Turned out to be a pretty strange, loosely-connected deal today friends. Came easy though so let’s run with it.
When I was a tween I was big into all things occult. Not to say I was a practicing version of anything, rather that I was just intrigued by the mystical and magical and unexplained. I’ve written about this before, I think.
I sat riveted to television shows about ghosts and UFOs and cults and other manner of unexplained phenomenon. Which, at that time, before the great “paranormal bastardization” of cable channels like TLC, Discovery, and the History Channel, were a more rare occurrence on television. I checked out and devoured books from the local library on psychic phenomenon, spontaneous human combustion, witchcraft, Stonehenge, Bigfoot, and the like. I don’t know what drew me so to this kind of stuff, which then seemed supremely interesting and truly mysterious and now seems just so many folks talking through their hats and is interesting mostly as a curious aspect of human nature. Anyway, I loved the stuff.
You can imagine, then, how awesome it was when I somehow convinced my folks to spring for a series of Time-Life books called Mysteries of the Unknown that I’d seen advertised on television. Looking back, I can’t imaging these were cheap, and I wonder at my parents’ willingness to purchase them on my behalf. There were thirty-three volumes in the set, and they’d send you a new one every month or so (remember when book-series’ like this were the rage?). Each volume focused on one of those so-loved “mysterious” pursuits of mine.
Holy crap I loved those books. And while I didn’t quite take them as gospel (the skeptic was strong in me, even then), I did at least ascribe them some credence. I remember vividly closing myself in my closet with my copy of Psychic Voyages, following to a tee the step-by-step instructions required for one to achieve “astral projection,” where the consciousness leaves the body and can travel seeing through the physical world. I was going to astral-project myself down the street, into the cul-de-sac, and into Mary’s bedroom if I had to try all damn afternoon. I never was able to have that out-of-body experience; never set foot in Mary’s room either (although I guess I could look for pictures of the modern-day version now that Sharaun is friends with her on the Facebook, if I really wanted to).
It was in these books somewhere that I learned that, in “the old days,” they used to hang bells above-ground with strings running down into the coffins of the newly-interred deceased. The idea being that, as death was more then often mispronounced for things like coma or other catatonic state, these poor buried-alive souls could then signal the world that they there were merely resting, not in final repose, but instead now awake and quite ready to be un-buried.
I don’t know why but that image concept really stuck with me as a kid, and I still use it as a powerful mental image for the intense fear that comes with utter helplessness. Even today, when that everyday entropy begins to weigh and I get the itch to “run away,” I see a mental image of a man furiously pulling a string he hopes is attached to a bell he can neither see nor hear. It’s a pretty striking picture of being “stuck” and wanting to change one’s present situation.
Later in life I had a brief obsession with one the series’ covered topics, alchemy. In my late twenties I got interested in the history and thought processes of the ancient physical alchemist, and subsequently the grafting of those physical precepts onto the field of psychology by Mr. Carl Jung. I wrote about that a little at some point too, I think over here. But for the most part I left the “mysteries of the unknown” for the tweenage me to ponder… and grew up into a mostly practical adult (who’s just a little given to whimsy).
What the heck am I talking about? Goodnight.
PS – Kristina, if you’re out there, you still have some of my books. Love you.