The meaning of vampires

As everyone here knows, I’ve had my disagreements with First Things, but they’re still one of the best conservative websites out there, and I’d miss them if they were gone.  Where else would I be alerted to this Dappled Things essay on the sacramental significance of Count Dracula?  Here’s the key paragraph:

The satanic nature of the Count is rendered all the more terrifying because of his undeniable physicality. […] The human life of Christ made daily physical and intimate communion with God possible—beyond even the Old Testament experience of Enoch, with whom Renfield [the lunatic fanatically absorbed with Dracula] compares himself: “he walked with God.” After the ascension of Jesus, mortality and the supernatural returned to their separate spheres. The Eucharist transcends this division; as the actual sacrifice of Calvary occurring mystically in an unbloody manner, the sacrament brings the reality of a past action into the reality of a present. In a dark mirroring of the sacrament, Dracula is a super-physical being in whom a supernatural power is lodged. The Eucharist is the ultimate transformative and life-giving agent (John 6:58); vampyres consume blood to perpetuate an undead eternity. The blood on the cross was given willingly (John 15:13); vampyre victims do not submit of their own volition. They are hypnotized, entranced, or otherwise reduced to an altered state of consciousness. Dracula as Satan is thus elaborately developed: engaging in an anti-sacrifice and an Anti-Eucharist, Dracula is the Apocalyptic Anti-Christ who comes to collect souls and set up an alternative eternity to that promised in the New Testament.

Of relevance here is my discussion of the symbolism of blood in Human Sacrifice and the Eucharist:

A religious ritual is a symbolic act, and as such it makes use of preexisting symbolic meanings. Sometimes these meanings are fixed by the culture, as when I offer God what my culture recognizes as a salute, or when I place a cultural symbol of value (i.e. money) in the collection basket. The most powerful rituals, however, make use of natural symbolic meanings. For example, sexual intercourse naturally denotes union, and some peoples (such as the Babylonians) have tried to effect symbolic union with God through temple prostitution. In fact, this is an abuse of the sex act, whose meaning is too fixed to procreation and family life to be legitimately “stretched” in this way. However, we should acknowledge that a real religious impulse, and not mere lust, is at the foundation of this practice. What we need is a natural symbol that, like sex, signifies love and union and, again like sex, is asymmetric between the participants, but which, unlike sex, signifies a one-way donation of one’s life. This is the symbolism of blood.

Across the world, widely disparate peoples have chosen as their offering to God the flesh and blood of animals, and occasionally even of humans. Why has this seemed a fitting sacrifice to so many cultures at so many times? It can only be because of the natural symbolism of blood. “Since the life of a living body is in its blood, I have made you put it on the altar, so that atonement may thereby be made for your own lives, because it is the blood, as the seat of life, that makes atonement” (Lev 17:11). Blood is the life force; to offer blood is to offer life, and a union of blood is a merger of lives. The blood and flesh of the sacrificial victim become channels of divine Life. Blood purifies the Temple on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:15-19). Blood protects and purifies the house during Passover (Ex 12:7). Moses sprinkled the people with blood to establish the covenant (Ex. 24:6-8).

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