My poem “Moth” about the folk belief that moths were perhaps witches in another form, will appear in the Superstition themed issue of Stonecoast Review, number 13, available from this online bookseller.
This week marks my first year anniversary on Patreon. It’s been a year of community, witness and ancestral storytelling
– 23 quarter-moon updates
– 16 witches’ monuments
– 5 publications
– 3 New Moon tales—modern retellings based on Scottish folklore.
– 2 spoken word files
My new goal is to reach 75 patrons. This will help me to invest in a microphone for better quality sounds files when recording the spoken word pieces as well as when I’m reading the New Moon Tales. You can join my community here:
All islanders know the sea is coming for them, by inch and by foot. It will in time cover the world they know…
Last week I asked my Patrons on Patreon what they would like to see from me during these uncertain times. They asked for tales, and so I have continued to write them and read them aloud. This time I have also created a collaged illustration to go with the story. The second of the New Moon Tales, “The Wild Rigs” is inspired by an Orkney folk tale called “The Fine Field of Flax.” I have taken many liberties with this story, and you can listen to me reading it as well as read the downloadable the PDF available to all tiers who join my Patreon.
This story is about different kinds of abundance. May we all have enough.
I thought that given the current state of things, with all of us confined and waiting, It might be more useful to have a sort of bedtime story. During this time of uncertainty those of us who are self employed and who also have multiple chronic illnesses are really feeling the potential stress of the Stay at Home order. In response, I have written a fairy tale for my patrons based on the traditional Shetland tale, Jan and the Bear. You can hear me read this story and have a copy of it to read at your leisure by joining my Patreon here at any level.
There are many strange stories of bears in the North of Scotland where they are not native. These stories involve mostly polar bears captured and brought in on whaling ships and they are as disturbing as the witch trials. One story is as recent as the 70s. Locals in Banff, the village where I live, have told me about a man who would perform wrestling matches with a trained bear. He would even perform in local schools, and this is something those in their fifties remember seeing as children. In one version I have heard, the bear eats the man. In my imagination, these captive bears started to take on a certain kinship with the women I have been researching. Maybe this was the force driving this version of Jan and the Bear. I have changed it up, removing the animal cruelty and switching out the stubborn man Jan for an old woman. Her smeddum, or hard-headed common sense, is central to the tale.
In my recent Patreon update, I’ve written about sculptor Andy Scott’s monument to the accused witches of Prestonpans. In it, I talk about undercurrents of fascination with the lively witches in the paintings of Frans Fracken the Younger who are often seen reading. You can read the piece and support my work by going to my Patreon here. You can really get lost in Francken’s “Witches Kitchen” paintings, like they one below. They were a subject of obsession for the 17th century Flemmish painter.
My author interview with the Luna Station Quarterly Editors is up at the LSQ website. You can read it here. My story “Gald” about a fictional Pictish potion was published in their 10 year anniversary issue.
My short piece on the witches stone of Forres has been published in the Imbolc issue of Stone Root and Bone, available from Hagstone Press here.
This wonderful publisher might be of interest to the knitters reading my blog– they not only publish this quarterly journal but also lovely knitting patterns with pagan themes.
My piece on the witches stone of Dornoch, “The Cailleach of the Borehole,” is published in The Bottle Imp, the online journal of the Association for Scottish Literary Studies. You can read it here: https://www.thebottleimp.org.uk/2019/12/the-cailleach-of-the-borehole/
This is part of the larger project I’m working on at the moment, writing about the witches monuments of Scotland. You can read more about that project at my Patreon Page.