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a moon-tale for christmas

The moon loves the ocean. She lives in it, but every night she rises so that she may sail through a different sea - the heavens. She is like a coracle, round-bellied, hardy. She navigates currents, storms, cloud-swamps. And her seaweed-coloured eyes look down upon the waters, and her smile is solemn. At the last she dives down again into the ocean, for no matter how much the sun may adore her, it's the dark she wants most, the peace of the deep.

We went over the dusky meadow, looking for the moon on Christmas night, but could not find her. Finally, as we were walking away, one of us happened to glance back - and then, in the smallest moment, glimpsed her behind clouds. So we sat in the grass and waited.

And when she rose into view, we lit a little candle to welcome her.

She was the fullest I've seen her in a long while (although she looks crooked in these pictures taken by my inadequate camera.) Fat with summer light, and with all the glory of the king on this special day when the world honours him as star child, the dirt-born lord of us all.

Sunlight flared against her cheek, her brow. But she was gazing down upon the ocean, and I could almost hear the ocean singing its long soft night-song back to her.


When they ask me why I use the internet when I could be reading books, wandering forests, talking to friends in coffee shops, I tell them that I do all those things but I also love the way the internet opens my life to kindred spirits and awakened dreams from right across the world. 
There is currently a meme on Facebook about mythic art, and the fact it appeared in my feed via one of my favourite artists with whom I sometimes share a word or two - this, it is magic to me. After a lifetime of feeling different, strange, alone, to have conversations within the mythic arts community is deeply heartening. I'm sharing it here today for all the people not able to talk about faery and art within their "real life" community.

Who is your favorite living mythic artist? 
So many! It would be unbearable to choose just one. But honourable mentions go to Catherine Hyde and Terri Windling.
Who is your favorite mythic artist from the past? 
Again, so many! Probably Edmund Dulac, Henry Justice Ford, Jessie King ... must stop now ... Helen Stratton ...
Who is your favorite living author?
I will say Patricia McKillip, but many others are a close second.
Who is your favorite author from the past? 
LM Montgomery. Then again, I want to nominate Enid Blyton just for the sake of The Land of Far-Beyond alone.
-What is your favorite Pre-Raphaelite painting? 
What is your favorite fairy tale? 
The Goose Girl. I wrote a version of it in Driftways.
What is your favorite ballad?
If you could go for a walk in a faerie wood with anyone, living or dead, who would you choose and why? 
My daughter, because she is herself.
If you were a faerie creature (and of course some already are), what sort would you be?
Myself, winged and home.

What item in your wardrobe makes you feel the most magical when you wear it? 
A white cotton lace underdress.
Who is a living artist who you feel isn’t as well-known as they should be? 
If we can say writing is an art, then Sylvia Linsteadt.
What are some of your totem jewelry items that make you feel magical to wear? 
I recently bought a fossiled and polished stone pendant and can feel the magic in it. Also, my silver charm bracelet.
What mythic or folkloric story resonates the most for you on a personal level? 
The story of Arianrhod and Gwydion. It speaks to me of the great mother who challenges us into our true shape, and the trickster-god who brings change into our lives but is always there to help us too with his dark wisdom and his strength.
Studded jacket or fairy crown? 
Never studs, so I will have to say the crown, but it will be made from willow and weeds.
Antlers or fairy wings (if you have to choose)? 
Fairy wings. But not the glittery pink kind. Wild, wind-shaped wings that know best the currents of old hill-shadows along the broken coast between here and the other here.
You are getting sparkling strands in your hair that look like iridescent magic. What color/s do you choose? 
Ugh. Okay, well, if I have to, something gentle and pale that seems like faint starlight or the memory of the ocean.
You have just been given an all-expense paid trip to anywhere in the world, with the caveat that it must be a spiritual pilgrimage of sorts. Where do you choose to go? 
England, Scotland, Ireland.

You have just been given $20,000, with the caveat that you must use it to support the work of artists you admire. What will you buy and by whom? 
All of Sylvia Linsteadt's writing. Melissa Wiley's books. Lesley Austin's daybook. Prints by Terri Windling. Hedgespoken raffle tickets. I could write a very long list. I have so many artists and authors I admire but no money to support them and bless myself with their art. One of these days!
Faeriecon is celebrating its ten year anniversary next year. Imagine you are attending a big celebratory ball, and you have unlimited budget to create a costume. What will you wear? 
I would not like to attend a ball, too noisy. I would rather put on gumboots and layers of linen and wool, and go sway a slow dancing walk through the forest, along the river, into the faery quiet where the music is like wind-sigh and leaf-shake.
If you could have any author’s work turned into a television show that would spare no expense, what book or series would you choose? 
To be honest, and sounding about 12 years old here, I'd love to have one of my own stories made into a tv show. Blush.
Who are your favorite children’s book authors and illustrators who you feel really capture magic? 
The classic artists, HJ Ford, Rackham, etc.
What song do you feel best bares your soul? 
It depends on which day you ask me. Cancion de la Noche by Matthew Perryman Jones, probably.
Name five singers/musical groups who feel like your own personal brand of magic when you listen to them. 
Matthew Perryman Jones, Matt Corby, Clannad, Mariee Sioux, Maria McKee.

You are given a choice: castle by the sea, or cozy cottage in the forest. Which would you choose? 
Cottage in the forest, but preferably it would have wheels.
You go walking in an extremely magical area of nature and have an incredibly spiritual experience. What item of gratitude do you choose to leave for the spirits/fey/nature? 
What grows or would grow in your enchanted garden? 
Roses. Long grass. Weeds. WIldflowers. Trees and trees and more trees.
If you were making Stone Soup, what ingredients would you ask for? 
Who is your top mentor/inspiration in the creative arts you wish to pursue? 
The west wind.
Name an interstitial artist whose work is hard to put into one category, but who you think is phenomenal. 
For doing a favor for the King of Faerie, he offers you your own house fey. What sort of house fey do you choose and what would they do? 
I'm not sure I would trust the King of Faerie, but if the contract was air-tight then a housekeeper (although sometimes she would let me sweep the floors myself, since there is a magical feeling in sweeping.)
What quote best encapsulates your spiritual goals and beliefs?
Let yourself become living poetry. - Rumi.

If you do this meme yourself, let us know the link so we can read your answers. Also, I've noticed that since I've installed this latest template, comments have diminished. I welcome your feedback on the utility of the template and your preferences. 

the landscapes of storytelling

Although I wrote mostly about the space between people, I've learned that I can never befriend a story, and find words for its writing, until I have understood the place it represents. Sometimes that means a fecund valley, or hillside gnarled by too-much conversation with wind, or an old, arthritic house; sometimes it means the shift of light in a storm-hearted sky. Deep in the Far Away grew out of my exploration of Linden Cove - the meadow, the hillshadow, the path laying infront of a little house, the places I could not go although I kept pushing to get there. It was my wandering about looking at trees and horizons which found me all the broken little pieces of plot. This happens with most of my tales and poems. They either begin or deepen as the weight of their particular setting nudges against my mind, enticing me into story.

Few of the places exist in this world, but that doesn't make them unreal.

Even a story like The Quick & the Undead, which has no particular setting, was shaped for me by the places within its world. The plot was built and rebuilt inside two imaginary parlours (and one carriage). I did not know how it ended until I walked into the room where its conclusion occured.

I am currently weaving fragile strands of a new story into its wild and still-shifting shape. I have the wordless looks in it, and the silences in it, the buried sorrows, and the central idea that guides all which happens. But I won't hold the story properly, or be able to write it, until I have become grounded in its place. Will that be a dark, witch-eyed Slavic forest, or a damp and bony moor? Or will it be a road into the peace of the heartland?

I don't know yet. I'm not welcomed in just now (I still have some proving of myself to do). But I understand that the place of the story is the voice of the story, and so I will wait at its threshold, listening to the whispers of old water, weeping skies, and I will wonder ...

(This is the seventh post in a 12-part series about stories and storytelling, to help promote my fund-raising storybook The Coracle Sky, which is now available.)

the medicine work of stories

Maybe you are the kind of person who hugs trees. Or lays a hand upon their hard, wrinkled skin to draw upon the age and weight of them and balance yourself in this uncertain world. Maybe you like to stand cloaked in tree-shadow, and feel like a priestess or secret, half-lost queen, or nameless wild thing. If that's true, you won't think today's post too strange, I hope.

I walked amongst trees today and felt as though I was walking through stories. It pulsed silently from their bodies. Trembled from the weathered edges of their leaves. Danced slow, heavy-boned, in the shadows between them. They were stories of wind that bore a spit of western waters, and pohutukawa debris, and the warm musty smell of old suburban streets. Stories of stones underoot, and bird songs, and aches, and the languid caress of the sun between rain showers.

The stories seemed so much like my own old memories that I thought the trees were somehow dreaming me, telling me to each other.

But story does that, don't you agree? Whether we know what it's about or not, whether we've lived it ourselves or not, story creates sympathy.

That's why I think tale-telling is medicine for the soul and infact for the world. It brings us into alignment with ourselves and other living things. Something about the rhythm of it, or the indescribable lure of it, moves us.

I need the stories of books, poems, and movies to ground me, restore me, after I've been pulled apart a thousand different ways in this modern world, and to remind me that most people are not so different from me than I would believe. But I also need the stories of the trees, the damp sky, the breeze. They bring me back into sympathy with the natural world which encompasses me. And since I breathe that wind and sky because of those trees, this is deep medicine, vital healing.

For a beautiful story which will gather you into sympathy with the winter and the wild around you and within you, read Sharon Blackie's Grey Heron Nights (part one).

(This is the fifth post in a daily series about stories and storytelling, to help promote my fund-raising storybook The Coracle Sky, which is now available.)

holding space for the wild spirits

I don't really like to do things. I am the one you will find sitting under a tree, in the shade, on the sidelines, while everyone else is having fun. You may think I am sad or pathetic, but watching is my preferred way of participating. (Either that or quietly wandering about appreciating nature and taking story notes or photographs.)

I have quiet energy. A receptive energy. Sitting there on the sidelines, I am not just being a bystander. I am opening my heart to what is happening, and experiencing it in stillness.

I write the same way - not working towards a story goal, but opening my heart, letting story enter. All too often I forget this though, and spend days, weeks, even months, searching and trying and drafting, in an effort to build story. It never helps me. Only when I literally sit back and realign my energy to reception, to witnessing rather than doing, can my creative process truly begin.

It's not really surprising that I forget this. Sometimes I think everyone else in the whole world has an active energy force. All the advice, encouragement, conversation surrounding writing is about things you can do. Elizabeth Gilbert spoke about receiving inspiration from the genius or muse, but then she also spoke about it being a two-sided process, and about doing the work whether the muse turns up or not. I wish there was more discussion about receiving, rather than actively and intently writing, a story. But then, maybe I am the only one who works like this.

All the stories in The Coracle Sky were written passively - which is to say, they pretty much wrote themselves. I don't mean they were channelled. I offer no certain explanation, except perhaps an idea that stories have their own spirits which they like to share. Or, more prosaically, perhaps this is just how I engage best with my own subconscious. (I create most of my blogposts this way too.)

It isn't necessarily an easy process. Receptive energy requires clean space (inside and outside of the self) and harmonising and time. I've found that certain foods can block it. Pain can block it. Weariness, worries, the wrong wind direction - so many things can get in the way of opening your heart and trusting to the wild spirits of story. I wrote Driftways in a fairly short time during which I did almost nothing else except type. When it came to Deep In The Far Away, I did a lot of begging and deep-breathing. This year, with this latest book, dedicating three solid months to writing was impossible. I left a lot in the hands of hope.

I believe so much of the trouble we have in our world these days is due to an imbalance of energies. Too many people think that doing is the answer to all our needs. They don't understand that witnessing, drawing in, holding the space, being the trust, is equally a valid and powerful way of experiencing life.

writing what you love

I once heard a woman say that she was her own favourite photographer, because after all if she wasn't taking photographs she loved, what was the point?

It's a little different with writing, or at least it is for me. The element of freshness, of revelation, is an important part of what I love about reading a story, and I can't create that for myself (except during the writing process.) The courage of the reader; their surrender; their fragility before the inclinations of the author; their hopes and fears taken by that author and weighed, sometimes manipulated : it's all very beautifully scary. And it's missing when I read my own work. My favourite writers are those who give me that revelatory sense, sometimes over and again with the same book.

But I can say that, in general, and when I'm able to turn off my editing instinct, I do like my own stories. We're not really supposed to admit things like that, are we? But I guess it makes sense. After all, I write the stories I want to read, in the kind of language I love, with characters who interest me. If a story becomes boring to me, I simply stop writing it. And I know that no story is complete until it makes me, as its first reader, want to cry; until its final sentence lifts my heart.

(That isn't to say I believe my work is magnificent art, only that I like the stories I tell.)

My favourite story in The Coracle Sky is Wintering, although Aftermark comes a very close second because I like its characters so much. Some stories I've written over the years I will read back with a sense of satisfaction. Others I will avoid, their energy having shifted beyond what I needed or wanted at the time of writing (or their quality being frankly abysmal.) And others I will return to as a reader in simple enjoyment.

Maybe I can do this because I honestly believe the stories were given to me by something in the ether - the spirit of the tale itself, perhaps, or the so-called muse. There's no self-pride involved. Just a pleasure in story.

Do you look back with love or appreciation on the words you have written, or drawings you have made, or jewellry you have created? How do you feel about saying to yourself (or to other people), I like this. I value it. 

the new book

As you know, my daughter is an athlete, and we regularly fundraise to supply her with equipment, training, support, and so on. The summer season is upon us and so once again I am offering a new book in return for donations to our fund.

This ebook is a collection of twelve stories that drift through strange places and enchanted hearts to find the illumination of love. Touching here on the armour of a new king, there on the loneliness of a young river witch, each story draws forth the magic, moonlight, and secret wishes that bring a wild weather to our souls.

The book also contains original art and photography, a soundtrack, and notes on the stories.

The book is my gift of thanks to anyone who donates $6.00 to our sports fund.

GO HERE TO OBTAIN THE BOOK. Simply click donate and you will be taken to Pay Pal. Because the other books are also still available, please remember to state which one you want.

Thank you with love and heartful gratitude to all who have offered such support over the years. I hope you will consider sharing word of this book's publication.

Here is the Pinterest board and the Goodreads page.

Over the next twelve days, I will ... or hope to! ... post each day something related to The Coracle Sky or the writing process. (This being day one, with the announcement of the book itself.)

Each of my books has a particular meaning and memory to me. This one is tenderness, and wistfulness, and will always remind me that all anyone ever needs to do to find the revelation of magic is look up.

Twelve Wind-Knit Tales

I said eleven, but a twelfth whispered its way in at the end.

Twelve stories that were written in moments between the dark and the light, the mist and the cheerful sunshine. When I look at them now, I wonder how I ever got them done. Most tumbled out of the sky and onto my screen and it was really a matter of finding time to type the words into shape. Several were found amongst the weedy remnants of other stories. Television inspired two of them, which is why I like having that visual storytelling device in my house. More than one would have been a novel of its own if I'd had the stamina.

Twelve stories that wanted to be told, in their own words, on their own terms. Dragon tales and rivershadow tales and all of them tales of people in love of some sort. As I gathered them, they gathered me; they took me to quiet, foggy inlets where crooked little hills murmur poetry as they grow out of the brown sea, and to wind-singing towers, and the world from where stories come - from where some of us come, the secret-eyed people, the exiles.

And that is why I love fantasy or fairy stories. They remember a distant real. 

And that is why I love writing. It feels like going home.

The book will be available here tomorrow to anyone who would like to donate to our sports fund for the coming season.

tale-gathering, swan-watching

I am busy these days putting a few final touches on the little storybook I hope will be available at the end of this week. The weight of worry and shyness presses upon my heart and slows me down. I probably should be doing things to advertise the coming publication, but can not quite manage it. Which is unfortunate, as a piece of essential sports equipment broke today, so I very much hope this latest fundraising project is effective!

(So if you are wondering about what to get that dreamy bookish friend for Christmas or Solstice, or are wanting a little something for yourself, and you have a spare six dollars, maybe you would be interested in a small digital book containing eleven moon-soaked tales.)

This has been perhaps my most difficult project. The year proved long and the seasons threw all they had at me. A parched summer, a winter of unexpected storms, a spring of love and strain and promises. Through it all, I gathered a few quiet stories, often in a dream, as the wind shook me and the sky darkened with wild uncertainties and torn leaves. Everything I wrote, I questioned and doubted, compared and half-unravelled, but ultimately left to tell itself.

I have actually already begun the next project, something a little different, a little unusual, for the end of my southern summer. But I want to place these latest eleven tales into the world - shyly, gently, hoping they are worth something at all. Just a few more days to go ...

And inbetween the words and the worry, I sit beside slow waters and watch the swans, the butterflies, and listen to wild stories in the wind.

the measurement of a woman

Women talk a lot about body size, but do you ever think about the size you are inside? Never mind the measurable width of your bones; do you feel stronger when you imagine them hefty, like oak rooted deep in your self, or stone? Or do you feel stronger when you sense your bones have a delicate spirit, bird-fine, dream-light?

As for your hips, thighs, breasts - forget a moment their weight or size. How do they feel as they move through the world? Do they sway languorously, as if you are slow-dancing? Or do they barge against everything and send shudders through your soul?

My wish for women would be that we stopped listening to the voices of the media and diet industry, and instead listened to the wise and beautiful whisper that lives within our own bodies. If you feel jagged and dry inside, then that is more skinny than any outer measure of thinness, and it needs balm, a lavishment of oil, a warm softening of sweetness. If you feel bulbous, dolloped on the world, then that needs gentle talking about, regardless of your waist size.

Imagine if we stopped looking at our bodies and instead stood within them, experiencing each element of them until we knew that heaviness made us feel grounded or made us feel exhausted; until we understood that the slight curve of our fingerbones were an expression of overdoing or a subtle, graceful dance of bone.

Imagine if we lived inside of ourselves.

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Thanks & Blessings.