Why are Vampires sensitive to silver ? Why do warewolves howl to the moonlight? What is the history of silver in Catholicism?
Here at Inchoo Bijoux we make a lot of our Gothic ornate jewelry with sterling silver. Silver has some great qualities: It conducts heat better than any other metal. It's incredibly ductile and malleable, which is one of the reasons why it's used for jewelry in the first place.
Silver is almost always considered to be on the good end of magic and items formed of it may also be used for good. Vampires traditionally have no reflections and don't show up on film. Old fashioned mirrors used silver backing to achieve reflection, and black & white film used silver nitrates to capture the image (plus some old camera models included mirrors in the light capture mechanism); since vampires are unholy, their light is not picked up by divine silver. Of course, silver nitrates were phased out of film even before film itself was made obsolete by digital cameras, and modern mirrors are usually backed by much cheaper aluminium, but the association between vampirism and lack of image reproduction still lingers. It is also possible that the association between vampires and silver stems from the historical belief that silver was effective against other supernatural creatures, such as werewolves...
Now let's dive into werewolves! Some authors asserted that the idea of the werewolf's supposed vulnerability to silver dates back to one the earliest werewolf mythos ie The Beast of Gévaudan, a man-eating animal killed by the hunter Jean Chastel in the year 1767. However, the allegations of Chastel purportedly using a gun loaded with silver bullets are derived primarily from Henri Pourrat's Histoire fidèle de la bête en Gévaudan (1946). In this novel, the French writer imagines that the beast was shot thanks to silver medals of the Virgin Mary, worn by Jean Chastel in his hat and then melted down to make bullets. Bullets which were then used to shoot the beast.
In the Brothers Grimm fairy-tale of The Two Brothers, a bullet-proof witch is shot down by silver buttons, fired from a gun. In Swedish folklore beings such as Wizards or the Skogsra can be brought down by silver.
Silver has also been attributed to the moon for thousands of years, which may be another reason for why it affects creatures of the moon. There is a seemingly never ending list of supernatural beings who are effected by silver. Silver and moon similarities also include- reflection, femininity, sensuality... traits that one could associate with certain alluring supernatural beings, like vampires or witches. Silver moon, silver water.
Christianity had an influence over this idea. As the story goes, Judas sold over Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. After Jesus was captured, Judas committed suicide. His suicide, as many explain, was caused from the guilt of selling out his friend and the self-proclaimed son of god. The Silver was a reminder, and the imagery, of both his guilt and his betrayal of God. As such, silver reminds evil spirits of both their separation from God and their everlasting guilt. Thus, the spirits will flee from the silver.
Lasty, silver had antimicrobial properties. For example, the ancient Greeks used silver vases to keep water fresh. Silver is a well-documented antimicrobial, that has been shown to kill bacteria, fungi and certain viruses. So it was known in the ancient world that using silver could prevent sickness. Today silver is incorporated into wound dressing and antimicrobial coating in medical devices.
So what do you believe? Do you believe in the mystical powers of silver?