Caught Between Good and Evil: Occultism in Gothic Fiction

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I thought for a long time about whether to write this blog post because it comes in response to a fan of Gothic Romance who seems to have been put off of ME because of the occult themes in The Lady in Yellow. My intention is not to have a go at her—-she’s entitled to her response—but to address a larger issue that is very pressing and important in this Social Media world. Nor is this post addressed to her or about her.

Many people these days seem unable to tell the difference between fantasy and reality, or understand the difference between an artist and their creations.

This is understandable considering how many chidren are stuck in front of the TV set before they have the ability to understand what they are actually watching.

The internet is an author’s dream as far as speeding up the process of reaserch for a novel. The trick is to ba able to tell the difference between good information and misguided, if not diliberately falsified information. The exceeding immaturity of many commentors on the internet makes it a minefield on many levels. It is this group who will grab onto the smallest detail and twist it into a validation for whatever their obsessions or issues are with no regard for the CONTEXT in which the information is presented.

The areas most rife with these trolls are conspiracy research and the occult.

I’m very new to the internet, by the way. I didn’t get on until 2009. So I know what a mine field it is because I had to learn fast and had many coaches….

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A prime example of this immature view, especially as applied to the arts, is the perception that because the ACTRESS Mia Farrow played the devil’s mother in Rosemary’s Baby, it must follow that she’s a Satanist in real life.  Does it follow then that if I play Lady Macbeth in a play that I go around conspiring to murder people? This whole mind set is ludicrous, yet some people will put these allegations on the web as fact!!!!

Oddly, the fact that Rosemary  in the film was FIGHTING  and RESISTING the Dark Occultists is never mentioned. Nor are Mia’s other film roles ever brought into the conversation because they have nothing to do with devil worship! Only The Omen gets a mention (as if she only made two films to express her love of evil) because this kind of cherry-picking backs up tabloid-infused so-called thinking of the childish.

I thought Bearing False Witness was condemned by the Ten Commandments.

Research into the Occult Does not Make it a Way of Life

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The Lady in Yellow is set in Victorian England. It involves a werewolf curse. It is Romantic Suspense with a dose of Horror, ie: Gothic!

Historically, Victorian England was a hotbed of Spiritualism. Table rapping, trance mediums, ectoplasm manifestations, conjuring the dead (necromancy) and various other psychical experiments were all the rage. Thus, it is true to the historical period to have evidence of these practices in my novel The Lady in Yellow. Does it mean I sit around playing with Ouija Boards all day? I wouldn’t touch a Ouija Board with a ten foot pole! I know how dangereous they are. This very trickiness makes them great for buidling suspense in a novel.

It is right to ascribe the Werewolf phemenon to Satanism because, as I learned on the internet, as well from the folklore I’ve studied all of my life, that Werewolves, and all shape shifters, are Initiates into advanced Satanic practices based on Dark Shamanism. Does it follow that I worship the devil and go to evil rituals because I describe, in a story-telling way, the true origin of the Werewolf?

Maybe I am a Werewolf. Oooo! That’s scary!

I am interested in origins, in the primal. I go deep into any subject I study looking for the root source.

 

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The spark for The Lady in Yellow was this mural on the wall of a chateau in the Auvergn in France.This is not the only sinister mural in that castle. There are Hell Mouths and all kinds of ritualistic images. This chateau was photographed by Simon Marsden because it was known to be haunted.

This Lady in Yellow in the mural became the character of Sovay in my novel, while the house became the root of the Werewolf Curse in my story.

As you develop a novel, many facets of your imagination engage and almost everything you ever experienced, or even picked up subliminally, may coalesce  around images, symbols and themes to create the story. I am often amazed at what comes up in the plot, things I never knew I knew. Characters I think will be minor, may take center stage. Others will show sides I did not expect and think things I never thought before. This is why a novel can take so long to write because you have to stage manage all these elements.

As in Rosemary’s Baby, the Fan of Gothic Fiction seemed to miss the whole point of The Lady in Yellow. Victorian England was not only awash in Spiritualism, but was a powerfully Christian.  My heroine, Veronica Everly, was raised in a Catholic orphanage by nuns. She is profoundly Christian. Setting her up against the Dark Occult forces at Belden House provides an opportunity to create fantastic tensions and conflicts, with a moral battle between good and evil in which love fueled by selflessness and courage wins. In fact I wondered, at one point, if I couldn’t sell this book to Christians.

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So I have been quite shocked to have been personally dismissed because the Reader assumed wrongly that I must be promoting Satanism because I used it in the novel. To set the record straight: I hate Satanism. I hate evil and destruction. I am against all abuse. I am actually quite strongly Christian, and that is a deep subject. I hate the fact that I feel a need to write this post, but this is not the first time this has happened to me.

While living in London I was in a play, Babalon, in which I played Marjorie Cameron and the demon, Babalon. I took the role because I hadn’t done any acting for a long time and it seemed like it would be  fun. I didn’t initially want to do it because I didn’t want to engage in anything to do with Aleister Crowley.  But I did accept in the end… who knows why. It sent a wrecking ball through my life.

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Because of this part I played one night on the stage at RADA, some people assumed I was into Cameron and Babalon and Crowley. No one asked me. But the truth is, I had no idea who Jack Parsons was, or Cameron, or Babalon. In 2005, I didn’t even know how to do a google search to look them up. The others involved in the play showed me pictures and things, but aside from the script, I had no idea what I was involved with. Yet people assumed, like Mia Farrow and Rosemary, that this character was somehow an expression of who I am and how I live my life. Nothing could be further from the truth! In fact, having learned more about these characters from Pasadena, California I have been horrifed to have been involved in glamorizing them on any level.

I have another blog, Winterspells.com, in which I explore the occult as an intellectual interest and as a way to try to understand why I have been drawn to magic and occult subjects all my life. I have been psychic and clairvoyant from birth, but had never been particularly dark, and never evil. I tried to find evidence of witchcraft in my family tree,  to no avail. I looked into my home town in Massachusetts. Perhaps.

I do pick things up in the ethers.

Did Somebody Say TV?

After years of soul searching for the very root cause of my resonance with White Magic, and the Shadows it casts, I have recently come to the conclusion that its source was television.

There are on youtube lots of the old TV shows I grew up watching: Twilight Zone, One Step Beyond, Thriller... In watching a few of them again, I experienced very deep emotional reactions like fascination, attraction, repulsion, dread, the sense that I have been haunted by some of these black and white 1960s American images, and that they disturbed something in me. Our TV time was strictly limited in those days, but those small doses were profound.

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I’m not trying to bow out like a coward about my exploration of dark subjects. Just setting the record straight, something I’ve needed to do for a long time.

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