demand blood sacrifice

October 20, 2017

“Oh honey, that’s just how old houses are. They settle. They sometimes creak or groan, or quietly weep, or demand blood sacrifice in voices that sounds like the fluttering wings of a thousand moths. It’s just the house settling. For whatever it can get. Go back to sleep…”

Monique M

Ghosts

October 19, 2017

The ghost of the last person buried keeps watch over the churchyard until another is buried, to whom he delivers his charge.

Encyclopaedia of Superstitions

hag of the mist

October 18, 2017

The “hag of the mist,” as she is called, is a wamer, who, by her shrieks, foretells death to those who see or hear her.

Encyclopaedia of Superstitions

Ghost trains

October 18, 2017

spirit lights

It was difficult to settle down in England. My mother missed the warmth of the Irish people, the rough country scenes, and the soft Irish rain. She became ill, and one day just before my seventh birthday, Sarah (the young woman’s governess) took us all into the room to say goodbye. Although it was a winter evening, the room was strangely light. A soft radiance flooded my mother’s face and enveloped the tiny face , which was all we could see, of the baby lying in the crook of her arm. We (the six children) waited in silence beside Sarah. My mother beckoned, and Sarah went forward and lifted the baby from her arms. She murmured, ‘Goodbye,’ then held out her hands to my father, who clasped them in his own until my mother’s smile faded and she was at rest. At that moment, fifty or more fairy people, holding a shimmering blue cover, came instantly forward and drew the wonderful gauze over the bed and the still figure. The light faded and the room felt cold. Then from the corner came the clear notes of my mother’s harp.

Marjorie T. Johnson
Seeing Fairies: From the lost archives of the Fairy Investigation Society, authentic reports of Fairies in modern times

Hearing ghost stories in a heatwave especially lends the experience a dreamy indistinctness, a sensation of journeying back in thought, images muted with heat and distance, with lobed sun flecks and patterns of greenery. Until, as (Algernon) Blackwood puts it, “a sudden darkness comes, taking the summer brilliance out of everything”.

Antonia Quirke
Algernon Blackwood’s Ghost Stories and why horror is better in the heat
(New Statesman)

Bryan Silva

It’s that time of year again. The shadows grow longer, the days colder. We light fires and candles, close our doors against the night and tell tales to terrify ourselves. Why when the darkness presses against the windows and the winds howl do we concentrate on our fears? The terror of the unknown, the closeness of death and decay?

For the rest of the year we keep these thoughts at bay. It is only when we feel most vulnerable to the in-definable, to the spirits that we don’t really believe in, to the afterlife we hope exists, but of which we can find no evidence, that we indulge in an orgy of spine chilling stories.

Misha Herwin
Ghost Stories

Tintern Abbey

Weird writers were explicit about their anti-Gothic sensibility: Blackwood’s camper in ‘The Willows’ experiences ‘no ordinary ghostly fear’; Lovecraft stresses that the ‘true weird tale’ is characterised by ‘unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces’ rather than by ‘bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule’. The Weird entities have waited in their catacombs, sunken cities and outer circles of space since aeons before humanity. If they remain it is from a pre-ancestral time. In its very unprecedentedness, paradoxically, Cthulhu is less a ghost than the arche-fossil-as-predator. The Weird is if anything ab-, not un-, canny.

China Miéville
M.R. James and the Quantum Vampire

diverse body of occult tales

September 30, 2017

Kees Van Der Knaap - The jugler

He (Algernon Blackwood) understood the power of the intangible, and developed a style of writing that relied on suggestion and atmosphere. Regarding all experience as – potentially – spiritual, he believed that an understanding of nature would lead to faith and a knowledge of how to live. In the years leading up to the first world war, he produced an extra-ordinary and diverse body of occult tales: innocent campers who pitch their tent in a place where another dimension intersects with our own (“The Wendigo”); the psychological transformation of a fey aristocrat (“The Regeneration of Lord Ernie”); a house haunted by the echo of religious intolerance (“The Damned”); a man seduced by the forest (“The Man Whom the Trees Loved”).

Kate Mosse
Horror in the shadows

Sound bites from the dark

August 30, 2017

Tanith Lee’s garden – a statue waiting

Tanith Lee’s Garden – face in the trees

Tanith Lee’s Garden – a pathway to infinity

Tanith Lee's house - stained glass

Tanith Lee’s house – stained glass

30th August

Donald Trump is frequently vilified by the mass media. Social media, too, is not exempt from this trend: electronic graffiti condemns the man’s actions or lack of same on a daily basis. And yet the question needs to be asked, is the real problem the American President or America itself?

Donald Trump did not seize power. He was elected by a majority – democratically. Faced with a choice between a woman and a billionaire television personality, the US electorate chose the television personality – And, yes, it is inspirational to see what democratic nations can do when they think the chips are down.

The American people awarded the imperial purple to a man who has succeeded in lowering the issues of the day to the level of triviality. To sound bites. A promise of government by twitter feed. American politics has become, under Trump’s presidency, as thrilling, and almost as much fun, as an appendectomy performed without benefit of anaesthetic.

And with regard to the media they seem distracted by each fresh utterance this president makes. Which, of course, is exactly what he wants. Major issues degenerate into a name-calling contest, while a procession of minor celebrities and wannabes appear, and as rapidly disappear, as presidential aides and advisors. Movement signifies progress – even when that movement is perfectly static or backwards! America run as a corporation by a businessman used to having his own way.

Should we be surprised? No we should not. Donald Trump exists in a world that demands twenty-four-hour rolling self-obsession. And he is there to fill this almost ecological niche in the American psyche. He is president because of hostility towards those pesky interfering liberal do-gooders who force “political correctness” on everybody; he will clean house, rid the country of all those undesirables who have slipped surreptitiously across America’s borders; he will end Muslim migration! He will make America great again!

It’s almost as if a majority of the American electorate woke up one morning with a cloying, skin-tight rage, a need to lash out at something, anything, and change the face of their society. Sick to death of fatuous, self-absorbed politicians who all seemed mired in minutia and an age old mantra of consumer democracy so inescapable, yet so reliant on carefully-marketed kitsch, that they voted for Trump.

And they got him.

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Really good weather at the end of last week. Mowed both lawns. Caught the sun. Working in the garden my thoughts drifted to the late Tanith Lee’s incredible house and garden in Hastings where she lived with her partner John Kaiine.

Tanith’s home was so like a wild fantasy, a journey beyond commonplace reality. There, it was easy to imagine a place “more poignant than the plumage of the spring.” There, indeed, could be heard “music played by the reflection of a swan as it passes over the strings of a moonlit lake.” Dusk in that garden and the leaves on the trees seem to form strange shapes and faces. A place of irregular stones and inconsistencies…