Saturday, 29 December 2007

Pagan Dating

Well now, being a member of several email lists and forums, I am used to being spammed by those promoting Christian dating sites. Why they should want pagans to sign up, I don't know. Perhaps its a new spin on proselytizing?

I figure there are enough Christians in the world to set up internet dating sites, but pagans? No. Census information tells us that we are a small number, so it was with great surprise that I found someone promoting a link to a pagan dating site. Its called Olde Souls. True, there are only 100 members so far, but I am surprised at even that amount and there appear to be quite a few in the United Kingdom and Ireland, as well as the United States. This is a relevation AND there are success stories already being posted.

Perhaps its the right time for pagan specific dating sites? After all, many pagans know how difficult it is to find acceptance of your faith from others, as well as the public at large; we are either seen as evil-doers destined for the hellfires, or kooks destined for white jackets in a loony bin. There appears to be no middle ground of everyday people getting on with forging a decent life in the modern world. Finding a fellow pagan who feels the way you do, and who is single is a rarity, unless you know some forceful love spells and/or potions. *LOL* Maybe a pagan dating site is not so outlandish after all? If someone holds the same beliefs as you, then you might have a better chance of actually forging a strong relationship.

I wonder if this particular site will be successful, though? I think I will drop in from time to time and watch its progress. I would like to see it succeed, but I have to wonder what the take-up actually will be.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Yuletide Sentiments

Winter Solstice



I send you heartfelt Yuletide charms,
to keep you safe from ills and harms,
to last throughout the coming year,
to ward off doubt and dismiss fear,
And welcome joy with open arms.

© Webwitch 2007 for PPP

Friday, 23 November 2007

Bibliophile in the Making

I have to admit to being a bit of a bibliophile. I love to read and I love to keep my books close to me. Its rare that I will let go of a book, either to sell or swap. These days, I am a little more ruthless but, as most of what I am reading these days is non-fiction, I am still keeping those books I feel will be needed for future reference.

I have been lucky this year in that I have found some bookswapping sites, which has allowed me to acquire books for the cost of postage that otherwise would have got me in trouble with creditors. I do try to acquire books as and when I am interested in them, so I will search through
Book Finder, Amazon and Ebay to keep an eye out for bargains. However, I now also search through Green Metropolis (a portion of each sale going to the Woodland Trust), Book Mooch and Read It Swap It, just in case there is another non-fiction reader who wants to "dispose" (what an awful term) of their book.

I do have an estensive list of books in my collection that are labelled "to be read", and I hope, whilst on holidays in December, I will get a chance to plough through some of them. I just love opening a new book to read it. The smell and the texture of the bindings and the pages. I do try to get hardcovers where I can, as they last longer and the paper quality does seem superior to some of the paperback rubbish that is published these days. I read a lament from a reviewer in
White Dragon this week about a new book whose pages were already yellowing. Sad that people don't appreciate books anymore.

Even though I prefer the hard copy versions of books, I still have a few ebooks that I keep on hand. I have to admit, though, that I do tend to print them out before I read them. Working in front of a computer means I am less than pleased having to read books online. There is one book that must remain online, though, as it is over 1,000 pages. Shame, as it is a valuable resource on herbs. Still, those texts that are outside copyright and are available online are still a valuable resource.

I have become so involved in books again that I am currently distributing promotional cards for an author,
Kit Berry, and her series of books. I am doing this predominantly for selfish reasons: I want her to publish the last two books in the series. So, if you know of any bookstores in your area, please mention her books and website and tell them how much young adults and adults alike will enjoy the books. Please, just so I can finish the storyline.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Solstice at Stonewylde

Book CoverI managed to get an advanced, autographed copy of this book from the author Kit Berry at last weekend's Halloween Festival (before I fell ill).

The story of Sylvie, Yul, the Magus and the community continues in this the third book of the Stonewylde series. This third book does wind up the major plot line involving the three main characters, but still leaves some questions which will allow for the next two books. I expect I will read these in one sitting, as I did with the first three novels.

Kit Berry is certainly a talented writer, allowing the reader to revel in the atmosphere of the Stonewylde community for a few blissful moments before taking up the narrative. The author also has the knack of being able to provide a backstory simply, and almost subtlely thus allowing the reader to understand the behaviour of certain characters without the need for long explanatory notes by the author. This allows the storyline to continue at a cracking pace.

There are some developments in this book that may leave a few readers disturbed, certainly I did a bit of skimming over the sections when Sylvie is in the rooms of the Magus - not because the writing was lacking, but because the situation was more than a little uncomfortable and given that I had guessed a certain "twist", it made it even harder to read. It might not affect all readers this way, but it did me.

I still have the same small personal quibbles I did when I read the first two books: I don't agree with the supposed "ancient" nature of the festivals used by the Stonewylde community, given they are based on wic(c)an beliefs, but this won't be a bother to 99% of the people who read these books; and there are some unanswered questions left, though this time the main plot has resolved itself and the reader is not left on a cliffhanger. Mind you, the latter is placated by a note from the author at the back of the paperback copy - there are more books in the series.

The books are aimed at the young adult market, but don't let that fool you. Adults of all ages will derive enjoyment from this book, just as the first two. Certainly, the Stonewylde community is pagan, but readers of all denominations will still revel in the community and characters that Kit has created.

Go out and read all three books: "The Magus of Stonewylde"; "Moondance at Stonewylde" and "Solstice at Stonewylde". You won't be disappointed.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The Magus of Stonewylde


by Kit Berry
ISBN: 9780955143908

I had heard about these books and read the reviews. I bumped into the author at an event and she very kindly autographed this book, and its sequel for me. I was looking forward to reading them.

The first thing I noticed was the number of typographical errors in the print run. I am pendantic about typographical errors because they tend to jar me away from my reverie when reading a good story, and I was struggling somewhat as it was.

The story centres around Sylvie, a fifteen year old girl from the city who goes to live at Stonewylde, and Yul, a villager who has never left the Stonewylde community. Sylvie seems to be allergic to all that she encounters in the city, so when a doctor introduces Sylvie and her mother to the Magus, the head of the Stonewylde community, Sylvie is overjoyed to find her mother agreeing to move to the mysterious community in Devon. Sylvie thrives in her first weeks at Stonewylde, but it is not the idyll the Magus promised. Yul is sent to work in the garden as a punishment and soon he and Sylvie develop a dangerous friendship, despite the Magus' warning.

After years of reading non-fiction titles, I find that I can forsee the twists and turns in this book, which is a shame, because it makes it seem less believable. Little bits of the background story to Stonewylde grated somewhat, too, but this is unlikely to bother the majority of readers.

The only other small quibble I had was the reader is required to read the whole series of books (well, at least the first three), before the main plot is resolved. None of the books are complete within themselves, this being a continuing, serialised saga. That said, having read "Solstice at Stonewylde" there are some conclusions.

Ms Berry excels at making her characters believable and distinguishable. At no time, did I lose track of the personalities involved and her pre-histories are clear and discernable with just a few words. Her ability to set the scene with descriptive prose allows the reader to wallow in the atmosphere of Stonewylde alone, for a few moments before the characters arrive; a rare treat indeed.

For all the criticisms I have levelled at this book, I read it in one sitting. I could not put it down - despite the plotline being easy to predict (mostly because I am a prolific reader and an avid cinema-goer, meaning its hard to surprise me), and the pace a little stilted in places. I couldn't wait for it to all unfold.

I felt the book was aimed at a teenage market, given the age of the main characters and the exploration of sexual themes, but it does appeal to adults as well.

So far, I have read three in the series - each one was read in a single sitting.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Troublemaking

It seems I have caused rather a stir here at my workplace. So much so, I had a lovely chat this evening with a policeman, the building manager, the post room manager, and four security guards.

Apparently, it has become policy in this building to x-ray all parcels received into the building and, today, the post room got a bit of a shock when they found what appeared to be the butt of a rifle with a telescopic sight and a bow inside a box they received. The box had a label on it addressed to me, so I was summoned to be questioned by the police and the building management.

Of course, when I ordered the crossbow (as it turned out to be) from ebay in the U.S., I didn't think to notify security about the incoming item, because I had overlooked the fact that all my ebay parcels are automatically forwarded to my work address. It was utter stupidity on my part, really. Still, the youngish policeman was cute and, because of my oversight, he was able to brush up on his weapons law.

Still, the whole situation gave much amusement to my colleagues at work, who came up with some very imaginative ideas for the use of my crossbow.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Simant Bostock

Whilst on holiday in Scotland in 2004, I came across some amazing cards in a tourist shop. The cards had photographs of sculptures created by an artist, Simant Bostock. I bought only two cards thinking I would be able to find more as I went along. Time was short on this guided tour, so I rushed about trying to see everything and not really taking it all in.

Spirit of the Ancestors

















The picture above is called "Bog Man: Spirit of the Ancestors" and it was the first image that caught my eye. It called me to think about my predecessors on this earth and, as the tour was taking in things like Brochs, megaliths and cairns, it had a poignancy I though I could not appreciate at the time. The tour was taking place between Harvest and All Hallows and I wonder if this had any significance in my choice of souvenirs. Certainly, the items I brought back from that tour of the Highlands and Islands were not the usual tourist fayre. Yes, I did bring back some tweed, but it was in the form of a scarf, from the weaver herself, and some postcards. However, the rest were unusual. The best of these were the two cards decorated by Simani Bostock.



So, why am I posting now (three years later) on these cards? I was trying to answer a post on inspiration in a forum of which I am a member and I remembered these cards I had at home. I brought them in to scan, but once I saw them again, I felt I had to find the creator. Unfortunately, there are no contact details and no presence on the net.

So, I was hoping that anyone reading this blog and travelling to Scotland might try and locate the artist or pieces of their work and pass the contact details on to me. I know the imagery is a bit strange and not everyone will have the inclination, or time to search out the artist, but you never know.

The image to the right is entitled: "The Journey". The collection is referred to as Images of the Tuatha de Dannan.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Ouch

Yesterday, I managed to catch the thumb of my right hand between a piece of hard wood and a metal bar, resulting in pain that caused me to cry out the bluest language I have ever used in a lengthy tirade. Trying to sleep with your thumb beating out your pulse is bloody hard and I use my right arm as a counterbalance when sleeping, but I couldn’t do this owing to the pain in my thumb. Sleep was pitiful indeed.

Its been painful now for over 24 hours and it has only slightly subsided. What bugs me, however, is that if I went to A&E at my local MRSA-infested hospital (two in my area both with appalling records of MRSA infection rates), I would have sat their for 8 hours or so, not been treated and would have been pissed off. Of course, trying to get an appointment with your doctor on a Monday morning is also a “mission impossible”. This means that you might as well live with the pain, because it not much of an emergency.

If you need your hands to work, though, it becomes rather a problem. Attempts at typing this evening have been challenging indeed. Needless to say, my pace has slowed, but at least I managed to complete my work and, more importantly, this blog. If I can manage it (or find someone else to help), I will take a picture of my thumb and post it up for your amusement: anyone guessing the exact colour will win my respect.