Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Why do Goths love cemeteries?

I'm sure that if you asked any of my Goth readers what it is about cemeteries that particularly appeals to them, you would probably receive a wide-ranging variety of answers, and I'm sure there'd be a fair handful who'd say "Cemeteries? What? We're not all death-obsessed freaks, y'know..." and glare at you.

However, on the whole Goths do love cemeteries - that stereotype exists for a reason. The question is: why?

Graveyards are peaceful and serene; and by and large people tend to stay away from them. The subject of death, for the mainstream, is taboo, which makes the resting place of the dead somewhere to be feared. Whereas Goths, as I have previously mentioned, are more appreciative of the beauty that can be found in dark or even frightening things. Death is not something that is hoped for or courted, but it is a fact of life, and as such has a beauty of its own. Non-Goths may find it uncomfortable to appreciate the beauty of a cemetery, but the ornate statues and crumbling gravestones are beautiful nonetheless.

Source: Photobucket
But chances are, a Goth in a graveyard probably isn't thinking about death at all - they are likely to enjoy the sense of history, the tranquil atmosphere, the beautiful carvings. In a quiet graveyard, a Goth can sit and while away the hours with a book, a camera, or a notepad and pen.

In addition, I suspect that more than a few Goths identify themselves as tapophiles. Tapophilia is defined as having a passion for and enjoyment of cemeteries, and may involve collecting interesting epitaphs, taking gravestone rubbings (which, incidentally, is something I have been doing since approximately age five), and cemetery-related photography and art.

It has been known for groups of Goths to picnic at the cemetery on a sunny afternoon, tidying up behind themselves and leaving no trace that they were ever there. In fact, not only does The Goth Bible by Nancy Kilpatrick give detailed instructions on how to organise a cemetery picnic, but to celebrate the launch of Jillian Venters's Gothic Charm School book, a huge cemetery tea party was held, which even found its way into the New York Post.

Interestingly, spending time picnicking in cemeteries was common in the Victorian era; families would spend Sunday afternoons eating beside the graves of their dead or sitting on their own pre-paid plots. It could be said that Goths have taken this a step or so further - there are many who would consider a moonlit trip to the cemetery to be a very romantic date.

Listening to: Seven Times - STandART (click song title to download on


Mark said...

What a wonderful Blog. You really do know your stuff. I hope you never give up this Blogging, as I really do admire your Gothic imput.

At our Primary School, we used to have trips to the local cemetery. In this day and age they no longer do this. That's probably why so many youth culture groups today, are narrow-minded. We used to be taken on trips by our teacher, to the cemetery. We would do lots of etchings/rubbings etc.

Have you ever noticed something else about cemeteries? They are very cold places, even in the middle of a very hot summer. The question is...Why? Is it something to do with where the ground, and the dead bodies lay? Whenever I go into a cemetery, I think about a better life than this mortal coil. It causes a strong mental storm within. Those that are socially acceptable do not see the dark beauty, until it is too late. We on the otherhand, do see the wonder and splendour.

Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Hi Amy,

If you've ever seen my blog you know that I am a tapophile.
That is me in that graveyard photo at the top.

I've been enjoying cemeteries all my life. Played in them, respectfully, as a child.

I wasn't as aware of just how many people are until I started my blog. for those who want a look see.

Now that I am older there are people I visit also. But any cemetery will do for a wonderful time.

Sad that many are now off limits after dark though. Too much vandalism. Even my in-laws grave was robbed of its brass vase.

Wonderful blog you have here.

Hugs, Euphoria

Nox Arcana said...

I love cemeteries (I wish I could go to them more often, but I only really go on Memorial Day with my family), but I'm not as big a taphophile as I am a - is there a word for people who are especially enthusiastic for churches and places of worship? XD

Anyway, I'd love to go to the Abney Park Cemetery in London. Have you ever had the chance to go there, Amy?

Laurel said...

I love cemeteries, too! Unfortunately, most of the cemeteries where I live are along busy roads, and don't have sidewalks. I would love to go to cemeteries more often, but with vandals and criminals discovring that they are often devoid of other people, I don't really feel terribly safe in a cemetery alone.

Stephanie said...

There is such beauty to be found in a cemetery for sure. I used to run and sit by my grandma's grave whenever I was sad or hurting. It would always relax me and bring me back to a state of tranquility. I wish that more understood this.

Emily Lynn G. said...

I think both Goths and non-Goths should bring back the tradition of graveyard picnics. I went to a very old graveyard in North Carolina, it was so beautiful and the first time I've ever been allowed to roam among the tombstones. The trees were huge and it was so quite, even the town gave no noise at all.
Also, a Gothic Charm School reference! Jillian Venters is a "mamma bat" to her baby bat "snarklings",as she calls us, I like her blog/website as well. The tea party in this video is so great, I'd hope she's have more.

ultimategothguide said...

@ Mark - thank you ^^ My school used to take trips to the amazing Gothic church and graveyard next door for religious occasions like Harvest Festival. It was always very beautiful. =)

@ Lady Euphoria Deathwatch - I have been wondering if it was you in that photo; it's stunning! Thanks very much!

@ Nox Arcana - hm, if there is I don't know it! There probably is... No, I haven't! I'm a long way downcountry and don't drive, travelling by train costs a fortune. However, I would very much like to - in fact, you have just given me a genius birthday party idea...

@ Laurel - that's fair enough, I live in a quiet rural area; there are several cemeteries in my parish which I feel safe exploring - however the larger town cemetery, where I often eat lunch on weekends, is always full of graffiti, vandalised stones, people drinking - and once whilst innocently eating my lunch I almost fell over a gay couple committing an act of public indecency. I haven't been back for a while. o.O

@ Stephanie - that's very true, aside from abovementioned incidents I do find that cemeteries have a very calming atmosphere and I often visit my favourite local graveyard if I'm hurt or upset.

@ Emily Lynn - I don't, the cemeteries would get far too crowded with the living! Yes, I'm a little bit of a Gothic Charm School fangirl, and not afraid to admit it!

Angel of Darkness said...

I love graveyards, but the ones here in the city are (also) by busy main streets. But I love the history in graveyards. The one my grandfather is buried in is rather quiet though. And I hate how poeple vandalise tomestones! Last year we had a big thing of that go around.

Anonymous said...

I like graveyards, they are so calm and paecful they make me think that their might be another world after death and that it could be better but i respect life as it is i just wounder if their is anything else to death that we don't know about and will never find out :)
I wish i could go more often just to look and read but i would be worried to go alone because their are usually teenagers their smoking

Anonymous said...

Great post, as usual. I love cemeteries. I have another personal about this fascination: they're calling. I have an example: When I was looking for my current appartment, I sent my application to many places, 10-15 different appartments. The only one who called back saying that I got it: the only apartment out of the 10-15, which is right next door to a cemetary! :)

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