Blood mysticism along with vampire legends and the lore and religiosity surrounding it have been present since our earliest days. Many cultures revere blood as a symbolic representation of the life force of a human being and a link between the body, mind, and spirit which may be more than mere symbolism.
For thousands of years, people have believed that blood represents livelihood, vitality, power, and/or magic. In truth, the blood is wondrous stuff. I’m not attempting to be gruesome but to contemplate everything it is able to accomplish and how quick our demise is with its loss is truly staggering. It is literally keeping us alive. If something is wrong in the blood, then the whole being suffers.
Blood carries nutrients, delivers hormones, carries away waste, carries oxygen, and it fights infection. It is so important to our survival and wellbeing that we use it to symbolize everything from our relationships with others to our religious beliefs, not to mention the use of its color to represent our most passionate emotions. How many times have you heard the term “bloodline” in reference to families? We say we are related by blood or that there is bad blood between us when there is animosity. Blood is symbolic in sacrificial religious rites and rituals in many religions simply because it is the elixir of life, as it sustains and bolsters us in nearly every facet of our lives.
In some religious texts, blood is referred to as containing the life of the animal and therefore the desires of the animal, which is why they view it as sinful to consume blood. With some of these belief systems, practitioners wash and salt meat repeatedly to fully remove any trace of the blood so as not to risk becoming contaminated or even giving the appearance of doing so.
Blood is also often used as a symbol for life, love, passion, sympathy, sacrifice and loyalty. There is a reason why people took blood oaths so seriously and why that oath connected the persons making the vow. The blood is the life and by taking a blood vow, you are swearing your loyalty on your life.
In occult practices, blood is used in many magic spells and incantations to bring about the desired outcome. The more personal the blood, i.e. your own blood, the more powerful the spell is said to be. For many hundreds of years, blood has been the ultimate sacrifice for many behests of the gods requiring power.
There is so much more to blood and its use in fiction than merely as a device for shock value or to frighten people. As in vampire fantasy, we have the culmination of all of this symbolism. Many films, books, and myths, vampire and otherwise, use blood to represent loss and life and the dual meanings of so many human emotions, for blood can represent each one equally well.
Perhaps blood links us to vampires in more ways than one and is actually a myriad of connection to our deepest needs, desires, and fears.