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.
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 fiancée, 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!
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 purée 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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Tagged as Bram Stoker, dracula, Francis Ford Coppola, hallowe'en, whitby, Winona Ryder