Weird tree-person looking east

I love the turning of the year toward light at the winter solstice. It makes up a bit for winter looming ahead. This year was tough for everybody, it seems; as Eric Tran said when he visited to give a poetry reading here, we spent the pandemic borrowing energy from the future, and now we have to pay it back. My mother died at the end of April and she’s very much on my mind as I perform seasonal rituals: recent stuff like sending her a zillion gifts at Christmas 2020 to distract her from going out and taking risks; old stuff like mixing up Christmas pudding to steam and flame it (we always did that as kids, although I riff on borrowed recipes and she just bought Crosse & Blackwell). I need to find a quiet moment to think about her.

I don’t know what that viking-druid I spotted on the trail yesterday portends. He’s looking toward the new year, but I’m mostly looking back. For a conference, I went on a binge of reading related to fairies and Faerie, old tales people keep making new. I discuss some of them here, in the annual “pleasures” column hosted by Aqueduct Press. They make me remember my mother, too, who was the teller of fairy stories in my house, as her Irish father was to her. He used to take her on walks to a Liverpool park in the 40s, where they’d put their sugar ration in a matchbox and leave it for the fairies. You have to propitiate them with sacrifice, or–what? It was always clear to me that Enid Blyton tales of brownies making “mischief” were euphemistic. Fairies are more dangerous than that. Thinking about all this sent me on a weird late night Google binge last week, asking questions about why sacrifice is so central to so many religions and legends. Google didn’t know, but I’d welcome your theories.

I’ll close with a looking-backward list of my publications this year, with a post about the year in reading to come. Then, I suppose, I’ll have to think about 2022, although I can’t yet imagine what it wants from me.




6 responses to “Weird tree-person looking east”

  1. Thanks for the Eric Tran observation – now I have a frame for better understanding the utter exhaustion I’ve been feeling. Perhaps leaving offerings for the Fair Folk would help? Which thought reminds me: the Erinyes (Furies) were euphemistically? hopefully? imploringly? referred to as the Kindly Ones – maybe something similar at work with Fair Folk? As for the notion of sacrifice, the first thing that comes to mind are those lizards that lose their tails when captured…maybe the impulse arises from vestigial survival instincts lodged in the reptilian portion of our brain?
    Enough rambling. May you prosper and find peace in the coming year!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wishing you a happy new year.

    Ah, fairies and fairy stories and sacrifices/gifts. My last abandoned novel was an attempt at a fairy story told without any resort to explicit, understood magic. Too difficult a task for me, who I’m pretty sure is not a novelist, or maybe for any writer. The personal understanding I developed of fairy was that they represent everything we’re not: the other, the choices we don’t make, the things we’ve “conquered,” the suppressed. and so on. We give those things gifts and placating acts, in a complex mix of “tribute” (in the old alliances/bribe against war sense) and guilt. We wish those things to not overcome us, to make war on us and our state — and we also wish we could have those exclusive choices we’ve made and the abandoned choices too.

    Sounds reductive as I just wrote it, but I don’t feel it as reductive.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is not reductive, it’s PROFOUND, and exactly the answer I was searching for. I occurs to me that the possibly fae character in my novel Unbecoming represents exactly that in relation to the main character, although I hadn’t arrived there logically. Thank you!!


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