Wednesday, June 23, 2010

"Paranormal is Nothing New" - a guest post by JOYCE LAVENE

Many people look at the paranormal leanings of fiction right now – vampires, werewolves, witches and zombies – and wonder what’s going on. Why are people so obsessed with ghosts and supernatural lore?

This isn’t the first time an entire generation of people have craved fiction –and nonfiction – about things they couldn’t explain. At the end and beginning of each century as far back as anyone would care to trace, the same thing has happened.

At the end of the last century and as far into the next as the 1930s, people craved ghost stories and fearful supernatural tales. It was the time Dracula and Frankenstein were born and raised to star status.

The United States and Europe were amazed at the wonders of mediums and many attended séances on a regular basis. Even Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of President Abraham Lincoln, held séances at the White House. People looked at photographs of ectoplasm and fairies for the first time.

The century before that, Freemasonry was rife in the U.S. with all its mysticism. From the late 1700s to the early 1800s, Gothic fiction was popular. Edgar Allen Poe, H.P Lovecraft and others were writing about ghosts and phantasms too awful to contemplate.

From the last 1600s to the early 1700s, the Salem Witch Trials were taking place in this country. You can bet there wasn’t much paranormal literature (or reading) going on at that terrible time in history. Driven by tales from several young girls about witches, familiars and evil spirits, hundreds of people were arrested and interrogated, sometimes until they were dead. Dozens were put to death for their crimes.

Our current fixation with devils, demons and the like is related historically to these times. At the end of each century, there has always been the fear that something terrible was going to happen, that the world would not go on. People fled to caves and hid in their cellars at these times – and they invented supernatural lore to help them deal with the things they didn’t understand.

In some ways, people have always been right about these time changes being the harbingers of something bad. Every generation also experiences a terrible war at the end and first few years of new centuries. Spiritualism became more popular at the end of World War I when thousands wanted to speak to their dead loved ones one last time.

In the face of real and present danger today from a poisoned environment, war, financial ruin and hardship, the danger from bloodsucking vampires doesn’t sound too bad. Or maybe, it sounds so bad that we can be glad we’re not really there.

And at least this time around, we aren’t really killing witches – just writing about it!

You can visit Joyce at her website always, it's been a pleasure having Joyce visit us.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Joyce,
    Wow, what a fascinating blog.Those Salem witch trials must have been horrific.