The Ankh Symbol in Vampire Mythology

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Vampire lore varies by the people who are inspired to create it. Many of the “rules” or requirements of vampires vary from legend to legend. However, some things stand out as common threads throughout much of vampire mythology.

If you spend any time doing research, you’ll come across repeating themes and symbols. One of the things that appears often is the Egyptian symbol of the ankh. It looks similar to a cross, except there is a loop at the top instead of a straight line. You may recognize it; it is one of the most familiar of the Egyptian symbols. It may also be referred to by its Latin name, crux ansata, which translates to handle-shaped cross.

It is believed that the symbol evolved from a simple knot or bow; some theories even have it being borne out of the strap from a style of sandal. Other theories are more sexual in nature. Origin theories are just that—theories. What we do know is this: to the Egyptians, it represented a symbol of life. In their writing, it helped to make up words like “happiness” and “health.” This is significant in and of itself, but it was also much more.

Archeologists have found the symbol on vessels containing water for ceremonial purposes;with water being one of the main requirements for life, this makes sense. More significantly, it is often depicted in the hands of Egyptian deities.  They carry it with them on the tops of scepters or simply in their hands. In other powerful portrayals, they are often holding an ankh to the mouth of kings or queens in order to provide them with the “breath of eternal life.”

It is the last group of imagery and the implications therein that likelyinspired the connection to the concept of vampirism. It has been consistently adopted as a symbol for many covens or Houses of varying beliefs. In addition to celebrating eternal life, the ankh provides both a strong visual and symbolic reminder of the ancient connection we all have.

Broken down, it becomes even more symbolic. When you isolate the shapes of an ankh, you are left with two symbols—a Tau cross (named after the Greek letter it resembles, which is essentially a “T”) and a circle. The Tau crosssymbolizes salvation—both for those who wear it and as a symbol of Christ’s sacrifice to give his people eternal salvation. It is believed that Saint Anthony—himself an Egyptian—carried a Tau cross, and it now heavily associated with the Franciscans. The other symbol, a circle, is a traditional symbol of the unbroken and eternal. Many cultures wear wedding bands specifically because of this interpretation. Combining these two symbols creates a powerful amulet for any who wear it.