Ramblings of a modern druidess….. Beautiful Dalarna

First of all, my best wishes to you all. May this year bring you many magical moments, joy and laughter and people you love and love you to share it with. Also a big thank you, to you, my followers. It still humbles me that other people are interested in what I have to say, so thank you. For taking an interest, for supporting me by reading my books and giving me honest feedback and for sticking with me. It means the world to me.

This year part II of The Fire Trilogy, The Empath will see the light of day. I can now reveal that the release date is set for Midsummer 2015. You will learn more about Tristan’s motives and The Company, more about Alan and more about Tristan’s mysterious and rather dangerous ex, Eve.

Ramblings will continue as usual, with not only my own thoughts, but some very exciting interviews and reviews to look forward to! The #IndieBooksBeSeen campaign will reach new levels, I am sure, with the enthusiasm Mark Shaw and his crew put into their work, making indie authors both trendy and respectable. I’m very proud to be part of this movement.

I’m writing all this in my beloved Dalarna, Sweden, visiting my family. Every time I come here, I fall in love a little bit more. It’s such a peaceful area. It is a very inspiring environment and perhaps you’ll find out just how inspiring later this year 😉

For now, I’d like to leave you with the inspiring words of the late Wubbo Ockels, who gave this moving speech the day before he died. May his words inspire all of us and bless us and Mother Earth, there’s only one of her, after all.

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Ramblings of a modern druidess – A Tribute to Valentine

Saturday night I went to a concert. No, not Placebo. Either they’re still in Ibiza or back in London, but they had no gig on Saturday night. Not that I was aware of anyway.

No, I went to see Robby Valentine. I first met Valentine back in the nineties when he scored a top 10 hit with the single ‘Over and Over Again’. Lovely song, but to be honest, it doesn’t even reach my personal top 10. It’s a good ballad, don’t get me wrong, but in my humble opinion, doesn’t even begin to show the abilities of this talented multi-instrumentalist.

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Saturday he didn’t perform his own work, but a tribute to Queen. As a young boy, he, like so many of us, was mesmerized by the magic that was Freddy Mercury and you can still hear the influences of that band in his own music. A regular invited guest to the Dutch Queen convention, he performed Queen songs many, many times, but never with an entire band. Not in Holland, certainly not in the UK. This year will be the second time Valentine will perform at the UK Queen Convention in Prestatyn, but it’s the first time he will perform with his entire band. And I already got to see the show. In CAPSLOC, run by my own dear friend, Desiree. I think everybody had a really good time, judging by the happy faces of the crowd and even the man himself seemed relatively relaxed. Well, by Valentine standards, in any case.

His partner in crime, professionally as well as personally, Maria Catharina, as she is known by her stage name, is a gift sent from Heaven. They compliment each other perfectly. I swear, that woman probably doesn’t even need a microphone to be heard by the crowd. She is outgoing, feisty and playing with the audience. He is mysterious, brooding and probably had dibs on Star Trek’s teleport device, because one second he’s behind the piano, you blink and he’s center stage, singing and playing guitar.

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If you’re a Queen fan and you want to hear those songs performed by someone who really gets it and loves them just as much as you do, I highly recommend you order yourself a ticket for the 27th of September before they run out completely.

If, after reading all this, your memory hard drive is working again and you think; “Yeah, Valentine, I remember him, that was some solid music!” Then you should definitely come to CAPSLOC in December where he will officially start the Bizarro World Tour , named after his new album.

I, for one, can’t wait to hear his own music. It’s not Queen, but I have to say, after seeing him perform live again, it is a Kind of Magic.

Ramblings of a modern druidess

Another one bites the dust. Robin Williams, bringer of smiles extraordinaire, is no longer among us. By choice. Yes, he had a choice, we all do, but more and more often I’m beginning to wonder if having a choice makes any difference to our state of mind. What if both choices are bad? At least from your own point of view. Do you automatically choose the lesser bad? What if death is the lesser bad? How do we decide?

He, like so many before him, struggled with depression. I know people in my inner circle who are depressed. It’s hard. Not just for them, for everyone around them. Sometimes you see glimpses of the person behind the depression, those are the good days. The days you believe in recovery, believe they are also happy, clear-headed, that life is worth living. Then there are the other days. When nothing you say seems to make any difference, whether it is a pep-talk, a comforting shoulder to cry on, a kick in the butt, or just being there for someone, sitting beside them. It has little to no effect. That’s the scary part. The part where you start to lose hope. And so do they, I think.

I’ve never been depressed. Not in the way people are diagnosed with ‘depression’. So it’s very hard to understand what’s going on inside their mind, because I haven’t been there. I’ve had my share of bad days, sure. Who hasn’t? But that’s not really the same, now is it? Obviously I didn’t know Robin Williams personally, but he seemed to have a pretty good life. Good career, which he more often than not enjoyed a great deal, loving wife, loving children, financially stable, those are pretty important indicators for most people. Apparently it had no effect, or at least, not enough. The demons inside your head are stronger. How does that happen? What goes wrong inside the mind? And is it something we can ‘fix’ with medication?

I’m not so sure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against medication, I just think it should be a means to an end, not the cure itself if at all possible. There will always be people where this is not the case. Both physical and mental. Sometimes you have to learn to live with your medication. Could that be the problem? That some people don’t know how to live with their medication? Is our focus perhaps wrong? I think many people who are diagnosed with depression also receive some form of therapy, with or without medication. But is depression related to events in our life or is it a state of mind, not related to any event whatsoever? And if it’s the latter, will it really make any difference to try and work through someone’s ‘issues’? Or will the depression remain? It looks that way.

Needless to say I don’t have the answers, I hope that someday, someone does. Because how bad does the other choice have to be, when choosing death has become the better option?

Rest in peace, Robin Williams. I will miss your smiles. You made me smile, a lot. What dreams may come? I hope they will be good ones, ones that will make you smile.

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Ramblings of a modern druidess

It’s been a while, I know. I’m writing this blogthing for our local newspaper and it’s really nice, but as it’s also a weekly thing, I kind of forget to write my own column. Shame on me.

Just got back from a long weekend of Castlefest. For those of you who have never heard of it, it’s the Festival of Light, in honour of the sun-god, Lugh. It’s on the grounds of Castle Keukenhof. Yes, near the famous tulip fields. If you’re ever in the neighbourhood, it’s well worth a visit.

Castlefest is always the first weekend of August, coinciding with the celebration of Lughnasadh, the first of three harvest celebrations. Every year there is a big wickerman, which took the form of the wise owl this year, it was magical. We had a lovely group meditation to tune in to the wisdom of the owl. The next day we had a lovely shamanistic dance of the beat of dozens of drums. Me and my dear friend danced blindfolded round the circle. It really increases your other senses and it was very special to share this with her. Neither of us danced blindfolded before, so it was a first for both of us. The drums appeared to be attached to my body, the sound seemed so close!

The wicker burning was very moving and brought a tear to my eye, in a good way. And the crowd went crazy when Faun started my favourite song, Wind und Geige. I jumped up and down like crazy, letting go of all the energy.

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Now I’m slowly preparing for another ritual and next year, we’ll have another Castlefest. Already looking forward to it.

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Ramblings of a modern druidess

Preparing for Sweden. Tonight we’ll drive of into the dead of night for a 16-hour drive. You must be crazy, I hear you thinking. It’s actually not that bad, when you have two drivers. There’s also a possibility to dock on a boat for the night and drive on the next morning, but that’s just not for me. I prefer to drive. We should be arriving just before dinner and then I can crash early. Come Wednesday I’ll be fine again.

Bit nervous about giving two harp concerts by the lake there for the art- and cultural week. I hope it goes well. Thankfully I have a few more days of practice. Other than that, I’m going to write, write and write. Bit behind on The Empath and I need to get cracking.

Oh, and read. Jack Croxall’s Torn is coming with me. I first started Tethers in Sweden and I want to finish the trilogy there as well, it seems fitting. It was the perfect surroundings to read it in, as this part of Sweden is filled with these little villages where time stood still, it’s very Karl and Esther country. Can’t wait to find out how it ends. Hopefully I won’t have to hunt Jack down after reading the end.

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The Silkworm is waiting for me as well and I have at least eight other books from author friends which I still have to read, so I’ll have no chance of getting bored.

Our Dutch team came in third and I’m very proud of them. It would have been great to play the finals against our neighbours, but it was not to be. Oh well, maybe in two years time. My little lions are once more in their bag in the attic, waiting for another go. At least I had great fun watching this World Championship and I even got to watch one of the games in my favourite London coffee hang-out, the Shoreditch Grind! It was a perfect night, thanks again guys for the sercive. I didn’t have to get up once during the game, they’re the greatest!

But from the hustle and bustle that is my beloved London, it’s on to the quiet of the Dalarna area. Internet access is very limited, so I’ll do my best, but I can’t promise anything.

Wishing you all a wonderful Summer, with lots of opportunity to enjoy the sun. xxx

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Ramblings of a modern druidess

London baby! I know it hasn’t been that long, but it feels like ages!! Tomorrow round lunchtime though, I’m pretty sure I’ll be having my lunch at either The Albion or 5th View, can’t wait!

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Oyster has had an annoying new update and now it seems I have forgotten my password, so that’s rather annoying, but other than that, I’m in my happy place. I’ll meet my friend for dinner and we’ll have a great time catching up. Definitely planning on catching a movie, nothing can beat Odeon.

Then I have some serious research planned. Does Shoreditch have any new, undiscovered gems? If you know of something I just have to see, let me know. Whether it is a store or a restaurant or just a cool building, I don’t care, just let me know.

Saturday night I will have to support The Netherlands of course, so hopefully I’ll find a suitable place to watch the game. Someone told me Covent Garden is the place to be, but if you know another place, drop me a note. Preferably somewhere nice, not too noisy. Not a sports-bar, but a nice pub who normally wouldn’t do this kind of thing, but as it’s the World Championships, okay then. Something like that, you know what I mean 😉

Well, signing off for now, talk to you next week! Enjoy the sunshine folks!

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Ramblings of a modern druidess

This is not going to be a happy blog. If you’re very fond of Marion Zimmer Bradley, I suggest you stop reading now. I’m not kidding.

Marion was one of my first inspirations, alongside Tolkien. I loved her and I devoured all her books. Mists of Avalon changed my life. And now I’m in shock and I don’t know what to feel, what to believe. Her daughter, Moira Greyland, has come forward about her mother’s child abuse. I know it’s dreadful of me, but a tiny part hoped it wasn’t true, that she was lying. I know it’s too late. Marion is dead, we can’t ask her anymore, can’t bring her to justice, if there is such a thing in this case. But reading some of the facts, made my skin crawl and I realized, oh my god, she isn’t lying. This is the undeniable truth and it is monstrous.

An entire shelf took up her books. The emptiness of that shelf is silently screaming at me, how to go on? Taking them down, one by one, I felt like I was touching filth, tainting me as I touched them. Moira went public last month on a blog and there was one particular poem that broke my heart, she wrote it as a eulogy.

I would like to share it with you, to remind us all, child abuse has no place in our world. Marion, I don’t know what was wrong with you, you just broke my heart, but I’m very grateful your daughter had the strength to come forward and go public. Otherwise I would have been living a lie. I’m a big believer in truth and justice. I thought you were too. I was wrong.

Mother’s Hands
© 2000 Moira Stern (Moira Greyland) in “honor” of my mother, Marion Zimmer Bradley

I lost my mother late last year
Her epitaph I’m writing here
Of all the things I should hold dear
Remember Mother’s hands

Hands to strangle, hands to crush
Hands to make her children blush
Hands to batter, hands to choke
Make me scared of other folk

But ashes for me, and dust to dust
If I can’t even trust
Mother’s hands.

They sent me sprawling across a room
The bathtub nearly spelled my doom
Explaining my persistent gloom
Remember Mother’s hands.

And hands that touched me way down there
I still pretend that I don’t care
Hands that ripped my soul apart
My healing goes in stop and start

Never a mark did she leave on me
No concrete proof of cruelty
But a cross-shaped scar I can barely see
The knife in Mother’s hands.

So Mother’s day it comes and goes
No Hallmark pretense, deep red rose
Except blood-red with her actions goes
It drips off Mother’s hands.

The worst of all my mother did
Was evil to a little kid
The mother cat she stoned to death
She told to me with even breath

And no remorse was ever seen
Reality was in between
Her books, her world, that was her life
The rest of us a source of strife.

She told me that I was not real
So how could she think I would feel
But how could she look in my eyes
And not feel anguish at my cries?

And so I give you Mother’s hands
Two evil, base, corrupted hands
And lest her memory forget
I’m still afraid of getting wet.

The bathtub scene makes me see red
With water closing over my head
No little girl should fear to die
Her mother’s fury in her eye!

But both her hands were choking me
And underwater again I’d be
I think she liked her little game
But I will never be the same

I’m still the girl who quakes within
And tries to rip off all her skin
I’m scared of water, scared of the dark
My mother’s vicious, brutal mark.

In self-admiring tones she told
Of self restraint in a story old.
For twice near death she’d beaten me,
And now she wants my sympathy.

I’ve gone along for quite awhile,
Never meant to make you smile
But here and now I make my stand
I really hate my mother’s hands.

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