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(pop culture)

The folklore of Europe reported the use of seeds as a protective measure against vampires. The kinds of seeds varied from place to place, but most frequently mentioned was mustard seed, a very small seed that Jesus spoke of in one of his parables in the Christian New Testament of the Bible. Seeds of millet (a name used to refer to several grasses and grains), were most popular, but those of linen, carrot, and rice were also used. Seeds might be placed in the coffin to entertain the vampire, but more commonly were spread over the grave site and along the road leading from the cemetery to the village or family home of the deceased.

The idea behind the use of seeds, and on occasion a knotted cloth or fish net, was to take the vampire’s attention away from his intended victim in town. It was thought that the vampire was required to collect and count each seed before he could come to town and do any damage. Most often, he was able to count only one seed a year. Thus, a handful of mustard seeds could, if one accepted the logic of its use, prevent the vampire’s return for an indefinite period.

Selene Selene was a fictional vampire city featured in La Ville vampire, an 1875 novel by French writer Paul Féval (1816–87). As the novel was not published in English until 2003, it has remained largely unknown among modern vampire enthusiasts, who have been concentrated within the English-speaking world. Féval’s vampires were unique in having a tounge with a tip sharp enough to open wounds from which they could suck blood. They also had a power to duplicate themselves using the bodies of other people and animals.

Féval located Selene in Yugoslavia, north of Belgrade, close to the site of the village where Arnold Paul lived, subject of one of the most famous vampire incidents during the eighteenth century. During the hour approaching noon, the cover that shrouded the city would become visible. As one approached the mysterious Selene, the environment changed suddenly—the green vegetation faded away and the sky turned dark. The city was a conglomeration of architectural styles centered around a spiral pyramidal temple. Among its statues was a set showing women being clawed to death by a tiger. The city was inhabited by famous personages of past centuries who were now vampires.

In the somewhat satirical novel, a group arrived in the city in search of a vampire. They carried an iron ladle, some coal, a small portable stove, candles, and smelling salts. They were accompanied by a surgeon who resided in a town near the vampire’s home, who had lost two daughters to the creatures. The group entered the village and upon locating the vampire they had targeted, and using the smelling salts to counter the stench, the surgeon removed the vampire’s heart with the iron ladle and burned it on the stove. The vampire died and his heart was reduced to ashes. The clock sounded, and other vampires began to rise. The group, carrying the ashes of the vampire’s heart, retreated from the city. They used the ashes to escape the hunger and wrath of the city’s vampire inhabitants. The ash, when sprinkled on vampires, caused them to explode with a bluish flash.

La Ville vampire was one of the pre-Dracula attempts to play with the vampire legends then alive in Western Europe, prior to the time when the major elements of the literary vampire had been firmly established. It incorporated pieces of Eastern European folklore, especially the practice of burning the suspected vampire’s heart, but, like most fictional works of the time, included elements that were not in the modern vampire myth—such as other vampires reacting to the ashes of the dead vampire’s heart.


Féval, Paul. La Ville vampire. Paris: 1875. Vampire City. Brian Stableford, trans. Encino, CA: Black Coat Press, 2003. 200 pp.

Manguel, Alberto, and Gianni Guadalupi. The Dictionary of Imaginary Places. San Diego, CA: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovitch, Publishers, 1987. 454 pp.

The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in classic literature ?
What though I value the seed of these beans, and harvest that in the fall of the year?
It cannot be doubted that if there were land-birds to pick up the seeds when first cast on shore, and a soil better adapted for their growth than the loose blocks of coral, that the most isolated of the lagoon-islands would in time possess a far more abundant Flora than they now have.
The latter is a solitary tree of its kind, and grows near the beach, where, without doubt, the one seed was thrown up by the waves.
Miss Mary has plenty of money and will you go to Thwaite and buy her some flower seeds and a set of garden tools to make a flower-bed.
For since I saught By Prayer th' offended Deitie to appease, Kneel'd and before him humbl'd all my heart, Methought I saw him placable and mild, Bending his eare; perswasion in me grew That I was heard with favour; peace returnd Home to my brest, and to my memorie His promise, that thy Seed shall bruise our Foe; Which then not minded in dismay, yet now Assures me that the bitterness of death Is past, and we shall live.
O thou that future things canst represent As present, Heav'nly instructer, I revive At this last sight, assur'd that Man shall live With all the Creatures, and thir seed preserve.
Dextrously thou aim'st; So willingly doth God remit his Ire, Though late repenting him of Man deprav'd, Griev'd at his heart, when looking down he saw The whole Earth fill'd with violence, and all flesh Corrupting each thir way; yet those remoov'd, Such grace shall one just Man find in his sight, That he relents, not to blot out mankind, And makes a Covenant never to destroy The Earth again by flood, nor let the Sea Surpass his bounds, nor Rain to drown the World With Man therein or Beast; but when he brings Over the Earth a Cloud, will therein set His triple-colour'd Bow, whereon to look And call to mind his Cov'nant: Day and Night, Seed time and Harvest, Heat and hoary Frost Shall hold thir course, till fire purge all things new, Both Heav'n and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell.
yet him God the most High voutsafes To call by Vision from his Fathers house, His kindred and false Gods, into a Land Which he will shew him, and from him will raise A mightie Nation, and upon him showre His benediction so, that in his Seed All Nations shall be blest; hee straight obeys, Not knowing to what Land, yet firm believes: I see him, but thou canst not, with what Faith He leaves his Gods, his Friends, and native Soile UR of CHALDAEA, passing now the Ford To HARAN, after him a cumbrous Train Of Herds and Flocks, and numerous servitude; Not wandring poor, but trusting all his wealth With God, who call'd him, in a land unknown.
O sent from Heav'n, Enlightner of my darkness, gracious things Thou hast reveald, those chiefly which concerne Just ABRAHAM and his Seed: now first I finde Mine eyes true op'ning, and my heart much eas'd, Erwhile perplext with thoughts what would becom Of mee and all Mankind; but now I see His day, in whom all Nations shall be blest, Favour unmerited by me, who sought Forbidd'n knowledge by forbidd'n means.
Meanwhile they in thir earthly CANAAN plac't Long time shall dwell and prosper, but when sins National interrupt thir public peace, Provoking God to raise them enemies: From whom as oft he saves them penitent By Judges first, then under Kings; of whom The second, both for pietie renownd And puissant deeds, a promise shall receive Irrevocable, that his Regal Throne For ever shall endure; the like shall sing All Prophecie, That of the Royal Stock Of DAVID (so I name this King) shall rise A Son, the Womans Seed to thee foretold, Foretold to ABRAHAM, as in whom shall trust All Nations, and to Kings foretold, of Kings The last, for of his Reign shall be no end.
"Well, we crumble it up," answered Vassily, taking up some seed and rolling the earth in his palms.
Vassily pointed to the mark with his foot, and Levin went forward as best he could, scattering the seed on the land.