Friday, March 26, 2010

Sermons from The Bloody Pulpit #1

Vampires and Invitation into Private Dwellings

After the latest episode of Vampire Diaries last night, it got me thinking about the law of invitation for vampires. This law is not used in every vampire myth and story, lately it was used in Let The Right One In, along with movies such as movies Fright Night and The Lost Boys. Also this was a plot device on TV shows such as Buffy and Angel, and recently in True Blood 

From my knowledge, older stories such as Dracula and Carmilla didn't entertain this rule, and I wonder where it came from, and also which writers/filmakers were the first to use it in their stories?

In Dracula, there is some kind of mirrored law with invitation where Harker must "Enter Freely Of His Own Will" into Dracula's Castle though this could be a magical solution or trick to breaking the will of Harker, and dominating him as the Castle belonged to Dracula.

The first novel that I found to have an invitation revoked was Stephen King's Salem's Lot, while some other popular vampire series such as Rice's The Vampire Chronicles don't use this law at all, and from most of the modern vampire literature I've read over the years, this law seems to be as sparsely used as a vampire's reflection in mirrors.

So I'll put it out to my readers to test their knowledge. What do you know of The Law of Invitation, and what it's origins were, and what do you think of it as a plot device?


  1. Oooohhh, this is a good one! I think it also has something to do with the power of the threshold in a house, though I've seen the 'rule' applied to windows as well. I'll have to get back to you on this one....!

  2. Hey Nicole,

    Yes it's an interesting topic, because it's not really a 'physical' ailment for vampires such as sunlight, Holy water, garlic etc, but more of a spiritual ailment similar to the use of Faith with repelling a vampire, because in a way the threshold 'repels' entry.

    More recently of course is in Sookie Stackhouse/True Blood that when she or someone else revokes an invitation while said vampire is in the house, they uncontrollably start walking backwards and exit the dwelling the way they came in!

    Look forward to what you discover! :)

  3. As well as the part of Dracula you mention, Dracula also needs (it appears) invitation. Renfield - when dying - mentions "I wouldn't ask him to come in at first, though I knew he wanted to, just as he had wanted
    all along."

    one source might be folklore. We know that it was suggested that potential vampires were buried at crossroads to confuse them when they rised. Another area actually bricked up/blocked up the door to their homes and built another door elsewhere on the housewall, once the corpse had been carried from the building for buriel, to confuse them should they return.

    Blocking the doorway and opening a new entrance was most probably impracticle (and dangerous) with many homes. So the invite over the threshold would be the next obvious evolution.

    As Nicole says the threshold would be seen as a powerful place. The same with the tides, crossroads etc. Boundaries, if you like, from one place to another or one state to another.

    All that said - this is pure conjecture on my part.

  4. Thanks for your input Andy.

    The crossroads thing is interesting because it's also used in the folklore with regards to pacts with demons as well what you mentioned with confusing undead/spirits from returning home and wreaking havoc. Funny that one is used for protection whilst the other myth is used for damnation!

    I didn't know about the bricking up one door and creating a new one, that is very interesting not to mention somewhat disturbing, imagine living in those times!

    I knew they would turn mirrors to face the walls so souls weren't captured that could return to animate corpses later, as well as the room being immensely lit to ward off 'darkness' and animals/cats were barred from the room lest their leaping over the coffin created a vampire!

    I just finished watching Bram Stoker's Dracula on Blu-Ray again tonight, but this time I watched it with Coppola's commentary for the first time.

    Funnily enough when Harker first arrives at Dracula's castle and Dracula bids him in and there is that pause as well as ominous connotation as Harker steps over the threshold, Coppola states that Harker has willing stepped from the mortal realm into the Realm of the Vampire, therefore he is now subject to their rules and not of the human world, which subsequently puts him in danger and at the Count's mercy...

  5. Hey Gabe -- I cross-referenced your blog and posted an answer over here:

  6. Thanks Nicole! Great Article and thanks for the mention, and I like your new blog :)