Saturday, July 26, 2008

Death No Longer Entrances Me

I did not have time to cruise the whole INATS-West show three weeks ago, but I did walk through the big Llewellyn booth, since it was close by my friends' booth.

I scooped up some of the free stuff, including a flier for "a Gothic Book of the Dead."

It's one of life's little ironies that I missed the whole Goth movement by just a few years. I would have been perfect for it.

I had the look: Tall, slim, dark hair, green eyes, and pale skin -- if I stayed out of the Colorado sun, which I did not do. (Being pale in Portland, Oregon, was pretty easy, however.)

I tended to wear vests and silk scarves, and at age 17 had a seamstress friend sew me a cape -- grey with black lining, which fell somewhere between Elvish and Army of Northern Virginia.

In my late teens and early twenties, I liked to take long walks at night, even through cemeteries. (Living near Portland's Mount Scott cemetery complex was a bonus during my junior year at Reed.) I wrote poetry and thought that the Arnold Bocklin type font was the coolest. You get the picture.

Moving (unknown to me) towards Paganism, which I formally adopted the summer that I turned 21, I might have been attracted to suggestions on how to benefit from a book that discussed, "Meditating on gravestone sculptures, creating a necromantic medicine bag, keeping a personal book of the dead, and other exercises will help you explore the vital, transformative forces of death."

Now, though, I am more likely to say, "You go right ahead -- I'll pass."

This is not to say that the Dead cannot be influential sometimes. But I don't get all gushy about walking in cemeteries anymore. Too many people close to me have died in the last five years, and I have developed a nice sideline in estate and family trust management, not that I ever wanted to do it. You want a "personal book of the dead"? How about the file boxes full of documents in the garage, the resting places of the ka-soul?

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Blogger Yvonne said...

I think all teenagers hang out in cemeteries contemplating the mystery of death. Well, I did anyway, and I didn't have particularly gothic tendencies. Oh alright well I spiked my hair up and did quasi-Egyptian things with eyeliner à la Siouxsie Sioux. But yeah, too many brushes with the Grim Reaper recently.

11:12 AM  
Blogger Jason Pitzl-Waters said...

"a Gothic Book of the Dead"

No offense to Michelle Belanger, who seems a decent and intelligent person, but Llewellyn's recent gothy cash-in just mortifies me the more I experience it.

This is coming from someone who has been "in the scene" as it were.

Also, I would like to think that goth, at least from my personal viewpoint, was always more than glorifying death. It was, initially, about rejecting the often stridently secular and overtly political punk scene on one hand, and the brightly-hued foppish neon of the new romantics (though there was crossovers in both cases). Goth music and culture, was (and is) a part of a process of Western reenchantment, which is why so many Pagans and occultists found it comfortable.

So much of the "spiritual goth" literature flooding the occult shelves seems to utterly miss the point. A ritual magic with bat-wings sort of vibe.

11:19 AM  
Blogger gl. said...

i am SO sorry i missed this. i used to have a black velvet cloak and walk at night, too, but i never really fit in with the goths. i was too perky. :)

12:55 AM  
Blogger April said...

Heh, as a current Reedie, my occasional local graveyard trips are usually to Lone Fir. Really what I like to check out are the tombstones of loggers that look like tree stumps and the tours put on by the Friends of Lone Fir at Halloween, complete with volunteers in old-timey clothes narrating some of the more exciting stories associated with the place from Portland's pioneer days. One guy even does it in rhyme.

But about Llewellyn - UGH. I am not a goth, but if I were, I'd probably be pretty upset about how tacky these "gothy cash-in" (thanks, Jason) covers tend to be.

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Laura Jean Karr said...

One movement passes into another. I am unsure though what the separation point is from what was Goth to what is now this whole Emo sub-group. Maybe, I'm just getting old.

4:09 PM  

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