Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Alchemy of Horror

Magic Realism Art of Rusty McDonald
Halloween, as Sup author Helen Lowe explains in her post this month, comes from Samhain, the Celtic day of the dead, where the spirits of those passed are placated with offerings of food. It makes me wonder what else we are placating when we welcome ghosts, ghouls and demons into our lives. I mean, we do welcome them, don't we?

I know I do.

Three of my favourite series off the top of my head are iZombie, Lucifer and The Vampire Diaries.

Three books that I've read or reread recently are The Southern Vampire MysteriesAnna Dressed in Blood and the Sandman Slim.

All deal with supernatural and horror themes.

I certainly don't need the excuse of Halloween to immerse in these genres. Heck, I write the stuff myself - Books that go bump in the night.

The question is, why?

Why would anyone want to have Horror as a pastime, a career, as entertainment?

You can google it and find explanations like dealing with fear, power and control, an adrenaline rush in a 'safe' environment, living on the edge in the comfort of your own home... Sup author Merrie Destefano has written on this topic and covers it well.

But I can't help but wonder, is there more to it?

Musing on it, up popped a single word: alchemy.

Yes, I mean the exploration of consciousness handed down to us from medieval times.

This alchemy is "...a living form of sacred psychology... the projection of a cosmic and spiritual drama in laboratory terms, an art, both experiential and experimental. It is a worldview which unifies spirit and matter..." - Iona Miller, 1986

Simply put, alchemy reflects the process of personal transformation in the metaphor of turning lead into gold.

So, what does this alchemy have to do with books that go bump in the night?

Everything.

In the alchemical process, there is always a container, a vessel of some kind, real or imagined, that that provides the space for transformation to occur. When reading horror, the story becomes a container for the prima materia, the raw psychic urge for growth and transformation that lies within us.

Think of it like this: Every time we are moved to the heightened emotions and extreme fear of a scary story or film, we switch on a powerful psychological process that shakes us out of complacency. Within the alchemical container, we may learn to remake ourselves, transcending judgments, social conditioning, unconscious patterns and beliefs.

And then, abracadabra, we create a chance to live more authentically, in full awareness of the present moment.

It's a theory in progress, but the next time you pick up your fav fiction or switch on that scary show, you may notice the mystical fumes bubbling up from the cauldron, engaging you on the next step of your own, inner transformation journey.

And with that, happy Halloween!

xxKim

* * *

Kim Falconer's latest novel, an urban fantasy, is out now - The Blood in the Beginning - and Ava Sykes Novel. You can find Kim on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Kim also runs GoodVibeAstrology.com where she teaches the law of attraction and astrology. 

Kim posts here at the Supernatural Underground on the 16th of every month, hosts Save the Day Writer's Community on FB and posts a daily astrology weather report on Facebook. 


Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Wait...What...I missed an entire month?

2018 Year of the New: Get it together, Arista!

So apparently after my experiment with waking up early to find time to write (which did NOT work for me), it messed up my schedule so much that I missed an entire month. Like, where did September go?

Did I do stuff? I don't know.

Did I forget stuff? I don't know.

So obviously I need to get it together. I've got a few friends who keep it together with bullet journals
or gratitude books or fancy ways of keeping to-do lists and coloring and writing out what happened that week. They write down their shopping lists, schedules, and keep track of goals in it. And they are all colorful and on pretty pages in fancy journals with fancy tape.

I've never been a journal person. Even when I was little and everyone would get me journals, I would just use those to write stories in. I've never really chronicled my life in any way. Perhaps it is because I know that my external life is really boring, while my internal one is cray-cray.

But I've been reading a few articles in conjunction with the Year of the New and several mentioned writing out small goals. I wrote out my goals in May and that seemed to work. I hit every one of those, so perhaps, a mixture of smaller goals with some sort of journal to help chronicle exactly what I am doing with my time. I know that it won't slow down time, but it will at least help me see what I've been doing (if not writing). Small goals most often take the form of pages editing or words written toward a set number.

So as you can see to the left, I've gotten myself a SIMPLE calendar to put my stuff on and have marked out my need for this month: A final polish on a manuscript before it goes on submission. So a 300 page novel, with a need for about 20 pages a day to make sure that I can have it in my the middle of the month.

And I swear I am not hyperventilating at the sheer number of things on my calendar on the third day of the month (breathes into bag).

The other part of this goal-tracking thing seems to be rewarding yourself for a job well done. I wrote in August about feeding your muse, so it makes sense that once my monthly goals have been written down and achieved that I should get some sort of carrot at the end of the rope, right? I mean, no one edits because they like it, right?


And Netflix, as always has delivered, in the handsome and English embodiment of
Charlie Cox. Daredevil Season 3 comes out on October 19th. I have a huge spot in my heart for this city-driven and super violent show and this adorable actor, so it seems like it is the PERFECT reward for completing my editing goals for the month.

So lets get this month done people!!


Carry Onward, dear readers.

Amanda Arista
Author, Diaries of an Urban Panther series
www.amandaarista.com



Monday, October 1, 2018

Halloween Is Coming!


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Halloween "is" Coming!
It may only be 1 October today, with Halloween way-aways at the end of the monthbut having turned the seasonal corner into October and with the equinox already two weeks past, my mind is already turning toward jack o' lanterns and trick-or -treating. All the elements that make for a great Halloween!

As some or all of you may know, I live in the Southern Hemisphere, which means that Halloween here falls in spring. The festival does get celebrated, but I can't help feeling that Halloween goes so much better with its autumnal origins: there's something about ghost tales and the supernatural that fits perfectly with the nights drawing in, firesides and candlelight, and shadows dancing on the walls.

Exactly the conditions that are optimal for tall tales, spooky yarns, and "books that go bump in the night" as wellthe latter being something of our raison d'etre, here on the Supernatural Underground. In fact, if you cast your eyes right to the sidebar, you'll find some great paranormal stories and undead tales right there!

The origins of Halloween go back a long way, at least as far as the Celtic era when the festival of Samhain marked the end of the harvest season and the passage of the year out of summer and into the cold and dark of winter. As such, Samhain was also a “day of the dead,” when the spirits of those who had passed must be placated with offerings of food.

Art: PJ Fitzpatrick
Once Christianity became dominant, the 31 October/1 November date for the Celtic festival of Samhain was transformed into the religious festival of All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Day, followed immediately by All Souls. The Celtic traditions persisted, however, which is why Halloween is still a festival for "ghosties and ghoulies, long-leggetie beasties, And things that go bump in the night."

As a kid, one of my favorite Halloween stories was that of Tam Lin, a young mortal man stolen away by the fey, whose soul was to be lost to Hell on Halloween unless his lover, Janet, can win him back. I particularly liked the retelling in Rosemary Sutcliff’s children's book, The Armourer’s House, as recounted in the Chapter titled “A Tale for Hallowe’en."


Subsequently I have read several other Tam Lin retellings, including Pamela Dean's Tam Lin and Patricia McKillip's Solstice Wood (which won the 2007 Mythopoeic Fantasy Award for Adult Literature.)

Although not specifically set at Halloween, Raymond E Feist's Faerie Tale delves into the crossover between the mortal and supernatural worlds, while Roger Zelazny's A Night in the Lonesome October specifically focuses on Halloween (with a cast of fictional protagonists and antagonists, such as Sherlock Holmes, Jack the Ripper, and Victor Frankenstein thrown in.)


Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book also has Halloween overtones (aside from being set in a graveyard) when the living and the dead come together to dance 'the macabray' (the danse macabre.) 

And although I can't help but feel that Halloween itself best suits the autumn of its Northern Hemisphere origins, another great supernatural read that brings me back, not only to the Southern Hemisphere but to my home city of Christchurch, is the great Margaret Mahy's The Changeover.

These are just a few, Halloween-suitable reads that I've enjoyed over the ears. But with the eve of Jack O' Lanterns and ghosties coming up fast I'd love a few more recommendations for fireside tales.

So if you have a favorite, do tell me in the comments!




Helen Lowe is a novelist, poet, and blogger whose first novel, Thornspell (Knopf), was published to critical praise in 2008. Her second, The Heir of Night (The Wall Of Night Series, Book One) won the Gemmell Morningstar Award 2012. The sequel, The Gathering Of The Lost, was shortlisted for the Gemmell Legend Award in 2013. Daughter Of Blood, (The Wall Of Night, Book Three) is Helen's most recent book and she is currently working on the fourth and final novel in The Wall Of Night series. Helen posts regularly on her “…on Anything, Really” blog and is also on Twitter: @helenl0we