Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary, Bloody Mary...I did repeat over and over again into a mirror as a child. Taunting forth horror! Where did I get the idea to attempt to invoke an evil or tormented spirit? Well, probably from another kid. And that kid from another. Why did we love, and still love, to get a scare or to hear a good campfire story? Because, I think, it’s not just the paranormal that is fascinating, it’s the curious threat of the unexplained. The unexplainable wrapped in horror which actually triggers something important within us.
The fact that we are attracted to tales which thrive upon an uncertain edge of darkness, tells me that there is indeed something built dead center into our DNA that draws our attention to the spooky world of ghouls and ghosts, cryptids and beasts. Perhaps it is our instinctual need to practice facing fearful situations - like we do in our dreams. Maybe somehow we learn something about ourselves and to elevate us.
But is simply learning something why we get a thrill from being scared? So much so that we wish to experience it again? I do think that, like faux fighting kittens playing in order to prepare themselves for a real threat, we are practicing only for real danger. I think there is more to this. When I'm scared, it’s a distraction from my real-life problems. So in a sense, like any form of escapism, I am relieved of my woes. But even deeper than that, we are catapulted into a state of mind where, in some sense, we feel freer and more liberated. Elevated in an almost metaphysical sort of way. When adrenaline rushes and the sense of survival first overtakes us, there are no judgments; no prejudices; and no time for pettiness. The lines that our programmed minds have drawn for us (without our conscious consent) will disappear. Surviving is clearly the rush here.
Make no mistake, even for those that are racist - when it comes to your life - within a group of people you’ll quickly admit that anyone who can save your life is an equal. The racist wouldn't care what someone looks like or where they come from. The need to survive can eliminate prejudice, and in turn illuminates one's preconceptions because the conscious mind is forced wide open and will have no other choice but to see others for who they really are. Misguided prejudice can barely exist - if at all - when taking a helping hand. In this more extreme example you can see that preconceived boundaries are blurred. So in a sense, fright is a leveler. It can keep us grounded and honest with ourselves.
Combine fearful goosebumps with the broad philosophical contemplation of the paranormal and I feel like I can lightly tap into that Oneness which is life. Is it as profound or as tangible as having what some would call a religious experience or a psychedelic experience? No. Yet, we can still get fleeting rushes of that sensation during story-time moments. Based on my own experience this gives me comfort. That’s why I love Halloween’s blood pulsing ethos which invites us to explore the unknown, who we are, and be open to express hidden aspects of ourselves through costume and storytelling. Do I think scary movies, ghost stories and the like will make us all enlightened beings if we exposed ourselves and more people to it more often? Not exactly. But I'm confident that it would have a noticeable effect, where more people will better appreciate our life and our fellows in some way or another. The darker aspects of life - like danger, the paranormal and mystery - make it clear that there are plenty of gray areas in our existence. Who we are as humans becomes less black and white. Ultimately, willfully engaging in the scarier aspects of the paranormal nudges one's mind to open up - just a bit more.
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