I really think our culture would benefit from celebrating Halloween properly. Not all this plastic pumpkin crap but I mean a festival of darkness for the grown-ups like the Day of The Dead or the Venice Carnival, where we all get dressed up, preferably masked and explore the side of us we usually keep under the bed.
In Whitby we've just had Goth weekend. Currently the town is swarming with folk of all ages (about sixteen to sixty-five), some in full Victoriana, others in rubber, PVC and leather, most men and women wearing some sort of corset.
I do think it is notable that the Goth movement only really sustains itself in rather repressed teutonic cultures like our own, Germany and Scandinavia. Cultures where we actually have something we keep under the bed. I like the Goths a lot. I don't know any other subcultures that can take over a small Northen seaside resort for two weekends a year without such as a murmur of local opposition. Plus some of them are hot.
The people to whom Halloween or Samhain really belongs are folks like Marit over at Baba Yaga's Hut who has carved the most beautiful jack o' lantern I have ever beheld. She also offers advice on Scrying, whatever that is. Marit is a great artist you ought to check out.
As for myself, the only ‘supernatural’ phenomenon I am forced to entertain is the idea of some sort of psychic communication between us. There have been some rigorous experiments that seem to suggest that this exists – not in the sense that you and I could communicate through thought alone, but that sometimes it is possible to transmit information, particularly emotional information, between ourselves. I mean we are well aware about sorts of energy which we can’t see, hear or feel; radio waves, radiation etc. So despite my otherwise materialist worldview, I don’t think it is beyond the realms of possibility that there are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.
Most people have many examples of when they happened to feel a sudden urge to contact someone at some random yet subsequently crucial moment. I have loads of such incidents, especially involving my family and closest friends. The most profound one within our family was when we were quite small and one weekend my Dad decided to visit my grandparents by himself. At this time, we saw a great deal of my grandparents and Andrew who was living with them at the time. We usually walked round there together, Dad never went by himself, but today he decided to do this and to go by car. He didn’t bother phoning before he went either, which my Mum thought very odd behaviour.
When he turned into their road, he was greeted with the sight of my granddad, his hair and shirt sticky with blood, standing in front of his car, my uncle Andrew behind the wheel. Andrew’s learning difficulties were so profound that it seems unlikely that he would have been able to make the car go forward, but if he had, he almost certainly wouldn’t have been able to stop it (if in this disturbed state it would actually occur to him to do so). My Dad managed to intervene, get Andrew out of the car somehow. I think this episode began one of Andrew’s periods under section. As I have explained before, the medication Andrew took for epilepsy and other medical conditions would send him rather loopy at times. He was no worse than a stroppy child, only he was the size of a man and as such became an unwitting danger to other people. My Granddad wasn’t badly hurt, only it was a scalp wound so had bled profusely. However, without my Dad turning up on this random visit, it could have been a lot worse.
As for ghosts, well almost all ‘hauntings’ are supposed to be connected to fairly dramatic events. It occurs to me that if there is some form of transmittable emotional energy as I describe, then there is no reason why these things can’t leave their mark on a place – rather like radiation. Souls haven’t returned to haunt a place, only the place remains ‘charged’ with what happened there.
However my most vivid and inexplicable first-hand ‘ghostly’ incident doesn’t really comply with such a theory. It happened one Sunday morning when Mum and I were walking to my other grandparent’s house. We had just begun to worry about my Grandad Wellfare’s failing health. Both my mother and I were very close to Granddad.
The people who lived on the end of our road were Catholics and often had coffee mornings and other meetings round at their house, so there were often a number of cars parked near the end of the road. Today I noticed that there was a very old fashioned looking car parked really close to the corner of the road – dangerously so really. I don’t know much about old cars, but it was very much the shape of a black cab. And it was black, but it wasn’t a taxi. In the passenger seat there sat a woman in late middle age. She was dressed in black, but in a quite old-fashioned formal way with a hat, and a lacey white color. As we passed, she smiled very broadly and waved, which I didn’t think much of because my Mum was always bumping into people she knew and I didn’t. I smiled back and when we were round the corner and a little way up the road I asked, “So who was that?”
“You didn’t see her too?” Mum said in surprise.
“The lady in the car, right?”
“Oh. That was my Grandma Wellfare.”
I don’t need to tell you that my great Grandmother had been dead for some time at this point. I was then sworn to secrecy on the matter, which I guess she’d probably let me off by now. What followed was a very painful period for us all; my Granddad had pancreatic cancer which carried him away within the space of a few months (an extremely santitised version of events). Yeah, I know. Well it wouldn’t be a spooky story if I included the rational explanation.
Now for some real horror, today I have been revisiting The Kick Inside by Kate Bush and singing along. Ooh, let me grab it, let me gra-a-a-ab your soul away-ay-ay...