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Grimalhame Press Official Website

The official Grimalhame Press website has being undergoing a major overhaul this past week. Some pages have disappeared and others added. It has been a long time since I have worked on the website, and this blog, well over a year.

But now is the right time to revisit it, redesign and rebuild, and make good that which as already been worked on. New things will be added in time, and music will be playing a part in the New Age of Grimalhame.

It has been a long, dark and lonely road. But one that has been necessary to find the right way, the right path. In order to be found one must first become lost. I order to be put back together one must first be broken. There is no light without darkness, no truth without first facing that which we have kept hidden within us for so long. No new starts, no new beginnings without first letting go. Nothing, no new shoots can find their way to the light without something going before it first, without death, decay, breakdown.

Regeneration, in whatever form, must come with the ending of all things. Rebirth and transformation cannot happen, stepping into a new life cannot occur without stepping out of the old.

It is the only way.

The only way to live.

The only way to love.

And be sure that the love you carry forth through the flames of your pyre is where is should be, where it needs to be, where it is wanted, needed and can find a home.

Life is far too short, and love too precious in this world to be allowed to die a miserable death in darkness, loneliness and despair.

So rebuild. Start again. Find the light within yourself that you thought had been snuffed out. Keep it burning. Love fiercely. Love loyally. Love completely.

Because all this ends.

Yours Under the Sacred Oaks,

Imeldra Moonpaw.

Deputy Clowder Mother of Grimalhame.

The Grimalkin Wheel of the Year – Morchuria, Day of the Ancestors

  The moon festival (moon festivals are held from the autumn equinox to the beginning of the Far Pavilions’ new year) of Morchuria is held between the festivals of Oliach (autumn equinox) and Mordrach (midwinter) in the Grimalkin calendar. At this time the year descends into darkness and the observance marks the beginning of the winter. Morchuria is the Grimalkin remembrance festival where we ask those who have departed this mortal life to join us in our celebrations. Vigils are held in the forest, at barrows and burial cairns, in groves and in homes. Candles are lit and incense is burned to invite the departed and the spirits of the forest into the household to sing, dance and feast. All merriments are held in their honour. The official remembrance ceremony takes place in the Central Council Chamber and we sing songs and read poems to remember our loved ones.

fire

After the initial ceremony and the invocation to the spirits at sunsdown, all gather at the torch-lit Henge and hold a banquet. Huge cauldrons of stew, casseroles and hot fruit puddings bubble deliciously over roaring fires, all washed down with hot spiced mead, warm fruit cordial or spiced milk. Balefires are lit under which potatoes and apples cook. All merriments honour the Great Mother in her Dark Aspect – the bringer of night, of winter, and of arcane secrets. All around the forest hollowed out ‘neeps glow with candles, their odd faces leering through the dark to frighten away evil.

samhain-1

Morchuria is also known as the Day of the Elders where the elders of the clowder are honoured and given gifts. Elders are the cornerstone of Grimalkin society – all wisdom, skills and trades are passed down from the old ones. They are revered as great teachers and they represent the Great Mother in her Crone aspect – the tester and initiator of souls. The young ones (and older ones who should know better) dress up in costumes and scare each other in the dark for it is the only time they can stay up all night without going to bed. Adults dress as demons, swarthy spirits and shades to frighten the young ones who then converge upon the ‘evil-doers’ and ‘vanquish’ them with sticks. This is a symbolic gesture; badness and negativity are driven out by the light and innocence of youth and, by doing this every year, it not only drives away malevolent spirits, but teaches youngsters to never fear the darkness.

Ancestral Shrines and Honouring the Spirits

“A great oak does not mourn the loss of a single twig.”

Old Grimalkin Saying.

  Ancestral shrines are found in all Grimalkin homes. They consist of small niches or spaces within the household sometimes with statuettes and items belonging to the deceased. Some items may represent the trade or profession of the forebear. Candles are lit and flowers placed on the shrine to mark anniversaries such as the ancestors’ birth and death. At Morchuria, the Day of the Ancestors, offerings of food and wine are placed on the shrine and the departed are invited into the home so they can celebrate along with the living. The shrine will be in a private part of a Grimalkin’s dwelling, such as a bedroom or ante-room. The deceased will then take his or her place on the shine in the form of a figurine, or an object that reminds the family and friends of that Grimalkin. If a Grimalkin was fond of the sea, it would be a shell, or if they liked to walk in the woods, it would be an acorn, nut or pinecone. Grimalkins have many ways of remembering those who have crossed over into the Otherworld.

But shrines are not just confined to the home; our respect for the dead is great and there are public shrines all over the clowder, usually dedicated to the founders, or other prominent Grimalkins. Yew groves are also places where many a historical Grimalkin is buried. West of the Henge is a grove where there are burial cairns and graves in abundance. Here one will find votive offerings of food and flowers making the burial grounds not a place of sadness, but one of memory and joy. Stone effigies of Grimalkins past look down benevolently at those who come to remember, in particular, the memorial to Celandine Ursula Longwhisker, the mother of Winnowyn Longwhisker, who was Clowder Mother for many decades. Here, a robed Celandine stands with paws outstretched with a silver halo around her head and a dormant lion at her feet. Many come to honour her with flowers and music on the anniversaries of her birth and death.

  neolitic dolmen England

  The Wildcat equivalent of ancestral shrines is the Halls of the Ancestors. When a Wildcat dies, it is believed their soul is taken by the Irya Nos, the Dark Sister, to the halls of their forefathers. Each clan has its own ancestral hall that has an entrance in the physical world. These entrances can be in the side of a barrow, a cave in the mountainside, or at the entrance to a waterfall. Wildcats (like Grimalkins) believe the afterlife lies parallel to the mortal world, existing side-by-side. Votive offerings are placed at the entrances of these halls at set times during the year. In Old Grimalkin, these places are called ahnn-dachann (place of the ancestors) and date back to a time when the clowders, as we know them, did not exist. Some are more than ten-thousand years old. The ancestral spirits that reside within the halls are called manes. In the Halls of the Ancestors, life is eternal in a world of everlasting summer. In these otherworldly fields and mountain passes, clans will visit other clans and share meat and mead with one another. In this land there is no war and no strife, no Wildcat fighting Wildcat. Here, everyone is a Laird.  In the world of Grimalkin, entrances to barrows and caves are doorways to the world of the spirits, not the spirits of the departed, but to the realm of the elementals, spirits and faeys. But one must be careful – not all spirits are friendly. Some can be mischievous and swarthy.

Old Grimalkin Book of Hours

Compiled by Grimalhame Founder Soriah Deodar, Matriarch Thirdendyal Runstaff of the Clowder of Shilgrene, Matriarch Yllaria Notekyn of the Clowder of Yllaw, and the Elder Pantaliemon Blackwhisker of the settlement of Margrene, in the Time of the Great Gathering, the Old Grimalkin Book of Hours is a collection of observances, rituals, thoughts and prayers for the Priest/esshood, laybeast and the everyday Grimalkin that have been used since ancient times.

When the Order of Tir Oliach was formed, it was decided that a complete and comprehensive Book of Hours should be produced for the citizens, at the citizens’ request. And so, the Book was created, along with illustrations that depicted the various Hours being observed. From the original, full-colour version made at Grimalhame, many were re-created as text-and-woodcut-only, pocket-sized versions for the everyday Grimalkin. These primary copies were sent to every clowder and settlement in Arcadia and copied so every citizen could possess one. From these primary, text-only copies came intricate and richly-decorated Books of Hours that still exist today.  The Old Grimalkin Book of Hours is literal in the sense that there is an observation for every hour of the day. Originally written for members of the Order of Tir Oliach, the Book incorporated the religious aspects and philosophical and practical observances and, therefore, catered for those who chose not to practice any faith as well as those who do.

Despite the overtly-religious overtones, the everyday Grimalkin is encouraged to observe the Hours in their own way; communal activities are recommended as well as activities that can be carried out alone and in private. Each Hour will mean something different to every individual; there are no hard and fast rules as to how Hours are conducted, One may choose not to observe the Hours at all, but still retain a copy and refer to it now and again in order to feel and re-affirm the connection to the community and their place in the world. And this is why the Old Grimalkin Book of Hours still retains its appeal seven thousand years after it was written.

  For the reader not familiar with the language of Old Grimalkin, the following words are translated. Nichni means night, Arn-Lalast is first-light or morning. Avhai-Lalast is second light or afternoon, and Il-Noste means fall of night or evening.

I do hope you enjoy this Book and find peace within its pages.

The Old Grimalkin Book of Hours

Holy Mother       Ancestors

 

The Ocean Lord – Book Two of the Fire Cat Stories

The fire cat looked towards the entrance of the cave on the other side of the lagoon and waited and, for a moment, he saw nothing. Then, slowly, a large bow wave appeared on the horizon. It travelled towards him and the fire cat held his breath in anticipation, his heart pounding. The bow wave grew bigger, rippling as it came nearer. It stopped short of the rock and the water went still.
Too still.
Seconds ticked by and the fire cat peered into the clear, turquoise water. It was deathly silent.
Suddenly, the water boiled and frothed as a huge something emerged slowly from the depths sending waves crashing over the rock. The fire cat was taken totally by surprise and rolled over onto his side, seawater splashing over him.
A dark shadow crept over the fire cat’s prone form as the massive creature rose from the depths of the lagoon. The fire cat’s strength left him as he lay in the shadow of the creature that fixed him with an unearthly gaze that rooted him helplessly to the spot.

©Angela Russell 2013

  The Ocean Lord is the second of the fire cat stories and follows the fire cat from his home in the Great Divide to the ancient and magical Clowder of Grimalhame. After meeting Winnowyn and Rowanberry Longwhisker, the Clowder Elders, the fire cat sets out on a mission to find a cure for the mysterious illness that is afflicting the clowder and the creatures of the Great Arcadia Forest. His journey takes him beyond the shores of Arcadia to Kaldivari, the kingdom of the Tiger Lords, and to Tharsis – the Land of the Fire Mountains. With the clowder in grave danger, the fire cat must face his greatest fear and go beyond the boundary of death itself in order to save his kin.

Can he find the Ocean Lord, the Source of All Wisdom, before it is too late?

The Ocean Lord

Ocean Lord Front

Dance of the Fire Cat

 

From the heart of a star he came, born from the chaos of Creation. He came with the spark of Divine Light in his fiery paws and  danced across the surface of the sun at the beginning of the world.

He danced far and wide across the plains of Tharsis and the Great Harara Desert, planting the seeds of life in the barren ground in his wake. He sang his joyful song beneath the stars of the Great Divide:

“Awake, my friends, for I am the First!
Arise and join me in the Dance of Life. Be not
sorrowful for there is no longer death and darkness.”

And so, the first cats appeared from the womb of the sleeping earth to rejoice and sing in the First Days of the New Dawn.

©Angela Russell 2011

  Dance of the Fire Cat is a creation myth of how cats came into being according to cats. It is the first of the Fire Cat stories and will take you on a magical tour of the Fire Cat’s world, ‘told’ by the Grimalhame Clowder Historian, Imeldra Moonpaw. She tells the story of the Fire Cat’s journey across the kingdoms where he meets a wise creature who tells him about the nature of the Cosmos and the importance of his task, and the creation of the magical Clowder of Grimalhame – the city of cats, a place of myth, mystery and ancient Grimalkin magic.

Dancing Fire Cat