Ashes in Vampire Folklore

In folklore, the ashes of the burned Corpse or organs of a destroyed Vampire have the power to heal the victims of vampires. The ashes are mixed in a drink and taken as a medicine.

An anecdotal account from the late 19th century in Romania tells about an old peasant woman from Amarasti who died and became a vampire. A few months after her death, the children of her eldest son died one by one. Then the children of her youngest son began to die. Suspecting that their mother had become a vampire, the sons dug up her body, cut it in two, and reburied her. Still the deaths of the children continued. The sons dug up the body a second time, and were astonished to find it whole and without any wounds. This time they carted the corpse deep into the forest and laid it under a tree. They disemboweled it and removed the heart. Fresh blood flowed from it. They cut the heart into four pieces and burnt them to ashes, which they saved. They burned the rest of the body to ashes and buried them.

The sons mixed the ashes of the heart into water and gave the potion to the remaining children to drink. This remedy destroyed the vampire and stopped the deaths.

In a similar Romanian case from the late 19th century, a crippled, unmarried man from Cusmir died. Soon thereafter, his relatives fell ill and some of them died. Several complained that one of their legs was withering. The association of an affliction of the leg pointed to the crippled man as a vampire, so the villagers dug him up on a Saturday night. They found him “RED as red” and curled into a corner of the grave. They cut him open, removed the heart and liver, and burned the organs to ashes. These were mixed with water and given to the ill relations, who included the dead man’s sister. They all regained their health.

Another case from the Cusmir region tells of a family that fell ill and suffered several deaths. An old man who had been dead a long time was suspected of being the vampire. When disinterred, the corpse was found “sitting up like a Turk, and as red as red, just like fire.” The vampire, “unclean and horrible,” resisted attempts to take him out of the grave. The villagers quelled him by chopping at him with an axe, and finally got him out. They found, however, that they could not cut the body with a knife. They took the axe and a scythe, and cut out the heart and liver, and burned them. The mutilated corpse was reburied. The ashes were given to the sick to drink with water. All of the ill persons regained their health.

In some areas, the smoke of burning vampire organs is believed to protect against evil. Villagers passed through the smoke to acquire the protection.

In other Slavic lore, the consumption of the ashes of one’s Caul can prevent one from turning into a vampire after death.

In vampire cases in New England in the 18th and 19th centuries, several corpses were disinterred so that their organs could be burned and mixed into medicine for victims of consumption.

See Also:

Further Reading:

  • Bell, Michael E. Food for the Dead: On the Trail of New England’s Vampires. New York: Carroll & Graf Publishers, 2001.
  • Murgoci, Agnes. “The Vampire in Roumania,” in The Vampire: A Casebook,Alan Dundes, ed. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1998.


Encyclopedia of Vampires, Werewolves, and Other Monsters – Written by Rosemary Ellen Guiley -Copyright © 2005 by Visionary Living, Inc.

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