Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Haunting Light

Vena Amoris candle from D.L. & Company

I've never really been particularly keen on traditional Halloween decorations because, quite frankly, none of them ever manage to be at all scary. Sure, a jack-o-lantern can be cute, but how often does the sight of one sitting on your neighbor's front porch really give you a fright? To get into the spirit of the season, you don't need a lot of ghoulish decorations or Halloween paraphernalia. All you need do is turn out the lights and light a few candles. After all, there's nothing like some dark shadows to really get the imagination in overdrive.

As someone who enjoys indulging her childhood penchant for the macabre every October while still maintaining a certain level of, shall we say, decorum, I can't get enough of D.L. & Co. and (the more affordable) Modern Alchemy candles -- both brainchildren of the candle maker, perfumer and probable genius Douglas Little. The Seven Deadly Sins candle set ($150, shown above) is a wonderful opportunity to indulge in your own favorite sin(s) -- and, broken up into individual candles, would invariably be amusing gifts for your seven favorite (or least favorite) friends this year. ("Why did she give me a pride candle?...Is she trying to tell me something?")

My absolute favorite though is Modern Alchemy's Salem candle ($45), which has a gloriously authentic bonfire smell...perfect for burning (next to) your favorite witch. I visited Salem, MA, my junior year of college in mid-October and was completely agog at how crowded it was. Indeed, I remember being sorely disappointed by how overrun it was by tourists and how most of the sites seemed to cater to a rather cheesy and/or childish version of the events that occurred there over three hundred years ago.

That same fall I was taking a course on Witchcraft in America, which was really just about the witch hunts in New England in the late seventeenth century. At the time I was taking the course, I was completely unaware that I was in fact related to (and indeed named after) the a woman who was among the first group of women convicted of witchcraft in America: Sarah Wildes. It was only after my husband started doing some genealogical research on my family that we discovered that Sarah's maiden name was Averill (as in my first name) that the link became clear. Sarah though, like all other "witches" (save the sole male victim who was instead crushed to death) at Salem, was hanged rather than burned. Despite the historical inaccuracy of the fiery scent and image, the candle is nevertheless a haunting reminder of my family history. On a more cheerful note, it's also a wonderfully cozy...and slightly creepy...scent to burn on a cool autumn night.

I have a penchant for pairing candles with books and/or movies, as a foodie might pair wine with cheese. With your choice of D.L. & Company candle, may I suggest Perfume: The Story of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind, a haunting novel about the world's greatest perfumer and his quest to capture and create the ultimate scent.

If you'd prefer to cuddle up in front of your TV this weekend, I'd highly suggest Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. I am an unabashed fan of both Mr. Burton's and Johnny Depp (who plays Ichabod Crane) and of their many collaborations together, this one just may be my favorite. As an added bonus, the set, costumes and make-up are utterly fantastic and well deserving of the movie's Oscar nods (and win in Art Direction). Indeed, I'd argue that Burton and Little are cut of the same, beautiful black cloth.

Happy {haunted} weekend, everyone!

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!
~Traditional Scottish Prayer~


Arianna Belle said...

I'm not big on traditional Halloween decorations either. The items you featured are great stylish alternatives. Thanks for sharing! :-)

Kara said...

Great post Averill! I studied a little bit of the Salem trials too - that's sad about the actual town.

I love lighting my candles at night and watching all kinds of movies. Something about a candle that makes me feel peaceful.

Laura@JourneyChic said...

What interesting ancestry! What was the move made from Mass to Texas? Yes, Salem is crazy touristy in October and quite cheesy. I went once with my hubby a few years ago, and probably won't go again until we have kids. There are def. some creepy people there though!

Christy said...

What a fun and informative post. How neat that your husband traced back your history - and that your name is the same as her maiden name! Your parents must have known this? I'd love to trace my genealogy one day! Love the idea of a bonfire scented candle!!

Beth Connolly said...

Fun post-have a great weekend.

Shannon said...

Love the candles!! I also love the movie too!! And thanks for stopping my blog and offering such kind words. It really brightened my day. Have a great weekend.

Janell @ House of Fifty said...

I'm right with you on the Halloween decorations, though not my kids! These candles look they smell as amazing? They must!
Have a great weekend. Janell
p.s. I love your posts, I always learn something!

April Pantall said...

I love everything Halloween. Watching Sleepy Hollow sounds like a good suggestion...can't resist Johnny Depp :)

Averill said...

Christy - Actually my parents had no idea! I was named for a great-aunt and we knew Averill was an old family (last) name but didn't realize our connection to Salem until Dave discovered it a few years ago!

Laura - My mom's family (of which the Averills are a part) are all original New England settlers from Kent, England. They migrated from MA/CT/upstate NY in the early 19th century to Michigan and then down to deep east Texas in the early 20th century. Up until recently though, the family still spent summers in Maine.

Couture Carrie said...

Creepy cool candles, darling! Loving the 7 deadly sins idea!


alison giese Interiors said...

Interesting. Just a fun tidbit: The woman who owned the coffee house I worked at in North Carolina had a daughter named Salem. Mom and Dad believed she had been conceived on Halloween - I love the name, and thought it a clever play on their part!

MFAMB said...

great post. i studied witchcraft for a few years myself. and i also LOVE that book, perfume. have you seen the movie? it's actually pretty good.
AND i am a candle fanatic as well. i just (today) bought a fireside candle from anthropologie that smells just like...a fire.

annechovie said...

OOH, quite a creeeepy coincidence. LOL
Hope your week is off to a great start, Averill!

Jenn @ Dear Heart said...

Such a cool post! And now I really want that candle --the smell of bonfires or a fireplace is my favorite fall scent

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