Religious and spiritual cults work in mysterious ways. Most of these groups are either created in the service of another higher being (evidently other than God almighty) or achieve immortality (become God) through their rituals and sacrifices. In “The Midnight Club,” we are made privy to one such cult that operated from the basement of Brightcliffe Hospice. The Paragon cult was founded by Regina Ballard, and it used the symbol of an “hourglass” as their sigil. Ilonka had seen the hourglass multiple times, and she knew that it symbolized the collective consciousness of the members of the Paragon Cult. She had seen the symbol engraved on the trunks of the trees. She had seen it on the outer cover of Athena’s diary, and after thinking about it for quite some time, she also realized that the same symbol was carved below the buttons of that creepy elevator too, which led them to the basement. The basement was probably the epicenter of all the evilness. Maybe it also served as a portal between the two worlds. Maybe the sigil of the “Paragon cult,” i.e., The Hourglass, was also symbolic of that intersection. Somewhere you feel that the cryptic symbolization of the Hourglass had a direct relation to the ghost of the old man and the old lady that Ilonka and Kevin saw quite frequently.
What Was The Significance Of The Hourglass Symbol?
The two glass bulbs of the Hourglass probably symbolized the two different realms, i.e., the mortal realm in which we live and the realm of the dead. It was seen that one bulb of the Hourglass was painted black. The two bulbs (realms symbolically) converged at one particular point. Maybe that intersection point signified a sort of doorway through which evil spirits could enter the mortal realm. Maybe the Paragon cult used the symbol of the Hourglass as their sigil because they had realized that the intersection point lay in the basement of the Brightcliffe Hospice. Even Julia Jayne had realized that a mysterious power existed in the compounds of the hospice, and she was seen mentioning the same to Ilonka. She said that there were legends that the Brightcliffe woods had some sort of healing power. She says that often airplanes and other electronic devices used get glitches when passing through that area. She had started her company, Good Humor, in such close quarters because she wanted to harness that magical power.
The black and white bulbs of the Hourglass could also be said to represent a sort of duality. It represented the notions of good and bad, God and Devil, Dead and Undead, etc. This duality was also visible in almost all the stories that the residents told. Be it Anya’s story, where she made a pact with the devil to create her clone, or Ilonka’s story, where the character of Imani could see the future in the reflection in the pond, the duality that existed inside them was evidently visible. Even in Kevin’s story, we are made privy to a character named Dusty, who could see the dead people whom he had murdered. The stories were nothing but an extension of the fears, inhibitions, desires, vulnerabilities, and needs that existed inside the characters. It could be speculated that somewhere deep down, Ilonka and Kevin didn’t negate the possibility that the undead could come to the mortal realm and have an impact on their lives. Maybe that is why Ilonka believed that the Paragon ritual would cure Anya.
It could be possible that the ghosts of the old man and the old lady were entering the real world through that doorway. But the question arises as to why they were only visible to Kevin and Ilonka. Why couldn’t the others not see them? Well, it is possible that the ghost of the old man and the old woman (who probably were Stanley Oscar Freelan and Vera Freelan) wanted to find a vessel in the mortal realm. It could also be possible that both Kevin and Ilonka wanted to believe in the fact that there existed some powers that were beyond their understanding and were not too skeptical about it like the others. Maybe they subconsciously believed in the duality of life, as mentioned earlier. But nothing could be said for sure, as the first season of The Midnight Club refrains from clarifying our doubts.
The Hourglass could also be said to be a personification of “time” itself. The rituals in the cult were always aimed at defying death. It was aimed at reversing the course of nature. Obviously, it had some consequences, but the greed to stop the inevitable from happening was so great that it overpowered everything else. The Hourglass also signified the endless loop of life and death, among many other things. To make it the sigil of the cult clearly indicates that the cultists were aiming at attaining a kind of salvation, to end the cycle of life and death and lead an immortal life. It was imperative to turn the Hourglass in order to allow the sand to seep inside the other bulb. To reap the benefits of immortality, one needs to make a lot of sacrifices. Though the intersection point had been found in the basement and evidently had been opened too, one needed to constantly feed the dead to make the effects last for a longer period of time. Towards the end of “The Midnight Club,” we see that Julia Jayne wanted to conduct the ritual once again, maybe because the effects of the ritual she conducted in 1968 had dissipated over the period of time. But what if a cult member had found a way to make it last? What if a cult member knew that the Hourglass was merely a representation of the amount of time an evil spirit had before it had to replenish itself once again by feeding on a human soul (like a vampire drinking human blood to energize itself)? What if the grains of sand were like a stopwatch that informed the evil spirit about when to change the vessel it had occupied? What if there was somebody who was operating from the shadows and orchestrating this whole facade?
Was Dr. Stanton Feeding The Dead Patients To The Ghosts Of Stanley Oscar And Vera Freelan?
In the 5th episode of the Midnight Club, Natsuki says something while the group is celebrating the “Death Day” party with Amesh on the beach. She entertains the possibility (though just for fun at that time) that Dr. Georgina Stanton could be an evil spirit and was trading their souls to feed the dead? Natsuki also shares a native Japanese story titled “Toshi no Taberu Hito,” which could be translated as the “Eater of Years.” Natsuki’s mother used to tell a story about a spirit that used to eat the years of its victims and was generally found at a place where people were going to die. What if that was the sole motive of Dr. Stanton behind opening the Brightcliffe Hospice, where terminally ill patients came, and it was no less than a feast for an evil spirit that wanted to siphon the souls of the people or maybe use the physical body as a vessel? It could be possible that Dr. Stanton had realized that though she had opened the intersection point of the Hourglass and allowed the sand to seep inside, i.e., opened the doorway to another realm, she needed to constantly feed the dead, which in this case was the old man and the old woman.
It was often not known what happened to the bodies of the patients who didn’t survive. Whenever somebody died, we always saw a man making the bed sheets and keeping the pillows in a very undiscerning manner. He had a very suspicious demeanor, and you only saw him whenever someone died. Maybe he was the personification of Charon (from Greek mythology), who carried the souls of the deceased. Though in this case, he might be working for the devil and not for the gods. Maybe he was responsible for taking the deceased bodies of terminally ill patients and leaving them in the basement for the dead to feed upon.
Another theory that could be formulated based on certain clues and hints is that Dr. Stanton was not feeding the dead, i.e., she herself was feeding on it as she was one of them. Maybe Vera Freelan had not died and was still present during the time when Regina Ballard started the cult. Maybe she had found a sustainable way to keep the dead satiated and reap the benefits of immortal life. We make this assumption because she had a framed picture of Stanley Oscar and Vera Freelan in her bedroom, and she had also framed the article from the Washington Journal that was published back in the year 1898 and covered the unveiling ceremony of the Freelan Mansion, which later came to be known as Brightcliffe Hospice.
The suspicion arises because it is not natural for somebody to have a picture of a couple in their bedroom if they are not in it, or if they do not share a close relationship with them. Also, Stanley Oscar and Vera Freelan were probably quite proud of their mansion, as the people back then considered it a marvel of architecture. Maybe Dr. Stanton was Vera Freelan in reality. The Freeland couple were quite proud of the fact that they had been able to create something so magnificent back in the day, and maybe that’s why Dr. Stanton still had that newspaper clip displayed on one of the walls in her bedroom. According to different mythologies, the devil could always shapeshift and dwell inside different vessels. Maybe Dr. Stanton’s physical body was just being used as a vessel by Vera Freelan. Something about Dr. Stanton tells us that she was an old soul. The way she looked at things, it felt like there was something that she was hiding behind her scientific and logical sensibilities. It felt like she was bluffing everyone and using everybody for her own interests. Though nothing concrete was revealed in the first season of “The Midnight Club,” we might get a more plausible explanation pertaining to the identity of Dr. Stanton in Season 2.