Macedonia is known as one of the Slavic countries with ample folk tales, beliefs and traditions. Many of them include stories about fairies, strange creatures and vampires. In this article, I will present you the folk demonology of Macedonia, i.e. the customs that people had to protect themselves from vampires and also the ways of becoming a vampire. The belief in vampires today is mostly eradicated and the following events took place in ancient times. First, people believed that a vampire could appear in two forms; as the spirit (if the dead rises from the grave and walks like a ghost) and as the corpse (a dead body rises from its grave and turns into a vampire).
Because there were many stories about vampires (some even got the names of deceased persons in the Macedonian villages), people had invented their own preventive measures and ways of protection. Even today in the Orthodox Macedonian people there is a custom to keep the body of the deceased (they are left in an open coffin to let the spirit go in peace, or some people do this as a way of last goodbye with the deceased).
In ancient times, these were the measures that people took to prevent the deceased to become a vampire:
Keeping the corpse
Old people in ancient times kept the dead body and heed not to allow an animal to skip the corpse, because it could take the spirit of the deceased, who after that would become a vampire.
Piercing the navel and the body with a needle
This is probably one of the darkest and creepiest things that people have done to prevent the dead to become a vampire. If the deceased had swelling elsewhere on the body, they would pierce his navel or head. According to them, if a person had a swelling, they would become a vampire because of the blood and would start doing terrifying things through the village.
Cutting the chest
A second variant of this practice is piercing the chest with a needle or cutting the chest with a knife, so the soul could not follow the demons, nor the dead could transform into a vampire.
Pouring water around the tomb
This custom was also often used. People believed that if they poured water on the grave of the deceased (forty days in a row), the grave would be blocked and the deceased could not leave the place because vampires can’t cross the water.
Pressing the coffin with stones
People covered the coffins with heavy stones, so dead couldn’t come out and turn into a vampire.
In ancient times, people in the villages of Macedonia believed that if the close ones mourn the deceased, he would turn into a vampire.
A short folk tale about the girls drowned in the lake
In Krani, Resen (Macedonia), there was a shop where two young girls were making carpets. Having completed their work, they went for a swim in the lake. The girls entered the water while holding hands and suddenly one of them got stuck in a water whirl. Frightened, she levered the other girl by the hand and they both drowned. After this event, when people would pass by the lake, they would hear something crying underwater and there was also a blinding light in the middle of the lake. The body of one of the girls was found by a child, and the other one never appeared. It is believed that one of the girls has become a vampire, because they both were young and the whole village mourned them.