Archive of ‘elsewhere’ category

Beatriz Martin Vidal: Between Dreams and Reality

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(originally published on the Coilhouse blog, September 22, 2010)

A young girl in a scarlet hoodied romper stares gravely up into the heavily furred, ferociously fanged face of a black wolf.  A lesser creature might be shamed by the child’s frank gaze – her features set earnestly, courageously, eyes alight with curiosity, and perhaps, even compassion.

Is the wolf to be deterred by this sweet faced thing, obviously unafraid?  Will it stray from it’s monstrously predictable fairytale course?  No, it is not. Will not.  Cannot — after all, that is what it wolves do, isn’t it?

And before you can blink it has swallowed the girl whole.

But, wait…

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See our little heroine, pale and grim. Watch her crawling through the gaping, bloodied hole she has snipped with her flashing silver scissors and her small, clever hands right through the thing’s engorged belly, its tough hide. See her gaze in the last panel; her no longer-quite-innocent, yet still entirely cherubic countenance is now  impatient, determined, pissed off:  “Wolf, I will fuck your shit up”, it declares.

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Beatriz Martin Vidal’s modern interpretation of the oft-told tale of The Little Red Riding Hood  –with it’s evocative art and unexpected outcome– is a marvelous example of the slightly magical, mythical places she creates for the young people who populate them.  Never cutesy or twee, her subjects instead reveal the beauty and bravery and curiosity of children, and their effortless interaction with the world.

Originally from Valladolid, “a medium size town in the middle-north of Spain” Ms. Martin Vidal chose a career after high school “which didn’t fit her at all” – Law –  and though she stuck with it for some time, she eventually continued on to the University of Salamanca to study art, which is what she maintains that she had wanted to do from the beginning.  Of her time at the University and influences found therein and elsewhere, she says:

“I think the five years in University gave me a very valuable knowledge about art history, among other things. A lot of my influences come from 19th century painting, I think. I keep going back to old masters when I’m trying to find my own path, to Viennese secession, Renaissance drawings, Golden Age illustrators. It’s not I’m not interested in contemporary art of illustration as spectator, but, when it comes to making images, that’s the path I feel attracted to. Anyway, inspiration comes from everywhere.  Sometimes things so unrelated to my work that I feel I’m the only one who can see the relationship.”

For an artist, the pairing of children and fairytale themes would seem to go hand in hand.  When asked what it is that draws her to these subjects, she remarked:

“…Of course, there’s a practical reason for it, as picture books, and most of the illustrated books belong to the children/young readers field. But, the truth is that I find children a very interesting subject for my work. Children live halfway between reality and dreams which inspires me a lot.  They’re funny. If you observe children in a park, they’re doing a lot of things more than the adults. They’re living little stories, running, jumping, talking to themselves. I find their relationship with myths and tales is very natural, very essential… I think almost all my work talks about a flexible reality. A place where you can mold the world …which doesn’t mean it’s going to be a wonderful world, as humans have fears as well as bravery and sadness as well as happiness. ”

Ms. Martin Vidal is currently preparing a picture book, a story by Gustavo Martin Garzo, about children and wolves for El Jinete Azul. As for what’s next:

“…. I’m going to work in another picture book of my own about fairy tales. I love to do my own books, but it’s hard to find the time for it. For the beginning of next year I’ll do a story about a girl and a pixie for Oxford University Press, and a novel for El Jinete Azul. I think my Little Red Riding Hood is going to be published in Australia, so in some months there’ll be an English edition.  Lately I’m trying to focus on my own picture books. That’s the thing that makes happy the most and I think that it deserves the risk [of making them first with no pressure or external limits and then trying to find the right publisher for them.]”

See below for for more wonderful examples of Beatriz Martin Vidal’s work, including selections from her Carmilla, Tarot, and Russian Tales series.  Visit Beatriz for updates and to view her complete portfolio.

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The Witch Wave Podcast

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At Haute Macabre today I introduce you to my new favorite podcast, scholar and mystic Pam Grossman’s The Witch Wave, where “art is magic, magic is real, and reality is stranger than dreams.”

I am admittedly late to the love of podcasts, and to date, I am only regularly listening to a grand total of one*…which makes The Witch Wave officially, the second podcast I have become obsessed with and quite possibly cannot live without!

*Bad Books For Bad People, you know you have my heart forever.

2017 Weenie Collection From BPAL

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YOU GUYS. It’s that time again! The most weenderful time of the year! At Haute Macabre today I share my thoughts on Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s 2017 Weenie collection…take a peek to find out which scent made me weepy, thinking of my dead mom; which scent is precisely perfect to wear with your next gothic romance novel ensemble, and which one made me throw up in my mouth a little (I love you forever BPAL, but there’s always that one in every collection!)

Stroll on over to Haute Macabreto take a peek, and make sure you share your favorites from this years collection–I want to hear all about the ones I didn’t get a chance to try!

Autumn Earworms and Bookstacks

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Over at Haute Macabre today you will find a media extravaganza! Take a peek at Stacked to grow your autumn reading list and afterward, head on over to Aural Fixation to learn more about our current earworms and sonic obsessions!

Bonus: my pick for most dangerously, painfully haunted melodies of all time: The Parlour Trick’s A Blessed Unrest 

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Bonus no. 2:  My pick for otherworldly sonic explorations: Jill Tracy’s Immortal Collection

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What have you all been reading and/or listening to this October?

 

Literary Witches

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Today over at Haute Macabre: a magical celebration of visionary female writers, Taisia Kitaiskaia and Katy Horan‘s Literary Witches! I can’t believe that I’ve been excited about this book for over a year now, and it was finally released yesterday!

Katy graciously indulged my questions about this curious compendium in our illuminating Q&A, (and I like to think that Taisia was there in spirit, too.) Thanks to them both, for conjuring these connections, channeling these women, creating this wonderfully special, utterly splendid book.

A Celebration Of Magical Woman Writers With Literary Witches

The Nocturnal Reader’s Box — Interview And Giveaway!

September unboxing photo by book.happy

September unboxing photo by book.happy

So as you may know (because I complain a lot) I have tried many, many subscription boxes over the past few years. And canceled all of them. None of them have measured up to the consistent excellence that is The Nocturnal Readers Box, a monthly subscription service for fans of Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy Books and Psychological Thrillers. Today at Haute Macabre you can my recent interview with founders Vincent and Jessica Guerrero, as well as a chance to win their sold out October box!

The Nocturnal Reader’s Box — Interview And Giveaway!

Make The Most Of Your Weird Library With The Arcane Art Of Bibliomancy

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Amongst my acquaintances it would seem that we all appear to have a similar predicament with regard to the printed word: that is to say, an intense, almost obsessive acquisition of books. Whether for pleasure, research, or keeping up our nerdy/witchy Instagram appearances, we acquire stacks and piles of bound, printed matter much faster than we actually read through them.

No doubt if I were to quiz one of these friends at random they will admit, with a strange sort of embarrassed pride, that they have shelves upon shelves of unread novels–and yet there is an Amazon Prime parcel on their doorstep, a small press delivery on the way, and their virtual cart is brimming with another order ready to be placed. Oh, and they’ve just come back from a stroll through the musty, dim-lit shelves of a local used bookstore, and hey look, what a surprise–here’s a few more books.

What if I told you that you could use these mountains of books as more than doorstops and spider-squashers? What if I revealed to you a use for that collection of charming, old-timey ghost stories that has been gathering dust and cobwebs on your nightstand? Yes, yes, I know–you are going to read it eventually, and I do appreciate that sentiment: I’ve got the same book next to my bed that I’ve been too sleepy or too busy looking at my Twitter feed to actually pick up and peruse.

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You are no doubt familiar with the practice of divination, or, the seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means. One can foretell the future through cards, clouds, drops of mercury, even a pile of steaming entrails. Today, however, we are hitting the books for our divinatory purposes! Divination from books or verse is an ancient process known as bibliomancy and is sometimes used synonymously with the terms stichomancy (divination from lines) or rhapsodomancy (divination through a random passage of a poem).

There are, of course, different schools of thought as to how bibliomancy works. Originally, it was a means of seeking divine answers, and the most popular book used for this practice was American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (just kidding! It’s the Bible)–though this is not the only text that’s been used for this purpose. Other popular texts included the Aeneid of Virgil, the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer, and The I Ching has also been used in a similar manner. Seekers of illumination would meditate upon their questions and blindly select a passage in the book, which supposedly would impart to them the divine wisdom they needed for the solution to their problem. In this theory, it is believed that one is led deliberately to their answers by some sort of higher power, or perhaps an angel, spirit guide, or aliens.

Other folks see it as more of a psychological enterprise—a means of communicating with your own damn higher self. Meaning, we most likely already contain the answers to our problems, we just can’t always easily tap into them due to all of the “mental filters” that we have built up through our lives and experiences, clouding our ability to see the issues clearly. By this ideology, it’s not really the book that contains any special or wondrous answers; you already know the solutions you seek, and the chosen passage just acts as a tool to help you access them.

But back to the books– you mustn’t feel compelled to use one of those “sacred” texts to practice bibliomancy. All that’s required is a book that speaks to you at that moment. This could be from the library, a new book you’ve purchased for this inaugural divinatory occasion, or something from your own bogged-down shelves. It could be a spiritual book, fiction, nonfiction, that smutty romance novel that sits on the back of your toilet, or even your beloved, dog-eared, 30-year-old stolen library copy of Harriet The Spy. The books you adore will have had an enormous influence on who you are and your beliefs. These beloved writings will have caused you to examine your own depths, encourage you to think in new ways, and eventually become part of who you are, which is why they are great vehicles for shedding light on the questions to which you are seeking answers.

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Let’s get started, shall we? In preparation for a bibliomantic ritual, give some thought as to the kind of question you want to ask: are you seeking romantic resolution or perhaps repairing a relationship? Or maybe you’re all like,”Love? Fuck that horseshit! Where did my great-great-grandpa bury that hidden treasure?” Perhaps you just want guidance on what to make for dinner tonight, but somehow opening an actual cookbook seems too mundane. Words taken out of their larger context could trigger something deeper than you imagine is possible. This could be the most amazing Monday night supper you’ve ever made!

Focus your question and find your book. Trail your fingertips along the spines of those lonely, mostly unread books (again, no judgment) and see what calls to you. The titles themselves can often reflect how you are feeling, or coincide with a situation you have been dealing with. Maybe the embossed detailing tickles your fancy. Maybe the cracked, faded lettering on your dear copy of The Complete Grimoire of Pope Honorius makes your innards go all cozy and it just feels right. Go with it!

Sit with your chosen book in a quiet space and close your eyes. Clear your mind and try to not focus overly much on the emotions attached to the question you need help in answering. What you are aiming for is a state of “calm expectation.” When you feel comfortable, relaxed, and emotionally and spiritually in a good place, ask your question– out loud if you don’t feel too weird about it, or quietly in your mind, if you prefer. Take a few seconds to allow your question to be heard and absorbed. Then pick up the book.

Close your eyes and let your fingers meander through the book’s pages, lingering over the paper wherever you may feel compelled. At some point while doing so, you will intuitively feel the “right” place to stop (or your finger will get tired, that’s a good place to stop, too.) Place your finger on the spot you are drawn to.

Read from where you finger is resting, be it for a few words, a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire passage if you’re into it. At first glance, the words may have no bearing on your question. “What the fuck is this nonsense?” you may wonder, “I asked if my girlfriend is cheating on me and this asshole is talking about cherry blossoms. Thanks a lot, Basho!” Give it some time. Look at the words you are reading: what do they have to tell you about your situation? Do they offer any guidance or inspiration? Do you connect emotionally with what you have just read–did it leave you gleeful, frightened, peevish? Repeat the passage aloud or write it down by hand–your higher mind has deliberately selected these words to help you in some way and eventually you will understand their importance and meaning.

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Some mystics suggest for this exercise that if you’re left even more confused than when you started and you require more clarity, try it again from the start. Pick a book that seems to fit your question, and then merge your chosen answer with the last passage. It is said that sooner or later you will be able to see what the words are trying to get through to you. Or you’ll go crazy. Because I’ll be honest, at this point I am thinking of a freaky Jorge Luis Borges’ Library of Babel scenario involving infinite permutations of all these passages mashed together and it’s sort of creeping me out.

There you have it, bookworms! Since you’re clearly not ever going to read anything from those dangerously teetering, towering book stacks, why not harness the power and the magic of those beautiful, potent words contained within to get some questions answered and get your shit together?

Okay, okay, I poke fun, but I get it. I am one of you, truly! I just checked out eight books from the library but I’m still plowing through a pile of books I bought two years ago. And yet, somehow I just purchased four more books for Summer Reading 2019? How does this even happen? It’s a sickness.

So let’s do this for a start. Read through the above thoroughly, and as your first foray into the arcane art of bibliomancy, I want you to think long and hard on this question. Meditate, roll it around in your mind, choose your title from your shelf and ask aloud of the angels, aliens, your intuitive brain-meats, and who/whatever else…

“What book shall I read next?”

Photo credit: Maika Keuben / @liquidnight

(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active.)

Solstice Scents Late Summer Collection Giveaway

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Peeking in post-storm to share some reviews for the Solstice Scents Later Summer collection that I wrote up for Haute Macabre, as well as the opportunity to win some of these scents for yourselves!

Do you want to smell of an ice cream sundae enjoyed in the murky seaside town of Innsmouth? Or perhaps strange desert visions? Or nostalgic Spring Break make-outs with your high school boyfriend? Leave a comment over at Haute Macabre and tell us which scent you’d most like to try!

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