When the Veil thins…

4 May

… things start to happen.

Happy belated Beltane to everyone (aka May Day)! It’s my favourite festival- said to be one of two times each year when the veil between the worlds raises. As a fantasy writer, you can probably guess how much I like this idea and this year, I had the good fortune to be driving along a tiny winding road in a Cornish valley, surrounded by mossy boulders and wildflowers for most of the day! (The photos below are not from Cornwall though, but from just down the road from me- and I’ve been saving them for a while…)

For anyone not interested in a mythology lesson, do let your attention wander freely and look at the pretty pictures instead. πŸ˜‰

Bad jokes about “fen-folk” aside, Norfolk has some of the most amazing hidden places. This was a deconsecrated church without a roof, covered in ivy, surrounded by daffodils and with an enormous tree growing in the middle!

Anyway, Beltane and faerie stuff…
The name literally means “bright fire” and it’s traditionally a fertility festival. (As I have no intention to ever unleash mini Roswells, I’ll interpret this as “fertility of imagination”). πŸ˜‰

Here’s what the goofy fun-loving Puritans had to say: “If tenne maidens were to set May, nine of them came home gotten with childe!”) They of course tried to ban the celebrations, and the dancing around the Maypole* thing. Well, any dancing or celebrating, really!
* I think it was the whole “phallic symbol” issue that offended them.

At this time, people would make pilgrimages to sacred sites, gather flowers and watch the sunrise (often after a “Greenwood marriage”- see the quote above for the meaning of that!)

Many Beltane celebrations involve traditional characters: the Green Man (someone painted green and adorned with leaves and vines), his lover the May Queen (a young woman in white, wearing flowers), the fool (a man on a hobby horse) and red men (mischief-makers running around stealing your hat!)

It was said that waking to wash yourself in the dew on May morning would keep you young and beautiful forever! But staying up all night made vision a littleΒ  hazy at sunrise…
Can you see anything?

In early folklore, the people of the Other world were said to be most active at this time, and that it was dangerous to make your presence known (unless you wanted to spend the rest of your life as a tree or rock!) But the boundary between this world and the other is sometimes hard to define- especially when coming across naked flower-adorned ladies dancing in the woodland wasn’t that unusual!

At dusk on May 1st, celebrations died down, the veil dropped again and people went about their lives, except for those foolish enough to have eaten faerie food and now trapped in the Other world dreaming of the sun…

The Other world is said to be divided into two “courts” ruled by capricious queens, continually tricking each other and grasping for the upper hand. Neither is “good” or “bad”- they are as mischievous as each other!Β  The Seelie (aka light) Court rules the festival of Beltane. In exactly six months time- on the dark side of the year (October 31st), strange things begin to happen again as the Unseelie (dark) Court rules Halloween…

……….. πŸ™‚

I didn’t actually wait for this time to post the photos- it just happened that I finished my backlog and this set worked so well with the legends!
Ellen Rogers, the photographer, called this set “Cacosa”, after the story “An Inhabitant of Cacosa”, in which the fictional (now destroyed) city is described by a character who once lived there.

I got talking to Ellen online and found her style of work unique and thought-provoking. Each set on her website is inspired by some story- whether her own life experiences, or someone else’s work of fiction. As you can imagine, we got very into swapping “OMG you must read this” stories. Love the way our photos turned out- it was very exciting waiting for them as she shoots on film so we couldn’t just look into the back of the camera!

I have no idea what my next post will be about so must end this one on a word of warning:
Cornish Ramblers: beware of pixies… and nude models. They are watching you. πŸ˜›


18 Responses to “When the Veil thins…”

  1. Ileana May 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    Where is that church? I am in love with this shoot!

    • roswellivory May 4, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

      Awww! Thanking you! It’s on the outskirts of a weeny village called East Somerton. (I’m hoping to go back- there’s a seal sanctuary there too!)


  2. Matthew C. Gill May 4, 2011 at 1:38 pm #

    Simply gorgeous! The setting itself is purely marvelous and full of it’s own faerie glamour that just enchants the mind. I am simply in love with all of these images, they tease my imagination and delight the mind. I have been writing virtually nothing but sci-fi work at my blog almost non-stop for the past few months, I think it may be time to step out of the imagined landscape of Requiem and let my mind immerse itself into some fantasy for awhile. Perhaps then I may not feel so guilty about all this code I been diving into of late!

    Beautiful work, as always. Gratitude for blessing us with the gift of being able to share it with you.

    • roswellivory May 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm #

      Thankyou so much! I fell so in love with the location that I’ve been back several times just to see the seasons change there.
      Good luck with the fantasy! I’ve been snowed under with articles so am going to try and put my fiction hat back on next week…


  3. KathTea May 4, 2011 at 3:31 pm #

    Awesome stuff as always Roswell! Left you a message on dA. The set I am hoping to use has a similar building but much much more tourists XP And I meant to say coming June…

    • roswellivory May 4, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

      Thankyou! πŸ˜€

      I’ll reply asap.
      Quick word of advice- bring a blanket or wraparound shawl so if you are in something revealing or very unusual that might attract a lot of attention, you can cover yourself.


  4. Romantic Dominant May 4, 2011 at 3:53 pm #

    Fascinating post. Delightful images

    • roswellivory May 4, 2011 at 3:58 pm #

      Thankyou! I think I’ll do a few more “informative posts”! This one seems to have gone down well πŸ˜€

  5. Isobel May 8, 2011 at 11:27 pm #

    Just wanted to say that it was really good to work with you at the workshop on saturday (I was the girl in the New Rocks) and hope to be able to shoot more with you in the future once I’ve learned a bit more; I got some great photographs.
    The last line about the ramblers made me smile as I remembered your anecdotes at the shoot!

    • roswellivory May 11, 2011 at 10:37 am #

      Thankyou so much! It was great meeting you too πŸ™‚ Send me a link- I’d love to see what we got!
      LOL!!! Yep, there will be an entire post with the outtakes from that shoot once I’ve edited the photos…


      • Isobel May 14, 2011 at 4:30 pm #

        I created a Flickr account with some of the unedited images for you to have a look through if you like.

        • roswellivory May 15, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

          Ooh wow- thankyou so much! There are definitely ones I love! Do you have a way of sending them to me so I can put a couple on here? Flickr won’t let me take them off the site 😦


  6. Romantic Dominant May 14, 2011 at 6:24 pm #


  7. Isobel May 16, 2011 at 12:59 am #

    I can send them to your email or via deviantart? Which would you prefer?
    Glad you like them!

  8. toasty redhead May 28, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Good points

  9. online game rentals May 29, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    Good points


  1. Welcome to Rivendell, blogviewers. « Roswell Ivory - June 29, 2011

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