With Halloween upon us, it is time to brush up on our knowledge of which fictional monsters are susceptible to the effects of silver and the origin of many uses. Silver is often represented in folklore and contemporary fiction as an effective defense against werewolves, but vampires and many other frightful creatures are vulnerable to silver’s effects. Since ancient times, silver has been associated with purity and the moon. Ancient literature is brimming with mentions of silver and attributions to magical powers, antidotes to illnesses, lunar deities, bringing good luck, and protection against many evil spirits. The idea that silver wards off evil is used throughout Christian, Islamic, Hindu, Egyptian, and Eastern European cultures. In Greek mythology, the goddess of the Moon, Artemis, wielded silver silver-tipped bows and lances. Many cultures have associated silver with good luck and have maintained the tradition of keeping a silver coin in their pocket. |
Silver’s association with purity may also stem from the precious metal’s antimicrobial properties. The Greeks and Romans realized silver’s medicinal applications and used it to treat wounds and in medicines. The Phoenicians stowed water and wine in silver lined containers to delay bacterial contamination. Sailors even placed silver coins in containers of water and wine to prevent spoilage. Potential Monster Encounters and How to Handle Them: Below is a summary of mythical creatures that are impacted by silver’s effects. There are certainly many other types of monsters you may encounter this Halloween, but this represents the more well-known examples. When confronted by a ghastly ghoul not on this list, use silver as a deterrent at your own risk.
Witches: In the 19th century Brothers Grimm literary work, The Two Brothers, a bulletproof witch was defeated with silver buttons fired from a huntsman’s gun. In Albanian folklore a vampiric witch known as Shtriga was warded off by a silver coin wrapped in cloth soaked in blood.¹ Werewolves: These immensely strong creatures are almost invulnerable to conventional weaponry. However, silver bullets, blades, and stakes have slain countless werewolves throughout movies and literature. The screenwriter Curt Siodmak invented the popular lore that werewolves are susceptible to silver bullets when he wrote the 1941 silver screen classic, “The Wolf Man”. However, Siodmak’s werewolf, portrayed by Lon Chaney Jr., was ultimately bludgeoned to death by his own silver walking cane after attacking a local girl. Werewolves succumbing to silver are depicted in a variety of movies such as the “Underworld” franchise, “Silver Bullet” (1985), “Van Helsing” (2004), and “The Monster Squad” (1987) to name a few. Whether used to shoot, stab, or bash - silver is a good start to defeating troublesome werewolves. Vampires: Along with garlic and crucifixes, Hollywood suggests you try using silver when confronted by vampires. The “Blade” franchise provides examples of bloodsuckers meeting their end by Blade’s silver Daywalker sword, silver throwing knives, and silver bullets. In some countries, silver nails were driven into coffins to prevent vampires from escaping in the first place. Mirrors were originally made of polished silver which may lend to the belief that vampires do not cast reflections. As a natural repellant to vampires, presumably the purity of silver prevents the reflection of the wicked being’s likeness. A few notable depictions in media where vampires are vulnerable to the effects of silver include “Van Helsing” (2004), “The Strain”, “The Lost Boys” (1987), “Dark Shadows” (1966), and “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter” (2012). Shapeshifters: If you watch the television series “Supernatural”, you are familiar with shapeshifters who have the ability to change into the form of another human. However, they have superhuman speed, strength, and agility. Luckily, these shapeshifters are helpless against the use of silver blades or bullets to the heart. Skinwalkers: Similar to werewolves, these creatures can transform into various types of canines. Like werewolves, they can infect humans with a single bite and have enhanced strength. However, they do not require a full moon to transform. A silver blade or silver bullet to the heart or head will do the trick. Wraiths: Where vampires suck the blood out of their victims, wraiths suck out the fluid in your brain. A silver blade to the heart will end their life along with your fears of brain-sucking creatures. “Zombie Bacteria”: While not a “monster”, bacteria can be just as dangerous as any werewolf or vampire. According to a 2015 report, researchers with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have discovered when certain types of dead bacteria were exposed to a silver solution they can “go zombie” and start killing up to 99.99% of surrounding living bacteria. The bacteria soak up the silver and as the dead bacteria decays it releases the stored silver which in turn kills the remaining living bacteria. The team called the result the “zombie effect”. Hopefully this information arms you with the tools to stay a little safer on Halloween as you troll for candy. Keeping a silver coin in your pocket might be all you need to put an end to monsters interfering with your plans. Have a Happy Halloween and remember - Silver Saves!
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