Here is the introduction to the book I am currently working on!
The Mysteries of Venus
Venus, My Love, I Hate You…With a Passion.
Venus. The Morning Star. The Evening Star. Light. Dark. No other symbol has been so loved or so hated, in equal amount. Depending on the name we decide, Venus is either the epitome of Love or the epitome of Hate. Or just a bright, shining planet in the sky, appearing at dawn or dusk. It is often symbolic of all that is feminine: Woman – another object loved and hated in equal measure by society.
My intention in writing this book is to show how society has both revered and demonised anything associated with this one celestial entity. From goddess to fallen angel and demon, Venus has enraptured and repelled humanity.
I will take a chronological approach, showing how Venus was originally worshipped by many ancient religions, in both feminine and masculine aspects. As this kind of equality waned, with the advent of new patriarchal religions, both the goddess – and women, generally – became “fallen” in the eyes of their oppressors. Is it coincidence that Eve was the name of this fallen woman? Is Eve symbolic of the Evening Star? The name seemingly comes from the root word “to live”, but is also very like the Aramaic word for “serpent”; also a symbol, perhaps, of death. Life and death. One symbol. Two opposing meanings.
From here, I will look at the demonisation of all that was once good, and the names we have been mercilessly taught to hate throughout the centuries. This kind of hateful rhetoric has permeated our society, and may be partially responsible – if not wholly – for the irreverence and disrespect shown towards women of the past and present. Women, in particular, who were (and are still) executed as witches – clearly society’s scapegoat for those uncomfortable with female sexuality. We associate witch hunts with the Middle Ages and Catholicism, but witch hunting has been around since antiquity, and it continues to this day in places like Africa. Many societies are extremely uncomfortable with, and fearful of, feminine sexuality. From witch hunts to female genital mutilation, women’s sexuality has always been controlled in some form or another, sometimes subtly, sometimes violently.
As a singular entity, society can be viewed as having an almost multiple personality in its approach to how it feels about the Feminine. On one hand, the Feminine is respected, on the other it is controlled, humiliated, beaten and raped of any individuality or strength. It is a constant power struggle between loving someone wholeheartedly, and violently oppressing them, which must surely come from a lack of identity, feelings of insecurity, fear and ignorance on the oppressor’s part.
As we are brought into the dawn of the 21st Century, we are once again seeing the light of the Goddess. New religions are springing forth which revere the feminine aspect of deity. With it, there is a change in how women themselves are perceived. In many parts of the world, they – like the Goddess – are becoming stronger and more respected. Balance is being restored to our consciousness, and this can only be a good thing. Venus, the Goddess of love, beauty and harmony is bringing all these things with Her, which must surely herald a time of peace on earth. One would hope that it does not mean an end to the Masculine Divine, as balance is key to harmony. Which is the primary reason that, even as a pagan, I am not averse to the principles of Christ.
Many are choosing science over religion, as patriarchal faiths alone do not fulfil the human need for balance. Many atheists (in particular) are becoming focused on the negative aspects of religion, which deliberately oppresses and controls. Of course, the men at the top of these hierarchies are responsible for this oppression and control. This makes little sense to us, as the purpose of spirituality is to comfort us and free the psyche, connecting us with the life force or Divine. I suppose, to believe in something bigger than ourselves, gives us hope that our lives on earth are worthwhile and have meaning. Which, of course, they do in any case. With or without religion. However, it also helps us to live in harmony with one another.
Since we have been out of balance and ruled by oppressive forces, with the Divine Feminine hidden, we have lived in a power-hungry state. Parts of the world are in turmoil at the moment, but nevertheless, we are seeing positive changes. Even within Catholicism, a movement towards a more integrated belief system can be seen under the guidance of Pope Francis. It is not entirely balanced, but it is definitely a step in the right direction. Perhaps a further restoration of the Divine Feminine within the Church might be to bring Mary Magdalene out of the darkness too. Perhaps now is the time for her to stop feeling guilty about being a beautiful and sexy woman. Whilst the Virgin Mary and Mother Mary are evident and familiar, these show that women only have two roles in society: to be virginal or to be a mother. Women do not necessarily fit neatly into either category. In fact, in many pre-Christian and modern non-Christian faiths, the Goddess is symbolised by the three ages of Woman: maiden, mother and crone. Three different women called Mary were at the foot of the cross. Mary, her sister Mary and Mary Magdalene. Mary. A name which may mean death/bitter or love. Another opposite. Which, in Aramaic is also translatable as “lady”.
I will unravel the intricate mysteries of Venus in this book, showing the many various faces of the Goddess and the symbolism of this hot, celestial beauty. Furthermore, I will also aim to show the effects of society’s changing beliefs on, not only the Divine Feminine but also the women of the world throughout the ages and throughout a woman’s life-cycle. From reverence and awe, to complete and utter rejection. They say there is hidden treasure in The Vatican. There is. It is The Goddess. It is Woman. It is Mary Magdalene. It is Venus.
Glasgow (27th September 2013)
Until next month, the key to life is balance! Your friend, A.D.
Alien, Aliens, Betty and Barney Hill, Close Encounters, Demons, E.T., Extra-Terrestrial, faery, fairy, Fire in the Sky, folk tales, George Adamski, gods, Independence Day, John Carpenter, mythology, Orson Welles, PTSD, Quatermass and the Pit, Roswell, sleep paralysis, Terence McKenna, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Fourth Kind, The Invasion, The Thing, Travis Walton, UFO, Vilas-Boas, War of the Worlds
In the mid-1990s, I developed an interest in the UFO and alien abduction phenomenon. I set about becoming a somewhat sceptical UFO investigator. Most of my findings led me to meteorological, astronomical or military activity as conclusions for sightings. One rainy night I got on the train to Stirling. It took about forty five minutes from Glasgow. There was a meeting of the group Strange Phenomena Investigations, in the back room of a local pub. I expected to encounter one or two strange individuals. In fact, they were all just ordinary everyday people, but interested enthusiasts of the subject. They were as keen to know what it was all about, as much as I was. I decided to listen without judgement, lest it cloud my view of what was occurring with these people. Malcolm Robinson, the founder of SPI, was there and introduced me to the group. At one point in the evening, someone began speaking about how aliens were our friends and were not here to harm us. Almost immediately another participant forcefully exploded: “How can you say that?” he cried. “You don’t know that! I have no idea what they are or what they want, but I can tell you one thing…they are not our friends!” I swallowed hard. I could tell by the look on this man’s face that he was completely serious. He said that since his encounter he and his friend, Colin, had problems with friends, family and colleagues who didn’t believe their story and his friend had not been back to work since the incident. I realised I was listening to Garry Wood speaking. He and his friend Colin Wright had reported experiencing an alien abduction on the A70, an incident which was investigated by the Ministry of Defence. They had about ninety minutes of missing time. Now, I have no idea what happened that night, but there is one thing I am completely sure of, Garry Wood certainly believed it had happened. The look on his face was that of a man disturbed, terrified and angered by the experience. You can read the full story of Garry Wood and Colin Wright here.
It’s one of the Big Questions, alongside “Why are we here?” and “Is there a God?” Another thing we are all really curious about is: Are we alone in this universe? Or, is there a remote possibility that somewhere, out there, there is another form of life. If there is, what could it possibly look like? If we were ever to encounter it, how would it behave towards us?
This is the 66th anniversary of the “Roswell Incident”. In July 1947, in Roswell, New Mexico, debris was recovered. Authorities claimed it was a top secret surveillance balloon, but conspiracy theorists have always believed the US military recovered an alien spaceship that day.
In 1995, Ray Santilli claimed to have footage of an alien autopsy being performed on one of the Roswell aliens recovered from the crash. Two years later the US Air Force released a report which said the alien bodies witnesses reported seeing were, in fact, test dummies. In 2006, Santilli admitted the autopsy film was not genuine. However, he insisted it was based on real life events. Nevertheless, there has never been any substantial proof that aliens crashed to Earth in 1947.
There were certainly alien stories prior to the Roswell incident. Orson Welles’s adaptation of War of the Worlds, a novel by H G Wells, sent many Americans into a state of mass hysteria, thinking that Marsians had invaded. Science-fiction was developing as a popular genre and many scientific discoveries were being made about space. The format of War of the World was news bulletins. With an audience already primed for war, all these things contributed to sending the public into a frenzy.
Tune into the original 1938 broadcast of War of the Worlds.
Nevertheless, after the Roswell incident, the public imagination about aliens and UFOs went wild. It was round about this time that George Adamski was taking photos of flying saucers. The 1950s then saw a huge increase in sci-fi and alien movies. One of my favourites, The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951), gives the message that the people of Earth must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets. The following year Adamski claimed to have met Venusian alien, Orthon, who warned him of the dangers of nuclear war. There are, of course, many criticisms of Adamski and many holes in his stories, which you can read for yourself here.
In 1957, Antônio Vilas-Boas, a Brazilian farmer claimed to have been abducted by aliens. There are other similar abduction stories, but his is the first to receive proper attention. The incident occurred when Boas was only 23 years old, working at night to avoid the hot temperatures during the day. As he was ploughing a field, near São Francisco de Sales, he was approached by what he described as a red star, which as it got closer, became recognisable as a space craft. The full story can be read here.
In 1961, widespread publicity was generated by Betty and Barney Hill, who also claimed to have been abducted by aliens in New Hampshire. The University of New Hampshire have custody of a permanent collection of Betty Hill’s notes, tapes and other items. In 2011, a state historical marker was placed at the site of the alleged encounter. Betty and Barney Hill’s story can be read in full here.
The Hill’s story is highly intriguing, yet many motifs and themes are similar to that of science-fiction being aired at that time. It is thought that these images, coupled with sleep deprivation and false memories recovered during hypnosis, were all part and parcel of the overall experience.
As a hypnotherapist myself, I can say that nowadays regression would never be used to recover memories. The likelihood of false memory syndrome would be a huge factor in discrediting the entire encounter. Any information Betty and Barney Hill gave under hypnosis should be dismissed entirely.
A few years later, attention turned to what our relationship to aliens might be. Quatermass and the Pit (1967) is an extraordinary concept of the imagination. It is a fantastic story, surrounding the discovery of an ancient Martian spacecraft in the London Underground, and the realisation that aliens have influenced human evolution and intelligence since the beginning. The spacecraft seems to stir up memories of the aliens which remain deep in the human psyche. Professor Quatermass is convinced that all our beliefs and fears of devils and such like are, in fact, tied up with these memories of our encounters with the Martians.
The term “close encounter” was coined in 1972 by Josef Allen Hynek (1910-1986) in his book The UFO Experience: A Scientific Enquiry. Hynek proposed there were three types of close encounter:
Close Encounters of the First Kind are sightings of one or more UFOs at a distance of 500 feet or less.
Close Encounters of the Second Kind are sightings of a UFO which were accompanied by physical effects such as heat, electrical interference etc.
Close Encounters of the Third Kind involve the sighting of an animated being (presumably alien but not specifically defined as such).
Other categories have since developed, including having contact, being abducted, those involving death, those involving hybrid creations and sexual encounters. There are also sub-categories to the Third Kind according to whether the perceived alien is inside or outside their UFO, there are any other witnesses, the alien is injured or captured etc. All categories can be read here.
Following this initial categorisation by Hynek, Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) explored the phenomenon. It turned out the aliens were quite nice really, and usually returned abducted children happy and uninjured. I jest. It’s actually another of my favourite films, quite unnerving in parts, but ultimately a “feel good” ending. Spielberg carried on with his view of the alien as the good guy with E.T. The Extra Terrestrial in 1982, which had everyone in love, and saying a tearful goodbye to their favourite alien, by the end of the movie.
The same year, Bill Lancaster (son of Burt) wrote the screenplay for The Thing (directed by John Carpenter), which assured us that we were in mortal peril from E.T. Here the alien is a parasite which assimilates other lifeforms and imitates them. Who can you trust? That is the Big Question this time. Someone might look like your friend, or your pet husky, but are they in fact an alien in disguise…?
By 1993, we were sticking with the alien as foe. Fire in the Sky is possibly one of the creepiest and most unnerving alien abduction stories, not least of all because it’s based on the events depicted by Travis Walton who claimed to have had a real life encounter. What actually happened that night is largely undetermined and many still believe it was one big hoax. The film is certainly an exaggeration of Walton’s own account from his book The Walton Experience.
On the evening of 5th November 1975, logger Travis Walton and his co-workers, on their way home, encounter a UFO. Travis gets out the car, is hit by a beam of light, the others take off in their car. One of them, Mike Rogers, returns to the scene later but Travis is nowhere to be found. Initially the incident is investigated as a murder enquiry. The boys take a lie-detector test, which is inconclusive and five days later Travis turns up disorientated and hysterical at a gas station. Travis initially fails his first polygraph, which is claimed to have used out-dated methods. Two subsequent ones revealed him to be telling the truth. The entire story can be read here.
Various invasion films have been made over the last ten years or so: Independence Day (1996), War of the Worlds (2005), The Invasion (2007). Then in 2009, The Fourth Kind came to cinemas. It is a mockumentary science-fiction thriller based on disappearances in Alaska. It’s a fairly good film, though not an exceptionally good advert for hypnosis (once again!), and its supposed realistic background gives the viewer plenty to think about. Similar to Quatermass, the alien life-forms are tied to an ancient civilisation. This time the Sumerians. They are bound up once more in our beliefs of supernatural beings, including God.
We do indeed live in a strange world, full of seemingly inexplicable occurrences. It would do a great injustice to both science and victims if I were to simply cast aside all accounts of alien abduction as mere hallucinations. However, the truth is often stranger than fiction and every bit as intriguing. Similar supernatural experiences have happened since practically the dawn of time and they all bear remarkable similarities to one another. Supernatural kidnappings, abductions and attacks have been reported going right back into ancient times, passed down through folklore. Faery kidnappings and alien abductions contain some terrifying parallels. Even ancient Gods, in mythology, were known to kidnap mortals. Noise of some sort often accompanies such abductions. In faery lore it might be music, in alien accounts it’s usually humming or buzzing sounds.
As someone who has experienced a very realistic encounter of a supernatural entity, during what is termed by psychologists to be sleep paralysis (with hallucination), I know what it feels like. I know, too, that most experiences happen during the sleeping state, and have been linked to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My experiences most often happen during stressful times. These “visitors” most often terrify us at night, be they incubus/succubus demons, fairies or aliens, and there is often a sexual element to them. There is also an association with missing time, which is reported not just in the Hills or Walton cases, but also in ancient folklore. For example, there is a Welsh folk tale of Rhys and Llewellyn who heard music when they were walking home one night. Rhys follows the music, whilst Llewellyn goes home. Months pass without Rhys being seen, until finally Llewellyn goes to the spot where they heard the music and finds Rhys dancing in a faery ring claiming to only have been there for five minutes (1). It’s also common for those who have experienced the abduction phenomenon to have marks on their bodies: faery bruising, witches marks placed by the Devil and alien needle marks, all seem to be very similar occurrences. What they actually are, is very difficult to say.
In fact, could all of these experiences be entirely natural phenomena, triggered by stress? Does stress release certain chemicals in the brain which interferes with normal functioning, causing people to experience supernatural encounters? (Stress and sleep deprivation both trigger off my own sleep paralysis, but thankfully I’m quite big on relaxation, yoga, meditation and self-hypnosis these days!). Or do we, somewhere in our psyches, have the key to communicate with other realms, as Terence McKenna has suggested, linking the ingestion of certain kinds of hallucinogenic mushrooms to the ability to see other realms which are always there anyway. Perhaps polar magnetism makes a difference – as areas in the north, such as Iceland and Scandinavian countries, seem to find the existence of faery and troll entities a completely normal part of life. Are alien encounters a more scientific equivalent, more prevalent in other parts of the world?
I leave you with this, and the thought that in the scale of the universe Earth really is very tiny indeed. In that vastness we called “space” can we really possibly be the only significant life forms….?
I’d love to hear from you if you have ever experienced any supernatural encounter…of any kind! Please leave comments below!
Your friend, A.D.
(1) Boston, James R. (1881) Wirt, Sikes, British goblins: Welsh folk lore, fairy mythology, legends and traditions, Osgood & Company, p 70-71.
Assyria, Babylon, bad, Damien Karras, Demon Possesion, Demons, djinn, entity, Evil, Exorcism, Exorcist, Fear, Gabriel Byrne, genie, genii, Good, gothic, guardian spirits, Horror, Merrin, mythology, negative, pagan, Pazuzu, positive, psychology, Regan, Religion, Satan, superstition, The Devil, The Exorcism of Emily Rose, The Gemini Killer, The Vatican, William Peter Blatty
I read two things this week that made me decide to write about the role of religion in horror. Firstly, my idol Gabriel Byrne said that he thought the Catholic Church was evil. Secondly, parks have a calming effect on the mind, apparently! What have these got to do with one another?
Well, although I’m pagan I have to both agree and disagree with Gabriel. Religion, like every entity, has a good and a bad side. Both positive and negative psychology exists in most religions. Many people have horrific or depressing experiences within the confines of a place of worship or due to the beliefs held, but just as many have hugely fulfilling life-long relationships with their God(s); despite my lack of Christian belief, I never fail to feel spiritually at peace in beautiful big Italian churches. They are designed that way deliberately, to give you a sense of peace. In much the same way as Nature is.
Over the years, many stories have been penned on the fight between good and evil. Like all horrors, they are intended to frighten the reader, or viewer. What better way to terrorise than through deep-rooted religious beliefs and superstitions? Therein, lie many supernatural beings, ready and willing to take your soul. The gothic horror novel can be scrutinised for the plentiful evidence of the much larger fears of society, and the horror genre in general is awash with (often) Christian symbolism. Sometimes, if it’s being especially clever, a story will throw in the debate of religion vs. science, with psychology being the obvious choice for the reasons behind baffling and frightening behaviour.
Truth be told, religious horror absolutely scares the beejeezus out of me, but I absolutely love it. Religion was never forced down my throat as a kid, so I can only imagine how devout Christians feel! I know many Catholics who just won’t watch or read, for example, The Exorcist, even though I tell them the Church is painted in a very good light and defeats Satan in the end. I first remember reading The Exorcist as a teenager, probably around the age of fifteen or so. It was a book given to me by my grandfather, who knew I liked Hammer Horror and Christopher Lee. My love of The Count was positively encouraged by my father, and I have many fond memories of our Dracula film nights! I don’t think my grandfather had any idea of what The Exorcist was about, or what lurked between the pages of that book. I’m sure he’d never have passed it on otherwise. I found it shocking, disturbing and highly entertaining, though it might have caused me some bouts of insomnia for a few weeks!
The Exorcist is the tale of a little girl, who becomes possessed by the Devil, and the fight of the priests to save her soul. The author, William Peter Blatty, supposedly derived inspiration from the exorcism of a young boy by a Jesuit priest in 1949.
However, Blatty chose not to go with Christian mythology when deciding on which evil spirit to use. The demon he chooses for his story is Pazuzu, a wind demon from Babylonian and Assyrian mythology. Demons, in ancient Iraq – where the story begins – are also called Djinn or, as we know them, ‘genie’. The genii in Assyro-Babylonian mythology were inferior to gods but played a major role in the daily lives of this ancient civilisation. There were both good and bad genii. The good ones were guardian spirits, but there were also evil genii from the lower world who overwhelmed people with disease, made them become criminals, split up families and decimated livestock. There was no way of appeasing them, and it was thought they did not heed either prayer or supplication. Seven of them were thought to be particularly dangerous: ‘…they dwell in holes in the ground, they live among the ruin of the earth’. They appear to mortals as terrifying creatures and can only be driven away by incantations performed…by an exorcist! (1)
Father Merrin, in The Exorcist, finds a small statue of Pazuzu and a St Joseph’s medal whilst on an archaeological dig in Iraq. Immediately the story is introduced as the fight for good against evil. As this is happening, in Georgetown (USA), a little girl and her mother start to experience disturbing events. As the story progresses the little girl, Regan, appears to be possessed by a demonic entity. Her mother immediately has various psychological tests carried out, as this is the obvious reason for her daughter’s behaviour. Eventually, at her wits end and seeking out another cure, she enlists the help of Damien Karras, a Jesuit priest trained in psychiatry; someone with a foot in both camps. Damien, however, is easy emotional prey for the demon. He has a crisis of faith and is guilt-ridden about the death of his mother. The Vatican enlist Merrin, an experienced exorcist, to drive the demon out of Regan and save her from the Hellishness she has succumbed to. The outcome is the death of Merrin and the ultimate sacrifice of Karras, who persuades the demon to take him instead of Regan. He then jumps out of the girl’s window, in an attempt to kill Pazuzu….
…and we think that’s it, until Legion (Exorcist III), also written by Blatty, but this time directed by him too. It is also a pretty good film. Particularly terrifying in this story, is the notion that evil has the ability to enter holy places, which most people like to believe are calm and spiritual havens of protection. Suddenly, nowhere is safe from evil and chaos, neither churches nor hospitals; devout clergy are as vulnerable as anyone from attack by powerful evil spirits.
Police are baffled when the trade-marks of the now dead Gemini Killer, which were kept secret, start appearing on victims’ bodies. It turns out to be a demon (presumably Pazuzu) possessing different people, making them commit horrific murders. It also turns out Damien didn’t die, but is still possessed by the spirit of a serial killer alongside Pazuzu. Damien is trapped in Hell, but still saves the day in the end.
I think this film is an absolute gem. The tension built up in some scenes is very well done. The “Nurse Scene” scared the crap out of me when I first watched it, and again when I watched it this very afternoon – even knowing what was coming. It is creepiness at its very best. The film won a much deserved Saturn award from the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA for Best Writing. The acting of Brad Dourif, for which he at least received a nomination, is utterly fantastic. It definitely should be on your list of books to read, and films to see.†
Another exorcism story, which keeps me awake and terrified, is The Exorcism of Emily Rose. Again, it is good vs evil, science vs religion. What I love about this story is that it leaves you to make up your own mind about the events that occur.
These events are based on the true, and very tragic, story of Anneliese Michel, an unfortunate German girl who died following an exorcism. It is thought, by some, to have been a case of misidentification of mental illness, negligence, abuse and religious hysteria (2). In the film, it is brought to the attention of a jury, and there is a fairly good case on both sides. The outcome is similar to the real outcome. In the film the exorcist is found guilty, but deemed to have suffered enough.
What I loved about this story is that it really draws upon the viewer’s beliefs at every point. It borders, like the best scary stories, on the edge of possibility; because the events, or ones very similar, actually took place.
What do I believe? I believe that demons and mental illness are the same thing dressed in different clothing, and I believe that in order to defeat anything you need to start with the beliefs of the affected person and adopt a holistic approach to treatment. The real horror is that science and spirituality seem to be forever at war, rather than forming an amicable ‘opposites attract’ partnership, defeating the cause on all sides – physically, mentally and spiritually.
Yes, I believe… I believe in death. I believe in disease. I believe in injustice and inhumanity and torture and anger and hate. I believe in murder. I believe in pain. I believe in cruelty and infidelity. I believe in slime and stink and every crawling, putrid thing… every possible ugliness and corruption, you son of a bitch! I believe…….in you (Lt. Kinderman, Exorcist III: Legion)
And I believe, even if you don’t believe, it is best not to be too arrogant about it.
Until next week readers. Your friend, A.D.
- New Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology (1986 edition) Guild Publishing: London p65.
- – Duffey, John M. (2011). Lessons Learned: The Anneliese Michel Exorcism. ISBN 978-1-60899-664-3
† And what of The Exorcist II…? Well, we don’t really like to talk about it…
“In a world which is indeed our world, the one we know, a world without devils, sylphides, or vampires, there occurs an event which cannot be explained by the laws of this same familiar world. The person who experiences the event must opt for one of two possible solutions: either he is a victim of an illusion of the senses, of a product of the imagination – and the laws of the world remain what they are; or else the event has indeed taken place, it is an integral part of reality – but then this reality is controlled by laws unknown to us… The fantastic occupies the duration of this uncertainty. Once we choose one answer or the other, we leave the fantastic for a neighbouring genre, the uncanny or the marvellous. The fantastic is that hesitation experienced by a person who knows only the laws of nature, confronting an apparently supernatural event.” (Tzvetan Todorov: The Fantastic, A Structural Approach to a Literary Genre, Press of Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio 1975 p25).
In order for horror and dark fantasy to be remotely compelling to the reader, it should be somewhat believable and a tad inexplicable, enough to make us feel ‘creeped out’ or on the edge of our seats, at any rate. Those who read these genres, particularly vampire stories, are often deeply aware of the significance of the literature, if indeed they have not had an experience of sleep paralysis accompanied by hallucination; if hallucination is what demons are, springing from the mind of the victim. The experience of them is every bit as real as you sitting here reading this blog. Throughout literary history there have always been souls who understood what vampires and demons symbolised, as well as how to defeat them.
Our most disturbing fears, if awakened, will teach us something of our present circumstances. These fantastical events never occur without reason. Like attracts like – negative environments and people very often bring their negative influences to our own psyche. Our beliefs, fears and unconscious mind do the rest. By allowing ourselves to remain in that state of mind we open ourselves up to terrifying experiences (or dark energy is attracted to us, whichever you choose to believe). Either way, writers of dark fantasy and horror are often your guiding light in Hell.
These writers usually have a deep understanding of the Otherworld and reader’s darkest fears. They take you there in order that you may better understand the many possible dangers and demons that can be encountered in life; and they hopefully end the story with a solution of how to defeat these monsters.
One of the most famous horror writers is Bram Stoker, author of Dracula. We’ll come to the Count in a minute, but it is interesting that the subject of the disturbed mind is present in the form of Renfield, who has some very important information for the reader. Note too the eccentric figure of Van Helsing, a slightly mad, but genius doctor, who also has the required knowledge of the fantastic as well as the mundane. In fact, many of Stoker’s characters question their sanity throughout the story.
Blood, as the mad Renfield informs us, is the life. By consuming blood, he says, you gain the vital powers of the person whose blood you are draining. This is proved by his Master – Count Dracula – who becomes younger after drinking the blood of the youthful Lucy. She becomes weaker, eventually dying, as he becomes stronger. Mina drinks his blood in some kind of perverse and unholy communion. Dracula is very clearly placed in opposition to God, and we can assume that he therefore represents the Devil himself. In fact, Dracula is indeed compared to the Devil several times. As for Renfield, he is the unfortunate mad man who speaks the truth: the ‘Cassandra’ of this story.
Of course, blood is symbolic of so many things. On the subject of transubstantiation, in some pagan faiths, such as Sioux, there is a long-held belief that eating the flesh of a certain animal empowers you with that animal’s vital essence and spirit, a superstition that undoubtedly found its way around the world in many other guises. Bram Stoker was probably aware of the legend of Countess Bathory who, regardless of whether she did or not, supposedly bathed in the blood of virgins to retain her youth (See Footnote 1). In our modern world, we are well aware that blood transfusion saves lives. This was only a recent discovery in Stoker’s time, but he does mention, and describe, the procedure in Dracula. Most importantly, blood symbolises the potent life and energy we possess. Without it, we die. That life and energy is required so that the figurative vampire may live. In other words, if we let our fears take us over, or repress our innermost desires, we will be drained, disempowered, possibly depressed and eventually die.
Sleeping and night time are, of course, the places you will encounter vampires and other night demons, and in Dracula it is no different. Disturbed sleep is touched upon with the somnambulistic Lucy, who is easier to control when she is in this state. Sleeping people cannot defend themselves, like the state of sleep paralysis mentioned earlier. It is in this state that people are also very often prone to hallucinations. This is a condition which has been described for centuries by those who have reported incubus and succubus attacks. These creatures are night demons who feed upon our energy or have sex with us, in much the same way as Dracula does with Lucy and Mina. Dracula, therefore, is bound up not only with our fears but also with our repressed sexuality. The vampire’s teeth penetrating the neck of his or her victim, is symbolic of sexual penetration and shows our deep-rooted primal desire to be fucked. Hard. By a sexy, charismatic guy with a castle and pet wolves. Possibly. You get the picture. In the half-asleep world of sleep paralysis we are bound, helpless to our inner desires and fears. It is then that the vampire is free to strike, and the hallucination takes over.
Never fear, there is hope, and Stoker et al give us some clues on how to defeat the darkness in our lives. I suppose it’s up to each of us to take what we will out of that, but you’ll have to take a deep breath, pick up the books and face your fears for yourself….
In Sisterhood of the Wolf there is an appearance of a mysterious stranger. To begin with, he is not identified as a vampire, but there are many tell-tale signs. He is dark, with penetrating eyes, and there is an enticing quality about him. Channing knows she should not be anywhere near him, but she simply cannot help herself. There’s also something strange about Channing which, again, the reader will no doubt suspect long before it happens. She should be able to smell the stranger from across the street. That’s some super-power! Nevertheless, even although she cannot, she still gets a warning, a tingling, before she sees him. He has a magical super-power too! He is able to influence her senses and actions. Channing needs no persuasion to follow his command, even though the impression is of a strong independent woman.
This short opening scene is intended to be sensual, sexual, tense and dangerous. I have deliberately cut off the reader at this point, hoping it will leave you all wanting more! What I can say, for now, is that Channing is not scared for her own wellbeing. She’s a woman well able to take care of herself, and that dark stranger better watch out. He is about to bite off much more than he can chew! This is definitely a book for feminists!
Until next week, your friend… A D.
1. He was certainly aware of some of the history of eastern Europe, as is evident with his lead character, based on real life Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia, also known by his patronymic name of Dracula. A name he inherited via his father Vlad II Dracul, a member of the Order of the Dragon. The real Dracula’s cruelty was renowned, and his preferred method of execution was impalement, where Stoker no doubt derived the classical image of the stake – one of the methods used to kill vampires.