Youíve all heard the stories of how garlic is said to repel vampires and in some stories/films/television shows, it has even been turned into a weapon to fight vampires. In the Blade movies, garlic or essence of garlic was used to make the serum that kept the main character from becoming a full-fledged vampire. The basis for this comes from the fact that garlic has been used in many medical applications over the centuries and its scent can be quite harsh. In the most extreme cases of garlic use, it is to be placed into the mouth of a decapitated vampire and the head placed back into the coffin. Though most of what is written in this opening paragraph here, my research has also turned up some other plants that have been said to fight or ward off the vampire.
In the 1931, Spanish version of Dracula, the plant Aconite (aconitum napellus) was substituted for garlic. The common names for this plant are wolfsbane or monkshood and it is quite poisonous. The Ancient Greeks believed that this plant grew in the mouths of the mythical three headed dog-beast called Cerberus while it was under the control of Hectate, the Goddess of Magic and the Underworld. It is also said that this plant is one of the main ingredients in a salve or ointment that is used to grant the power of flight to witches. It is this plant that is most commonly said to keep werewolves at bay and not often used against vampires.
In Bram Stokerís Dracula, a branch of wild rose is to be placed upon Draculaís coffin to keep him from moving about while Van Helsing and his associates do the dirty deed of killing the vampire. Some cite the actual placement of the thorny branch to take place during the burial ceremony as a means to keep the corpse from rising. In other instances, it is said that the branches of the wild rose or whole bushes around or near doors and windows will keep a vampire from entering.
Thorns are common in stories that talk of protection from a vampire. The most commonly mentioned thorn in stories from Southern Europe is the Hawthorn. There is a strong connection between this thorn and the story of Jesus Christís death, which could easily explain the significance. As vampires were viewed as creatures of the damned and therefore evil, folklore had a tendency to offer remedies that involved items of a religious nature or with ties to religion. Thorns in general were thought to be good, magical barriers against both vampires and witches Wild thorns presented humans with problems, creating barriers and such, but superstitious beliefs granted them an extension into other worlds when properly used. This anti-vampire/anti-witch barrier was not only reported in stories from Europe, but from Asia and from the Americas.
Lastly, the use of seeds was said to deter vampires.
According to some reports in European Folklore, the use of seeds in an effective method of protection from vampires. The types of seeds varied in different places but mustard seeds were most often mentioned. This small seed was spoken of by Jesus Christ in one of his parables in the Christian New Testament and the use of this seed may have been no more than a religious propaganda to combat superstition. Millet seeds were very popular and seeds of linen, rice, and carrots were also used.
The seeds were placed inside the coffin as a means of entertainment for the vampire but it was more common to spread them along the road that led from the cemetery back to a vampireís home or village. They were also, commonly spread over the gravesite of a suspected vampire. Sometimes, knotted rope and or fishnet were used in place of seeds.
These practices were employed as a means of diverting a vampireís attention away from the town or the vampireís intended victim. The belief was that the vampire would be required to stop, collect all of the seeds, and count them, before it could continue on its journey. This method stopped a vampire in its tracks and prevented it from doing anyone in its former living place any harm. It was also believed that the vampire could only count one seed per year. By this belief, a handful of small seeds could render a vampire harmless for many years, if not for decades.
The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Dead
© 1994 pp: 545-546