Standing on a Literary Legend’s Shoulders

The “Red Death” had long devastated the country. No pestilence had ever been so fatal, or so hideous. Blood was its Avatar and its seal–the redness and the horror of blood. There were sharp pains and sudden dizziness, and then profuse bleeding at the pores, with dissolution. The scarlet stains upon the body and especially upon the face of the victim were the pest ban which shut him out from the aid and from the sympathy of his fellow-men. And the whole seizure, progress and termination of the disease, were the incidents of half an hour…
Edgar Allen Poe Masque of the Red Death

In her book ‘Women Who Run With the Wolves’, Clarissa Pinkola Estes recalls a numinous dream in which she found herself standing on the shoulders of an old woman. When she suggested that she was young and that she should carry the older woman on her shoulders the woman quite firmly told her that “this is the way it is meant to be”.

All writers stand on the shoulders of those who have walked before them. The art of story writing is a very old medium and so new young storytellers are entering a medium that has been going on for millennia! When working with the start of Edgar Allen Poe’s ‘Masque of the Red Death’ young storytellers are not only learning from a master story writer. They are also learning to stand on the shoulders of others and to reference those who have influenced their writing.

Children love the ‘Masque of the Red Death’ and they know, from the outset, that this is not going to end well, that the Prince is not going to defeat the Red Death.

For this task, we listened to the beginning of the story and then

  1. Spent time drawing the castle and what we thought Red Death looked like.
  2. Brainstormed and thought about how Red Death would enter Prince Prospero’s fortress.
  3. Projected a week ahead and arrived on the scene as investigative news reporters.
  4. Wrote a headline!
  5. Submitted a news report!
  6. Considered other ways that we could use this information. Suggestions included writing a ballad or a poem, creating a graphic novel, producing a television script and preparing a feature article exploring ways in which Red Death was finally contained.
  7. Designed costumes for the ball.

More Edgar Allen Poe Stimuli

Would You Visit the House of Usher?

A Way to Feel Less Alone

Are you a writer, photographer, painter, sculptor, gastronomist, death doula or simply a fan of the macabre? We would love to have you join us and engage at Danse Macabre. This is just one project being offered to members of Bancroft Manor.

The World of Georgina McClure

Cartoon by Jonny Sun

Being open and vulnerable with your loneliness, sadness and fear can help you find comfort and feel less alone, says writer and artist Jonny Sun. In an honest talk filled with his signature illustrations, Sun shares how telling stories about feeling like an outsider helped him tap into an unexpected community and find a tiny sliver of light in the darkness.

Being persistent and consistently trying to reach out and be heard can be hard to sustain. Listen to Jonny Sun and you will appreciate how, as a creative who spends a lot of time alone, you may benefit from joining and actively engaging, connecting with others in the Bancroft Collective.

Bancroft Manor is a tiny sanctuary where people can connect and prove that we are not necessarily as alone as we may think we are.

Check the FAQ and consider whether it is worth investing…

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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

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

A Little Danse

At The Crossroads

Inspired by the Danse Macabre Prompt: Cemetery Exploring With Akari 

Photo A.M. Moscoso

One year, just a few days before Halloween I took a tour of some local haunted sights and I even visited a graveyard.

It was nightfall by the time we got to the remains of the cemetery- and I call it the remains because some graves and most of the headstones had been moved.

Apparently the cemetery had fallen into disrepair, it wasn’t being cared for and it had been over run by blackberry and sticker bushes- from what I understand some of the headstones had been stolen and vandalized too.

But then the community rallied and some changes were made.

I’m sure the process of cleaning the area up was done correctly and with the dignity required because this cemetery is located in a part of town where gentrification is taking place and nothing spells decorum and…

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Cemetery Exploring With Akari

Many years ago my late husband and I hopped from one National Trust Garden to another in the United Kingdom because our Australia National Trust membership gave us free access. Cemetery hopping not only introduces you to many well-manicured, serene spaces and can provide a focus for the traveller who does not want to follow the most popular tourist routes.

While Waiting For Godot

Workers and players have earned their repose.
Soon on their names all in vain we shall call,
For even the grandest old landmarks must fall.
Just a warm hand-clasp ere one disappears—
These are the last of the old pioneers.
John Sandes

Turn off the Castlemaine to Maldon road onto the gravel Sandy Creek road and follow the old Cobb & Co route, past the old hotel, where they stopped for a break and drive on  towards Welshman’s Reef through Box-ironbark country.

Welshmans Reef is a former gold mining town 15 km west of Castlemaine and 110 km north-west of Melbourne. The name presumably came about from a Welshman discovering the gold-bearing reef: there were numerous Welsh and Methodist settlers at neighbouring townships such as Fryerstown and Vaughan.

West of Welshmans Reef there were the Loddon flats, which enabled miners to diversify into farming. A school was opened in…

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