Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sacred Groves and Writing: On Enchantment and Elder

Lady Ellhorn is my muse. 
She is the "figment of my imagination" that I turn to when I am stuck with my stories. 

She has never failed me. 

But all magic comes with a price. 

It may be a compulsion to write or create that distracts from other things in your day, that makes you feel incomplete until you attend to the muse. Or it could be days of writer's block before the onrush of inspiration. Or perhaps a day where the laundry just doesn't get done...or creativity doesn't get done because of laundry, appointments, or life getting in the way. The price can simply be the time and energy it takes to complete your passion. As I often tell my children, nothing "worth its weight in salt" comes without effort.

The poem "A Song of Enchantment" by Walter de la Mare expresses the fickle magic of creativity:

A song of enchantment I sang me there,
In a green-green wood, by water's fair,
Just as the words came up to me
I sang it under the wild wood tree.
Widdershins turned I, singing it low,
Watching the wild birds come and go;
No cloud in the deep dark blue to be seen
Under the thick-thatched branches green.
Twilight came; silence came:
The planet of Evening's silver flame;
By darkening paths I wandered through
Thickets trembling with drops of dew.
But the music is lost and the words are gone
Of the song I sang as I sat alone,
Ages and ages have fallen on me -
On the wood and the pool and the elder tree.

The English Elder tree, the Sambucus nigra or Ogham "Ruis," is the most enchanted of the Ogham trees. Beneath her roots lies a gateway to the Otherworld, the fairy realm. The Elder Mother, or Lady Ellhorn, can be associated with Titania, Shakespeare's Fairy Queen. The Elder tree is also used for spirit contact and symbolically for connection with our own subconscious and the collective unconscious...the otherworld without and the otherworld within. Like in Walter de la Mare's poem, the outer landscape mirrors the one within.

The Elder is such a powerful and revered tree that its wood should never be cut without obtaining permission from the tree first. In Celtic society elders often grew near a sacred spring or well, as they were a deep source of magic themselves, but were also planted by homes to grant the dwellers the Elder Mother's protections. 

When I received my Ogham stave pouch, I placed great significance on the wood that I would pull out the very first time. It was Elder. I admit I was a bit taken aback, because at that time I felt my affinity was to Oak. But upon reflection I realized Elder was trying to tell me something about the pattern of my life and my art. From then on I turned to that wood for advice, comfort, and inspiration. When I practice yoga, I give my intentions to the Elder Mother and wish for a greater connection to her.
My Lady Ellhorn Talisman of Eldritch, a custom order from WytchenWood shop on Etsy.

The Elder tree is symbolic of sacrifice (which is why it is an appropriate wood in the Harry Potter books for Dumbledore's wand, by the way). "Ruis" means red and is symbolic of blushing or the embarrassment we may feel when we make mistakes. Thus the Elder Mother teaches us that all great gain comes with sacrifice. Loyalty to Lady Ellhorn, however, in the form of tapping into our own inner otherworld and tending the roots of our creativity, can result in wondrous enchantment!

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All images, unless otherwise noted, are from Pinterest.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Amazon's New Review Policy

Unfortunately, Amazon has decided to take down the five star reviews that I received from Tome Tender Book Blog, an Amazon Top 500 Reviewer, due to its new, inexplicable policy of "weeding." This is a shame, not only because both Love Lies Bleeding and Songs Within Stone are exclusive on Kindle Select, but because Tome Tender does such a beautiful and thoughtfully honest job of reading and reviewing books for all types of published authors. 

So lest people think I am a liar, below are the full texts of Tome Tender's reviews that appeared on Amazon up until recently and still appear on the Tome Tender website. 

I must add that when I first offered Tome Tender an ARC copy for review, I did not know that they were a Top 500 Reviewer (that was quite the gasping-for-breath moment, one I won't forget) and no way did I or will I ever pay for a review. 

"Never underestimate the power of well-chosen words! Love Lies Bleeding by Lori J.Fitzgerald brings the tale of a free-spirited girl and the Spirit of the Forest into your heart as it pricks long ago memories of feeling the magic of fairytales dancing through your mind.

Young Aislin always felt the call of the forest, beckoning her, surrounding her with warmth, but young girls grow up and reality seems to get in the way of fantasy and childhood musings. When her life takes a horrendous turn and becomes a living nightmare, only the magic of the forest can bring her eternal joy and love.

Centered on the very soul of myths and legends, the Celtic world, magical beings, life, tragedy and the final ultimate enchantment of happiness is full to overflowing with the magic of Lori J. Fitzgerald’s words. 

I received this ARC edition from Lori J. Fitzgerald in exchange for my honest review."

"There is beauty and magic in the hands of an artisan, no matter what they create. William, a mason’s apprentice hears the beauty of the songs that stones sing to his heart as he brings raw stone to life with his carving. One brutal incident leaves William’s kind heart hardened and bitter, and in search of another Master Mason to train under. Was this punishment or did fate guide him to the place where he could make peace with his demons while finding his true calling and a place to call home?

Once again, Lori J. Fitzgerald had me entranced by her almost poetic style of writing! Songs Within Stone is a quick read that captures the feel of long ago times, the magic of friendships and believing in oneself to do the right thing. Ms. Fitzgerald has woven another tale filled with characters from mythology, some beasts and some fae and created a tapestry rich with character, color and atmosphere as one apprentice finally finds his very soul singing to him as clearly as the stones he brings to life. Feel the magic of fantasy, watch each scene play out and escape into a world meant to be found by all of us who believe in the magic of the written words within books. With a gentle pace, moments of awe and even sadness and joy, Lori J. Fitzgerald’s world is spellbinding to behold with her rich words and obvious love for her characters and her work. 

I received this copy from Lori J. Fitzgerald in exchange for my honest review."