Saturday, November 27, 2010

Confronting the Dark Archetype: Neptune and the Mythic Vampire

Confronting the Dark Archetype: Neptune and the Mythic Vampire 

Our highest value is not perfection but wholeness and reality. - Eric Neumann

I heard on the radio the other day that teenage girls across the country are dumping their boyfriends because they are in love with “Edward.”  He is the vampire hero ofTwilight, a blockbuster book and movie series.  I can relate to these girls since I was first bitten by Bela Lugosi when I was 14 and then totally seduced by Frank Langella in the 1979 version of Dracula. Little did I know that this would lead to a lifelong obsession with watching Dracula movies, researching what makes the vampire such a powerful archetype and ultimately how to protect myself from people who embody this archetype?

Most of the archetypes we know of today, such as the great mother, the wise old man or the trickster, cannot be traced to their date of origin, but we do know the exact time and place that Dracula, the most famous of the vampires, was born.  It was in the summer of 1816 when four friends were on their way to Italy and were stranded inSwitzerland because of the weather.  They were Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Shelly’s wife Mary and Byron’s traveling companion John William Polidori.  Out of boredom they decided to write ghost stories as a competition to see who could write the best one.  Byron and Shelley were famous creative writers at the time, but the ghost stories that survived from that summer were Frankenstein by Mary Shelly, who was only 18 years old at the time and the Vampyre written by Polidori.

Mary Shelley's tale of Frankenstein can be seen as a morality tale about the dangers of technology at the beginning of the industrial age. This was the time when the phrase"dark satanic mills,” entered the English language from a poem by William Blake referring to the early industrial revolution and its destruction of nature and human relationships.  Shelley’s Frankenstein monster has survived and thrived since that time.

Polidori wrote a vampire story about a narcissistic vampire named Ruthven.  It was rumored at the time that Polidori was in love with Byron and that the character of Ruthven was based on  Byron.  This was not the first vampire story ever written, even though it was the first such text in the English language.  Before Polidori there were many tales, especially in Eastern Europe, of vampires or the un-dead.   But Polidori created the first Dracula.   His vampire was not a monster like the old folktales but was aristocratic, handsome, rich, intellectual and seductive, which made him more terrifying, as he could move among humans without detection.

Polidori’s vampire story was immediately popular.  It was translated into French, German, Spanish and Swedish and adapted into a stage play, all in Polidori’s lifetime. His story inspired other writers, most famously, Bram Stoker the author of Dracula,published in 1897.  The legend of Dracula has become enormously popular since Bram Stoker’s novel, especially in the 20th and now the 21st century and has been the bases of more films than any other book.    But why does this image grab us so?

Jean Shinoda Bolen, a Jungian psychotherapist said, “I am convinced that we enter the world seeking love, and when we don’t find love, we settle for power.”  Vampires are people who drain your energy to enhance their own.  They grow in strength by weakening someone else.  We are attracted to vampires because they seem to have magnetic personalities, bright or hypnotic eyes and just seem more intelligent and nicer than others.  The relationship usually starts out by them doing us a great favor or flattering us.

It is easy to recognize a vampire in a movie, but what are the qualities of these “real” vampires? For one, vampires refuse to acknowledge weakness or their own negative qualities. In the Dracula movies, Dracula smashes a mirror because he realizes that he doesn’t cast a shadow.  This means that he lacks self reflection; he needs to see himself as perfect, attractive, admired, and accomplished. Vampires do not like or seek therapy because they may have to confront their shadow and they don't want any feedback about their imperfections.  

Vampires can shape shift.   Dracula can turn himself into a bat or a wolf.  Vampires can appear as a wise woman giving advice. She may be the soul mate or helpless adoring child who wants our love and attention, or she may be a mentor.  There are male and female vampires and sometimes it can be a close friend or relative or our supervisor where we work.   If we have a parent who is a vampire, chances are we will seek out those types of people again in our life. Some vampires go into the helping professions because this makes it easier to get energy from willing subjects.

Vampires often ask a lot of personal questions. They want to get to know you better, as knowledge to them is power. They reveal little of the truth about themselves to others but they are always interrogating you. The information they acquire will be used against you later on to manipulate you or to tear you down. 

Vampires are manipulative and can instill guilt in you and they are insidious in taking away your self-esteem. They attack your confidence with snide comments that serve to undermine your sense of self worth by saying things such as, “Don't you think the red dress would make you look thinner?”  Or they say, “I'll make that decision for you, you always find it hard to make decisions.”  Or, “You're better off without him.” Or, “I only want what’s best for you.”

Vampires go through many relationships. Once victims are drained or refuse to allow themselves to be further siphoned, the vampire moves on to another person often not giving the first victim another thought ever again. Not only do vampires go through friendships easily but their victim partner often looks pale and drawn. And, when someone says, you are my only friend; ask yourself what happened to the old friends of the vampire.

Vampires in legend are reputed to loiter at the crossroads. We are very vulnerable to vampires when we meet them there, such as at mid-life or any other change in the life course. Using astrology, periods when we have transiting Saturn on the Sun or on the ascendant would make us very susceptible, because these are thee times when we are confronted with doubt, insecurity and fear. 

To identify who has the potential to become a victim of a vampire, I look for personal planets or the ascendant in Pisces, or challenging aspects from Neptune to the personal planets.  The sign of Pisces and Neptune natal aspects teach us compassion and universal love and also to create beauty in the arts and music. To accomplish this, Pisces/Neptune types have an extra amount of sensitivity.  They also have weak ego boundaries, which make them excellent counselors because they can empathize with others. But, these traits also open them up to be seduced and bitten by a vampire.  I have noticed that at some time or another in their lives, Neptune types have to confront the vampire.  Sometimes Pisces/Neptune types adopt a poor me attitude, especially if they have an intimidating parent. Vampires love these types!  Aloofness is the other response to an intimidating parent and this attitude would make one unavailable to the vampire, but also unavailable to life itself.

You can tell if you have become a victim of a vampire if you are in a close relationship or married and you hear yourself telling someone "My partner is just perfect." You may be a victim if you feel flawed or insufficient, if you feel tired and yearn for replenishment by eating or shopping, or if you feel you can’t breathe because you are being suffocated.

We can look to myths and fairy tales to give us more information on vampires.  The fairy tale, Show White and the Seven Dwarfs, the myths of Psyche and also Medusa can teach us how to deal with a vampire.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs 

Snow White's evil stepmother is a vampire and Snow White is a Pisces/Neptune type—the victim.  Snow White's downfall was her empathy. While Snow White was living with the seven dwarfs, the step mother used shape shifting to try to kill her.

The stepmother shows up at Snow White's door as a poor old woman offering laces. Snow White buys some and when the old woman laces her dress with them, Snow White loses her breath and suffocates.   She is then rescued by the dwarfs.  One psychological interpretation of the seven dwarfs would be that they are miners, which means they do inner work giving them strength against the vampire.

Then the stepmother appears as a young girl and tells Snow White she has very beautiful hair and offers her a comb, which appeals to Snow White's vanity.  Snow White puts the comb in her hair and almost dies from the poison, but the dwarfs rescue her again.

Next, the step mother arrives at Snow White’s house as a baby with an apple to sell. She appeals to Snow White’s compassion. Snow white eats the apple and falls dead. This time the dwarfs are not powerful enough to revive her so they place her in a glass coffin.  Years later a Prince finds her, kisses her and the apple falls out. They get married and at the wedding feast Snow White sees her step mother.  She leans over to the prince and says, “Cut off her head.”   The Prince hesitates to do this in front of all the guests, but Snow White says “Come on, be a man.”  So he cuts off the Stepmother's head and Snow White throws it into the fire.

This fairy tale has a lot to teach us about vampires and their victims.  The stepmother shape shifts and uses flattery to takes advantage of Snow White’s feeling of compassion and courtesy.  Snow White is unconscious until she gets in touch with her inner male energy (Mars) personified by the prince.  The concept of cutting the stepmother’s head off means one needs to cut away logic that is not connected to the heart. Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs was a vampire. In that movie Clarice kept talking about the heart and feelings which moved Hannibal Lecter out of his head. This technique saved her life. An interesting aside is that Anthony Hopkins was not thought of as an attractive man, but after he played Lector he was voted the sexiest man in film which shows the attraction of the vampire archetype.  


Another vampire story is Psyche and Eros.  Psyche is a Pisces/Neptune type and is married to Eros, an  Aries/Mars type, and they live in a beautiful castle.  Eros tells Psyche that she can never look at him which means they can only be together at night. Psyche is unconscious of who she is married to.   The sisters, who are the vampires in this story, come to see her and start asking her questions.  They insinuate that she may be married to a monster and they advise her to take a lamp and a knife to bed that evening. She should light the lamp and if she sees that her husband is a monster, she should kill him.  Psyche does what they say, but when she lights the lamp she sees that he is drop dead gorgeous--he is the god of love after all!  A drop of oil falls on Eros and he wakes up and disappears.  To get him back Aphrodite, Eros’ mother, forces Psyche go to the underground and sort seeds (learn discrimination). Then Aphrodite gives her one more task--to bring a bottle of beauty oil to her but not to open it. Psyche opens the bottle because of vanity, uses it on herself and falls unconscious. She is finally rescued by Eros and they are married.  Psyche was unconscious at the beginning and end of this tale, much like Sleeping Beauty when she was asleep in the glass coffin.  Not being awake and conscious can lead us to being victims of vampires.

The myth of Medusa is a powerful story about how to slay a vampire.  Medusa was young, beautiful, thoughtless and very frisky.  She made love to Poseidon on the steps of Athena's temple.  This was a big mistake as Athena was furious at this sacrilege and turned Medusa into a hag.  Medusa became a vampire and if anyone looked at her they turned into stone.   Perseus went to slay Medusa and before he left Athena and Hermes gave him gifts. He received a shield, a sword, winged sandals and a magic wallet.   He was warned not to look at Medusa because one could be hypnotized by looking into her eyes.  Remember Bela Lugosi's famous phrase “Look into my eyes”? Medusa was asleep when Perseus got to her cave.  He looked at his shield for her reflection, cut off her head, put it in the magic wallet and flew away on his winged sandals. 

The Medusa myth can tell us how to slay a vampire by looking at the three gifts to Perseus. The shield is a metaphor for deflecting questions.  As I said earlier, the prime tactic of a vampire is cross examination.  Using the shield, Hermes, a Gemini archetype, would answer a vampire interrogation the following way:

Vampire:  “Are you still dating that interesting woman?”  (looking for information).

Hermes:   "That's an interesting question, why do you ask?

Vampire:  “Will you still come and see me when I’m living in a homeless shelter?” (Inducing guilt)

Hermes:  “How long would you have to stay there before you get on your feet?”

The winged sandals are a metaphor for remaining aloof.  Some men use winged sandals to escape vampire women, especially if they had a vampire mother.  But if they use them too often, they may keep flying around to protect themselves and never land. The symbol of the magic wallet teaches us to keep our motives, information and power safe from the vampire so as not to be exploited.

There are many ways to resist the lure of the vampire. Start by developing healthy boundaries for yourself. Never give them personal information – respond to their questions with your own questions. Keep yourself focused upon your own positive creativity.

Both Snow White and Psyche were unconscious in these stories.  Nighttime is when the vampire arrives, a classic symbol of unconsciousness. You can resist a vampire by remaining conscious.  For example, when you feel drained by someone just get up and walk away. Remember, vampires are stopped in their tracks by the light of consciousness, which is depicted in the vampire movies as the sun coming up causing the destruction of the vampire.

It is sometimes very difficult to get rid of a vampire as long as they feel that you have something that they want. They prefer to end the relationship, usually when they find a new victim. They do not want to be without an energy source.

Being hyper-vigilant, they are excellent workers who do not miss anything. They are brilliant and highly psychic. In many cultures, the people would scatter poppy seeds, mustard seeds or rice grains between them and the monster.  The vampire would be compelled to stop and count all the grain, giving its intended victim sufficient time to flee the vampire or kill it.   Because vampires tend to be obsessive/compulsive give them some detailed task to perform while you get away.
Here are some other techniques to protect ourselves from vampires: 
Meditate – Meditation can help ground you when you feel pulled off course by a vampire's energy.

Build a conscious energy shield around you. Van Helsing used the cross and garlic as a shield.

When you are with a vampire take a few deep breaths to remove negative energy from your body.

Walk away and excuse yourself from the conversation.

Take daily baths or showers to wash off negative vibes.

Burn sage in a room to purify left over negative energy.

Don't look in their eyes.

I have been a victim of three vampires in my lifetime and have been obsessed with digging out all of this information. I have found that watching vampire movies is strangely cathartic for me and other victims I have talked to.  I don't watch just any vampire movie, only the ones about Dracula.   (I’m not going to see the latest in theTwilight series because Edward is a little too young for me).  Warning:  If you are like me and cheer when Dracula gets away at the end of the movie, you've got real problems.  I can't help you, but join the club.

Janet Kane


Dracula by Bram Stoker, (1897)

Unholy Hungers:  Encountering the Psychic Vampire in Ourselves and Others by Barbara E. Hort (1996)

Reading the Vampire by Ken Gelder (1994)

Our vampires, Ourselves by Nina Auerbach (1995)

Emotional vampires:  Dealing with People Who Drain you Dry by Albert J. Bernstein, PhD (2001)

The Lure of the Vampire:  Gender, Fiction and Fandom from Bram Stoker to Buffy by Milly Williamson (2005) 

Originally published here: Janet's Planets

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