Darkness of Light Tarot

I really enjoy tarot. Every deck has the same cards, the same basic set of symbols, but each artist brings something new to it. I can spend hours looking through different decks, and every once in a while I spend a stupid amount of money on one that really speaks to me. The Darkness of Light deck does just that.

darkness tarot

Some decks like to pack a lot of info onto each card–astrology signs, correspondences, all sorts of symbolic colors–but I like the more minimal, emotional approach this deck takes. Nothing gets in the way of the beautiful art and the emotions it evokes, and I love that it doesn’t shy away from the dark and the dreary.

Tarot is used to tell fortunes, after all, and some decks focus on bright and happy art as if that will ensure a good fortune. I actually own a lighter, happier deck or two and this one balances things out by looking into the shadows.

darkness tarot 2

The cards are a good weight with a nice feel so I’ll enjoy using them, but I’m half tempted to hang some as art.

 

Bone Records

Someday, when I have more money to spend, I would love to collect Roentgenizden, or bone records.

For quite a while after World War II, the Soviet Union had a black market record trade. A whole host of songs and musicians, even homegrown Soviet songs and musicians, were banned for various reasons, so people had to pass the music among themselves. Record players could be put together at home, but vinyl for pressing records was much harder to come by, so creative music lovers used x-ray plates instead. They called them bone records, or ribs, or Roentgenizden (after Wilhelm Roentgen, who discovered x-rays), and they’re beautiful. I love the haunting images x-rays produce, and I love the history and the dedication to music behind bone records.

Unfortunately, after all this time they’re also a bit rare and expensive. You can find them on eBay but they’ll cost you quite a bit. I doubt they’ll get any cheaper, since there’s now a book (available used) on bone records and a documentary going around the international film festivals as we speak.

 

I just got the book in the mail but I haven’t sat down to read it yet. It’s part coffee table book and part history of bone records. I’m excited to get into it.

How about all of you? Is there something you’d love to collect that you just can’t afford? Would you buy a bone record if you could? I have an x-ray of my kid’s broken arm but I think she’d be mad if I turned it into art. It’s not her fondest memory.

Haunted Hospital

Once upon a time I worked at a mental hospital. It’s pretty much all modern and properly hospital-like now, but when I was there it was in the middle of transforming. There were several buildings arranged around a long, straight driveway. The buildings on the left of the driveway were big and modern and reasonably nice. The buildings on the right looked like an old-timey asylum stereotype. I mostly worked in one of the righthand buildings. The haunted one.

hospital hyde
This one.

I worked days so I never saw anything spooky, but friends on the night shift saw a few things. Mostly in the basement, where the big, empty cafeteria and weird storage cages were. Maybe it was ghosts, maybe it was fatigue and imagination, but if ghosts are real I’m sure that building hosted a few. My favorite story, though, is from after they tore it down. I was working in one of the new, nice buildings and a friend called me over. “Watch this,” she said, and dialed the phone. She called the old building, the one that didn’t exist anymore, and the phone just rang and rang. I guess the ghosts were too busy to answer their ghost phone.

The haunted building may be gone, but there’s still a real “castle” there, way up on the hill behind the main buildings. It’s an outdoor theater built during the Great Depression by one of those New Deal programs, and the hospital used to do a spook alley up there every Halloween. Apparently, it was the only mental hospital spook alley in the country, but I never got to be part of it. They quit doing it just a year or two before I got there. It started in the early 1970s and was incredibly popular, but also became controversial as people worried it might stigmatize mental illness and the hospital’s clients. I see the point, but a lot of the clients I met talked about it fondly and wished they could bring it back.

Since it’s a real hospital that still has residents, Utah State Hospital isn’t listed much on haunting sites. It has a small museum and the castle holds events, but they don’t want people showing up and exploring on their own. It’s a beautiful little place with a fascinating history that most people will never get to explore firsthand.


In all seriousness, it was a pretty cool place to work. It was (and still is) for people who need longer term psychiatric care, so you’d work with the same clients for weeks or months (and years, in some cases) and really get to know some cool people you might not normally meet. I don’t want to compromise anyone’s privacy so I’ll only mention one guy–Pete died quite a while back and I know he wouldn’t mind a shout out. He was pretty well known around Salt Lake City for walking around in a Lucifer costume, with his hair slicked up into devil’s horns. I never saw the outfit, but he had the horns when I knew him–they’d get taller or shorter according to how well he was feeling. I kind of hope he haunts something–he’d be a great ghost to meet. He got a really nice obituary when he died: you can read it here.

 

 

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

Summer always puts me in a Southern Gothic mood. Southern Gothic isn’t exactly goth, but the American deep south is full of beautiful cemetaries, haunted plantation houses, and its own special brand of spooky horror. In all this heat, it’s just hard to concentrate on windswept moors and drafty castles. For summer, give me overgrown cemeteries, farmhouses full of tragic ghosts, and Southern belles wilting in the sultry August evening.

I finished Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil a few weeks ago. (There’s also a movie version I saw long ago in my Kevin Spacey phase.) It’s sort of a “Southern gothic meets true crime” thing and it’s not written by a southerner so it didn’t quite work for me. But it did make me really want to see Savannah, Georgia. Next time I have money I just might take a long weekend, tour Mercer House, stroll through Bonaventure Cemetery, and read my next gothic novel under a tree in one of Savannah’s beautiful squares.

 

Day 29: My Favorite Brands

There’s what I love to look at and what actually works with my life and budget. My favorite realistic brand these days is City Chic. Their stuff is decently made, fits me well and is basic without being totally boring.

City Chic

My favorite brand/designer to look at is Alexander McQueen, may his soul rest in peace. I love his dark, fantastical style. I don’t usually go in for haute couture but McQueen proves for me that fashion really can be art.

Alexander McQueen

Plan Your Epitaph Day

headstone
publicdomainpictures.net

There are actually two international Plan Your Epitaph days, so if this one has caught you unprepared you’ll have another chance on November 2. It’s never too early to plan for your inevitable demise.

Goths have a reputation for being “obsessed with death” but in my experience we’re really not. It’s more that non-goths are so obsessed with avoiding death that they get weird the moment you bring it up. Even goths can be more interested in abstract death and dying than our own plans for the future, but it pays to be prepared.

If I didn’t believe that before, it became all too clear a few Aprils ago when a good friend died in surgery. She, like so many people, didn’t have much of a plan and would not have approved of all the decisions made in her name. Since then, every April my thoughts turn both to her and to my own future affairs.

To that end, Mr. Robot and I have bought life insurance and written wills. We’ve discussed organ donation (hell yes) and what point we want each other to stop live-saving measures. And we’ve made basic plans for our funerals and remains. I plan to be cremated and, if I die too long before Mr. Robot, to have my ashes put in a tasteful urn (red and black preferred) and prominently placed in the living room. Mr. Robot is hoping for a green burial–one where they plant a tree over your grave–and I’d like my ashes spread and buried with him. Our kids like the idea that we’d be “in the tree,” continuing the cycling and recycling of life.

This plan doesn’t really need an epitaph, but I wouldn’t mind a tasteful plaque near our tree. I’d quite like this quote from the Mahabharata:

What is the greatest wonder? Death strikes every day, yet we live as if we were immortal.

May you live long, die well, and leave timeless last words. In the meantime, perhaps these epitaphs will entertain and inspire you.

Inspiration: Art Deco

For many of us goth lasts a lifetime, but there aren’t a whole lot of sites and shops for the not-so-gracefully aging (fat, not an hourglass) goth. It’s not just the size issue, though. It’s also that as I get older I have less time and energy for extreme or fussy fashion and more money for good fabrics and interesting home decor, and dedicated goth shops are often short on those. I still have fun looking at all the youth-driven stuff, especially cybergoth and gothic lolita and dark mori, but when I’m looking to buy I often look elsewhere for inspiration.

Lately I’ve been all about Art Deco. In some ways it’s the opposite of the dark medeival castles and ornate Victorian fashion and decor goth usually draws inspiration from, but it’s not such a crazy connection. The dark woods, rich greens and reds, and Egyptian accents of Art Deco decor goth up pretty easily. And in the U.S., the Art Deco period (mostly the 1920s) is also the era of Old Hollywood and famous Prohibition gangsters so it has a certain decadent, dangerous aura I’ve always liked.

The wide open spaces and geometric styling aren’t so common in modern goth decor, and I don’t see a lot of goths running around in flapper dresses and pearls, but there’s a lot to like in Art Deco. Plus, there are a lot of haunted and abandoned Art Deco era buildings these days, so goth points there.  It’s always been a popular and “grown up” style, so it’s not hard to find good ideas and quality products inspired by this era.

How about you? Does Art Deco do it for you or leave you cold? What are your unusual inspirations?