Walpurgisnacht Freebie

As usual, I’m giving away my much reprinted story ‘Walpurgisnacht’; click the link on the name if you’ve not read it yet and you can download a PDF of the tale. And watch out for witches flying off to the mountains tonight!

Walpurgisnacht Hirsch

Witches: September Gallery

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September Gallery via their Facebook page

Sometimes living in hipsterville has its benefits: September Gallery is definitely one of them. They only opened last year but they’ve already won a fan in me with this show. Witches brings together a variety of powerful works by women. Marjorie Cameron‘s name drew me in, but there were other pleasures to enjoy. It was wonderful to see her drawings up close and marvel at her fine lines and free compositions. Stunning and powerful.

Her work was surrounded by contemporary artists animated by the same questing spirit. Laurel Sparks describes her work a kind of sigil magic, overlaying a dizzying array of colours, textures and materials in her Magic Square series. They sparked some ideas in me. Rosy Keyser’s work likewise mixes materials and colour but in a more abstract way. I loved her Terrestial Mime which hangs materials on a wooden grid with wild layers of paint. It feels like the work behind a painting made visible, a sort of swirl of anarchic energy summoned.

Marianne Vitale’s Very Fine Gander has a whimsical charm, like toys made giant — but charred, too. So there’s also a feeling of something horrible gone wrong. There’s a great description of it in the exhibit essay by Susan Aberth (who wrote that fabulous book on Leonora Carrington — but argh! ‘The Burning Times’ and the Middle Ages are not synonymous. The height of the witch hunts was the 16th-17th centuries: the Early MODERN era).

I was absolutely bowled over by Anna Betbeze’s untitled sculpture of burnt objects on a rug. It felt like an artefact from the past, like a fire that consumed the witch who summoned it or what was left of the village after a curse. Like her piece Howl the literalisation of burning anger feels great.

“Bitterness is like cancer. It eats upon the host. But anger is like fire. It burns it all clean.” ― Maya Angelou 

Best of all, the show culminated in a performance night last Saturday. I arrived to find the place in darkness as it had already begun (so much for being fashionably late). Melinda Kiefer led the audience in an opening ritual “to create [a] sacred yet wacky” atmosphere. Then the fabulous Pam Grossman (who probably alerted me to this show via her blog Phantasmaphile) gave a short version of her talk on the image of the witch in art. She was the organising genius behind the Occult Humanities Conference and exhibit last year that’s still resonating loudly in my head. I was glad we had a chance to chat afterward.

Shanekia McIntosh gave a wonderful performance with amazing code switching in a story about her family and the power of premonitions. There was an interesting Sonic Sigil piece, an invocation and prayer to Hecate by Sarah Falkner, Rebecca Wolff and Jonathan Osofsky (I liked the use of flags). The band Dust Bowl Faeries performed and wow! I was sharing pictures from their show with the Folk Horror Revival group because I knew people would dig it:

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They’re playing Helsinki Hudson on the 7th of May. Be there!

Laurel Sparks wrapped up the evening with a performance that had us back in the dark while she paced a circle around us, reading from huge slabs and then painting herself in dayglo colours with a kind of ritual precision that managed to be both humorous and compelling without ever giving in to the over-seriousness that performance pieces can fall prey to. All in all a fantastic evening.

Call for Submissions: My Wandering Uterus

medieval pilgrimThe fabulous Byron Ballard (forensic folklorist & village witch) suggested putting together an anthology of women’s travel writing to be called My Wandering Uterus. And while I continue to say, ‘No more editing jobs!’ somehow I have been roped into this project. So here is the call:

We seek essays, stories and poetry about your experiences of being a woman on the road — the joys, the perils, the lessons, the changes. Whether a spiritual pilgrimage or a forced evacuation, in pursuit of opportunity or escape from your past, travel broadens. What have you learned?

We would like to see a diverse treasure trove of entries from women across the globe from every walk of life and as many different experiences as possible. If you no longer have a uterus or were born without one, never fear: all women are welcome.

Submissions should be:

  • Previously unpublished anywhere
  • Not submitted anywhere else
  • Length 3-8K
  • Formatted: Times New Roman, regular, 12 point; 1″ margins; 1 space after full stop; lines spaced 1.5; use paragraph formatting to indent first line not tabs; no header/footer
  • Identified with a title, your name (and pen name identified as such), working email address on the first page: the file name should include your surname & the title
  • Submitted in DOC, DOCX or RTF format via email to victoriasquid at gmail with your name, the story title and total word count included in the body of the email; make sure the Subject line includes “Submission: Traveling Uterus” + your name
  • Due by July 1, 2017.

We will ask for world-wide print & ebook rights for a year and pay at minimum $10 via Paypal plus give you a copy of the book. We hope to do some fundraising to make the payments more generous but that will be determined as we go along.

Good news: we have already hired the amazing Stephanie Johnson to do the cover art!

If you need a little background on the concept of the ‘wandering uterus’ as a diagnosis to control women, please read this wonderful piece.

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Sounds of Dundee

I’ve put up a recent field recording that I made in Dundee last month. On Peter Street just off the Murray Gate there’s a little passage way where you’ll find the Grissell Jaffray memorial, a blue plaque and pair of mosaics. She was the last witch executed in the city. I just hung out for a few minutes with my DR-40 and captured ambient sounds (and a little wind–need a better wind sock). Close your eyes and listen.

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I’ve got a new sound project coming out on Monday: you can get a preview of the Cities & Memory project here. More about it then. Yes, obsessing a bit about sound lately. So many things colliding in my mind. You’ll be hearing (!) more about medieval Scots literature, too. I just submitted a recording for a fascinating project, Soundmaps for the Dreamer at Sonoscape. And there’s more: my presentation at the Ken Russell conference will be about sound, too.

And of course I’ll be writing up my experience curating WeTheHumanities for a week. So many things — and also Respectable Horror is almost here!

#FolkloreThursday Freebie: Hard-Boiled Witch 2


Click the picture: today only, get Hard-Boiled Witch 2: Toil and Trouble for free — then pick up the others for just 99¢/99p each. Celebrate #FolkloreThursday by following the hashtag on Twitter or dropping by their Facebook page.

Hecate Sidlaw finds herself caught between a wannabe witch and one of the oldest hereditary powers in the land. When she and her familiar Henry end up as seconds in a magical duel, will anyone be left standing at the end of the shootout? Enter the dark streets and weird magic of HARD-BOILED WITCH and your life will never be quite the same. This is the second episode in the short story series.

Preston Manor: Doreen Valiente

During my London week I took one day off to run down to Brighton: the first set of pictures from the Doreen Valiente exhibit at Preston Manor can be found here. Next to the exhibit itself, I enjoyed the gardens where I was waylaid by a couple of cheeky magpies (two for joy). Here’s my self portrait with Doreen’s mirror.2016-06-22 12.02.10

#FolkloreThursday Freebie: Rook Chant

Click the picture above to get a free ebook copy of my magical miscellany Rook Chant. What a lovely cover S. L. Johnson created from one of my fortuitous photos in Galway. I miss the rooks. Don’t hesitate — the offer’s good today only.

Be sure to catch up with all the fun lore at Folklore Thursday. Follow #folklorethursday on Twitter.

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