Results 1 to 13 of 13

Thread: Vampire and Crosses

  1. #1
    Scooby Gang bespangled's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2015
    Location
    Tucson, AZ
    Posts
    722
    Thanks
    1,590
    Thanked 1,929 Times in 739 Posts

    Default Vampire and Crosses

    Is the only value in a cross the belief that it will repel vampires? If I picked up a shoe and believed hard enough it would work like a cross in this paradigm

    Or is this a religious issue? Is there something specific to the Christian cross that makes it effective so even a non vampire believer can repel vampires with it anyway?

    In the entire run of the show there has never been a hint that any other symbol would work, though we can fanon that in.
    Bottom line is, even if you see them coming, you're not ready for the big moments...The big moments are gonna come, you can't help that. It's what you do afterwards that counts. That's when you find out who you are.

  2. The Following User Says Thank You to bespangled For This Useful Post:

    TriBel (27-04-19)

  3. #2
    Well Spiked Stoney's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Blighty
    Posts
    7,941
    Thanks
    10,714
    Thanked 12,773 Times in 5,271 Posts

    Default

    This just made me think of Nightmares and the great scene with The Master talking to Collin about fear...
    Master: Fear is a wonderful thing. It is *the* most powerful force in
    the human world. (crouches to face Collin) Not love, not hate... Fear!
    When you were a mortal boy, what did you fear?

    Collin: Monsters.

    Master: Ooo. (gets up) We are *defined* by the things we fear. (goes to
    the large cross) This symbol, these two planks of wood, it confounds me.
    Suffuses me with mortal dread. But fear is in the mind. (puts his hand
    on the cross and holds on while it burns) Like pain. It can be
    controlled. (lets go) If I can face my fear, it cannot master me. (looks
    up) Something is happening above. Something new, powerful, psychic
    force. Do you feel it?

    So no, I don't think the value is in the belief. I don't think it is relevant to the holder of the cross who could just hold another item but in the mythology of vampires and in something that represents something holy/good being untouchable by evil, or something like that. And of course it has a literal effect on the vampire that has nothing to do with the person wielding it and doesn't even require someone to do so. As The Master said, they fear it and then of course if touched it does burn and we see that time and again. Buffy's cross burns Angel's chest without him even being aware he was touching it too, so it isn't that the fear and belief in the danger is even required from the vamp either. (We'll ignore that it was impossible with their height difference for it to have touched him where the burn was. ) Isn't there also some reference at some point to avoiding going into churches by a vamp too and obviously holy water has another literal effect. Why it is these items I don't know but it is a fairly established part of vampire mythology that isn't just BtVS. But in BtVS there's nothing to indicate that it requires belief from either party to work and have an effect.

    I can't remember the verse stepping out of typical mythology to say another symbol had a similar effect. I'll dwell on that.

  4. #3
    Slayer
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    1,324
    Thanks
    67
    Thanked 1,454 Times in 719 Posts

    Default

    Crosses and holy water definitely show a physical reaction when vamps touch them. I suppose it's pretty much because the established lore says it does even if vamps pre-date christianity in the buffyverse.

  5. #4
    Slayer TriBel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Manchester, UK.
    Posts
    1,572
    Thanks
    4,296
    Thanked 4,446 Times in 1,898 Posts

    Default

    Is the only value in a cross the belief that it will repel vampires? If I picked up a shoe and believed hard enough it would work like a cross in this paradigm
    It's the religious symbolism, so if you could find a religion that fetishized shoes (as opposed to an individual with a shoe fetish) I'm presuming the shoe would have the same power. As for belief, that's an interesting one. I'm guessing an individual author could play about with the idea. So, could an atheist wield a cross? What if the vampire was (had been?) an atheist or a believer in a different religion? If this happened then the text would be making a specific point about the power of religion as a belief system rather than drawing on the more nebulous vampire mythology that's been passed down in the West.

    Or is this a religious issue? Is there something specific to the Christian cross that makes it effective so even a non vampire believer can repel vampires with it anyway?
    In general, I don't think there's anything specific about the cross for the simple reason vampire myths exist across time and space but don't take the same form. There's no reason a cross would act as a repellent in, for example, African/South American myth before the arrival of the missionaries. Why would it? Where's the power in two pieces of wood set at right angles? Am I going to genuflect before crossed beams in carpenter's yard or a very large "plus sign" on the blackboard in a maths teaching room? I doubt it. The fact that the cross is so predominant is, I think, partly due to the legacy of 19th century literature (specifically but not solely, Bram Stoker) and partly down to the cultural hegemony of the western Film/TV industry.

    IIRC, holy water has no impact on the Turok-Han? Why? Are they truly Id, in the same way that an infant is? Do they have no comprehension of organizing systems such as religion, is their want simply to feed?

    Stoney:

    Isn't there also some reference at some point to avoiding going into churches by a vamp too and obviously holy water has another literal effect. Why it is these items I don't know but it is a fairly established part of vampire mythology that isn't just BtVS. But in BtVS there's nothing to indicate that it requires belief from either party to work and have an effect.
    Hallowed/consecrated ground. But we see Angelus in a church. As for "literal effect", psychosomatic disorders can have a physical effect but not be grounded in a physical cause. I often wondered whether Spike was less susceptible to the power of the cross because William was less grounded in formal religion than Liam.
    Last edited by TriBel; 27-04-19 at 11:07 AM.

  6. #5
    Slayer Supporter vampmogs's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    12,566
    Thanks
    1,924
    Thanked 8,700 Times in 2,637 Posts

    Default

    Holy water actually does work on the Turok Han. Anya says it "runs off them like their scotch guarded" but when Buffy smashes a vile of holy water against the Turok Han's face the Turok Han snarls in pain and his skin sizzles. He then has visible burns on the side of his face for the remainder of the episode. I think Anya's comment is meant to suggest that holy water will do little to slow the Turok Han down but it does cause them physical harm the same way it does a regular vampire.

    I don't think the power of the cross has much to do with a vampire's individual beliefs. After all, the cross repels Vamp!Willow in "Dopplegangland" and Willow was jewish. Furthermore, we know that the cross and holy water holds some power because the "hanging of a cross and sprinkling of holy water" is a key component to the Disinvite Spell when revoking a vampire's invitation to a home ("Passion"). And it can't just be psychosomatic because neither Angelus or Spike were aware that the spell had been performed but when they tried to regain entry the spell still successfully blocked them both out (and the crosses are also hidden from view. Willow deliberately hides it behind a curtain in her bedroom to avoid her father seeing it in "Passion").

    My personal canon has always been that a long time ago a spell was placed on christian religious artefacts to make them harmful to vampires.
    Last edited by vampmogs; 27-04-19 at 11:43 AM.
    - "The earth is doomed" -


  7. The Following User Says Thank You to vampmogs For This Useful Post:

    Stoney (27-04-19)

  8. #6
    Slayer
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Posts
    1,324
    Thanks
    67
    Thanked 1,454 Times in 719 Posts

    Default

    Plus the vampire in Helpless starts smoldering before he's even aware he's drank holy water, so it has to be more than a psychosomatic response.

  9. The Following User Says Thank You to HardlyThere For This Useful Post:

    vampmogs (27-04-19)

  10. #7
    Slayer Supporter vampmogs's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    12,566
    Thanks
    1,924
    Thanked 8,700 Times in 2,637 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by HardlyThere View Post
    Plus the vampire in Helpless starts smoldering before he's even aware he's drank holy water, so it has to be more than a psychosomatic response.
    Yep! And in "The Trial" Angel unknowingly dunks his hand into a pool of holy water to fetch a key and then screams in agony upon realising its holy water.
    - "The earth is doomed" -


  11. #8
    What? KingofCretins's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Big Honkin' Castle
    Posts
    13,708
    Thanks
    234
    Thanked 3,892 Times in 1,836 Posts

    Default

    To really get down into the weeds of what is implied, mythologically, would probably be more likely to get them to retcon it out than to stick with it. But ostensibly it means there is some metaphysical substance to these objects and symbols that simply doesn't exist in others, and that's... well, fascinating. But also unintended, since the real reason crosses and holy water work is because it's a classic element of vampire lore and they wanted to keep it. Plus it helps as plot device occasionally, passive barriers, etc.

    About the farthest the Buffyverse ever goes with implying that there is Something To It is how that nun just straight up knows Angel is a vampire and give him Justin Timberlake face for being in her parish.

    Banner by LRae12

  12. #9
    Slayer TriBel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Manchester, UK.
    Posts
    1,572
    Thanks
    4,296
    Thanked 4,446 Times in 1,898 Posts

    Default

    Holy water actually does work on the Turok Han. Anya says it "runs off them like their scotch guarded" but when Buffy smashes a vile of holy water against the Turok Han's face the Turok Han snarls in pain and his skin sizzles. He then has visible burns on the side of his face for the remainder of the episode. I think Anya's comment is meant to suggest that holy water will do little to slow the Turok Han down but it does cause them physical harm the same way it does a regular vampire.

    I don't think the power of the cross has much to do with a vampire's individual beliefs. After all, the cross repels Vamp!Willow in "Dopplegangland" and Willow was jewish. Furthermore, we know that the cross and holy water holds some power because the "hanging of a cross and sprinkling of holy water" is a key component to the Disinvite Spell when revoking a vampire's invitation to a home ("Passion"). And it can't just be psychosomatic because neither Angelus or Spike were aware that the spell had been performed when they tried to regain entry to Buffy's home and the spell still successfully blocked them both out (and the crosses are also hidden from view. Willow deliberately hides it behind a curtain in her bedroom to avoid her father seeing it in "Passion").

    My personal canon has always been that a long time ago a spell was placed on christian religious artefacts to make them harmful to vampires.
    I don't think it matters that much - particularly when you get to the later seasons because they're concerned, IMO, with the Borromean knot of "real, symbolic and imaginary". It's impossible to extricate one from the other. We also see the potential's crucifix on the ground. Did she drop it or was it pulled off? We don't know - we don't see it. The point being, it didn't save her. In the case of the holy water, it had a real effect (pain) but not, it seems, a symbolic or imaginary effect. It's possible that the Turok-Han don't have the intellect to connect the two (water and pain). If that's the case, then it's unlikely to act as a deterrent.

    My personal canon has always been that a long time ago a spell was placed on christian religious artefacts to make them harmful to vampires.
    No disrespect but I don't think you need "a spell" placed on them - the idea of something having power (ie of being a fetish) is already there - an imaginary and symbolic function of the artifact itself (not necessarily real - though the jury's out on transubstantiation - might have made its mind up now IDK). It's interesting that Caleb muses on the relationship between red wine and blood. The idea of religion and religious belief creates/casts its own spell - a spell that's reiterated in every mass, every prayer, very religious ritual etc.

    I don't think there's a consistency in Vampire myth so I don't anticipate it here. As Auerbach points out, each age gets the vampire it needs...

  13. The Following User Says Thank You to TriBel For This Useful Post:

    Priceless (27-04-19)

  14. #10
    Slayer Supporter vampmogs's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2007
    Location
    Australia
    Posts
    12,566
    Thanks
    1,924
    Thanked 8,700 Times in 2,637 Posts

    Default

    But it can't just be down to religious belief because we have specific examples of these items harming or effecting vampires with them being completely unaware. As HardlyThere says, in "Helpless" Kralik starts burning up from the inside long before he realises he's even swallowed holy water. Angel's hands burn in "The Trial" before he realises he's put them in holy water. Crosses and holy water create a literal barrier that keeps vampires from crossing the threshold when they're completely unaware a spell has even been cast. It can't be projection or psychosomatic if the vampire is completely unaware of these objects until after they're already harmed/effected by them.

    I don't much mind if you're not into the spell idea. It's just a fanwank anyway. But mythologically speaking, there's something literal going on here that is giving these objects power. And they have power entirely independent of the faith of the person wielding them (Buffy doesn't have faith god exists and considers religion "freaky") or the creature being harmed by them (Jewish Vamp!Willow is hurt by the cross). There's something "real" giving them power, mythologically speaking, whatever it is.
    Last edited by vampmogs; 27-04-19 at 12:38 PM.
    - "The earth is doomed" -


  15. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to vampmogs For This Useful Post:

    Skippcomet (28-04-19),Stoney (27-04-19)

  16. #11
    Slayer TriBel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Manchester, UK.
    Posts
    1,572
    Thanks
    4,296
    Thanked 4,446 Times in 1,898 Posts

    Default

    But it can't just be down to religious belief because we have specific examples of these items harming or effecting vampires with them being completely unaware. As HardlyThere says, in "Helpless" Kralik starts burning up from the inside long before he realises he's even swallowed holy water. Angel's hands burn in "The Trial" before he realises he's put them in holy water. Crosses and holy water create a literal barrier that keeps vampires from crossing the threshold when they're completely unaware a spell has even been cast. It can't be projection or psychosomatic if the vampire is completely unaware of these objects until after they're already harmed/effected by them.
    I honestly don't think it matters that much. It would matter if it were a realist text but it's not. We've already suspended disbelief by accepting the reality of the vampire/slayer. By positioning it across genres, then can get the best out of both worlds. bespangled's original question wasn't 'verse specific until the end and I answered "religious symbolism" in relation to Vampire mythology in general rather than verse mythology. As King says, different "moments" in the text are the result of different requirements of the text. As a fantastical tale, BtVS has the freedom to introduce symbols etc. that are only relevant to it. At other times, it's possible (easy) to read them "real world" metaphors.

    At the same time, where the BtVS starts to dig holes for itself or - paradoxically, get itself out of holes, is it starts to foreground the unconscious. By the time we get to S6/7 - particularly S7 it's heavily reliant on it and so there's retcon whether it's intentional or not. So (and I'd thought about Vamp Willow) Willow is Jewish (and she makes a point of stressing this). In this case, one would anticipate the cross would have no effect on her. BUT, is that saying something about the cross in and of itself or is it possible to apply another reading? We know Willow has a strained relationship with her mother, and IIRC Orthodox Judaism is matrilinear. Can we see Vamp Willow's fear of the cross as being symbolic of an unconscious rejection of her faith and hence a rejection of her mother? Is it, in fact, a metaphor for "killing" her parents (as Angelus did, as Spike did, albeit for different reasons)? IDK because I've never really dwelt on it (and if I'm wrong about the matrilinear the argument partly implodes. Though I do think the relationship between Willow and her mum deserves consideration). What muddies the waters further is Tara McClay, which slips easily into Terra/Gaia, the earth mother (there's a theme emerging here). In Lessons reference is made to Gaia, to the earth and to connections (hidden root systems, energies that come through the earth), specifically linked to Passion (flower). The earth appears to be "good".Then comes the revelation that it's not, that there are dark things in the earth...I could continue.

    We can take the mother, the unconscious and the cross "sideways" (as it were) to Spike in Beneath You. Spike, who hangs from the cross, in a place that appears dedicated to the Madonna & Child (we see the lit icon, Buffy pauses beneath it as she enters the church. I think the icon also appears in the Mission). Then of course, there's LMPTM...

    The point I'm making is, I don't think things in BtVS have just one meaning...sometimes they "mean" in and of themselves but usually meaning is multiple and the result of a network rather than linear. In some cases, as I think happens in S7, the foundation on which meaning is premised is ripped away. If meaning was singular, I don't thing we'd still be discussing it 20+ years later and I don't think it would sustain either the fandom or the academic industry that's built up around it. Do I think Whedon intended all the possible readings - no (but I think he was aware there'd be an excess).
    Last edited by TriBel; 27-04-19 at 02:56 PM.

  17. The Following User Says Thank You to TriBel For This Useful Post:

    Priceless (27-04-19)

  18. #12
    Library Researcher Willow from Buffy's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2018
    Posts
    275
    Thanks
    237
    Thanked 658 Times in 246 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by TriBel View Post
    It's the religious symbolism, so if you could find a religion that fetishized shoes (as opposed to an individual with a shoe fetish) I'm presuming the shoe would have the same power.

    The shoe-worshippers exist. Spike has met them and still bears the scars.

  19. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to Willow from Buffy For This Useful Post:

    bespangled (28-04-19),Priceless (27-04-19),SpuffyGlitz (27-04-19),TriBel (27-04-19)

  20. #13
    Slayer TriBel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    Manchester, UK.
    Posts
    1,572
    Thanks
    4,296
    Thanked 4,446 Times in 1,898 Posts

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Willow from Buffy View Post

    The shoe-worshippers exist. Spike has met them and still bears the scars.
    Nice - and I'd given it fleeting consideration earlier! I'd always presumed dream-work meant an equation of souls/soles (which is kinda boring) but now, I'm gonna start my own Doc Marten cult. Feel free to join me worshiping at the altar of.

  21. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to TriBel For This Useful Post:

    bespangled (28-04-19),Priceless (27-04-19),Willow from Buffy (27-04-19)

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •