Unikirja-Dream Book Book Review

Book reviwer banner

Unikirja-Dream Book


Author: K.A. Laity
Publisher: AINO PRESS

P.O. Box 3104, Albany NY 12203-0104

http://www.aino-press.com

ainopress@gmail.com

Genre: Pagan, Paranormal, Magical

Length – # OF PAGES: 171

Purchase link

Book/Card Rating: 4.5

Review by: Rie McGaha

Review:

K.A. Laity has written a marvelous collection of stories that have the dreamlike quality of bedtime stories. I was mesmerized by these stories with their intelligence, simplicity and warmth. From the very first story with its simple message that life has its ups and downs for everyone, to the humor of Raising Lempi, you will want to savor every word, every page and read this book over and over. The warmth and peacefulness these stories bring to the reader feels like a big, comfortable blanket on a cold wintry day. I am just so impressed, I can’t say enough for Unikirja-Dream Book, except what a wonderful treat.

History of the Cross

Kel’s Cool Crosses Goddess Cross

Crosses are usually associated with the Christian faith, but most people don’t realize that crosses have been around long before Christianity.

I started making crosses about eight years ago, crafting them from pieces of wood and other things I would find like crystals, stones, shells and feathers. The first cross I made was as a get-well gift to my mom who was very ill and in the hospital. My little cross rested on my mom’s nightstand and she recovered from her illness. Did the cross I made for her make her better? Maybe, maybe not, but from then on I wanted to keep making crosses. When my mom bought me a wood-burning tool, I was so excited. I started making larger crosses with Canadian driftwood, burning in American Indian symbols, Runes or Neolithic symbols, depending on what style I was making.

Crosses have a special meaning to me, a powerful symbol that has existed for many centuries. Each cross I make is unique. When I look at the blank piece of wood, it speaks to me, it’s special energy guiding me toward creating a unique design. The three styles I work with are Southwest, Runes and Goddess. I have gathered a multitude of decorations from amethyst and crystal points, moonstones, turquoise, garnets, carnelians and many other stones to various shells, small dream catchers and other items I come across at swap meets. I am fortunate to live in a place where it is easy and inexpensive to find these items. Each cross I make has a special meaning to me and sometimes it is hard to part with them, but I feel good when I hear a heartwarming story from a buyer. One particular cross I made with a dragon centerpiece was purchased to be placed with a dearly departed friend. My crosses have journeyed all over the U.S. and beyond to the Otherworld. As an artist, that gives me a sense of immortality–long after I am gone my crosses will survive, leaving a part of me behind.

I have posted some information on the history of the cross below:

Crosses were around long before Christianity as the most cherished of religious symbols. It is believed that the ancient Cross symbolized the earth’s four directions and the divine center. Spaniards saw Indians worshipping the Cross. The Peruvians and Babylonians had the Maltese Cross. The druids were believed to have made their Cross out of a stem and two branches of the oak tree. Buddhist Crosses are common throughout the East. The Thor’s hammer Cross is a well-known Pre-Christian Cross and several deities of ancient Egypt hold a Cross in their hands. Wheeled Crosses are seen on some Pre-Christian stones, possibly as symbols of solar worship.

Ireland is known for its many ancient Crosses. Pre-Christian Crosses have been identified at Dowth and New Grange on the Boyne, Knockmany of Tyrone, Deer Park of Fermanagh, Cloverhill of Sligo and Slieve-ha-Calliagh near Lough Crew of Meath. The ancient faery people of Ireland, the Tuatha-de-Danaan, had Crosses that were adorned with snakes, birds and other animals. In the Scottish Highlands, the Fiery Cross, when dipped in goat’s blood and flaming, was a message of alarm among the wild tribes. A serpentine figure was often twisted around the Fiery Cross.

The Cross is still a very powerful symbol of faith all over the world.

My crosses can be found on http://www.ebay.com/ by putting wall crosses in the ‘find’ box and home and garden in the ‘in’ box. To refine the search, go to the left under Refine Search and specify seller by entering ‘havasukelley’

Kelley
‘Timeless tales of romance, conflict & magic’
http://www.kelleyheckart.com
http://www.myspace.com/phantomqueen3
http://twitter.com/CelticChick

Art Imitates Life

bloodiedquill

More often than not, my life ends up in my words.

It’s not that I’m deliberately writing Mary-Sue. It just happens that things or people from my life end up in my work. I’m sure it happens to most writers, if not all at some point.

For me, I kill people in messy, sticky, very bloody ways. That shouldn’t be a surprise, as I am for the most part, a horror writer. Even in my romance writing, though, there is a dark ending, someone has died a slow and lingering death. I’m not sure any of the folks these characters are based on would a) actually read my work and b) recognize themselves. That’s probably a good thing; some of them might take my words the wrong way.

I’d much rather write them dead, and leave them there, than have continued interaction that will only hurt both sides in the long run. I’d rather write them out of a fictional existence, than curse or bind them. My freezer is nearing capacity with jars that have slips of paper or pictures of people with a binding written in Dragon’s Blood Ink over all, tied up with black silk thread and frozen suspended in water. They’re frozen out of my life, before I write them out. The connection is broken and they are gone.

My ex has been in the freezer, as have/are my brothers’ exes. Former friends and co-workers and even some family members have had or have cozy little spots on the shelf. Some may die more than once, sometimes once is enough.

I do that to cover myself and them with protection. I was told once, a decade ago now, that words are intent; every bit as much as a curse or binding is spoken, if it is written with an image of someone in mind, it’s just as harmful. Considering the things my fictional killers get up to when unobserved by fictional heroes, I’d rather be safe than sorry. Sometimes they are done with, and I take them from the freezer, release the binding on them and set them free.

Some are going to be in there for the remainder of their days.

Writers are natural observers, and I like to think most of us are naturally emotional as well. Hardened from years of rejection on the outside, but soft and occasionally vulnerable on the inside. Big hurts can tempt us to find the darkness within ourselves and give in to it. Writing it out is second nature to us, and frankly, any bit of protection we can put in place is good for us in the long run. Superstitious one, aren’t I? 😉

I’m not sure if I’ll get back today in time to do a second posting today, but I may. If not, feel free to stop by my regular blog and check out guest blogger, Michele Lee (author of Rot, recently released from Skullvines Press). I’m also running a poll, and there’s a link to the guidelines for my new anthology project, Dead Bells.

Why Reviewers Review

Most book reviewers have a reason why they review books and this reason is rooted in a sense of fairness and ethics. Here are some examples of statements of ethics:

“I’ve seen many, many lists of recommended books, very few of which tell me why I should read them. I’m very aware of the pitfalls of book reviews, but I’d rather have them to read than buy a book blindly.” –Hearthstone http://www.geocities.com/hearthstoneshaven/

“I want to make sure that all of you have the information you need to make informed decisions as to the worth and value of many of the books on the market.” —Daven

http://davensjournal.com/index.htm?Header.xhtml

The Midwest Book Review has an entire essay page devoted to explaining their ethics about book reviewing.  http://www.midwestbookreview.com/bookbiz/advice/system.htm

 

          An important part of the ethic of review writing has to do with point of view. As Pagans we have religious mores and values that give us a specific point of view. This point of view can be used to shape the ethic of review writing as well as shaping reviewing insights. For instance, the vast majority of Neo-Pagans believe that the individual has her or his connection to the Gods and to any other divine or Other beings believed to be part of the earth and cosmos. Further, how the individual finds and makes this connection is the individual’s right and is to be respected as part of the individual’s self-determination and responsibility. In terms of reviewing, this will mean that at its most basic level, the Pagan reviewer respects the author and is appreciative of the author expressing her or his views in his or her writing, whether this expression finds form in the subtext of the writing or more overt expression through character statement or through interplay of events, and, in non-fiction, finds form in the subtext of choices of facts revealed, juxtaposition of facts, and the overt states.

            Reviewer ethics are especially important in argued reviews. Argued reviews are pieces where the reviewer quotes from the book she or he is reviewing as support to her or his argument that the book is good. Occasionally a book is panned through argument, too. To say a book or film is panned, means the book or film (or play) received a very bad review. When composing an argued review for non-fiction books, the reviewer mentions the salient points of the book in the order the book mentions them and quotes key lines from the book. For fiction books, the reviewer mentions the characters the reviewer most liked or disliked, the exciting or dullest moments, and also mentions any instance of a turn of phrase that particularly appealed to the reviewer or turned-off the reviewer. Again for each element of the book mentioned, a quotation is given. These reviews tend to be five to eight paragraphs in length. In argued reviews the reviewer gives her or his reasons, supported with concrete examples from the book reviewed, of why the book is good or not. The argued review, then, is at best a thoughtfully considered evaluation, a judgment.

Does the reviewer judge fairly? How does the reviewer judge the book: by commercial appeal, by importance of the work, by literary criteria, or by what message the book is actually making? Does the reviewer choose fair criteria for judging the book? Each of these questions reflects on the ethics of the reviewer. Does the reviewer demonstrate real understanding of the book?  The point of view of the reviewer is going to be reflected in what and how the review argues her or his point about the book. The Pagan view of the respect for the author as an individual expressing a personal truth or seeking an answer of personal importance creates a firm foundation for writing an ethical argued review. 

            As already said, argued reviews argue for the quality of the book by giving examples in the form of quotes from the book and brief descriptions of scenes and characters. One of the ways to help Paganism be accepted in the world is to help promote Pagan books through book reviews., The argued review becomes a particularly good tool in this regard because the argued review shows exactly why a specific Pagan book should be read by everyone, not just Pagans.

Pagan Point of View and Argued Reviews

In her blog “Using Fiction to Explore Personal Issuesmagalyguerrero brought up the very important issue of the author’s point of view. Indeed, this blog of hers made me decide to have a blog theme today about argued reviews. Finding authors’ point of view is an essential part of writing an insightful argued review. In this blog, I am going to delve into how reviewers like magalyguerrero find authors’ point of view, and I’m going to do this in the context of one of my own books, a collection of short stories, New Myths of the Feminine Divine. I am going to use examples from my stories to bring up points of how we, as Pagans, write and understand stories differently than the larger culture.

In fiction, finding the author’s point of view is done through a combination of techniques. First, the author’s choice of who is the protagonist (“hero“) and who the antagonist (“villain“) gives a good idea of what characteristics the author finds good and bad. Many people who write scripts and fiction believe the protagonist and the antagonist have to be characters. For them, then, in “Where’s Mercy” the protagonist is Hope and the antagonist, the ogress. Howevr,  the ogress is not evil. The ogress is not a villain. There is the character Glarmor who is a very unpleasant sort who refuses to help the people who are helping him. There is also Faith who causes one third of the town to get killed because she refuses to believe the truth. Are either of these characters the antagonist? As Pagans, you are probably suffering at the idea that one character has to be the actual antagonist (or protagonist for that matter) especially when you see that the actions of three characters—the ogress, Glarmor, and Faith—contribute to the suffering and death of the townspeople. Likewise you may consider that Prudence, Hope, and Larson form a sort of protagonist unit. As a Pagan, you may be thinking along the lines of triple-aspected deities, and you would be absolutely correct.

The Pagan perspective that there is not always One person, or One way, or One point of view helps in understanding stories because the Pagan view is not going to try to force a villain-versus-hero interpretation on a story that does not fit that mold. The Pagan view of there being many Gods, triple-aspected deities, and a variety of Other Realm entities gives the Pagan reviewer a way of thinking about stories that is both flexible and useful.

It is a common mistake in analyzing stories to think that the antagonist has to be one of two central characters, the evil one, and the protagonist also has to be the other central character, the good one. In stories, characters are actually things that are moved to action by forces. It is the force behind the characters that is antagonistic or protagonistic. Further these forces can be many, and they unite, like seeking like, just as magical energies do. Therefore, a variety of forces can be influencing a character. These forces can be coming from the environment—outside of the character—or they can be coming from inside the character—the character’s thoughts, emotions, memories, etc. The same is with the things and places in the story; like seeks like to strengthen and build; opposites change each others’ courses if they brush each other by gently, destroy each other if they hit head on. Only if one is larger or stronger in some way will it survive the impact. If the two opposite forces are of equal strength and all other things are equal then a balance of stasis, a balance of life, can be created, just as with magickal energies. (For a deeper explanation of looking at the elements of literature as forces, read Vector Theory and the Plot Structures of Literature and Drama.)

Consider the ogress and Faith in “Where’s Mercy?” Faith is one of the human beings in danger every week of being eaten. She has the courage to maintain her religious beliefs in a very difficult life and conducts religious services for the other humans. These are positive qualities, and yet her views prevent her from accepting that what Hope says is true; they are all going to be eaten if they do not escape immediately. Faith has good qualities, and yet her actions and beliefs lead her and others to their deaths. What is the point of view I seem to hold about such attitudes? As a Pagan, what sort of religious person do you think Faith is based on? What is the author’s (Hi!) message about Faith? Now think about the ogress. The ogress eats people. She cooks up babies and serves them as hors d’oeuvres to the ogre of her dreams, and he likes them so much he proposes to her. (So, we can say she eats babies and has sex afterwards!) Now this is, from a human perspective, terrible, yet she is an ogress. She is not human. She sees humans like we see chickens. Her humans are “organic”; they are free running and vegetarian. She doesn’t mistreat her humans; she protects them from other predators. She is, all in all, a humane farmer. Nevertheless, she is penning up an intelligent species and eating them. The ogress acts as humanely as she knows how, and yet her way of life is based on cruelty. Look at how the ogress acts at the end of the story. What change occurs in the ogress? What is the ogress going to do in the future? What is the author saying—what point is the author making in this change the ogress undergoes?

This brings us to another way of how reviewers find out what the author’s point or message is. They compare who the characters are at the beginning of the story with who they are at the end of the story. In “Where’s Mercy?” which character makes the biggest change? What character or characters don’t change? Think about Faith. She was pretty arrogant and bossy through most of the story. Her arrogance got many of the people killed because they followed her. So when an ogress thanks her for giving up her life to the ogresses, how do you imagine Faith behaved? There is no description of how she acted. This means the reader is invited to imagine for him or herself how Faith acts at the time of her death. How then do you think Faith died? The one character who has a fundamental change that is told about is the ogress. Thinking about how she changes, what does the title of the story mean? How does the title question fit in with elements of the story? The ogress’s change and the title of the story are big indicators of the author’s message.

In the “The Aurora Mask,” how do the characters behave at the beginning of the story? How do they behave at the end of the story? Who changes and how? Most important will be the transformation of the Queen Iyer as the antagonist and of Cymbeline as the protagonist. What sort of person is Cymbeline at the beginning of the story? What sort of person is she at the end of the story? What sort of person was Queen Iyer at the beginning of the story? What sort of person was she at the end of the story?

Settings also reflect the forces the author is working with in the story. What state is the castle in, the country in, at the beginning of the story? What state is the castle in, the country in, at the end of the story? Special objects (props) in a story also reflect the influence of the forces the author is working with in a story. In “The Aurora Mask” masks are central to the story. Cymbeline’s punishment is to make for herself a mask that once she puts it on she can never take off. Yet, at the end of the story, the rest of court is forced by Cymbeline to make masks. What happens when they put them on? What happens to the mask that Cymbeline wears? What is the meaning given to the masks? What do the changes in the characters, the changes in the setting, and the changes in mask-wearing tell about the point of the story? What does the title “The Aurora Mask” say about the story?

Many Pagans, especially Wiccans, use masks for some rituals. If you yourself have used masks in Circle, compare your use of masks with how they are used in the story. Anytime you bring your personal experience to a story you will have an interesting insight to bring to your reviews. What is the author saying about mask use? Do you agree with it? Wiccans use things in their magic as symbols of things the magic is about. Consider the two stories in this way. What are the masks symbols of in “The Aurora Mask“? What is the ogress a symbol of, and what symbolic meaning is there in the doll clothes the people have to wear in “Where’s Mercy”? Looking at the details of stories as symbols helps to make clear the author’s message because once you figure out what is a symbol, you can easily figure out what the symbol means. What the symbol means is part of the author’s point or message. In very good writing, every detail will contribute to the story’s meaning. That is also a good point to bring up in arguing about the quality of writing. Do all the details serve the meaning of the story or not?

Lastly, an author reveals her or his point of view or message in the situation they set up in the story. Again, reviewers as they study the work of fiction compare the situation at the beginning of the story with the situation at the end. What is the situation at the beginning of “The Aura Mask”? What is the situation at the end of the story? What has happened? What has changed? From this comparison reviewers are able to gauge the message the author is giving.

Finding the message and deciding what you think of the message are very important parts of reading and writing an argued review. There will be times you will like a story or non-fiction book because of its message even if you do not like the writing that much. Conversely, there will be times when the story and writing is very good, but you do not like the point of view or the message. Sometimes messages of hate can be subtle, and these are dangerous. Reviewers have to use their sense of ethics to decide if they should warn against untrue or hate-inspired messages or not.

I was at a science fiction convention where most everyone was excited about a particular sf book. The author was at the convention. The book was well written and quite entertaining, but I hated it. I hated it because of the underlying message. Basically the story was of a civilized planet that was discovered for the first time. It was discovered because the beautiful music of the civilization was caught by a sweep of radio waves or some such method. The Catholic Church decided to help fund the scientific team to be sent to the planet. The Catholic Church decided to do this because they believed that such beautiful music could only be created as expressions of love of god. So naturally they put a priest on the science team. When the team arrives, they discover that the songs are created as expressions of sexual ecstasy. There are two races, a predator race and herbivore race, with the predator race enslaving the herbivore race. The predators seasonally rape some of the herbivores, finding this sex to be the best. Then the predators eat the herbivores’ babies. Ironically, just two weeks before the convention, a leading Middle Eastern paper had printed a vicious article claiming that the Jewish sader (the feast held during Passover) was a ritual where Jews ate gentile babies. We as Pagans have read some of the silly accusations that we have sex orgies and then eat babies afterwards. So as you can see, I disliked the book because it was perpetuating the falsehood that a foreign culture, a culture that creates music out of the joy of sexual ecstasy, is really just a bunch of rapists who eat babies. When these sorts of ideas are presented in entertainment, people tend to find them palatable because the story is so good. However, once the idea is put in people’s minds in a way they accept, then if it is repeated enough in different ways, people become willing to act on these false ideas and they put into political office people who act on these ideas on a large scale, often drastic way. When stories do this I think it is important to expose. Did I just write and argued review or an anti-puff piece?

 

Here is a summary of ways to find the author’s point or message.

 

*Determine the antagonist and the protagonist—and think like a Pagan!

The antagonist may not necessarily be a character!

The protagonist may not necessarily be a character!

 Who or what else in the story is compelled by the same type of forces as the protagonist?

Who or what else in the story is compelled by the same type of forces as the antagonist?

*Examine the adjectives and adverbs used to describe the main characters.

Who and what is describe in positive terms?

Who and what is described in negative terms?

 

*What characters change from the beginning of the story to the end,

and how do they change?

 

*What special objects change from the beginning of the story to the end,

and how do they change?

 

*How does the setting change from the beginning of the story to the end of the story and why?

 

*How does the story’s title relate to elements in the story?

 

*What details of the story work as symbols, and what do those symbols mean?

 

As a Pagan reviewer, once you have determined what the author’s point or message is, you have a perspective that is fresh and insightful—your Paganism. Let your personal experience of the Craft tell you things about the fiction and non-fiction you read.

Using Fiction to Explore Personal Issues

Guilty as charged! I’ve often used fiction to make sense of real life. Aren’t certain stories specially tailored for this purpose? Think about Cinderella, couldn’t this fairytale be used to explain the basics of karma? Or Shrek, if one wanted to be more modern; that movie fully illustrates that a “book can not be judged by its cover”. Even an unsavory looking ogre has potential for great kindness, right?

You are probably wondering where I’m going with this, so here is my point. Yesterday morning, I was combating the Manhattan traffic while listening to an interview on NPR. The traffic horror got most of my attention of course, which might explain why I forgot the name of the person being interviewed *sigh*. All I remember is that he writes children’s literature and has the cutest English accent ever.

Anyway, his accent was quite lovely, but what caught my attention was something he said. He suggested that brining personal opinions and/or issues into fiction writing would be “cheating” the reader. He continued to say that reading should be fun and using the writer’s—or someone else’s—reality to tell a story, pretty much killed the fun factor.

My first thought was Geez my stories must be a fun vampires! I pour myself into everything I write. I don’t necessarily share my deepest desires and frustrations, for if I did I would probably be committed or put in jail. However, I do use my stories to portray truths that are too difficult for some people to even fathom. Some of these veracities are actually simple, but they haven’t touched some individuals at a personal level, so they care little about them.

A good example is the story I’m working on. One of my characters is HIV positive. The story is not about HIV, but it does offer glimpses into what living with HIV might be like. Not the nightmare that most people have heard of, but a normal happy life if the individual takes care of him/herself. Also, most of my stories include Pagan elements. Could my writing excude Paganism, and my belief that HIV positive people are as normal  as everyone else? Probably; I just don’t want it to.

My writing is a reflection of who I am and what I believe in. If that is fun killer for some, then I’ll have to be happy writing for me and for those who are into reading dull fiction that touches reality every now and then. I understand that I can’t fight every battle with a story, but I know in my heart that to leave every personal belief out of my own writing would be the real act of fraud.

What do you think? Should fiction writers leave personal issues out of their stories? Or is the thought of it just an unlikely fairytale?

Of the Land – What is Pagan for me?

The word comes from the Latin “paganus”, meaning of the land. To say it in Welsh is the word Wledig … reminding me of the story of Macsen Wledig whose legend is that he became the first (& last) British emperor of Rome. You can find one version of his legend at Early British Kingdoms and he’s also on Wikipedia under his Latin name. He died in Aquileia in 388AD. According to , Mary Stewart‘s The Hollow Hills, (a usually accurate author) there is a mosaic of his execution there.

Macsen is best known among Celts for the Mabinogion story, the Dream of Macsen Wledig. His name comes from “Gwlad” – country – nation – “holder of lands”, possibly nowadays meaning is “rural” or “of the land”. A fascinating blog from the Chief Constable of Wales tells more of its meaning and its association with dragons – the Welsh national beast.

My own name, Elen Sentier, comes out of this. Elen was Macsen’s wife, a woman of the Faer, a face of the goddess Sovereignty, the goddess of the Land of Britain. In the story Macsen builds three castles for her and she builds three roads between them – an analogy for the three Cauldrons of Poesy which are the pars of chakras in the Celtic tradition, similar to the three cauldrons of the better known Taoist tradition. Elen’s roads or sarns between them are like the eastern nadis that connect the chakras. Ooof! That was a wallop of heavy Celtic tech stuff, eh?

But I’ve had this lady, Elen, on my tail all my life and when I came to write she told me she wanted me to write in her name. She is called Elen of the Ways, Elen Sentier is that in that “Sentier” is French for footpath … the lady seems to like the pun.

Despite the fact that Dad thought I might grow up to be more ladylike if he sent me to school at a convent (LOL) I’ve always been pagan, always been of the land. I was born on Dartmoor and lived most of my childhood on the edge of Exmoor, two ancient and wild places down in the old kingdom of Dumnonia and full of British legend. My first novel, Owl Woman, is set there and built around the legend of the sacred well in our village that was owned by my aunt, and actually set in the wall of our garden. It is about the meeting of worlds, promises made and broken to Otherworld and the consequences.

Dyfrig dances Ceridwen Between the worlds
Dyfrig dances Ceridwen Between the worlds

I now live in the smallest of the old British kingdoms, Ergyng, in the between-worlds land of the Welsh Marches, absolutely bung-full of British legend – we even have our own Merlin-figure, Dyfrig, with his school and his oak tower about five miles up the road from me and born in my local village. Dyfrig has inspired my latest novel, Oak Man, on which I’m working frantically at the moment, it’s about a teenager, Jenni, who meets an old tramp who asks for her help … of course, the tram is Dyfrig, in disguise and with some memory loss. Jenni helps him, learns magic and they win out the day by the skin of their teeth. The story is set here where I live and in the ancient deer-park where Dyfrig had his school and his oak. It’s the first in a series, all set at sacred sites in Ergyng, with Jenni at their centre. I’ve got no write-up for it yet as it’s not finished … but I have done the cover ad this is it.

 My whole life has been formed around “the land” where I live, even the twenty-five years I worked in London. There I had so much to do with “Fountain International” and knew Hamish Miller (he helped me learn to dowse) and so got very involved with the Star Patterns of alignments in the city. London too is an ancient place, with a great mythos about how it came to be, I found working there fascinating and stimulating … and again, always the connection with the land.

This connection with the land goes out from sensing the moods of rocks, earth, magma, all the mineral kingdom, expanding into the vegetable kingdom – promoting my passion for gardening – and to the animal kingdom, the loves of my life. It even gets me into the human kingdom, the fourth kingdom of nature, although I do have serious issues with many on the selfish way humans treat the rest of creation.

And that’s another thing about being pagan. The connection with the land, being “of the land” makes it impossible to treat anything else as a lesser being just because it isn’t human, doesn’t look like me, and maybe I have difficulty understanding it when it speaks to me. That must be ultimately frustrating for non-human beings! We must appear deaf and stupid to them the way we take no notice. And that reminds me of one of my favourite books, Jinian Footseer by Sheri S Tepper. In that the heroine, Jinnian, gradually discovers that her “talent” is to be able to speak with and hear other creatures. When she finally understands this she realises how patient they have all been with her complete lack of realisation that they’ve been understanding her and speaking with her all her life … a very embarrassing place LOL.

All of this, all this connection, of being of the land, has drawn me to write. And to teach. My novels – as well as being mystery and exciting – are about walking between the worlds. This is the theme of my whole life, walking between the worlds. The phrase comes from one of our ancient and famous British shamans, Thomas of Erceldoune, probably better known from the song “Thomas the Rhymer”. This quote from Wikipaedia tells a little about him …

Thomas Learmonth (1220-1298; also spelled Learmount, Learmont, or Learmounth), better known as Thomas the Rhymer or True Thomas, was a 13th century Scottish laird and reputed prophet from Earlston (then called “Erceldoune”). He is also the protagonist of the ballad “Thomas the Rhymer” (Child Ballad number 37). He is also the probable source of the legend of Tam Lin. Sir Thomas was born in Erceldoune (also spelled Ercildoune – presently Earlston), Berwickshire, sometime in the 13th century, and has a reputation as the author of many prophetic verses. Little is known for certain of his life but two charters from 1260-80 and 1294 mention him, the latter referring to the “Thomas de Ercildounson son and heir of Thome Rymour de Ercildoun”.

True Thomas’ coined the phrase “walking between the worlds”, his ballad-story shows how it happened for him, how he met with the Queen of the Faer, travelled between worlds with her and gained his magic. The Queen of the Faer is yet another representative of Sovereignty. I walk in his footsteps.

Yes, walking between the worlds, that’s pagan for me. Being in continuous touch with the Land, the Spirit of Place, this gorgeous planet that supports us despite what we do to her, that’s being pagan for me. Being “of the land” …