Gothic Women

Because I could not stop for Death —
He kindly stopped for me —
The Carriage held but just Ourselves —
And Immortality.

“The Chariot” by Emily Dickinson

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I left school when I was young but returned six years later to finish high school. I was delighted when the first poem we studied in English Literature was “The Chariot” by Emily Dickinson. Those opening lines haunted my mind and wound their way into my soul. When it came time for me to tell the class what I thought, the only person surprised at how much I loved the poem was our teacher. With scorn in her eyes she looked at me and said “I hope you are not one of those people who romanticises death?” Ummm …

My mouth dropped open as my classmates looked at me, looked at our teacher, then looked back at me. I was dressed in my “uniform” of long black dress and pointy witch shoes. My film noir tones of long black hair, black shadowed eyes and unnaturally white face were broken by the slash of bright red lipstick. The only thing brighter was my blood red Dracula medallion. I thought the answer to her question was pretty obvious. But as I looked at my classmates and then back to my teacher, the words that came out of mouth were “No, no I’m not.”

My classmates smirked, knowing it for the lie it was, but understanding the reason. I felt like Peter denying Jesus but I needed to pass the class. I was afraid that if I answered truthfully, she would think I was silly and mark me down. Her relieved sigh made me think I was right. When she then launched into a brutal attack on “people who romanticise death,” I knew I was right. I passed the class and went on to university where I continued my gothic pursuits. It was a lonely path in 1980’s Australia. Happily the world has changed!

I was going to continue this post by talking about a gothic art exhibition I went to, but I’m taking a different path. Thanks to the awesome Christine at witchlike, I found out that February is Women in Horror Month. I can’t believe I didn’t know this! One of the goals of WiHM is to celebrate women in the horror genre. As part of this celebration I thought I would share some of the beautiful paintings Anna Gerraty did for our Dracula Tarot. I began work on the tarot deck when I finished university. I was so lucky to find Anna, an artist more at home in the world of fairy than vampires and horror. Happily she was seduced by Dracula as so many of us are. Her paintings combine her whimsical fairy roots with the romance of the Victorian era and the horror and blood of the vampire.

Lady of Knives

Lucy Westenra as the “Bloofer Lady” – 
a newly turned vampire who drinks the blood of children

 

Countess of Goblets

Mina Harker becoming a vampire

 

Eight of Goblets

Mina Harker being marked as unclean by Van Helsing while the Weird Sisters implore her to 
“Come, sister. Come to us. Come! Come!”

 

Can you resist the siren call of our sisters in horror? I know I won’t!

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9 comments

  1. I have always loved that poem! What a small minded teacher to not allow you to fully express yourself. I am of the mind that it is healthy to let kids discuss death and death imagery. Ironically, the high school literature is full of it — from Romeo and Juliet to The Outsiders. You should have had me for your teacher, haha!

    I love the cards, such beautiful images of Mina and Lucy! She is a great artist. Thanks for linking my horror blog!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What’s even more odd is that it was a class for adults. I was the youngest at 21 and the oldest was in her 70’s. We weren’t impressionable teens! I would have loved to have you as my teacher. I would have had so much fun in class and learned so much!

      Always a pleasure to link to your great blogs 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, the teacher could have easily had a conversation about death, with older students. I do think they get it wrong about teens — there is a natural curiosity about death — that does not mean they are all suicidal. (Suicidal is actually a different issue.) I would have loved to have you as a student. You probably would have been my teacher’s pet!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. It may be a cultural thing. Most Eastern Europeans talk freely about death. I was taken to funerals when I was young and they were usually open coffin. So I was surprised by how many of my non Eastern European friends had never been to a funeral – let alone seen a dead body. I totally agree with you about teens and suicide. Being a goth and being suicidal are two different things.

        I most definitely would have been your teacher’s pet! I probably would have brought you gothic inspired cupcakes too. The rest of the class would have hated me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I never thought much about the Eastern Euro cultural death acceptance, but yes, you are right! I too was taken to funerals, and it never occurred to any adults that we should not go… nor did it occur to me! The coffins were open and we kissed the dead bodies good bye. It was no big deal haha. I still think of it all that way, but I now know some people have been appalled at me 🙂

        Ooh Goth inspired cupcakes would have been awesome! You would love my class on Christopher Marlowe’s Faustus — we eat Devil’s food cake at the end of the play 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      4. People do look at you funny when you tell them that you’ve kissed dead bodies!

        Your Faustus class sounds awesome! I love Devil’s food cake. I make Devil’s food cake cupcakes topped with maraschino cherries – very devilish 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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