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Maryland’s mystical history

Special collections opens a new exhibit

For the past year, Krystyna Dyadyura has been researching and collecting items about the occult and mystical era of paranormal and mystical history in Maryland. Starting Feb 1, her project will be open for all students to visit.

Filled with magic, paranormal entities, astrology, and haunted history, a new exhibit has been put together for this month by Krystyna Dyadyura and others working in Special Collections located in the gallery within the Albin O. Kuhn Library. Students are welcome to explore Maryland occult history and learn more about this particular culture.

To get a better understanding, occult is defined as a belief system revolving around mystical, supernatural and paranormal practices. In the 1800’s, groups known as secret societies came together to discuss these ideas and practices in hiding. Anyone who was seen taking part in these perceived “unholy” activities were either fined or sent to prison according to Maryland law.

For the past year, Dyadyura and UMBC alumna, Jazmin Smith, has collected memorabilia and artifacts depicting the occult era. The exhibit itself holds a variety of books, photographs, drawings and letters. Dyadyura has always been fond of this topic and has a love of acquiring new information. Although the exhibit is finished for this showing, it is still an ongoing discovery and there is always more to uncover.

The display is organized into a series of sections, containing numerous artifacts and fixtures pertaining to occult culture. Dyadyura points to an agreement book and explains that this was filled with the rules and regulations of the secret societies and the concepts that were expected when joining such a group. Inside the book was a signature of a past member of the society, which Dyadyura finds to be very authentic.

Ideas of dreams, palm reading, numerology and astrology are also depicted. Many books are used to emphasize these ideas. When asking how Dyadyura chooses which pages to present, she says, “I usually just flip through a page, read a passage, and if it speaks to me or holds meaning, I will share it.”

Continuing with the concepts of psychics and the future, a deck of tarot cards are spread out. The cards, which were designed with different breeds of cats, were kindly donated to Special Collections from Rita Salz. With the use of these cards and others featuring moons and stars, the display gives off a very mystical theme.

Dyadyura also had a great selection of  “evil” books. The devil’s dictionary as well as illustrations of devilish figures are displayed. Dyadyura finds it interesting that words created by people can have so much meaning and have various connotations for each individual.

Local Mysteries, which have books describing haunted areas in Maryland are also a part of the exhibit. Dyadyura is not originally from the Maryland area, so she is constantly hearing new stories and loves getting to know her relatively new home in this light.

Dyadyura welcomes all students to come visit the exhibit starting Sunday, Feb 1. She says, “What I hope the students get from this is to look for things, to discover and to explore.”