On Summer Solstice

Tilly at Scorhill stone circle

Tilly and I wish you all the good blessings of midsummer, when the borders between the worlds are thin and the stones of Dartmoor rise up and dance. Be sure to carry salt and oak leaves in your pocket, garland yourself with wildflowers, and drive your cattle through the smoke of a midnight bonfire for protection from fairy mischief!

A swarm of fairies by Alan Lee

My apologies for the lack of posts last week; I'm afraid I've been down with health problems again. I'm back in the studio today, catching up on the work I've missed, and hope to be posting regularly from tomorrow onward.

Let's raise a toast to good health for all: for strength and grace of body, mind, and spirit. Wishes and spells have particular potency at this magical time of year.

Hound and Stone

Pictures: Tilly at Scorhill stone circle on Dartmoor, and a swarm of fairies by Alan Lee.

Easter on Dartmoor

Wild daffodils in our woods

Tree Child by Terri WindlingAs the morning fills with the magical sound of church bells drifting over the village, Tilly and I send these wild daffodils out to all who have celebrated Easter today, or Passover recently, or any other seasonal festival, marking cycles of myth and faith and the turning of the Great Wheel.

Here in Devon, the days are warming and wildflower season has begun -- not just the daffodils, but primroses, violets, and lesser celandine. ''People from a planet without flowers," wrote Iris Murdoch, "would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.'' And, indeed, we are. After a long pandemic winter, it's good to see the hedgerows blooming and life returning.

Sadly, the sunrise Easter service usually held outdoors at the top of our hill is not taking place again this year due to Covid-19 restrictions. Here's a post about it from a previous year, titled "Morning has broken."

Daffodils and hound

The little Tree Child sketch above is one of mine.

On Winter Solstice

Solstice tree

"Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."  - Edith Sitwell

Solstice hill

"Winter is when I reorganise my bookshelves and read all the books I acquired in the previous year and failed to actually read. It is also the time when I reread beloved novels, for the pleasure of reacquainting myself with old friends. In summer, I want big, splashy ideas and trashy page-turners, devoured while lounging in a garden chair or perching on one of the breakwaters on the beach. In winter, I want concepts to chew over in a pool of lamplight -- slow, spiritual reading, a reinforcement of the soul. Winter is a time for libraries, the muffled quiet of bookstacks and the scent of old pages and dust. In winter, I can spend hours in silent pursuit of a half-understood concept or a detail of history. There is nowhere else to be, after all."  - Katherine May (Wintering)

Illustrations by Chris Dunn

''In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy.''  - William Blake

Solstice stone

Wherever you enjoy these dark days best -- among books, outdoors, curled up in your quilts, drinking single-malt whiskey in front of the hearth-fire -- I wish you warmth, tranquility, strength, and the ancient blessings of the light returning.

Bedtime Story by Chris Dunn

The lovely illustrations above are by Chris Dunn, who lives and works in Wiltshire. To see more of his art, please go here.

Happy Thanksgiving from Myth & Moor

In the shadow of Old Oak

Wind and water, feather and stone, green grass, white cloud, black fur, red tongue, the panting of the the breath and the pounding of the heart and the winding of the path we’re traveling on, these are the things I’m grateful for, this hill, these prints of hoof and paw, of fairy footsteps in mud and moss, for the hard climb up and the bounding back down, for labor, for ease, for persistence, for joy, for all these things and more besides:

On the hill

for birds and bees and beetles and brambles and the last blackberries in bracken and thorn, for the scent of time and the taste of age, and the brittle brown leaves snapping underfoot, for the spirits that dance in mist and smoke and the ancestors in our blood and bones, for the mystery that some call God but that I call rain and thistle and fossil and crow, and love, of course, I am thankful for love, and light, laughter, delight, desire, but also for loss and grief (those patient teachers), dark nights, new moons, bright stars,

Chagford nestled in the hills

for sleep, for dreams, for waking at the witching hour in a bed that’s safe and warm, for the ticking of the clock, and the creaking of the walls, and the hush that comes just before the dawn, and my dear one’s breath rising and falling and a little dog snoring by the kitchen hearth, and the house that holds us, the life that molds us, the children, the friends, the neighbors, the village, the hill that shelters us in its palm and the land that roots us in place and time, for all this and more I am awestruck, I am dumbstruck, I am grateful, and I am giving thanks.

Hill and hound