Shades of the Craft

Shades of the Craft
(In Bram Stoker's Dracula)
Walter C Cambra

The one constant feature of Bram Stoker's Dracula is a carnival of antithetical bifurcations. This feature is nowhere more pronounced than in the prelude to the book and in the postscript that frames the story. The prelude seeks to assure the reader of the historical veracity fo all that one is about to read: “All needless matters have been eliminated, so that a history almost at variance with the possibilities of the latter-day belief may stand forth as simple fact.”1)

The conclusion of Dracula has a post-script titled “note” which ostensibly undermines the claims of the prelude: “I took the papers from the safe where they have been ever since our return so long ago. We were struck with the fact that, in all the mass of material of which the record is composed, there is hardly one authentic document!”2)

The apparent nonsense makes perfect sense when one realizes that Bram Stoker's Dracula is written within the tradition or perspective of the Craft/Old Religion. The prelude casts the intended spell on the reader, while the post-script removes that spell.

The text of Dracula opens around the time of one of the Greater Sabbats of the Witchcraft tradition; namely: Beltane.3) The conclusion of the text of Dracula closes around the time of another of the Greater Sabbats; namely: Samhain.4)

The text of Dracula purports to be a series of personal diaries based upon recent memories of events. This feature reflects the Irish scribal tradition where booklets are stitched together, forming a “book.”

The gathering of scribal texts into a whole is attested to by Thomas Cahill: “The scribe transcribes the text onto pages gathered into a booklet called a quire, later stitched with other quires into a larger volume, which was sometimes bound between protecting covers.”5)

The importance of scribal diaries was the single resource that made the inquisition against Count Dracula successful. The following words by Dr. Abraham Van Helsing proved prophetic:

Remember, my friends, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker. Even if you have not kept the good practice … take note of it. Nothing is too small. I counsel you, put down in record even your doubts and surmises.6)

Madam Mina, her husband, and her band of men kept diaries that recounted their interactions, observations, and knowledge of Count Dracula. Prior to formulating a campaign against Count Dracula, with the intent of unmasking his methods and motivations, they thoroughly reviewed all of the diaries. “Mina and I [her husband] … have been over all the diaries again and again.”7) During that review process, they came to understand that Count Dracula had manipulated, masked his intent and purpose, and used them. Finally, they were able to make sense of the seemingly isolated events that were actually connected. This new understanding gave them the tools to formulate a campaign that eventually defeated him.

Bram Stoker, Dracula; Edited by Marjorie Howes (Vermont: The Everyman Library), 1995, p xxx.
Bram Stoker, Dracula, p. 374
Bram Stoker, Dracula, p. 1.
Bram Stoker, Dracula, p. 368.
Thomas Cahill, How the Irish Saved Civilization (New York, New York: Doubleday), 1995 Edition, p. 168.
Bram Stoker, Dracula, pp. 117-118
Bram Stoker, Dracula, p. 312.