You who are searching for sustenance, sit down and eat
She stares out from the photo, reaches from the past, eyes piercing your soul. Stereoscopic views of times long gone, haunting the page, giving devotion through poetry and song: the importance of unconditional surrender to the Deity. Find monastic codes on gilded boards and the beneficial effects of chess. She’s waiting.
Yes still, she stares. Lined walls of eyes in faded black and white, dressed in traditional costume, on bent knees with hands in lap. Eyes staring. Devotion to the Deity. Get out of here and move on, she says. So you do.
Outside, the pluck of lyre and lute drift in the shadow of seance and spells, sounds gently wafting from Store Street to Museum Quarter. A reminder that the Bloomsbury of Woolf and Keynes is the same one journeyed by Crowley and Blavatsky. Yes, you hear Albion’s calls among the ancient ‘souvenirs’. You hear little things, and from these things big things grow.
Look: a stolen artefact rips holes in space and time, opens portals, raging souls. But without the ashes, we can’t make new connections. New ways of being. New ways to haunt, to taunt, to tear it all up and start again. Make it better. Or at least, make it different. Get out of here and move on, she says. Eyes staring, seeking your soul.
Now, looming large across Georgian terraces and tree-lined squares, there lies Albion on Bloomsbury Way, bearing swords cast in iron, medieval nails from cathedral doors piercing the heart, sigils etched with ink, walks across chalk in search of stones. We’re buried in the knowledge of too much. Ley lines and plague pits and temples of Mithras: a pilgrimage in 12 steps, stations of a pagan cross. Here, it’s true: in some buildings, time, place, presence don’t exist. Once you enter, you never really leave. A land full of hauntings, of cultures conquered and assimilated since time began. The ritual unfolding, manifest in space, as many become one become many others anew. Memories contained in stone; haunted connections across time, deep past, memory, ancestors calling as the future reaches back for us.
We’re always passing the narrative to someone else because time is a vortex—the same idea, the same place, the same people, 50 years later it finally comes alive. Because the walls always remember. They lie in wait, watching our every move, nudging and guiding and not always with good intentions. Eyes stare out, seeking your soul.
We are the ghosts of our former selves; our consciousness stored in the stone. You see, certain knowledge will only arrive when you do things differently. You can’t find it by seeking; the journey is dictated by paper and pen. Life is but a series of correspondences and connections and we’re privileged to share the space for a short time. It’s all awe and wonder—uncontrollable, unlovable, unpredictable. Give thanks to the ghostly figures that dwell within, for we never enter the same river twice. It flows, and you flow, and we flow, and we haunt the air and the stone and the page for that is what it is to be human. To be who we are, now and then and forever.
And still, she’s there, calling from the past, eyes piercing your soul. What will you answer? You who are searching for sustenance, sit down and eat.
(Photograph taken by Laren McMenemy at Extraordinary Endeavours at The Brunei Gallery, SOAS)
Author: Lauren McMenemy
Lauren McMenemy wears many hats: Editor-in-Chief at Trembling With Fear for horrortree.com; PR and marketing for the British Fantasy Society; founder of the Society of Ink Slingers; curator of the Writing the Occult virtual events; writers hour host at London Writers Salon. With 25+ years as a professional writer across journalism, marketing, and communications, Lauren also works as a coach and mentor to writers looking to achieve goals, get accountability, or get support with their marketing efforts. She writes gothic and folk horror stories for her own amusement, and is currently working on a novel set in the world of the Victorian occult. You’ll find Lauren haunting south London, where she lives with her Doctor Who-obsessed husband, the ghost of their aged black house rabbit, and the entity that lives in the walls.