Writer at Work …

 

Sounds better than ‘work in progress’ but there’s lots of new stuff in the pipeline and since being labeled as Moon Books most prolific author, I thought maybe it was time to slow down a bit on that front. Nevertheless, there are several titles in various stages of writing …

  • The Wanderer – the second book in The Vampyre’s Tale series – is currently at the printers and hopefully should be available by the summer.
  • Western Animism: Zen and the Art of Positive Paganism is currently out as a proposal with Moon Books for their Pagan Portals series and awaiting their readers’ reports.
  • By Hemlock, Henbane & Adder’s-tongue: Wort-lore – the Craft of Witches is almost complete at 73,000 words and currently being checked over to see if I’ve missed anything before completing the final chapter for Ignotus Press.
  • The Rosewood Madonna – the fourth book in the Hugo Braithwaite Mysteries – is currently at chapter four as the next spate of crimes hit the world of fine art and antiques.
  • The 13th Sign – the fourth book in the Temple House Archive series – is currently in the plotting stage with the opening chapter done, and should hopefully be completed by the end of the year.

Having several different titles on the go and at different stages of preparation, all at the same time is my way of avoiding the urban myth of writer’s block.  None of the titles contain conflicting subject matter so no risk of confusion creeping into the equation and prevents the brain from stagnating because of the pile of reference books required to keep the plot on the boil.

Melusine Draco ‘Books Galore’

 

 

Key: B: Beginner I: Intermediate A: Advanced N: Novels R: Reference

Books for beginners cater for those who have recently begun to explore the magical realms; the intermediate range focuses on specific subjects with more in-depth instruction; the advanced range is aimed at those with a few more years experience under their cords. Novels are aimed at all levels of esoteric interest and reference books are exactly what it says on the cover.

There is nothing arbitrary about the levels assigned to the contents of the books since magical advancement is a very personal and individual progress.  For example: Have A Cool Yule: How to Survive (and Enjoy) the Mid-Winter Festival should be common sense but the idea was stimulated by comments from members of Coven of the Scales (who should have known better) and by remarks made on social media from pagans from all different Paths and levels of experience.  Sometimes we just need an elbow in the ribs to make us look at things from a slightly different perspective.  By contrast, Magic Crystals & Sacred Stones takes us to the next step beyond an introductory text of working with crystals.

Beginner:

Liber Ægyptius: The Egyptian Book of Magic (1998) B

The Egyptian Book of Days (2001) B

The Atum-Re Revival (2013) B

Black Horse, White Horse (2013) B

Aubrey’s Dog (2013) B

Root & Branch: British Magical Tree Lore (2002) B

Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living (2012) B

Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore (2012) B

Traditional Witchcraft for the Fields & Hedgerows (2012) B

The Coarse Witchcraft Trilogy ed (2013) B

Have A Cool Yule: How to Survive (and Enjoy) the Mid-Winter Festival (2017) B

Divination: By Rod, Birds & Fingers (2018) B

 Intermediate

The Hollow Tree: An Introduction to Qabalah and Tarot (1999) I

Traditional Witchcraft for the Woods & Forests (2012) I

Traditional Witchcraft and the Pagan Revival (2013) I

Magic Crystals, Sacred Stones (2012) I

By Spellbook and Candle : Cursing, Hexing, Bottling& Binding (2013) I

The Secret People: Parish-pump witchcraft, Wise-women and Cunning Ways (2016) I

Power of the Elements (2018) I

 Advanced

Starchild I & II a Re-discovery of Stellar Wisdom (2006) A

Traditional Witchcraft and the Path to the Mysteries (2014) A

Pan: Dark Lord of the Forest and Horned God of the Witches (2016) A

By Wolfsbane and Mandrake Root: The Shadow World of Plants and Their Poisons (2017) A

CRONE! An Old Craft Witch’s Year (2017) A

Power of the Elements (2018) A

Novels

The Temple House Archive I: House of Strange Gods (2015) N

The Temple House Archive II: Realm of Shadow (2015) N

Temple House Archive III: Hour Betwixt Dog & Wolf (2017) N

 Reference

Old Year, Old Calendar, Old Ways (2018) R

The Dictionary of Magic & Mystery (2012) R

Wort-Lore: By Mandrake, Henbane and Adder’s Tongue (2018) R

 

To implement the suggestions made in Have A Cool Yule: How to Survive (and Enjoy) the Mid-Winter Festival it takes a lot of advance planning in order to make the festivities a success.  Why not invest in a copy now and circumnavigate many of the problems caused by leaving things to the last moment, especially when it comes to avoiding causing offence with family and friends.

What people are saying about it:

 “As per usual and in great style, Mélusine Draco presents a wealth of information about this historically proven pagan festival. Whichever way the reader chooses to celebrate…whether it’s a traditional family Christmas or a traditional Yule in the company of pagan friends or as a solitary – there is something for everyone. From a complete festival calendar with some simple rites and symbolism, to carol lyrics, recipes, gift ideas and feasting to the ‘art of using up’ and festive games; everything Yuletide is covered. And with generous doses of light-hearted good cheer and a sprinkling of dark humour, the author strikes a balance that is both useful, informative and entertaining. A charming little book.” Sheena Cundy, Witch Lit author The Madness and the Magic

“This certainly makes a cool yule for me! So much information, such fun too. It puts a whole new slant on our perhaps limited ideas of yuletide.  …turns all preconceptions upside-down. Do read, you’ll enjoy.” Elen Sentier, author of Merlin: The Once and Future Wizard, Elen of the Ways and The Celtic Chakras.

 “Have a Cool Yule is a lovely guide on how to truly enjoy the festive season in the depths of winter, whether you call it Christmas, the Winter Solstice, Yule or any other name. In the pages of this book you will find time-honoured traditions, recipes and sensible advice on how to avoid the worst of the commercialism and make the occasion what you want it to be.” Lucya Starza, author of Pagan Portals – Candle Magic

 Pagan Portals: Have A Cool Yule – How ro Survive (and Rnjoy) the Mid-Winter Festival is published by Moon Books (www.moon-books.net) and from Amazon in both paperback and e-book format.

Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living

Spring might be just around the corner but for all those pagan folk living in towns and cities it might seem a long way off if we don’t know how to look for it. And for the witch whose career confines them to an urbanized environment, regular Craft practice may often seem like a futile gesture, especially if home is a small, gardenless-flat. Even the suburbs can be magically incapacitating, if there is constant noise from traffic and neighbours. People work long hours; often setting off for work and getting home again in the dark during the winter months, without having the opportunity to notice the subtle changing of the seasons. Weekends are a constant battle with family commitments, domestic chores and socialising. It’s no wonder that the urban witch has little time or strength left for magical and spiritual development.

There are, of course, others who find themselves having to remain town and house-bound because of age or disability; because they are caring for an aged/infirm parent, or partner; or because they have small children. Urbanisation often provides on-the-spot facilities to make things easier on the domestic front but it cannot give the one thing that a witch needs most – privacy and spiritual elbow-room.

So how do we manage? We get up close and personal. And we reject the textbook clichés of what is, and what is not, recommended witchcraft practice. We do not follow stereotyping when it comes to when, where and how we perform our rituals simply because it may not be practically possible to follow the instructions to the letter.

In my experience, the greatest problem a solitary urban witch faces is that an urban environment is not user-friendly when it comes to psychic activity, but then we don’t always have a choice of where we are going to live if someone else’s needs have to be catered for, too.  Under these circumstances, for me the key words have always been: acclimatise, adapt and improvise. Any animal, plant or person that is uprooted and transported to another environment quickly learns to acclimatise if it is going to survive. Over the years I have often had to adapt to my surroundings and drawn on whatever material/energy there is to hand, even if it is not what I’ve been used to working with. I improvise by drawing on existing knowledge and experience and wrote Traditional Witchcraft for Urban Living to encourage other town-bound pagans to experiment with what they have to hand.  MD

To order go to Amazon.co.uk or Moon Books at http://www.moon-books.net

 

Book News

OLD YEAR, OLD CALENDAR, OLD WAYS

https://www.feedaread.com/books/Old-Year-Old-Calendar-Old-Ways.aspx

Published: 28th January 2018 – available at a discounted price by buying direct from the printers …

Most of today’s pagans religiously follow the phases of the moon, and the various witches’ almanacs gear their celebrations and/or observances in line with the dates of the Gregorian calendar in order to synchronise their monthly observances. If we follow our pagan year merely for celebration and observance it makes little difference when we hold our feast days and festivals but if our magical operations need to connect with the Old Ways of our Ancestors then we need to align with the old calendars that were brought to these islands by the Romans, the Celts and the Anglo-Saxons. These formal calendars are the nearest guide we have to help us in understanding the customs and beliefs of our indigenous ancestors. The Roman legionnaires garrisoned in Britain came from all over the Europe and they would have brought their religions and beliefs with them from the far flung corners of the Empire; as would the incoming Celts, Danes and Anglo-Saxons whose influence would have eventually been grafted onto older, indigenous stock especially when similar celebrations fell around the solstices and equinoxes.
“Great book! Love the fair days and events in England that still hold with old tradition and the ideas for honouring days. Definitely a book to have on the shelf and look at every couple of days.” Sarah Beth Watkins, historical author and publisher at Chronos Books
ISBN: 9781788762052
Type: Paperback
Pages: 210
Published: 25 January 2018
Price: €7.95

The story behind … Spartan Dog

 Every book has a story behind the story of how it came to be written. It may be about a life-long passion, a personal journey, the need to share an experience or knowledge. It may have been fermenting in the brain for years, or sprung fully formed from a blinding epiphany.  Whether it be fact or fiction, sometimes the story behind the story is almost as interesting as the published book itself …

Spartan Dog: The Vampyre’s Tale by Suzanne Ruthven

I’d always wanted to write a vampire story but after publishing Charnel House Blues (6th Books 2014) and being told on numerous occasions that the narrator’s story would make a good novel, the brain went into overdrive.   Charnel House Blues was a literary approach to the vampire genre and developed into a view of vampire culture through the eyes of Lord Ruthven – the first vampire in the literary world from Polidori’s novella The Vampyre.  Lord Ruthven rarely appears in vampire anthologies and had never been filmed – but neither has he ever been vanquished.

As my vampire introduced himself in the Prologue …

“It’s a sorry fact, but vampires aren’t what they used to be. I should know because I’m the last remaining member of my species from the ancient world; although if I’m brutally honest, this longevity is as much the product of becoming the alter idem of that club-footed Casanova, George Gordon, the sixth Lord Byron than any fortitude on my part. In truth, my roots are hinted at in that half-forgotten Fragment that was Byron’s contribution to the Villa Diodati ghost story competition – for His Lordship was familiar with the decomposing vampire legends of the Eastern Mediterranean, even if John Polidori was not! But I get ahead of myself …

Today’s vampires are a sorry lot. For 144 episodes, they allowed some chit of a girl to systematically vanquish anything and everything that smacked of vampirism, demons or any other forces of darkness in Buffy: The Vampire Slayer. The series catered for the young-adult market that tends to elevate action over subtly in the pursuit of its entertainment, and who still think that vampires are ‘cool’. Well, we are to the touch, but I didn’t think I’d ever live to see the day when the need to kill humans merely to exist would become de rigueur – for me it remains one of Life’s bare necessities rather than actual pleasure. Nevertheless, I have always had a penchant for young ladies (preferably over highschool age) but the current glamorised trend for this kind of televised fiction makes the contemporary variety so susceptible to the vampire’s ‘kiss’ – and, as the man said, ‘the living is easy’.

At least The Vampire Chronicles harked back to the good old days of taste and refinement, but hell’s teeth, Louis de Pointe du Lac was a feeble creature! His character had a permanent, petulant whine, with a persistently complaining note in it, which is about the most irritating trait any human voice can contain. The nightmare of being shut in close confinement with him throughout the daylight hours of eternity would have been enough to cause any vampiric companion to impale him (or herself) on a boar spear and instantly perish. Mr Pitt (the actor not the politician) portrayed him admirably.

Lestat was cast more in the mould of a traditional vampire, but even he had some rather unsavoury and undiscerning habits that are, frankly, quite unpalatable to any self-respecting vampire. In short, Lestat de Lioncourt was a pervert in anybody’s language, living or un-dead, who breached the realms of good taste and would kill anything with a pulse. And as for that infant Claudia – a petulant brat of a child, and even more so in her maturity – that idea was enough to set the alarm bells ringing in any premature burial, because who in their right mind would turn a five-year old child into a vampire without a thought for the consequences? I rest my case.

It must be evident that I am extremely well read when it comes to both classic and contemporary vampire fiction – after all there is very little to keep me amused in this world after rattling around the echoing vaults of eternity for so long. The film versions I watch on DVD, as the close proximity of so much sweating humanity I find unnerving in the close confines of a cinema. Some, I would truly class as ‘horror films’ due to their poor production or storylines rather than any horrifying elements in the script – after all, fact is often more horrifying than fiction.

For the true vampire’s taste, blood should be savoured like fine wine, which means of course, that we do not go on a nightly rampage killing indiscriminately. The prey should be carefully selected and stalked with a hunter’s eye – for who knows what trash that lithesome lovely may be using to pollute her body behind closed doors. An unspoiled Group A RH Positive should only be consumed once a month and savoured, whilst a weekly intake of an inferior drug or drink laced concoction would be the equivalent of binge-drinking courtesy of Oddbins! Snobbery perhaps, but there is undoubtedly a connection with the mystique of blood and the assumption of the superiority of one blood over another, but as the Romans would have observed: de gustibus non est disputandum – ‘there’s no accounting for tastes’.

I must also confess to a sneaking support for Jung and his ‘collective unconscious’ that harks back to certain primordial images for the basis of inducing uncontrollable and irrational fear into the mind of modern man. John Polidori, however, and to some extent that tiresome wench Caroline Lamb, unwittingly created a more ‘modern’ archetypal persona for the traditional vampire in the collective unconscious that superseded the ‘race memory’ version from folklore. If they hadn’t written with such passionate hatred when creating their Lord Ruthven, the image of this deadly aristocrat would have remained securely within the realms of fiction and probably forgotten. Poor old George wasn’t really half as bad as he was painted, but in his vampiric manifestation, he remains ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ – his reputation living on to fuel the fantasy of the un-dead in my own incarnation.

Ironically, I find that I have now become a ‘genre’ which often causes me to smile.And believe me, my friend, you have never fully lived until you’ve seen a vampire smile …”

Needless to say, in the first novel of the series – Spartan Dog – we quickly realise that Alastor Darvell is not an ordinary vampire. He learned his survival skills at the Krypteia, the equivalent of the Spartan ‘special forces’ and his powerful esoteric knowledge has been bequeathed from a long line of ancient Egyptian magicians – which tend to make him pretty well invincible. Forced against his will to become a vrykolakas – or ‘avenger of the blood’ – Alastor embarks on an endless voyage of discovery, persecution, boredom and loneliness as he searches the world … for others of his kind – hoping to find the secret of his release from the cycle of everlasting life.

In order to add balance and an interesting modern sub-plot, not only does his story reflect the trials and tribulations of the Old World, he also finds himself embroiled in a contemporary intrigue that runs parallel with his narrative and which threatens to expose him to the unknown dangers of the 21st century. Nevertheless, he has a powerful guardian in the beautiful, but long-dead Egyptian sorceress Amenirdis whose influence reaches out from beyond the grave to protect him. The second novel in the series, The Wanderer, takes Alastor on a new phase of his long and varied existence.for others of his kind – hoping to find the secret of his release from the cycle of everlasting life.

Spartan Dog: The Vampyre’s Tale by Suzanne Ruthven is published by Ignotus Press Uk ISBN: 978 1 78697 842 4 and available in paperback and e-book format.