Late last May I wound up in a cemetery. For me, this is reasonable without further explanation, but for the sake of the record, I’d been scouting out a room for rent across the street that looked like the total pits damn and I came out all this way… I might as well explore the local cemetery.
Opened in 1873, the Ross Bay Cemetery is a joy. With elaborate mausoleums, imposing, ancient foliage, rolling hills and winding paths through romantic states of disrepair, with grave curbs, aggressive crows, iron fences and ironic inscriptions, Ross Bay offers a view of the ocean and the historic horror that before the seawall was built to preserve the shoreline, the water would swell and swallow the dead, with children collecting bones along the beach post-storm.
I took a few pictures meant for deepsicks but had no narrative to couch them in. Rather than just throw them up, or throw them away, or file them out of sight, I have let them rest in limbo in a folder on my desktop for the past five months.
They weren’t important. But I didn’t want to forget them. There was something about this place I couldn’t place.
“Gone Home” and “Gone to be with Christ, which is far better.”
The “chains” of peace?
In other news…
I’ve long been interested in satanism. Well, the idea of satanism. The idea of the idea of ritualized evil, and the panic evoked by the fear of the devil come home to roost, in your wholesome neighborhood, your good Christian heart, and you must do your part to sacrifice your children to save them.
One two he’s coming for you, three four better lock the door and throw away your teen’s D&D library and Iron Maiden LPs. Stay glued to Geraldo and 20/20. Become a stay-at-home mom to prevent your little ones from falling into the clutches of satanic ritual abuse daycare providers in tunnels under graveyards with robots and lions and magical rooms where they stick knives in children but leave no bodies or scars—kiddie porn empires with no photos or films.
I’m a child of the eighties, so I know. What we say is what we are. We’re all naked booby stars.
I’ve been plotting for years to explore this deeper, bring to life/death through fiction the distortion and derangement and incalculable damage wrought by the satanic moral panic of the 1980s. There’s a fair amount of literature on the phenomenon, from a wide range of disciplines: sociology, psychology, criminology and folklore, as well as from the hardline True Believers, victim-survivors themselves, still night-quaking from eating feces and human flesh, stabbing babies and being buried alive with corpses when they were four.
But it all seems relatively forgotten—unrecognized for what it was at the time and not remembered for what it means now, though this is hard for me to tell. I was a child, so I don’t really remember the social tenor and trauma—and I don’t remember what I don’t remember, or anything suspicious or dire beyond what was reasonable for a child’s childlike fantasy, the fear fables of scary stories I consumed incessantly, intensely imaginative, speculative, myself.
I do recall hearing tales of little altars in the woods, bird skulls and bloodstains, the stark voices of teenagers’ claiming scary shit man you don’t wanna know my youth piqued but not by anything I really believed—at least I don’t think so. Ouija boards and photographs falling off the walls. Crucifixes twisting upside down, rosaries into knots and Jesus pictures crying blood. Lighting fires in the cellar, Sam and I almost burned down our baby brother, if not the whole apartment building from out-of-control candles we used to ward off the dark we chose, scaring ourselves half to death in the crawlspace crypt below our house.
Taking advantage of UVic’s library, I’ve been checking out books to research the subject, and discovered Bill Ellis’ Raising the Devil (2000). Though cumbersome at times, it’s also insightful and comprehensive, packed full of bizarre examples and connections while being, dare I say, laugh-out-loud funny. From Rosemary’s Baby to mutilated cattle in rural Minnesota to the exorcism of the Pentagon by Vietnam protesters to the demonology of the Illuminati to the vampire hunt in London’s Highgate Cemetery, Ellis, a folklorist, explores and explains satanic trends through the lens of myth and legend and the human propensity to create, demand and defend them—one of the more interesting perspectives I’ve found on the topic.
It took me until over halfway through the book to realize wh-wh-wh-wh-wait a minute… the Highgate Cemetery Vampire Hunt? Haven’t I drunk this up already?
This naturally makes me feel marvelous. I don’t find it especially meaningful that I am interested in the same things that caught my eye five years ago—that I have been interested in my whole life—but still. Neat. Funnystrange.
Raising the Devil also briefly mentions Michelle Remembers (1980), the touchstone personal account of recovered memories of alleged satanic ritual abuse. I heard of the book years ago and have tried unsuccessfully to find it. Newly intrigued, I did a bit of reading (from the “Pagan Protection Center” no less) to see if it’s worth tracking down.
Co-written by her therapist, Lawrence Pazder, adult pseudonym’ed Michelle Smith claims young Michelle Smith at age five was subjected to ongoing torture by scads of unnamed satanists in the mid-fifties. Over the course of a year, Michelle, among other things:
Michelle’s school records do not report this continuous 81-day absence, nor make any remark regarding her appearance one would imagine as emaciated, slashed and, well, exhibiting a generally disturbed demeanor. Luckily for Michelle, and her publicist, all resulting physical scars and dental deformities—and memories—were erased by a French-speaking Virgin Mary, the recollections of these events only to be recalled years later under the guidance of her therapist, who later became her husband.
Though a heavily controversial and criticized narrative, full of holes and logic leaps, Michelle Remembers nonetheless fueled the emerging satanic panic and provided “proof” for other equally evidence-less cases, all part of the vast underground intergenerational satanic conspiracy to subvert the social order and control the world by murdering kittens and making young children eat poo.
Because of such beliefs, accusations and hysteria, people all over North America have gone to prison. People are still in prison. How’d you like to go to jail because preschoolers said you flush them down a magical toilet into a secret room where you molest them, though you’ve also been known to take them on hot air balloon rides and through underground tunnels as well as orchestrate orgies at the local car wash and airport, along with your accomplice, Chuck Norris?
Oh yeah—and the woman who started all this? She thinks you can fly.
To say everyone was lying about everything in what grew to be hundreds of cases throughout the eighties to the mid-nineties would be incorrect—child abuse is very real—but these bombastic sorts of allegations simply were not true. Yet the people who believed them were utterly convinced of their realities, as well as convincing to other presumably otherwise reasonable people who banged the drum along with them to crucify the naysayers, which was better than, say, being complicit with Satan himself.
It’s the sort of thing that sets my brain on fire, and I don’t want to put it out.
Also among the claims in Michelle Remembers is her coerced participation in a rebirth ritual in a cemetery, where after being locked in a crypt she is stripped of clothing and transferred to a mausoleum filled with women dressed in black. Meowing and cavorting like cats, they give her a dead one and make her throw it in a grave in which she’d earlier lain. Her mother, present at the event, disowns her, and later one night the group returns and forces her to lie in the grave again, piling yet more dead cats in with her.
Despite Michelle’s screams throughout this ordeal, she is unheard by anyone in the neighborhood. The site of this residential-district graveyard?
Ross Bay Cemetery, Victoria, BC.
SPEAK! OF! THE! DEVIL!
Here are more (better!) RBC photos taken this afternoon:
No mausoleums that I could see could reasonably host a satanic party of more than three or four people. Unless the cat women were short. Or imaginary.
Mother and child were entranced by some irate crows. A surprising number of people were in the cemetery, strolling by with dogs and blazing through on bikes.
…That’s what I’m talking about.
Happy October, friends and fiends—have a terrific and safe Halloween.
CANDY! nom nom nom
I’m done with classes, and once I finish a final paper, I will have completed seventeen years of formal education. I am more than ready-willing to leave this life-track after high school, you go to college and then what? I’m not going to grad school. I need to pay bills and loans, but to start a “career?” Eh. Hm. Well. Uh. Can anyone recommend some good books, essays, and movies about or exemplifying the Satanic scare of the 1980s? General resources on popular youth culture during the Reagan administration (because of said political and implied social climate?—sure) would also be appreciated, as would any academic and theoretical commentary on zombies. Oh, and if anyone has any old, unwanted death-metal cassettes lying around, send ‘em my way. Also, if you need a copyeditor (preferably for hire), hey, guess what—I just looked up whether “administration” and “Satanic” would be capitalized in the above usages because I actually care.
I made a junky-but-fun flash movie thing and a rather awesome video made from stills in my electronic arts class. I hoped to upload the flash project but I can’t get it working properly, and the video is too massive for my server. So trust me, they’re cool? Beh. I’ll try to figure something out.
Bad Religion passed through with a frenzy a couple weeks ago. They played “Get Off” and “Infected” (!!!), and yes, I died. Danced. Thrashed. Shouted along, tearing up despite the enormous man stationed in the center of the pit, lock-knee kicking and arm wind-milling all “I AM THE EYE OF THE STORM!” and right in my way ugh, but he was having fun, so it’s hard to fault ‘im (I try to stick to the center myself—it’s the only place to really dance). Heavily favoring Recipe For Hate, an album recorded in 1993, BR did a creepy-fine job of reflecting the repetition of reality. RFH, written much in reaction to the Gulf War, is just as relevant—and revelatory—today as it was ten years ago. For one helluva good article about this, check out this essay at Ink19. Or. Just. Buy. The album. Heh.
Kidneys kidneys kidneys. I’ve had more trouble. My roommates have been very kind. Scott, for instance, used the money he extorted from me through the utility bills to buy me a heating pad, and Anna stole and made me Heather’s cranberry juice to improve the quality of my pee. (Anna’s good at taking charge. When she and Heather couldn’t stop eating my frosting, she threw it out so it wouldn’t tempt them. Yep.) Thanks much, guys, you’re the best!
My symptoms with this stupid crap have changed. I still feel feverish all the time, but instead of the few-and-far-in-between episodes of screaming on the floor in pain, it’s now more of a dull ache that lasts several hours (days) with the occasional urge to vomit. Last Tuesday I had a CT scan. I have stones in both kidneys and an “abnormality” they’ve yet to identify. They said don’t worry and I think yeah, right when I wake and just know, the nausea’s creeping up and my body’s on notice every ache, every short breath the hurt in my flanks and holes in my chest, I visit them all, searching for the canswer why do I feel this way, when will it stop? I’ll see a specialist not soon enough. < mer >
Though by admitting this I risk getting my ass kicked by concerned loved ones, after missing work, going to Emergency, and getting a scan with scary results, I then went to a concert Tuesday night—Assemblage 23 at Ground Zero. The opener was Stromkern. –>Who is this band, and why do they keep opening for groups I actually want to see? Eh. They improve. I guess. And I like the singer’s style, soundin like Satan but lookin like a math rocker.
Ahem. In review: A23, created and controlled by Tom Shear who has back-up help for live shows, was somewhat dissapointing. Good, but… huh. It being their first time playing the Cities, musically they were on (there’s nothing cooler than an electronic drum kit—nothing) but vocally it was weak; they sounded like they were covering themselves. Perhaps Shear’s voice was just worn out (it was the end of the tour) or maybe overproduced when recorded. < shrugs > They were, however, very personable and having fun, which always earns big ups with me, a sucker-supreme for non-rockstar personalities. Impressed with the turnout (in Minneapolis! on a Tuesday!), Shear repeatedly complimented the hell out of us… but almost to the point of degradation. I’m hardly one to speak for the Twin Cities darksider scene, but come on… a little respect, eh? At least don’t stress ignorance right in front of us. Yeah, there’s more than half a dozen darkwave/EBM fans in the TC metro, yeah, we know the lyrics to the songs of the bands that deign to come here, and yeah, nearly all of us dance, nearly all of the time. Some of us even look evil. Oh well. All in all, it was fun, even despite my poor health.
Today I’ve been listening on repeat to what are possibly the three greatest songs ever in succession—not necessarily great alone, but playing off into bleeding all together? it’s unreally wow, home and a lot of places I’d like to go: Fluke’s “Setback,” “Amp,” and “Reeferendrum” on the album Risotto. Six, seven, and eight heal the sick places and ache the ones I didn’t know I had. I thought the dearhearts up ‘n died, but Fluke is supposed to have an album out this year. Find yerself the mp3 of one of their latest, “Pulse” (plus remixes!), and get excited with me.