27 October 2009

Scholomance

What do Harry Potter and Dracula have in common? For starters, they both attended wizardry school.

Dracula learned the secrets of nature and magic at the Scholomance, an occult school that is described to lay nestled "amongst the mountains over Lake Hermannstadt, where the devil claims" every "tenth scholar as his due" (Stoker 383).

"In the novel Dracula...Dr. Van Helsing says that Count Dracula...studied at a school run by the devil himself known as Scholomance" (Stevenson 4). The "Scholomance was an occult school situated in a labyrinth of underground caves where men would make a pact with the devil to gain occult knowledge" (Ramsland 19). The headmaster was paid with the flesh and soul of one pupil who would become a servant to his evil ways. This sinister school remains "hidden at an unknown location variously said to be located in the mountains, the underground, or the other world" (Melton 604).

The scholomance reference in Stoker's Dracula "is important because it associates Dracula, hence Slavic vampires, with witchcraft and Satan, as well as with occult philosophical learning...In her papers, folklore researcher Emily de Laszowska-Gerard talks about the Scholomance as a school where people learned 'the secrets of nature, the language of animals, and all magic spells,' as taught by the devil" (Ramsland 20).

"Very little is known of the" origins of the "Scholomance legend. Bram Stoker read about it in a book about Transylvania called Land Beyond the Forest (1888) by Emily Gerard." Some scholars suggest that Gerard misunderstood the term 'Solomonari' as "spoken by a local with a German accent." Was this a case of a foreigner miserably failing to grasp the clear diction of the local region? Perhaps...If the assertion is true, 'scholomance' "is a misnomer." Its appearance "in no other known source, nor in Romanian folklore" leads me to believe that the fantastical label was conjured by the befuddled mind of Gerard (Ramsland 19-20).

Regardless, some society of magical tradition existed, and from the mists of enchantment surrounding the magic men, Gerard spun her article. "Traditional Romanian society recognized the existence of solomonari, or wise ones, considered successors of the biblical King Solomon and bearers of his wisdom...The solomonari were basically wizards whose primary ability was affecting the weather, which they accomplish[ed] through their power over the balauri, or dragons. By riding the dragon in the sky they [brought] rain or drought. The solomonari were thus the Romanian equivalent to shaman" (Melton 603).

A solomonari is recognized as a "large person with red eyes," [possibly permanently swollen from ceaseless studying for the impossible final exam] "and red hair and a wrinkled forehead. He will wear white clothes and will arrive in a village as a wandering beggar. Around his neck will be the 'bag of the solomonari' in which he keeps his magical instruments, including an iron ax (to break up the sky ice thus producing hailstones), a bridle shaped from birch used to capture the dragon, his magical 'book' from which he 'reads' the charms used to master the dragons" (604).

"Legend has it that the Scholomance would admit students ten at a time", and that some of these would become solomonari. "Upon acquisition of the devilish insight" nine would be freed from apprenticeship and one would be retained by the Devil as payment (Leatherdale 107). The students' "final examination involved copying all that they knew about humanity into the Solomonar's book" (Ramsland 20). "Students received their own 'book' at the end of their training, described as a stone talisman with nine mysterious letters in it. In any given situation, the solomonari concentrates on the book, and from it discerns what he should do" (Melton 604). Once initiated, they become full-fledged alchemists with the power to maintain the balance of nature and to preserve order" (Ramsland 20). Stoker's Dracula boasted such powers. Mina Harker writes in her journal, "he can, within his range, direct the elements, the storm, the fog, the thunder, he can command all the meaner things, the rat, and the owl, and the bat, the moth, and the fox, and the wolf, he can grow and become small, and he can at times vanish and become unknown" (Stoker).

Pa,
Ana

Sources:
Leatherdale, Clive. Dracula: the novel & the legend
Melton. The Vampire Book.
Ramsland, Katherine M. The Science of Vampires.
Stevenson, Jay. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Vampires.
Stoker. Dracula.

3 comments:

  1. Wow. Fascinating post! I love learning new things.

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  2. I have read the article based on the Scholomance.I like the post very much as it contain very informative knowledge.I agree with the stand that Legend has it that the Scholomance would admit students ten at a time", and that some of these would become solomonari. "Upon acquisition of the devilish insight" nine would be freed from apprenticeship and one would be retained by the Devil as payment (Leatherdale 107). The students' "final examination involved copying all that they knew about humanity into the Solomonar's book" (Ramsland 20).

    ReplyDelete