How do people feel when they read your writing? Have you ever asked yourself that? Have you ever thought about it after writing a story or an article? Do you think that is even a relevant question to ask? Anyway… what does it mean to write from the heart? What makes the difference? Well, read on and […]
For this last #writingwednesday of January is an article, slightly edited from a previous overview of the festival sometimes referred to as Imbolc.
Imbolc, also known/celebrated as Imbolg, Oimelc, Candlemas, (St) Brigid’s Day, Groundhog Day, and the Festival of Nut, takes place around the 1st/2nd of February and is a festival marking a cross-quarter day in the wheel of the year, heralding the first signs of spring.
Banner by Magickal Graphics
This is a festival particularly associated with Brighid (Brigit, Bride, or Brigid), goddess of healing, smith craft, and poetry. She shares many aspects, some going so far as to say she was Christianised as St Brigid of Kildare.
Brighid of the sunrise, Rising in the morning, Rising with the springtime, Greening all the land Brighid’s Kiss, La Lugh, lyrics here
Imbolc is a festival associated with candles, milk, new beginnings, and poetry. The emphasis is on warmth and light and burgeoning spring, being the halfway point between Yule and the Spring Exquinox.
A few ideas on how to celebrate Imbolc:
Make and drink a milkshake
Buy and plant some spring flowers, such as crocuses and early daffodils
Take a photo of something that signifies approaching spring to you
Write a poem
Clean part or all of your home
Scatter nuts, a sign of prosperity, in a garden
Make a candle – try making ice candles. Bless your candles. Burn a candle and think about what you’re grateful for and what your plans are.
This article gives some background about the history of Imbolc and some of the other festivals taking place at this time.
In the Southern Hemisphere, it is the time of Lammas/Lughnasadh, which is the first of the harvest holidays.
More about Imbolc, symbolism, and ways to celebrate, under the cut
Pack your things in heavy-duty corrugated brown boxes. They hold up better in transit. Don’t go cheap on the truck rental either – you’ll want at least 865 cubic feet of cargo space. If you find a letter from an old flame in a dresser drawer, do not read it. The nostalgia will only distract you, and you’ll be compelled to look her up on social media. It will become apparent that she’s doing well for herself on the East Coast, and you’ll still be here with all these boxes to load as the last of the sunlight bleeds away.
Hawkelson Rainier dabbles in short fiction and poetry from time to time. His debut novel, The Lake Erie Lights, It is available at Kellan Publishing.
~Magickal Graphics~Happy Halloween and a blessed Samhain, or All Soul’s Night, to those celebrating.
All Hallows Eve, or Halloween, is the modern name in English for the great north European festival which signalled the end of the light and warm half of the year, and ushered in the cold and dark one, and so divided the season of autumn from that of winter in these northern lands. It was known in Irish as Samhain, summer’s end; in Welsh as Nos Galan Gaeaf, “winter’s eve”; in Anglo-Saxon as Blodmonath, “blood month”; and in Norse as the “winter nights”. As such it was one of the greatest religious festivals of the ancient northern pagan year – x
Samhain also known as Halloween, Hallowe’en, All Hallows Eve, Lá Samhna and Allhelgona amongst others. It takes place on the last day of October. It is the end of summer, where only summer and winter are recognised as seasons. In certain traditions this is the start of the new year. Samhain is celebrated as the Dia de los Muertos in Mexico (Day of the Dead–usually held on November 1) and All Saints Day (also on November 1) by the Catholic church.
It is the last of the harvest festivals in the Wheel of the Year. Across the world, in the Southern Hemisphere, it is Beltane, a fire festival full of fertility symbolism – the time of Brighid rather than the Cailleach.
It is believed that the Veil between the worlds is at its thinnest at this time and so it is both a time to be wary of spirits – hence the jack’o’lanterns to scare away evil spirits. Pumpkins are carved into lanterns, though any squash can be used, and before the American influence of pumpkins took over, the more traditional turnips and beets prevailed. This article Original Irish Jack-o-Lanterns were truly terrifying and made of turnips discusses the original folklore behind the carving of gourds.
It’s also a time for remembering ancestors or those who have passed on. Some people hold a dumb supper at which their loved ones who have passed over are welcome at. Livejournal member introduced me to Allhelgona; the Swedish version of All Hallow’s Eve – full name Alla Helgons Dag which translated to English would be “All Saints Day”. For the protestants of the Swedish Church it’s the time to go put flowers and little white candles on the graves of their loved ones.
Samhain is an idea time for divination, be it through tarot cards, runes, scrying, or other means. Other themes and workings include reflecting on the past, release of bad habits/banishing, candle magic, protection spells, manifesting transformation, knowledge, death & rebirth/new beginning.
Apples are traditional for this festival, plain for apple bobbing, and covered in caramel as toffee apples/candy apples. Other foods and drink associated with the festival includes gourds, cranberries, baked potatoes, pork and other meats, soups, mulled cider/mead/red wine, nuts, sweets, pomegranates, dark breads, pumpkin pie, roasted pumpkin seeds.
Colours include black, orange, grey, deep blue, deep purple, gold, silver, and burgundy. Stones like obsidian, haematite, jet, onyx, and amethyst are appropriate for October.
Deities: Cernunnus, Horned God, Osiris, Hades, Anubis, Loki, Dis, Arawn, Erebos, Pluto, Iku, Eshu, Gywnn Ap Nudd (Welsh), The Crone, Hecate(Greek), Cerridwen(Welsh-Scottish), Arianrhod(Welsh), Demeter, Caillech (Irish-Scottish), Baba Yaga (Russian), Al-Ilat(persian), Santa Muerte (Mexican), Bast (Egyptian), Persephone (Greek), Hel(Norse), Kali(Hindu), All death and underworld/Otherworld Goddesses and gods.
A besom or broom is an appropriate decoration. Other correspondences include: skulls, bones, cauldrons, pumpkins, gourds, sickles, scythes, representations of your ancestors, cornucopia, root vegetables, dried leaves, acorns, elder flowers, mandrake, wolfsbane, sarsaparilla, allspice, mugwort, divination tools, bats, owls, crows and ravens, water, midnight. There’s a list here and a longer list here and some ideas on correspondences and ways to celebrate here and here.
Some pagans worry about the more fun aspects of Halloween, like eating sweet foods, dressing up, and watching scary movies. The Thought.co Paganism and Wicca (previously about.com) guide puts it like this: Think of Samhain and Halloween like this – one is spiritual, one is secular. There’s no reason they have to be mutually exclusive at all. You can still observe the fun and silliness of Halloween — and pig out on candy, if you like — while maintaining the more somber traditions of honoring the dead at Samhain. The reverse follows; there’s nothing pagan about putting on a costume for fun, and paganism has no exclusivity on honouring ancestors.
Soul Cakes –Discworld readers are familiar with the Soul Cake Duck, and this is the origin of that reference. Soul cakes were traditionally baked as a gift for the spirits of the dead. In many European countries, the idea of “Souling” became an acceptable alternative for Christians. The cakes took many different names and shapes — in some areas, they were simple shortbread, and in others they were baked as fruit-filled tarts. Still other regions made them of rice flour. Generally, a soul cake was made with whatever grain the community had available. That text comes this site which has four recipes if you want to try baking something for the festival.
Selected sources and further reading
Samhain by winter-elf-witch
Wheel of the Year: Samhain
Samhain names and correspondences
Original Irish Jack-o-Lanterns were truly terrifying and made of turnips
This page gives ideas and links to ideas for decorations, recipes, and rituals.
Wheel of the Year: October
Halloween? It’s more than trick or treat
Soul Cake Duck
It’s Asexual Awareness Week. I’m not creating anything this year but I have tags for my previous asexual awareness week posts at my other journal, and a tag for all posts including meta and fiction looking at asexuality, theme: asexuality spectrum.
I have some of those also posted as at WordPress tagged sexuality: asexuality.
There’s been pushback against asexuality in some places. Some tumblr posts insist that asexuals aren’t “oppressed enough” to be consider part of the LGBT+ community (those posts insist “queer is a slur” too despite significant commentary to the contrary on how important the reclaiming and use of the term is for many.)
There are posts accusing people of “sexualising” children by saying that we should acknowledge more than just heterosexual romantic and sexual attraction. That telling someone you’re asexual is “unneccessary” and exposing them to “information about your sex life”.
Posts saying asexuals just need hormones or counselling or to be raped.
Posts saying that asexual posts confuse people and prevent them from being gay because of “internalised homophobia”.
Most of those things have been, and in some cases, still are used as fodder against other queer groups.
“Trans people aren’t allowed in gay spaces because a transman with a woman is heterosexual”
“Bihets aren’t allowed in gay spaces!” (ie a bi/pansexual person in a relationship with someone of the opposite gender. The term bihet erases bisexuality by making same sex relationships gay, opposite sex relationships straight, and ignores trans people and nonbinary identities)
“Don’t mention lebsians or women won’t get married as they should.”
“Stop mentioning you’re gay, you’re throwing your sexuality in my face!” (As they wear a wedding ring and have a photo of their wife on their desk, secure in displays of heterosexuality)
“You’re not a gay man or a transwomen, you just need more testosterone and to pray harder to be the straight man you should be.”
“She won’t be a lesbian after I’ve f*cked her”
There’s been some interesting discussion about the Russian bots that infiltrated Tumblr and the rise of dissent amongst queer groups; “gold star lesbian” rhetoric, posts that are anti-bisexual and anti-asexual, a rise in TERF posts centering womanhood on menstruation and reproduction. It’s awful and it’s unacceptable.
Thanks for reading.
I am a writer and I am not sorry for that.
I write what I want to write.
I write what brings me joy.
I write what lets me express and explore my pain.
I write the things I want to read.
I write, inspired by others.
I write to challenge myself.
I write for others on occasion.
I write for myself.
I write also what I need to write.
I am a writer and I am not sorry.
My writing statement, September 2018.
What and why do you write? Scott Russell Saunders, author of The Most Human of Arts, gives a list of reasons we need stories. These include teaching us to be human, to educate our desires, to show us consequences, to teach us empathy by looking through the eyes of other people, to delight in language, and to create community.
Are you apologetic about your writing? Do you feel uncomfortable using that label? If not, did you ever? Has anyone made you feel uncomfortable about what you write by criticising you for writing “dark” or “problematic” fiction? How do you get past negative reviews or rejections?
Think about your writing and maybe write your own statement that says “I am a writer…” and see what comes up for you, what is most important or relevant to you right now. Are there are any surprises? Or are you secure in your approach to writing?
I’d love to see what you come up with.
Sometimes I think we write to explore the things most important to us. Sometimes however we write to explore other ways of being.
I’ve been posting fiction three times a month to the blog for a while now, 7th, 14th, 21st of the month; I’ve found Wednesdays works best so I’ve switched to the first – third Wednesday of each month for the moment.
I would like to use the fourth week to share something else – moodboards, reviews, prompts, or other non-fiction.
This time I’d like to talk a bit about asexuality. I’ve blogged about it before, and have written meta about characters I headcanon as potentially being on the asexual spectrum.
Things have been personally stressful lately and for an asexual, though it isn’t personal, sometimes it feels very personal to constantly face messages from the media, social networks, friends, or family that posit (1) sex is essential for a relationship and/or (2) relationships without sex as are not as important.
That is, the messages that call an allosexual being in a monogamous relationship with an asexual abusive, because the asexual person is “withholding” sex from someone who enjoys it. The messages that place a spouse on the top of some sort of relationship hierarchy. The constant message that sex is good and all people must want – or need, or deserve – it.
So much for asexuals and those people who cannot have sex for whatever reason.
As such, I’ve been thinking about changing attitudes via fiction and writing about asexuality.
Someone once said I couldn’t create and write about as many childfree characters as I wanted because it was unrealistic.
1) I have no obligation to be realistic in fiction. It’s fiction. Sometimes it’s fantasy fiction. If there can be dragons there can be childfree characters.
(gif: Tom Hiddleston as Loki, arms outstretched as he leans from a car window, text reads: I do what I want)
That said, you want realism?
More than one in five women do not have children. It’s not as rare as fictional media would have you believe. (Also around one in three women have abortions, I mention this for a reason.)
And even if that were not the case, why can’t I write all my characters as childfree if I want to? (Or asexual? Or both?)
I could own a publishing house and a film and/ or television company and pump out books and films and multiple high profile TV shows, every single one with a childfree female protagonist. And it would be nothing compared to the constant stream of media centred on the woman as mother, the media that tells us motherhood is inevitable unless there are tragic circumstances.
Look at the thousands of books with “baby epilogues” (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is a good example, are most romance novels), books about women who changed their minds, shows with childfree women who change their mind and have a child/multiple children (Bones, The Big Bang Theory), shows that start out centred on a woman but then it becomes not about her skills about her motherhood (Fringe and its treatment of Olivia Dunham; to a lesser extent, Teyla in Stargate: Atlantis), or a woman who’s got a world to save but if her birth control fails she won’t get an abortion despite her seeming utterly uninterested in motherhood (Wynonna Earp) .
In fact Grey’s Anatomy‘s Cristina Yang is a rare example of a childfree woman, one who did get an abortion to remain so. Remember, abortions do take place, and it is mostly women who have already had children who request them, but there are women without children who have abortions because they don’t want children yet or indeed they never want children. How I Met Your Mother‘s Robin Scherbatsky also remained childfree but had to grieve over being found to be sterile.
I’m talking here about female characters because I’m a woman writing female, as well as male, childfree characters. There are probably more male characters who are childfree overall or those who just never mention wanting children, but they don’t come under the same scrutiny. Captain Picard (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and Cormoran Strike (Strike novels; it’s said twice in the first 2 books that he has never wanted children and adds that he isn’t sentimental about them) are just two examples but I’m betting people can come up with many more, far more examples than those of females who don’t want and more importantly never do have children.
I cannot change the world or the media landscape but I can write what I want to. And many of my female characters are childfree. There are no baby epilogues. And I will not apologise for that. Sometimes you have to write the story you most want to read.
Asexual Awareness Week runs from 22 October to 28 October this year.
Here are some useful links.
What is Asexuality?
Asexuality: a brief introduction includes a link to a downloadable pdf
Am I Asexual? 10 Things You [probably] Don’t (But Should) Know About Asexuality, Because It’s Not All About Sex
How to Tell If You Are Asexual
Asexuality and Romantic Orientation for example someone can identify as a biromantic asexual
3 People Get Real About What It Means to Be Aromantic
Biromantic, Heteromantic, Homoromantic & Panromantic
Asexuality is a spectrum
Asexuality is not celibacy
Asexuality is an orientation and not a disease
Asexuality does not predict romantic orientation
For many pagans the start of May is celebrated as Beltaine (Beltane), May Day, Calan Mei, and Walpurgis Night. It is a cross quarter day, falling between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. The UK public holiday May Day occurs on the first Monday of May each year.
Correspondences included: fertility, renewal, maypoles, bonfires, dancing, creativity.
A list of deities and their correspondences can be found here