Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology

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LARVA

(LAR-va)
Variations: LAMIA, Lemures, Lemurs, Umbrae
In ancient Roman mythology there was a type of vampiric spirit known as a larva. It was created when a person died in some violent fashion or while bearing a burden of guilt. The larvae (the plural form of the word) were the evil, feminine version of the Lares, the protective, male ancestral spirits that safeguarded families and their homes. Larvae ("hungry ghosts") attack nightly, frightening and tormenting the living. They cause erotic and explicit dreams that generate nocturnal emissions, which they carry back to their nests, incubate like an egg, and hatch out horrific monsters.
The ancient Romans celebrated the Feast of the Lemuria on May 9, 11, and 13. The Vestal Virgins made offerings of black beans and of a sacred SALT made into cakes. The food was offered to the larvae at midnight in the hopes that they would accept the gifts and leave their family alone. Loud noises were made throughout the celebration, oftentimes scaring the larvae away before the offerings were made. During this festival all other temples were closed, no legal action could be taken, marriages were forbidden to take place, and voting was not allowed.
Source: Bulfinch, Bulfinch's Greek and Roman Mythology, 9; Leach, Funk and Wagnalls Standard Dictionary of Folklore, 196, 605; Steuding, Greek and Roman Mythology, 145
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