it in an article published in a little magazine back in the Eighties, and here I will more or less reiterate that comment :-) That's because the book contains a so-called Checklist of Vampirism, which is a chronological list of vampire cases, and accompanying this text you will find two of the entries in the checklist.

At first glance, here's a case from Hungary anno 1690, and another one from Moravia in 1731. But to those familiar with the famous Medvedja vampire case of 1731-2, it should be quite obvious that both instances of vampirism are actually based on that case which occurred in Serbia - not in Moravia, and not in Hungary! Furthermore, the 'Arnold Paul' mentioned was not a 'High Duke of Medreiga'. 'Medreiga' is simply another way of writing Medvedja, as is 'Mettwett', and there probably never was any 'High Duke' of that village, but Paul (or perhaps rather Pavle) was a hajduk, certainly a title of less rank and nobility!

Haining lists a number of, ahem, highly reliable sources like Basil Copper, Anthony Masters, Montague Summers, and Dudley Wright, but I'm not quite sure how he transformed a hajduk into a High Duke, and Serbia into Moravia, but obviously that's what can happen when you try to establish that 1987, not 1997, was the 'Dracula centenary'!

Click on the illustrations to better read the text from Haining's book.

Sunday, 17 August 2008

But my interests lie elsewhere...

Following up on my recent autobiographical note, I should perhaps say a bit more about my current interest in the subject.

I have frequently stressed my interest as 'historical'. I find that it is important to place vampires and magia posthuma in time and space instead of in some Neverland reminiscent of the Transylvania of our fictional or 'symbolic' geography. The people who were afraid of revenants were 'real' people, and it was 'real' people who were doctors, military personnel, priests and other persons in authority who had to find a way to deal with this 'superstition'. Also, it was well-educated and learned people who were involved in debating the incorruptibility of the corpses exhumed and the illness that the supposed victims were suffering from. In my opinion, it is more fascinating to try to understand these people, their concerns, notions, theories, beliefs and fears, and why they spent time on this strange subject, than to perpetuate the vampire mythology of Stoker or Summers, cf. some old posts here, here, and here.

So one of my interests is simply to place vampires and 'posthumous magic' in a historical context by asking relatively simple questions like: What did it look like in 'Medvegia', when people were afraid of vampires in the winter of 1731-32? How were the people dressed? Who were they? What medical background did a field surgeon like Flückinger have? Oh, and where is 'Medvegia' anyway? So I've tried to find out about the Habsburg Militärgrenze, looked for books on soldiers and military uniforms from the 18th century, and have been reading about the development of medicine in those years, but still some of the questions are pretty hard to answer when you're not familiar with the history of those regions, and the amount of information available here in Denmark on the region and period is far from impressive. You can for instance not find a copy of the only modern biography of Charles VI (Bernd Rill: Karl VI. Habsburg als barocke Großmacht) in any Danish library, so I had to get it on loan from Sweden...

On top of such practical obstacles, even historians can have a hard time understanding e.g. the history of the Habsburg Empire, cf. the preface to Charles Ingrao's The Habsburg Empire 1618-1815. Certainly, there are other aspects of the relevant period of European period that is far from described and understood, but then it is intriguing to see how e.g. the research into the witch hunt has developed over the past few years. What is particularly interesting is to see how muddled the picture really is, and how the stereotypical mythology of the progress of enlightened rationality and secularism isn't in harmony with the actual historical development. But then that is one of the aspects that might whet one's appetite for figuring out was going on and why :-)

This particularly goes for the great vampire debate of 1732. Very few studies place this debate in the context of the contemporary scientific and philosophical discourses, and consequently it is hard for most people to get an understanding of why learned people found it necessary to discuss revenants and incorruptibility. I am grateful for the hard work laid down by people like Klaus Hamberger to help understanding the various theories and discussions, because it's frequently hard to understand the context of a past debate.

In this respect, I see the vampire debate as an interesting case for illustrating and understanding the developments in science and academia in those years, as well as in other aspects of society, in an era when science and society developed pretty rapidly. From a more theoretical point of view on the development of the sciences, it is also very interesting to see how phenomena are discriminated and organized in new ways, new theoretical frameworks built, allowing for new institutions and methods. Here the various ways to deal with the 'miracula mortuorum', including incorruptibility and tales of revenants, are an interesting and pretty pertinent example.

No doubt, a lot of interest has been given to some of these subjects over the past decades, e.g. on burial practices, cf. not only the well-known work by Philippe Aries, but later work like that found in the anthologies Körper ohne Leben: Begegnung und Umgang mit Toten edited by Norbert Stefenelli, and The Place of the Dead: Death and Remembrance in Late Medieval and Early Modern Europe edited by Bruce Gordon and Peter Marshall.

Another aspect that has been stressed in the later years, is the relation between vampires and the magia posthuma on one hand and the witchcraft beliefs on the other. Gabor Klaniczay has contributed to this understanding leaving an easily detectable fingerprint on the current understanding of the history of the witch hunt, cf. e.g. volume 5 of The Athlone History of Witchcraft and Magic in Europe: The Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries, but I believe that a better understanding of the magia posthuma in e.g. Moravia and Silesia is required, see e.g. the work of Karen Lambrecht, to fully link the history of magia posthuma with that of Central European witchcraft.

This way, the history of vampires and magia posthuma is probably also an interesting case for illustrating and understanding the 'decline of magic' and the development of the modern secular society.

In fact, the 'complete' synthesis of the current knowledge of folklore, archaeology, evidence of revenant beliefs and apotropaics, etc. with the documents and books on vampires and magia posthuma of the 17th and 18th centuries, in my opinion still requires some work. However, with the opening up of borders within Europe, and the easier access to books and archival material, it should be possible to fill in the gaps. So I'm pretty optimistic, and maybe that elusive 'vampire book to end all vampire books' that I mentioned in my recent post, will get published in the near future :-)

Due should of course be given to the people who have put in important work in the later years and have inspired me in my own endeavours. Some have been mentioned in this post, some elsewhere in previous posts on this blog.

Alte Johannisfriedhof

When I visited Leipzig, I was obviously looking for traces of some of the people who were involved in the vampire debate of the 1730'ies. So I went to have a look at Leipzig's old graveyard, the Alte Johannisfriedhof. Unfortunately, this graveyard has experienced a lot of turbulence over the centuries since it was founded in the 14th century. The ground that used to be the oldest part of the cemetery is now the site of a building housing three museums. Consequently, most graves are from the 19th century, and the few older ones aren't in the best shape.

You can, however, still find graves of well-known people at The Alter Johannisfriedhof, e.g. famous German publishers like Brockhaus and Reclam. The grave of Johann Heinrich Zedler unfortunately no longer exists. As the cemetery is located quite close to the city centre, you can easily go there for a walk around the relatively limited area, and perhaps a visit to the three Grassi museums.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

Undead research?!

It's well-known that researchers often try to work out acronyms for their research projects that are easy to pronounce and remember, but the one in the above excerpt from an advertisement from the Technical University of Denmark (DTU) certainly took me by surprise: Non-linear Optical Switching For Extremely high data RATe commUnications, i.e. NOSFERATU, the word used by Bram Stoker and subsequently by filmmakers, but originally found in an 1885 article by Emily de Laszowska Gerard on Transylvanian Superstitions:

'More decidedly evil, however, is the vampire, or nosferatu, in whom every Romanian peasant believes as firmly as he does in heaven or hell.'

No one seems to be quite certain precisely which Romanian word is the basis for 'nosferatu', but, obviously, the word has become part of modern day language, simply synonymous with vampire, and used in various connections, now even including research in optical communication!

Friday, 15 August 2008

2009 conference - now in English

Just a few words in English this time on the invitation from Kakanien Revisited to a conference on July 3-4 2009 at the Institute for East European History of the Vienna University, Spitalgasse 2. The topic of the conference is Vampirism and magia posthuma in the discourse of the Habsburg monarchy in the 18th and 19th centuries. Suggestions for themes and topics should be communicated by September 30th to and

Kakanien Revisited

The Kakanien Revisited web site referred to in my previous post contains some excellent articles and a bibliography (which I have previously linked to). All of them are in German, so I can only suggest that those of you who are interested in the subject and are unable to understand this language, should consider studying the language :-)

Sexualität Macht Tod: Prolegomena zu einer Literaturgeschichte des Vampirismus by Clemens Ruthner, 'sketches, how the vampire has turned from a blood-sucking ghost of (South-)Easteuropean folklore into a popular myth especially in Westeuropean literature/s and culture/s. Since there is only little scholarly work done about the vampire in German literature, this article will focus especially on texts in this language which played an important role as a "transmitter" in the cultural transfer of vampirism from the (South-)East to the West.'

It says that this paper is 'meant as the outline of an exhaustive monograph on vampirism in German literature the author is working on,' but unfortunately I can't remember having seen any mention of this promising monograph so far.

The other contributions, Der Vampir, ein Fremder? Ethnische Minderheiten im Vampirglauben Südosteuropas by Peter Mario Kreuter, "Trag mich nach Südamerika". Schauplätze der osteuropäischen Vampirliteratur des 19. Jahrhunderts und ihre Konnotationen by Christoph Augustynowicz, and Süd/Osteuropäer als Vampire: Draculas Karriere vom blutrünstigen Tyrannen zum mythischen Blutsauger. Prolegomena zu einer Literaturgeschichte des Vampirismus II by Clemens Ruthner focus on e.g. the fictional aspects of the topic.

Finally, Forschungsliteratur: Vampirismus. Kommentierte interdisziplinäre Auswahlbibliografie is a comprehensive and annotated bibliography on the subject. This bibliography was updated for the anthology Poetische Wiedergänger edited by Julia Bertschik and Christa Agnes Tuczay.

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

Conference in Vienna

Shortly after posting my proposal to meet next year, I was contacted by the good people af Kakanien Revisited who were interested in arranging a meeting. They have now discussed the matter and sent this initial invitation to a conference on the theme of vampire belief and vampirology at the University of Vienna on July 3-4 2009:

Sehr geehrte Damen und Herren, liebe VampirologInnen,

anschließend an einen der Themenschwerpunkte bei zum Themenkomplex „Vampirglaube und Vampirologie“ würden wir gerne eine Konferenz zum Thema

„Vampirismus und magia posthuma im Diskurs der Habsburgermonarchie im 18. und 19. Jahrhundert“

veranstalten und Sie/Dich dazu einladen.

Die thematische Ausgestaltung der Konferenz sollte zwischen solider Geisteswissenschaft und innovativer Kulturolgie, zwischen historischen und philologischen Ansätzen oszillieren. In diesem Sinne bitten wir bis 30. September um Themenvorschläge an und

Ort: Institut für Osteuropäische Geschichte der Universität Wien, Spitalg. 2, 1090 Wien

Zeit: 3./4. Juli 2009

Anreise und Aufenthalt werden bezahlt, eine Publikation der Konferenz-Beiträge ist geplant.

Beste Grüße

Usha Reber
Christoph Augustynowicz

Monday, 11 August 2008


While in Leipzig I purchased a book on the churches in Leipzig and the surrounding area. It contains a short paragraph on 'die kleine barocke Dorfkirche von Güldengossa' (the small baroque village church in Güldengossa), but there is no picture or much information available in it concerning this church, where Michael Ranft supposedly must have spent some time in his early childhood, as he was born in Güldengossa in 1700 as son of the local priest. Fortunately, a picture of the church is available here. According to this web site, the church was built in 1540 and was almost destroyed in a fire during the thirty years' war, but rebuilt and in 1721 enlarged. Güldengossa is a small village with a population of less than 400 citizens, situated some 15 km south of Leipzig and is also the location of the Schloß Güldengossa. Unfortunately, I didn't have an opportunity to go there while I stayed in Leipzig.

Show large map

Sunday, 10 August 2008

'Zu vielen Schriften'

In my last post I mentioned my search for the 'ultimate' book on the subject of vampires, 'the vampire book to end all vampire books'. Curiously, as early as the 1730'ies people were complaining about the literature on the subject. E.g. in 1739 in his Bibliotheca, sive, Acta et scripta magica, Eberhard David Hauber (1695-1765), complains that too much had been written on 'the so-called vampires or bloodsuckers', and that most of it had turned out very badly:

Die nunmehro sattsam bekannte Historie von den so genannten Vampyren oder Blut-Saugern, welche sich vor einige Zeit in Ungarn wieder hervor gethan, hat bisher zu vielen Schriften Gelegenheit gegeben, die aber meistens sehr schlecht geraten sind.

He discusses three of the books published in Leipzig in 1732, two of which he thoroughly ridicules (Putoneus: Besonderes Nachricht von denen Vampyren and the anonymous Actenmäßige und umständliche Relation von denen Vampiren), and one that he praises (Eines Weimarischen Medicus muthmaßliche Gedankcen von denen Vampyren).

A few years after completing his Bibliotheca, Hauber was summoned by the Danish king to become priest at the St. Petri church, the church of the German congregation in Copenhagen. He stayed there for the rest of his life. Part of his book collection is now in the possession of the Danish Royal Library, where I recently read the few pages of the book devoted to vampires.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

An autobiographical note

A friend of mine tells me that blog visitors wish to know a bit about the blogger whose texts they are reading. I can understand that, but I was initially very concerned about the reaction my blog would get: Would I get lumped in with various self-styled 'vampires' and Goths? Would I be considered another weirdo? Well, fortunately I haven't encountered any real problems, so I have slowly allowed myself to disclose a bit more about myself here, including a photo (the current one taken while awaiting food and beer to be served at Gasthaus Alte Nikolaischule in Leipzig).

My initial interest in the subject of vampires, magia posthuma etc. probably followed a course not dissimilar to that of so many others. Reading Dracula comic books as a child, I finally read Stoker's Dracula (in a Danish translation) as a teenager. That's certainly an impressionable age where you are easily fascinated, so I started reading all the books on vampires and Dracula I could find. I knew about Vlad Tepes, so I had some ambition of studying both 'the historical Dracula' and vampires in general. This was in the late Seventies, so 'source material' would be e.g. Florescu and McNally, Gabriel Ronay (whose The Dracula Myth had been translated into Danish), Anthony Masters as well as all sorts of books. I also found Sturm und Völker's anthology. My interest certainly wasn't particularly focused, I was sort of a collector of anything that had to do with vampires and Dracula.

I soon realized that it would be useful to know other people with a similar interest. So I began working on a magazine (i.e. fanzine) and got into contact with a few people and got assistance from others. Consequently, we ended up organizing a 'vampire society' with its own magazine, newsletter and various meetings (the society dissolved many years ago, I should add). I also joined some of the international associations, like the British Dracula Society, the New York based Count Dracula Fan Club, and the Irish Bram Stoker Society, and even attended a walk around Stoker's and Dracula's London in the company of members of the Dracula Society in the mid Eighties.

In the meantime, my search for books on the subject continued, as I was still looking for that elusive vampire book to end all vampire books, but I was never really satisfied with what I found. At one point I started going to the reading room of the Royal Library where I found obscure articles and old books like Valvasor's, the 1734 edition of Ranft's Traktat, and even Tallar's book which I had never seen mentioned in any book on the subject. I also looked at an Icelandic translation of Stoker's Dracula with a foreword that I sent to someone who had it translated into English and published.

Anyway, at this time other activities required attention. Within a few years, I was studying physics and mathematics at the University of Copenhagen, became a father, and later on I got involved in political activities. So the years passed by focusing on other pursuits. Occasionally I would purchase a new book on the subject, but for every really good book (say Paul Barber's book), there were a lot of disappointing books like Peter Haining's Dracula Centenary book.

In 2006 I felt that I had both spare time and the desire to take up the subject of vampires again, aiming at writing a popular book on vampires in Danish, more or less based on the material I already had. So I decided to spend more or less a whole week of a summer vacation from early morning to late evening on getting started on this project. Well, it spilled over to the following weeks, and most of my vacation was spent on writing and looking for information, and it just continued in whatever spare time I could find in the following months.

I soon realized that there was a lot of information I had to find, and also that I needed to get hold of some books that I hadn't been aware of, to fill in the gaps and to know the status of research in this and related fields. I was also inspired to view the subject from new points of view, requiring me to find out more about the historical and scientific context of the vampire cases and debate.

The internet played a key role here. I discovered articles containing new information, and I was able to buy books that would otherwise have been almost impossible to get. Other books like e.g. Garmann's De miraculis mortuorum were available as downloads. Still there were those elusive pieces that I couldn't find or just didn't fit. In particular, there was that curious book, Magia Posthuma, which no one seemed to have read since Calmet in the 18th century, and I was really beginning to doubt whether it had ever existed.

After some deliberation, I decided to start this blog. Perhaps someone out there could help me in my search for that book, and maybe people in the areas that I was reading about could supply me with information, perhaps even photos, from the local areas of those sites where bodies were exhumed, decapitated and burned in the 17th and 18th centuries?

I wanted to dissociate myself from other vampire web sites and blogs, so I decided to use - or perhaps brand - the term magia posthuma as the subject name, and I chose to be pretty 'serious', perhaps at times even arrogant, in attitude.

I still enjoy a good vampire movie, possibly even a bad one, but the focus of my interest isn't on the fictional vampire. I appreciate that people get a kick out of reading vampire novels, and I can understand why people associate vampires with erotic, undead creatures. Actually, I am fascinated by the fact that the masticating corpses and revenants of the early modern period have inspired so many novels, movies, comic books etc. But my interests lie elsewhere as should be obvious from this blog.

Blood Blog?!

A few blogs and web sites have recently linked to this blog, including
Revenant Ones, who lists it under Blood Blogs. I'm not sure if I'm entirely happy with that description, but it's obviously the way things are described on that web site, part of the True Blood advertising.

Friday, 8 August 2008

A grave matter!

Although not really a matter concerning magia posthuma, I can't help referring to this post on Elizabeth Miller's personal blog. It just goes to show that there will always be unscrupulous and entrepeunering people out there trying to cash in on people's fascination for a popular subject like that of Dracula and vampires. Mundus vult decipi, but that's all the more reason to try and popularize the facts in stead of the popular myths!

The secret capital of vampire theory

Ohne daß ein einziger Vampirtraktat dasselbst veröffentlicht würde - sieht man von W.S.G.E. ab, hinter dem Ranfft spontan einen »Hallischen Medicus« vermutet - wird Halle die heimliche Haupstadt der Vampirtheorie, und drei der unterschiedlichsten Lehrmeinungen zum Vampirismus verpflichten sich Hallenser Professoren. (s. 26)

Thus from the point of view of Klaus Hamberger in Mortuus non mordet: Although not one single vampire treatise was published there - disregarding W.S.G.E., who Ranft spontaneously assumes to be a »Medicus from Halle« - Halle became the secret capital of vampire theory, and Professors from Halle engaged themselves in three very different views on vampirism.

These three views were, again according to Hamberger:

1) The "cartesian" view represented by Friedrich Hoffmann (1660-1742) and Christian Wolff (1679-1754)

2) The "neoaristotelian" view represented by Georg Ernst Stahl (1659-1734)

3) The "neoplatonic" view represented by Christian Thomasius (1655-1728)
Arriving at the main railway station in Halle, just a little over half an hour by train from Leipzig, on the way to the center one is greeted by the names of all the above mentioned prominent scholars of the University at Halle, founded by Thomasius in 1694. Other names and faces include the famous August Hermann Francke (1663-1727) who was a pietist founder, and various other famous people related to Halle like Johann Friedrich Struensee (1737-1772), who became a powerful minister in Denmark carrying out enlightened and progressive reforms before his downfall and execution by beheading.

Halle certainly is very different from the apparently more affluent Leipzig with its building sites and many shopping arcades. According to a television programme on the German mdr station that was shown while I stayed in Leipzig, Leipzig is the second most popular city for tourists in middle Germany (Dresden being the one visited by most tourists). Halle probably doesn't get the number of tourists it deserves, but of course that may change. It seems more quiet and provincial than Leipzig, but still it's the home of a university, and here you can see the actual death mask of Martin Luther himself along with a pulpit he used.

Halle also is the home of a remarkable cemetery, the Stadtsgottesacker. Most graves are from the 19th century, but you can also find older graves like those of the above mentioned Francke, Thomasius and Hoffmann.

I may have overlooked older buildings, but the university buildings I saw were from the 19th century, so I didn't get to see any buildings that were used by the scholars of the 'secret capital of vampire theory'. But Halle is definitely worth a visit, if you happen to be in the area.

More about some of the above mentioned scholars will follow in future posts.

Update on meeting in 2009

Just a quick note to say that I have received some very positive feedback from a few people. It's too early to say anything definite, but it looks like there really is an interest in attending a meeting, seminar or whatever it could be called on the subject of vampires and magia posthuma.

Thursday, 7 August 2008


Perhaps a bit cheeky, but while it looks like I've been writing a few posts over the last couple of days, I actually wrote them in advance so they would pop up on the blog while I was on a short visit to Leipzig and Halle. Visiting as a tourist, I got to see some of the sights and looked for whatever I could find reminiscent of what I've been reading about the role the two cities played in the 18th century vampire debate. As I have just returned home, I will just post a photo of a detail from the old cemetery in Halle, the Stadtsgottesacker, but more will follow...

More on eBooks on demand

I mentioned the concept of eBooks on demand in a previous post, and I would like to point the web site of that excellent and promising initiative. The list of libraries that are part of the initiative includes major libraries in Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and other countries on the European continent. In short, we can hopefully look forward to being able to borrow more books related to the subject of vampires and magia posthuma of a better quality than some of those available on Google books.

Wednesday, 6 August 2008


It's not very often, but occasionally second hand books contain an exlibris. Sometimes these miniature pieces of art indicate that the book has been the property of a collector of books that are related to the topic of magia posthuma. One case is the exlibris shown, which is located in a 1937 edition of A Popular History of Witchcraft by Montague Summers. "I H" was a Danish lawyer called Ivar Heiberg (1930-1980). He is said to have owned the finest collection of ghost stories in Denmark. I had the luck of buying a few of his books when they were up for sale in a rather obscure second hand book shop in Copenhagen, including this book by Summers.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Über Vampirismus

The writings on vampires and werewolves by two 19th century folklorists, Wilhelm Mannhardt and Jan Ignáz Hanus were published in a leaflet by Superbia Verlag in Leipzig in 2004. The 52 page book reprints four papers originally published in Zeitschrift für deutsche Mythologie und Sittenkunde in 1859: Über Vampirismus by Mannhardt, and three papers by Hanus: Die Vampire, Die Vampire oder Vlkodlaci, and Der Werwolf (Vlkodlak). Ein slowakisches Märchen fast wörtlich aus einer Handschrift übersetzt. A lot of the material in Mannhardt's paper on vampires will be familiar, but the booklet offers a nice and cheap (€ 4.50) reprint of the original papers (in German, of course). The publisher has added an afterword, a few illustrations, and the texts have been changed in accordance with the orthography and grammatics of modern German.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Gruseliges Wien

Speaking of places in Europe, if this web site is still up to date it's possible to be guided around Vienna in search of ghosts and vampires! And if that isn't enough to scare you, then there is another guided tour for 'raising the spirits'.

Sunday, 3 August 2008

A proposal to meet in 2009

In my new year post, I wrote that

it is my sincere wish that we can build some kind of network of people interested in this strange and morbid, yet somehow very giving subject.

Although I do get some communication via this blog and by private e-mail, it's really much too early to call it a network. But I would like to propose that a meeting is arranged somewhere in Europe sometime next year, either in the spring or autumn of 2009. It could be in some city that is related to the history of vampirism and magia posthuma: Vienna, Belgrade, Leipzig, Olomouc or some other place, and it would be best to keep it simple and cheap. The important thing would be to meet, discuss whatever aspects of this topic we find relevant, and see a couple of sights that are related to the history of vampires and revenants. So I'm not proposing a big seminar here, but a very low key meeting where every participant takes care of his or her travelling, hotel, food etc.

So here is my plan: Now that I have proposed the basic idea, I'll put a box on the right hand side of the blog so the proposal should be noticed by new readers. If I get some positive feedback on the idea, I will settle on some appropriate time and place. Those who are interested can then say yes, no or maybe to the time and location, and if enough people say yes before, say, the end of the year, I will commence with the planning.

So, if this sounds like something for you, send me an e-mail, and I will get back to you. Of course, if you think this is a dumb idea or if you doubt that you will be able to attend a meeting, and if you have any other thoughts on my proposal, feel free to tell me what you think! :-)

Friday, 1 August 2008

Old and new

Spending a few hours at the reading rooms of the Royal Library in Copenhagen perusing a huge stack of books from the eighteenth century, I took a few photos of the 'old' and 'new' library, a synthesis of old and new, the new part being the so-called Black Diamond lopcated by the Copenhagen harbour.

As you can see, a road kind of intersects the library, and you can pass from one part of the 'diamond' to another above the road. Actually, you collect books on the part connecting the two buildings just above the road.

Inside, in the reading room, you forget about being in a modern building, as you are transported into the world of the books you are reading or browsing :-)

German activities

On a lighter note, someone calling himself Thespilian has made a few videos available on youtube on the topic of the (currently closed) German Dracula Museum and various 'vampire congresses'. I notice in one of his other videos that fans of Sherlock Holmes dress up for their meetings, so perhaps even I should accept that some fans of Stoker's Dracula want to dress up and do the dance of the vampires?

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