Saturday, December 29, 2012

Happy New Year - Victorian Style

With New Year's almost upon us, I wondered about the origins of our present customs and how our Victorian ancestors celebrated the turning of the year.



The custom of celebrating the new year on January 1 goes back to Roman times, when the calendar was standardized under Julius Ceasar. The name of the month January is after the Roman god Janus, a god with two faces looking in opposite directions, the guardian of doorways. The coming year being depicted as a new baby and the past year an old man, goes all the way back to Ancient Greece, with the baby being the reborn god Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry. Effigies of the old year were burnt, noise was made at midnight to scare away spirits of the old year, and a figure of the new years baby was paraded around in celebration. In later Christian times the Church first tried to get rid of these revelries, but then absorbed them changing the baby to the Christ child.



In Medieval times there was a custom of gift giving on New Years in some parts of Europe. In England gifts would be given to the king, and he would give gifts to loyal servants. The wealthy would also give gifts to their servants on this day.



Many of the Victorian practices are actually from the Scottish new years Hogmanay traditions. Queen Victoria was obsessed with all things Scottish and popularized many of the practices. Hogmanay was a bigger celebration in Scotland than Christmas, as the latter was see as too Catholic after the Protestant Reformation. Hogmanay traditions also included gift giving. It was considered good luck if the first person after midnight to cross the threshold brought gifts, traditionally buns, shortbread, coal, salt and whiskey, as the first person and what they brought,would foretell the family's fortune for the year. It was also auspicious if that person was male and dark haired (blonde foretold trouble). People took it so seriously there were complaints that women were left wandering around if caught outside after midnight, not let back in until a dark haired male got home!



Victorians also practiced gift giving on New Years of the items mentioned above. Sending cards, and gifts of gloves, oranges with cloves, nutmeg and money were all auspicious gifts. They also practiced foretelling the new year by what happened on Jan.01. It was said that what you were doing at midnight would predict the coming year. It was bad luck to be in bed as this might lead to illness. This is also where kissing your partner at midnight comes from. On New Year's Day it was bad luck to clear the hearth of ashes, as this was to be done the day before to clear out the old year. It was also bad luck to do laundry, or take fire out of the house, even in the form of a lamp or candle. It was considered important to have money in your pocket on this day or risk poverty for the coming year. Victorians also enjoyed practicing divination
on January 01, including tea leaf reading, and bibliomancy (opening a book,particularly the Bible, and reading a passage to predict the future). They were more concerned with foretelling the year than setting resolutions, which is a more modern practice.



I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year! What are some of your New Year's traditions?

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

I just wanted to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season and a fantastic new year! I'm so thankful for an eventful and wonderful 2012, and am looking forward to a new year and what it may bring. Thank you to all of you for following my little blog! I really appreciate all your views and comments. Below is my first vlog entry. It's one of my goals this coming year to do some vlogging. Don't worry, I'll still be blogging here as well. :)
 



 




Saturday, December 15, 2012

13 Small Happy Things

There is a stereotype out there that "goths are depressed". Personally I know this isn't true, as I'm not, and most goths I know aren't either. There is a tendency though, not just with us darker types, but even in the larger society to encourage cynicism and negativity. People who are happy are sometimes portrayed as stupid or naive, while those more pessimistic are thought of as more intellectual.


I personally don't buy this, as it actually takes effort to be happy and focus on the positive. I was reading recently about a psychological study where they found that those that labelled themselves as happy and those that said they were unhappy, had generally just as many good and bad events happen to them. It was which events they focused on in their lives that determined how happy or unhappy they were. (This does not refer to clinical depression, which is a serious mental health issue).
It can also be hard to be positive when bad things happen to us, or when we read of terrible events happening in the news. It is normal and natural to be saddened and angered by such things. It is important to remember in the face of such events, how precious life is, and what's really important, like friends and family. It is also important to remember the little things that make us happy.
In that spirit here is a list of 13 small things that make me happy to be alive.

1.Kittens - isn't this one adorable?


2. Narwhals - a unicorn and a whale combined! A universe that contains such a thing clearly cannot be all bad. This one is quite grumpy.


3. Classic My Little Ponies. I had this one when I was a kid. It's name was Parasol.


4. Speaking of which - parasols are pretty awesome too. I got one like this last Christmas from my lovely BF.



5. Speaking of which - Christmas in pretty amazing. One of my favourite foods at this time of year is the much maligned fruit cake. So yummy!



6. Gingerbread Lattes!


7. Snowy days - I love winter!


8. And on snowy days it's great to curl up with a good book like anything Austin or Bronte.


9. Or Harry Potter


10.Paint. I love getting new art supplies!


10. Egyptian gods - so regal and ancient.


11. I also am very inspired by Medieval art. The picture below is awesome because not only is it beautiful, but it also includes a catapult!


12. Gothic cathedrals - rib vaults and flying buttresses, oh my!


13. Tombstones with angels on them. I find them strangely comforting.



What are some of your favourite things?

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Saturday, December 8, 2012

Is There A Movement Away From Goth? And A Goth-tastic 2013

Lately in some of the blogs I have been reading, some of the authors have been moving away from using the "goth" label. In some this seems to be mainly in name mostly. I think the first I read was Le Professeur Gorhique,s blog, where she found her style had evolved into a more general dark direction, including a definite gothabilly bent. You can check out her new blog Professor Z'a Cabinet of Curiosities . Another one was The Ultimate Goth Guide, which is a really wonderfully written blog about the goth subculture. The articles are thoughtful and well researched, and it helped inspire me to start blogging. I have to admit I was saddened to see the author of such an lovely goth blog , decide that she no longer identified with with subculture, at least not as much as she used to.
You can check out her new blog here, Bohemian Bloomers, which is also well written as one would expect.




Random cemetery pic.
Then I thought more about it. We all grow and change. Sometimes we grow into goth (or whatever subculture) and sometimes we grow away from it. We all need to find ourselves at times, and we all do it in different ways.
This theme has been popping up too in my everyday life - people trying to find themselves. For some it seems that they are going through a time when life is very "blah". Nothing much is happening and things they thought would bring them happiness aren't. I know for myself, the last three years have brought a lot of changes like a separation and divorce, that made me reassess who I am and rediscover myself.
This made me reconnect with my gothy self which over my early thirties I had somewhat gotten away from (though never entirely).
Reconnecting with myself and the things I loved and discovering new things has made me a lot happier and I feel like my life is getting back into alignment.




Me looking goofy
Thinking about this and inspired by the two blogs mentioned above, (and especially by Batfit, which I'm glad to see our amazing professor is continuing into 2013), I thought about doing a gothy happiness project for the new year. Small weekly things that helped me reconnect and feel generally more joyful. I thought I would call it
"Goth-tastic 2013" with weekly assignments. If people chose to participate they wouldn't have to do all of them (unless they wanted), they could just do the ones that spoke to them.
I mean we should all feel free to be ourselves and be happy whatever label we use or don't.
In this spirit I hope you will check out these new blogs and join me in having a freaky fabulous 2013. :)




A random pic of a black kitten. What could be more adorable!
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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Bath and Bodyworks Christmas scent review

As you may have realized from past posts I am a fan of some of Bath and Bodywork's products. Their Christmas season line is out, so I went and purchased some, and here's a review of what I found.

Noel



This one was by far my favourite scent out of the whole line. It has a yummy vanilla scent. It makes me think of cupcakes! I really like the packaging as well, it's very Yuleish. I stocked up on the shower gel and the lotion as they has some great sales on. I definitely recommend this one.

Winter



This one smells like apples as the title denotes. It says candy apple on it, but I don't detect candy in the scent, just apples. It's my second favourite. I just got the hand lotion for now, but might get more later. I would recommend this one as well.

Sugarplum




This one smells of pink grapefruit, which is alright but doesn't seem very Christmasy to me. If you like grapefruit though, this would be nice, it's just not my taste.

Snowberry



I couldn't quite figure out what this smelled like, so of anyone knows, please leave a comment. I
Was the least keen on this one, but it wasn't terrible either.

Twisted Peppermint



I actually didn't see this in the store, just on the website. I do like peppermint, so am eager to check this one out on my next visit.

Have you tried any of these? What are your thoughts?

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ectoplasm and Spirit Cabinets

I'm a big fan of the paranormal and I love reading about Victorian ghost stories and spiritualism, particularly the theatrics they would use to convince their audiences.



One method was the use of mediums cabinets. It was invented by the Davenport Brothers, two mediums from Buffalo NY, in the 1850s. The medium would be bound inside the cabinet, in the darkened seance room. The cabinet was big enough for someone to sit in and sometimes would have holes in the side. They would stick hands out or stuffed gloves filled with cotton, supposed apparitions from the spirit world. Or they would play music from inside the cabinet, and when the cabinet was opened they would still be bound, convincing the audience spirits had been playing the instruments or manifesting body parts.



The cabinet could also be a simple curtained area to separate the medium from the audience. They would sometimes use lights or photographs appearing from behind the fabric as well, to amaze the participants.
Some would change in the cabinet and take on the personalities of their spirit guides. For example, one famous medium Mdme Esperance would play several characters including a young middle eastern girl named Yolande. She would dress up in flowing garments and flirt with the male members of the audience.
It is interesting that in such a strict society, mediumship gave women a way to loosen these restrictions. It was also thought that women were more passive and innocent so naturally made better mediums and were less likely to be frauds.



Ectoplasm was another trick used to convince the participants of a mediums ability. Described as a substance that was either cloth like, smoke like or gelatinous, the ectoplasm would emerge around the medium or out of their nose or mouth. It was said to be a side effect of contacting the spirit world, and a substance the spirit would use to manifest various forms. The participants were told not to touch the ectoplasm, as the medium could die.
One medium was exposed though as having swallowed a cheese cloth, which she later regurgitated.



While many mediums used tricks, it was a form of theatre that amused audiences and comforted those that had lost loved ones. I wonder also if some people had the ability to contact spirits but started to resort to trickery to make money or convince people of their worth.
What are your thoughts?
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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Teapunk!

Lately on Facebook Amy from Stripey Tights and Dark Delights mentioned the phrase "Teapunk". I was intrigued and inspired by this. In doing some research it is a phrase referring to the resurgence of the love of tea and tea time in the Steampunk sub culture. An in your face love of tea and all things tea related!



I thought wouldn't it be great if Teapunk became a subset all it's own? If people made tea time a part of their day and proudly announced their love of tea? When I was a girl, my English mum would revert to the British tradition of tea time, when we were on summer holiday. We would eat a large dinner at noon, then at 4 or 5 have tea time of sandwiches and dessert. I really like this.
Tea time was started by Anna Duchess of Bedford, one of Queen Victoria's ladies in waiting. She experienced a sinking feeling in the afternoon, so would order tea, sandwiches and cake to her room. From this the Victorian tradition of tea time emerged. I also experience that "sinking feeling" in the afternoon and enjoy having a nice cuppa at around 4pm.



I thought about hosting a Victorian tea party. Since my move I have sadly fallen out of hosting my parlour, but would love to do a tea party. Here's some tips on hosting one.
- Invitations - handwritten one's are suggested, but I think even a nicely designed Facebook one can suffice, with Victorian imagery. You can encourage guests to get dressed up as well.
- Decorations - a nicely set table is a must, with tablecloth, place settings, beautiful tea cups, saucers, and teapot, creamer, sugar bowl and a bowl for lemon wedges is also suggested. Of course, napkins, plates and cutlery for the snacks too. A nice centerpiece of flowers or seasonal decorations is also suggested as a Victorian touch.



-Menu - a traditional tea has 3 courses. Tea of various varieties can be offered throughout. Traditional one's like oolong, Earl Grey and English or Irish Breakfast tea ate all acceptable, and these days there are so many wonderful varieties you can pick up, why not try something new?
The first course is sandwiches. These are usually served without crusts and cut into small triangles or with a cookie cutter into fancy shapes. Cucumber, tuna, salmon and cream cheese, egg salad and watercress are traditional varieties.
The second course is scones. These are usually served with clotted cream and jam or lemon curd.
The final course is cakes and tarts. Jam tarts, sponge cake, and Cherries Jubilee were popular tea time desserts. In fact Cherries Jubilee was invented to celebrate Queen Victoria's jubilee year.



What is your favorite tea and accompaniments?
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Sunday, October 7, 2012

Review - Fight Like A Girl

I know Emilie Autumn's latest album Fight Like A Girl has been out since late July, but I only got it a few weeks ago, as I was waiting for it to come out on iTunes to be able to listen to it. It was released on this platform at the end of September, and I have been listening to it for the past couple of weeks, so here are my thoughts.
Overall I enjoy the album, and was glad that I kept in mind that this is meant to be the soundtrack for the musical based on her book, the Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls. It isn't like the last album Opheliac, though some songs do remind me of this with their more "industrial" sort of style. Many though you can tell are more showtuney. I usually don't care for musicals, but the songs on this album I like for the most part.
I haven't read the book ( I intend to) but I do have a general idea of the story and can see how the songs can fit the tale.



Fight Like A Girl - one of my favorites. It has been out for a while, so it's the track I'm most familiar with. It has an Opheliac sound and is probably the most danceable track on the album.

Time For Tea - I didn't care for this one at first, but the more I listened the more I enjoyed it. It goes with the story but is heavier than some of the more cabaret like pieces.

Four O'Clock Reprise/What Will I Remember - This intro piece and song slow things down and make me think of something from Les Mis.

Take The Pill - Another heavier song on the album, and one of my favorites.

Girls Girls Girls - this one is very cabaret. It's a fun criticism on Victorian attitudes towers women and mental illness. I often get this song in my head and sing "They're hot! They're nuts! They're suicidal!" Much to my BF's amusement.

I Don't Understand - a soft song, very pretty.

We Want Them Young - a darker song, but again I enjoy it.

If I Burn - Another one that is a little Opheliacish, and I quite like it.




Scavenger - this is sung from the point of view of the villain. I'm not overly keen on this one, but it may grow on me.

Gaslight - A prettier number, more romantic.

The Key - this song has more of a narrative feel and moves forward the action during the climax of the plot.

He'll is Empty - A short piece, again moving the narrative forward.

Gaslight Reprise - A gentle instrumental number.

Goodnight Sweet Ladies - a nice slower song, again with a theatrical feel.

Start Another Story - this is another one that makes me think of Les Mis. It's very pretty and soft.

One Foot In Front of the Other - a nice wrap up, mid tempo number.



What are your thoughts on the new album?

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Tea Leaves

This weekend I picked up something new to try out - a tea leaf reading cup. I enjoy reading tarot cards, runes, goddess cards and other oracle cards, but have always wanted to learn tea leaf reading as well. While you can use any tea cup for this, I picked up a specially designed one to help me learn.



Tea leaf reading or tasseography has been around for centuries. The art of fortune telling with tea is said to have originated in China, though people having been using various drinks to tell the future. In the Middle East, particularly in Turkey, coffee grounds were and still are used. In Europe during medieval times, people read the dregs in wine, so when tea was brought to the West, it was only natural that tea leaf reading should follow.



Romany "gypsies" known for their fortune telling skills helped spread this form of oracle around the British isles and Europe, in the 19th centuries. It became very popular throughout Scotland, Ireland and England during Victorian times, mostly as a parlour game for amusement. Some companies even started making specially designed tea cups for this.



Vintage fortune telling tea cup with symbols.



Another one with card symbols inside the cup, combining playing card reading as well.



Tea leaf reading became less popular during the 20th century, especially with the advent of tea bags. I'd really like to become proficient at it, as I think it's a fun skill to gave. I've tried it with coffee grounds without much success. I think I will buy myself a nice loose leaf that it is also delicious.
What are your thoughts on tasseography?

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Quick update

I haven't posted lately so I thought I would give you all an update. First I moved during August, which I am really happy about, though I found the packing exhausting. I took a week off to pack, and got sick with a bad cold/flu. Boourns! I called it the unvacation. Lol.
Since the fire at the apartment building I had been unable to move back. The company that owned the building kept moving back the return date. I was staying with my lovely BF since the fire, and we decided I should just stay! :) So I am now happily settled in with my lovely man.
Other than that, I have also been kept really busy with making paintings for my upcoming art show in January. I am well on my way to having things ready but I gotta male sure to keep the pace up!
I promise a longer post next time. For now here's some pics of cemeteries in autumn, my favorite time of year.







Oh and I got a cool bat anti-bac holder from Bath and Body Works.



His eyes light up. So cute!

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Bath and Body Works

It's that time of year when Hallowe'en type items start appearing on the shelves (oh goodie!). I love it, but I often have to restrain myself from buying so many spooky related items.
Last week I went to Bath and Body Works and snapped up some of the new fall items. I love autumnal smells like pumpkin, apples, cinnamon, fall leaves etc. I was really hoping they would have last years fragrance "Wicked Spiced Pumpkin", but no. :( I did pick up their Sweet Cinnamon Pumpkin, which is still very nice, though not quite as good.



I also got some anti bacterial soap in Creamy Pumpkin. Check out the art work.



Finally I picked up some cute little hand sanitizers.



Isn't he adorable?








And a couple of classics. :)

I found a few more on the website, that look really cute.







I will definitely go back for more "smelly items" as the BF calls them before fall is over.

What are dome of your favorite shops to go to for Hallowe'en things?

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