Doppelgängers

Mirror, Mirror...
Mirror, Mirror…

Picture this: you’re standing in front of the mirror, brushing your teeth. Your reflection stares placidly back. A whistle from the kitchen startles you–you turn to look into the kitchen, and you see the noise is just the kettle going off. You turn your gaze back to the mirror, and in that instant, out of the corner of your eye, you are certain that your reflection has not moved. You lock eyes with yourself, but your reflection seems suddenly wrong. Are your eyes really so dark? Your chin so sharp?

But no. You tell yourself you’re just being stupid. Of course that’s what your reflection looks like–it’s you, after all. Isn’t it?

Maybe. Or maybe it’s your doppelgänger.

Although the German word doppelgänger, translating literally to “double-goer,” is a relatively recent addition to the vernacular, the concept of an alter-ego or shadow self appears frequently in the mythology and folk-lore of many world cultures. Although a physical lookalike or double of the person in question, a doppelgänger often takes the role of a darker counterpart to the self. In many cultures, it is said that to catch a glimpse of one’s doppelgänger is a harbinger of bad luck, and potentially an omen of one’s own death.

How They Met Themselves, by Dante Gabriel Rosetti
How They Met Themselves,
by Dante Gabriel Rosetti

In ancient Egyptian mythology, the ka was a tangible “spirit double” possessing the same memories and feelings as the physical counterpart. In some myths, the shadow double could be manipulated to perform tasks or duties while acting as their physical counterpart. In Norse mythology, a vardøger was a spirit predecessor, a shadowy double preceding a living person in location or activity, resulting in witnesses seeing or hearing a person before they actually arrived. And in Celtic mythology, a fetch was an exact, spectral double of a person, whose appearance was ominous in nature, often foretelling a person’s imminent death. The fetch could also act as a psychopomp, stealing away the soul of their living double and transporting them to the realm of the dead.

Continue reading “Doppelgängers” »

Haunted Landscapes

Image belongs to Killian Shoenberger
Image belongs to Killian Shoenberger

This past weekend I was privileged to attend Sirens 2014, a writer’s conference devoted to literature by and about women. I attended so many fantastic keynotes and panels, and found kinship and inspiration in the ideas and creativity of my fellow attendees. One panel in particular, however, sparked something deep within me; the panel discussing Haunted Landscapes, hosted by Kate Tremills, Roberta Cottam, and Kathryn Cottam. Perhaps it was the just the fog-drenched hills of the Columbia River Gorge, but the idea of landscapes echoing with memories of the past promptly tip-toed into my imagination–and refused to leave.

When I first heard the phrase haunted landscape, my mind immediately conjured up the setting of Wuthering Heights; a windswept moor, howling with the voices of restless spirits, and a cold, empty manor, full of memories and secrets. But any landscape, really, can be haunted–by terrible acts of violence, or moments of human bravery. History, memory, action–places are indelibly marked by the past, and by the people whose lives shifted and changed the environment around them.

Cloister Cemetery in the Snow, by Caspar David Friedrich
Cloister Cemetery in the Snow,
by Caspar David Friedrich

All too often, a haunted landscape is one that has borne witness to bloodshed, tragedy, or death. Ghosts of terror shade the atmosphere of a place, and some things never leave. We’ve all experienced this–the sudden hush of a cemetery, the creak of tree branches heavy with some unseen burden. In college, I visited the Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp just outside Berlin. From the moment I set foot through those gates, I sensed the layers of memory and pain etched into the very earth I walked on. The site of the Battle of Culloden–a battlefield soaked with the blood of an entire people, where the grass and sky heard the final breaths of a thousand brave soldiers. Tiananmen Square. The Tower of London. A Native American burial mound.

Continue reading “Haunted Landscapes” »

Monthly Post at Spellbound Scribes

Hello, my lovelies! Because it’s Halloween month, when the leaves start to change and everything is pumpkin flavored and things go bump in the night, I thought I’d try my hand at a piece of horror flash-fiction, called “Lost at Dusk”! Check it out here!

What’s your favorite thing about autumn? Let me know in the comment section below!

#PitchWars Mentee Blog Hop!

Oh! Hello there! I am delighted to be participating in Brenda Drake’s fantastic Pitch Wars contest this year, and figured I ought to throw my bio out there as part of the Mentee blog hop! If you have no interest in learning more about me, or for some reason really hate obnoxious amounts of GIFs, well, you might want to move along.

First off, I’m Lyra! (Yes, it’s my real name, and yes, the Golden Compass books were based entirely on my life.) I’m 26, and live in the Best City in America, aka Boston.

I’ve been writing since a very young age. My mom recently unearthed a short story, written and illustrated by eight-year-old moi, about a farmer tying chickens to pigs in order to prove the old adage “when pigs fly.” In 5th grade, I wrote a novel about a warrior princess named Jade and her trusty unicorn steed. My stories have since become slightly more sophisticated.

I’m pretty bad at Twitter. Like, I still don’t really get it?

I read. A lot. My worst nightmare is people asking me what my favorite book/author is–that question has no answer. I love fantasy first and foremost, but I’ll read just about anything. The last book I cried over: Leigh Bardugo’s Ruin and Rising. The last literary book I read: Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch. Book I’m itching to get my paws on: Sarah Rees Brennan’s Unmade.

I graduated from the University of Florida. With a major in Political Science and a minor in English. I once took a class called “Victorian Vampires” from a Romanian professor named Dragan who wore only black. (You can’t make this stuff up.)

I play the piano, sing, paint, and do calligraphy. My husband says I belong in an Austen novel since I’m such an “accomplished young lady.”

I am a fangirl. Full stop. I belong to more fandoms than I care to name. Supernatural, Doctor Who, BtVS, Battlestar Galactica, GoT…the list goes on. And on. I have no shame. What can I say, I love to squeeeee!

When I’ve had a few glasses of wine, I start to sound reeeaalll Southern. But that’s okay–there’s something to be said for growing up in the South.

And that’s me in a nutshell!

Be sure to head over to Dannie Morin’s blog to check out the other Mentee bios!

 

O Captain! My Captain!

"Good Morning Vietnam"
“Good Morning Vietnam”

I don’t usually blog about current events, much less celebrity deaths. When the newspapers are filled with school shootings and police shootings and dead Palestinian children and natural disasters, spending time mourning a famous person seems worse than trivial.

But it is a queer thing to cry for a stranger. To feel tears running down your cheeks and an ache in your chest for someone you never met, someone you only know through their on-screen performances. To feel genuinely heartbroken about the suicide of a famous person. But that is how I feel about Robin Williams’ death, and if the lachrymose outpouring on social media is any indication, I’m not the only person grieving for the late actor and comedian.

I never met Robin Williams, but he was a fixture in the pop culture of my childhood and an icon for my generation. He outran a stampede of animatronic jungle animals in Jumanji. His manic, ebullient, and mercurial voice-acting brought Genie to life in Aladdin. He hilariously cross-dressed as a Scottish nanny to spend time with his children in Mrs Doubtfire. And when I was older, he sat on a bench in the Boston Public Garden and said to a young and arrogant genius, “You’re just a kid. You don’t have the faintest idea what you’re talkin’ about.” He taught a group of young men about loving literature, about standing up for what they believed in, about seizing the day. “That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Genie, you’re free.

And that’s just to name a few.

Continue reading “O Captain! My Captain!” »

Page 1 of 24