I Was The Winner Of A Raintower Giveaway

I have been crazy crazy crazy passionate about the mystical world of Swedish artist and designer Naomi Nowak for years now, and have, with a great deal of respect in my heart, watched her Stockholm based sustainable business Raintower take shape and grow wildly, beautifully towards the stars.

I’ve been a painter, graphic novelist and illustrator my whole life…Raintower clothes and jewels often begin in the same place my paintings or drawings do – by wishing a vision in my mind existed in the material world. I experiment with fabric textures, colours and dyes and many of my garment designs come about organically just like a piece of art. – Naomi Nowak

So, when Naomi did a giveaway on Instagram of any three prints, I leapt at the opportunity like a hungry she-wolf into the back of a bison. Our walls at home are starved of art and I have been yearning to fill them up.

The giveaway took a matter of minutes. All I needed to do was share my favourite piece of art by Naomi and put down the appropriate hashtags. I’ve taken part in countless giveaways before, but lady luck has never put her hand on my head before…

However, a week or so later, the news came that it had been my name that was plucked out of the hat. I endured a few moments of hyperventilation, before springing over to her Etsy Shop to choose my three prints. It wasn’t an easy choice by any stretch of the imagination…but here are the three I selected.

*Interested in buying these? Click on the titles to do so.

Mountain Flowers

Ulf

Baba Yaga’s Garden

Thank you Naomi, for your generosity, for your visions, for your being here and magicking more beauty into this trembling, fragile world. xx

 

 

 

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Calling On The Moon In My Time Of Need

I captured this photo over a week ago. I was feeling creatively dead, and of 300 or so photos taken during a three hour walk in the woods, this was the only one I kept.  The others were so freaking bad I felt embarrassed to keep them on my memory card and deleted them fast.

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I’ve always thought it to be beautifully eerie to be able to sight the moon during daylight hours. After I captured this shot, I stood and watched her for about ten minutes. She made me feel kind of alright and had me shrug off my low mood.

I soon found myself thinking about a book my mother used to own when I was growing up. She might still have it tucked away in a dusty cardboard box somewhere where the ghouls gather at the back of the attic. (Seen as though I’m here, I might as well have a look and see if I can unearth it.)

It was called Moon Moon. Written by Anne Kent Rush and published in 1976 it was a magnificently heavy, passionately researched book all about the moon and the relationship women have with her. While it might be a bit outdated, if you’re interested in moon worship it’s a must-have.

When I got home – I could still see her from the kitchen window – my curiosity was ignited and I went in search of moon quotes. Here’s some of what I found…

“There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls. ”
— George Carlin

 

“If the moon smiled, she would resemble you.
You leave the same impression
Of something beautiful, but annihilating.”
— Sylvia Plath

 

“I am not the same having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”
— Mary Anne Radmacher

 

“She didn’t quite know what the relationship was between lunatics and the moon, but it must be a strong one, if they used a word like that to describe the insane.”
— Paulo Coelho

April’s Reading Stack

Is there really anything more beautiful than a stack of books you haven’t read yet? More beautiful than those unturned pages? More beautiful than the adventure of a new beginning? In my head, nothing can come close.

Living in Sweden means I don’t have immediate access to my entire book collection (I have 1% of it here with me…need to bring it in dribs and drabs) which fucking hurts. It also means that only a tiny portion of books in Borås library are available for me to inhale. Though I can’t complain. I should be grateful they have any at all.

April’s ambitious stack is a smorgasbord of all my favourite things –  Arctic nature, Scandinavian culture, black metal, magic in the everyday, polar exploration and horror.

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The Ghastling Edited By Rebecca Parfitt

‘Our fears take on many shapes and forms; from the intangible – the lurking shadows in the periphery of the mind; to our own mortality and fear of what comes after and will it come back for us?’ – From the editor’s letter.

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Black Metal Into The Abyss By Dayal Patterson

Features exclusive interviews withFURIA • MASSEMORD • 1349 • FORGOTTEN WOODS • TSJUDER • NOCTURNAL DEPRESSION • VEMOD • ONE TAIL • ONE HEAD • MYSTIFIER • BLACK ALTAR • BESATT • MORD ‘A’ STIGMATA • TRIST • HELHEIM • HYPOTHERMIA • LOITS • DEINONYCHUS • PSYCHONAUT 4 • KOLDBRANN • URGEHAL • SACRILEGIUM • BLAZE OF PERDITION

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The Little Book Of Hygge By Meik Wiking

‘Hygge has been translated as everything from the art of creating intimacy to the cosiness of the soul to taking pleasure from the presence of soothing things. My personal favourite is cocoa by candlelight.’ – From the back cover.

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What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours – Helen Oyeyemi

‘Jill Akkerman’s husband had been wanting to have a talk with her for weeks, and she was two hundred percent certain that it was going to be an unpleasant one.’ – The first sentence in the short story Presence.

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The Abominable By Dan Simmons

‘June 1924 : On the brutal North East Ridge of Mount Everest, famous adventurer George Mallory and Andrew Irvine vanish into the snow whipped night. Daredevil explorer Richard Deacon devises a plan to follow in the men’s footsteps, accompanied by two friends. Off piste and with almost no support tea, the three men strike for Everest’s peak and the most vicious climate on earth. As the winds rise and the temperature and oxygen levels drop, Deacon and his companions hear howls in the distance…’ – From the book jacket.

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Islands Of The Arctic By Julian Dowdeswell and Michael Hambrey

‘The Arctic islands are characterized by beautiful mountains and glaciers, in which the wildlife lives in delicate balance with its environment. It is a fragile region with a long history of exploration and exploitation that is now experiencing rapid environmental change. All of these themes are explored in Islands of the Arctic, a richly illustrated volume with superb photographs from the Canadian Arctic archipelago, Greenland, Svalbard and the Russian Arctic.’ – From the back cover.

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At The Mercy Of The Winds By David Hempleman-Adams

‘It is instructive to write here that on his doomed attempt to fly a hydrogen balloon across the North Pole in 1896, the explorer Andree took along with him a dinner jacket in case he was obliged to feast with the king of some as yet undiscovered arctic country.’ – From chapter one.

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Which book here is grappling with your attention, and what do you find yourself reading this month?

 

Trading With Schwarzkopfnonne

A few weeks ago, I was sifting through a wicker basket of delicate vintage collars in Myrona, one of my favourite thrift stores in Borås. Little did I know that one of the three I would take home with me would, a short time later, find itself on its way to Austria to make roots with artist Olesya Alexjewna Parfenyuk AKA Schwarzkopfnonne.

The 19-year-old student has been living in Austria for almost a decade. Originally from Kiev, Ukraine, her art is inspired into being by her fascination with the mysterious and the past, predominantly the Victorian Era.

Oleysa contacted me through Instagram about the possibility of a trade. One of my collars in my Etsy shop for one of her prints from her Etsy shop.

I’ve admired Olesya’s evocative, thought-provoking art from a distance for some time, so I couldn’t reply quick enough with something along the lines of OH MY WORD YES PLEASE THANK YOU WHAT A GREAT IDEA OF COURSE!

I’m so used to getting the same routine emails, and the same routine crap through the post  that getting the offer of a trade made  life immediately that much more exciting. I waited until I could sit down properly with a cup of tea and examine each print in her store meticulously before making my choice. I was torn between her Muse drawing inspired by Scout Paré-Phillips, and The Gale Of Winter photography print. After some hours of deliberating, my heart whispered The Gale Of Winter, print 2.  (It’s part of a larger series of photographs.)

It took barely 72 hours for the package to make it’s way from a small town in Upper Austria, to a small city in the south of Sweden.  The package was so beautifully put together, I almost didn’t have the heart to pull the bows out, move away the old book pages, the sweet hand written note (which has encouraged me to start writing joined up again…) and tiny duck feather, then take back the thin, delicate paper and the piece of white card that was between me and the print.

I also became fascinated with where these little pieces of goodwill had begun life…what book were the pages from? Which bird had the feather once warmed? What was the origin of the piece of paper with the hand written note on it? I languished in the mystery of it all…and still am languishing.

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But when I did finally pull the print from the packaging, winter was in the room with me. The print was in immaculate condition and astonishingly sharp. I’ve been missing the snow since the last of it left a few weeks ago, and The Gale Of Winter will be framed and put on the wall where I work, as a reminder that the cold is never that far away. It was the perfect trade.

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If you have some time to spare, I suggest you make tracks to Olesya’s Instagram where you’ll find a wealth of visual treasure. And if your wallet is looking plump, navigate your way to her Etsy store and make an investment in art that you’ll not regret.

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*If you’re interested in doing a trade, check out my Etsy store. If you see something you like that you’d like to trade something for, get in touch!

Discoveries : March

I have been looking forward to putting this post together for weeks now!

If there’s one thing you should know about me it’s that I very rarely switch off. Even when I think sometimes that ‘perhaps it would be nice to have a quiet head for a while,’  it’s not often that I’m mentally capable of it being so.

It has quite a lot to do with the fact with the fact I live with bi-polar, and it’s an illness that’s renowned for not letting its carriers allow their thoughts to rest. And it has quite a lot to do with the fact that I’m just too bloody interested in my interests to be able to let my mind drain out. I tried it once last year, to just be without putting out my feelers, and I felt like it was the end of the fucking world.

Anyway, here I present to you many of the great things March informed me about in its 31 days. If there’s something that moves you or inspires you or gets really under your skin or perhaps you know of a better way that I could document my discoveries, let me know…!

P.S. The little bullet points are the rune Kenaz which symbolises – among other things – knowledge, illumination and creativity.

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Creative

< Having a baby can change a writer for the better

This quote was lifted from my friend, writer Carmen Thompson’s Facebook page.

‘I admit it I was so scared about how having a baby would affect me as a writer. How could I go from the fast paced intensity of deadlines to doing nothing but baby? But he’s made me slow down to his time until I see the details in each moment. What is innocence but having the patience to wonder? What better way to write, to live?’

Stephen King Doesn’t Write In A ‘Room Of His Own’
< The Influence English Folklore Has Had On Writers
< Darby ‘Old Hag’ Lagher Is Learning To Express Herself Through Drawing
< The Man Who Runs Free With Hoses In Iceland
< The Heartbreaking Difficulty Of Getting Rid Of Books
< Caitlin Doughty Has A New Book Coming Out Called Here To Eternity

Macabre, Death & Wyrd

< Turkeys Circling A Dead Cat
15 Historical Time Consuming Torture Methods
Yeti Could Be A Sub-Species Of The Himalayan Bear
<  The Term Sasquatch Was Coined By A Journalist In 1920
New Digital Document To Help You Find Out If You’re Descended From Witches
< Zana The Wild Woman
< Baking Students Create Chocolate Geodes

History

< Why Greenland’s Vikings Vanished

Mental Health

< Shawn Cross Illustrated Mental Illness & Disorders
< Why Mental Illness Makes People So Tired
< Conveying Depression Through Photography

Nature

< Icelandic Aurora Photo Published By Nasa
< Quest To See The Northern Lights
< Peculiar Crack Forms In Þingvellir Lake
< Satellite Detects A Massive Anomaly Under Antarctica
< Norway Prepares For A Mass Slaughter Of Reindeer

Things To Try

< Viking Bread Recipe
< Turmeric Lemonade
< A Clothing & Sigil Protection Spell

 

A Living Witch Photographs…Winter’s Ghost

Most people come into my life and leave without me misplacing so much as a breath. Few come into my life and have an impact so tremendous that, for a while, I forget how to breathe. They tattoo an imprint on my soul and, when I feel I’ve lost the magic that is life, they help me to find it again.

Erzabeth Svedlund is one such person. She’s a powerful single mother, a beautiful creature and a creative extraordinaire who will do anything for her art…she will cover her naked body in pigs blood when temperatures are below freezing. She will climb to the top of treacherously positioned rocks. She will give her whole self to the moment so I can capture it as a memory forever.

For this shoot, we had a vague idea…’something Laura Palmer…something…white wig….something make the most of the snow…something.’

We thought that winter had left us for real, but when he came back for a brief visit it was all systems go and we sped into action to make the most of his return. Here’s what we captured.

* I will be uploading a full album onto Facebook soon with many more shots…*

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Wisdom From Moominvalley

Whenever I feel like I need a bit of extra support during the day, I automatically reach for my Moominland Midwinter Mug and use it for my tea. It gives me a gorgeously warm sense of reassurance, hope and even peace. Everything seems better when I have it full with a hot, strong brew. And even when it’s not full – which is rare – I keep it close to me.

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The Moomins TV show (the Japanese-Finnish anime one) was on Channel 4 every Saturday morning when I was growing up. It was on early, about 6.30 am. It had a different, more peaceful vibe than many of the other shows, and that peaceful vibe established itself as a huge comfort throughout my childhood, teenage and yes, even my adult life. I was watching the Moomins on DVD well into my 20’s. Basically the Moomins calmed me the hell down. It made me laugh. It made me think. It made me consider things and life and stuff in different ways.

I also, naturally, wanted to live in Moomin Valley (Tove Jansson was inspired by the area around her family’s summer home in Northern Finland), I was massively curious about the Groke – and simultaneously fucking terrified by it – and I had one of those weird childhood crushes on Snufkin, who’s actually gone onto greatly influence my fashion choices. I kind of wish that I had been alive and in Sweden in the 1950’s because The Moomins were such a big deal you could actually take Moomin studies at university. Just imagine what I could have done with that degree!

Anyway, when I’m in need of a dose of wisdom – and sometimes a laugh – the majority of the time I find myself Googling for quotes from Tove Jansson, Moomintroll and the gang. One of my all time most loved quotes from Tove is

“Maybe my passion isn’t something special, but at least its mine.”

As I know there are plenty of other Moomin devotees out there, I decided  to share some favourites  that I collected earlier including plenty from one of my Spirit Animals, Little My. (Though I’m also a bit Snufkin…)

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“Believe me, I’m wise.” – Little My

 

“The Groke knows.” – The Moomins

 

“I want everything to happen fast.” – Little My

 

“This was not a particular funny celebration.” – Moomin Troll

 

“And if that doesn’t work, I’m gonna go bite them.” – Little My

 

“I own everything I see and everything that pleases me. I own the entire world.” – Snufkin.

 

“It’s not my fault!” – Little My

 

“Making a journey by night is more wonderful than anything in the world.”- Moominpappa

 

“Don’t you understand art? I’m in a Groke-mood, so I make a Groke.” – Little My

 

“It would be awful if the world exploded. It’s so wonderfully splendid.” – Snufkin

 

“Nonsense. My spirit isn’t lifted.”

Stand Up And Be Heard…Always

Maybe I should have posted something on the 8th of March – International Women’s Day, but something kept me from doing so. Though I did quietly celebrate the news that the glorious country of Iceland will become the first country to require equal pay for men and women. I also enjoyed the waterfall of inspiring posts from women I follow across the world on Instagram and Facebook.

I’m of the belief that we don’t need a specific date of the year to have our voices heard, to have our faces seen, to have our spirits celebrated. Being a woman is something that should be – and can be – rejoiced in every single day.

To rejoice in my own womanhood and the womanhood of my sisters, I’m going to offer some white space to one women who has inspired me immeasurably over the past decade – Clarissa Pinkola Estés.

Jungian psychoanalyst, poet and author, Clarissa is the mind behind the hugely empowering book Women Who Run With The Wolves, one of the most important tomes to have come into my life. It was one of those books which I was told countless times ‘that I needed to read,’ and, at the moment when I needed it most, it practically fell into my hands from a charity shop shelf. I parted with 75p and went home with a book that genuinely radiated positive energy.

In this post, I’m pairing up a number of my favourite quotes from Clarissa, with self portraits I’ve taken in the last six months. I hope you leave illuminated by her wisdom and, if you haven’t already read it, prepared to part with some pennies for her tour de force.

*While I can’t stress how important is it for every women to own a physical copy of Women  Who Run With Wolves, I’m also aware you might need to keep the purse strings tight. So I’ll let you in on something…the book is available as a free downloadable PDF file. Just Google for it, then get yourself a physical copy when you’re able to.*

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“The things that women reclaim are often their own voice, their own values, their imagination, their clairvoyance, their stories, their ancient memories. If we go for the deeper, and the darker, and the less known we will touch the bones.”

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“The psyches and souls of women also have their own cycles and seasons of doing and solitude, running and staying, being involved and being removed, questing and resting, creating and incubating, being of the world and returning to the soul-place.”

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“If you have yet to be called an incorrigible, defiant woman, don’t worry, there is still time.”

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“Go out in the woods, go out. If you don’t go out in the woods nothing will ever happen and your life will never begin.”

Winter Witch VI

“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you, and that you will work with these stories from your life – not someone else’s life – water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”

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“I’ve seen women insist on cleaning everything in the house before they could sit down to write… and you know it’s a funny thing about housecleaning… it never comes to an end. Perfect way to stop a woman. A woman must be careful to not allow over-responsibility (or over-respectabilty) to steal her necessary creative rests, riffs, and raptures. She simply must put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she “should” be doing. Art is not meant to be created in stolen moments only.”

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“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.”

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“The most important thing is to hold on, hold out, for your creative life, for your solitude, for your time to be and do, for your very life.”

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“How does one know if she has forgiven? You tend to feel sorrow over the circumstance instead of rage, you tend to feel sorry for the person rather than angry with him. You tend to have nothing left to say about it all.”

Return Of Winter III

“A healthy woman is much like a wolf: robust, chock-full, strong life force, life-giving, territorially aware, inventive, loyal, roving.”