Figure 1One of Robert Kirk’s notebooks. Photograph by Kevan Manwaring 2015 (with permission of the Edinburgh University Library Special Collections).
Rabbit Holes & Chinese Whispers
In researching my novel, The Knowing – A Fantasy (the main iteration of my Creative Writing PhD at the University of Leicester), I undertook extensive primary source research of the novel’s historical focus: Robert Kirk, the 17th Century Episcopalian minister of Aberfoyle best known for his 1691 monograph, The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies. As a novelist I needed ‘telling details’ to bring him alive on the page as a fully-rounded character; as a researcher I was aware of the unreliable accuracy of the various printed versions of the monograph. Dictated from his sick-bed to his cousin, Robert Campbell (already establishing a possible gulf between ‘texts’ – the one Kirk orally related, and the one written down by Campbell); the
The classic edition of Traveller, Game Designer’s Workshop, 1977
As a young man back in the spiked, crimped velveteen 80s I spent many an happy hour enjoying sessions of role-playing games (now suddenly fashionable). These undoubtedly nurtured my writerly imagination for it is through them I caught the bug for storytelling and creating detailed scenarios. The three systems that enthralled me the most were the classic version of Dungeon & Dragons, Call of Cthulu (based upon the works of HP Lovecraft) and Traveller – through them I experienced the immersive delights of Fantasy, Horror and Science Fiction. It is the latter that is particularly on my radar at the moment, for my SF novel, Black Box, is ready for launch (being published through the crowdfunding platform, Unbound). Although the novel has been consciously informed by a lifetime of reading and watching SF, by Climate Change, and by…
Folk and fairy tales have come down to us through the ages. They continue to be birth themselves today with modern authors like Terri Windling’s The Wood Wife, and Patricia Wrede’s Talking to Dragons.
What is a folk tale? They can be hard to describe but one thing they all seem to have in common is that they’re teaching stories. They all have a point and teach how to be and work with otherworld through the actions of the characters. They show us how the world, the universe and everything works and have done since our ancient hunter-gatherer told tales and to help their younger folk to learn the ways of the world. They show us ordinary folk (show not tell!) how to be and behave when we meet otherworld.
And this is what I write, magic/mystery/romance. The novels are set in the present…
Highly recommended. Australian Druidry is a great introduction to modern Druidry in Australia. It describes the author’s journey to develop a Druidry for her needs. It shows all of us how to deepen into the wheel of the year, looking for cues in natural shifts rather than our calendars. As part of Moon Books’ Pagan Portals series, it is clearly and succinctly written.
For author Julie Brett, “modern Druidry is a path of nature-based spirituality being walked by many people over the world today. It centres on an understanding that is the ‘wisdom of the trees’ as the messengers of the natural world that can help us find guidance in our lives for peace, learning and personal development”. These principles can be taken to every part of the world, including the huge diversity of Australia itself, and customised to work any specific landscape.
The Spring Equinox is a time of balance and enlightenment, literally and figuratively. The dark nights have been receding and the light days have been growing in length which has led in turn to the growth and greening of the plants and trees.
Many crystals and stones, like the plants around us, thrive on the increased light and fertile energies that surround us in Spring.
With its golden yellow hue Citrine epitomises the warm glow of the ever increasing Spring sunshine to which the plants and flowers lovingly respond. Citrine has the optimistic energy of Spring and all the potential it promises. It has the bright energy of golden daffodils which cannot fail to cheer us up even when the Spring showers are pouring down. If you are looking to bring light, brightness and joy into your life Citrine is a charming choice that will inspire and illuminate.
Highly Recommended. Gwyn ap Nudd: Wild God of Faerie, Guardian of Annwfn, by Danu Forest, is a recent offering in Moon Books’ Pagan Portals series. Gwyn is well-known as the guardian of Glastonbury Tor displaced by St. Michael, but not widely understood. The author’s strategy is to explore Gwyn “through his various forms and tales, from King of the faeries, and lord of the forest, to guardian of the underworld and leader of the dead”. Deepening into her subject, she also suggests “ways to walk with our own darkness on our quest for our own Awen, our souls and our own self-knowledge, diving into the depths and drinking from the great cauldron until we arise at last reborn and radiant, filled with the light within the land”.
Gwyn is divided into five chapters, each of which offers an account of some aspect of Gwyn based on the traditional sources…
February means the Show The Love campaign is underway in force again, raising awareness of climate change. Last year I took part and made a green heart. I’m recycling it this year, and will make some more for good measure. But, this isn’t about empty gesturing, nor should it be about grinding ourselves down in despair over what’s going on.
To love this world at the moment, is to also feel pain, fear and grief. I don’t think it’s possible to separate those feelings out. It can be tempting to protect ourselves from pain by caring less in the first place, but that can only make things worse. If people are to change for the better, then we have to keep caring.
I love trees. I grew up in a landscape of hanging beech woods – woodland clinging to the steep side of the Cotswolds. I’ve always lived in places…