Showtime aired a series called Penny Dreadful. It’s a comulgation of numerous horror stories from myths, literature, pop culture and religious texts. It’s a show I wasn’t interested in being interested in. I caught an episode here and there and the storyline began to intrigue me. After a while I was looking for the show. This last season had a Bride of Dracula theme that reached deeper into darkness than that story.
The heroine’s name is Vanessa Ives, a devout believer in God who believes she is damned and being pursued by demons. To protect herself she used witchcraft, spells and chants. During the third and final season Miss Ives learned that the demons stalking her life are Dracula, who was presented as the brother of “Lucifer the fallen angel”, and Lucifer himself. They both were fighting to claim her because they believed she was the Mother of Evil and would usher in the end of days and reign with her chosen partner for ten thousand years. She learns this in a hypnotized dream-state so she had no idea of the form Dracula took in the physical world to pursue her but she knew he was close. A portion of her conversation with the two went like this:
Dracula: You are powerful…become the wolf, the bat, and the scorpion. Be truly who you are.
Lucifer: He’s appealing to your lust. Your appetites. You are spirit and soul.
Dracula: You want her soul. I don’t need it. Give me your flesh. Give me your blood. Be my bride…. I love you for who you are, Vanessa.
Vanessa: I see you clearly now. Two brothers fallen from grace. The spirit and the animal. You seek my soul and you my body, but both belongs to another. He who vanquished you. He who is my protector and stands with me even now.
Dracula: Who are you to defy me?
Vanessa: I am nothing. No more than a blade of grass, but I am. You think you know evil, here it stands…. I tried to be normal…then he asked me about my faith and I answered truthfully: God’s immortal glory lives in me as in all of us.
At the point of that conversation, Vanessa had not yet met Dracula in the flesh. However, by the time she recalled the conversation years later, she had already met him and was already falling for him in the physical world. He was an unassuming museum director who came across as bashfully charming and somewhat forgetful. By the time she realized who he was, she was already firmly caught in his web. The seduction had already happened and she was no longer interested in resisting. When she confronted him, she thought she still had a fighting chance to save herself and to defeat him. She railed at him that she would never submit to him. He calmly replied, “I don’t want your submission. I want to serve you. Accept me.”
As she fell into his arms in actual surrender, she professed, “I accept myself.”
She had been running from him and his expectations of her, accepting herself could only mean she had finally accepted all the evil she knew she was capable of. As she surrendered in Dracula’s arms he bit her neck and began her process of dying.
Coming to grips with reality
“What is planted in the soil of contemplation will be harvested in action.”
For most of this year, I have been in a state of running constantly along a mental scale balancing between what I’ve long thought to be my future and what is presented before me right now. I teeter between everything I’ve come to believe is required of me and alternatives that may detour me but may also flesh out my life, i.e. fulfill certain areas.
I’ve come to a point where temptation has lost its mystique and air of danger. I used to run from things that tempted me to act against my best interests, but now those things appear as non-threatening options and opportunities to change and/or improve my life in some way. I’ve reached a point where the thought of giving in to a seduction sounds much better than not being wanted at all. The pursuit, even by the enemy, is a declaration of sorts that can translate to a lonely and tired heart that there is some worth to this life especially if someone finds something of value in me to pursue. Something precious to them to battle for. It becomes unimportant in the moment, that that something may be my soul. After all, what can I see of my soul in this life?
Becoming the seductress
After the serpent seduced Eve into disobedience, she turned and seduced Adam into the same. She thought something better than what she had in hand was at her fingertips. She reached, she tasted, she offered. After giving in to a pursuer, becoming the seductress is a natural next step – even if only to share the ecstasy of your fall from grace.
Wanting what we want transforms us. We become active in our efforts to acquire what we desire. We find ways to be where we want to be and get what we want to get. We use our wiles, our charm, and our coyness. We tantalize with the chime of our laughter, the lilt of our voice and the movement of our bodies. In some species, this is part of the mating ritual. But for humans, we add deeper or shallower connotations to our biological urges and tendencies. Essentially, we want to be wanted and we need to love. There is no more basic desire than to share life with someone with whom the wanting and love is mutually reciprocated. And therein lies the foothold for temptation to take root and lay a path to disappointment and possibly destruction.