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Imeldra’s Tips for Writing

On this thing we call the internet we often see graphics and similar emblazoned with positive  get-up-and-go statements like “PLAN TO WRITE EVERY DAY”. Now, as somebeast who writes regularly, either in journals or for more academic works, this is not always achievable, or possible and often sets one up for inevitable failure which leads to personal disappointed and personal admonishment. While some positive statement can be helpful, many are not and can be counter-productive and, sometimes negative, even harmful. One must always strive to do one’s best, of course, but one must also recognise that one is only feline, sorry – HUMAN – after all. Life gets in the way, we can be sick, tired, not in the mood or or bodily rhythms may be out of sync, or we may simply just NEED A REST. So, my human friends, throw off those shackles of self-imposed positivity, make a cup of tea, sit down and have a good old dose of healthy REALISM with Aunty Imeldra.

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1) Do What You Feel Like Doing At The Time – I have seen a lot of things online encouraging writers to “write every day“. If you can do this and it feels natural and stress-free to do this then do so. If, like me, you tire easily, or have life events going on, then this instruction may seem more of an order than a suggestion. If you force yourself to write every day when you don’t want to then it will become a chore and you will no longer enjoy it. Your heart will go out of it. If you have an idea, then it is good practice to jot it down quickly in a notepad then leave it and move on to the things that need doing in the present. If the idea is good, it will come back to you. Don’t force yourself.

2) Expect to Fail – Yes, failing, rejection and making mistakes is a vital part of writing. If one did not make mistakes, then one would never know how to correct them and do better next time. Rejection is no bad thing; it means that you may not be ready this time and need to go back to the drawing board and develop some more, maybe produce new and better ideas, or grow as a person before opportunities are presented to you. More importantly, don’t obsess over your failures. All over the world, millions of human beings are failing at something or other. You are not alone. Have a cup of tea, take some time out and approach the subject again later with fresh eyes and a clear head.

3) Relax – Yes, relax. Enjoy what you are doing. Writing is supposed to be fun. Have you ever had an idea that makes you feel giddy with excitement and you just can’t wait to share it with everyone? That is how writing should feel. That is the divine inspiration, the literary Eureka! moment that makes us want to put quill to parchment. If writing does not feel fun or enjoyable, put down the quill and go and do something else until that warm, fuzzy feeling returns. Your writing will be better when you are relaxed and enjoying it. It will flow better and your stories will seem to write themselves.

4) Pay No Attention To What Others Are Doing – Step Outside the Box– Do your own thing. Break the mould. Think of things others haven’t thought of. Think outside the box. Take a new perspective. Be controversial. See things from the other side. Be the one who stands out, not the one who does things like everyone else. How will you ever get noticed if you do what everyone else is doing? You may be criticized, but at least others will be paying attention.

5) Don’t Compare Yourself to Others – a common problem new writers have. As much as I love the work of JK Rowling, George RR Martin and Stephen King, I would not want to write like them. Everyone is different. Everyone has a unique story to tell. It is ok to be inspired by other authors but you also have something important and magical to bring to the table. Remember that.

 

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6) Read, Read, Read! – This is one I pilfered from Stephen King’s list. You learn most by reading. Anything. But most of all reading about the things that interest you and what you want to write about. You will subconsciously absorb words, writing styles and all sorts of information that will come out in your writing later. There is nothing you can’t teach or learn about yourself that you can’t get from reading.

7) Do Your Homework – It pays to do your research because there is always one pedant who will fact-check everything you write. As No. 6) READ.

8) Keep Journals and Notebooks For Reference – It also pays to keep notebooks or journals about the things you are writing, or simply for ideas you may have. It helps to empty the mental in-tray now and again and to shelve ideas and notions to use again at a later date. They may not be of use to you now but you may find a use for them later in an unexpected way. Don’t let your ideas go to waste, no matter how silly, trivial or outlandish they may seem. From little acorns do mighty oaks grow.

9) Write For Yourself – Another Stephen King tip. Write because you love to write. Write things you want to read about. Write about subject you enjoy or find fascinating, or scary or weird. Your mind is your own private domain and you have final say in what goes on and what goes onto the parchment. If you love writing, your stories will be equally as magical as you will put your heart and soul into anything your produce. If your reader likes what you have written, then it is a bonus. But do not make people-pleasing the reason you write, That will only lead to frustration and unhappiness as you can never please all of the humans all of the time.

10) Learn To Take Constructive Criticism – If someone really likes you and your work, they may offer some criticisms, not because they are being unkind, but because they want to to succeed. They want you to do better, as a teacher would in school. We are always learning, even into our old age. You can accept the constructive criticism or not, but my advice is to take everything on board and see it from their point of view.It can’t hurt to make some changes if it will benefit you and your work in the long run.

11) Try To Imagine Yourself As The Reader As You Write – Try and write as though you are the reader and think “does this read well? Am I making sense? Will I understand this?” It will serve you well to think like a reader as well as a writer as you write.

12) Be As Creative As You Can And Don’t Let Time Be A Factor – Get out there and take inspiration from everything and everyone you meet. Store it away in your head and in your journals and let them germinate like little seeds. Don’t let time be a factor. Let the magic work on its own. Let it manifest in its own time. The inspiration will come. Don’t give yourself unrealistic deadlines as you will only get stressed and put unnecessary pressure on yourself. Remember, writing should be fun and enjoyable, an exercise in working magic. Let it happen.

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Forgiveness – Only Give the Gift When it is Earned.

The Great Mother Goddess understands that Grimalkins have emotional complexities and, as such, limitations on what they can and can’t accept from others. The subject of forgiveness is one that is never forced upon a creature for there is the understanding that some wounds are too deep for healing.

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  While forgiveness is a merciful and noble act, it should never be used against a creature who has been wronged most grievously simply to make others feel better about a situation they feel uncomfortable about. Forgiveness is a highly personal issue and a choice only the Grimalkin concerned can make after some long and serious consideration. While some find it easy to forgive, others find it difficult. Those who find forgiveness testing should be treat with kindness and patience; their stories may be sad and they may wish not to discuss them with others. No-one can judge a Grimalkin who chooses not to forgive as one does not know of their circumstances.

Forgiveness must never just be granted without these three things:

  • Recognition – the wrongdoer must recognise they have done wrong.
  • Remorse – the wrongdoer must show genuine remorse for their actions.
  • Restoration – the wrongdoer must show willing to put right the wrong and be genuine about it.

 

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  Grimalkins are not bound by social pressure to forgive; it is entirely up to the individual. Much damage can be done when one is pressured into forgiveness by others who want things to be made easier for them because they believe the situation will be resolved that way, and all will be well – for them, and not for the Grimalkin who is being pressured to forgive. That is not how true forgiveness works. Forgiveness has to be earned.

  To force someone to forgive and then berate them for not doing so is a terrible thing, a cruel thing. When a creature has been through much toil, they need time to heal and set their thoughts and feelings on the right path again. Much hurt and damage can be caused by those around them who say “if you don’t forgive you can’t move on” and other such falsehoods. One will never move on if one lies to oneself and does something against the wishes of one’s own heart. If the other party has not earned forgiveness, then do not forgive. Do not feel guilty about it. Be sure in your convictions. Do not let others make you feel bad because they do not understand your heart. If they do not understand your toil and despair, then they are at fault. It is a problem they must realise and confront. Let go of the guilt you may feel and do what you know is right.

Forgiveness is a gift to be given to those who truly deserve it and who have earned it otherwise the wrongdoer will never know the value of forgiveness themselves and may never change their behaviour.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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  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.

 

The Grimalkin Almanac in Four Parts – Autumn: The Great Mother Goddess and the Element of Water (excerpt)

 We Grimalkins are typically monotheistic but also believe in the realms of spirit. The Great Mother Goddess is our deity who can appear in many forms. The Great Mother made the cosmos, our world and the worlds beyond. Despite believing in a deity, we do not have a religion. The reverence of the Great Mother is faith-based, that is to say, each Grimalkin honours Her in their own way. There is no doctrine or dogma, no holy scriptures that tell one how to honour Her or how to live their lives. There is only the Old Grimalkin Book of Thalaig that sets out guidelines as to how a Grimalkin should conduct oneself and one’s spiritual affairs, and offers wisdom and comfort to those who seek it.

  There are no ‘holy days’ in the Grimalkin world. The festivals we celebrate are agricultural with an overlying spiritual meaning. There are no abstinences, no shrift and housel, and no indulgences. Each Grimalkin’s relationship with the Great Mother is personal for She can appear to an individual in a form they recognise which will be different to another’s. But the act of honouring the Great Mother communally can be a wonderful event. Many of the festivals are dedicated to Her and the bounty She has provided us with in the form of a secure home, plentiful food and the deep sense of kinship we have with fellow creatures. She is honoured in love and joy. There is no penance or fire-and-brimstone here. If a Grimalkin has wronged another, he or she must make amends, both to the wronged party and the Great Mother. Usually, the wrong-doer comes up with a suitable act of reparation themselves. If they cannot, they will seek the advice of a druid, a priest/priestess, or the Clowder Mother herself, and they will set a task for them. It is not a punitive system and an act of wrongdoing is almost always absolved with an act of positivity. The Great Mother does not punish in the way human deities do. The waters of the world are also reminders of Her presence too. In a tale of Grimalhame, the Fire Cat reaches the eastern coast of Arcadia as he sets out on a quest to save the clowder:

   “The fire cat had only seen the sea once before, a long, long time ago when the world was first formed by the Great Mother Goddess. It was said that the Great Mother shed tears for her creation in the First Days and those tears became the first oceans. She must have loved the world very much to create such a vast expanse of water…”

The seas and oceans, the tears of the Goddess, are also Her waters of life from which Her daughter Ishramah, came. Ishramah became the lesser goddess of the waters while the Great Mother had dominion over the land and the air and all the creatures therein. The seas and oceans are physical manifestations of the Cosmic Soup, the time of Chaos that reigned in the Age of Fire. The Creation was a vast concoction of fundamentals that coalesced to become the stars, the planets, the elements, and the creatures. Order was created from the chaos and the elements were separated into the things of the sea, things of the earth, and the things of the sky. The Cosmic Soup, now known as the Great Divide, is the boundary between the physical world and the cauldron of rebirth, the Great Mother’s womb and the place all things must go to be renewed and given new forms. The cosmic waters of life are eternal, unfathomable and unknowable. While some creatures are interred into the earth at death, some choose the sea as they both represent the same thing. The earth represents the womb itself while the seas and oceans are the waters of life within it. Both represent rebirth and transformation. The water’s ability to give life as well as take it away is representative of the Goddess who has the power of life and death over all things.

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Model: Ysabeau

 

The Grimalkin Almanac in Four Parts – Autumn is available now from Lulu.com

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Visit the web official web page for this publication

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My Creative Friends

I’d like to thank Jez and Mark Hunt for creating this wonderful Grimalkin armour. This belongs to Amergin Kilclawden and features in The Dark Portal. Please visit the Etsy page for more wonderful goodies by my talented human friends.

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The Waning Year – from the Grimalkin Almanac in Four Parts – Autumn

Greetings and welcome to my blog. I have recently completed the Grimalkin Almanac in Four Parts – Autumn and I am waiting for my proof to come so it can finally go live. In the meantime, here is the Preface and the opening page of the Almanac.

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The Grimalkin Almanac in Four Parts

Preface

“In a busy, present day clowder or settlement we can often lose sight of the more subtle things in life – the quiet rustling of the leaves on a summer day, the trilling of the nightingale in the bush, or the happy gurgling of a stream as it makes its way down to the sea. Of course, we must always accomplish our daily tasks and chores no matter how mundane or tedious they may be, but one must always find time to take stock of one’s surroundings, especially the natural ones, for the first sign of the turning season may be missed in the hustle and bustle of life – the hint of red on the oak leaf, a small gathering of swallows at the end of summer, and the slight chilly bite on the nose that tells us winter is on the way. Our whiskers must always be atwitch at these delicate signs for, when the season is upon us, our daily tasks will change and so must we. Our very survival depends on it. And so, we refer to our books, our calendars and our almanacs to prepare for the tasks at paw and take heart that, although our existences may change over the course of our lifetimes, the activities and responsibilities of living within a community do not and will forever keep our clowders and settlements going. So it has been for many thousands of years and will continue for many thousands to come.”

Yours by Star and Stone,
Imeldra Moonpaw
Chief Historian and Deputy
Clowder Mother of Grimalhame

 

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Autumn – The Waning Year

  “From the 1st day of Hazel Moon to the last day of Fir Moon, autumn, or sotohru in Old Grimalkin, holds sway. For most Grimalkins, this is a wonderful time of year when all gather together to bring in the last of the harvest and to begin the task of pickling, salting and preserving for the long months of winter. In Arcadia, spring and autumn are relatively short compared to summer and winter, so late summer/early autumn is a very busy time for citizens of all clowders and settlements.
  “Autumn, the waning part of the year, is symbolized by many things. It is associated with the west where the twin suns set, and with the element of water. It is a time of gathering up one’s resources and reflecting upon the year past. As the deciduous trees’ leaves turn from bright green to mellow yellow, russet red and finally to rich, warm brown, it is a signal to all who behold the annual shedding of the leaves that another chapter of life is closing. To some, it is a sombre time when those who have gone before are remembered, and a longing for the hot, fun-filled summer days and the balmy evenings when citizens relax outdoors drinking mead and cordial and catching up with friends and family after much toil in the fields.”

  The Grimalkin Almanac in Four Parts is a celebration of the seasons that govern all our lives here at Grimalhame. Each of the four Almanacs have a a theme. The first, autumn, is a celebration of the waning year and the coming of the dark half of the year. It’s elemental theme is water, associated with the west and of life returning to the womb in preparation for renewal and rebirth. Inside each Almanac are seasonal plants and herbs, seasonal associations such as animals, the festivals and feast days, information about the Great Mother Goddess, Alfridaria Henderai’s Herbal Compendium, zodiac signs, crystals, the healing power of the elements, strange and fantastical creatures and many other things pertaining to Grimalkin life in the Clowder of Grimalhame.

  I do hope you will join us here at the clowder and celebrate the turning of the seasons.

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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