Under The Spell

The offender always returns to the place of the crime.
It seems the same applies to supernatural writers, researchers in search of the unknown and people who had encounters with strange phenomena. We can’t explain our passion but we know we need to do this, there isn’t much choise. We’re under the spell.

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Writers and film makers taking the supernatural seriously get often asked why they pursue difficult projects rather than doing something where you could make money more easily. Even it’s true that genre stuff is supposed to be “profitable” which usually means that it is something which could be done for low budget but has a potential for high revenues. This might be the case for some horror pics with easy-to-grasp concepts however many artists who have a real interest in the otherworld (or simply asking questions about our view of reality) suffer. They choose the hard way. But these are the most committed people, they are prepared to work hard for a long time without knowing about their chance for success.

The same applies to researchers, philosophers and scientists. A profound interest in the otherworld is certainly not the best choice to make a career. We should think that the investigation of phenomena we don’t yet understand is science at its best, but the researcher is often being caught in the middle. They aren’t trusted any longer by the “serious scientific community” and they make often many enemies among the “believers”. They get in trouble with the powerful, become blacklisted by politicians and sinister organizations. The work of a researcher like Jacques Vallée who kept a diary for over 40 years and continuosly published interesting insights about the unexplained couldn’t be praised enough. There aren’t many of them but those who are interested in the otherworld are highly committed people.

If somebody had a weird experience in the woods, had a strange encounter or was somehow involved in strange events we would expect that this person would leave the place where it happened, move into a big city or even another country. But we know that people who had encounters with the otherworld are changed. They return either to the place or become reseachers, lecturers or help other people with similar experiences. They are obsessed in their own way.

Once touched by the otherworld we’re under the spell. Its a bit like becoming involved with the demonic principle. In the same breath we are drown towards the unknown as we wan’t to escape the otherworld. But the artist is dedicated to paint that picture. It might look for outsiders that the artist of the supernatural seems to paint the same picture again and again.

This is not the case. The researcher and the artist or writer and film-maker are sitting in the same boat; it is their quest for the unknown. And like a Tibetan monk repeating the same rituals the researcher studies similar cases again and again, and the storyteller is writing many stories but the stories are all about the same theme. People who had visionary experiences return to places or remember things at certain times every year. However this isn’t about repeating the same thing, it is always about progress, about deepening our understanding, even sometimes in very small steps.

There is an interesting question how much freedom people do really have if they take the challenge seriously. However the creative process itself can be an act of freedom. It’s a chance to redeem the demons. And it can be step forward to understand. The people drawn towards the otherworld or towards the fundamental questions about our reality were always a minority. It’s astonishing that a lot of people can watch endless hours of stuff about zombies, vampires, witches and never ask for one second what’s really going on.




We can’t explain why we are into a deeper reality. Perhaps this is something which couldn’t be explained. It is indeed like the demonic principle, something which works beyond our understanding. And if we look at people who had experiences with the paranormal or some encounters we can’t tell why they were chosen. Human history is full of people who had a very different background and then become changed through visionary experience. The only thing we know is that there are no simple answers, but it appears there must kind of a link between certain artists, researchers and visionaries. It’s like they had at some point in their lives seen, felt or heard the same thing, some sort of hidden reality and they got a call to tell the world.

Otherworldly Traps

“ROSLIN
Things. The forest is showing me…
Things…”(The Forest Dark Screenplay)

People getting lost or people losing their wits after they entered a dark place in the forest. Are there supernatural traps hidden in certain places in this world?

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In fairy tales the trap is a very prominently motive. Writers were fascinated by these folclore stories. There are famous works particularly in the period of romanticism. An example which was described earlier is the “Runenberg“.

Another well-known trap is the court of venus, “Venusberg”. These traps lure the wanderer into another realm. The man who can’t resist will finally lose everything.

These kind of “erotic traps” use temptation. Of course, this is something which works very well in a number of stories.

However it’s indeed primary a literal motive not a very realistic one.

We don’t expect a beautiful fairy queen tempting us to walk straight into a rift in time and space when we enter the woods.

Otherworldly traps are perhaps something which works in a more subtle way. Nevertheless these kind of traps could be very powerful and dangerous.

It seems that there are places in this world were people lose their orientation or get depressed. The perfect description of this kind of otherworldly trap could be found in Algernoon Blackwood’s “The Willows” where two wanderers get maddened by a supernatural force and one of them is close to committing suicide.

“The Willows” is also a fictional supernatural tale but what happens could be closer to what’s really going on. Every year a number of hikers vanish mysteriously. In most cases there are very rational explanations for what has happened with these persons, but some cases remain unsolved. There are areas which have a reputation for this like “The Bennington Triangle”. According to the Indians the woods are cursed in this territory in Vermont.

I think there are two ways to make you losing your wits. If there are forces which could look deeply into the soul of a person these forces will find the weak spot. They will hit you on the most personal level. The other way is showing you disturbing things, things which are somehow not right, something like H.P. Lovecraft’s “Color From Outer Space”.

These kind of phenomena exist. There were described for example in “Dangerous Lights”. Obviously, they act more on a psychological level. They are happen in a realm somewhere in-between the physical world and the inner-life of a person.





Getting into the mind of a person is the most efficient way how a trap could work. The purpose of the trap it to break somebody’s will. Without a strong will we are an easy prey for whatever lurks in the forest. As soon as we are depressed and disoriented we’re lost. Sometimes the victim returns but is changed forever.

Peter Weir’s famous movie “Picnic at Hanging Rock” describes the mysterious disappearance of a group of girls in the Australian outback. One of the victims returns but cannot describe what happened. The girl is changed and cannot remember anything.

The movie is based on a novel which is fiction but played around with the “based on a true story” pattern. The ending was left open for interpretation but the otherworldy quality of the “Hanging rock”, which exists, is a dominant motive. There are hints that it is the special quality or power of place itself which is responsible for the events.

This story is a very good example for a supernatural trap. It’s like a paradigm. We find similar stories surrounding other notorious place like Freetown-Fall River State Forest. In this case the forest itself seems to be the trap, like the famous woods in the Blairwitch-Movies.

Games In The Forest

Forest Horror Stories are in some way often close to the reality in a computer game or a simulation. This is because there seems not only the character’s misjudgment of the situation is leading him into dangerous territory. In the dark forest we are like Katniss Everdeen confronted with the interventions from an invisible game maker. It’s like being chosen for the hunger games without knowing it.

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Sometimes it´s surprising we accept the conceptual approach in forest horror because of course we know the story was written by an author and certain events in the forest are created by the director and his crew. This is always a problem in storytelling and drama and for badly introduced interventions which change the course of action there is even a term from the old Greeks. It’s called “deux ex machina”. Particularly if we see a so-called found coverage film it could easily look like some trick.

Of course good acting and the right use of effects and emotion could put the audience in a state where the audience doesn’t think too much about the construction of the story. However there is more about it. As said in the previous post it seems that on some level close to base reality the other world appears like a simulation (whereas it is questionable to interpret reality generally as simulation) or even a game where we have interventions of the “game maker”.

Perhaps we accept these stories because sometimes they feel true. Even in reality life is not “character-driven”. There are interventions from invisible forces from somewhere. Therefore the best writers are able to write something which rings true which make use of “cosmic interventions”. There are real cases which look like a weird constructed plot with supernatural interventions. This is an impression particularly if it comes to stories and reports of real events in the forest. Naturally its difficult to distinct between reality and “scripted reality” – every witness report gets interpreted, fictionalized or becoming a folk tale with some sort of morale in the end.

If we look at the real accounts of “forest horror” as described in “Dangerous lights” with cases in Brazil, Jacques Vallee’s investigation of the Happy Camp events in California, The Freetown Fall River Forest case or the Hoia Bacu Forest we find the same dramaturgy at the bottom of the story as in many forest horror stories. It looks like some “Elder Gods” orchestrating supernatural events which are overwhelming for the human mind. The events often go far beyond the “local old legend” encompassing some ghost roaming the woods.

A typical difference between “real accounts” from haunted woods and fictional horror is the forest as a physical attacker. What’s happening in the forest in most real stories is not so much a physical attack from the woods itself its more as something which happens somewhere in-between reality and imagination, somewhere between dream and real experience. Forest horror feels true if we understand Lovecraft’s idea of cosmic horror: “A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present” It all happens more on an atmospheric level rather than a pure physical level in the first place, only later it could lead to physical consequences.





These forces tend to play tricks with the mind. Indeed some events and sightings sound like a part of a game or like everything is happen in a form of virtual reality. However we don’t know the mechanism of the game or the intentions of the game maker. Thus we try rituals and study magic, often we need to solve a riddle in the forest and getting lost. We don’t understand any longer what’s going on. Perhaps this is the true nature of the game: It’s all about not losing your mind in the first place. Then we might be able to understand the nature of our own role in this game and overcome its limitations. Perhaps this is the trick both in a forest horror story or in real life: don’t do what the game maker wants you to do and overcome your limitations.

Fire In The Air

“There are also times when, as happens to a land when the sea-dykes break, the invisible forces flow in upon us and swamp our lives” (Dion Fortune).

“Something is breaking through from another dimension into ours…” (The Forest Dark Screenplay)

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Fire is the element which means both creation and destruction and most of all transformation.

“The aim of magic is to steal the fire from the heaven” said the English artist and occultist Austin Osman Spare.

If we see fire as a form of energy it is the kind of an extreme powerful force; it is an energy both inside and outside of the body.

When we say there is fire in the air it could mean not a literal fire, but – according to some sources – an otherworldly energy, which is more like an electric field in the first moment, then the air becomes more dense and hot until finally something breaks through.

These kind of super natural events happen in stories but are also mentioned in reports about strange encounters like in “Happy Camp”, California, in a series of UFO encounters.

The best way to understand the element of fire (and its meaning in the otherworld) is the myth of Prometheus.

Fire here means also wisdom. Fire is the light of knowledge. Prometheus brought it to mankind. That’s why Prometheus was punished by the Gods.

Furthermore there is a fire of creation. In Zoroastrianism the fire of creation is “a direct creation of God” and “the material universe coalesced from the fire or energy of creation.

Fire is also the transition between the spiritual and material creations”.

This could mean that the moment of transitions are dangerous because fire signals danger.

These ancient ideas could be an interesting alternative in understanding reports of contemporary contacts with the unknown; like the car driver which ended up in a strange illuminated mist,felt an unnaturally thick and hot air, lost consciousness and missed some time and later he could not remember what happened. In some of these encounters people later said they received sudden knowledge about the world which in normally unknown to mankind.

It’s also worth to think about what it means “to play with fire”. In my story somebody plays with the fire and faces unforeseen consequences.




 

Horror As A Quest For The Otherworld

Jonathan Black writes in his outstanding book, The Sacred History, “I look, too, at the work of the great storytellers of modern times, writers who can ask if there is a mystical dimension to our lives, if the world is shot through with meanings we did not put there, if we really are engaged in interaction with unembodied intelligence”.

Black writes, “In the age of scientific materialism this is perhaps the greatest philosophical question, and novelists, from Dostoyevsky and George Eliot to David Foster Wallace, have looked for mysterious patterns, mystic traces and otherworldly influences not in the epic lives of heroes, but in ordinary, everyday lives” (Sacred History, Preface).

In the best of all cases we find a deeper reality embedded in a novel or a movie. It’s something which cannot be forced by the writer. In some cases it seems the otherworld itself is the invisible guiding force giving the writer, artist or filmmaker hints from time to time.

And, maybe, through art, music, literature and movies something is communicated to the listener, the reader or the viewer. Is it possible that the writer is used as a “device”?

Asked where ideas come from David Lynch answered in an interview 2014 that ” “It comes, like, on a TV in your mind.”

And what is a TV? A TV is like a radio, a receiver connected with an antenna or in our days to the internet. It seems that our minds sometimes connect with the otherworld and receive important messages.

Of course its impossible to distinct between the works and fabrications of our own brain and these subtle guiding influences which happen only from time to time.

One little clue might be that it might be more images rather than complex thoughts which are transmitted directly into our consciousness.

However, identifying “mysterious pattern, mystic traces and otherwordly influences in our ordinary, everyday lives” is a demanding task.

Perhaps, the so-called-synchronistic-events come to mind as the book which opens on the right side or falls from the shelf. However we can’t say for sure what that means. “Otherworldy influence” seems to be executed usually more like a very weak current of electricity, which is difficult to measure.

The larger patterns of mysterious influence on our history is also a question of interpretation. Humans have a natural tendency to find some meaningful pattern everywhere which creates sometimes the weirdest conspiracy theories, and any interpretation should be done very carefully since we could easily deceive ourselves.

Nevertheless there are moments in life where we think it’s not a coincidence that we ended up in a certain situation or met somebody at a certain time which changed the course of our life. Even more, we might have seen a movie or read a novel which changed the course of our life. Is there a real otherworldly influence?

Yes, but I think  “mystic traces in everyday reality” might usually not appear as spectacular alien encounters but in the weirdness of our everyday reality itself.

Often, we watch out for strange apparitions but miss to see the obvious.

Today we’re not any longer “trained” to see strange things or mysterious turning points in history or in our lives.

In the old Greek tragedies or in Odysseus fateful journey divine intervention was responsible for many things. In our days we are on our own (officially).

But from time to time we feel different. Even very rational people often believe in astrology, which seems to work like a modern replacement for the interventions of the Elder Gods.

The artist however often wishes he could adjust the “TV set in the mind”, looking for different channels and get a better picture. It’s like seeing a strange light somewhere deep in the forest, and we wish to take a closer look.

Writing a (supernatural) story or developing a supernatural thriller is in some cases a quest for the otherworld or a kind of field research.  We have seen the mysterious light and hope a good story might reveal a bit more of it. We want to find some sense here, or find a sufficient reason or explanation for something which either happened in the real world or the sometimes weird and disturbing scenarios in our own imagination. Naturally here are many fears involved:

Disenfranchised from any idea of “interventions from the otherworld” any experience of an intrusion of the supernatural is experienced as horror, since we fear to lose control.

Since the rise of the epoch of science we have been told that we’re in control. We’re not allowed to lose control of our lives. If we lose control there will we punishment. And this is the moment where the horror begins.

Horror as a quest for the otherworld is therefore an attempt to do better, to understand the “mysterious traces in our ordinary lives ” and remember a way how to  deal with them.

Subsequently the best horror stories may frighten us because of their journey into darkness, but in the end they have also a healing quality as we have found a way to integrate the otherworld in our normal life.

 

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