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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.

pnp-quill-and-parchment

 

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.

 

medieval-lifestyles-books

 

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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Matriarchy and The Goddess Within

The Great Mother is in everything and everyone. She is both female and male – the giver and receiver, the creator and destroyer. She resides in every female creature and in every male, the same as every female has an element of the male (testosterone) and the male has an element of the female (oestrogen).

There is much about the division of the sexes these days: the ‘Battle of the Sexes’ has been a long one. But this manufactured and somewhat destructive conflict serves no purpose but to divide and conquer  so as not unite against a greater darkness. While males and females may have different roles in life, we ultimately come together to make things work. That is the Great Mother in All of us.

Two of the Founders of the Clowder of Grimalhame were female – Diera Leptailura and Soriah Deodar – as were many Order Chiefs. In the Grimalkin world, there is no division between males and females although males are more suited to one job and females another. At Mordrach – Midwinter – there is a special festival honouring the females of the clowder. They receive gifts and are waited on paw and foot by the males. At Adrach – Midsummer – the roles are reversed and the males are honoured. This balance of equals ensures both sexes are honoured equally – there is no dominant sex even though clowders are essentially matriarchal in nature.

Even though the Head of every clowder or settlement is a female – a matriarchy – the balance of power is always equal and that is how is is always been. Both sexes respect enough and value each other and this is how our society works. Both sexes understand their roles and sometimes their roles overlap. But even though the Clowder Mothers are female, she is always democratically elected by females AND males. Both sexes have equal status under the law and none is favoured above the other. The Clowder Mother is still subject to scrutiny and is held accountable by all the citizens throughout her tenure.

The balance of power has never been in question all through Grimalkin society. Individuals are comfortable in their roles and society rolls along and adjusts as it needs to with the ups and downs of population growth and decline, with times of plenty and of want. Gender roles and equality have never been in question as Grimalkins have been left to find their own natural niches in life. Life always finds a way of evening out.

 

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The Grimalkin Almanac in Four Parts – Winter is Now Available

Never mind the Beast from the East! Snuggle down with the latest instalment of the Grimalkin Almanac. While I am somewhat behind with the Spring edition due to ill health (it looks like it will be knocking on for summer by the time I get it finished but what is time anyway but a human construct?) it is in production as is the bestiary I am working on. It will be finished soon, I am just editing and adding last minute details and working on the front cover. See the website for more information on the bestiary here (https://www.grimalhamepress.co.uk/unusual-creatures). I will, in time, consolidate the four almanacs into one but I need to finish what I have started first. That will be sometime next year.

 

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Here is an excerpt from the Winter Almanac, two remedies by the eminent herbalist Alfridaria Henderai from her Herbal Compendium:

For Frostbite

“Ingredients: himylocine horn, Arcadian fir needles, Arcadian fir sap, honey, barley or yaits.

For affliction of the bite of the frost take the horn of the creature himylocine and the needle and sap of the Arcadian fir and pound them greatly until a fine powder. Take the barley or yaits and mix it with the honey and warm for a time. When aboiled, add to it the himylocine horn, pounded Arcadian fir needles and sap and heat four minutes hence. When it can be touched with the paw without injury, put it to the bandages and soak for a time, but keep warm all the same. Apply the poultice to the padders, ears, nose or other boddy extremities afflicteduntil a time when the bite abates. Begrime the poultice daily to the extremities until the blackness abates. For the discomfort, give the tincture of celandine or comfiture of thorn-apple and black hellebore thrice daily, once at morgenmete, once at noon, and once at aftenmete.”

For Arthritis

“Ingredients: himylocine horn, Arcadian spruce needles and sap, Hidaroan coriander, honey, barley meal or yaits.

For the affliction of the fever of the joints, take the horn of the creature himylocine, the needle and the sap of the Arcadian spruce and pound them greatly until a fine powder. Take the plant Hidaroan coriander and chop finely and boil for five minutes hence. Take the honey, barley meal or yaits and mix with the Hidaroan coriander, himylocine horn and Arcadian spruce needles and sap and mix together. Heat for twenty minutes hence but do not boil. Leave to cool and, when the mixture can be touched with the paw without injury, put to the bandages and soak for a time no longer than ten minutes. Keep warm and do not allow to become cool. Apply to the afflicted boddy parts twice daily, at dai-rawe and eventide. Let the Grimalkin drink often of comfrey, evening primrose and violet tea, and be warmed by the hide of the Arcadian or Silurian elk or himylocine.”

If you want to know what a himylocine looks like you will have to buy the book! (or visit my Twitter page at @ImeldraMoonpaw)

 

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The Grimalkin Almanac in Four Parts – Winter is available here: https://www.lulu.com/shop/imeldra-moonpaw/the-grimalkin-almanac-in-four-parts-winter/paperback/product-23511771.html

Keep Warm Humans!

The Grimalkin Oracle – New Oracle Deck in Production (finally!)

  The Grimalkin Oracle has been in production since 2013 but due to other book commitments, it has been on hold until now.  Some of the cards have already been created and the guide book is now in the early stages of being written. Hopefully it should be completed in 2019 as there are many illustrations that need to be created from scratch. The oracle cards created so far feature illustrations from Dance of the Fire Cat and The Ocean Lord, as well as mixed media and digital images relating to the first three books in the fire cat series. All of the cards relate to the Clowder of Grimalhame and the world of the fire cat.

 

dream world

 

  Even though the cards will be fantasy in nature, they will also have a Jungian feel; I have read some of Carl Jung’s work, a particular favourite of mine is Man and His Symbols which focuses on dreams. I have kept a dream journal all my adult life so know the importance of dreams and how it makes up our beings as a whole. Dreams can also be used as a tool for healing, something which I am trying to incorporate into the meanings of the cards and the guide book itself. If one is familiar with Jung, one may recognise some of the archetypes.

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  Creating the cards and applying the meanings to them is not as easy as it looks. I am trying to think of every eventuality while also attempting to keep it as simple as possible for both the sitter and the reader. The project is still in the early stages but I have created a few cards based on artwork already in the books to give the reader a reference point, and also an opportunity to refer to the books to find out more about the characters and their history.

  I am looking forward to starting on some new illustrations for the deck but in the mean time I am pulling together all the ideas I had for the guide book and putting it into some semblance of order. I will be posting updates on the website, on WordPress and on Twitter as I go along.

https://www.grimalhamepress.co.uk/the-grimalkin-oracle

Winter – Time of Deepening Darkness and the Black Horse of Winter – excerpts from the Winter Almanac (coming soon in 2018)

For many, winter is a testing period, especially for those who are old or infirm. Winter, the Time of Deepest Darkness, the time when the world sleeps, is also a time of healing and regeneration in preparation for the rigours of the coming of spring. During the Deepest Darkness, Grimalkins retreat into the safety of the clowders and settlements, to roaring hearths and hot meals. At Deepest Darkness, when Shamash’s supremacy is diminished by the Black Horse of Winter, the power of the Sun-Cat is not completely weakened by the loss of his magnificent mane of sun-rays. In these most shadowy of days, we are not forsaken but even the mighty Sun-Cat must rest and regain his strength. For now, The Black Horse of Winter and Inghira Moon-Cat rule these long nights and starry skies.

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  Winter is a productive time even though the earth seems to be sleeping. While the ground is covered in a deep quilt of snow, seeds are germinating below the earth and, like the seeds, Grimalkins are busy making do and mending. While the hard work of harvesting and gathering is at an end, the more creative pursuits of making Yule/Mordrach gifts and decorations begins.

  Hibernation and retreating into the safety of the clowders and settlements is not just practical and life-saving, it is also a symbolic act – all must return to the earth, the body of the Great Mother, once a year, for regeneration and rebirth. We may lament the passing of the warm, heady days of summer but we rejoice that the toil of the past two seasons is over and we can finally enjoy the fruits of our labours.  Winter is the final act in the great opera of the year, a time when we gather together with family, friends, neighbours, acquaintances and strangers and reaffirm our bonds of kinship with one another and express our gratitude for all that we have.

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Shamash Sun-Cat and the Black Horse of Winter

Every year, at Oliach (autumn equinox), a great battle begins between two forces of nature. The astronomical observance of the autumn equinox last for three days and, on the first day of Oliach, Shamash Sun-Cat begin his epic battle with the Black Horse of Winter. This battle lasts until the final day of Oliach when the Sun-Cat is defeated and overcome by the Black Horse. During the battle, the Black Horse tears out the Sun-Cat’s mane and so his power wanes. As his mane is destroyed, the power of the suns wane until they almost disappear from sight at the midwinter solstice, at Mordrach. It is during this time the Black Horse reigns, bringing the snows and ice to the world. Shamash, his mane now gone, retreats into the belly of the earth until it starts to regrow. On the third day of the midwinter solstice, the first golden hair appears on his forehead and this heralds the return of the suns. Now his strength begins to return. But it will be an arduous process and the winter is long; he must rest and regenerate so he can fight her once more and bring light back to the world once more.

black horse of winter

  While the black horse of Winter may maim, defeat and banish Shamash Sun-Cat to the bowels of the earth, she is not an evil creature. She is an aspect of nature and creation like Shamash or Inghira. While many lament her coming, she serves an important purpose; she brings the winter, the dark, feminine half of the year when the earth must rest otherwise it will wither and die. Too much warm, masculine energy depletes and exhausts. There must be a balance of the masculine and feminine and the battle of Shamash and the Black Horse represents this. It is the balance of life. The earth and its creatures must rest. The Black Horse may seem harsh, but she is just and wise.

Black horse run in the snow

  The Black Horse also represents the Great Mother Goddess in Her Crone aspect – deep, powerful, strong, introspective. She goes paw-in-hoof with Inghira Moon-Cat, the bringer of sleep, dreams, and healing through darkness. The Black Horse also brings these things but on a larger and longer scale, of days, months, years and aeons, rather than the minutes and hours by which we live by. The continual cycle of wakefulness and hibernation the earth must endure ensures it and its creatures regenerate and renew endlessly over many ages. This has been the task of the Black Horse and Shamash Since the Creation in the First Days of the New Dawn.

  She is not a force to be feared even though she may bring death to many. But after the winter solstice, her power begins to fade. Shamash’s mane begins to grow and the world is preparing for the re-emergence of the light. At Falia, the vernal equinox, Shamash returns to the world and defeats the Black Horse of Winter and drives her back to the high north where she will stay until Oliach. As Shamash’s mane grows the suns become warmer and climb higher in the sky until, at Adrach, the summer solstice, it is fully grown and he, and the suns, are at full power.

Shamash

 

https://www.grimalhamepress.co.uk/dance-of-the-fire-cat

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 Owl and the Night – Reclaiming the Crone And the Light from the Dark

  For those who spend time following certain lines of discussion both in the mainstream and  the alternative medias, there has been a great deal of discussion about the owl and her symbolism. We are living in a period of great change and upheaval and it appears that those who dwell in darkness are now being exposed to the Light. This, my friends, has long been foretold and awaited by many, especially by those of us who dwell within the Light.

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For those of us who work with esoteric signs and symbols, I believe it is high time we reclaimed the signs and symbols that we have used benevolently for generations, symbols used by sections of human society for ill intent. I refer to my own symbol as an example, the symbol of my house – the Owl of Moonpaw – one of many symbols used and turned backwards to mean something evil, dark and corrupt. While every symbol has both a positive and negative side, the bastardisation of esoteric signs and symbols from the swastika to the pentagram has reached its peak. It is time to neutralise the evil and take back the ancient symbols of wisdom, knowledge and protection and say to those who do evil “no more, you have taken enough and you will have no more.”. Let’s take back our symbols and our heritages, my friends, my brothers and sisters. Let’s take back our swastikas, our pentagrams and our owls, our lions, our snakes, our dragons, and our winged gods and goddesses. It’s time to bring them all home and back into the Light and take away the power from those who choose to dwell in darkness. Their time is over. The polarity is reversing. Their black sun is setting and a new dawn awaits those who want a peaceful and just world for all, not just a self-appointed few.

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   The symbol of my house – the owl – has some negative connotations. She is associated with death and ill luck. But without death and ill-luck how can one appreciate life and prosperity? The owl dwells in darkness but does she not also bring sleep and dreams and healing? Does she not also teach one how to see that which is hidden, that which hides from the Light, those who wish to do ill and bring evil upon others? In order to find the wicked rats who hide in the shadows, doesn’t one also need the ability of the owl to see in the dark to find them? She harsh but she is wise, she kills but she also teaches tough lessons – the best lessons of all, as we will always remember them. The owl in her hag-nest sees all, even into the darkest corners of your soul. She sees the truth and speaks it too, no matter how uncomfortable. We need the owl so let’s retake her power from the wicked and the cruel and learn from her positive aspects. We can see Light even in the darkness.

Peace and Blessings.