Before I could drive, I spent a lot of time obsessing over the New Age section in the mall bookstore. Between those few shelves, it seems like all other genres just disappeared. The bookstore at the nearest mall was pretty much the only reason I had for getting out of my house. I’ve always tended to jump headfirst into anything that would peak my interest and soon it was as if there were no other sections in the bookstore. A mild interest in Astrology progressed into more slightly more diverse realms. I bought my first pack of tarot cards and tried to give myself a reading. I don’t know if I ever really understood the meanings of the cards – definitely not enough to give myself any insight into the future. If i had gained the insight, I might have done things differently – or not. I was also faintly interested in Pagan and Wiccan topics, herbs and natural remedies, witches almanacs, and supernatural topics like spirits, vampires, and werewolves. I also owned nearly all of Anton Lavey’s books. I was always more interested in the theology than the application of any occult related practices, however. When it comes down to it. I like my life without the known presence of anything supernatural. My imagination is already overactive. I don’t need to turn around and glimpse anything otherworldly over my shoulder.
That being said, I didn’t always feel this way – like a big scaredy cat. I’ve always had an interest in so-called darker things, and dipping a toe into the water of occult studies just seemed natural.
I had a Ouija board in Elementary school. Maybe around Fifth grade or so. Whenever a friend came over, we would try to summon conversation with various entities – God, Elvis, Buddy Holly, a recently deceased Great-Aunt that I had only met once and whose name I can no longer recall. I took the board to school. I had a crowd of friends who wanted to play on the playground, and another set who would help me balance the planchette on the long dusty school bus ride home.
After a time, the board lost its charm. It sat in an upper shelf of my closet until around Seventh grade when a friend and I rediscovered it just in time for a sleepover at her house. We pulled it out, talked for a while with a so-called entity whose name is long forgotten. We learned it liked music and pulled out a cassette tape from the Cocktail Soundtrack, (we were nerds, obviously,) and started dancing to the music. After a moment, I stopped dancing but the floorboard near me continued to pound. We were terrified. Maybe it was just a consequence of movement in an old, falling apart farmhouse, but that was the end of that.
After that, my interest was purely one of a scholarly manner.
I had several years after of on and off again dabbling in what could be called an earth based spirituality. I didn’t want to mess with Gods or Goddesses of any sort, but I felt in tune with nature around me. I lived in a very rural area with limited television. The internet was so far nonexistent. Our small bit of land, surrounded on two sides by corn or wheat fields and a dusty gravel road on another, had a garden, tons of climbing trees, and lots of privacy. It was easy to be surrounded by nature without distraction.
Rocks and things that come from the Earth had interested me since Elementary school. Our property had once been Reservation land, and it wasn’t uncommon to find arrowheads. I collected them and various rocks when we traveled. I learned the names of different rocks and started collecting crystals. Later, I started to learn the properties of the stones, how they could possibly protect me from or ward off things that were wanted. I sprinkled salt in doorways. I burned sage. I dabbled, but I always felt more comfortable with things that came from the Earth than i did with the idea of an unseen presence from the Heavens.
I cannot say for sure what influenced me in these pursuits but my interest in the occult slowly died off eventually without much consequence. I definitely feel more like myself after a good walk in the woods, appreciating all that grows around me, and the scent of trees and Earth. I used to say that a Sunday hike in the woods was my Church and in a lot of ways I feel that way even still.
I’m writing this because I do think that spending all that time in the New Age shelving was a bit of a pit stop on way to appreciating a Gothic lifestyle. In all honesty, it doesn’t have the slightest thing to do with becoming a Goth. It definitely wasn’t required and I would have found my way there, through the music, literature, and fashion, with or without it. I don’t want anyone reading this to think that they have to dabble or study the way I did. Instagram fashion is already full of those symbols. If that’s your thing – well, cool. But it doesn’t have to be.
Thanks for reading,
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