Monday, August 31, 2009

The Death of a Child

The Refusal to Mourn the Death, by Fire, of a Child in London

Never until the mankind making
Bird beast and flower
Fathering and all humbling darkness
Tells with silence the last light breaking
And the still hour
Is come of the sea tumbling in harness

And I must enter again the round
Zion of the water bead
And the synagogue of the ear of corn
Shall I let pray the shadow of a sound
Or sow my salt seed
In the least valley of sackcloth to mourn

The majesty and burning of the child's death.
I shall not murder
The mankind of her going with a grave truth
Nor blaspheme down the stations of the breath
With any further
Elegy of innocence and youth.

Deep with the first dead lies London's daughter,
Robed in the long friends,
The grains beyond age, the dark veins of her mother,
Secret by the unmourning water
Of the riding Thames.
After the first death, there is no other.

~Dylan Thomas, 1945

The Rollright Stones

The Rollright Stones are a complex of megalithic oolitic limestone monuments near the villages of Long Compton, Great Rollright and Little Rollright in England, lying across the present county border between the counties of Oxfordshire and Warwickshire (grid reference SP2930). The complex consists of three separate sites: The King's Men, The King's Stone and The Whispering Knights. According to local folklore the stones are the petrified remains of a king and his knights, however, each set of stones has been found to date from a different period. the name is thought to derive from “Hrolla-landriht” meaning the land of Hrolla.

The King's Men dates to around 2500-2000 BC and consists of 77 closely-spaced stones forming a stone circle 33 metres in diameter. The stones are set on top of a circular bank with an entrance to the southeast marked by two portal stones. There were originally as many as 105 stones but many have been removed. Approximately a third of the stones were put back in place when the momument was restored in 1882

The King Stone is a single, weathered monolith, 2.4 metres high by 1.5 metres wide, standing 76 metres east of the King's Men. The stone was erected between 1800-1500 BC and is believed to have been a marker stone for an early Bronze Age cemetery.

The Whispering Knights date to around 4000 - 3500 BC and are the remains of the burial chamber of an early or middle Neolithic portal dolmen lying 400 metres east of the King's Men. Four standing stones survive, forming a chamber about 2 square metres in area around a fifth recumbent stone, probably the collapsed roof capstone. In 1764, William Stukeley visited the site and saw the remains of a round barrow, now ploughed or eroded away.

Numerous folktales are associated with the stones, including the tale that a king was riding across the county with his army when he was accosted by a local witch called Mother Shipton. who said to him:
"Seven long strides thou shalt take, And if Long Compton thou canst see, King of England thou shalt be!"
His troops gathered in a circle to discuss the challenge and his knights muttered amongst themselves– but the king boldy took seven steps forward. Rising ground blocked his view of Long Compton in the valley and the witch cackled:
"As Long Compton thou canst not see, King of England thou shalt not be! Rise up stick and stand still stone, For King of England thou shalt be none; Thou and thy men hoar stones shall be, And I myself an elder tree!"
The king became the solitary King Stone, while nearby his soldiers formed a cromlech, or circle, called the King's Men. As the witch prepared to turn herself into an elder tree, she backtracked into four of the king's knights, who had lagged behind and were whispering plots against the king. She turned them to stone as well, and today they are called the Whispering Knights.
Legend holds that at midnight, the stones come alive and return the king and his men back to flesh and bone that they can dance. Anyone who gazes upon their midnight glee either turns to stone or dies.
According to 18th century lore, village maids would sneak out to the Whispering Knights on Midsummer's Eve and listen carefully, hoping to be whispered their future and fate.
It is said that you cannot accurately count the stones and a different tally will result each time an attempt is made.
The Kingstone was fenced off between the two World wars as conscripted troops would chip a slice of stone away to carry with them. Legend has it that this gives protection in battle.
It is considered unlucky to touch the King's men.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Head Rest

Seriously, I have to have this. Who's buying it for me?

Beth Robinson's Strange Dolls

You know you want one...or two. Hell, make it three! 
Click HERE to see more.

Victorian Era Postmortem Photos

"The origins of memento mori photographs can be traced back nearly to the beginning of photography itself. During the nineteenth century, post-mortem portraits were used to acknowledge and mourn the death of a loved one, especially a baby or child. All social classes engaged in the practice, which became more widespread after the introduction of the daguerrotype in 1839. The subjects of the photos were generally arranged to appear as if peacefully asleep, all their earthly suffering ended. Displayed prominently in the household alongside other family photographs, the portraits helped heal grieving hearts by preserving some trace of the deceased.

And they still do."

For a wonderful site on the subject go HERE

Friday, August 28, 2009


Somewhere between the 11th and 13th centuries,
Gargoyles reigned atop the most spiritual
dwellings. Originally designed as ornamental
water spouts,the catholic religion decided it was not
a bad idea to place them on their own cathedrals,
as this might cushion the blow for many recent converts,
who up until now had based their religious
beliefs on a wide variety of natural and unnatural beings.

A more widely accepted belief is that the Gargoyle
serves as a protector and will ward off any evil spirits.


by Emma Donoghue

"Slammerkin, noun, eighteenth century of unknown origin. 1. A loose gown. 2. A loose woman."

This is a very well written and thoroughly enjoyable book, one that I simply could not put down when I read it the first time!

Born to rough cloth in working-class London in 1748, Mary Saunders hungers for linen and lace. Her lust for a shiny red ribbon leads her to a life of prostitution at a young age, where she encounters a freedom unknown to virtuous young women. But a dangerous misstep sends her fleeing to Monmouth and the refuge of the middle-class household of Mrs. Jones, to become the seamstress her mother always expected her to be and to live the ordinary life of an ordinary girl. Although Mary becomes a close confidante of Mrs. Jones, her desire for a better life leads her back to prostitution. She remains true only to the three rules she learned on the streets of London: Never give up your liberty; Clothes make the woman; Clothes are the greatest lie ever told. In the end, it is clothes, their splendor and their deception, that lead Mary to disaster.

The Atrocity Exhibition

Our friends Morose and Macabre are hosting this wondrous event. Please see their website HERE for details.

WHEN: On this evening of Saturday, September 26, 2009....
The Atrocity Exhibition, an event to define post-apocalyptic 1930,
in the only way we know how.....brutally.
Morose & Macabre

WHERE: The Rex Theater
established 1905
1602 East Carson Street Pittsburgh, PA

The Atrocity Exhibition is a 21+ event for the open minded.
$12.00 @ the door $10 knew what you were in for.
We will also be featuring vendors and artists of a darker nature.
We will still be taking vendor/artist submissions through August 31, 2009 at which time
we will post confirmed contributors.
Hurry, spaces are filling fast.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Samlesbury Witches

The Samlesbury witches were three women from the Lancashire village of Samlesbury—Jane Southworth, Jennet Bierley, and Ellen Bierley—accused by a 14-year-old girl, Grace Sowerbutts, of practicing witchcraft. Their trial at Lancaster Assizes in England on 19 August 1612 was one in a series of witch trials held over two days, among the most famous in English history.

They were unusual for England at that time in two respects: Thomas Potts, the clerk to the court, published the proceedings in his The Wonderfull Discoverie of Witches in the Countie of Lancaster; the number of the accused found guilty and hanged was unusually high, ten at Lancaster and another at York. However, all three Samlesbury witches were acquitted.

The charges against the women included child murder and cannibalism. In contrast, the others tried at the same assizes, who included the Pendle witches, were accused of maleficium—causing harm by witchcraft. The case against the three women collapsed "spectacularly" when Grace Sowerbutts was exposed by the trial judge to be "the perjuring tool of a Catholic priest".

Many historians, notably Hugh Trevor-Roper, have suggested that the witch trials of the 16th and 17th century were a consequence of the religious struggles of the period, with both Catholic and Protestant Churches determined to stamp out what they regarded as heresy. The trial of the Samlesbury witches is perhaps one clear example of that trend; it has been described as "largely a piece of anti-Catholic propaganda",and even as a show-trial, to demonstrate that Lancashire, considered at that time to be a wild and lawless region, was being purged not only of witches but also of "popish plotters" (i.e. Catholics).

Tea Time

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Art of Conjure

The Congregation Gallery presents
Through October 4
Pasadena Playhouse, Georgia McClay Friendship Center

To provide a further exploration of the culture of Brazil featured in our production of The Night is a Child, Pasadena Playhouse has partnered with The Congregation Gallery and will be featuring an art exhibit centered on the theme of voodoo in our gallery.

Voodoo, Hoodoo and Santeria Artists:
Johny Chow, Alina Stempa, Jeremy Cross, Jim Parchen, Christopher Ulrich, Cate Rangel, Shawn Du Val ­Humiston, David Cook, Sarah Hestal, Tiffany Garcia, Elizabeth Caffey, George De La Santos, Erick De La Vega, Skullmaster, Tatomir, Dean Karr, Dave Rose, Romesh McCullough, Tom Zimmerman, Skip Crank.

Don't Miss it!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Pauper's Drive

The Pauper's Drive
There's a grim one-horse hearse in a jolly round trot --
To the church yard a pauper is going, I wot;
The road it is rough, and the hearse has no springs;
And, hark to the dirge which the mad driver sings;
Rattle his bones over the stones! He's only a pauper, whom nobody owns!

O, where are the mourners? Alas! there are none,
He has left not a gap in the world, now he's gone, --
Not a tear in the eye of child, woman, or man;
To the grave with his carcass as fast as you can:
Rattle his bones over the stones! He's only a pauper, whom nobody owns!

What a jolting and creaking and splashing and din!
The whip how it cracks! and the wheels how they spin!
How the dirt, right and left, o'er the hedges is hurled!
The pauper at length makes a noise in the world!
Rattle his bones over the stones! He's only a pauper, whom nobody owns!

Poor pauper defunct! he has made some approach
To gentility, now that he's stretched in a coach!
He's taking a drive in his carriage at last!
But it will not be long, if he goes on so fast:
Rattle his bones over the stones! He's only a pauper, whom nobody owns!

You bumpkins! who stare at your brother con veyed --
Behold what respect to a cloddy is paid!
And be joyful to think, when by death you're laid low,
You've a chance to the grave like a gemman to go!
Rattle his bones over the stones! He's only a pauper, whom nobody owns!

But a truce to this strain; for my soul it is sad,
To think that a heart in humanity clad
Should make, like the brute, such a desolate end,
And depart from the light without leaving a friend.
Rattle his bones over the stones! He's only a pauper, whom nobody owns!

~Thomas Noel

Sunday, August 23, 2009

The Neverwas Haul

Yesterday while driving down the street in Berkeley I saw this Steampunk Victorian house sticking up above a fence. The name on the front of it said Neverwas Haul.

Completely fascinated I went into the Shipyard Labs lot and found that this beauty was on wheels, 3-stories tall, and run by steam! Think H.G. Wells, Jules Verne, etc.

The nice folks were preparing the Neverwas Haul for going to the Burning Man Festival.
They hosted a High Tea in the Neverwas last month, followed by a fancy dinner with Victorian-style entertainment. It's rent-able for events and parties. My gears are so turning.
The entire shipyard is fabulous. Here's their website- it's an amazing thing you'll want to read all about, with photo links and videos too.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Happy Birthday Howie!

Tomorrow, August 20th, is Howard Phillips Lovecraft's birthday.
(I'm posting this a day early because some of us have to work in the morning!)

I'm way too lazy to do the math, so somebody figure out how old he would have been and let me know.

Lovecraft was born on August 20, 1890, at 9:00 a.m. in his family home at 194 Angell Street in Providence, Rhode Island. He was the only child of Winfield Scott Lovecraft, a traveling salesman of jewelry and precious metals, and Sarah Susan Phillips Lovecraft, who could trace her ancestry in America back to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1630.
More HERE.

And if you haven't done so yet, treat yourself to a viewing of The Call of Cthulhu, released by the H.P. Lovecraft Historical Society!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

The malleus maleficarum


This infamous text is essential for any serious student of witchcraft in early modern Europe. Jakob Sprenger and Heinrich Kramer were two Dominican monks who wrote this 'guide' to witchcraft in 1486. It served as a guide book for inquisitors during the Inquisition, providing information on identifying witches, wringing confessions from them and discussing suitable punishment of offenders.
This text has become the definitive example of misogyny in the witch-hunts. Throughout the book there are negative references to women such as 'When a woman thinks alone she thinks evil', 'She is a liar by nature', 'she is more carnal than a man as shown by her carnal abominations'. It also goes on to describe women as defective, weak, and basically claims any misfortune from illness through to crop failure was due to malign magic. Nothing had a natural cause in their view. Witches, according to Kramer and Sprenger, were responsible for all this plus infanticide, cannibalism, consorting with demons and any other abominable behavior they could imagine.
Putting the misogyny aside, this text gives an in depth, if somewhat harrowing, view of what was involved when identifying, interrogating and punishing the unfortunate accused. It is not a comfortable read to say the least, showing as it does mankind's complete inhumanity to fellow man during this period.


Saturday, August 15, 2009

Favorite Things

Lady Audley's Secret follows Robert Audley through his detective-like work in trying to uncover what happened to his friend George Talboys and who his uncle's wife, Lucy Audley, really is. During his search, Robert has to deal with lies, deceit, and even an attempt to kill him.

The Mystery of Edwin Drood is a "whodunnit" novel by Charles Dickens, his last novel left unfinished at his death in 1870. The story centers on the disappearance of Edwin Droods. John Jasper, Drood's uncle, leads a double life as cathedral choirmaster and opium addict. Secretly, Jasper regularly travels to London opium den to satisfy his craving. Edwin Drood is engaged to Rosa Bud as a child, but the couple don't have special affection for each other, simply, not in love, so their engagement is dissolved. Jasper holds a passion for Rosa. The story thickens as Edwin Drood disappears on a Christmas Eve after a raging thunderstorm. Because of the author's death and the novel left uncompleted, there have been speculations as to what might have happened, or how Dickens might have wanted the story to end. Most commentators presume the obvious, that Jasper murdered Drood. Some events are not clear, for example, the orphaned twins who come to live with Mr Crisparkle in Cloisterham or about Dick Datchery, the disguised detective who arrives to investigate Drood's disappearance.

In a surreal turn-of-the-century London, Gabriel Syme, a poet, is recruited to a secret anti-anarchist taskforce at Scotland Yard. Lucian Gregory, an anarchist poet, is the only poet in Saffron Park, until he loses his temper in an argument over the purpose of poetry with Gabriel Syme, who takes the opposite view. After some time, the frustrated Gregory finds Syme and leads him to a local anarchist meeting-place to prove that he is a true anarchist. Instead of the anarchist Gregory getting elected, the officer Syme uses his wits and is elected as the local representative to the worldwide Central Council of Anarchists. The Council consists of seven men, each using the name of a day of the week as a code name; Syme is given the name of Thursday. In his efforts to thwart the council's intentions, however, he discovers that five of the other six members are also undercover detectives; each was just as mysteriously employed and assigned to defeat the Council of Days. They all soon find out that they are fighting each other and not real anarchists; such was the mastermind plan of the genius Sunday. In a dizzying and surreal conclusion, the six champions of order and former anarchist ring-leaders chase down the disturbing and whimsical Sunday, the man who calls himself "The Peace of God".

Friday, August 14, 2009

A little French Lick

I found an old bottle in my grandparents’ 1930’s basement behind a workbench down between the wall framing and was intrigued by the name embossed on the side of the bottle: Pluto Water… then I saw the Devil embossed on the bottom!

Ran to look it up…Pluto Water was bottled at Pluto Spring, one of the mineral springs at a large resort area at French Lick, Indiana. It was said to cure everything from alcoholism to constipation. Pluto Water was named for the god of the underworld since the mineral waters sprang from underground sources. One of the springs is called Proserpina. Cashing in on this phenomena, Dr. William Bowles bought acreage here in the early 1800’s and built the French Lick Hotel which burned down and was rebuilt. Later, Tom Taggart and investors bought the hotel and established a major resort called The French Lick Resort.

These “miracle waters“ drew people from many miles around. The Monon Railroad offered round trip tickets to the door of the French Lick Hotel. Famous visitors to the Springs included Al Capone, Helen Keller, FDR, Boxer Joe Lewis, Duke Ellington, and many others.

Here’s Harry Houdini posing in front of a Pluto Water sign with an unidentified man around 1907.

The world famous chef Louis Perrin first served tomato juice at this hotel, supposedly after running out of oranges for juice. Louis Armstrong was said to favor Pluto Water.


At the hotel’s main entrance was the luxurious Beaux Arts-style structure section known as the Pluto Bar, where guests could take a dose of Pluto Water upon entering.

A statue outside the hotel

Bottled and sold throughout the world, the beverage carried the slogan “When Nature won’t, Pluto will,” a reference to the water’s powerful laxative properties.

French Lick has such a fascinating history, including a wealth of conflicting information on whether or not Bowles formed the secret society called Knights of the Golden Circle.

Production of Pluto Water finally ceased due to the naturally occurring Lithium in the water which had become a controlled substance. During Tom Taggart’s heyday, Pluto Water sales topped one million dollars a year.

So, remember....

Back to the basement.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Curse

Menstrual Blood Jewelry.
No, I'm NOT kidding!

Click HERE to see more.

All I can say about this is: OMG EEWWW!!!

Thanks to The Red Heart Cult for the heads up!


The word calavera, Spanish for "skull", can refer to a number of cultural phenomena associated with the Mexican celebration of the Day of the Dead.
calaveras de azúcar ("sugar skulls") are used to adorn altars and can be eaten.
calaveras are poems, written for the Day of the Dead but intended to humorously criticize the living.
calavera can refer to any artistic representations of skulls, such as the lithographs of José Guadalupe Posada.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Goth Chic

Goth Chic is an exhaustive, encyclopedic gathering of all things Gothic, from movies to music, fashion to funerals and everything in between. If it fits into the goth subculture, you'll find it in here. And there are pictures! Pretty!
You can buy it, new or used, HERE.

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