Mythical Monday: More Pixies!

Last Monday here on the blog, I talked about the mischievous pixies and how they can lead you astray on your travels. I’m sure this has happened to me numerous times in Costco, but luckily I have never gotten so lost that I couldn’t find my way back home!

EnglandSouthWestToday on Mythical Monday, I’d like to talk about some legends and stories surrounding the pixies and what they look like. I realized that this post was getting extremely long, so I decided that a third post is in order for next Monday.

There have been some really cool stories and traditions in the west country of England. In fact, there are still those that firmly believe in the pixies and practice traditions to this day!

For now, let’s talk about what are said to look like!

What do pixies look like?

pixie_by_ravenscar45-d4zufq7
Pixie by Malcolm Brown (Ravenscar45)

Pixies have been described as mischievous looking and child-like with pointed ears and noses and red hair. They wear green or red clothing and a pointed hat, though sometimes their cap is of foxglove or a toadstool although some sources describe them as being dark and having wings. 

Their eyes slant upward toward their temples and they are shorter than humans, ranging in height from two feet to the size of a small child.

Traditional stories of pixies describe them wearing dirty rags which they happily discard for gifts of new clothes and they have a penchant for adornment, finery and lovely ribbons. Sounds like a Harry Potter house elf, right?

They are sometimes reported as having shiny translucent wings, and sometimes they are wingless.

Pixie Foxglove
Artwork by Margaret W. Tarrant, 1924

They prefer to live out of doors in gardens or the hollow of a fallen log, and they are also  believed to inhabit ancient underground ancestor sites such as stone circles, barrows, dolmens, ringforts or menhirs.

They can sometimes be spotted alone, but tend to gather in groups of three to five.

Pixies have always been portrayed to look like fairies, although they are themselves a distinct race. In fact, there has been a traditional enmity or even war between the two races.

Besides looking like fairies, contact with metal is said to harm pixies and fairies alike. They are especially repelled by iron or iron ore. 

Pixies moonlightPixies are extremely fond of music, especially when it’s played by frogs and crickets. They love dancing by moonlight in a circle. They dance and frolic around mounds, stone circles, menhirs and dolmens and their bells are often heard on the moor.

If a Dog barks for no reason while staring at an empty spot along a fence or a Cat chases something unseen in a garden, it is very likely that the yard in question is infested with Pixies. There is, however, a way to be sure. Simply take a clod of grassy dirt and turn it grassside down. If, when you return later on, it has been flipped back, there are definitely Pixies in the area.

They are most active in the spring and are found in flower gardens or among wildflowers particularly in the spring and around Beltaine.

Come back next Monday for my post on How Pixies are Celebrated Today!

Jo-Ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter

It’s Friday! It’s know it’s been awhile, so it’s time I posted another Friday 56 and Book Beginnings.

This week I’m featuring Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter.

pretty+girls

Book Beginnings on Fridays

BookBeginningsFridays

Book Beginnings on Fridays is a meme hosted at Rose City Reader  You share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, along with your initial thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else the opener inspires

Book Beginning:

When you first disappeared, your mother warned me that finding out exactly what had happened to you would be worse than never knowing. 

This line instantly breaks my heart! A child is gone missing; the mother’s warning hints at a dreadful demise.

The Friday 56

Friday 56

The Friday 56 is a meme hosted at Freda’s voice.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post below in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url.
*It’s that simple.

Here’s the blurb from Page 56:

Huckabee asked, “You need to sit down?”

“I need answers.” Claire knew that she sounded crazy. “My father-in-law, Gerald Scott. You’re sure that he’s dead?”

Hmmmm…The plot thickens! Why would she suspect a her dead father would actually be alive?

Here’s the blurb from Goodreads:

#1 internationally bestselling author Karin Slaughter returns with a sophisticated and chilling psychological thriller of dangerous secrets, cold vengeance, and unexpected absolution, in which two estranged sisters must come together to find truth about two harrowing tragedies, twenty years apart, that devastate their lives.

Sisters. Strangers. Survivors.

More than twenty years ago, Claire and Lydia’s teenaged sister Julia vanished without a trace. The two women have not spoken since, and now their lives could not be more different. Claire is the glamorous trophy wife of an Atlanta millionaire. Lydia, a single mother, dates an ex-con and struggles to make ends meet. But neither has recovered from the horror and heartbreak of their shared loss—a devastating wound that’s cruelly ripped open when Claire’s husband is killed.

The disappearance of a teenage girl and the murder of a middle-aged man, almost a quarter-century apart: what could connect them? Forming a wary truce, the surviving sisters look to the past to find the truth, unearthing the secrets that destroyed their family all those years ago . . . and uncovering the possibility of redemption, and revenge, where they least expect it.

Powerful, poignant, and utterly gripping, packed with indelible characters and unforgettable twists, Pretty Girls is a masterful thriller from one of the finest suspense writers working today.

View Pretty Girls on Goodreads

View Pretty Girls on Amazon

Pretty Girls is an incredibly suspenseful story that totally and completely drew me in.  It is told from the perspective of a family who suffered a tragic loss and trying to save themselves at the same time. A powerful read  with phenomenal writing.

Be warned that this book isn’t for everyone. Some may find this book disturbing. There are acts of horrendous violence against women.

Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on it? If you haven’t read it, would you, knowing the violence that is portrayed?

Thanks for reading and Happy Weekend!

Jo-Ann

 

Have You Ever Been Pixie-Led?

Mythical Monday

Have you ever found yourself lost or wandering around trying to find your way?

Then, Pixie6it’s possible you may have been pixie-led!

Pixies are mythical creature commonly found in folklore particularly in the western parts of England. Up to the end of the 19th century, pixies and fairies were taken quite seriously as part of the ‘little people’, especially in Cornwall and Devon.

Pixies are Notoriously Mischievous

They are not malevolent creatures, but they are very mischievous, and love to torment and play tricks on humans.

Like many Faeries, Pixies dislike rude, greedy and cruel people and often single them out to be the victims of their pranks. They also hate human laziness.

Pixie1
Artwork by Brian Froud

They have been known to steal people’s belongings or throw things at them. They even steal horses at night, ride them wildly and then bring them back before dawn, their manes a tangled mess.

They rap on windows and walls, blow out candles, throw small stones at walls, kiss young girls in the dark and splash water around. Young girls were particularly prone to teasing by pixies. They would knot their hair or pinch one’s skin until it bruised.

So, if you find you have a lot of small items going missing, such as paper clips and pins, you might have a pixie problem. And if you happen to find your pixie’s lair, you just might find all those things that they’ve “borrowed”.

Getting Lost

Pixies are most notorious for confusing travellers. People have gotten lost even on familiar terrain. They can change aspects of the environment to confuse humans, and most reports mention a strange mist.

Pixie2
Artwork by Brian Froud

They lure travellers walking alone. The person would be so confused they could be lost for hours, or worse, vanish without a trace. This is what is known as pixie-led.

When I was doing my research on pixies, I found a fantastic website called Legendary Dartmoor According to the author, Tim Sandles, this really does happen! Dartmoor is located in southwest England in the county of Devon.

From their site:

Probably the best I have ever heard came from an old woman who has lived on the moor all her life. Whilst she had not actually experienced being pixie led herself her grandfather often related how he once earned the displeasure of the little folk and became ‘led’. Apparently one minute he was happily traipsing across the moor on a track he knew well. Suddenly a dense mist descended that appeared to have a very feint green tint to it, along with this the man’s head became ‘zwimmy’ (dizzy) and he began stumbling around trying to find his direction. The actual experience seemed to last for hours and he lost all track of time but when the mist lifted he looked at his watch and only a few minutes had passed. Despite thinking he had been wandering around for miles he had in fact only moved a few yards from the spot he had reached when the mist ascended.

 

Probably the most famous story of people being Piskie Led on Dartmoor is that of the unnamed couple who got lost near Okehampton. So relieved were they to have survived such an ordeal that the husband erected a granite cross next to the well where they were spared, known today as Fitz’s Well.

The author goes on to say:

There seem to be two modern conditions that can lead to people becoming ‘Piskie Led’, the first scenario involves an illegal substance or copious amounts of alcohol and the second is a result of the inability to read a map and compass – stoned, drunk or lost, blame it on the piskies.

How to Avoid Being Pixie-Led

One remedy to avoid being pixie-led during the 17th century was to turn your coat inside out, and if you didn’t have a coat, you could even turn your pocket out. Carrying a piece of bread could also prevent bewilderment.

If you leave gifts like honey, milk or cake, the pixies will regard this as a sign of respect and help with tidying up or helping around the farm. Sometimes doing favours for pixies will backfire though, and they may respond with mischief.

Pixie4
Artwork by Brian Froud

If you find yourself in the mist and suspect you are being pixie-led, find a spring of clear water and drink some to break the spell.

Don’t Invite Trouble!

stellaria-holostea-2Pixies are known to sleep among the Stitchwort plant, also known as Addersmeat, so to pick this plant is inviting trouble from them. Don’t do it!

 

Pixie5
Artwork by Brian Froud

What about You?

Have you ever found yourself lost in a mist, unable to find your way? I’d love to hear your stories. Leave a note in the comments!

Book Review: The Elemental Coven by Kayla Krantz

The Elemental Coven
The Elemental Coven
The Elemental Coven by Kayla Krantz

I was thrilled to see Kayla Krantz released her newest book, The Elemental Coven! It is the second book in the Witch’s Ambitions Trilogy and I’m happy to say it was well worth the wait.

When I had read the first of the series, The Council, I wanted more! Kayla is an excellent writer. She is wonderfully descriptive and draws you in with her engaging characters and captivating world-building.

You can read my review of The Council here.

The Elemental Coven starts off a bit slow, but quickly picks up the pace. Some of the characters and events that were in the first book I had forgotten about, so there were times that I wished I had reread The Council more recently. I think it would be difficult to get what was happening in this story if you hadn’t read the The Council.

Lilith, the main character, is taken prisoner by the Elemental Coven, a band of rogue witches that were believed to be the bad guys. As Lilith learns more about their mission and motives, she looks to solve the mystery of her past, Willow and the secrets of the Council that had been kept from her.

The story is suspenseful and intriguing. She doesn’t know who she can trust or which side is doing the right thing.

An aspect that I love about this trilogy is the world that the author has built. There are five covens, each with their own unique abilities. They are ruled over by the Council, presumed to work for the best interests of all the covens in the Land of Five. There is, of course, a fair amount of political intrigue and all is not as rosy as it seems on the surface.

Lilith, the main character doesn’t know who she can trust or which side is doing the right thing. It is a guessing game that build suspense and leaves the reader questioning everything and wanting more.

The author does a great job of developing the main character as well as the supporting cast and wondering what, if any, their ulterior motives might be.

The story ends on a major cliffhanger. Unfortunately, we now have to wait until 2020 to find out what happens next!

I received an advanced copy of the Elemental Coven in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Proud author of a number of fantasy and thrillers, fascinated by the dark and macabre. Stephen King is her all time inspiration mixed in with a little bit of Eminem. When she began writing, she started in horror but it somehow drifted into thriller. She loves the 1988 movie Heathers. She was born and raised in Michigan but traveled across the country to where she currently resides in Texas.

To keep up with her, sign up for her newsletter:
http://eepurl.com/cwZHEz

BOOK BLITZ! FATHER FIGURE by James J. Cudney IV and #GiveAway!

I am proud and excited to be a part of this Book Blitz for Jay’s newest novel Father Figure!

If you enjoyed Watching a Glass Shatter, you will love Father Figure.

Jay is one of the first bloggers I met when I started this blog one year ago and he is one of the funniest, most hard-working and friendly writers there is.

I hope you enjoy reading about his latest novel and don’t forget to enter the giveaway! Check out his sites and social media, too!

Father Figure CoverFather Figure

Publication Date: April 2, 2018

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Drama

Between the fast-paced New York City, a rural Mississippi town, and a charming Pennsylvania college campus filled with secrets, two young girls learn the consequences of growing up too quickly. Struggling to survive in a claustrophobic, unforgiving world, they embark on a journey to overcome all the pain, disappointment, and horror of their experiences.

Amalia Graeme, abused by her mother for most of her life, longs to escape her desolate hometown, connect with others, and fall in love. Contemplating an impending loss of innocence and conflicting feelings between her boyfriend and the dangerous attraction she’s developed for an older man, Amalia suffers devastating, life-altering tragedies. No matter where she turns, someone or something always steals her hope of finding happiness, protection, and love.

Brianna Porter, a sassy yet angst-ridden teenager raised in New York City, yearns to determine her life’s true purpose, conquer her fear of abandonment, and interpret an intimidating desire for her best friend, Shanelle. All the confusion stems from desperately needing to find the father whom her mother refuses to reveal, but an unexpected discovery of a journal leads Brianna to a shocking revelation about her missing parent. Unfortunately, by casting the net to find him, she’s unleashed a tragic history that was meant to stay buried and might now completely change everyone’s futures.

Through alternating chapters set two decades apart, each girl’s plight unfolds revealing the parallels between their lives and the subsequent collision that is bound to happen. In an emotional story filled with mystery, romance, and suspense, fate intervenes forcing someone to make a dreadful decision that will leave permanent scars.

Father Figure Books

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

The Red Blouse

The red sweater is something important to Amalia, but she loses it when her mother takes another swing to knock down her daughter. This shows how awful Janet can truly be. Red becomes a theme in the book and aligns with the color of the cabin on the cover – James J. Cudney

Amalia grabbed her bag and keys shuffling everything together to leave with her mother. In her rush, she dropped the bag to the floor. The red blouse spilled from its only protection unaware of the trouble its presence would generate. It was the only article of clothing Amalia owned that made her feel special, nor did it try to hide her body from the rest of the world.

“What is that doing here? I told you to get rid of it yesterday morning.” The room grew a few degrees cooler as Janet’s icy expression penetrated the surface of Amalia’s waning facade.

“I… I just… forgot it was… in my bag when I brought it here today,” stammered Amalia.

“Give it here.”

“No, Momma. I’m bringing it home.”

“Someday, you’ll understand, girl.” Janet refocused her triumphant gaze from Amalia to her husband. “Have you got a pair of scissors in this store, Peter?”

Amalia closed her eyes and pictured what could have been if she’d met Bryan at the lake. She chastised herself for foolishly letting down her guard imagining the possibility of something positive happening in Brant. It was merely another one of her nightmares masquerading as a silly little girl’s daydream. Fighting back was a lost cause, and so was her blouse. Amalia grabbed the scissors from the rusty mason jar and walked with unparalleled defeat toward her mother.

“Stay right there, child. I’m not gonna be the one to destroy it. Give those scissors to your father.”

Peter’s deep-set eyes grew wide with disbelief despite remaining glued to a pile of dirt in the corner. “Janet, let her keep the shirt, please. She’s not going to wear it anywhere.”

“Cut it up now, Peter. The girl needs to learn another lesson. Apparently, so do you.” Janet banged her fist against the nearest wall rattling the pipes. “Make it quick. Greg will be ready for dinner in three hours.”

As the harassment in Janet’s voice punched holes in his body, Peter’s courage went limp with burden. His shaky fingers, normally quite firm and adept from building his model trains and boats, slid into the scissors. Amalia turned away at the nagging graze of one blade against the other, grateful when the fabric muffled the awful scrape of her last hopes being dashed away for the summer. “I love you, Daddy,” she mouthed to his despondent eyes and walked behind her mother to the car praying for silence on the ride home.

Purchase Links

Amazon
Publisher

Giveaway!

Father Figure will be available FREE from 5/6 thru 5/10! Don’t miss out on this opportunity! Also, if you haven’t read James’ fantastic debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, pick it up on sale for only $0.99 on Amazon from 5/6 thru 5/10!!!
Try and win a digital copy of “Father Figure” even sooner below!

 Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

About the Author

Father Figure JayJames is my given name; most call me Jay. I grew up on Long Island and currently live in New York City, but I’ve traveled all across the US (and various parts of the world). After college, I spent 15 years working in technology and business operations in the sports, entertainment and media industries. Although I enjoyed my job, I left in 2016 to focus on my passion: telling stories and connecting people through words. My debut novel is ‘Watching Glass Shatter,’ a contemporary fiction family drama with elements of mystery, suspense, humor and romance. To see samples or receive news from my current and upcoming books, please subscribe with your email address at my website: https://jamesjcudney.com

What do I do outside of writing: I’m an avid genealogist (discovered 2K family members going back about 250 years) and cook (I find it so hard to follow a recipe). I love to read; between Goodreads and my blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, I have over 500 book reviews which will give you a full flavor for my voice and style. On my blog, I started the 365 Daily Challenge, where I post a word each day that has some meaning to me, then converse with everyone about life. There is humor, tears, love, friendship, advice and bloopers. Lots of bloopers where I poke fun at myself all the time. Even my dog has a weekly segment called “Ryder’s Rants” where he complains about me. All these things make up who I am; none of them are very fancy or magnanimous, but they are real and show how I live every day.

A bit of humor: Everything doubles as something else when you live in NYC. For me, it’s the dining room, my favorite space in the apartment, where more than just my cooking is on display! As I look out the windows onto a 12th floor terrace, various parts of nature (trees, bushes, flowers, bugs & animals) inspire me to write. Ryder, my 10-year old shiba inu, usually lays on my feet, growling when I shift positions too many times or when I forget to share my food! Although he’s only 20 pounds, he’s quite strong and pushy. But how else can you pen the best story possible without these things by your side?

Author Links

Blog:
https://thisismytruthnow.com

Author Website:
https://jamesjcudney.com

Social Media Links
Amazon | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Instagram | Goodreads | LinkedIn

 

 

Book Blitz Organized By:

Father Figure Book Tours

https://rrbooktours.com/

Mythical Mondays: Were There Female Druids?

 

Who Were the Druids?

The Druids were ancient religious leaders of the Celtic people. The Celts were spread throughout Gaul, Britain, Ireland and other parts of Europe, Asia Minor and even the Balkans around the 5th century BC.

They were highly respected in society. They were advisors to the kings. They were intellectual as well as poets, astronomers, magicians and astrologers. It took them 19 years to gain the necessary knowledge and skills in alchemy, medicine, law, the sciences and more. They were healers and were involved in developing strategies for war.

The Druids officiated over public and private sacrifices. Tribal assemblies were held on days vital in the agricultural year, the solstices as well as Beltane, May 1, and Samhain, November 1.

They settled disputes and issued punishment. Those who did not obey the decisions of the Druids were banished from the tribe.

 

Women as Druids

DruidessFor centuries, there was a common misconception that Druids were only male, however, there are numerous references of women being Druids, as well.

Caesar was well aware of the female Druids, but most of the Roman writers ignored women in general, so references were far and few between.

Strabo wrote about a group of religious women who lived on an island near the Loir River, in the ocean but not far from the coast. No men were permitted on the island which was  inhabited by Samnite women.

Tacitus mentioned female Druids when he described the slaughter of the Druids by Romans on the Island of Mona in Wales. The women wore black and were known as Banduri (female Druids).  They dashed between the ranks of armed warriors with their hair dishevelled and waving brands.

Tacitus also noted that there was no distinction between male and female rulers, and that female Celts were very powerful.

According to the Pomponius Mela, nine virgin priestesses called the Gallizenae lived on the island of Sena in Brittany. They could stir up the sea, turn into animals, cure the uncurable and see the future.

Queen Boudicca of the British Celtic Iceni tribe was the descendant of a Druid and possibly a druid in her own right. She led an uprising agains the Romans in the 1st century AD.

There are many legends concerning a woman named Brighid. It is difficult to say

Alexandre_Cabanel_004
“The Druidess”, oil on canvas, by French painter Alexandre Cabanel (1823–1890) ( Public Domain )

whether she was a real woman or a Celtic goddess, patroness of poetry, learning, healing and craftmanship. Later the Christian church made her St. Brighid. Coincidentally, her feast day is February 1, which coincides to Imbolc, the pagan festival for the celebration of spring, though there is doubt whether the two Brighids are actually one and the same. There is some speculation however, that Irish Brighid was once the abbotess of a pagan sanctuary which later became Brighid’s monastery near Kildare.

Finn was a mythical character who was raised by a Druidess or ‘wise woman’. she taught him war craft, hunting and fishing, acted as guard and advisor.

Fedelma, a Druidess who was part Queen Medb of Connacht’s court predicted the outcome of the battle with the Ulstermen. “I see crimson, I see it red.” Her prophecy came true. Medb lost the battle and Cú Chulainn perished.

The Historia Augusta was written in 400 AD and mentions a Druidess foretelling the defeat of Alexander Severus. “Go forth but hope not for victory, nor put your trust in your warriors.”

The Roman Catholic church believed that female Druids were sorcerers and witches in cooperation with the devil. They also saw the knowledge of the Celts as a huge danger for their domination.

Druidry Today

DruidessIn the modern practice of Druidry, there are a good number of women involved, the druid community having good representation of both men and women.

A Letter to My 18 Year Old Self: On Writing

Love this post!

The Geeky Book Lady

Dear Kid, (cuz yeah, that’s what you still are)

You’re a daydreamer. And good news: that doesn’t stop. Bonus points: it pays off someday. In the not to distant future, you’re gonna get published for the first time. How great is that?!

But here is the thing…you gotta KEEP writing. Even when it is shit. ESPECIALLY when it is shit.

Don’t throw out any of your work. That’s a pain in the heart you can’t get back. Every bit of writing should be kept. Just in case. If anything, you can see how you’ve grown. Or have a good laugh.

Backup EVERYTHING. Anything you save on a laptop, save in other places. Hell, email it to yourself. Because when the time comes and you don’t do that, you will hate yourself. Trust me.

Write more. Put writing at the top of your priority list. Fill those note books with ideas…

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The Woman in the Window

It’s Friday Meme day!

BookBeginningsFridaysEvery Friday, I link back to two other blogs. Rose City Reader hosts Book Beginnings, where you share the first sentence (or so) of the book you are reading, as well as your thoughts about the sentence, impressions of the book, or anything else it  inspires.

Friday 56Another Friday meme that I love to participate in is the Friday 56, hosted by Freda’s Voice.

Rules:
*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader
(If you have to improvise, that’s ok.)
*Find any sentence, (or few, just don’t spoil it)

This week I’m highlighting The Woman in the Window by A. J. Finn.

the woman in the windowBlurb from Goodreads:

Anna Fox lives alone—a recluse in her New York City home, unable to venture outside. She spends her day drinking wine (maybe too much), watching old movies, recalling happier times . . . and spying on her neighbors.

Then the Russells move into the house across the way: a father, a mother, their teenage son. The perfect family. But when Anna, gazing out her window one night, sees something she shouldn’t, her world begins to crumble—and its shocking secrets are laid bare.

What is real? What is imagined? Who is in danger? Who is in control? In this diabolically gripping thriller, no one—and nothing—is what it seems.

View on Goodreads | View on Amazon

Book Beginnings

Her husband’s almost home. He’ll catch her this time.

What a way to start off!

The Friday 56

 

Down in the kitchen, drops of rain popping against the window, I pour more merlot into a tumbler. A long swig. I needed that.

Focus.

What do I know now that I didn’t know before? Alistair kept his work and home lives separate. Consistent with the profile of many violent offenders, but otherwise not useful. 

I finished this book the other day. I enjoyed it, very much, actually! I found it dragged in parts. The main character drinks a lot of wine and is heavily medicated –obviously an unreliable narrator!

It’s definitely worth reading to the end. Love the ending!

What do you think? Have you read this one? Would this book appeal to you?

Thanks for reading and Happy Weekend!

Jo-Ann

Daily Walk: Signs of Spring in Canada

It’s been quite some time since I’ve posted one of my Daily Walks. To be honest, there hasn’t been a whole lot that really enticed me to take pictures!

I mean, I still walk ever day (almost) and as long as you’re dressed for the weather, it feels great to be out. The air feels fresh and crisp. The birds are chirping. My dog Burger is running around like the crazy goof that he is!

This winter here in Atlantic Canada has been a mixed bag, but relatively mild. There wasn’t even a lot of snow compared to years past. Global warming, maybe?

The snow was gone until we had a snowstorm last week. The rain washed it all away, and patches of dirty white stuff is all we have left.

Signs of spring: I’ve seen robins! But they were too quick and too skittish with Burger running around for me to get a photo. But I did get a picture of the first pussy willows!fullsizeoutput_531

On my walk yesterday, I saw a Red Winged Blackbird. It was too quick and too far away for me to get a decent picture. There was a pair of them last year so I was excited to see them back. Well, at least one of them is back!

Here is something that I’ve never seen at this park before:fullsizeoutput_532

Nope. It’s not the Loch Ness Monster.

I watched this little guy swim all over the reservoir. When he finally peeped his head up and saw me, he jumped up in the air and splashed straight down into the water with a slap! My guess is it’s a beaver. They slap their tails on the water when they’re not happy and I don’t think he was too happy with me watching him!

fullsizeoutput_533

At the park, I often see Mallard ducks and Canada geese, but this little duck is one I’ve never seen before. There’s about five of them, one of them being white. They are pretty elusive, they keep their distance from Burger and I so it’s hard to get a good picture.

 

BuffleheadMaleNeckonNaturalCrooksDotCom-353x400
Photo of a Bafflehead duck from the website Natural Crooks-An Honest Crook Shares Her Love of Nature

 

I’m thinking it’s this little guy on the left. It’s a Bufflehead duck. The males have the white whereas the females are dark.

Baffleheads normally stop over in Lake Ontario before heading north to nest, so I can’t help but wonder if they got a little lost along the way.

They’re pretty cool to watch, especially when they dive and disappear.

From what I’ve read here, they eat mollusks, crustaceans and aquatic invertebrates. I hope they get enough to eat!

How is spring coming along where you live?

If you’re in the southern hemisphere, what’s your fall like?

Thanks for stopping by!

Jo-Ann

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mythical Monday: What is Fairyland?

 

Apart, but Separate

Faery portalFairyland has also been called Faery or the Otherworld. It is not entirely part of our world, but not entirely separate, either.

The realm is said to exist just beyond reach, on a floating island or beneath a grassy mound, on a bleak wet bog or floating in the air.

Faery Portals

There are portals or gates between the worlds that would allow faeries and humans to pass through.

The entrance was usually a pit, pothole, cave, well, knoll, crevice or hill top. This entrance is also known as the Silver Bough or Silver Branch.

“To enter the Otherworld before the appointed hour marked by death, a passport was often necessary, and this was usually a silver branch of the sacred apple-tree bearing blossoms.”

Perfection

Fairyland is said to be a beautiful place, time doesn’t pass as is does in the mortal world. Blogpic-ET-fairies-900x1188-227x300The sun always shines, the weather is always fine and trees produced blossoms and fruit at the same time.

There is no ugliness, disease or pain. There is no aging and no death. Food tastes better than food on earth. Faeries spend their time merrymaking and dancing. They would have great feasts with grand processions of white horses adorned with silver bells.

Despite the perfection of their world, faeries would often desire what the mortal world holds. They made frequent raids on this side of the veil, and would steal food, shiny objects and even people.

Where is Faery?

Faery moundIn many stories, Faeries were believed to live in ancient medieval forts or stone circles. Faeries were often called the ‘little people’ or ‘hidden people’.  Some believe they were the original inhabitants of the land, and were displaced by humans migrating, which forced them into hiding.

fairy-cave-wallThe Irish Tuatha de Danaan were said to have lived in the síd or the earthen mounds and hills that dot the Irish landscape. The term sídhe has come to mean Faerie in general, but it more properly refers to the residences of the Faeries.

Individual or isolated faeries lived in caves, wells, woodlands, bushes mines, ruins, barns, stone circles and tumuli.

They either lived in their own dwellings or in Elf-hills or hillocks which were actually ancient burial mounds called by Elfin names.

Faeryland and the Land of the Dead

There is also a strong association between Faeryland and the realm of the dead. The two realms exist side by side, and are inextricably connected.

Becuma of the White Skin, An Irish Fairy TaleBecuma

In 1920, James Stephens wrote a book of Irish fairy tales, one of the stories being Becuma of the White Skin. This is an excerpt of how he describes the other realms:

There are more worlds than one, and in many ways they are unlike each other. But joy and sorrow, or, in other words, good and evil, are not absent in their degree from any of the worlds, for wherever there is life there is action, and action is but the expression of one or other of these qualities.

After this Earth there is the world of the Shí. Beyond it again lies the Many-Coloured Land. Next comes the Land of Wonder, and after that the Land of Promise awaits us. You will cross clay to get into the Shí; you will cross water to attain the Many-Coloured Land; fire must be passed ere the Land of Wonder is attained, but we do not know what will be crossed for the fourth world.

A council had been called in the Many-Coloured Land to discuss the case of a lady named Becuma Cneisgel, that is, Becuma of the White Skin, the daughter of Eogan Inver. She had run away from her husband Labraid and had taken refuge with Gadiar, one of the sons of Manannán mac Lir, the god of the sea, and the ruler, therefore, of that sphere.

It seems, then, that there is marriage in two other spheres. In the Shí matrimony is recorded as being parallel in every respect with earth-marriage, and the desire which urges to it seems to be as violent and inconstant as it is with us; but in the Many-Coloured Land marriage is but a contemplation of beauty, a brooding and meditation wherein all grosser desire is unknown and children are born to sinless parents.

In the Shí the crime of Becuma would have been lightly considered, and would have received none or but a nominal punishment, but in the second world a horrid gravity attaches to such a lapse, and the retribution meted is implacable and grim. It may be dissolution by fire, and that can note a destruction too final for the mind to contemplate; or it may be banishment from that sphere to a lower and worse one.

This was the fate of Becuma of the White Skin.

One may wonder how, having attained to that sphere, she could have carried with her so strong a memory of the earth. It is certain that she was not a fit person to exist in the Many-Coloured Land, and it is to be feared that she was organised too grossly even for life in the Shí.

She was an earth-woman, and she was banished to the earth.

Word was sent to the Shís of Ireland that this lady should not be permitted to enter any of them; from which it would seem that the ordinances of the Shí come from the higher world, and, it might follow, that the conduct of earth lies in the Shí.

In that way, the gates of her own world and the innumerable doors of Faery being closed against her, Becuma was forced to appear in the world of men.

 

Fairy-Land

Fairyland Edgar allan Poe

Dim vales—and shadowy floods—
And cloudy-looking woods,
Whose forms we can’t discover
For the tears that drip all over:
Huge moons there wax and wane—
Again—again—again—
Every moment of the night—
Forever changing places—
And they put out the star-light
With the breath from their pale faces.
About twelve by the moon-dial,
One more filmy than the rest
(A kind which, upon trial,
They have found to be the best)
Comes down—still down—and down
With its centre on the crown
Of a mountain’s eminence,
While its wide circumference
In easy drapery falls
Over hamlets, over halls,
Wherever they may be—
O’er the strange woods—o’er the sea—
Over spirits on the wing—
Over every drowsy thing—
And buries them up quite
In a labyrinth of light—
And then, how, deep! —O, deep,
Is the passion of their sleep.
In the morning they arise,
And their moony covering
Is soaring in the skies,
With the tempests as they toss,
Like—almost any thing—
Or a yellow Albatross.
They use that moon no more
For the same end as before,
Videlicet, a tent—
Which I think extravagant:
Its atomies, however,
Into a shower dissever,
Of which those butterflies
Of Earth, who seek the skies,
And so come down again
(Never-contented things!)
Have brought a specimen
Upon their quivering wings.
Source: The Complete Poems and Stories of Edgar Allan Poe (1946)
I hope you enjoyed reading about Faeryland! Let me know in the comments!
Jo-Ann