expression of sexuality

June 16, 2019

In Dracula, blood is of utmost importance. The novel opens with Jonathan Harker’s experience in Dracula’s castle, the first proof of the supernatural power and unnatural pull of vampires, and the first few examples of their overwhelming appetite for blood. The act of taking blood and allowing blood to be taken is eroticized in the novel, and the absolute necessity of blood for vampires in order to survive connects the creatures and their blood lust to exaggerated, violent sexual images. Built on many aspects of Gothic horror with these tropes of Dracula’s castle shifted to and set against Victorian-era London later in the novel, Dracula emphasizes the corrupting foreign influence of the Transylvanian vampire and his hunt for blood as he invades the patriarchal society at the center of the story. The lead characters are modern and chaste, as per the era’s societal expectations, directly in opposition to Dracula, an inhuman demon, a creature on a constant hunt for young blood, a predator whose influence tests Victorian conceptions of gender roles and the expression of sexuality. Dracula directly attacks women, so the men seek to protect the women and their innocent forms from the sexual outsider, Dracula, but in turn, the men are tempted greatly by the corrupted females with their inviting, vampiric tendencies. These warped women appear first in the form of Dracula’s brides, three vampiric beings exerting a tempting force on Jonathan Harker, and later Lucy Westenra becomes a threat as well in her vampire form. Mina Harker’s possible transformation into a vampire leads up to the climax in the novel, as the male characters race to prevent her change into a monstrous and hypersexualized form.

Sean Bernhard
The Blood is the Life

The Witch is embedded in our minds as the figure of nightmares, coded as a metaphor, an association. She is one of us only in touch with the supernatural and in possession of otherworldly wisdom. As such, Witches have historically provided a perfect canvas for projection of human pettiness, fear of the unknown and the all-encompassing mystery that is woman. Along came film, extending a powerful outlet for visual re-enactment of our collective imagination, and viola  —  the Witch has form, shape, a broom, a cat, warts, a hut, crystal ball and whatnot. The figure is now embroidered in imagery, and her universal presence is as fiercely visual as it is elusive.

Sonja Baksa

Witch! Witch! She is a Witch! ?

a burning skull

A work of occult fiction is often a reflection of the writer’s own Great Work, it charts their interior processes and exposes the intimate distillations of their materials, but it also has the potential to become a philosopher’s stone that acts on reality, something that can produce gold when it comes into contact with other metals. Through a combination of the contortion of language by the Unseen and the receptive preparation of the reader’s mind, it is possible for what begins as idiosyncratic symbols, relevant only to the writer’s inner landscape, to become active upon others. It is in this mysterious space between revelation and exposition that narrative takes on the mantle of myth.

Lee Morgan
A Rational Derangement: Towards a Theory of Occult Literature

spell book

I believe in a metaphysical realm. I prefer the word metaphysical to supernatural because I do not see it as somehow “super”, that is above nature, but rather working “meta” alongside the physical world. In my view it is a living reality, and therefore just as likely to emerge from a computer as from an ancient grimoire. Modern technology moreover is constantly trespassing on the ancient world of magic. A few hundred years ago something like a television would have been seen as a “magical” and deeply sinister object. Equally Dr Dee’s “scrying stone” might be looked on by us as a kind of primitive television. All technology, moreover, is a two edged sword.

Reggie Oliver
Interview in Bibliophage 3rd July 2015

Anne Jefferies was the daughter of a poor labouring man, who lived in the parish of St Teath. She was born in 1626, and is supposed to have died in 1698. When she was nineteen years old, Anne, who was a remarkably sharp and clever girl, went to live as a servant in the family of Mr Moses Pitt. Anne was an unusually bold girl, and would do things which even boys feared to attempt. Of course, in those days every one believed in faeries, and everybody feared those little airy beings. They were constantly the talk of the people, and this set Anne longing anxiously to have an interview with some of them. So Anne was often abroad after sundown, turning up the fern leaves, and looking into the bells of the foxglove to find a fairy, singing all the time –

“Faerie fair and faerie bright;
Come and be my chosen sprite.”

She never allowed a moonlight night to pass without going down into the valley, and walking against the stream, singing –

“Moon shines bright, waters run clear,
I am here, but where’s my faerie dear?”

The faeries were a long time trying this poor girl; for, as they told her afterwards, they never lost sight of her; but there they would be, looking on when she was seeking them, and they would run from frond to frond of the ferns, when she was turning them up its her anxious search.

One day Anne, having finished her morning’s work, was sitting in the arbour in her master’s garden, when she fancied she heard some one moving aside the branches, as though endeavouring to look in upon her; and she thought it must be her sweetheart, so she resolved to take no notice. Anne went on steadily with her work, no sound was heard but the regular beat of the knitting-needles one upon the other. Presently she heard a suppressed laugh, and then again a rustle amidst the branches. The back of the arbour was towards the lane, and to enter the garden it was necessary to walk down the lane to the gate, which was, however, not many yards off.

Click, click went the needles, click, click, click. At last Anne began to feel vexed that the intruder did not show himself, and she pettishly said, half aloud –

“You may stay there till the kueney [moss or mildew] grows on the gate, ere I ‘ll come to ‘ee.”

There was immediately a peculiar ringing and very music laugh. Anne knew this was not her lover’s laugh, and she felt afraid. But it was bright day, and she assured herself that no one would do her any mischief, as she knew herself to be a general favourite in the parish. Presently Anne felt assured that the garden gate had been carefully opened and again closed, so she wait anxiously the result. In a few moments she perceived at the entrance of the arbour six little men, all clothed very handsome in green. They were beautiful little figures, and had very charming faces, and such bright eyes. The grandest of these little visitors, who wore a red feather in his cap, advanced in front the others, and, making a most polite bow to Anne, addressed her familiarly in the kindest words.

This gentleman looked so sweetly on Anne that she was charmed beyond measure, and she put down her hand as if shake hands with her little friend, when he jumped into her palm and she lifted him into her lap. He then, without any more ad clambered upon her bosom and neck, and began kissing her. Anne never felt so charmed in her life as while this one little gentleman was playing with her; but presently he called his companion and they all clambered up by her dress as best they could, and kissed her neck, her lips, and her eyes. One of them ran his fingers over her eyes, and she felt as if they had been pricked with a pin. Suddenly Anne became blind, and she felt herself whirled through the air at a great rate. By and by, one of her little companions said something which sounded like “Tear away,” and lo! Anne had her sight at once restored. She was in one of the most beautiful places – temples and palaces of gold and silver. Trees laden with fruits and flowers. Lakes full of gold and silver fish and the air full of birds of the sweetest song, and the more brilliant colours. Hundreds of ladies and gentlemen were walking about. Hundreds more were idling in the most luxurious bowers, the fragrance of the flowers oppressing them with sense of delicious repose. Hundreds were also dancing, engaged in sports of various kinds. Anne was, however, surprised to find that these happy people were no longer the small people she had previously seen. There was now no more than the difference usually seen in a crowd, between their height and her own. Anne found herself arrayed in the most highly-decorated clothes. So grand, indeed, did she appear, that she doubted her identity. Anne was constantly attended by her six friends; but the finest gentleman, who was the first to address her, continued her favourite, at which the others appeared to be very jealous. Eventually Anne and her favourite contrived to separate themselves, and they retired into some most lovely gardens, where they were hidden by the luxuriance of the flowers. Lovingly did they pass the time, and Anne desired that this should continue forever. However, when they were at the happiest, there was heard a great noise, and presently the five other fairies at the head of a great crowd came after them in a violent rage. Her lover drew his sword to defend her, but this was soon beaten down, and he lay wounded at her feet. Then the faerie who had blinded her again placed his hands upon her eyes, and all was dark. She heard strange noises, and felt herself whirled about and about, and as if a thousand flies were buzzing around her.

At length her eyes were opened, and Anne found herself on the ground in the arbour where she had been sitting in the morning, and many anxious faces were around her, all conceiving that she was recovering from a convulsion fit.

Robert Hunt
Popular Romances of the West of England

ghost

The supernatural is a key defining element in the Gothic. Whether they invoke the supernatural directly or rely upon the imagination of the reader to provide it, Gothic writers use the supernatural to build suspense, and create special effects for the reader. This is not a Gothic invention; literature has a long history of exploration of the supernatural. Gothic writers need only look back to the examples of Shakespeare’s ghosts, fairies, and sorcerers to see evidence of the supernatural in English literature and lore. Even during the height of their popularity, Gothic writers did not hold a monopoly on the supernatural; it can also be found in Romantic poetry of Samuel Coleridge and Sir Walter Scott.

It is interesting to consider the two different approaches to the supernatural adopted by Gothic writers. On the one hand, some novels rely upon the ‘accepted supernatural,’ in which case the supernatural is simply assumed to be part of reality, and no other explanation is given. One example of this would be the presence of the Bleeding Nun in The Monk. She does not prove to be some servant in a disguise, or a trick of the light or a creaky floorboard. She is as real as anyone else in the novel, and she is a ghost. Her presence is accepted, and never explained using any other type of reasoning. Some Gothic novels, however, use the ‘explained supernatural,’ in which case the scary supernatural effects of the story are later explained and have perfectly scientific and rational causes. Often attributed to the female Gothic, the ‘explained supernatural’ is exemplified in Ann Radcliffe’s Romance in the Forest, in which scary things happen, but when explained, are less horrific than they originally seemed. For example, the heroine Adeline thinks she hears spirits in the night, but it turns out that she has simply been reading the wrong things, and her imagination has caused her to hear ghosts in what were really just the servants’ voices.

Glossary of the Gothic: Supernatural
Wendy Fall

bookandcandle

Don’t delude yourself. The minute you set foot upon the path of witchcraft, a call rings out in the unseen world announcing the fact of your arrival. And sooner or later you are going to have to confront the problem of protecting your friends and yourself from the magical bolts that will undoubtedly be slung at you by less friendly practitioners. Supernaturally induced bad luck, whether occasioned by the casual glance of someone’s evil eye or a more potently organized attack, is always the result of an unconscious blind spot in the victim’s deep mind, either created by or played upon by the attacker. The mischief this works is technically known in the craft as binding the victim’s soul or deep mind, thus rendering him considerably more accident-prone than he generally is.

This is so unless, of course, the magical shaft is one specifically directed at achieving a specified result, such as gnawing stomach pains or instant loss of hair, in which case the attack is definitely something more than a mere casual overlooking, and should not be treated as such.

Magical “overlooking” of the general type, ill-wishing, let us call it, can be guarded against with a special overall field of witch power, which acts rather on the analogy of a blanket insurance policy. This is accomplished by fortifying yourself and your home with charged protective power objects known as amulets. These are similar to the power objects encountered on a previous page save for the fact that they are charged solely with the intention of inducing a state of harmony, generosity, expansiveness, security, and optimism in the deep minds of those in their vicinity. That frame of mind most likely to lead to lucky breaks occurring in fact.

Most novice witches carry luck amulets of this sort as a matter of course, and usually hang a good selection of them around the house for good measure. They can be constructed from any number of substances – animal, vegetable, or mineral. The ones mentioned in this section are all of a mineral or vegetable basis and rely mainly on contact with that third witch power you are about to be introduced to: the earth itself.

Paul Huson
Mastering Witchcraft

Reading today…

March 27, 2015

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