Hauntings and Hygge

Embracing Winter and Darkness in Dorset

Once upon a time there was a world filled with light. A beaming sun shone down upon a land washed in gold and bathed in the lazy, languide warmth. Fruit grew in heavy, succulent bounty, that fell willingly into outstretched palms. The scent of honeysuckle hung upon the air, which weaved with the jasmine flower that greeted evenings, long and light. The sun never truly set and all the sky was painted with the softest pinks that held a few bright stars. But then, one day, the sun rose lower in the sky. The air smelt not of honeysuckle and heather, but of pine. Leaves fell from greens to browns and made a bed of graves upon the forest floor. Decay and rot fed upon the ground. Trees, bent against howling winds, remained barren and bare. Berries teased and tempted and trapped fingers with their thorns. Cold seeped into bones and snapped at heels. Icy winds slapped and stung at faces and watering eyes. Darkness, as thick and heavy as velvet, fell upon the days like the closing act of a theatre’s stage. It lifted it’s curtain up later and later each day, reluctant to let go, only to draw it’s veil down again, earlier and earlier, greedy for darkness to claim its cargo once more. Was this a curse that befell the land? Or was it perhaps a gift? Can golden treasures be found in the dark heart of Winter?

Haunted Woods

My mother once told me, “never be the last person to leave a party.” I would love to say that I have always taken this advice. However, that would be a lie. For as many times as I have politely excused myself at the earliest possible chance to escape home to the comfort of my antisocial bubble, I have also stayed and squeezed the last possible dregs out of many a party. Just as with relationships, parties, life and it’s Seasons, it is likely that there will always be the chance that it feels like you have stayed too long at the fair. As the old song goes, “there was nothing left but sawdust and some glitter”. This sums up my feelings of winter. I love it. Big jumpers, hibernation, Halloween, firework’s night, Christmas and then…January. I love winter, until it lasts too long. It clings on coldly whilst we grit our teeth and wait for Spring to jauntily pop back up, and we all breathe out once more. Yet, Autumn and Winter provides a treasure trove of wonders. We just need to know how to embrace and find them. Just as without the darkest of nights, we would never see the most magic stars, without Winter, we would never get the magic of other moments as precious as jewels. The Danish lifestyle trend of Hygge, became so popular because it embraces comfort, cosiness and the happiness found in simple things. It is the perfect pairing with Winter.

Haunted Moon

Autumn and Winter is a time of year that provides some truly spectacular moons. Have you ever tried moonbathing?  Now, I’m not suggesting that one should strip and lay out in the moonbeams like some sort of Victorian witch. However, if you invest in one of the very beautiful almanacs that are currently available at all bookshops, you can mark the movements of the moon. Wrap up warm, get a camp chair and a thermos, sit and observe a moonrise. Whether it is a supermoon, a Harvest or a Hunter’s moon, it is a spectacular natural phenomenon that we so often overlook. Moon phases can be a fleeting thing. Yet, it provides a mindful, wholesome opportunity to celebrate a Winter’s night. From gardens, castles, cliffs and beaches, there are some spectacular locations in Dorset to do this.

Haunted Dark Woods

Did you know that Dorset is believed to be one of the most haunted places in Britain? What better place to be than Dorset in October. Whether you hate ghosts, are a skeptic of the spooky or a fan of all things weird and wonderful, the best thing you can do in October is embrace Halloween. This ancient festival isn’t just for children. Halloween comes from the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain. It marked the date, at the end of harvest and the beginning of the dark, cold Winter and their New Year. The boundary of this time was believed to be one in which the line between the living and the dead blurred. The Celts built huge bonfires as part of the festival’s celebrations. The next morning they relit their hearth fires from the festival fire. We can make Halloween a time to celebrate and welcome Winter in our own way. Make your own tradition. This could be watching a scary film, dressing up or simply lighting your own candle to mark the beginning of the incoming Winter. You could even create your own bonfire, make mulled cider and invite some friends and neighbours around. By embracing it, our mindset is more positive from the outset which inturn, helps us against the mental toll, long, dark Winters can take. 

Just as the Celts used one big bonfire to light the hearths of many, we can create warmth and support to each other as a community over Winter. Sometimes we hibernate more over Winter than we do in Summer. It is more natural to be a social butterfly and feel energized by the sun of summer. It is natural to want to retreat and wrap up against Winter. However, we can still generate warm moments for each other and connect. We can invite friends or family over for an evening of board games around a fire, send someone a card just for the fun of it, cook hearty food and invite others to sit at your table to enjoy it with you. 

Afterall, we hand out sweets on Halloween. Why not extend that to sweet moments with loved ones and sweet moments for ourselves? 

If you wish to seek the hauntings of Halloween more traditionally than there is no shortage of spooky places to visit in Dorset. From the Badbury Rings, The Grey Lady at Lulworth Castle, the ‘whistling gunner’ at North Forte’s underground passages, the ‘lingering spirits’ at the ruins of Knowlton Church or the abandoned village of Tyneham! 

This summer you have swam across the lakes at the dorset waterpark, merrily bounced across the inflatable obstacle course, valiantly fought your way through the mud trail and assault course. You may not, however, have known that Dorset adventure park is overlooked by what some people regard as one of the most haunted places in Britain, Corfe Castle. Corfe Castle is the location of many recorded sightings of ghostly sightings, stories and spooky phenomenon. The atmospheric and spectacular Corfe Castle has been a prominent place throughout its dramatic history. During the Civil War the lady of the castle was betrayed by her own garrison and the castle fell. The stories say that the lady haunts Corfe with a wrathful vengeance as a headless figure in white. The sound of a child weeping has been heard to ring out from the castle and trickle into the village below.

That is the legend of the lady of Corfe Castle. What are your ghostly tales of the isle of Purbeck? Have you ever encountered a haunting in Dorset? Have you been told any chilling tales? Or, do you have your own tips for welcoming winter?

Comment below and let us know!

Haunted Dorset
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