Welcome. This is my blog, and you're my most coveted guest. If I seem a bit too intense, it's only because I have so much that I want to share with you, and I can see that you're eager to begin as well. So, please...make yourself at home, sip an East India cocktail (I blended the pomegranate juice myself), and sample some of my domestic and imported Arcana: useless, but fascinating information about Victoriana, Steampunk and other favoured topics; music which evokes that dark, lost Lenore sensibility; and other pleasant or, perhaps, unsettling non sequiters whispered in a darkened room. Linger long or short, leave a comment or refrain, but remember to come back soon to play a (shhhh) parlour game.
Velkommen. Dette er min blog, og du er min mest eftertragtedegæst. Hvis jeg synes en smule for intenst, det er kunfordi jeg har så meget at jeg vil dele med jer, og jeg kanse, at du er ivrig efter at begynde så godt. kan du ...føl dig hjemme, sip et East India cocktail (jeg blandetden granatæble juice mig selv), og prøve nogle af mine indenlandske o importerede Arcana: ubrugelig, menfascinerende oplysninger om Victoriana, Steampunkog andre begunstigede emner; musik der fremkalderdenne mørke, mistede Lenore sensibilitet, og andrebehagelige eller måske foruroligende, ikke sequitershviskede i et mørkelagt rum. Linger lang eller kort,efterlade en kommentar eller afstå, men husk at komme tilbage snart til at spille en (Shhhh) selskabsleg.


My photo

I love my grown children, miss all the dogs I ever had, and I cry at the drop of a hat, I believe in true love, destiny, fairness, and compassion. If I could be anywhere right now, it would be the ocean. My favorite city is New York, but I am always longing for London and craving more time in Copenhagen. I'm drawn to desolate places, deserted buildings, and unknown byways. I don't care how society perceives me as long as my gut tells me that what I'm doing is right. I am interested in paranormal things, spiritual things, historical things, and things that glow at night. I like to drink, I smoke when I write, I can't stand small talk, and despite my quick temper, I would rather kiss than fight. I'm selfish with my writing time, a spendthrift with my love. My heart has been broken so many times that it's held together with super glue and duct tape. The upside is that, next time, I won't be tempted to give away what I no longer have to give. But I will let you buy me a Pink Squirrel.


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Helvede's så Nocturne

Helvede's så Nocturne
The raw, aching sadness with which the following words were typed has been reformatted to fit your screen. No need to adjust it. All names have been expunged to protect the innocent and the willfully insane.

Nocturne in G Flat major

Chopin, darkness, light, sand and wind, starlight tread. Beethoven, love, fear, madness, redemption in the night. Liszt, waltzing widows, desperate bargains, pleasure's secret plight. Now, then, before, always, forever. Promises made on lonely beaches, celestial summer's perfect kiss, passions quenched in salty breezes, the lure of distant mist-draped heights. Bitter interlude. Final, private nocturne. Burned down like a candle. Doomed bleeding beauty. Fated sacrificial night.
To be continued...

Gentle Visitor

Gentle Visitor
And now, Gentle Visitor, won't you please lend an eye (we've worked so hard)...
We love all things dark and mysterious, macabre and obscure, odd and unfathomable. Nothing is too strange or bizarre for our little blog. And although we would never presume to offer definitive answers to the great questions of life, we shall do our best to enlighten, inform and delight our visitors with our whimsical potpurri of facts, anecdotes, trivia and informational outpourings. We strive not to offend, but to edify those who wish to reach beyond their comfort zone and touch the fabric of another time and place, and of distant, but genuine worlds and lives. As Victorian-themed blogs go, ours may not be the most austere, nor the most comprehensive, but we know what we like, and if our readers like it as well, then all is as it should be in this ramshackle corner of our own personal Victorian empire.

A Musical Note

A Musical Note: We feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by one or more of the following musical selections. Then again, we also feel that our blog is best viewed when accompanied by a glass of absinthe, a bite of lemon cake, and a foot massage (preferably by someone you know). So, to paraphrase the otherwise completely irrelevant-to-our-blog Mr. Aleister Crowley, "Do what thou wilt...but be open to Chopin."

And now we begin

And now we begin
"One must strive to show decorum even when scrolling." Queen Victoria, Buckingham Palace Blog, August 11,1879

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Saturday Night At The Seance

     We've been attending seances at Temple Heights in Northport, Maine for several years now, ever since we went there on a sad, solitary holiday in July of 2008 and realized that Maine's oldest and most famous spiritualist camp was everything we had ever wanted or needed in a "holiday retreat" within walking distance of the ocean (literally a one minute hike, even less if you run) and in close proximity to what has become our favourite Mexican restaurants in coastal Maine.

Now, I realize that this is a post about a seance, but in order to paint an accurate picture of this particular seance, we have to begin with our visit to the orange stucco paradise that is Dos Amigos. The first time we went there was with our family, years ago, and we had no idea that Temple Heights was only a few miles farther down the road or what awaited us once we discovered it. But we fell in love with Dos Amigos immediately. It exemplifies nearly everything we love in a Mexican eatery. It definitely draws its share of summer tourists, but the place has a neighborhood pub feel. A neighborhood pub with the sort of cheesy panache that is always one step ahead of the customer, welcoming them into a cool, dark space decorated with (what else?) sombreros of various colors and sizes, Mexican beer posters, and the odd Dia de los Muertos artifact adorning a shelf or a section of wall. And Dos Amigos might well be just another cliche Mexican restaurant if it weren't for the fact that it's owned by an Eucordorian family, who not only take turns waiting tables, but who also make their presence known through a pastiche of family photographs inserted into the menus. The personal connection dispels the cheesiness of the decor and turns it into a celebration of kitsch. It's the same thing that saves my pink plastic lawn flamingos from looking pathetic sitting in flower boxes on my porch. To put pink plastic flamingos on one's lawn or porch as a means of visual improvement is sad. To put them there because one knows they're kistchy and camp and wants to have fun with it is another thing entirely.  And then there's the food....
Say ole for chicken mole!
Pre-seance spirits

As always when we visit Dos Amigos, we ordered  chicken mole, which is our favorite Mexican meal ever since we were the accidental recipient of a plate of chicken mole in a restaurant in Portland, Maine. We spent about a minute being resentful over not having been served the beef chimichanga that we had actually ordered. But nothing comes close to the mole on which we've dined at Dos Amigos on sundry summer Saturday nights over the past few years. Last Saturday night was no exception. Of course, you're probably wondering what all this eating and drinking has to do with seances or the concept of spiritual seeking in general. We don't know for certain. But we think it has something to do with taking some pre-seance time to discuss the details of the evening ahead. My traveling companion, "K" has accompanied to several seances at Temple Heights, and this time, having just turned 21, she was able to partake in the full ritual of meal, margarita and Grand Mariner chaser.
                                      "It's like a sensory orgy," she said, as she choked down her glass of Grand Mariner. "I can feel my chakras opening now. It's a good thing I'm half Greek."
All it takes is one of these

                            For me, dinner and conversation has always been a favorite past time. In the past couple of years, the occupation's lost a little of its appeal due to depression over my divorce (although I can't say that I'm completely unhappy over the correlating loss of weight), but I still equate my visits to TH with the preliminary visit to Dos Amigos. K and I discussed what we hoped to get out of the evening, our desire to connect with certain spirits, and our reservations concerning certain aspects of spiritualism. For instance, we've both had a couple of interesting experiences with table tipping, but are not completely convinced that all of our experiences were 100 percent genuine. K thinks that there's too much room for manipulation by the medium.That even the most honest of mediums might be inadvertently influencing the situation by applying physical weight to the table, causing it to tip or rock when it would otherwise have remained stationary.
                              "But I don't think that it negates any of my other experiences," she clarified. "That's what I hate about non-believers. They think that if one medium is fake, they're all fake. Or that if a spirit gets one thing wrong, it means that the whole idea of a spirit communication is fake, too."
                              We agreed. 
                              "William James said that all it takes is one white crow to prove that not all crows are black," I reminded her. "And I've met half a flock or more."
                               That question resolved, we finished our drinks and departed Dos Amigos for the five mile drive down the road to Temple Heights, passing the ocean on one side and a succession of house and cottages on the other, their facades painted seashell shades of blue, green and pink, their windows lit against the encroaching darkness, some of them sporting strings of colored lights that, on city houses or trailers would look inexcusably tacky, but somehow, here, seemed infused with an almost mystical gleam tha K and I both found comforting and sweet. And then, a short distance in front of us, we saw the outline of Temple Heights rising up out of the shadows at the very top of a hill that overlooks the rocks and crashing waves on the other side of the road.

Temple Heights in Northport, Maine

                  "We felt the usual butterflies as we drove up the steep incline and parked outside the main building which is known as the Nicowa Lodge. That's where the seances take place and where people sleep in simple, wooden floored rooms supplied with only the most necessary of accourtements: a bed, a dresser, a chair and a picture or two. The rooms at TH cost $25 for a single, $35 for a double or more, and one needn't even utilize the other services at TH in order to stay in them. Best kept secret in the area. But we can't imagine staying at TH without being seduced by the allure of interacting with the spirits. As K said, it would be like going to Greece and not drinking Ouzo or visiting the Parthenon. 
One of the feral bunnies who roam the grounds at TH

            So we parked and headed inside, remarking on the presence of the feral rabbits who populate the grounds outside Nicowa Lodge. There didn't seem to be as many as the last time we had been there, but there were still a few hopping around among the shadows. The tiger lilies were well past their prime, of course, and those that were still extant had closed their petals for the night. But having come so late in the summer through no fault of our own, we appreciated even these few leftover crumbs of high summer. Inside the lodge we were greeted with a warmth befitting long lost relatives, our welcome including a few minutes at "the table" where guests congregate before and after seances, classes, and private readings, sharing experiences and ideas pertaining to both shared and disparate belief systems. Tonight's gathering was the usual mixture of experienced seance goers, hardcore spiritualists, and a few first timers who were just there to "check it out." One woman, whose neat, crisp ensemble of pink plaid blouse, relaxed fit jeans and green Crocs stood out against the prevailing uniform of long skirt, scarf and stones on chains which doubled as dowsing pendants, voiced her hope that she would be able to connect with her deceased Jack Russell terrier, who had been run over by a car when he ran into the road after getting loose while she was at work a few weeks before.       
 "My kids left the gate open and that was it," she said, when pressed for details. "I got home right after it happened, just in time to see him lying there with his head crushed. I can't get the image out of my head. It just seems to haunt me. But I don't know. Do spirits of animals ever come through?"
The church at Temple Heights overlooks the ocean

                 A seasoned old spiritualist called Roberta with a Sylvia Brown rasp and eyes the color of green sea glass, reached across the table and took the woman's hand.
           "Of course they do, dear," she said. "They communicate just like the spirits of people do. I get messages from my Siamese cat, Lucy Bell all the time. You just have to ask them to come, and they will."
"But animals can't talk," the woman pointed out. "How can they give messages?"
The others at the table exchanged looks and smiled knowingly.
"It's different when they're in spirit," Roberta explained. "They don't use actual language. They communicate through pictures and images. The medium just translates  what he or she is given."
Harrison D. Barrett, founder of the Spiritualist Church in Maine 
      "This is exactly the kind of thing that you see parodied in movies," we whispered to K. "A bunch of grown men and women sitting around talking about communicating with their dead pets."
       "I'd rather hear from my dead pets than some of my dead relatives," K replied in similar sotto voce. "I'm going to concentrate on my cat Poppy and ask her to come through. I've always felt guilty that we had her put to sleep just because my father didn't want to pay for an operation. I mean, what's $10,000 when you love an animal?"
       We held our tongue, not sure that she would like our answer.
       Those of us at the table were still discussing pets and the afterlife when we were finally called into the seance room. We find the seance room at TH a thrilling space, no matter how many times we enter its dim-lit confines punctuated by an old piano in one corner, plastic sunflowers in vases, and a painting of Nicowa on the far wall. Nicowa is the prevailing spirit at TH, purportedly a Native American who died several hundred years ago and who has assumed guardianship of the lodge and the gatherings which take place there.
Sunflowers are the official symbol of Spiritualism

Nicowa, the guardian spirit of Temple Heights

 TH itself is over a hundred years old, having started out as a campground during the 1860s, a northeastern Mecca which drew spiritual seekers from all over the world. The imprint of their energy still seems to hover in the air inside the room, a palpable connection to the past and to the spiritualist belief that those who came before still interact with us in spirit form. As always when entering the seance room, my gaze was drawn to the sunflowers, the official symbol of spiritualism because as any old spiritualist will tell you, "they're the flowers that turn their heads to follow the sun." To some spiritualists, "sun" is a euphemism for "God." For others...for's more a more oblique reference. But there's power in it. And we felt that power as we took our seat in the large circle of chairs arranged in the center of the room. Our heart was beating faster than before. It was the moment we had been waiting for all summer. We were back on the precipice of eternity.

                                                                To Be Continued....

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