Friday, May 2, 2014

Dark Figures of the Victorian Era


The Victorian Era produced an unprecedented and prolific group of thinkers, writers, mystics, spiritualists, inventors, and more.  They embodied the basic framework for all of us Paranormal Geeks today.  When asked who you would like to spend an afternoon with, most para-geeks would say one of these folks.

Sarah Winchester:  This heir to her gun maker husband, William Winchester, had a life of trials. She took in a psychic medium to help advise her to which the adviser recommended that Sarah was being haunted by those who died at the hands of the Winchester guns. Sarah decided to continue building onto her mansion nonstop until her passing so that the ghosts could not find her. Much of the Winchester House construction is useless busywork, stairways going to ceilings, doors to nowhere, and the like. Ironically this incredibly miserable mish mash of bad feng shui, actually would have been more of a trap for ghosts than a way to make them exit. Tours of this Northern California home are popular, as well as talk of it being haunted by Sarah herself. Movie based on her:  "Mrs. Winchester's House."

Nikola Tesla:  This Victorian Era inventor was best known for AC current electricity (alternating current), but this engineer/physicist had a vast amount of projects, many he never got credited for. In fact, this quirky man who was driven out by competitors and greedy folks, died in at 86, alone in the City of New York, having lived as a recluse with OCD tendencies in a rather Howard Hughes type of way.  Many consider Nikola Tesla to be the greatest inventor of all time and the ultimate geek (I agree!). There is a great mystique about some of the concepts he was talking about that might have included a super weapon.  Movie based on him:  "Tesla."

Harry Houdini:  This magician/stunt performer/escape artist was a tragic sort of figure.  He set his attention debunking psychics and mediums of the spiritualist movement. He was preoccupied with the loss of his mother and he told his wife that if he died, he would try to get her a message. They agreed upon the message he would send. His wife, after his passing, worked with psychics and seances to try to elucidate his message. The message was never passed.  A movie based on him:  "Houdini."

Charles Dickens:  Some of the most memorable characters of Victorian era fiction came from this noted author.  He wrote such mood and period pieces as "David Copperfield," "A Christmas Carol," "A Tale of Two Cities," and other classics. His works captured the dark features of the times and the peak of the Victorian Era.  Movie based on his work:  "A Christmas Carol."

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: This prolific author wrote over 60 whodunit style mysteries and is best known for creation of Sherlock Holmes. Movie based on his work: "Sherlock Holmes"

Charles Darwin:  This naturalist and geologist turned the world on its ear by showing a correlation between survival of species and their ability to adapt or evolve over time. He faced great anger from the powers that be, government and church, but they could not set aside the logic of his case.  In the end, he was instrumental in man accepting the logic of science and head into a new era that was ready for technology and rapid acceleration of knowledge.  Movie based on him: "Creation."

Jules Verne:  This French Novelist wrote fantastic and science fiction-like novels that had some basis on future concepts. "Journey to the Center of the Earth," "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea," and "Around the World in Eighty Days," showed a man who was very prophetic in his visions of the future technologies.  Movie based on his work: "Journey to the Center of the Earth."

Aleister Crowley:  This occultist, ceremonial magician and poet was a dark and turbulent character who traveled the world, was a hedonist to the excess, and searched for some sort of spiritual understanding that led to his obsession with personal magic. He was a social critic and a world traveler many times over. Ultimately, many credit him with dark magical arts.  Documentary based on him: "Masters of Darkness: Aleister Crowley."

Edgar Allen Poe:  This author and poet is, to this day, held up as the hero to all goths. He understood probing the dark recesses of one's soul, one's fears, one's isolation.  Although he wrote a prolific amount of everything from mystery to science fiction, he is most beloved for poems such as the infamous "The Raven." He tended to hit the bottle and had an interest in many unusual studies which made him an even more romantically dark character to those who would come to idolize him as the embodiment of the Victorian Era depressing focus.  Movie based on his work:  "The Fall of the House of Usher."

Mary Shelley: This author was best known for her disturbing novel "Frankenstein."  Once again, a rebellious and troubled life, having an affair with a married man and traveling Europe with him until his wife killed herself and then they could be wed. Although she died before the great wave of Victorian Era gothic revival, her work set a tone for the death-obsessed era of Queen Victoria. Movie based on her work: "Frankenstein"

Bram Stoker:  You have to admire this Irish novelist who wrote our beloved novel, "Dracula." He had a special obsession with mesmerism which might have played a role in the concept of Dracula being able to mesmerize his  victims.  Movie based on his work: "Bram Stoker's Dracula"

Edgar Rice Burroughs:  His fantastical writings included subjects like the Mars and science fiction, as well as Tarzan.  He was a prolific writer, having written over 80 novels in his time. Movie based on his work:  Tarzan.

H.G. Wells:  This English author specialized in science fiction themes.  He wrote beloved prophetic pieces like "The War of the Worlds," "The Time Machine," "The Invisible Man," and "The Island of Dr. Moreau."  Like most of these characters of a disruptive time, his personal life was turbulent. He married his cousin, but later fell in love with one of his students.  Movie based on his work: "Time After Time"

Edgar Cayce: A man considered to be a regular guy who had some health issues, ended up seeing a hypnotist and managed to open up something in his mind, an ability to sift through "Akashic Records" (all information of all that has been and will be). He was a prolific and prophetic clairvoyant who did many medical reads on people, but also told about things like Atlantis and the Sphinx. He was accredited with the New Age Movement. Today, there is an institute based on his life and readings.  Movie about him: "Edgar Cayce: The Beautiful Dreamer"

Queen Victoria:  After her father's three older brothers died, there were no other legitimate heirs but this female. She wanted to be able to exert control on policy but she was much more successful at setting the standards for good etiquette. She married her first cousin and had nine children. She was raised in isolation and very strictly by her mother and so standards for how things should be done were drilled into her and this passed on to the whole society during her reign. She never quite recovered from her husband's death and hence left a melancholy and prolonged grief upon her people and an entire era to which is referred to now as the Victorian Age.  Movie about her: "The Young Victoria"

There were numerous interesting and game-changing people from the Victorian Era who made us turn to science and wonder about death, dare to defy society and question authority. It was a revolutionary time in the most subtle of ways because, by going "dark" they helped us see the light.

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