Through novels and movies such as Dracula, we have come to think of vampires as undead males who leave their graves at night to suck the blood of the living. But worldwide folk tradition is not so clear-cut--nor male-dominated. Carriers of death assume many forms. Demons, witches, succubi, werewolves, and vampires at times are indistinguishable. Traditional accounts of their origins and methods of attack--as well as means to avoid, identify or destroy them--often do not separate them into neat, self-contained species. Demons, for example, also suck the blood of the living or feed on corpses. The body of a witch, like that of a vampire, may be exhumed and burned to halt its attacks. A worldwide tradition of supernatural assaults by female creatures suggests that the vampire's family tree has deep roots and many branches.


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