Make Descansos to Mark the Macabre

I  first learned about the concept of Descansos when I read Clarissa Pinkola Estes ‘Women Who Run With Wolves’.

Estes describes how when you travel in Old Mexico, New Mexico, southern Colorado, Arizona, or parts of the South, you will see little white crosses by the roadside. These are descansos, resting places. The concept of marking resting places is not confined to the United States or Mexico. They may be found in Greece, Italy and many other countries, including Australia.

Recently I photographed this small cross that so clearly marks a spot for someone. It is not in a cemetery but in a reserve which memorializes the gold rush in this region. As I took the photograph I was actually thinking about the very dark side of the Victorian Goldfields that have been so well documented by Goldfields Guide – Exploring the Victorian Goldfields. I  considered ways to mark, document and lay to rest some of the important moments in the history  of this region in Victoria that so many choose to forget.

It may sound macabre but it can be cathartic to mark, with crosses, events that have impacted your life or, for that matter, macabre world events which have changed the course of history.

Metaphorically perch yourself high in a pine tree, in a place where you can see the whole picture. Mark things which still need to be mourned and consider spending time noting what has seemingly been forgotten, but which like the spirit of Joan of Arc lives on. For example, indigenous Australians are well aware of the trauma of colonisation but those of us whose ancestors were forcibly bought to this country in chains can forget what they were forced to endure and how those events changed the course of history for everyone involved.

Working with Descansos

Descansos and the Lunar Eclipse

Alexander Khan

Dagmar Overbye (1887 – 1929)

This piece is just the first of a series for those who are interested in researching and portraying a female serial killer.

Danish serial killer Overbye murdered anywhere between 9 and 25 children during a seven-year period (1913-1920) although some historians believe the figure could be as high as 200. She was born in 1887 and little is known about her early life. Overbye worked as a professional child caretaker where she was supposed to look after children born outside of marriage. It was known as a ‘babyfarm’ or an unofficial adoption agency, and it was the scene of her serial killing spree.

All of the murders happened in Copenhagen, Denmark and she killed the unfortunate victims via strangulation and drowning or else she burned them to death. Overbye buried and burned the corpses or else she hid them in the loft. There are scant details regarding her arrest in terms of how she was eventually caught. It is remarkable that she was able to murder so many children over such an extended period without arousing suspicion. Her trial was one of the most talked about in the history of Denmark and her actions resulted in changes to the nation’s childcare legislation.

During the trial, Overbye’s lawyer tried to defend his client by saying she was abused as a child. This cut no ice with the jury as she was found guilty of nine murders and the judge had no hesitation in sentencing her to death. Only three women received the death penalty in Denmark during the 20th century, but like the other two, Overbye’s sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.

After her arrest, over 180 children were reported missing from her ‘baby farm’. There is a possibility that these reports came from parents who committed their own misdeeds and they sought to cover things up, but one has to assume that Overbye almost certainly killed more than 25 children. She never spoke about her reasons for murdering the children; perhaps she saw herself as a missionary whose job was to get rid of unwanted babies. Whatever the reason, Overbye took it with her to the grave as she died in prison in 1929.

Therapeutic Power of Macabre Art

Refrigerator Magnet Advertised on Etsy

Art and art therapy is part of the technique of visualization, a technique which is actually a form of meditation. When undertaking visualization you may simply make something up. However, another form of visualization is to spend an extended period of time simply looking at an image, taking in all the detail and seeing what you want or need to see within.

Viewing any and all expressive art can have an amazing effect on your health. Consider how you felt the last time you walked through a gallery and perused the art. Reflect on how different pieces gave you different feelings? Did some of the dark and macabre art actually seem most appropriate at the time?

Everyone feels something different when they view a piece of expressive art, and it’s likely that your feelings are different than those of the person that made the art as well. It’s not really what the artist believed to be the point of the piece, but rather it is about what it does for you.

The fridge magnet shown here appeared on Etsy. This expressive face may, like the famous ‘The Scream’ by Edvard Munch depicts feelings we are not always encouraged to feel. Perhaps it sums up how you have felt at times, or how a character you are working with feels.

Take yourself to a gallery or check out some macabre art online and meditate upon the emotions depicted. Who knows! A character you are working with may gain depth as a result of this simple exercise.

Le Mante – Macabre Viewing

Have a Hannibal-shaped hole in your heart? Are you a lover of international crime dramas? Do you love to binge watch crime dramas? Allow us to introduce you to La Mante – “The Mantis” – a new Netflix original series that puts a fresh spin on the serial killer thriller. Starring Carole Bouquet, Fred Tesot, and a handful of other famous French actors, the French-language series wastes no time in introducing us to a grisly murder that sets up what is to come.

Bouquet stars as Jeanne Deber, a serial killer who terrorized France over 25 years ago and has since spent her days alone in prison. When the news of this murder and others like it reaches her and it becomes apparent that it is a copycat killer, she offers to lend her assistance – on one condition: her son Damien, who has not spoken to her since her arrest and is now a police officer, must work by her side. Desperate to help catch the killer, Damien agrees – even if it means throwing his own life into turmoil.

read more of this review

Internet Homicide – A Prompt

Source: Macabre News

A recent crime study has shown a sharp and drastic rise in strange and mystifying homicides around the world. Dozens of unsolved murders occurring monthly for the last several years have eerily similar statistics. Most occurred while the victims were surfing the internet on computers, or smart devices when they were murdered. According to the new study, thirty per cent of victims had their heart removed, while forty-two per cent of the victims were found dismembered using an undisclosed method. The other victims had met their horrible deaths in equally strange circumstances like broken necks, and loss of blood due to deep lacerations all over their bodies.

In almost every one of the cases specified by the study, the victims were found murdered in locked rooms or domiciles. In thirty per cent of these cases the alarm system was found to be active and on when their bodies were discovered. Various law enforcement agencies have simply no explanation for the murders, while many feel unofficially they could be the work of a serial killer cult.

What a back story! This is surely something for a creative mind to work with!

Macabre Crime – A Story Starter

IF THE WALLS OF THE former Centralia High School in Illinois could talk, they’d probably tell us the story of a bizarre crime wave that swept the campus in the 1940s. How else could 15 wallets from that decade end up stashed in an air duct in what was the women’s restroom?

Three weeks ago, an unsuspecting plumber—working on converting the old school building into a new space for the City Hope Church—pulled the wallets out of the bathroom wall as he tore it down for remodelling…. read more

Using material provided create a character who was responsible for collecting these ‘trophies’ from their victims.

The Swim Reaper

The Grim Reaper:
Artist: José Guadalupe Posada

Myths and horror stories are written about him

songs are written about him

we dress up like him for Halloween.

Times have changed and now The Grim Reaper is, in a twist, saving instead of collecting  lives in New Zealand.

The Grim One is now know as the Swim Reaper and he is warning people that if  you play dumb- you’re done and he off you go with our friend in black.

These are modern times, so it works out that the Swim Reaper is now an Instagram star and you can catch him in a more casual

setting instead of the more formal ones we see in art galleries and cemeteries.

I’ve always believed that a good story will grow legs and run on it’s own. It’s the reality of what happens when we write stories or music- some of these interpretations fall short of the original and some go beyond.

The Grim Reaper has been the Grim Reaper has been a fixture in many cultures to many people for a very long time.

That may have changed a bit in this case, and that is not such a bad thing.

For Your Condsideration

 

A Macabre Tale by the wonderful Tom Waits for your edification and inspiration

 

 

 

What’s he building in there?
What the hell is he building in there?
He has subscriptions to those magazines
He never waves when he goes by
He’s hiding something from the rest of us
He’s all to himself; I think I know why…
He took down the tire swing from the Peppertree
He has no children of his own, you see
He has no dog
And he has no friends and his lawn is dying
And what about all those packages he sends?
What’s he building in there?
With that hook light on the stairs
What’s he building in there?
I’ll tell you one thing: he’s not building a playhouse for the children
What’s he building in there?

Now what’s that sound from underneath the door?
He’s pounding nails into a hardwood floor
And I swear to God I heard someone moaning low
And I keep seeing the blue light of a T.V. show
He has a router and a table saw
And you won’t believe what Mr. Sticha saw
There’s poison underneath the sink, of course
But there’s also enough formaldehyde to choke a horse
What’s he building in there?
What the hell is he building in there?
I heard he has an ex-wife
In some place called Mayors Income, Tennessee
And he used to have a consulting business in Indonesia
But what’s he building in there?

Visiting The Other Room – A Writing Prompt

“Death is no more than passing from one room into another. But there’s a difference for me, you know. Because in that other room I shall be able to see.” – Helen Keller

“Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room”. – Henry Scott Holland

Find a place where you will not be disturbed.

Sit comfortably

Take three deep breaths to calm yourself.

Close your eyes.

Feel your body relaxing from the centre of your being outward, through your chest, through your arms to your hands, up to your back, through your neck and jaw. Relax your face, relax your eyes. Let the relaxation radiate through your pelvis and down your legs until it reaches the very tips of your toes.

Now that you are relaxed imagine you see a doorway in front of you. Move through that doorway into another room. The room is pleasant and open. At the other end of the room is something sitting, waiting patiently. Take three deep breaths and as you breathe begin to wiggle your toes and your fingers. Take note of all the sounds and sights in the room around you.

When you are ready to write start your timer and write freely for twenty minutes.

Now alter your perspective and write as though it was someone else who entered the room.