Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Growing up, one of my favorite shows was Nickelodeon's spooky anthology series of the same title. The first season of the reboot aired in October 2019, followed by the second season in February 2021. Is it any good? In my opinion, it's pretty fantastic, even though it doesn't follow the same format as its predecessor. It's more like an American Horror Story for kids, which probably sounds terrible, but the lack of blood, gore, and mature themes actually makes for more creative storytelling. Rather than rely on shock value, this show masters tension and leaves some things to the imagination, as (real) horror should.
The Shadowman is the second season's villain. He has small tree branches sprouting from both sides of his head, the face of a human skull, and a body covered in rotten oak. I was hoping his origins involved an environmentalist having summoned him to prevent deforestation, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. Without spoiling anything, I was disappointed in the truth, as it didn't line up with his appearance and could've been more original. Although it's canon in the show's world, it isn't in mine.
Life Is Indeed Strange
So, why exactly did I make a shrine for the Shadowman? Well, the reason is quite complex and personal. The Shadowman eventually gets a human form, and the idea of a monstrous thing hiding in human skin is relatable for me on a profound level. No, really. I was that weird kid who was obsessed with Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and not because the illustrations disturbed and fascinated me, but because the illustrations felt familiar, like home.
That's how I feel about the Shadowman, or at least a certain version of him, which includes his human form. Maybe it's because I've always connected with dark and bizarre things. Maybe it's a combination of things plus his cocky attitude. There's just something about this particular union of man and beast, civilization and wilderness, light and darkness that speaks to me in a sense. It's powerful, comforting, and most of all, familiar.
For some reason, lighthouses have made three prominent appearances in my life so far. Let me preface by admitting that lighthouse decor is commonplace where I live. I grew up with it all around me, having been born and raised by the water. I never had an interest in lighthouses, but these happen to hold significance in a few works of fiction that have impacted me.
The first lighthouse was in Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. I never got to play it, but I was obsessed with that game and would frequently watch playthroughs. Something about the town and the ice figures stuck with me for a long time. Interestingly, one of the puzzles is called the Shadow Puzzle that, when completed, gives you an in-game phone number, and the caller ID is "The Shadows."
The second lighthouse appeared in the 2009 adaptation of The Lovely Bones. It isn't in the book, which I've read but probably wouldn't have prior to watching the movie. The adaptation stuck with me like Shattered Memories and even inspired a story (that I never managed to finish).
The third lighthouse is the one of Shadow Bay in the show.
I wondered: what could be the meaning of these lighthouses? I suspected the lighthouse symbolized guidance, but I didn't bother to look deeper into it until now. According to a very informative article, the lighthouse is also a symbol of being on the fringe of society, acting as a light for others (especially the lost and wandering) while bearing isolation and loneliness.
As an occultist, transhumanist, otherkin, soulbonder, and advocate for a decentralized web, it goes without saying that I'm individuated. In all honesty, I don't like being so different. I'd much rather have been born into a world where these things are the norm. What exactly do I have to offer a world that is usually either indifferent or hostile toward them?
I suppose a lighthouse's job isn't to light up the world (an impossible task), but to give light to those searching for it.
This isn't to say I'm anyone special or important. I'm too absurdist to entertain such thinking. Based on personal experience, I'm simply inclined to believe that stories and characters can and will speak to us, whether figuratively or literally. None of it is necessarily divine in nature; it's just part of our chaotic existence, like oxygen and gravity. Nothing more, nothing less.