Archive of ‘dreams in the witch house’ category

Dream a little dream… (of nocturnal attacks and sleep paralysis)

Henry Fuesli, The Nightmare

Henry Fuesli, The Nightmare

{This was originally written for After Dark In The Playing Fields,  in 2010.}

I struggle, but I am tied down by that dreadful feeling of helplessness that paralyzes us in our dreams. I want to cry out—but I can’t. I want to move——I can’t do it. I try, making terrible, strenuous efforts, gasping for breath, to turn on my side, to throw off this creature who is crushing me and choking me—but I can’t!

Then, suddenly, I wake up, panic-stricken, covered in sweat. I light a candle. I am alone. – Guy de Maupassant, Le Horla, 1887

When I was 11 years old, I shared a bedroom with my younger sister. We had a tiny, crowded room in a small ranch style house, on a quiet street in a little town on the east coast of Florida. Nothing much ever happened in our lives at that age – one day was very much like the day before and the one after that was not likely to be different.

In spite of our mundane existence, however, we were a very imaginative group of sisters; given to flights of fancy and outrageous story-telling, and if left to our own devices –which we often were – worked ourselves into quite a state in the absence of calming, more rational adult influences.

I do recall at that age I was enthralled with terribly lurid horror novels and more than likely regaled my sisters with gruesomely detailed synopses of the things I had read. We were also influenced by our mother’s gentleman friend who rented several horror films a week for us at the local video store, which we would gather round the television and watch, white knuckled and peeking over our pillows, late into the night during the summer months when there was no threat of school the next morning. I am sure that all of these things contributed to the particular evening’s events of which I am about to relay. Although this was not something I myself observed, I was party to the occurrence and to this day it perplexes me and causes me so small amount of unease.

The air conditioning was not working very well that summer; the ceiling fans did little more than stir the close, humid air of the hot bedroom, and we did not sleep with the windows open to let in a breeze from the outside. Our bedroom doors were always kept shut while we were sleeping, as well. Fire-prevention, my mother admonished, in the convincing-though-not-entirely-logical way that mothers do.

This night the room was stifling, though it was moonless and dark, and we eventually fell asleep. I am sure my sister and I talked about this, that, or the other thing before drifting off, as is the wont of two siblings very attached to one another. At that age, I was a very light sleeper; the slightest noise would stir me, and I was usually up and out of bed several times a night. I recall nothing unfamiliar of that night, no ominous, languid feeling stealing over me, if anything, it was heat-induced lethargy. I fell into a deep and dreamless sleep and did not wake again until it was light, my sister shaking me and crying piteously.

Even now, 20 years later, what she proceeded to impart to me chills the blood in my veins, and sends a shudder right through me “After I fell sleep” she said, “I had a bad dream which woke me up. I can’t remember what it was about. I tried to turn on the light, but I couldn’t move. I called your name over and over, but you wouldn’t wake up at all.”

She continued her tale, detailing how, as her eyes darted frantically around the room, she glanced at the door, which was standing wide open…despite the fact that this night, like every other, we had closed it tightly. In the darkened doorway she saw the shadowy outline of someone –- or something -– looming, standing stock still. As her gaze traveled upward, her terror reached a fever pitch when she saw that the intruder’s eyes -– a baleful, glowering red -– were fixed directly upon her own. At this point the story end, more or less. She cannot remember anything after that, and must have fallen back asleep.

Was she dreaming the entire time? Or was it perhaps a form of sleep paralysis with accompanying hallucinations? Or…was something sinister indeed lurking in the threshold of our childhood bedroom?

Nikolaj Abraham Abildgaard, The Nightmare

Nikolaj Abraham Abildgaard, The Nightmare

I’ve given this quite a bit of thought since then and I’ve come to the belief that she suffered an episode of sleep paralysis – a “brief state of being unable to move ones body upon either falling asleep or waking up,” and is “usually accompanied by an ominous feeling that there is some kind of ghost or demon in the room, or even visual or auditory hallucinations.”

Research indicates that sleep paralysis is a natural state of the body. In deeper states of sleep, the brain stems engage in processes that block out certain neurotransmitters in order to stop one from physically acting out their dreams. Occasionally an individual will wake up “before their brains have completely de-activated the induced paralysis, and experience hallucinations which are thought to be either vestigial dream fragments or attempts by the brain to reconcile the waking state with the otherwise unexplainable muscular paralysis.” This hallucinatory element makes it even more likely that someone will interpret the experience as a dream, since completely fanciful or dream-like objects may appear in the room alongside one’s normal vision. Some scientists have proposed this condition as an explanation for alien abductions and ghostly encounters.

J. Allan Cheyne of the University of Waterloo speaks thusly regarding initial studies on the phenomena and how we view it today “In 1876… an American Civil War surgeon, neurologist, and writer of historical fiction, Silas Weir Mitchell reported a curious malady, which he called –night palsy, during which soldiers reported a temporary but terrifying nocturnal paralysis. Although the phenomenon was subsequently reported in the medical literature under a number of different labels, the term coined in 1928 by Samuel Wilson, ―sleep paralysis, finally stuck.” It is worth noting that this was right around the same time Guy de Maupassant wrote Le Horla (see opening quote, above).

Nightmares and sleep paralysis, or nocturnal attacks have been closely connected to myths and monsters spanning across time and cultures, language and geography. Anecdotal reporting, shared stories, etc. shows how incidents of sleep paralysis seem to manifest itself in culturally-relevant terms and mythologies; whereas today we might attribute these occurrences to aliens or alien abduction, our grandparents might have seen ghosts, and their ancestors might have chalked it up to a demon attack or a witches hexing.

Cultures around the world have their own myths and folklore surrounding this phenomena. In Newfoundland & South Carolina, when one experiences waking with a feeling of terror and being crushed, and is unable to move, one is referred to as being “hag-ridden”. (The ‘Old Hag’ was a nightmare spirit in British and also Anglophone North American folklore.) In Chinese culture, sleep paralysis is widely known as “鬼壓身/鬼压身”, or “ghost pressing on body. In Vietnamese culture, sleep paralysis is referred to as “ma đè”, meaning “held down by a ghost” or “bóng đè”, meaning “held down by a shadow”. In African culture, isolated sleep paralysis is commonly referred to as “the witch riding your back”. In Malta, folk culture attributes a sleep paralysis incident to an entity in Maltese folk culture that haunts the individual in ways similar to a poltergeist. As believed in folk culture, to rid oneself of this one must place a piece of silverware or a knife under the pillow prior to sleep. (more examples of sleep paralysis across the world can be found via Wikipedia)

An interesting bit of information provided by J. Allan Cheyne through his research is that “first episodes of sleep paralysis typically occur to adolescents”; my sister would have been right around that age, maybe a year shy, when this occurred. But although his data indicates that many people have more than one episode – some report several times in a lifetime or several times a year, one large group reports monthly attack, but weekly or nightly attacks are rare – as far as I know, this never happened to my sister again.

That morning, as I listened to her tale and attempted to assuage her fears, I remember being terrified, myself. Whether or not it was real, I thought, it was awfully real to her, and if something like that could happen to her, well, couldn’t it happen to me too? Whether deeply slumbering and caught in the depths of a powerful nightmare, or trapped, immobile, by your own body and helpless against the tricks your own head is playing on you –- either way the shadowy intruder, or the ghost, or the alien is something conjured from the darker corners of your subconscious…and how can you possibly hope to escape that?

Ghosts of Halloween playlists past

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Halloween1

 

Things have been a bit frantic around here over the past month and I regret to inform you that I have not made a Halloween playlist for 2015. However, I think you will find plenty of sounds for haunting and the haunted in the ghost of playlists from previous years, which I have conveniently collected for you below.

Happy Halloween, weirdos!

 

2014: all of them witches from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

House Of The 7 Witches, Mater Suspiria Vision | Season Of The Witch, Karen Elson (Feat. Donovan) | Witch’s Hammer, King Dude | Burn The Witch (Featuring Clare Manchon), Uncovered Qotsa Olivier Libaux | Ghuleh / Zombie Queen, Ghost | BLIND ONE, Black Mare | Death’s Kiss, Purson | The Witching Hour, Bloody Hammers | WITCH MOUNTAIN, Witch Mountain | Sleeping Witch, Royal Thunder | Night Witches, True Widow | Witchwood, Blood Ceremony | The White Witch Of Rose Hall, Coven | Boneflower, Avatarium | Spectral Queen, Ides Of Gemini | Full Moon, Mount Salem | Hex Mark, Demon Lung | Night Child, The Oath | Wicked Ones, Ruby The Hatchet | Digital Witchcraft, thisquietarmy

2013: Was it ever, will it ever be, enough? from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Murder Of Crows, Lindi Ortega | Revolver, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan | Fields Of June, Emily Barker And Red Clay Halo featuring Frank Turner | Skeleton Crew, Michelle Vidal & The Fur Traders | Burgandy, The Hollows | Willow Tree (American), Rasputina | The First Mrs. Jones, Mark Erelli & Jeffrey Foucault | Black River Killer, Blitzen Trapper | Arkansas Murder Ballad, Angela Easterling | Old Sledge, Pretty Polly | Two Sisters, Tom Waits | Black Swells, Ora Coogan | Bury Me Tomorrow, The Dirt | Cheyenne, Slim Cessna’s Auto Club | A Beautiful Murder, Gorgeous Machines | Omie Wise, Okkervil River | Shankill Butchers, Sarah Jarosz | The Chieftains Ft Bon Iver, Down In The Willow Garden | Goose Walking Over My Grave, Jay Munly | Matty Groves, Alela Diane & Alina Hardin | Madeline, 1796, Bob Frank And John Murry | Long Black Veil, Joan Baez | Bobby, Baby, Lera Lynn | Bury Them Deep ( The Backwater Gospel ), Ghoultown | Down By The River, Deerwood | Caleb Meyer, Gillian Welch | Blood Under The Redwoods, Kat Jones | Poor Ellen Smith, Neko Case | Love Henry, Jolie Holland | Oh Death, Pine Valley Cosmonauts

 

2012: Final lessons in despair from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Dies Irae ( The Shining Theme )| Kristallnacht Shtetl (Ghetto Life), John Zorn | Uaxuctum , Part One Scelsi | Threnody To The Victims Of Hiroshima, Krzysztof Penderecki | Lucie’s wounds, Seppuku Paradigm (Martyrs OST)| Lux Aeterna, György Ligeti | Rectum, Thomas Bangalter (Irréversible OST) |Lascia Ch’io Pianga, Tuva Semmingsen & Barokksolistene (Antichrist OST)

2011: The horror of life and the ecstasy of life from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Tick Tock,  Jamin Winans (Ink OST) | This Is Going To Hurt, Hans Zimmer (The Ring/The Ring 2 OST) | Hellraiser Theme (Unreleased), Coil | The Funeral, Danny Elfman, (The Wolfman OST) | Promise(Reprise), Konami Kukeiha Club (Silent Hill OST) | Bloody Tears,rey187 (Castlevania) | Music Box, Philip Glass (The Candyman OST) | Suspiria, Goblin (Suspiria OST) | The Others (Instrumental), Claudio Ianni  (The Others OST) | Into The Woods / The Witch, Danny Elfman (Sleepy Hollow OST) | The Brides, Wojciech Kilar (Bram Stoker’s Dracula OST) | A Nightmare on Elm Street – Prologue / Main Title, Vitamin String Quartet | In the house In a Heartbeat, John Murphy (28 Days Later OST) | Alien (1979) – Main Title, Jerry Goldsmith (Alien OST) | Plasma Pool, Howard Shore (The Fly) | Friend?,Carter Burwell (Gods and Monsters OST)

2011: The silence after the screams from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Trio in E Flat, Franz Schubert (The Hunger) | Main Title, John Carpenter (The Fog) | Haunted, King Black Acid (The Mothman Prophecies) | Main Title, Goblin (Dawn of the Dead) | Ave Satani, Jerry Goldsmith (The Omen) | Eli’s Theme, Johan Söderqvist (Let The Right One In) | Mae’s Theme, Tangerine Dream (Near Dark) | Redemption, Panu Aaltio (Sauna/The Filth) | Main Title, Don David (House On Haunted Hill) | Le locataire, Philippe Sarde (The Tenant} | Main Title, Krzysztof Komeda (Rosemary’s Baby) | End Credits, Fernando Velazquez (El Orfanato)

2011: Until we ourselves are ghosts from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

The Stendhal Syndrome Theme, Ennio Morricone (The Stendhal Syndrome OST) | Emily Rose, Christopher Young (The Exorcism of Emily Rose OST) | Theme A La Flute De Pan, Philip D’Aram (The Films of Jean Rollin) | Grey Wolf, Joe Loduca (Brotherhood of the Wolf OST) | The Double, Clint Mansell (Black Swan OST) | A Proposal, Conrad Pope (The Presence OST)| Dr. Van Helsing and Dracula, Philip Glass and Kronos Quartet | The Tram (Main Title) Angelo Badalamenti (Dark Water OST)| Nosferatu (Cue 6), Hans Posegga | Voci Dal Nulla, Fabio Frizzi (The Beyond OST) | In the Evening Mist, Asei Kobayashi & Mickey Yoshino (Hausu OST) | A Place Where the Sun Cannot Burn, Fernando Velázquez (Shiver OST)

2011: Echoes from beyond from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

Musica Ricercata, II, Dominic Harlan Dominic Harlan (Eyes Wide Shut OST) | Revelation, Seppuku Paradigram (Martyrs OST) | Transylvanian Lullaby, John Morris (Young Frankenstein) | Symphony fantastique, Op. 14: V. Songe d’une nuit de sabbat, San Francisco Symphony | Pan’s Labyrinth Lullaby, Javier Navarrete Javier Navarrete (Pan’s Labyrinth OST) | Jacob’s Ladder, Maurice Jarre (Jacob’s Ladder, OST) | L’anniversaire D’irvin, Angelo Badalamenti (City of Lost Children, OST) | Prologue-Menuetto and Storm, Westminster Philharmonic Orchestra & Alwyn (Bride of Frankenstein OST) | Artic Love, François-Eudes Chanfraul (A L’Interieur OST) | III. Marche funebre. Lento from Sonata No. 2 in B-flat minor, Cyprien Katsaris | Dies irae, Zbigniew Preisner

2011: “Denn die Todten reiten Schnell.” from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

1 Orville Stoeber/Walter Sear (Let’s Scare Jessica to Death) | Introducing Vanessa Buren, James Bernard (From “The Legend Of The 7 Golden/The Hammer Vampire Collection) | Jack Tells a Story (Part I,) Elmer Bernstein (An American Werewolf in London) | Jack Tells a Story (Part II), Elmer Bernstein (An American Werewolf in London) | Gramophone Lullaby, Marco Beltrami (Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark) |  Candles for Christine, Pino Donaggio (Don’t Look Now) | Audrey Rose, Michael Small (Audrey Rose) | The Book of Evil, Joseph Lo Duca (Evil Dead 2) | You’re Just What I’ve Been Looking For (Angela’s Theme), Frankie Vinci (Sleepaway Camp) | “Ménage a Trois,” Daktari Lorenz (Nekromantik) | The Ossuary, Manuel De Sica (Cemetery Man) | The End, John Murphy (The Last House On The Left)

2010: Summoning the Gloom from ghoulnextdoor on 8tracks Radio.

(No tracklist for this one)

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Still Life With Adornments

I was absolutely thrilled today to find that the blog entries and frivolous writings I did in 2011, right before I moved, were still available deep in the internet archives! It seems a silly thing, I suppose.  It was all just observations and lists and a record of my days, but I loved my little ghostsinthegarden blog quite dearly, and I was sorry to let it go.  I am not even sure why I let it go, to be honest.  Ah well… other blogs, other times.

I have started moving old entries into my current archives here, so that I will always have a record of them. “Always”, I suppose, as long as I don’t let this one languish and become buried by the sands of time and the internet as well. I’ll be more diligent this time, I promise.

If you are curious as to what I was up to in the summer of 2011, take a look!

Cicada Weekend
A year’s mourning
Secret Summer Flowers
Coffret de médecine
Coconut Lime Ice Cream
Les Beaux Arts
A gathering of fripperies
Le Deluge

In the meantime, I am reposting an entry from August 12, 2011, in which I talked about…you guessed it. Fripperies and perfume.  I am fairly predictable.

Still Life With Adornments

There is something about a small grouping of items which I find quite pleasing.  I’ve always loved  “still life” paintings… a rustic bowl of seasonal fruit, an antique vase of hothouse flowers…there is a quiet calm to these little gatherings that I find rather soothing to gaze upon.

Lately I’ve been composing my own hushed, still tableaux with a small collection of well loved-items.  I think there is a comforting magic present in a thing well loved, which translates into a tranquil bit of beauty for the eye when it is weary of the drab in every day drudgery, or even the flash and glam of common advertising that we are constantly bombarded with.  Don’t you find those things tiresome?  I know my own eyes need restful visions upon which to fall sometimes.

Click the images for a link to individual flickr pages with detailed description of the contents of each collection.

 

Les Beaux Arts

JL Schnabel’s “Darker My Love” series

I have always tried to make a point to surround myself with beautiful things.

If they are pieces of art created by passionate peers and visionary friends, all the better! My goal has been to fill an entire room with the various paintings and illustrations and mixed-media art I have collected over the years; so far I am at one wall and a half.  Though I do have a few more that need framing, I will hold off on that until I have relocated.  It hardly makes sense to rearrange everything to accommodate a few more prints when I am only going to be here for two months.

My personal aesthetic is forever in flux, but there are certain kinds of imagery that will always catch my eye and call to me: dark dreams, hidden things & secrets & esoteric knowledge, haunted places, shades & shadows, the supernatural & the surreal, magics macabre and melancholy,  and the grotesque transfigured into things of incomparable loveliness.

 

I currently have a few things that need framing, and honestly I find that whole process incredibly tedious.  I never know what size frame to get (and I usually have the chop the print up to fit – artists please don’t read that!  I am so ashamed).  But worse than that, I have a terrible time in general matching the pieces of art with a suitable, yet inexpensive frame!  Any tips?  These are the three I am working with now:

“Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte”, by Mon Petit Fantome

 

“Three Seekers Dreaming”, by swanbones

 

Family Portrait by Caryn Drexl

 

I have been collecting ideas for futures spaces on my walls, as well. Here is a small selection from my feverish wish-list.  With what wonderful arts do you adorn your abode?  Tell me all!
 

“some ghosts are women II” by Kristamas Klousch

 

“Pink Twin Rainbow”, Camilla d’Errico

 

“Runa” by Ellen Rogers photography

 

“The Bride” by Charmaine Olivia

 

“Duncan Takes a Break” by KipHolmPhotography

 

Where to find the artists mentioned within this post:

 

 

Coffret de médecine

Contents of cabinet as of 7.27.11

Coffret de médecine sounds much more romantic, less utilitarian than plain old “medicine cabinet”, don’t you think?  I was inspired to clean out all the glunky and gross products that had been sitting around for much too long when I read verhext’s “coming up roses” post a few months back.  Well.  While I was inspired in March, it’s taken me until July to do anything about it!  Better late than never, I always say.

I myself have not yet reached the point where I am ready to switch to all-natural products, though there are quite a few I have been using for a while now: the arnica gel & aloe vera for bruises, soreness, aches and burns; melatonin and Bach remedies for sleep and anxiety, and tea tree, rosehip seed and jojoba oils for a skin regimen.  I suppose I should look into replacing the other items but for now they work and I’ve always belonged to the “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it” camp.  One thing I am particularly keen to find is a nice tinted moisturizer that’s not full of awful things.  I had been using a version from Laura Mercier that worked nicely , but $42 for such a small tube didn’t seem like the wisest investment.  I then stumbled across the Sonia Kashuk version that I liked even more and it’s a third of the price.  It’s really quite perfect (except for the ingredients), but I am certainly open to suggestions – so if you’ve got any, please send them my way!

Next I need to find a better organizational system for the rest of my cosmetics and face paint.  Coffee mugs and sake cups perched precariously on the back of the commode are not an ideal system!

 

After that I will move on to tackling the smelly portion of things.  I don’t even know where to begin with this!  I’ve got perfume samples scattered willy-nilly all over the place; hidden in nooks and crannies and underfoot and sometimes they even turn up in pockets or marking pages in books!  This will not do, of course.

Unfortunately, organization is not something that interests me in the least.  I am not someone who gets excited about lists, or calendars or even watches.  I am pretty sure I would literally die of boredom in The Container Store. This is going to be A Long, Drawn Out Production, I am sure of it.

I obviously need some painless organizational tips and tricks.  What have you got?  Feel free to show me your own cabinets and cupboards – trust me, there is no one nosier than me…I am always intensely interested in other people’s stuff!