My personal blog as a 'grown-up' Goth and Romantic living in the Highlands of Scotland. I write about the places I go, the things I see and my thoughts on life as a Goth and the subculture, and things in the broader realm of the Gothic and darkly Romantic. Sometimes I write about music I like and sometimes I review things. This blog often includes architectural photography, graveyards and other images from the darker side of life.

Goth is not just about imitating each other, it is a creative movement and subculture that grew out of post-punk and is based on seeing beauty in the dark places of the world, the expression of that in Goth rock. It looks back to the various ways throughout history in which people have confronted and explored the macabre, the dark and the taboo, and as such I'm going to post about more than the just the standards of the subculture (Siouxsie, Sisters of Mercy, Bauhaus, et al) and look at things by people who might not consider themselves anything to do with the subculture, but have eyes for the dark places. The Gothic should not be limited by what is already within it; inspiration comes from all places, the key is to look with open eyes, listen carefully and think with an open mind..

Friday, 18 November 2016

Old High Church Revisited - Photographic Friday

This building is probably very familiar to all of my readers - it's the Old High Church in Inverness. It's somewhere I really enjoy going, especially the accompanying graveyard, and it is a building I have already extensively photographed, especially the unusual tower. The oldest parts of the tower date from the 14thC, but most of it was rebuilt in the 18thC. There's apparently been a church there since the 500s as it is one of St. Columba's original churches, and there was a pre-Christian religious site before that, possibly dating back millennia as many ancient sacred sites in the area do. 

I've finally taken a picture of the Old High Church from across the river! This seems like it would be the obvious thing to do, but for some reason I have never gotten around to doing so. It was such a cloudy day, and this was a lot less dramatic a picture than I would have liked. However, I do think this picture shows how the church is built on a mound - which I have heard called 'St. Michael's mound' - so many sacred hills, hillocks and mounds are associated with St. Michael, but I don't know why. I know some have specific legends, but many don't. If anyone wants to educate me on this, please do!

I have recently got LightZone, which I am still learning to use. The first picture in this series was edited with G.I.M.P (Gnu Image Manipulation Program - minds out of the gutter!) and the second I think was with ::PicMonkey:: - a free online photo editing website, where you can do basic edits via your browser, which is what I use for the majority of my selfies. There's a premium version if you want to pay for it, too, which is has more capabilities.  This final picture of the Old High Church is the first picture I have ever tweaked in LightZone. I was very quickly able to bring out the details, and I am getting used to the primary method - the 'zones' which are, in black and white images, areas of a greys within parameters, eg. white, very very light greys, very light greys, light greys, moderately light greys, moderate greys, etc. It's had to explain in words! Anyway, I think it is something where the interface and approach to editing would work quite well with how I process images. 

There is a low headstone in the foreground with a notch in the top - that notch was carved as a rifle-rest after the Battle of Culloden for the executioner's rifle. Just out of shot, beyond the left edge of this photograph is a wall, against which Jacobite prisoners were shot. There's still dents in the wall from it. I mentioned this in my Graveyard Walk post, and it's something that really stuck me. It's such a cheery graveyard now - or at least as cheery as a graveyard can be - with a nice view over the river and charming trees and plenty of wildlife, especially birds and rabbits, it's darker history is easily forgotten. It is quite moving to me to think of what awful things happened there. 

That's all for this instalment of Photographic Friday. I've got quite a few more blog entries in the works; getting time to work on all of them around college is a bit trickier, but I hope you have all found what I've been writing about recently to be interesting. If you like architectural photography, don't forget to check out my Tumblr ::Architecturally Gothic::. Domesticated Goth also has a Tumblr ::here:: where I post more selfies, links to what I post here, snippets of my life, and also reblog stuff from other bloggers that I find interesting - everything from illuminated manuscripts to Gothic models. 

Monday, 14 November 2016

Carpe Nocturne Interview

I have been interviewed in the fall issue of Carpe Nocturne magazine. 
Feeling regal in the forest
::Carpe Nocturne:: magazine interviewed me electronically this summer for their fall 2016 edition of the magazine, as part of their Goth Fashion Around The World writings. It live far from the metropolis, previously living in Culloden and having moved since then, so I'm writing from both a rural perspective (primarily from the Highland scene, as that's what I've become part of), and from someone in Scotland (although I'm not Scottish; I'm 'Franglais' - if you hear me talk it's funny because I say all these Scottish words and phrases with this cut-glass English accent!). It was quite interesting to write about, because I hadn't really thought about if the fashion here is any different to anywhere else before. 

I haven't actually got my printed copy yet (it is being shipped from the US and I have an estimated delivery date in December), but I took part in two photo-shoots for my interview, with the image above being one of the results, so it's hopefully illustrated too. The other photo-shoot was in Steam-Goth attire, and that's going to get its own post later this month. You can find the magazine in print at Barnes & Noble ::here:: or digitally via Magzter ::here::. I'll probably write about this some more when I get my copy in the mail! 

As this was for a fashion interview, I should probably talk about what I'm wearing, so here's an outfit run-down:

♕ Circlet: hand-made, bought via Far Fetched, Inverness
♕ Small bat pendant: ::Vampyr:: by Alchemy Gothic, secondhand on eBay
♕ Large bat pendant: ::Gothic Bat:: by Alchemy Gothic, secondhand on eBay
♕ Bat brooch: A.R. Brown, secondhand on eBay
♕ Cropped jacket: Golden Steampunk, via ::Corsets UK:: (no longer available)
♕ Ruffled shirt: Debbie Suchat, secondhand n eBay
♕ Lace gloves: Claire's Accessories
♕ Celtic belt buckle: ::Two Dragons:: by St. Justin, secondhand on eBay
♕ Long mesh cardigan: New Looksecondhand on eBay
♕ Skirt: Raven, secondhand on eBay
♕ Leggings: 'Macbeth' leggings by ::Punk Rave::
♕ Boots: no identifying label remainingsecondhand on eBay

I was aiming for a mixture of Nu-Goth and Romantic Goth in this outfit - the mesh jacket and boots are definitely Nu-Goth, but the jacket and shirt are both more Romantic, and the skirt is somewhere between Romantic in its use of satin and lace, but punkier in its cut and style, and the leggings are a wonderful modern-meets-Romantic design from ::Punk Rave::. I'm a big fan of their styles; they offer a fresh and unique take on Romantic Goth fashion, probably because of the influence of Japanese Goth and Visual Kei fashion on their designs. These leggings are a) the only leggings I own because I usually hate leggings and b) one of my favourite garments, despite how I usually hate leggings! - I love the lacing up at the front, the embroidered mesh panel and the (nearly impossible to photograph) paisley-esque pattern embossed into the pleather; they're gorgeous, they make my legs look longer, and I love them.

A lot of people bash Nu-Goth as a whole as just being a trend based off the Goth aesthetic, but as long as it isn't divorced from the Gothic subculture, I see nothing wrong with it. To begin with, I was one of the people quite skeptical, wondering if Nu-Goth was like how Mall-Goth was when I became Goth; tangental but related, with witch-house music like Ritualz, CHVRCHES and Zola Jesus being the new 'not Goth, but dark' music, taking the cultural place of H.I.M, Marilyn Manson and Evanescence had in introducing teens to the darker subcultures, but now that I've thought about it more, I realise that this isn't a bad thing, any more than Mall-Goth was (after all, I was a Mall-Goth when I was a baby-bat!) as while some of it involves disaffected teenagers trying to hard to be ~edgy and dark~, a lot of it is sincere, and gives the subculture some fresh blood and new influences to keep it alive. Also, a lot of Nu-Goth people are actually into the Goth subculture as a whole, not just the parts that are Nu-Goth.

I'm not going to turn Nu-Goth, even if I might like witch-house music; while I like some elements of Nu-Goth fashion, the overall aesthetic is just too minimal and modern for my tastes, but I'm not going to balk at incorporating elements of it that I do like, and I'm going to keep adding pieces from brands like Punk Rave that bridge the gap between the modern and the historically inspired.

Also, note how much of what I wear is secondhand; it's cheaper, there's no shame in it, and secondhand clothes from a variety of original sources means I have outfits that are quite unique compared to if I bought everything I own directly from what Goth brands are selling right now. A lot of my Goth clothes, although not in this specific outfit, are from the '90s and '00s, too - some are from the '80s, but sizes back then seem to run small and do not fit on this Goth of Amazonian proportions! Buying clothes secondhand - and selling on unwanted clothes - is good for the environment, too, as the manufacture of clothes is actually very resource intensive, and the dyeing process especially has pollution issues, so keeping existing clothes circulating rather than increasing the demand for new clothes helps. (I'm writing a whole long post on ethical fashion).

Photograph by my partner Raven. He did run a photography business called Chance Photography, but he's now taken down his website to focus both on advancing in his nursing studies, and to set up a jewellery business. Photograph is in the woods by my house (the new go-to location for my outfit photos since I moved away from the meadow!). 

1) I am now working with Punk Rave and will be doing an upcoming sponsored post, but I'm not being paid to endorse them here; this is outwith that - I'm saying this because I genuinely love those leggings. I also only accept sponsored endorsements from companies I actually like, anyway. 
2) The above image is from a photoshoot for a magazine; it's air-brushed, tweaked and poked at (mostly by myself), plus has been artfully lit, posed and taken from my best angles by my partner Raven - in real life I've got worse skin, I look shorter (I'm 5'9½") and my legs probably look chunkier, especially when I'm not wearing 7-inch heels! Body positivity includes owning up to digital editing! I'm a UK size 12, not especially thin. 

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Neo-Folk, Dark Folk - Politics & Recommendation Requests

I really like what I've head of Neo-Folk - it's often dark, Romantic, and has this yearning for times past, and often an interest in Neo-Pagan and Pagan revivalist themes, plus I've got an interest in traditional folk music and in other folk genres, and in Industrial music, as well as obviously Goth, and a lot of it Neo-Folk combines elements of these various musical types. As such, I'm trying to get into more of it. Currently my favourite band in the genre Of The Wand And The Moon - especially their songs that speak of the human condition like "The Lone Descent" - they are bleak in a beautiful way, heart-breaking and yet simultaneously glorious. I got into the genre via Sopor Aeternus & The Ensemble of Shadows - that's some music that really likes to draw from a variety of genres including elements from folk and classical/historical European music alongside a lot of electronic elements - although I'm not exactly sure what genre Sopor Aeternus would be categorised as. I also like songs like Dead Can Dance's 'Severance' or 'The Carnival Is Over' which don't fit neatly into genres, but seem to combine similar elements. 

However, there are a few Neo-Folk bands which like to romanticise the past and European traditions as part of rather right-wing forms of nationalism and an ethnic pride that are more or less racism and jingoism. This is quite similar to the issues that Heathenism and other forms of revivalist Neo-Paganism have had with fascist and racist elements co-opting their faith - obviously revivalist Neo-Paganism isn't inherently about any sort of racial superiority, and forms of ancestor worship and having pride and kinship with 'ancestors' in a more general sense of heritage does in no way mean inherently denigrating anybody else's ancestors, nor does it mean you have to embrace all of your own predecessors and ancestors actions as morally right, but despite this, there are those who wish to use it as religion for their 'ethnic purity'. I guess because there is a lot of overlap between revivalist Neo-Paganism and Neo-Folk, and plenty of historical retrospective yearning in both, there's this pernicious element that are not really interested in culture and heritage for its own sake, but only as the underpinnings for a hateful ideology. There's a huge difference between being proud of our cultural achievements and thinking we're inherently 'better' as a culture than others - also history tells of a lot of atrocities, and every culture has blood in its past. 

Another issue across all dark genres are those bands that like to co-opt Nazi imagery for shock-value nonsense; something I think is distasteful and creatively bankrupt; it's been done to death and in a world where actual far-right politics seem on the rise, is too easily seen as an endorsement of those politics - both by supporters and detractors of such ideologies. I also generally think that if you have to rely on shock value to get attention, then whatever it is your trying to garner that attention for can't be that interesting. Unless you're actually trying to create some kind of commentary on fascism, or authoritarianism or suchlike, or allude to that being something's nature, then that sort of imagery generally seems fairly irrelevant - and even then, it can seem quite heavy-handed (for a pop-culture science-fiction example, General Hux's address of the First Order troops and the pageantry around it was quite obviously based off the Nuremberg Rally - very much painting them as 'space Nazis') 

Unfortunately, it seems that you can't get away from articles about fascist elements in Neo-Folk, about people wary of far-right influences, etc. Here I am, writing another one! I guess some of it is from fans of the genre wanting to dissociate themselves from bands with blatant fascist, Neo-Nazi and far-right messages, and others are people who are very concerned with this element in the culture surrounding the genre - especially when it's quite antithetical to the politics of a lot of other members of the subculture, and therefore there will be quite the clash. However, it's got me rather nervous about the genre as a whole, despite the parts of it I clearly enjoy. In exploring the genre, I get worried that I will unwittingly be enjoying a song that's actually supporting something horrific in veiled terms, or that the song I might be listening to might be about something completely separate from all that, but that the same band might have other songs that are clearly about something more sinister. 

It's a genre I'm not very acquainted with, where I don't know much about the bands, their members and ideologies, or the broader catalogues of musicians. I have Spotify and a handful of recommendations, but really I want to hear from people who know the genre well and can steer me clear of bands with distasteful political messages, but towards bands that blend Romanticism and cynicism,  have haunting atmospherics and blend acoustic folk and classical elements with industrial, Goth and electronic elements. I'm especially interested in music with Neo-Pagan themes (being one myself), and references to English, Scottish, Welsh, Breton and Irish mythologies and folklore.

As such, I would really like to hear suggestions for music like this! I'd love to hear comments about the problem/issue of Neo-Nazi influence on dark subcultures and genres as well as music recommendations, to.