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The Powers of Darkness

Posted by Erik on September 30, 2008

A Guest Post from Jeff of Druid Journal

A couple of months ago my friend Kate Gladstone wrote to me:

I guarantee you will never forget this: detailed six-page article on
the mythological system created by homeless kids.
Click the link below to start Page 1 …

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/1997-06-05/news/myths-over-miami/1

She was right. It’s a long article, so don’t feel compelled to jump right over and read it immediately, but it is amazing, poignant, and harrowing, and should be read.  The children have collectively created a mythology that is rich, colorful, and choked with fear and desperation.  For someone such as myself, who believes in various overlapping mythological systems, it raises all sorts of difficult and vital issues.  Are the children really tapping into spiritual truths?  Are they actually being contacted by spirits, as they claim?  If so, why is their vision so full of fear and doom, when the visions of so many other spiritual people have so much light and joy?

Below, I’ll outline the mythology, and then describe the result of some meditation I’ve done on this, and offer some partial answers.

Mythology of Fear

God has lost hope and abandoned Heaven and Earth.

His angels remain — well, some of them do — and continue to fight the good fight.  But Satan and his demons have opened a multitude of doors into our world, and are invading in force.  The angels are losing.  The evidence of transcendent evil is everywhere for these children, in a world where drugs and gangs and violence and gunfire repeatedly tear their fragile lives apart.

The spirit world is populated with angels, demons, and ghosts — dozens, hundreds of ghosts, the wandering dead — homeless in death as they were in life.  Even the angels themselves are essentially homeless, since Heaven has been lost to Satan.  Somewhere in the jungles beyond Miami is a safe, if temporary, refuge, a place guarded by giant crocodiles, where souls can go to rest for a while.  But the dead can only enter it if a fresh green palm leaf is dropped on their graves.

There are two mighty spirits that figure prominently in the childrens’ mythology.  One, known as the Blue Lady, lives out in the ocean, and sometimes comes to help the children, and speaks comfort to them from afar.  Her skin and eyes are pale blue, and her hair is dark, and she is surrounded by multicolored flowers.  She lives under a spell or curse that limits her power, and she can only help those who know her true name.  But she loves all the children, and for many of them, the simple knowledge of that love is a great comfort.

But the other mighty spirit is an evil one, and much more potent.  Bloody Mary is her name, and La Llorona (the Weeping Woman), and she delights in and feeds on the mutilation and death of children.  Even Satan fears her.  Her eyes are empty sockets that cry blood or black tears, and if you see her, with her robes blowing about without wind, and her red rosaries clicking, you know she has marked you for death.  She enters the hearts of friends and family and turns them into deadly enemies.  If you dare, smear a mirror with ocean water, and stare at it in the dark as you chant her name, and she will come.  The stories say that she killed her own child, and has made a pact with the devil to kill all human children.  The stories say even more horrible things, but I will not repeat them here.

From the Mouths of Babes

How do the children know these things?  Some of the stories are obviously derived from urban legends found in other places.  The basics of the Bloody Mary story are known to children throughout America and Europe, especially among girls, although her name is variously Mary Worth or Worthy, Mary Worthington, or Hell Mary, and she is not always viewed as evil.  The Bloody Mary legend appears to have been merged with the La Llorona legend of Latin America, a woman crying for her children, whom she drowned.  (If you want to be horrified a dozen times over, look at the Wikipedia articles on these urban legends.)  As for the Blue Lady, she may have derived from Yemana (or Yemaya or Imanja or Big Mama Wati), a compassionate blue-robed Santeria ocean goddess.

But none of this explains the children who have seen and spoken to these spirits, and whose lives have been touched — for good and for bad — by them.  They do not explain the angels and dead relatives that come to the children and give them updates on how the War is going.  They do not explain the child haunted nightly by the ghost of his father until he managed to place fresh leaves on his grave.  They do not explain the girl who met the Blue Lady in the midst of a hurricane, and learned a complex hymn of hope from her.  They do not explain the gang that called on Bloody Mary to help them protect one of their members from justice… and how she incited them to kill him themselves.

So this mythology is not a false one; it is at least partly true.  But how can that be?  Those of us who pray to God know full well that He has not abandoned us.  Those of us who pray to pantheons have experienced firsthand the richness of the spirit world, the cycles of growth and retreat, and the supreme power of Light over Dark (if Dark is acknowledged to be anything other than an illusion!).  How can the children be so clearly connected to the spirit world, and yet draw from it so much fear and horror?

The Fascination of Horror

Have you stood in front of a dark mirror and called out her name?  Most of us have.  Anyone who hears this story is bound to be horrified, but also intrigued and curious…  Would it work?  Would she really come?  What would it be like?  Am I brave enough to do it — and if I am, and she appears, am I brave enough to do anything other than scream?

The excitment and delight and thrill of a really good scare — this is nearly universal among us.  But why?

Regardless of whether Bloody Mary is real, any attempt to contact her or summon her is at best an act of idiocy, at worst a particularly unpleasant way to commit suicide.  What is it that pulls us to her?  What is the source of the fascination?

In meditation, I visited my anima, who had this to say.

First, yes, Bloody Mary is real, and so are a whole host of other evil spirits.  But in fact they are not very powerful.  In and of themselves, most of them can be banished by sunlight on daisies.  What really gives them power over us is our own fear and ignorance.  They cannot affect us unless our fear drives us down to a low enough “vibration” that they can reach us.  Bloody Mary will not appear in the mirror unless you are already ridiculously frightened — the fear alone will give her the strength to take on a visible form.  She really does feed on fear, in a very literal way; and lack of fear will render her powerless.

So what is the source of the fascination?  First, understand that we are immortal souls; we may be damaged or blocked for a while, but we cannot be destroyed.  Second, remember that it is by facing our fears that we grow and mature.  Therefore, what could be more natural than a fascination — an attraction — to danger and adventure?  Danger is nothing more than an invitation to growth; fascination with it is healthy.

But for these homeless children, who have fear and desperation as constant companions, and have few comforts in life, Bloody Mary is a power to be avoided at all costs.

The Creeping Horrors

I experienced the fascination of horror myself while I was researching this article.  A few years ago, I would have dismissed the Bloody Mary legend as balderdash, but now I’m a little older and wiser and I know what spirits can do.  I found myself intensely curious about this story, and read many different versions of it, and found lots of examples of people online who had seen her.

Clever me — I was doing this research in the middle of the night.  I was not in a room with a mirror, but of course all the windows around me were mirrors with the darkness behind them.  I slowly, inexorably began to freak out.  I was sure I felt a not-too-friendly presence in the room with me, and wondered if I had been summoning Bloody Mary — or something equally unpleasant — with my fascination and fear.

I fought hard to dispel the fear.  I saw nothing.  But for the first time in over twenty-five years, I had to go to sleep with the lighs on.

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10 Responses to “The Powers of Darkness”

  1. executivepagan said

    Wow.

    I’m glad these children have a comforter, however distant…

    What I find absolutely fascinating – and sad, in more than one way – is how they have managed to come up with a quite ingenious explanation for the obvious (to them) failure of the Christian God, and how their new mythology is still rooted in Christianity (like many of the other syncretic religious systems in Latin America and the Caribbean).

    Thanks for the awesome guest post!

    Erik

  2. Yes — the explanation for the failure of God is particularly poignant. It reminds me forcefully of Ragnarok, and that makes me wonder just how bad the ancient Scandinavians must have had it. It’s obvious why these children are pessimistic, and their worldview is a lot more pessimistic than the Norse. But the Norse worldview is pretty doggone depressing, when you get down to it; the eventual death and destruction of the gods is not something I recall seeing in any other mythology. Just how bad were the conditions in Scandanavia two thousand years ago?…

  3. R.D. Hammond said

    Their description of Bloody Mary sounds eerily similar to a Fury.

  4. Nettle said

    I spent some time homeless, as a child and a teenager. While I never encountered anything as elaborate as what the article describes, I experienced that homeless people, both children and adults, were generally more deeply and vividly invested in their spirituality than any other population I’ve encountered since then. Traditions varied, but even the Christians I knew back then believed in spirits. I heard about Bloody Mary, La Llorona, various angels and saints, Goetic entities, African Diasporic beings, and plenty more.

    My explanation for this is that the spirits are real, independent beings and it’s a lot easier to encounter them when you’re sleeping outside all the time and already have an outsider status that allows for a nonordinary view of the world. There’s plenty of time for storytelling so narratives get passed along and embellished, and as Jeff discovered, if you tell stories about spirits you often wind up with more direct experiences with them.

  5. Feral Boy said

    Many of Charles De Lint’s tales involve that which we cannot,
    or will not see — including the Otherworlds, and the less advantaged.

    A little less than 2000 years ago, a certain religion began to spread —
    and eventually did its best to eliminate all other perspectives, and all other
    gods. “Kill them all, God will know his own.” Perhaps a good part of Scandinavian
    mythology has a more theological basis. Irish pre-history is also portrayed as a series of (seven?) invasions. A savvy leader knows the hold that religion has on people, and does his best to eliminate or replace it with himself (or his pet priesthood).

  6. executivepagan said

    Nettle,
    Thanks for sharing your experience! I have to admit it’s one I am profoundly grateful not to have had.

    I’m intrigued by your comment about outsider status; this made immediate sense to both of us. And as far as telling tales, I know that the more I steep myself in the stories of my chosen Gods, and even more as I continue to contemplate and write about them, my experience of them does continue to deepen.

  7. […] stretched the rules and allowed me to post after he got back.  Thanks, Erik!  The post is called The Powers of Darkness, and concerns the mythologies developed by (or revealed to) homeless children, the nature of evil, […]

  8. Lori said

    Hi – what a great post Jeff, as usual. Although I had never heard of this phenomenon among the homeless children, it makes perfect sense, especially as so many are being born with more clear psychic abilities. The one thing I’d point out, which you may remember my alluding to in response to your engaging post on Odin, is that many of these children are experiencing thoughtform activity. As your anima so astutely noted:
    most of them can be banished by sunlight on daisies. What really gives them power over us is our own fear and ignorance. They cannot affect us unless our fear drives us down to a low enough “vibration” that they can reach us. Bloody Mary will not appear in the mirror unless you are already ridiculously frightened — the fear alone will give her the strength to take on a visible form. She really does feed on fear, in a very literal way; and lack of fear will render her powerless.
    This has the characteristics of a classic thoughtform, residing in the astral realm, and strengthened by every thought which focuses on it in fear (and the astral is no more enlightened than here). And some thoughtforms do feed off fear, and therefore do everything they can to illicit fearful responses – they are powerless but if you don’t know any better, it is easy to be sucked in . The thoughtform gets powerful-feeling, and at some point takes on a type of independence that demonstrates the qualities these children describe. Last month I found a book that brilliantly explains this phenomena (of course it is brilliant because it validates my persistant intuitions and experiences, lol) – and paired with one I found just 11 short days later, it really illuminated the issue for me — if you are interested here are the titles —
    “Magical Use of Thought Forms” by Dolores Ashscroft-Novicki and J.H. Brennan, and
    “On Becoming and Alchemist, a Guide for the Modern Magician”, by Catherine MacCoun.
    Hope you enjoy the adventure. Jeff, as always, I treasure each of your posts.

  9. Hammond: I know very little about Furies, but weren’t they supposed to be spirits of righteous vengeance? Bloody Mary sounds less principled than that.

    Nettle: thanks for your insight. It’s fascinating, and resonates powerfully, that those with “outsider” status have a stronger connection to the spirits.

    Feral Boy: Are you suggesting that the Norse Ragnarok is a story that arose in response to the rise of Christianity? That sure would be something!

    Lori: it does look like we’re on the same page here. Thanks for the book references!

  10. Zion Mystic said

    I just read the whole 6-pg. article. It is amazing…and so heartbreaking.

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