Archives

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.

42cbacbc-3983-4294-a996-12257fc5dff5

Advertisements

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.

 

snow tiger

 

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)

 

snow

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.

wordpree-cards

  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.

winter-solstice

  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.

winter

 

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.

Forgiveness1

  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.

 

forgiveness

  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.

forgive

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.

 

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.

eternal life

 

Model: Ysabeau

 

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

Capture

Visit the web official web page for this publication

almanac button