Dancing with the Faeries

I’m very excited to announce that there will be an OFFICIAL book launch on 12th December in my home town of Lampeter. I know it is a long way for many of you but you’re all invited anyway!

YFM Book Launch Poster

I’m both terrified and thrilled. I love the spotlight, I love Faeries (clearly) and I love talking and dancing and having a party. I’m also, honestly, scared all my friends will judge me for being such a fluffy hippy for having an obsession with these magical, mystical, amazing wild beings because, let’s face it, they’ve not had great press. Or rather, the press has been too good, too sweet, too silly. And we don’t value silly enough. In the Reclaiming Tradition of Witchcraft – which I’ve spent many years involved in – I came across a fantastic phrase: “Reverent Irreverence”. The art of making magic through fun. The skill of doing proper, serious, important work with a light heart. The practice of not taking oneself too seriously and thus cultivating the ability to make powerful magic in pixie wings and glitter, whilst still genuinely honouring the spirits that weave within this land.

Working with faeries is often dismissed as not being serious magic, but you and I know that it is. It is very serious. Faery magic is spirit work. It is delving into the core of yourself and finding the wild magics of the heart of nature, because that is what we are. It is seeking truth and finding our own ethics, with a laugh and a whole heap of sparkles (biodegradable sparkles, mind you!).

I’m always nervous that people will look only at the surface, that they’ll see the word “Faery” and dismiss me as lacking in dedication, or without the guts or the brains to do “real magic” or “real work”. So this book launch is more than just an excuse for a party, it is a declaration that I can be a serious, philosophical, hard-working magical practitioner and that working with the Fae is real spirit-work… and that this is not incompatible with glitter. I forget this often myself, so, finally, this is also a milestone. It is the night I stop worrying about taking it seriously and wake up to the fact that I do, and no-one else needs to validate that for me!

This is not a book for those that want fancy occult rituals or deep, secret lore. It is for those who feel like the world could do with a bit more magic, but aren’t quite sure how to find it in their own way… and love faeries as much as I do!

Onwards and upwards, Feylings, onwards and upwards. Now, where did I tuck that glow in the dark wand…

 

Event Details:

Facebook Event!

Poster (PDF)

Saturday 12th December 2015

Old Hall, Old Building, Lampeter University (UWTSD), Lampeter, Wales.

FREE – you are welcome to come to all or some of it. Bring snacks if you wish and a donation for tea/coffee.

“Your Faery Magic” is being released on Friday so on Saturday we’re meeting to celebrate. I will open with a talk on my philosophy of faeries and how we can relate to them from 6pm-7pm ish. This will probably turn into a Q&A session.

From 7pm there will be:

dancing from the ladies of Tribal Unity Wales and for all who wish to
storytelling with Milly Jackdaw and Will Rathouse
book signing (if you like!)
and a faery themed open mic session.

*Note* If you want to do something at the open mic, you can sign up for it at 7:30, and we’ll have it run from 8-9pm (ish)  for them that wish to share something faery (or fantastical) themed… music, stories, poetry, readings from a play, whatever you fancy!

I may even bring my top hat for an appearance of The Goblin Circus if requested!

 

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Beltane Eve ~ A memory

Wood smoke coiling overhead, melding with the music dripping from a flute as the pagans file down to the sacred site. Beltane eve, invited to the enchanted realm… roses twining around us, scarlet and ivory blossoms declaring the edge of our world and theirs… a time of no time, a place of no place.

The Queen arrives, carried by emerald mists, a smile upon her elfin lips, with unusually long fingers gently blessing each waiting crown.

“Leap.” She commands. “Whatever you are dreaming of, whatever wishes you brewed in the darkness of the year, step into that realm now.”

“The power of the earth rises now. The veil between our worlds thins now. The door opens for you to enter, now.”

In our circle, our grove, our sacred temple, she embraced her consort. The Queen of Faery and her King met in the mists of Beltane and their passion blessed each waiting heart with the courage and conviction to follow their dreams and the power to make them come true.

This is the true gift of The Faery Queen at Beltane; a glimpse into her world in which power comes from within and passion can be ridden into reality, and the understanding that follows of how to carry enchantment with you from that world into our own…

 

Originally posted by Moon Books, who will be publishing my upcoming book “Your Faery Magic” later this year…

Response Time!

I was having a wander around online last week and I came across a video, which I didn’t know existed, following the development of a piece I made for a project called Response Time last year. Response Time is a fantastic project that was launched in Aberystwyth by Scriptography Productions, and has since travelled to other spaces in Wales. It involves a set period of time, normally 48 hours, in which artists, writers and performers are invited into a space to create performance art in response to the art and the space, which is shown on site at the end of the 48 hours. It leads to some excellent work, and inspires some powerful magic in those that join in. For a start, it proves that you can make art with only a limited amount of time. It also encourages new ways of looking at art, spaces and possibilities. There is no time to worry, overwork it or lose interest. There is no time to over think it, only time to create and let it loose into the world.

There are several pieces I’ve made for Response Time that I would love to develop further, but even if I never do they have all given me a great deal of confidence and informed my way of working deeply! Anyway, I thought I’d share the video I found, so you can get a glimpse of some of the work I do (and how excited I get about things…)

Project Response: Transitions Hayley Addis from Ian Smyth on Vimeo.

The piece I ended up making in the event I talk about here was a video, which you can catch a glimpse of here. I visited the gallery on the Friday evening, filmed everything on the Saturday and then edited it together that night as I had rehearsals most of the Sunday. The sketch book I talk about was present for people to look at as well, but ended up being a mostly unseen artefact – which is interesting in itself for a performance art-work.

Now… I wonder if the video I made exists online somewhere too! It disappeared from my computer shortly after the event…

 

(Video made by Ian Smyth, who documented that weekend and filmed the footage which I edited together into my video-art!)

Chinese New Year Storytelling

Last week I told tales to about a dozen children for the Chinese New Year celebrations hosted by Lampeter’s Confucius Institute.

First the dragon awoke from his winter sleep, then we learnt why the New Year is celebrated as it is, and why the year of the Goat comes after the year of the Horse. We saw the legendary beast Nian, still running after all these years, and debated whether it was the year of the goat or, instead, the year of the sheep!

Chinese Zodiac, River of Animals - Goat
Chinese Zodiac, River of Animals – Goat

Goat years are also known as Sheep years, and are known to give rise to gentler things, to be family orientated and caring. I take it as a good sign that I got to entertain the youngest members of the families at these celebrations (and to hear a story about a squirrel from a budding performer as well!) as the year was at its youngest, and the snowdrops are appearing all around the hills of Wales.

I do seem to be getting in the habit of collecting Chinese animal tales, don’t I? They are great fun and, thankfully, suitable for all ages. I do adore the dark and gruesome fairytales, such as those by Giambattista Basile in Pentamerone, but I’m naturally such a softy that the animal tales children love suit me down to the ground! On my list of tales to explore is a darker fairytale set, which the old, weird, Welsh story of Blodeuwedd, the flower maiden who became an owl, and my favourite Anderson tale ‘The Little Mermaid’ (which inspired my short story in Future Earth magazine) would probably sit quite nicely in, don’t you think? For now, I’m back under the direction of the goblins at The Circus when it comes to stories, we’ve got some work to do polishing up the new acts, they and I!

I do feel like now is a good point to just say thank you. Thank you for reading to everyone who comes across this post. Thank you to everyone who supports me in my endeavours, goblinesque and otherwise. And thank you to the Universe (and notably to the Confucius Institute) for the opportunities to tell tales professionally. I do so love it!

 

Brighid’s Blessings; the Spirit of Brighid Conference 2015

Last weekend, on the waves of Imbolc and the rising spring that washed away the snow, I travelled to Penarth, on the edge of Cardiff, to a Pagan conference dedicated to Brighid as the maiden goddess. It was fitting that she was there, as a Goddess of Inspiration, for the launching of The Goblin Circus as a show.

What is The Goblin Circus, you ask? It is a multi-platform artwork, a world, centring around a one-woman-many-goblin theatrical-storytelling circus show. Which is a mouthful, so I mostly think of it as just ‘The Circus’. It’s online home is growing here

My friend Wendy and I were escorted to the venue by her partner Mike, and we set up a table for her books and my art/books/oracles/stuff. The talks were fascinating, with topics ranging from the history of Wicca, Gnosticism, the Ogham and “Meeting the Great Anaesthetist” i.e. how we as pagans can live a good life and a good death.

We met lots of people, I spent most of the breaks re-learning how much I enjoy the company of five year old faeries, and then the talks were over and it was time for the room to clear (hunting for food, mostly) and the sound-checks to take over. I bounced on stage to make sure I knew what not to touch whilst I did my thing… and was greeted with friendly, supportive hugs (Damh the Bard had been informed that I was nervous!) and help getting my head around the mic! Blanche Rowan very kindly made sure the mic would be in a good place for me and told me she’d move things back round when they began so I didn’t need to worry about it (and wouldn’t accidentally drop something, not being used to tech on stage!) and I trundled off to find food and breathe very deeply…

7pm rolled around. Folks were settling down for the evening. I straightened my jacket, pulled on my top hat, and stepped into the wings.

The crowd were silent. A friend later described them as “spellbound”. All I could do was share the Circus and take a bow when I had done my fifteen minutes. It felt good,

It wasn’t until there was a break later in the evening that folk told me they’d enjoyed it and I could finally relax. (And it wasn’t until hours later that I realised… no-one had talked over it… I had their complete attention for the entire thing. Now that was an achievement! Also goes to show just how respectful that audience was 🙂 )

Then there was music and dancing! While I danced I let the energy rise, in honour of the gods, in honour of my work, in honour of the community of cauldron-born pagans who supported me, and in a blessing on all these things.

Blanche Rowan and Mike Gulston were enchanting and Damh the Bard was inspiring! He was both talented and kind, even inviting the five year old fairy onstage to dance while he played (her very first gig!) I escorted her into the spotlight and felt very honoured to be her back-up dancer.

Finally the evening wound to a close, we packed up and left, talking the entire journey home.

This was a wonderful space to launch the Circus as a performance, as a circus, and I feel very grateful for the opportunity to do so. This was organised as a one off event but I hope, very much, that it returns again next year. In the meantime, I’m looking to take the enchantment of the Goblin Circus on the road this summer… so we shall see what magic the Cauldron Born brings!

On that note, if you’d like the Circus to come to your event, do let me know 🙂

UPDATE – Healing Hearts: Y Mabinogi

If you’ve been with me for a while you’ll know I’m in the process of developing a multi-cultural, multi-gendered deity Oracle Deck called ‘Healing Hearts‘. I’ve been wrestling with how to start such a huge project. The crowdfunding fundraiser brought in enough for me to get started with materials, so that’s great, but wasn’t quite enough to support me in the time it will take to make this happen so, sadly, I’ve not been able to do what I’d hoped to and dedicate a day or more each week to working on it exclusively. Cue the combination of gratitude and disappointment that is so familiar in life.

Ready to Paint! At the studio...
Ready to Paint! At the studio…

As a result of the longer stewing time, however, something more fascinating has grown… my many passions are combining in a delicious, bubbling pot and a vast, sprawling, beautiful creation is emerging. And I find myself looking at something so huge and wondering how I can approach it and allow it to support me whilst I bring it into reality… which has lead me to break down Healing Hearts into several projects, starting with a focus on the Welsh stories woven into the land I live upon.

I suppose I should share what I’m talking about!

I have a list of deities that are likely to be included in the final deck, ranging across many cultures, and each culture’s tales are an entire world of magic and meaning, connection and crisis, divinity and drama. To do them justice is a vast work! So whilst I paint the deities that arise, I shall be focussing on specific cultures for several months at a time, weaving through their stories and unravelling the threads so they can be spun into new tales and perhaps shared as theatrical performances. As I live in Wales, I’ve begun with the tales of Y Mabinogi, the mythology of the land. The stories speak to me of our relationship to the land and the environment – important topics right now, given the impending doom that is climate change – and so the four branches of Y Mabinogi and transforming themselves into tales of our connection and disconnection to the land and the wild within our hearts.

As I paint and explore the stories they are weaving themselves into a performance piece… so I’m looking for a venue to share it in next year!

Works in progress rarely look like they'll be any good... raw and unedited, a foundation to be worked upon, not really meant to be shared... but seedlings only grow when given enough light.
Works in progress rarely look like they’ll be any good… raw and unedited, a foundation to be worked upon, not really meant to be shared… but seedlings only grow when given enough light.

I’ve resisted sharing about this because it feels like I’m taking on something far bigger than I should and I worry folk will judge me for being so easily tempted. I’m worried it *is* simply too big and it will fail. I’m worried that I don’t have time and I’m putting myself under vast amounts of pressure if I commit to it.

And I find myself scrawling notes at bedtime, being inspired by conversations, facing open doors. Who am I to deny the magic that leads me forwards? Who am I to turn down the demands of a tale? Who am I to say no to the Muse?

It will all work out. I have faith…

Storytelling at the Confucius Institute

RabbitYesterday afternoon I laid out my twelve Chinese Zodiac animal paintings, donned a beautiful Chinese jacket and told animal tales for 45 minutes to an audience of about 25 people.

There was much nodding and smiling and encouragement all the way through.

I did attempt to film it but for some reason ended up with a dozen 2 second clips from the first few minutes instead of a continuous recording. Such are the joys of Mercury retrograde, perhaps. I have, however, been promised photos, which will be shared soon.

DragonIt was so much fun to see a whole set of stories come together and to get such wonderful
feedback! This was my very first completely solo set and I can’t help thinking that this is one particular show that will return again…

Anyone fancy hosting a session of animal themed storytelling?

 

Thank you to Krystyna who opened the door to me and the wonderful Chinese workshoppers who made me feel very at home in that room… not to mention the rest of the audience who, upon hearing that there was to be storytelling, immediately (and literally) pulled up chairs and sat waiting patiently for silence to fall so the tales could begin!

 

View the Paintings Here!

Temple of Tales: Persephone or Kore?

What happens when magic and stories meet?

Have you ever heard the voice of a goddess, whispering in your ear to walk with her for a time? To share her story? To guide others through magic into their own tale?

We call this Persephone’s story, but really… is it Kore’s? Is it the tale of who the Goddess becomes, or who she was once, and always will be?

Kore was the daughter of the grain mother. A flower child she played. She was stolen away from her home and forced to face the greatest challenge we know; death. And on entering the underworld, Kore found pomegranate seeds. Bright red jewels. She hadn’t chosen to face the Lord of Death, or enter his home – few ever do – but she did choose to eat the seed of life that comes from death.

No-one else could have found life in the land of the dead as she did. No-one but a child a life could have claimed that crown. She became Persephone, Queen of the Dead, but she is always Kore, daughter of the grain, daughter of the seeds, just a little more grown up.

 

We live this in our lives. We make choices, face challenges, grow up. But we are still who we have always been, deep down. We still carry the seed we started from. Our genetics, our roots, our childhood dreams shape us and the roles we choose. Even if we choose in opposition to these beginnings…

The question is whether we choose roles for ourselves that allow us to grow, to flourish, to rule over our own lives. How often have we chosen the path of Sovereignity? The path of Queen (or King)?

What do you choose now?

 

Enter the Temple of Tales with Persephone...
Enter the Temple of Tales with Persephone…

Learning from Fairy tales

In an article on finishing things (that final push is the hardest!) I came across a quote that encapsulated an idea which resonates with me so strongly:

“People who’ve never read fairy tales, the professor said, have a harder time coping in life than the people who have. They don’t have access to all the lessons that can be learned from the journeys through the dark woods and the kindness of strangers treated decently, the knowledge that can be gained from the company and example of Donkey skins and cats wearing boots and steadfast tin soldiers. I’m not talking about in-your-face lessons, but more subtle ones. The kinds that seep up from your subconscious and give you moral and humane structures for your life. That teaches you how to prevail, and trust.”

~ Charles De Lint, The Onion Girl

This is so true. When we read stories they seep into our minds, our emotions, our bodies. We journey through the woods with the lost child, we scale mountains with the hero, we fall and we get up. In doing so, our heart is broken open and the light gets in. We allow ourselves to experience those things which we might otherwise protect ourselves from, and rightly so. In doing so we gain experiences to draw on in our everyday life and we are transformed by these experiences.

Aristotle spoke of tragedy as providing Catharsis and we see this role played by media throughout our lives still but, even more than this, we absorb the tales we read, see, hear. We take them to heart and we act them out.

As a child I loved The Little Mermaid. I would spend hours in swimming pools or by the sea pretending to be a mermaid. (And I still feel most me with ruby-red hair!) It is perhaps no surprise that I lost all confidence in my ability to sing when I gave up swimming entirely because, for some inexplicable reason, I became terrified of deep water. I lost my voice when I left the sea. Without realising it, I played out Ariel’s tale in my own life. Healing that fear has coincided with regaining my singing voice. I began working on both these things almost simultaneously and, shortly afterwards, recognised the story I was living that was not mine.

I’ve written a new ending to this tale. A new ending for me. But this is how powerful stories are. We take them to heart. And we can choose the stories we engage in. We can choose to follow the tale of Taliesin’s transformation to deepen our knowledge and understanding, or the Selkie stories to find our way home, or Persephone’s tale to step into our power to change the world.

And so a new story unfolds. The Temple of Tales begins to form, a sacred place where stories touch our lives with magic and we rewrite our lives using the tales we choose.

Welcome to the Temple of Tales, presenting; Persephone and your Power.

Enter the Temple of Tales with Persephone...
Enter the Temple of Tales with Persephone…

Click on the gate above for more information and to discover the link to the giveaway of all four rituals!

Down the Rabbit Hole…

Tumbling down…

… head over heels over head…

… … … landing heavily with a THUMP.

I remember one evening at Picton Castle in Pembrokeshire. There was art everywhere, coloured lights in the trees, poetry and performance, story and song.

Arriving was like stepping into another world. And, as we know all too well, Other Worlds come with their misadventures too.

I was so happy and loving every minute of it. I skipped off ahead following the trails my feet were finding for me, merrily diving into the darkness and trusting to my night vision (which had proved reliable thus far!) when suddenly my feet encountered a root, I looked down, saw nothing and stepped a little higher to clear whatever it was…

*squeak* CRASH THUMP *ohhhh dear*

Completely head over heels I rolled over a two foot high log. And I swear, there had been NOTHING there a moment before. My pride was bruised more than my body, though I’m sure I limped a little as we headed home, giggling at myself all the way.

I’m sure there was the sound of faery bells and laughter as I flew through the air.

Anyway, I’m not expecting this adventure to go without a hitch either, but I’m here, ready to laugh at the tumbles as well as the twinkles as I gratefully brush myself off with a new tale to tell.