Thursday, October 31, 2013

Bram Stoker & Dracula for Fright Night

Hallowe'en! There'll be lots of youthful Dracula types abroad tonight, looking for treats or tricks. This is a good time to take a look at Bram Stoker, author of Dracula and other stories touching on the weird and the occult.

Wouldn't you have guessed that he was born with both Sun and Moon quite close together in....Scorpio? 8 November 1847 in Clontarf, near Dublin, Ireland. His time of birth isn't known, but the Moon would have been in Scorpio whatever the time, and quite likely not far from his natal Sun.

Mercury, the writing planet in Sagittarius, in helpful trine to Uranus, planet of the eccentric, unexpected and futuristic can clearly be seen coloring his weird and wonderful tales, blending with Scorpio's sinister darkness. Jupiter, planet of publication and exaggeration forms another helpful trine, this time to to his Sun (and maybe to Moon), reflecting the spread of Bram Stoker's stories both before and after his own death.

In the south-west Oklahoma town where we live, Bram Stoker was remembered a couple of years ago a in this Hallowe'en display in someone's front yard.

Inspiration for Stoker's famous Gothic novel Dracula came from a visit to Whitby - I know it well, or used to. It's a town on the north-east coast of England, not too far from my own old hometown.

(Whitby)" is an ancient village first settled in the 5th or 6th century AD. In 637 AD a Catholic abbey was built nearby.... In 1077, the abbey was rebuilt in the foreboding gothic style of the medieval time. Now, the abbey ruins (see above) brood on the outskirts of Whitby. The commanding presence of towering stone façades pierced with sightless arches can cast the eerie shadow of folklore on even the most unimaginative mind.

It was into this harbor of history and myth that Bram Stoker sailed in 1890. He had been working on a novel inspired by Hungarian adventurer Arminius Vambery who had regaled Stoker with eastern European tales of the blood-hungry living dead. Whitby proved to be the perfect setting for Stoker to derive some of the more intriguing details for his book. He was so impressed by the surrealistic, menacing aspects of the immense stone abbey and St Mary’s Cathedral looming over the small town, that he used Whitby in his novel Dracula as the place where the seductive Count meets and kills Lucy.

While in Whitby, Stoker stayed at a small inn on the river. Every evening at dusk the local pigeons would sit on the window ledge and tap mindlessly at their reflections in the glass. Stoker incorporated this sound into his novel as Dracula tapping with long, sharp nails on Lucy’s window, demanding entrance. The bats residing in the stable behind the inn lent another aspect to Stoker’s main character: his ability to shape-shift into not only bats, but also black dogs and mist. (Right: Christopher Lee as Dracula)..............................
Stoker visited Whitby several more times over the next few years. The novel Dracula was completed and published in 1897 to little acclaim. The book did not become widely popular until Hollywood began filming versions of the work in the early 1900s, a few years after Stoker’s death in 1912.
(Read the rest HERE)

A postscript for astrology buffs: in another of Stoker's books, "The Jewel of Seven Stars", at chaper XVI, Powers - Old and New, one of his characters has something to say about astrology:
".........Once, in the midst of a most learned dissertation on the growth of Egyptian Astrology, he broke put on a different subject, or rather a branch or corollary of the same:
'I do not see why starlight may not have some subtle quality of its own! We know that other lights have special forces. The Rontgen Ray is not the only discovery to be made in the world of light. Sunlight has its own forces, that are not given to other lights. It warms wine; it quickens fungoid growth. Men are often moonstruck. Why not, then, a more subtle, if less active or powerful, force in the light of the stars. It should be a pure light coming through such vastness of space, and may have a quality which a pure, unimpulsive force may have. The time may not be far off when Astrology shall be accepted on a scientific basis. In the recrudescence of the art, many new experiences will be brought to bear; many new phases of old wisdom will appear in the light of fresh discovery, and afford bases for new reasoning. Men may find that what seemed empiric deductions were in reality the results of a loftier intelligence and a learning greater than our own. We know already that the whole of the living world is full of microbes of varying powers and of methods of working quite antagonistic. We do not know yet whether they can lie latent until quickened by some ray of light as yet unidentified as a separate and peculiar force. As yet we know nothing of what goes to create or evoke the active spark of life. We have no knowledge of the methods of conception; of the laws which govern molecular or foetal growth, of the final influences which attend birth. Year by year, day by day, hour by hour, we are learning; but the end is far, far off. It seems to me that we are now in that stage of intellectual progress in which the rough machinery for making discovery is being invented. Later on, we shall have enough of first principles to help us in the development of equipment for the true study of the inwardness of things."


mike said...

Ah...Halloween! Not my favorite as an adult, but I do enjoy all of the little trick-or-treaters. I have lots of Tootsie-Pops waiting for them. I chose the T-Pops, cause I don't like them and won't be tempted to deprive the kids.

"Frankenstein" and "Dracula"...where would we be without them? LOL I think that I've seen every possible black and white movie from the 1920s, 30s, and 40s based on those two books. Always scared the bejeebers out of me...perfect pre-bed entertainment for a child! And, of course, I watched "Interview with the Vampire" (based on book by Anne Rice) and found it to be even more wonderfully lurid and abhorrent...very nicely done, I thought! Ditto for Warhol's "Blood for Dracula", written by Morrissey...a hoot of a parody, but sick! I have a low tolerance of blood, guts, etc.

I hope you and Anyjazz have a ghoulish night, Twilight!

“Conservatives understand Halloween, liberals only understand Christmas. If you want to control a population, don't give it social services, give it a scary adversary.” Tom Robbins, Skinny Legs and All

mike (again) said...

P.S. - "Beetlejuice" is my kind of Halloween movie entertainment! I found it to be just right.

Twilight said...

mike~ Hallowe'en USA-style has been a new experience for me. They don't (or didn't) "do" Hallowe'en to the same extent in the UK, though I think they might be aping the US in this a little more these days.

I'm not keen on anything Halowe'en-ish. Haven't seen any of the movies involving Dracula, Frankenstein, werewolves, zombies, and suchlike. There's enough scary stuff for me going on in broad daylight, right under our noses to keep the adrenalin flowing. ;-)

We'll have a bowl of treats (non- chocolate and made in the USA) for wee visitors, and Anyjazz will no doubt don his fright wig and funny glasses for the occasion.....scares me! :-)

LB said...

For the most part, Halloween has lost its allure now that I know how much suffering went into producing all those chocolate treats, and how EASILY we could change things for the better if only more of us were willing:

Now when I look around at all the happy, healthy, *free* children (children who aren't forced to slave from sunrise to sundown harvesting cocoa for chocolate, exposed to dangerous tools and pesticides, deprived of the right to attend school and beaten if they try to escape) wearing costumes, celebrating and carrying plastic jack-o'-lanterns filled with chocolate treats like Mars M&M's, Milky Ways, Kit Kats, Hershey's, Snickers, Reese's, etc., (even Tootsie Rolls, mike), I can't help but see behind the illusion and feel overwhelmingly sad.

Some people get it, but most don't, even when they're told. Instead it remains an inconvenient, abstract thought, pushed aside and silenced. And a lot of us still don't know.

I'm glad you're not passing out chocolate produced by slaves, Twilight. It's something.

We'll pass out slave-free chocolate bars (along with a brief hand-out about chocolate and child-slavery) to the young people in our building, then probably watch a movie.

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”
― William Wilberforce

mike (again) said...

I was only kidding about the Tootsie Pop treats...errrrr....uhhhhm....I'm actually giving-out Lifesavers candy...that's it, Lifesavers.

LB said...

mike ~ Before I knew, I passed out tootsie pops too. It's never too late to change.:)

Happy Halloween, my friend.

mike (again) said...

LB, OK...I'll excoriate any child that willingly accepts one of my Tootsie Pops...LOL

Actually, I don't like T-Pops or Tootsie Rolls and haven't had one for maybe five decades. I knew the T-Pops had a filling, but it didn't register as ersatz, chocolate nougat filling...honest.

My local store had a great sale on Halloween candy...$1.67 per bag. I did ponder all of the typical chocolate treats, which is the vast majority. I selected the T-Pops, because they were not chocolate, or so I thought. It wasn't until I saw your prior comment here that it dawned on me. Sigh. Please forgive me.

mike (again) said...

P.S. - LB, I think in some prior post months ago, you did mention you had a car...???? Now, that's my peeve! 2nd-hand car exhaust doesn't equate the same as 2nd-hand cigarette smoke, not to mention global warming. One gallon of gasoline equals 20 pounds of carbon dioxide plus other toxic compounds.

I think it's safe to say that each of us has our save-the-world volatility triggers!

LB said...

mike ~ It's kind of tricky to think of all the things that contain cocoa. Oreo cookies, Tootsie Pops, Nutella, even some red velvet cupcakes and more. Not that I consume any of these items (at least not anymore), but still, it took me a while to start thinking this way, so I totally understand and am encouraged you tried.:) I'm encouraged when anyone *tries*.

I'm with you on the car thing too. Wish our world was set up differently so more of us didn't need to drive. I *don't* (never did) and try to walk or take public transportation most places. My husband does drive (not to work - he also takes public transportation), though we do use the car on the weekend to shop and/or for our once weekly trip out of town to get our nature fix.

Our dream is to someday live in a community with great public transportation, surrounded by nature and reliable organic food sources, all within easy walking distance. We have a place picked out, only time will tell.

Just so you know, there are many, many more things I could be doing to live ethically and sustainably. Some transitions are harder than others, but we're trying and I'm learning more each day. Like I've said before, I get how not everyone has the choices we have. Chocolate is probably one of the easiest things to address since it's not as if there aren't other options. We can do what we can do.

Twilight said...

LB & mike ~~ Well now - I'll be in black books here. :-/

If I'd stayed where I was in the UK I'd have all good-girl boxes ticked, since retirement I'd lived in a place exactly as described by LB
..... in a community with great public transportation, surrounded by nature and reliable organic food sources, all within easy walking distance.
- as it is now all boxes are all unticked - living here in Oklahoma.

I should've stayed put I guess - I didn't, so y'all will have to put up with our exhaust and my carbon footprint. I don't drive, never have, but rely on being driven to get outside of our street without being knocked down by a truck.

We had a few trick or treaters tonight, not as many as other years though.

LB said...

Twilight ~ Most of the US isn't really set up to live without a carbon footprint - no boxes, good or bad, will be checked.:)

I don't begrudge anyone the use of a car, though I wish more of us who have access to safe, reliable options would use them more often. We've been in towns without sidewalks; as someone who likes to walk, it's frustrating, not to mention impractical and short-sighted.

Maybe someday we'll see the value in building smaller, more affordable, sustainable, self-contained residential communities -connected through safe, reliable transportation systems to other communities- where people can walk and don't have to rely on their cars.

Sorry you didn't get more kids tonight, Twilight. My husband actually said he saw more people than usual dressed up for Halloween this evening, not that I'd notice. Living in an apartment building, we never get trick-or-treaters, which is why I give a little something to each of our upstairs neighbors.:)