Nov 29, 2014

Leaving November Where It Lies

How swiftly November came upon us, and not even a proper courting before the land froze solid, thawed, and then chilled again.  I was walking in the tamarack a brief month ago, and now I can't even drive up the hill without encountering a few feet of snow.  Autumn seemed so rushed to leave - such a fleeting lover.  My lips were barely kissed with warm rain before the winds came and tore every leaf from its job, waving at passers by.  So short-lived were the oranges and the flaming reds. The Summer held on so long this year, that Fall only had time to give a sly wink and then moved on.

I've taken much of November as catch-up.  I work two jobs in October every year, and with putting the gardens to bed, running wild with the book giveaways all month long, and of course the usual cat, niece, and parent herding, I was a bit ragged by Halloween.

Like a good granddaughter does, I visited my grandparents' graves on All Souls Day, and washed the stones and left flowers and a treat for my grandfather. He usually gets my homemade cookies, but this year I found some Eccles cakes in a shop and knew that it was the perfect offering.  His mother used to make them, and we all keep the recipe sacred in our family.  I'll make some at Christmas and be sure to take him another treat.

I had a lovely chat with my friend's 92 year old mother about her celebrations of All Souls in Bangladesh.  When they lived in the area, there had been a large Catholic contingent, and the celebration on that day stretched through the town.  People would come singing out of the little hill settlements, and down along the roadways, and everyone would meet at the cemetery to clean the graves and lay flowers and candles.  Afterward there were prayers at the Catholic church and feasts later at homes that hosted hundreds of people passing through.  My friend's birthday is on November 2nd and she says that those birthdays growing up in Bangladesh were the happiest of her life.  She felt honoured to have a birthday on All Souls Day.

The souls themselves have lingered as Autumn moved on. The 'thin-time' seems to be always, but it is perhaps a more pronounced feeling as Winter approaches.  The sounds of the vitality of Summer and the buzzing of the earth have been quieted in sleep.  This slipping in to hibernation tends to offer up the space for the softer voices to be heard, leaving no buffer against the silence, save the growing bustle of the holiday season.  And what else are the holidays for, really, but keeping the fires lit and the spirits lifted to weather the long, cold months ahead.  Even as we celebrate we keep an eye to door, lest the wolf, Krampas, or Marley's ghost find their way in.

"There is an old tale that Herne the Hunter,
Sometimes a keeper in Windsor Forest,
Doth all the wintertime, at still midnight,
Walk around about an oak with great ragged horns;
And there he blasts the tree, and takes the cattle,
And makes milch-kine* yield blood, and shakes a chain
In a most hideous and dreadful manner:"

* milk cows

The winds are battering The Valley this week.  The ice has come early, and settled in.  The Wild Hunt is riding and the Old Woman of Winter is sending the deer into the lowlands looking for food. The meagre offerings left in my front flower garden will not sustain them for long, but they are wise and know of the silly woman who talks to deer and leaves seeds and nuts out for birds, and extra helpings hidden under the trees just for them.

And so, as Autumn gives up its last breath and is defeated before the rash advance of ice and snow, I will leave November where it lies, with a quick kiss on its hastily turned cheek.  It gave me but a moment's rest before the excitement begins anew in December, and for that I am thankful.

I hope November leaves you safe, well-fed, and warm, with the good cheer and stamina to enjoy a December as restful or raucous as you like.

My late November-December reading choices: 

"Phantom Armies of the Night: The Wild Hunt and the Ghostly Processions of the Undead" by Claude Leconteux
"A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens
"Acadian Christmas Traditions" by Georges Arsenault

*quoted text from Shakespear's Merry Wives of Windsor

Nov 3, 2014

A Note of Thanks and the Final Great October Book Giveaway Winners

Before I draw the last three names, I want to take a moment to thank you all for stopping by this past month (plus a few days).  October was a strange and wondrous month, and it wouldn't have been half as lovely without reading all your comments.  I have bumped into the nicest people on the internet!  I very much wish I could have given each one of you a book (and a big hug).

I'd also like to thank the authors for signing their books as a little extra touch for you, and a special shout-out to Signe Pike, who donated a book and some fun extras, and to Deborah Blake who sent out some bookmarks and cute promo cards that I tucked in to many of the packages that went out - you guys rock! And some very big love to Red Wheel/Weiser who sent me two books from their amazing 2014 lineup, just for you!

And as a side-note for those of you who received books, just in case you are curious - the note cards enclosed were from A Fanciful Twist.

I also want to thank, from the bottom of my little green heart, the kind folks who have directed others to Rue and Hyssop.  These names came up as either having directly sent people my way, or having mentioned my blog somewhere on their site, which led people here - not surprisingly, this is a list of people I adore too:

Magaly Guerrero - Pagan Culture Blog
Sarah Anne Lawless
Lamplighter Blues
New World Witchery
Aidan Wachter

And now...the three people receiving a copy of Llewellyn's 2015 Witches' Datebook are:

Rebecca Powell

Liz Davenport


Congratulations!  Please send me your mailing address and I'll send those off to you!  (rueandhyssop AT gmail DOT com.)

Do stop by and visit the authors/publishers that were featured this month, and perhaps grab yourself a little treat for Yule!  Thank you all again for making my October brighter!