Tag Archives: dracula

The Truth About Dracula: A Halloween Special

Bela Lugosi as Dracula

So, everyone knows that Dracula is the most awesome vampire ever in English literature. And before anyone dares to mention Ed Cullen, I should point out that he fails to qualify both in terms of “awesome” and indeed “literature.” 😛 I actually have a niggling problem with Dracula though: it is this –

Dracula represents the fear of the outsider – fear of the foreigner. As a rich man he also represents the poor man’s fear that the upper classes are screwing him over. Given that he attempts to steal Jonathan Harker’s fiancĂ©e, he represents the fear of every man, that some stranger is giving your woman a far better time than you could possibly hope to achieve. He is, not to put to fine a point on it, Castration Anxiety personified.

Count Dracula is thus a perfect monster, but what he is not is a character. I say this because Dracula is aristocratic, rich, owns vast tracts of land, has a coterie of sexy lady Vampires with whom to share his enormous castle, and can snack on any of the local peasants whenever he feels hungry. Yet nowhere in Bram Stoker’s original novel is there any explanation as to why he would want to give all of this up, and move to Whitby – of all places!

Winona Ryder

Francis Ford Coppola sensed this fundamental flaw in the novel which is why he invented a back-story for Dracula for his film, namely that the Count was searching for his lost love. Given that she was played by Winona Ryder, he could have just done this by staying in Transylvania and following police-reports and in-store CCTV footage!

But was this what Bram Stoker originally intended? I mean about searching for a lost love, not about Winona Ryder, obviously. I discussed my concerns about Dracula with my fellow members of the Illuminati in the pub one afternoon. After recounting all the details to them, I asked: “So why would he want to move to Whitby?”

Inspiration seized one of my drinking companions. “They do nice fish and chips there!” he said.

“What?” I replied.

“They do nice fish and chips in Whitby! That’s why Count Dracula upped and moved to Yorkshire.”

So there you have it! For all the delights that rural Carpathia has to offer, the one thing that they have not is tasty battered (locally sourced) cod with chunky chips served with le purĂ©e de petit pois. I must say that given that I like a Fish Supper every once in a while – as well as liking Fish & Chips – I can to a certain extent sympathise with the old Count!

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Vampires – the Truth

As the world’s greatest expert on the occult, I often hallucinate that people are asking me whether there is any truth to this vampire mullarkey. Well, gentle reader, the answer is Yes … though not in the way depicted by certain books and films.

The modern vampire as a literary concept (“modern” here being the operative word) – of which Dracula is the definitive example, and the Twilight movies the latest continuance – derives from Eastern European folklore of the seventeenth century onwards. However the more general concept of bloodsucking monsters or demons (in humanoid form) dates right back to ancient times and spans the globe – to such an extent that one is tempted to speculate that each culture, no matter how remote, has evolved its own version of a Vampire or vampire-like monster.

It is here that the occultist ought to be on guard. If different cultures do independently come up with Vampire myths, this would suggest either or both of two possibilities. Firstly – the Vampire-idea is an archetype of the collective unconscious. Secondly – all these separate Vampire-like beings are actually based on something from real-life.

Now we may scoff at the second possibility easily enough by saying “where’s the evidence?” The first though is somewhat more serious, because it tends to suggest that in a certain way “there is a vampire in all of us” – lurking in the dark and mysterious depths of the psyche.

There have been various attempts made – in real-life – to release this “inner vampire” with varying degrees of success. On the one-hand witness the Vampire subculture which is a part of the Goth or S&M scene – which in extreme cases apparently involves actual blood-drinking. Bizarre though this lifestyle choice appears, there are however occultists who allegedly use black-magick  to transform themselves into actual vampires. There was a method published by the occultist Dion Fortune, who described it in her novel The Demon Lover (and less explicitly in her previous book The Secrets of Doctor Taverner) and also wrote about it in her non-fiction work, Psychic Self-Defence.

The method apparently is this: it requires great control of one’s astral body. Whilst astrally projecting, the putative-Vampire attempts to absorb the life-force of a victim. In this way the putative Vampire can (it is alleged) live on independently of the physical body. The Vampire in question in Doctor Taverner and described more fully in Psychic Self-Defence attached itself to a living host (i.e. not its original self) who was its regular source of “nourishment.” As you can imagine, this left the host feeling tired and run-down all the time, however it also led to a more serious side-effect: the host started having blood-cravings himself, in order to restore his own vitality.

The literature of the Golden Dawn also suggests that “astral vampires” can be created accidentally, by creating an astral form and allowing an evil spirit (or possibly just a socially-maladjusted one) to take possession of it. This is said to be one of the things that can go wrong if the order’s rituals for Invisibility or Transformation are performed badly. Such an astral vampire would then attach itself to a human host – causing the same sort of unpleasant effects as that described by Dion Fortune.

So, how does one actually get rid of Vampires? Well, one could theorise that if the Vampire-idea is archetypal, then so too are traditional Vampire-defences. However, if the theory that Vampirism is caused by unpleasant astral entities is valid, then a more scientific method is to exorcise the alleged fiend. The Golden Dawn suggests that the Supreme Banishing Hexagram of Binah Ritual should be powerful enough to get rid of even the toughest bloodsuckers: although Dion Fortune states that the method used by Doctor Taverner’s real-life counterpart involved absorbing the astral being into his own aura and then digesting it – a method so strenuous that he was left unconscious for three days after attempting it.

(This gives me an idea of how to establish its validity by experiential proof. Kidnap a Goth from off the streets of Camden and perform the Banishing Hexagram of Binah Ritual at him. If he loses all his taste in clothes and music and turns into a Chav, it obviously worked!)

More seriously though, if the Vampire-idea is indeed an archetype, a far more constructive approach would be delve into the unconscious and confront the inner-Vampire, in a sort of active imagination cum quasi-shamanistic type venture. Perhaps that is indeed the real-truth behind Vampire stories – the quest to tackle the Vampire in its lair is actually a metaphor for finding the Darkness within oneself.

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Hallowe’en

In this blog post I shall present an overview of Hallowe’en, as well as a list of top five places to go and celebrate this special day.

Hallowe’en means so much to many people. For the Hollywood film industry it is the traditional time to release new horror movies. For children it is a time to dress in scary costumes and go trick or treating. For householders it is a time to insert razor-blades into apples. For a large number of adults in America it appears to be a time to dress up in bizarre costumes which seemingly do not have anything to do with the traditional theme of the day. For fundamentalist Christian ministers it is a time to complain about Satanism, black magic etc. For Pagans it means something else entirely, which I shall explain presently.

For me personally I usually spend the day doing Enochian work which is not really connected with the theme of the day except in a very recondite manner. I explain this fully elsewhere.

The Pagan view of Hallowe’en is that it is an ancient feast called “Samhain” (pronouned sa-ven or sa-wen). This is traditionally the time that the spirits of the dead are able to return to the land of the living to visit their descendants. It is really the reflection of the fact that it occurs around the time when the Sun enters Scorpio, which in astrology is associated with the House of Death (the eighth house).

The way people react to their deceased ancestors coming back to visit them is somewhat bemusing, to say the least.

My personal inclination would be that if I knew that the ancestral spirits were coming back to the land of the living on a certain day each year, I would set aside that day to honour them. And in fact, this is generally what Christians do. Yes you read correctly – Christians celebrate Samhain without knowing it! Only they don’t call it Samhain and they don’t celebrate it on October 31st. They call it “All Souls’ Day” and celebrate it two days later on November 2nd. “All Soul’s Day” is when Christians have masses to honour the souls of all deceased beings. It is thus a Christian form of a festival of the dead, like Samhain.

However the secular celebration of Hallowe’en derives from some traditional folk customs. These also acknowledge that the spirits of deceased people are coming back to the land of the living: however instead of conducting rituals to honour them, they dress up in masks and costumes so that the spirits do not recognise the pre-mortem beings and thus do not bother them. This incidentally explains the American practice of fancy dress on Hallowe’en – it is not necessary to dress up in horror-themed costumes, but it is necessary – in order to be strictly authentic – to have a costume which is some attempt at a disguise.

The actual practice of young children dressing up as goblins etc going out trick or treating is itself an old folk practice, which I believe can be traced to the Isle of Mann in the British Isles. There are in fact a number of folk practices associated with Hallowe’en which do not necessarily have anything to do with the idea of honouring the dead spirits but are just about having a good life-affirming community building merry-old time. Some sources allege that it was in fact the beginning of the Celtic New Year, which may explain a lot.

At this point I would like to say something to Christians reading this blog. I do not want to disrespect yer typical mild-mannered Christian who goes to church regularly and practices his or her faith in a modest manner. However, I shall not pull my punches with regards to the raving, bigoted, fundamentalist type of person who makes ordinary Christians embarassed to be associated with them. Dig this:

Christians invented “Hallowe’en.”

Yep, you read it correctly – Christians invented Hallowe’en. The word “Hallowe’en” refers to the fact that October 31st is the eve of All Hallows Day, i.e. All Saints Day on November 1st. October 31st was thus given the name Hallowe’en because it was the Church’s practice to assimilate old pagan feast days, not to alienate the pagans of old, but to get them on side.

What’s more: I hear fundamentalists saying that Hallowe’en glorifies the occult, to which I would respond with two things: firstly – what’s wrong with that? Secondly, and less flippantly – why do you suppose that the practices of dressing up in scary costumes and going trick or treating, and all the rest were allowed to flourish? Do you think it was because some sinister satanic conspiracy has been promoting them? No! It is because Christians themselves have been actively promoting the celebration of Hallowe’en all along, and encouraging the continuance of traditional folk practices, in order to demonstrate that they have nothing to fear from these old customs, and more importantly, any excuse for a party!

Fundamentalists by condemning Hallowe’en are therefore denying the tradition of two thousand years – which is just as much a Christian tradition as it is a pagan one.

My rant being over, I shall now present –

Alex’ Top Five Hallowe’en Destinations for 2009.

5
Canton, NC, USA
Apparently some sick Satanic cult are going to be celebrating Halloween by burning Bibles that night and then having a barbecue (over the embers of the burning bibles?). Oh wait – it’s not a Satanic cult, it is actually a fundamentalist Christian sect!!! Apparently they believe that all other versions of the Good Book apart from the King James Version are the work of Satan, on the grounds that if the KJV was good enough for Jesus and His disciples, it is good enough for them (!). Also they will be burning books by other authors as well.

This has set the Alex Sumner Astral Cash-Registers going.

It occurs to me that the Beatles’ record sales went up in the Deep South – because they were buying them before before burning them. Now, given that I am the author of an occult novel which is available on Amazon, maybe if I write to this crazy Pastor, he will burn my books as well? Unfortunately, this guy only has a congregation of just fourteen, so I won’t increase my sales that much.

NB: this town was put on my list just for the comedy value. I would not actually recommend going here on Hallowe’en or any other day if you look remotely pagan / gothy / black / jewish / asian / or even just like an ordinary Christian.

4
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.
I have put this in the list firstly because there is an excellent supernatural tradition (e.g. Anne Rice’s novels) associated with this town, and secondly, because the local tourist board quite cheerfully says “why not set the mood for your Halloween party by visiting one of our historic cemetaries?” Top geezers!

People, I hate to contra-illusion you to the subject, but in real life no Vampire would ever go near New Orleans: and that is not because they do not like Jazz or Cajun food. As everyone knows, Vampires like darkness and hate sunlight. The places on this planet which have the most sunlight (longest days and shortest nights) are those nearest the Equator, whilst those nearest the Poles have the least sunlight (longest nights and shortest days). Therefore, if a Vampire would choose to live anywhere it would not be in the American South, but somewhere further north like Canada or New England. Note that HP Lovecraft long ago made the connection between cold places and horror by setting his stories either in New England or the Antarctic (At the Mountains of Madness) – he knew the score alright!

3
The Banks of the Foyle Hallowe’en Carnival, Derry, Northern Ireland.
According to press reports, this is “widely regarded as the biggest festival of its kind in Europe and a massive generator of revenue for the local economy.” Moreover, it is claimed that “We have heard reports of people having sex openly in the streets during and after the parade.” In case you are wondering, Derry has its own airport which has regular services to and from London Stansted and Luton, as well as some other places in Britain and Europe. Obviously I am not encouraging any licentious behaviour (i.e. because people who want to indulge in licentious behaviour generally need no encouragement whatsoever!), but because this got onto my radar from having a Methodist minister go on about Hallowe’en encouraging the triumph of evil, etc etc etc.

2
Whitby, North Yorkshire, England.
In the novel “Dracula” by Bram Stoker, the Count’s ship makes landfall in England at Whitby in North Yorkshire. Ever since then, the town has exercised a fascination for real-life Dracula fans. It is nowadays a mecca for the Goth crowd. This Hallowe’en sees the celebration of the Whitby Goth Weekend 2009.

1
A Cemetery Where Your Own Deceased Relatives Are Buried
But the one truly authentic way to celebrate Hallowe’en is to go and honour your deceased loved ones, for then you will be cutting through all the commercialism and really recognising the spirit of Samhain.

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