Noticing a pristine copy of Bram Stoker’s Dracula at the sunny, early-May garage sale, I decided to buy it and read it, if I ever read it, in the dark, gloomy fall (November maybe?) when the weather matched its mood. Spring is no time to read such a tale, I thought.
I was interested in the story because of Columbus’ BalletMet’s Dracula which I’ve seen . . . three times? When a friend told me many years back she was seeing Dracula the ballet, I interrogated her because surely she meant Dracula the play. A ballet, seriously? Yes, Dracula the ballet.
Run, don’t walk, if your ballet company performs Dracula. It’s beautiful, creative and amazingly sensual. There are scenes you will remember for a long time.
So I would read Dracula to better understand the scenes in the ballet. I put the book on an empty part of the bookshelf (there are few empty spaces). And you know what happened next . . . Like Dracula himself, the book beckoned . . .
Dracula: The image
Like many a cultural symbol or icon, once I dig into the details, it’s very different from the numerous cultural images. Was this the book that inspired Count Chocula breakfast cereal? Dracula is so much more than a scary figure. Stoker’s novel is rich in contextual layers including history, psychology, technology, science and superstition.
Not interested in vampires in general, my only dip into this world was Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire. Rice’s vampires turn to dust in the sunlight. Much to my surprise, Stoker’s Dracula can survive during the day; he simply doesn’t have his nighttime supernatural abilities.
Dracula’s abilities are a bit inconsistent, as we see with much science fiction where if you are going to conquer your evil foe, they must have some weakness or gap in their amazing powers. At night Dracula can shape shift into bats and wolves. That I knew. But he can also shape shift into fog! You can’t kill fog.
Dracula, then, must be trapped during the day when his powers are not active. Unfortunately for Dracula, he must, like the mortals, take rest. He rests during the day in a box of his native earth, dormant as though anesthetized. While at night he’s practically impossible to vanquish, during the day he’s remarkably vulnerable. The only foil to his foes is that he has numerous sleeping-boxes scattered across the city.
In case you haven’t had enough symbolic analysis of Dracula, here’s more from the astrological viewpoint. As you might expect from such a novel, it is rich in astrological imagery.
As described in Wikipedia, Bram Stoker’s novel takes the form of an epistolary tale, in which Count Dracula’s characteristics, powers, abilities and weaknesses are narrated by multiple narrators, from different perspectives.
The first journal entry in the novel is dated May 3 (Taurus) and the last is November 6 (Scorpio) of the same year. The novel is the Taurus-Scorpio polarity.
Taurus, the fixed earth sign, is where we are physically separate. Uninhibited, Taurus enjoys the body and the physical surroundings in a direct and pure fashion. Taurus is alive and responds to the senses. Taurus likes material goods and often accumulates property and objects.
Scorpio, the fixed water sign, is opposite Taurus and is where we are physically connected. Sex, sharing money and sharing property all involve letting others cross our physical boundaries. Scorpio is emotional and the crossing of boundaries can occur on an emotional level even if not a physical level.
In the introduction to my Barnes & Noble Classic version, book critic Brooke Allen notes that Dracula contains the fight between “religion and course instinct.”
In my early days of astrology when I met the Taurus-Scorpio oppositions, I noted that there was a “good girl, bad girl” quality to it (as I was doing female charts). I want to enjoy sex, but I want to be the woman men want to marry. I’m “good” but I’m also a little bit naughty.
Is Taurus course instinct and Scorpio religion? Or the other way around?
When you are enjoying physical pleasure with another, is it purely physical or is much of the pleasure emotional? How much is physical and how much emotional?
Food is another Taurus manifestation. In some cultures, there is great morality around food. In most cultures, celebrations generally involve food rituals. When you eat your creamy sweet ice cream, how much is purely physical and how much is from memories of childhood and ice cream as treat and reward for good behavior?
Our novel begins in traditional Taurus with young, virginal maidens awaiting marriage. In their virginity they are Taurus as yet unpenetrated by another. For one, her first penetration is by Dracula. For the other, she is married then bitten by the vampire so experiences Scorpio before her Dracula encounter.
The men are gallant, virtuous, and trustworthy. Some of the men are Taurus – wealthy or involved in property. Others are Scorpio – involved in psychological probing and the hidden motivations of others.
In Taurus (May), life is proceeding in its traditional way with no apparent conflicts. The men who do not earn the maiden’s hand retreat gracefully and honorably. The men refused are still friends, there is no trouble. All is well until . . .
Until the young engaged solicitor goes to Transylvania to help a certain count with a property purchase. At the castle of Count Dracula, our young hero is imprisoned, his identity is stolen and he is tempted by three female vampires. Our hero remains Taurus as the female vampires are thwarted by Dracula.
Our vampires are heterosexual. No breaking of tradition even as we cross some physical barriers. Bites often occur on the neck, which is ruled by Taurus. Later, closer to Scorpio, the blood of Dracula must be imbibed closer to the genitals (ruled by Scorpio). Also, to try to save our virginal maiden, the men offer their blood through transfusion. That’s a lot of Scorpio.
Once Dracula leaves Transylvania to go to London, Scorpio is now unleashed upon an unwitting Taurus society. Interesting here is that in Transylvania the locals know to ward against Dracula offering our naïve young solicitor some common tools of protection – a crucifix, garlic, wild rose, and mountain ash. These people know what danger lurks; those who believe in the ancient “superstitions.”
In London, meanwhile, the natives are moving into the light of reason and make phonographic journals, taking Polaroids, use typewriters, and study the human brain. The brilliant Dutch Dr. Van Helsing is the man who convinces the others that they are dealing with the non-scientific and must employ the ancient tools of protection in order to vanquish this threatening presence. Van Helsing lets us know that reason is not always enough.
While the characters in the novel do exterminate Dracula, they must use a combination of reason and telepathy. The Dracula-bitten character Mina becomes a vassal of Dracula so can also feel what he is feeling and aids in determining where Dracula is on his return trip to Transylvania. Had this character not drunk the blood of Dracula, he would have been able to flee and rest “for centuries.” It takes emotional connection corner the enemy.
Mina, you see, has been bitten. The only way for her not to die then become “un-dead” as a vampire compelled to respond to Dracula’s wishes is for Dracula to die.
If emotional connection was severed with death, the world might be a more peaceful place. Emotions, history will prove, can last millennium as can Dracula. Taurus, the physical body, can die. Scorpio, the emotional body, does not always die with it.
No surprise here that author Bram Stoker was born in the sign of Scorpio. Stoker was born of a generation with Neptune in Aquarius and Uranus and Pluto in Aries. Like today, Stoker’s time saw great technological advances which appear clearly in the novel.
Not only is Stoker’s sun in Scorpio but the moon is as well. An emotional man born into a time of science and reason produced a novel that honors reason but reminds you that emotions are still powerful, can shift quickly and may never be fully understood. The novel ends two days before Stoker’s November 8 birthday.
Yet, the novel sways toward Taurus. The infected Mina stays pure within her dire situation. Many, oh many, paragraphs are devoted to the purity of Mina, a female with no flaws it seems. She has the “mind of a man” and keeps her reason amidst her overwhelming state and constant telepathic connection with the evil Dracula. Van Helsing praises her over and over.
The planet Mars in Stoker’s horoscope is in Taurus although not by degree in complete opposition of his sun and moon (although we don’t know the time of birth so it could be opposite the moon).
The introduction to the Barnes & Noble edition indicates Stoker was married and that his wife was not sexual. It insinuates he could have been homosexual. According to this blog on Stoker’s wife, she had dated Oscar Wilde who was supposedly her true love. After marrying Stoker and having a child, supposedly the marriage was platonic.
It’s difficult to imagine the man who wrote Dracula, who had Mars in Taurus and sun and moon in Scorpio did not have some sort of sensual life. Is his simplistic rendering of females because he liked them or because he wasn’t really familiar with them?
Dracula is a story of men, really. Like Jaws (written by Peter Benchley who was born May 8, exactly six months from Stoker’s November 8) we have a group of men working together to vanquish evil. It’s male purity; it’s religious; it’s sensual.