The undiscover’d country from whose bourn
No traveller returns, puzzles the will
And makes us rather bear those ills we have
Than fly to others that we know not of? – Shakespeare
I don’t know if it’s been Halloween’s arrival this year, or just normal midlife ponderings. Like Hamlet, I have found myself thinking about death and the afterlife. Perhaps I feel more in tune with the earth’s cycling – The days are shortening, nights are longer, the earth and sun are preparing for sleep. According to Wiccans and Pagans, the thin Veil that separates us and the spirit world gets even thinner. Whether you are a believer of this or not, it’s not hard to get caught up with the ghostly and ghouly this time of year. I have chosen to let my photography in on my feelings this month, visiting some places that some may find spooky. Earlier this month I visited Eastern State Penitentiary, one of the oldest prisons in this country. I also visited Laurel Hill Cemetery- a sprawling space that occupies the Fairmount section of Philadelphia.
Eastern State Penitentiary left me feeling a little sorrowful. While the building itself is an absolute marvel, I couldn’t help but just feel sadness as I walked the halls. So much heaviness, so much pain. There is a coldness here. Desperation. The last shot of this set, there are three orby light balls on the stairs. I shot this whole set on film. When I shot this image, the only thing I remember about that moment is how cold the room was. And overwhelming darkness. Are they ghosly orbs? I’d like to imagine they are.
My visit to the cemetery was a different feeling. It was one of inquisitive discovery. Cemeteries are peaceful, quiet and pretty. I like to read the gravestones. I like to read how loved people were. When I am in a cemetery, I think of all the problems that I may be dealing with at that moment- work, family, money, the future. All of the problems are problems that they had. The ones in the graves. I think that problems are fleeting. I will be here one day too. I love the angel statues in cemeteries. I think they are beautiful. I ponder the mausoleums, and the headstones, and the various trends throughout the centuries in headstone design.
Do you find yourself pondering the other side this time of year? Do you like things that are a little spooky? And lastly, do you think I captured a some ghosts on film? Ghosts or refracted light ?
Wishing you a Happy Halloween, Happy Samhain, Happy Day of the dead!
Here’s to honoring the darker side, the undiscovered country.