Thursday, 17 April 2014

AtoZ Day 15: O is for Occult, Ohyn, Only Lovers Left Alive

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The occult is the study of things beyond reason, things beyond reality which is often described as science. Hence vampires are of the occult. There is plenty of lore surrounding vampires and so many myths and legends there is a lot to study.

When many of us hear the word, occult, however, we tend to think of rituals and pentagrams and such things. It is a word which brings to mind demon summoning and magical spells and blood sacrifice rather than your average vampire. Of course vampire possess one of the many things followers of the occult and many other religions are fascinated with: eternal life.

There are vampires out there created by occult rituals and magic rather than simple infection or damnation either to give the witch or wizard power or to create a slave. I suppose you could say these are level one occult vampires.

What do you think of when you think 'occult'?

Creature Feature:


I'm afraid I couldn't find much on this one, all my sources say is that this is a vampire from Poland and a child born with teeth and a caul at birth will become one when they die.

Movie Recommendation:

Title: Only Lover's Left Alive
Rating: 15
Summary: Adam and Eve have been in love for centuries, but their personalities are very different. Adam is a tortured soul of a musician and lover of science, often given to bouts of depression, where Eve sees the love of life in everything. This is their romance.
Why you should watch this: Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston are simply amazing in this and the way the vampires are written is brilliant. These are literary fiction vampires as compared to genre fiction vampires and even though I don't normally go for literary fiction, I love this film to bits. When I saw it in Feb I wrote a full review here: Review: Only Lovers Left Alive.

What You Don't Know 
(#15 in The Diverse Life of Ianthe Jawara, Vampire)
by Natasha Duncan-Drake

Alex was standing next to the fireplace frowning at the empty grate and not saying anything. He had been that way for the past ten minutes after Ianthe had explained everything that had happened.

"We may be able to track this human down," Alex said eventually and turned to her.


She had found it best to ask the obvious questions, sometimes Alex forgot she was not the perfect little vampire.

"Come with me," was all Alex said and then marched out of the room.

Ianthe followed, annoyed at her maker's attitude, but not exactly surprised. However, when she realised they were headed to Alex's study she felt the cold realisation of shock. It was the one place in the house that was completely off limits. What Alex did in there she had no idea.

As she followed Alex inside, she was even more shocked and she did her very best not to gape like a fish. It didn't look how she had expected at all. There was a bookcase covering one wall and a large desk in the middle towards the back, so far, so expected, but she really hadn't thought the bookcase would be full of what looked suspiciously like genre fiction and the desk be absolutely covered in mess. A state of the art computer stood proudly amongst the chaos with three screens. She caught a glimpse of one of the screens reflected in the window and she almost laughed; it had a Star Trek screen saver.

Never in her wildest dreams had she thought Alex would have lowered himself to popular culture. She was learning so much about him. At a guess the reason the study was completely off limits was it was where Alex actually let his guard down.

She sobered quickly, however, remembering why they were here.

"Give me the arrow," Alex said, clearing off a small side table.

It was as he moved a pile of books and several pieces of paper that she realised the table had a pentagram inscribed into its top. When Alex cleared his throat she stopped staring and did as she was asked. He placed the broken bolt into the centre of the design.

"I have not studied much occult lore," Alex said, motioning for her to join him, "but there is one ritual I have found useful in the past. Because this was used to draw your blood it has taken on some of your vampire power. It has also been in the possession of your assailant and will hold a reflection of him."

"But he's human," Ianthe pointed out.

"Humans leave psychic residue," Alex said, "it is just much weaker than our own. If we can set up a resonance within the power in the bolt it should cause a level of connection and when you sleep today you should dream of your attacker."

"That's actually possible?" she asked.

Alex simply nodded.

"What do I need to do?" was her next question.

She wanted desperately to take control of the situation.

"You do not yet have enough strength to do this yourself," Alex said, "but if you will allow it, I will help you. You will have to trust me."

Ianthe smiled just a little; trust wasn't something that came easily to either of them.

"In this I trust you," she said eventually. "What do I do?"

"Stand here," Alex replied and moved aside so she could do as he instructed. "This is a blood ritual."

"Aren't they all?"

"I will have to bite you."

That brought her up short; Alex hadn't bitten her since the very early days of her turning.

"And?" she asked even though the idea made her very uncomfortable.

"Use the tip of the bolt to cut your finger and allow your blood to drip into the grooves of the pentagram," Alex told her, "I will do the rest."

"Which will be?" Ianthe really wanted to know what would be going on.

"I will guide your energy to the bolt and set up the resonance as I said."

Alex sounded just a little impatient.


"You will see," Alex snapped, "it is impossible to explain."

It wasn't much of a clue, but she knew it wasn't a lie either.

"Let's get on with it then," she decided and tilted her head to the side.

Alex stepped up behind her and his fingers lightly brushed the hair away from her neck. It was an intimate gesture and she had to prevent the shudder that it caused. Their one and only sexual encounter had been completely mutual, but she didn't like to remember it anymore. After all, Alex had intended to kill her.

When his lips touched her neck she did shiver.

"So sensitive," he said and she would have called him on it, only that was the moment he chose to bite.

The pain was completely irrelevant as her power rose up to meet his and joined as only maker and child could do. It was a coming together of spirit even as their minds stayed separate. Ianthe could feel Alex's presence as it saturated through her body and she hated herself for instantly feeling safer. Alex was an incredibly powerful vampire.

"Now," he instructed as he broke away.

Reaching out, she picked up the tip of the bolt and she could feel it humming in her hand. It was responding to their combined power, but it was nothing she could define. Without hesitation she stabbed it into her index finger and allowed her blood to seep out, dripping down onto the table top below. She didn't need to direct it; it was as if the blood travelled down an invisible tube and then spread far more quickly than was natural around the pentagram. With it travelled the sense of power.

It was a heady rush and Ianthe felt her knees go weak. Only Alex holding her firmly around the waist prevented her falling and she understood why she would not have been strong enough to do this herself. Instinctively she placed the bolt head back on the table as it started to all but move in her hands.

"Think of him," Alex said.

His voice vibrated in her ears, heavy with the power they were channelling. All she could do was obey and she conjured the mental image of the man who had attacked her. With everything she had she concentrated.

When it happened it was like a wave coming back at them. She felt it crest over them as Alex held her steady and something she could not explain settled in her bones. It made her legs feel even weaker.

Then, just as suddenly as it began, the feeling of power was gone. Like a bubble bursting it simply wasn't there anymore and she sagged against Alex.

"Well done," he said quietly and she didn't even have the strength to be shocked at the praise.

A few of us discovered that we all had supernatural themes for the AtoZ so we got together and did a mini list. If you also have a supernatural theme (ghosts, monsters, witches, spells etc), please feel free to add yourself to the list.

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  1. I heard about Only Lovers Left Alive before it was released then forgot about it. Then a dream recently reminded me about it and I really need to get around to watching it.

    ~Patricia Lynne~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, YA Author

    1. It's brilliant, such a great film and I'm not usually into character pieces. :)

  2. I'm even impressed. GO Lanthe! Show Alex how it's done. Love reading this. :)

  3. Thanks for the interesting perspective on the occult.

    I hope you are enjoying A to Z.


  4. I've not heard of vampires being created through rituals. Sounds fascinating. You're right about the word "occult" though. It brings to my mind witches and rituals and the like. Thanks for reminding us it is actually much broader than that. :)

    1. I have to admit, I picked the word before researching it and the research educated me too :) I had forgotten the broader meaning.

  5. OLLA - you know my opinion on that movie, m'dear, since we enthused enough together ;D
    When I think occult, it does conjure images of pentagrams and candles, even though I should know better.
    Sophie's Thoughts & Fumbles - A to Z Ghosts
    Fantasy Boys XXX - A to Z Drabblerotic

    1. It was only checking my facts on the word occult that kicked my brain back into gear :)

  6. Nodding - when I hear the world occult I think of weirdos and strange rituals. Vampires and rituals would make a interesting story plot.

    Shelley Munro

    1. It's funny how the occult has come to mean something bad when all it means is something unknown.

  7. Hi Tasha .. the Occult is things I don't really understand .. and I sort of leave it there! What fascinates me is that you don't like 'much wildlife' per your comment on my blog yesterday - yet here you are discussing all kinds of vampires, ghouls et al ... I think I'll stick with wildlife! Though I enjoy finding out.

    You've reminded me about pentagrams - amazing exhibition I saw earlier this year - at the most incredible building in London .. well it's pretty spectacular ... I posted about Amongst Heroes - The Artist in Working Cornwall and the building last year .. but here's the link re the Pentagram memory .. I see the exhibition finishes next week .. but then there's one at Cambridge ..

    This would inspire you and Sophie .. cheers Hilary

    1. I can't bear to touch squidgy things like slugs and snails and crabs just give me the willies, so, yeah, unless it's fluffy or has feathers, I'm not really into wildlife :). I think I would deal better with a vampire than with a snail in my boot (happened to me when I was around 10 and has left a psycological impact ;).

      Thank you very much for the link.

  8. Interesting take on The Occult. Thanks Natasha!

  9. I think of negativity and rituals when I think of occult. I don't think about vampires because I don't think they are real. Plus they don't tend to kill to gain power, they are powerful alread, they kill to sustain their lives. I may be wrong.

    1. The occult has come to have such a dark reputation, but I think that's because it's been hijacked in a lot of cases.

  10. I have Only Lovers Left Alive queued up to watch. Can't wait! It looks so good and Tilda Swinton looks like the ideal vampire. I recently read "The Bone Season" by Samantha Shannon; she does a great job at building an alternative history around the occult. If you can get passed the first 100 pages, which has A LOT of building, the story really picks up and it's a good read.

    1. Only Lovers is simply brilliant - I loved every minute of it. Well every minute apart from the first one where the cinematography gave me motion sickness and I had to shut my eyes for a mo :).
      Thanks for the rec.

  11. Most people don't associate Occult with anything vampire related. It's seems strange for people to do that.

    1. I suppose it depends on the background tradition.

  12. When I hear occult I think sadness, confusion. It's good to be looking for spiritual answers but you've got to look in the right places. The true Light of God is where eternal life is. Everything that falls away from that light perishes.

    1. I have to respectfully disagree with you - many people find truth in many different ways and there are many different routes to the top of the mountain.

  13. Wow. That is a different take on the vampire genre. Cool

  14. I've seen this word pop up already today. For me I think something strange and secret, but when I bring up the word people think I'm talking devil worship. "Occult" is a fun conversation starter. :)

    1. Ah yes, the confusion between occult and Satanism etc... always a sure bet for interesting reactions at a dinner party :)

  15. I love the idea of a vampire being created through a ritual or dark magic - it's something that's not often done in vampire fiction.

  16. Vampires and occult go together like peanut butter and jelly. :) It's hard to have one without the other.

    I'm going to see if I can find out something about Ohyns. :)

    1. The PB&J of the afterlife ;)
      If you do find anything I would love to know - I looked everywhere, but all I could find was the same very short description of the Ohyn.

  17. Tom Hiddleson and Tilda Swinton?? This is moving to the top of my list!

    Timothy S. Brannan
    The Other Side, April Blog Challenge: The A to Z of Witches
    Ask an Atheist Day

    1. It's brilliant and it is because of the cast. With the wrong actors it would have been mind numbing. Instead it's captivating.

  18. Child born with teeth is usually a shaman in our culture :) Interesting!
    The film has been on my list a long time. I'm gonna get around to watching it eventually. All my Hiddleston-crazy friends are pestering me about it :) (I also love me some Hiddleston)

    @TarkabarkaHolgy from
    Multicolored Diary - Tales of colors
    MopDog - The crazy thing about Hungarians...

    1. Clearly sometimes teeth are good, sometimes bad - probably all based on one small group's experience that just fanned out to their local area.
      Tom Hiddleston is awesome - I could wax lyrical for a while, but I won't bore you :). Have you seen the latest pictures from the filming of Crimson Peak? Oh boy...

  19. Whewee! That was a powerful excerpt. I love the world you've built with so much complexity. It's very fun to read.

    True Heroes from A to Z

  20. Another interesting twist in Ianthe's life! When I think of the occult, one of the movies that pops into mind is Death becomes Her, which was a ridiculous farce, but started with an interesting premise.

    1. That film always creeped me out :) simply because of the whole part about there being no way out of immortality.

  21. I've never heard of Only Lovers Left Alive, but it appears to be something I'd enjoy. Your definition of what an occult is clears up some things for me, giving me a clearer understanding. I love this episode with Lanthe and found it fascinating as she did, learning new things.

    1. Only Lovers is a great film; it's an independent so they didn't get as much press as a lot of the bit titles. I am eagerly awaiting the DVD release :)
      Thank you, glad you're enjoying Ianthe.

  22. Occult...Such a fascinating word, that usually bring strong feelings. You either love it or hate it.

    I love the occult from a learning experience. I find it incredibly interesting.

    I think I might have to check out the movie. Tilda Swinton is one of my favourite actresses.

    1. It's a truly brilliant movie, the way she and Tom play it is simply beautiful.

  23. When I hear the word occult, I think of people who do something out the mystery of it, and foolishly start something without knowing the consequences. Thinking they can make the world better by using powers they cannot comprehend, refusing to listen to wisdom. Of course, I'm writer, every word generates narrative for me.

    1. Narrative is good, just as long as we realise where it's coming from :)

  24. Occult does conjure up the thought of dark and unnatural things. And like most people, I had no other opinion than to think that. So at least I learned something new today.
    The story is building at a nice pace, and I especially liked today's offering as we got to see another side of Alex. :)


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