The 11 miles ritual story outlines a step by step procedure that those brave enough to participate can follow in order to be given what their heart desires, be that a material possession or something less physically tangible.
The ‘story’ itself relies upon a number of well-established tropes in horror literature and folklore, albeit with a modern twist and whilst the origins of the narrative itself are fairly clear, by providing a springboard for further myth expanding ‘experience’ accounts and ‘challenge videos’ the ritual has become increasingly popular.
The 11 Miles Ritual Story
It is a common trait of folkloric stories, that the many variants and idiosyncratic versions and adaptations of the story can be traced back to their common features and a central idea or narrative.
An easy way to think of this is to imagine a tree, with the ‘original’ or shared features that inspired all of the offshoots being the trunk and the many variants and inspired works being the branches, which then, in turn, themselves can inspire further variation based upon a detail or change they made to the original story.
Most often in traditional folklore that has developed over centuries and primarily from an orally transmitted beginning, the ‘trunk’ that the different variants can be traced back to is reduced to a set of key characteristics or a basic structure rather than an identifiable story from which all later variants have sprung.
However, in the folklore of creepypasta and internet lore, the tracing can appear to be far easier as narratives can sometimes be followed back like a thread to their originator, even when, as in this case, the creator has deleted or requested the deletion of the original post.
The origin of the 11 miles ritual is one such case where the initial posting can be uncovered and the narrative that gave birth to the later offshoots and creepypasta accounts can be followed back to a single author.
The 11 mile ritual was outlined in a post that is less a ‘story’ in the traditional sense of having a beginning middle and end, but which is rather presented as an instructional guide, giving the reader step by step outlines of the ritual’s various stages, what the procedures are at each stage and what those participating should avoid doing in order to keep themselves safe during their practice.
The original post was written by Richard Southard, posting under the name Emeryy with the title ‘11 miles’ and can be found here:
The post, according to the way back machine, was born on October 6th 2013. It was later removed by request of the author and has an average rating of five on a one to five scale, showing that it was a highly regarded piece of writing within the creepypasta community and by those who read it.
The story was uploaded as audio to the Youtube Channel Creepypasta jr. on November 23 2013, just over a month after having been originally posted in written form. This pattern of a story being posted and then adopted by a Youtube reader, where it receives greater attention and distribution is one that often occurs with Creepypasta stories and is symptomatic of the genre’s loose rules around copyright and the sharing of intellectual property. It is this same slackness or ungoverned approach to the use of another’s story that allows for the eventual modification, adaptation and use of the original story as it develops over the years.
The second stage in the story’s development after its initial posting and use on Youtube, was for readers and listeners influenced by the content to then use the story as the base narrative for their own fictionalized accounts.
In these later versions, the content of the posts switches its narrative form, from being an instructional guide to being supposed first-hand accounts from those who have experienced or undergone the ritual and are now sharing the outcomes and consequences, with some contributors alleging that their friends or relatives have ‘gone missing’ after participating in the ritual.
Others have exploited the questions posed by the narrative itself and particularly the prohibitions. By giving instructions that include cautions against certain actions and commands of ‘Do not’ and ‘Never’ the original poster opens up countless potential avenues for expansion as other writers seek to explore what could or indeed did happen when the rules were disobeyed and the boundaries overstepped.
The third, slightly later branch saw this aspect (the idea of breaking the rules laid out in the original narrative) as a challenge, with posters either providing reports of what happened when they deliberately broke the rules, or in some cases posting videos of themselves in the act of deliberately breaking the rules as a demonstration of bravery or as an experiment. At this point the stories shifted away from expanding the mythology and created a new emphasis on ‘de-bunking’ what was already a clearly fictional account.
11 Mile Analysis
The writing of the original 11 miles post has been widely praised and whilst it may not have been entirely intentional, the structure and composition of the original 11 miles story, not only places it well within an established genre but employs a number of key tactics that make it an effective ‘ritual’ format.
Firstly, unlike most creepypasta stories which are told in the first person (I did this, I saw that) or are reported in the third person (she did this, he did that) the 11 mile story is delivered in the second person and addresses the reader directly. It uses rhetorical devices such as rhetorical questions to invite the reader into the story and involves them from the outset. This is not accidental.
Complimenting this use of direct address is the use of imperative sentences. Sentences that act as instructions or commands, telling the reader what to do and how to do it. Combining these two elements of addressing the reader directly and giving clear instructions instantly distinguishes the piece from other ‘stories’ and places it more firmly in the genre of instruction, occupying a place within a long history of texts that provide outlines of rituals and magical rites.
This links the piece to the practice of ritual magic and to the grimoires and spellbooks famously used by magicians and occultists in the past in which the instructions for the ritual would be addressed to the reader directly and the requirements laid out in clear imperative sentences. (these points of style are frequently used to identify spell books and magical rites in popular movies, novels and television shows).
Another interesting aspect of the way the story is written and a feature it shares with the aforementioned spellbooks and rites is its authority and the way in which it relies upon an ‘implied past’.
The way that the story uses the word ‘will’ in declarative sentences about what may occur is an example of high marked modality (that is using a modal verb to show authority or likelihood in a statement, or, to put that in plain English, using words like ‘will’ to make it sound like it will definitely happen and there is no room for debate).
Without getting too high school English class about this, the fact that the writer says that things ‘will’ happen rather than saying for example that they ‘may’ ‘might’ or ‘could’ implies to the reader a sense of certainty, likelihood and authority.
It also implies that this authority is based on previous knowledge of the ritual and certainty as to what ‘will’ happen. This authority and the implication of first hand knowledge leads the reader to believe that the writer not only knows exactly how the ritual will work from first-hand experience but that he is also certain that disobeying the rules will have dire consequences and perhaps has borne witness to those consequences himself.
The ‘procedural’ and ritualistic element of the story is underlined by two complementary elements, repetition and schematization (breaking up into a step by step procedure).
This begins with the number of requirements “First,” “The second requirement” but is then expanded by breaking the procedure of the ritual up into one action or observation for each successive mile.
Breaking the procedure into identifiable steps makes it read more like a ritualistic practice and is a common feature of all internet rituals and creepypasta ‘midnight games’.
A quick scan down the left hand side of the page at the start of the paragraphs will show the reader how many of the paragraphs start with the same word or phrase “On”. This repetition of the same phrase over and over gives the instructions an ‘incantatory’ feel. In other words, it makes it sound like a chant, almost as if a ritual is taking place as the piece is being read.
The repetition also creates in the mind of the reader the idea of proceeding forwards toward the next repetition and the next until finally, they reach a conclusion. This is a clever narrative device to maintain the reader’s interest. The repetitive chant-like use of a word is again a common feature of almost all ‘midnight games’ or internet rituals because its use is reminiscent of older rituals and our expectations of ritual magic.
Influences and Traditions
Though the 11 miles story can be traced back to a specific date in 2013, the traditions and influences upon which it relies extend back much further.
Entering the woods for the purposes of seeking what one desires through the use of ritual was a common feature of stories around the great witch trials, with many women being accused of having met with the devil in some form or other ‘in the hedgerow’, ‘in the forest’ or ‘in the woods’.
The basic premise, that by performing a ritual act, conducting certain motions or movements in a set way to attain what you desire via some magical means is a very old one as is the notion that entities or forces on the other side can grant material and nonmaterial rewards. Usually, this process involves a transaction of some kind, such as deal or pact, often with an entity from another realm.
For example in the bible, Christ is offered riches and all the cities of the world by Satan when being tempted, in Christopher Marlowe’s Dr Faustus, the famed occultist offers his soul in exchange for rewards (and unlike in later cleaned up versions is punished for it) in Hawthornes’s Young Goodman Brown the townspeople meet in the woods to perform rituals. The idea of enduring some trial in order to attain your desire is as old as Greek myth, with such notable examples as Heracles and of course The Odyssey.
The idea of traveling through another realm in stages, with things changing and altering at particular junctures as well as significant shifts in temperature, are features of Dante’s account of a descent into hell in the Inferno.
Interestingly, in the 11 miles story whilst there are other shadowy figures, who or what grants the participant what they desire is not made clear and it is neither stated nor implied that there is any force or entity in this ‘other dimension’ that the vehicle enters that is responsible for delivering the gift.
With the progression through carefully mapped out stages, the idea of ‘enduring’ certain hardships built into the narrative, and the lack of an external ‘granter’ of these wishes, the reader is left either to surmise that the ‘granter’ is unknowable or that it is the participant themselves
This leads us to another popular interpretation of the story, which moves away from the creepypasta horror ritual scenario and instead suggests that the entire story is an allegory for life’s struggles for achievement.
Those who read the story in this waypoint out that the ‘others’ in the story might be distractions or detractors who would discourage the participant from making progress towards their goals. They also underline the fact that at several points there is a requirement for ‘blind faith’ which if there is a moral to the story might be suggesting that people need to retain a degree of self belief if they are to achieve or attain the material and nonmaterial rewards they desire.
Finally, there is the fact that at the conclusion to the original story (which is sometimes cut from later postings and alternate versions) the narrator of the piece asks the successful participant who has attained what they desired whether they are fulfilled and whether the trials have brought them satisfaction, then invites them to undertake the trip again to gain more of what they desire and what they perhaps think will make them happy.
The deeper meaning here is that attachment to such things will not bring happiness and that the real satisfaction and contentment is right back where you started. Those who fail to realize this will be stuck in a loop of endlessly repeating the stages of this trial only to find themselves forever dissatisfied at the end.
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