Saint Andrew and the Lesbian Vampires

Carmilla

The Internet is a beautiful thing and a wonderous gift to humanity, even though it is undoubtedly corrupting our politics and destroying the moral fabric of society. This morning I started off reading about Saint Andrew’s Day and ended up on a page about lesbian vampires. How the devil did that happen? What does it say about the perilous state of my mind? Let alone my sexual proclivities. And what would my therapist say? If I even had a therapist. I blame the damn hyperlinks. They are so distracting. I hardly ever get through an entire article without my attention being hijacked by something else potentially more interesting. It’s the same in my offline life too. I’ve always been like this. My first teacher Miss Hilary diagnosed the problem which was obvious even then. It’s right there in black and white in my first school report card. – Keith is easily distracted. He must try harder. – Wow! That still hurts Miss Hilary. I was barely seven years old. And don’t think I forget the time you whacked me with the ruler when you had me alone in the cloakroom. I still don’t know what I was meant to have done wrong, although no doubt most seven year old boys deserve a good thrashing every now and again. Just to keep them in line and to serve as a warning of further punishments to come.

San Andreu is the patron saint of our village in Spain and every year at the end of November there is a fiesta held in his honour. Being Scottish, I’ve always felt this shared connection with the saint to be a fortuitous and happy coincidence. In spite of my advancing years, however, I had not realised until now that Saint Andrew is also the patron saint of Greece, Cyprus, Ukraine, Russia and Romania as well as Scotland. As one of the original Apostles (perhaps even the very first) Andrew along with his brother Peter was called by Jesus to be a fisher of men. “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men”, said Jesus, to the brothers, who were in fact actual fishermen in real life. In the bible there are several references to Andrew’s attendance at some crucial events in the life of Jesus including: the feeding of the 5000, the discourse on the Mount of Olives, and the Last Supper. According to legend (although there’s no real evidence) Andrew was crucified by the Romans on a saltire cross for preaching Christianity in Greece. I guess that’s what happens when you become a fisher of men and a propagandist for some obscure and dangerous religious cult. Bloody troublemakers! If only Andrew hadn’t been so easily distracted and had tried harder to make the most of his day job he could have had an easy life and may not have met with such a grisly and embarrassing end.

There are many myths and stories associated with Saint Andrew, but I was drawn instinctively to some of the folkloric superstitions. I was intrigued to learn, for example, that the cross of Saint Andrew was traditionally carved into fireplaces in houses in southern Scotland and northern England to stop witches coming down the chimney. A very wise precaution indeed! Meanwhile, in some parts of central and northern Europe, Saint Andrew’s Day was believed to coincide with an upsurge in vampire activity lasting until Saint George’s Eve on 22 April. – Well of course, there’s the vampire connection, staring me straight in the face. Daring me not to be interested. How could anyone possibly resist such tempting clickbait? And it’s only a short hop from there to Carmilla. Written in 1872 by the Irish author, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, a quarter of a century before Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Carmilla is a Gothic novella whose protagonist is the original lesbian vampire.

Digging deeper, I am thrilled to discover that Carmilla has influenced a whole sub-genre of lesbian vampire films including: Dracula’s Daughter (1936); Blood and Roses (1960); The Vampire Lovers (1970); Lust for a Vampire (1971); Vampyros Lesbos (1971) and The Blood Spattered Bride (1972). I have added them all to my must see lesbian vampire film list and am currently downloading an enticing cult offering called Blood of The Tribades (2016), described by Chris Hallock of the Boston Underground Film Festival, as “a love letter to offbeat lesbian vampire films that offers a powerful discourse on self-identity, feminism, and the violence wrought from religious dogma.” I am so excited. I can hardly wait. Happy Saint Andrews Day!

30 November 2019


Blood of the Tribades from Launch Over – Cacciola / Epstein on Vimeo.


References:
Saint Andrew’s Day
Carmilla
Lesbian vampire

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