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?

 

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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

 

Beginning Anew : An Invitation To Collaborate

I didn’t need to wear mittens today, a tell-tale sign that my third favourite season has well and truly arrived in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Spring equinox has, for a bloody long time, been a period to let go of the old and welcome in the new. So, I decided the best way for me to celebrate would be to start making tracks with collaborative ideas that have been sitting in my head for too long.

Many projects which I’ve started during my career as a creative never made it past infancy, primarily because I was to stubborn to ask for help, and had that whole ‘I’m a lone wolf’ mentality. While I still have a lone wolf streak, I’m no longer afraid to ask others if they’d like to come aboard and navigate an uncharted sea with me.

Wyrd Words & Effigies Magazine was one such project that didn’t reach the peaks I dreamed it would. I can only imagine where it could have been if I’d been more open and had brought in some other enthusiasts of the macabre.

But back to now. I’m going to lay my ideas down on the table, and if you find yourself thinking ‘holyshitballs I would fucking love to be involved with that,’ then send me a note and we can talk. If you find yourself thinking ‘I know someone who might fucking love to be involved with that’ then drop them a note and link them to this post.

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Arctic Fever – A Spoken Word Journey

What Is It? Arctic Fever will be a live spoken word show, centered around the thawing of the Arctic, and how the catastrophic changes are impacting the people, flora and fauna of the great white north.

What Help Do You Need? I’m looking for one or two adventurous female musicians who are passionate about the Far North, and in raising awareness about the effects of climate change in the Arctic.

I would be extremely happy if you would be willing to challenge yourself to learn some  Inuit throat singing and drumming techniques, as these are elements I envisage accompanying the poetry. Ideally, you would be based in Västra Götaland County, Sweden so we could meet on a semi-regular basis. 

I’m also hoping to bring on board a female artist from Scandinavia who is infatuated with the north. You would work with us to create promotional material,  as well as an accompanying pamphlet featuring poems from the show, tied in with exclusive artwork.

It would be beyond incredible to have someone experienced with fashion and/or costume and stage design to provide guidance on putting together the ‘look’ of the show. For example, help me to conjure up an idea of how myself and the accompanying musicians should look on stage.

Finally, I would greatly appreciate some council from someone experienced with crowd funding and who would be able to guide me through the process of setting up a crowd funder for the project. The initial goal is to perform the show in Borås, Gothenburg, Stockholm and a location within the Arctic Circle, and to be able to do this, I’ll need to round up some krona.

To recap, I’m looking for:

2 female musicians

1 female artist

1 fashion and/or costume designer

1 experienced crowd funder

An Independent Press Run By Eclectic Women

What Is Is? It has been my dream, since before time began or something to that effect, to run an independent press publishing authors whose writing is a world away from the mainstream, writing that’s capable of changing your dark world in a heartbeat.

After a few attempts and some near misses, I left the dream to simmer on the back burner. But I never stopped thinking about it and, recently, when my thoughts started burning so fiercely it felt as though they were going to sizzle through the skin on my forehead, I realised I had to say something. I regularly see writing – mostly on Instagram at the moment – and it’s making me think ‘I WANT TO PUBLISH THAT RIGHT NOW IN A BEAUTIFUL BOOK!’

I can envisage starting with a few titles a year – poetry, collections of essays, short stories, non-fiction, whatever happens to come up that is too good to pass on. The only requirements would that it would need to be of a dark nature and/or about the far north. I’m also doting on the idea of having a yearly annual featuring unseen work from ‘our authors’ and other carefully selected writers.

What Help Do You Need? Aside from my lone wolf mentality, another reason I think many of my projects didn’t succeed is that I don’t have a good head for business. I have tried to change this, believe you me. I have been to countless business courses but could rarely stay longer than one lesson. Something in my brain prevented me from learning past a certain point. (I never was the brightest student.) However, I don’t want this ‘handicap’ to prevent me from publishing and celebrating writers I truly believe in. I just need help with the number crunching and other such things.

So, I would need to bring a woman on board with experience in the publishing industry (ideally), or with a good head for business in general, who wouldn’t feel exasperated by the mere sight of the word ‘overheads.’

I’d also need another person who would feel comfortable working as  an editorial assistant. Ideally, you would be based in Scandinavia and and enthusiast of the macarbe and, preferably the north, but elsewhere in Europe is okay…so long as you possess the passion for print and the best in peculiar literature.

To recap, I’m looking for:

1 female with experience in the publishing industry

1 female with editorial experience

If your finding yourself getting a little bit excited about any of these positions,  email me at katiemariemetcalfe@hotmail.co.uk with your thoughts. Tell me a little bit about yourself and why you’d like to be involved and link me up to where you are online.

I’m also always up for collaborations, so if you have an idea for a project you’d maybe like to have me involved in, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Photo: Erzabeth Svedlund

I Opened My Shop Today

The moon is distracting me from writing this post. It’s full in the sky, glowing like an expectant mother. When the moon is full, it’s the perfect time to practice gratitude, and that is exactly what I’ve been doing, in between piecing together my Etsy Shop selling things ‘too wyrd for most people.’ Today has brought one beautiful surprise after another, and it’s like the universe is looking out for me. I can practically hear it say ‘you’re going to be alright kid.’

One of the surprises was that I actually succeeded in opening up my little shop. I’ve been doubting myself over the past few days, looking at my cross stitch and thrifted pieces and thinking ‘Are people going to want these things? Am I being a total buffoon by opening this shop? Am I just going to embarrass myself with my rudimentary embroidery skills? Do I even know what I’m doing?’

It got to the point where I thought about selling everything much less that I’d originally intended, simply because I didn’t think anything I’d done or found was good enough, and because, basically, I’m winging it. But then something moved in me.

I remembered all the hard work, all the time, all the love that has been put into every stitch, every moment thrifting, every day writing and re-writing and editing. I remembered all the daydreams I’d had about people finding something in my shop that they could connect with, be it a book, a cross stitch or a piece of vintage clothing. Yes, I’m winging this, but aren’t we all just winging everything? I read a brilliant quote from Charles Bukowski which made everything feel that bit better.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received: ‘No one else knows what they’re doing either.’

So I went ahead and finished establishing my little shop and launched it, leaving those negative, detrimental thoughts out in the cold. While the things I make and find won’t be to everyone’s taste, I know there are people out there walking a similar journey to my own, and hopefully they will find A Living Witch – both the shop and blog – and feel like they’ve arrived home.

Here are some of the things I’ve created and thrifted and am now parting ways with…if an image starts to speak to you, click on it to be taken straight to where it sits in my shop.

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Snow Falling On Pines Cross Stitch

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The Scandinavian Witches Cross Stitch

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A Fragile Vintage Collar Trimmed With Lace

“While I can promise that there will always be handwoven embroidery and my writing available, you will need to think of this shop as a place where you’re never quite sure what you’ll encounter.

Much of what you will find here will have been thrifted and altered, and you know the nature of thrift stores…they’re a treasure trove of the wyrd and wonderful, and are never the same from one hour to the next. That’s very much the nature of A Living Witch – it’s a place with a pulse. I’m deeply passionate about re-homing precious things, and giving objects that have been abandoned a chance to breathe again and be loved.”

 

 

 

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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.”

Ready To Meet March

Last year, despite beautiful moments that will rest in my heart forever, it was predominately a monumental shitstorm. I can tell how bad a year has been by how many books I’ve read, and how many poems I’ve written. I can count on two hands how many poems were put to paper in 2016.

When the first of January 2017 rained in, I decided this year would be a year of transformation – creative, emotional, spiritual, mental transformation. And it has been thus far, although the transformations haven’t come all that easily. When do they ever though? Despite muddling along through the first few months, my world is turning, and turning for the batter. I want to make each month better than the one that came before. So I have a lot of dreams for March. (You can see my ambitions for the year here.)

Creatively & Professionally

  • Blog every day here. (Doing alright so far…)
  • Write 31 poems for my new collection.
  • Put together a collection of my best work from the past ten years and submit to publishers. I have several in mind.
  • Launch A Living Witch shop on Etsy selling books I’ve written, handcrafted things, vintage things and up cycled things.
  • Launch a shop selling thrifted clothes and housewares. (Ideally I would sell everything on A Living Witch, but Etsy have a policy stating that any clothes/housewares that have been thrifted need to be 20 years or older.)
  • Put in applications for more writing jobs so I can boost my income.
  • Put out the word that in the near future I’m hoping to establish a small press and would love some shadow sisters to get involved because I can’t do it alone.
  • Do as many photoshoots as possible with my witches at The Divine Weirdos so we can put on an exhibition later this year.
  • Re-work my solo poetry show.
  • Develop my cross stitch skills.
  • Put new products in my shops every week.
  • Finish my library pile. (Currently consisting of 11 books).

Learning

  • Learn something new every day.

Physically

  • Take better care of my body. (Still not good at this. I don’t make the time to moisturize my body, for example.)

Magically & Spiritually

  • Begin learning palmistry.
  • Experience the forest fully as it welcomes Spring home.

Love, Family & Home

  • Eat at the table whenever we have Tyra at home. (Doing good with this!)
  • Be more present. (Getting better at this too!)
  • Use up the blueberries in the freezer.
  • Buy cheaper food and cook healthier recipes.
  • Continue learning Swedish.
  • Buy in more herbs and spices that are beneficial to our wellbeing.

What are your ambitions for this month?

 

 

 

 

Every Day Should Be A Day For Books & Reading

There’s not much that makes me happier than a really good book. I started reading when I was three and never stopped.

We didn’t have the money for new books – we got most of our stock from family, car boot sales and charity shops – so my Mum, who looked after four kids while my Dad was away at work – would troop across town with four under fives and we would take full advantage of everything the libraries in our local vicinity had the offer. Some of my best memories were forged among the bookshelves. (Thank you Mum.)

I can remember finishing all the Puddle Lane books – published by Penguin in the late 80’s – and hungering for something else, something darker. I needed to stand on tip toes to reach for My Babysitter’s A Vampire which it was on the hard-to-reach third shelf up.

The older I got, the more valuable libraries and reading became for me. I was one of those kids who would read while crossing a busy road. One summer school night, my sister and I were in bed and it wasn’t yet dark, so I pulled back the blind so I could read for a bit longer. My sister screamed for our mum and told on me. I was fucking furious. I think I even cried myself to sleep.

One year, some kids burned down our local library, and it broke my heart. It felt like the end of the world. When the library was re-built, there was a huge cardboard advertisement near the front desk featuring my then Eco-warrior mother clutching my wide eyed baby brother. Proud doesn’t even come close.

The same library granted me my teenage card a year early, opening up the rest of the universe to me. One of the first books I took out was The Satanic Bible. It was all gobbledygook to me – and still is – but I felt so fucking cool and made sure everyone could see just what I was carrying when I strode out of there.

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I have a vivid memory of my first World Book Day in 1995. We received £1 vouchers at school, and I can remember clutching it like Charlie Bucket clutched his Golden Ticket.

I thought I’d been given the key to the bookstore, which at the time was an independent shop of epic proportions (for an eight year old) in the small market town of Guisbrough in England.

Sadly, the £1 books that had been released especially for World Book Day were so terrible that even at eight years old I knew I’d been had. I left the store with a book I didn’t really want, thinking of all the other things I could have bought with £1 – 100 penny sweets, 10 Chomp bars or at least ten books from a carboot sale.

Disappointment aside, here are some books which have played big roles during my 30 years on earth.