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For all their adherence to decorum and propriety, Victorians notoriously dabbled with the preternatural. In reality, interest in the mystical never quite wans. If they were to partake in the occult at all, it was considered more of a “parlor game” to pass the time with a few peers. There are obviously individuals who took it more seriously.

Most of anecdotes mention a person using clairvoyance to mollify their grief over the loss of a love one. Mary Todd Lincoln was said to have taken to the tarot cards after the death of her husband, Abraham, and her son. Others held clandestine séances to contact the deceased. Some theorists claim the popularity of these activities was fueled by the bereavement ideology. Death rituals have been around since the dawn of humanity, but Victorians seemed to have elevated grieving into an art form. I will save that topic for another vignette.

It makes me wonder if perhaps this explosion of occult interest helped create so many current hauntings, as many of them come from this era. Or perhaps there were so many violent deaths? Or the Victorian era was last or most current, depending on your perspective, death occurred in the home on a grand scale? I believe after the Victorian era death was removed from the home and it began to be more socially acceptable to go to a hospital or some care unit to die. Anyone who watches paranormal cinema knows the abandoned hospitals and asylums are the absolutely most unsettling places with their mass hauntings.

Other people followed the stars or used astrology, tarot, and even the Ouija board in hopes to comprehend the vicissitudes in their lives. The avarice of certain individuals let the admonitions of such activities go unheeded. They consulted their oracles for direction, confirmation, or prediction of the future.

In terms of astrology time is cyclical; repetitions are natural occurrences. For example, all the turmoil we are witnessing today is indicative of the planet Uranus in the astrological sign Aries. This correlates the years 1843-1851 on a historic and global scale. I would have to delve back into my history books to make sense of such a statement. The year 1843 was approximately six years after Victoria ascended the throne, as Queen . . . Was there great upheaval at this time or an explosion of the arts and technology? Yes. Very much so. However, how is this different from any other time frame?

Tarot is more personal, rather than general or social, as the Ouija board tends to be. Tarot, from what I understand of it, touches a little on the past, present, and future. While other forms of clairvoyance predominately associate with the past, such as mediums; or the opposite palm reading focuses on the present and the future. In a conversation many years ago, a contemporary remarked to the likeness of Tarot and solitaire. Clearly, I do not know enough on the topic to hold an intellectual conversation on the matter.