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Topic: Cemeteries & The Nature Of Fear
Message: Posted by: Leland Stone (Oct 9, 2004 11:29AM)
Hiya, Magi:

I enjoy visiting cemeteries, finding them fascinating on sociological, architectural, historical, and aesthetic levels. Even as an aficianado, I'll admit to being...well, uneasy in them around dusk, and prefer to leave during the day.

However, imagine a well-constructed movie set or theatre scene, with very realistic monuments, oven tombs, whatever. Even KNOWING that the whole thing was fake, I'd STILL feel uncomfortable in such a place after dark.

Yes, yes, I've grown up thoroughly marinated in horror films and spook stories, so there's some environmental conditioning at work in this little phobia. But is there something else taking place, something transcendent (a codification of the universal recognition of mortality, for instance) that might be exploited for Bizarre or other Magic?

Thoughts? Comments? Thanks!

Message: Posted by: Mark Rough (Oct 9, 2004 12:21PM)
Hey Leland,

I too am a cemetary afficienado. And I also get the creeps around dusk. Strangely enough, when it's fully dark I feel fine. There's something about that in between time that just gets me in the gut.

Have you ever seen Eugene Burger's bizarre tape, "Eugene goes Bizarre"? There's a nice sequence shot in a cemetary in Chicago, the name escapes me at the moment. Very nice. He makes the connection between that feeling and our understanding of mortality. Good fodder for those interested in the bizarre.

Message: Posted by: El_Lamo (Oct 9, 2004 12:44PM)

I really appreciated your post. It got me thinking. I find cemeteries in the daytime to be very peaceful. But I have considerable apprehension at night. Maybe it is because everything is not as it appears.

The lack of light makes us acknowledge the ambiguity of everything. We are aware of are own mortality, our sins and shortcomings. At the same time, we stand amongst the remnants, the echoes of the lives of others. Are we being judged? The cemetery is the world of IF...
IF it is possible, whatever you imagine IF to be, then the cemetery is the place.

In the daylight, Mr. Brown's grave is beautiful, peaceful, a silent reminder of his life. May he rest in peace. At night, we reflect more on Mr. Brown's not so nice side. He was a cheat and wife beater. The night shadows reveal the subtleties of grey that make up our existence and interactions with others.

Now, you are alone at night in a cemetery. Alone.
Is it safe to be alone. What if you are truly not alone. What if someone else is there? Now... Who would be there? Plus who could be up to good in a cemetery in the dark. What nefarious activity could he or she be undertaking. Who would hear you if you scream. Who would rescue you? Who would dare?

Cemetaries fascinate us and repel us. Why is 6 feet under a hit? It plays on our psyche, it is painful and funny.

Cemeteries sometimes appear in dreams. Here are some dream analysis meanings for cemeteries: To dream of a cemetery indicates that you shall soon get unexpected news of the recovery of one who was seriously nearing death.
A cemetery is a collection of dead organic matter. It is a sad and depressing place that doesn't reflect any joy, and reflects even less hope. Dreaming about cemeteries may be a reflection of your mood or unresolved grief. It may literally represent sadness that comes from losing someone that you love, or it could represent your past and long-gone experiences.

Coimetrophobia refers to an abnormal and persistent fear of cemeteries
[url=http://www.phobia-fear-release.com/cemetery-fear.html] Cemetery Fear Treatment [/url]

Another link that you might be interested is information about [url=http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/006018518X/102-3659819-3194532?v=glance&vi=reviews] Cemetery Stories: Haunted Graveyards, Embalming Secrets, and the Life of a Corpse After Death by Katherine Ramsland [/url]

Cheers - El Lamo

Many of our greatest fears are reverberations of real happenings in our universal and collective history. Cemeteries, piles of bodies, black plague, being buried alive, grave robbers, dying without grace, trauma, disease, sorrow, loss and grief. We try to find purpose with science, faith, mystery and magic.

P.S. We could meet one evening to discuss this further. I know a quiet place.
Message: Posted by: Slim Price (Oct 9, 2004 02:28PM)
Many years ago, I worked in a very old, large cemetary. Some of the things there were Uh, interesting.
Message: Posted by: Greg Arce (Oct 9, 2004 04:05PM)
My two cents, unfortunately, or fortunately, I don't have these fears... never have.
I guess it depends on your belief system. I personally don't believe in ghosts so there's nothing inside of me telling me I'm going to run into one at a cemetary. When I was younger, in my teens, I tried to record "ghost sounds" by taping them at night at a local cemetary and at a friend's house that was supposedly haunted. I didn't get anything on the tapes, but I remember my friends wondering why I wasn't spooked by being in a cemetary alone or in that "haunted house."
I've always liked an expression I read on a button once and I use it all the time: The dark is afraid of ME!

Message: Posted by: Clifford the Red (Oct 9, 2004 08:31PM)
Oh I love graveyards! Ok, I may be creepy but I really enjoy walking in them and reading about the people, and I take pictures of interesting markers and monuments (never know when they'll be useful for some effect!)

The cemetary in Eugene Goes Bizarre is Graceland Cemetary and is a truly amazing place. The most astounding enormous monuments you will ever see and the place is full of them.

I also love old New England cemetaries because they have great antique carvings and are full with the real people who built America - you can feel the sacrifice and courage as you read the tombstones. Sometimes there are parents who lost every one of their children, sometimes there are people who were killed by the British, sometimes there are people who lived and served to a ripe old age. The history is amazing.

So am I afraid? No, I am honored to walk among their bones and remember them.
Message: Posted by: PinkGlove (Oct 10, 2004 05:51AM)
I can handle walking around a cemetary in the dark, but dusk also seems to "get" me. I'm an atheist, and I don't beleive in any kind of supernatural things.

I'm always amused at how ghosts can "only come out at night".
Message: Posted by: Dr_Stephen_Midnight (Oct 10, 2004 10:06AM)
When my wife, Andrea, and I went on our first real date, we visited the 'haunted' antique town of Waynesville, and followed with a picnic in the Lebanon Historical Cemetary, laying out our spread beneath a large shade tree behind two large tombstones.
We followed that with a triple feature at a local 'retro' drive-in; the last feature was "The Haunting."

Message: Posted by: Clifford the Red (Oct 10, 2004 02:34PM)
So she knew what she was getting into :)
Message: Posted by: Leland Stone (Oct 10, 2004 03:52PM)
Hiya, Magi:

Thanks for the input -- good, thought-provoking stuff, and something of a relief to find I'm not the only one enjoying this sort of thing.

Curiously, I don't believe in ghosts, yet the non-rational part of my brain overrides this intellectual affirmation. "Fight or flight" mechanism kicking in, responding to a perceived or imagined danger? The "sense of mortality" that's been mentioned certainly would explain revulsion or avoidance of cemeteries, but the fear response is strange. How does recognition of mortality result in being afraid?

Thanks again for the input -- there's a real vein to be mined here for the bizarrist!

Message: Posted by: Dr_Stephen_Midnight (Oct 10, 2004 06:07PM)
Well, Leland, if you ever visit our townhouse, just ignore the four entities that share the abode with myself, my wife and the family dog.
Message: Posted by: Tspall (Oct 10, 2004 08:08PM)
I'm glad to read that it's not just me who finds cemetaries facinating. My girlfriend always teases me as we pass a cemetary and I start looking at the headstones. I've discovered that, here in North Carolina, there are some old graves around and such a wide variety of headstones. If you like such things, it's very interesting.

I think part of the reason why dusk is more nerve-wracking than daylight or night is that at dusk is when we see at our worst. Our eyes have a hard time adjusting to such a strange light. Not fully dark but not totally light either. This is part of the reason why it's so dangerous to drive during this time. Perhaps it's a subconcious reaction to the fact that you can't see as well as usual and your mind is reacting to that..?

It's just like in a bizarre routine. Sometimes the things they *almost* see are more frightening than what they definitely see.
Message: Posted by: Laughing Otter (Oct 10, 2004 08:22PM)
Not only is the light fading, the shadows are becoming longer and deeper. I think it's the shadows that get to me.
Message: Posted by: prof_dumbledor7 (Oct 11, 2004 05:06AM)
Well as I spend many of my weekend nights in Cemeteries I only had this fear once. I am a paranormal investigator and Asst Director For LVSSI (Las Vegas Society of Supernatural Investigation). I find most of them to be peaceful and inviting. It all goes bad to a fear of the unknow. A fear of our own mortality. What is beyond this world. And Dr Midnight Good Luck with you visitor.

Asst. Director
Message: Posted by: Dr_Stephen_Midnight (Oct 11, 2004 05:51AM)
Thank you, Matthew; they're actually quite pleasant, though one keeps changing the times on our digital clocks to odd times.

Message: Posted by: PinkGlove (Oct 11, 2004 01:57PM)
When I am at home, I will quite happily stroll around a cemetary. I'm comfortable with my own mortality.
Message: Posted by: Lee Darrow (Oct 11, 2004 04:50PM)
For me, the only real fear I have in a cemetary at night comes from the gang-bangers that like to party there - and the drug dealers who sometimes conduct business there after hours. ;)

The other fear in a cemetary at night is getting caught trespassing, of course! ;)

For me, the fear is more about the real world issues of being alone in a secluded place - one that has lots of hiding places for someone to jump out at me and attack from, all kidding aside.

Whether the surprise comes from an otherworldly critter or some Crip or Blood with a cutter, it's still a surprise and a nasty one. And it's the fear of that nsty surprise that may well be the core of the concern that many people have about such places.

I could also be dead wrong, too! ;)

Lee Darrow, C.H.
Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Oct 11, 2004 05:42PM)
It's not about mortality.

it's about unfinished business.

The stuff we have to let slide and deny just to get through the day.

The people and situations we pretended to ignore so we could get on with our day.

Yet, there they are in the graveyard. Reminders of yesterday and things we can no longer change.

It's a cool wind that that blows there, in the graveyard of our memories.

What would we do differently? What would we say to them today? Would we ask them what they want?

Easier to just be scared and continue through the day.
Message: Posted by: Phil Thomas (Oct 11, 2004 06:45PM)
I don't get scared in cemeteries. Now funeral homes give me the willies. I could barely bring myself to go to my own grandpa's funeral several years ago! :wow:
Message: Posted by: Necromancer (Oct 12, 2004 10:02AM)
As you might suspect from my moniker, I have a special fondness for cemeteries.

They are beautiful, serene places. In some urban areas, they are oases -- the only expanses of greenery that are left, and sculpture gardens that almost call to you to pause, examine and reflect.

Remember: until American culture became obsessed with youth, Americans used to have a closer relationship with aging and death. People used to take their families there on a regular basis, treating it as a park in which to have picnics and to spend time with the memories of their departed loved ones.

Cemeteries were a place for living. And I recommend you rediscover the cemeteries in your own area.

I am fortunate to live in the Chicago area, which has some of the most outstanding cemetery art in the nation. It was no accident that Burger filmed in Graceland cemetery: it is amazing (I even use a photo of Lorado Taft's monument, Eternal Silence, in my materials for "Supernatural Chicago"). Architects Mies van der Rohe, Daniel Burnham, and Louis Sullivan are all here, as is the masoleum Sullivan created for the Getty family that has since been granted Chicago landmark status. Many of the more monied families are here as well, including that of retail magnate Marshall Field, meat-packing giant Phillip D. Armour, railroad tycoon George Pullman...the list goes on and on.

Not to be ignored is Rosehill Cemetery, which includes the tallest monument in Chicago, a 70-foot obelisk in memory of departed Mayor "Long John" Wentworth (who himself was 6'6"). The 36-foot Volunteer Fireman's Monument by Leonard Volk is another highlight (a replica of it was used in the film, Backdraft). There's also the unforgettable glass-encased marble sculpture remembering a little girl, Lulu Fellows. And don't forget the Community Masoleum, with its color-drenched stained glass windows by Louis Comfort Tiffany. It houses retailers Aaron Montgomery Ward and Richard Warren Sears, and in its own ocean-themed room, the family of philanthopist John G. Shedd, benefactor of Chicago's Shedd Aquarium.

I could go on, but unless you're planning a trip to Chicago, there's no point. Instead, I urge you to take a stroll in your local cemetery, discover the history and beauty and art that reside there. If you're not up for long walks, just sitting on a bench and reading a book can be a wonderful experience.

If it happens that you are in the Chicago area, I highly recommend the book, Graveyards of Chicago by Matt Hucke and Ursula Bielski (Chicago: Lake Claremont Press, 1999) -- it's your own tour guide through dozens of cemeteries in and around Chicago. Invaluable.

For a beautiful book of photographs depicting some of the finest cemetery art in Chicago and the Midwest, pick up Soul In The Stone by John Gary Brown (Kansas: University Press of Kansas, 1994). It's a well produced, knowledgably presented, oversize art book you'll leaf through again and again.

Lastly, an art book with a European perspective is Beautiful Death by David Robinson (New York: Viking Penguin, 1996). You'll find fascinating examples of cemetery art from Italy, Prague, England, France, Spain and Portugal between its covers, plus a moving essay by award-winning author Dean Koontz.

Message: Posted by: Dr_Stephen_Midnight (Oct 12, 2004 10:43AM)
A major part of the fear, and the concept of ghosts, vampires, etc., stems from the primorial problem of death itself.
Someone you knew died. The remains are still there, but the motivating force and the ego are gone...or are they?
Are the dead 'gone,' or does the ego move on...or simply hover about us.
Do the dead remain dead...or can they rise again, as with a vampire or zombie?
Hence the traditions of burial. Place the body in the ground or a tomb where it will remain imprisoned. Be sure to bury it respectfully; dress it well, maybe bury its belongings with it.
Let it have no reason to want to come back to level a grievance against the living.
In a nutshell, ancient man's confusion with death, and their fear of the dead has never left the human psyche.

Message: Posted by: Jonathan Townsend (Oct 12, 2004 10:53AM)
On 2004-10-12 11:43, Dr_Stephen_Midnight wrote:
... The remains are still there, but the motivating force and the ego are gone...or are they?...[/quote]

Correct, and if you did not have unfinished business.... why would you worry?
Message: Posted by: Necromancer (Oct 12, 2004 11:56AM)
I couldn't agree more, Jonathan. We all have unfinished business or unrealized desires.

So in some ways, cemeteries are less about death than they are reminders to the living to do the things we dream -- not later, but now, before we no longer have the opportunity.

It reminds me of the Rider Waite tarot card depicting Judgment: people standing in their graves, called into action by the archangel's trumpet blast.

Wake up! T'kiyah! Carpe diem!


On 2004-10-12 11:53, Jonathan Townsend wrote:
On 2004-10-12 11:43, Dr_Stephen_Midnight wrote:
... The remains are still there, but the motivating force and the ego are gone...or are they?...[/quote]

Correct, and if you did not have unfinished business.... why would you worry?
Message: Posted by: Slim Price (Oct 12, 2004 04:35PM)
I really enjoyed working in a cemetary and the mechanics of working there were a revelation. The traquility of being there from dawn util night fall were comfortable.... Add to that, I had hundred of people under me and many more dying to get in! (I just couldn't help it...)
Message: Posted by: Reis O'Brien (Oct 13, 2004 08:11AM)
As peaceful as cemetaries can be, I think there will always be a small part of us that is uneasy being reminded of our eventual fates. There's always that little voice out there that whispers to us, "Yes... you too will be here one day... count on it..."