… 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. 😉
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”). 😉
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.
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!)
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! 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…
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. 😛