“It’s not the ghost that haunts the house, it’s the house that haunts the ghost” –Damien Echols
There is a mansion that often manifests in my thoughts and dreams. This one is ominous. It appears in different forms, but it always feels the same, and aspects of it do not change. The feeing of visceral, extreme and immediate danger is so strong that the feeling alone is enough to be terrifying. It is the devil’s 6th.
I wrote about it in a letter, which appears below.
Last night, or this morning, really, I had yet another long and vivid dream, more real to me than waking life and in some ways infinitely more desirable. It was warm and rainy, and I was somewhere else, the dream version of Portland, Oregon, riding a bike at night through streets familiar only from other dreams. Earlier, I had a nightmare. I was stuck within a dilapidated mansion, long abandoned, with no windows, no easy way out, filled with decaying Victorian clothing. Once luxurious suits, men’s tuxedos, hints of remaining lustrous fabric occasionally visible through one hundred years of dust, the floors a cluttered mess; ostentatious, long-forgotten beauty, candles in a candelabra which I tried to light in order to illuminate the pitch, midnight blackness. They worked and then they didn’t.
The house was ruled by a male ghost. He had been the owner of those black tuxedos, and now his expansive and ominous spirit permeated the interior, filled every bit of the air; as if by entering this house, I had ineluctably found myself within the soul of this long-dead man. His being had consumed the house, and in turn the mansion had replaced his body, and the two were one.
As I navigated this expansive, dark house, his voice spoke to me, from nowhere in particular, but from everywhere at once, and asked what I was doing. I had been anticipating this, I knew he would speak; I knew the mansion was haunted, and I was gripped with fear. I did not answer because at that point, a friend arrived with a lit candelabrum, telling me that we needed to immediately leave, the mansion was going to be burnt down, and he took my hand to lead me out. I let it go and ran back into the cavernous living room to look amongst the debris on the floor, because there were things of great beauty strewn about, and I wanted them. I realized after grabbing a few items, modern things that were not old, that I was being ridiculous, and the house should be burnt along with everything in it. I ran outside and discovered it was nighttime, and I was in the woods, surrounded by bare trees. I could see, for the first time how the house appeared; it was a giant Second Empire, and the windows were boarded up. The plan by the living to burn the great house down had commenced, and as I ran from the fire, the flames illuminating the night sky, I encountered three children covered in ashes.
“These are the ashes of the Phoenix,” they told me. I knew that by anointing themselves with the ashes of the house, they were celebrating a birth from its destruction. It was then that I awoke.
The reason this dark mansion came to being has to do with illusion. Illusion made it, and allowed for its manifestation and continued life. The illusion is one created by many layers of emotion and response to experiences, and all of those emotions merged into larger feelings of terror and foreboding. The mansion is those two things manifested, for me. Within everything is beauty of some kind; in this case the beautiful things, the satin fabrics and antiques have become so tainted by residing within this existence that they cannot be separated from it; they can never be fully beautiful or useful again. It is like ripping veins from an organism.
In waking life, I’ve been deconstructing emotional states, trying to separate each feeling that there’s a name for out of the larger one of overwhelming anxiety and despair. And now I find this mansion is burning down in my dreams. I don’t think it’s completely gone and I think there are many versions of it. But the process is starting. I never want to be stuck in that house again, or have that feeling. The problem with illusions, however, is that they can be hard to let go of.
There is a place between asleep and awake that can be entered through meditation, although I have many days when I go there easily, it is often easier for me to be in these other worlds than it is for me to be here. It is known in psychiatry to be a type of psychosis, and I have been prescribed drugs for it, which I do not take. I do not wish to kill my ability to enter these different worlds and always be stuck in this one, because this realm is very limiting in comparison. It is a sad thing to be here always, and never anywhere else. I went to another place after this nightmare, where I talked to an old friend for a while. In his despair, he has come to exist more in the dream world. His despair is borne of death, and so is mine. Yet it is still beautiful.