The Magic of Nature: Guest Post by Molly Ringle- Author of ‘The Goblins of Bellwater’

I can’t seem to stay away from stories of magic for long. I write real-world stories sometimes too—what the book industry calls “contemporary” fiction—but before long I tend to come back to writing a story with a supernatural element. I’ve written about ghosts, Greek gods, and, most recently in The Goblins of Bellwater, goblins and other fae.

These types of folklore have always fascinated me, even though I’ve slept many nights in supposedly haunted buildings and have never seen a ghost, and have wandered along in the most enchanting of woods and never seen a faery, and (regretfully) have never met a Greek god either. (Rather than this being any comment on their actual existence, I think I’m just unobservant and too much in my own head most of the time!) Still, something about these entities feels real to me. That isn’t surprising: after all, these are the kinds of stories humans have been telling for millennia. Every culture around the world has its ghosts, fae folk, nature spirits, and divinities, many of whom may mingle and overlap with each other depending on the local belief system.

What makes these beings interesting to me, and also what makes them excellent material for stories, is that they aren’t always good or evil. They come in a variety of behaviors (like humans), and their culture and rules may not always make sense to us (again, let’s be honest: like humans!).

In The Goblins of Bellwater, I started with the inspiration of Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market,” which tells the tale of a young woman cursed by goblins, and her sister who sets out to undo the spell. The poem makes it clear that goblins are, indeed, almost totally malevolent in the Victorian world these sisters live in, or at least mischievous. Folklore tends to agree on this assessment. Goblins are usually described as rude, thieving, and fond of causing trouble, so that’s how I wrote them. But in keeping with the notion that there are many kinds of fae in the world, I also included more benign or even helpful varieties of fae living in the forests of Washington state (where I set my version of the story), to whom the two sisters might be able to turn for help.

In doing so, they need to show proper respect for the forest and the waters—in fact, for all four of the elements: fire, water, earth, and air. I enjoyed looking around at our beautiful natural landscape here in western Washington and deciding which parts of nature would be best represented by which elements, and then giving each some faery spirits to bring them further to life. Seal-like fae swim in Puget Sound in my story, air fae in the shape of hummingbirds and moths fly through the night skies, earth gnomes and glowing creepy-crawlies dig into the soil, and fireweed fae and little wildfire-dwelling dragons emerge from the flames. It’s easy to feel fear when encountering any of them, but if my characters have demonstrated their trust and love for the land, they should know they will remain safe. That is, if they can stay out of the clutching hands of those tricksy goblins!

As my characters are reminded, we modern humans with our mostly indoor lives can easily forget how much we depend on nature. But it’s not only important to remember, it’s healthy for us. Scientific studies have found that being out in the natural world has a restorative, soothing, uplifting effect on mental health. All you have to do is go be with the trees and the fresh air, appreciate them, and of course protect them so that we can all go on benefiting from them. Sounds a little like magic, don’t you think?

Molly Ringle

 

The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle will be available for purchase on October 1, 2017. Don’t forget to pick up your copy!

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An Interview with Molly Ringle Author of The Goblins of Bellwater

I am honoured to be a part of the Launch Events for The Goblins of Bellwater by Molly Ringle. Please see an interview with Molly about her enchanting book down below. This was one of my favourite reads so far this year and I cannot recommend it enough!

Q & A With Molly Ringle
The Goblins of Bellwater

How closely did you follow Christina Rossetti’s poem “Goblin Market” as a basis for the story?
I call this a book “inspired by” Rossetti’s poem rather than saying it’s “based upon” it, because I did veer from the poem a significant amount. I first read the poem a few years ago, and it intrigued me deeply. It’s evocative and strange, and, like a fairy tale, has many symbols and events that could be interpreted as having several different meanings. My assignment to myself was to use it as a jumping-off point for a modern paranormal novel, which would then go its own way as the plot required. What I kept from the
poem was the basic surface framework: we have a pair of sisters, grown but on the young side, one of whom becomes enchanted by eating goblin fruit in the forest and begins wasting away as a result, alarming the other sister into seeking a way to save her. Since Rossetti’s poem ends with a fast-forward to the women being “wives” and telling their children about their adventures, and since I wanted to write a paranormal romance anyway, I gave my modern sister characters a pair of men to get involved
with, in a double love story with eerie angles that I think match the eeriness of the original poem. Mind you, another interpretation of the poem is that the two women aren’t really sisters but lovers, which would be a different route to take and which I think would be lovely to see too!

For those of us who haven’t been there, what is Puget Sound like and why did you choose it as a setting for a retold fairy tale?
Puget Sound is a vast area of Pacific seawater, meandering into countless inlets and coves in skinny, deep fjords left behind by glaciers. Seattle and Tacoma and Olympia lie on its shores, on some of its largest bays, but it also has many wilder and more rural shores, especially on the western side where it backs up against a huge national forest on the Olympic Peninsula. That’s the region where my grandparents bought a vacation cabin decades ago, and where my family has been going for many vacations ever
since. I can safely say it’s one of my favorite places on Earth. In order to agree, you have to enjoy a cool, rainy climate and all the thick moss and ferns and mushrooms and huge evergreens such a climate produces, and I happen to love those things. Fairy tales, at least those from Northern Europe, almost all involve a deep dark forest. That’s where the faeries, witches, werewolves, vampires, elves, and all the other interesting beings live. Everyone knows that. I haven’t spent much time in the forests of Europe (alas! I will someday), but I reckoned our Pacific Northwest deep dark forests were more than adequate for housing supernatural creatures. My grandmother used to tell us that the mossy ruins of big tree trunks in the Puget Sound forests were the homes of Teeny-tinies, whom I always took to be faeries. So I set the story there, at the edge of the Sound, where saltwater meets woods and where the Teeny-tinies live.

What is the significance of the four elements (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) in this story?
The four elements are common fixtures in many ancient cultures, and have remained popular into the modern day. One of my favorite TV shows is Avatar: the Last Airbender, which uses the four-element framework brilliantly in its world-building. In reading up on faery lore for this book, I found that scholars often classify types of fae under the four elements, and since that appealed to me, I did the same. As one of the characters in The Goblins of Bellwater muses, there’s something human and emotionally real
about looking at nature that way, even if we technically know, thanks to science, that nature contains far more than four elements. And in my novel, the only way to break the goblin spells involves respecting and trusting each of the four elements, even when they’re at their most daunting.

Why do you think fairy tale and other myth and legend re-tellings are so popular right now?
I think they’ve always been popular! Maybe it’s a case of selection bias, because I personally have always been into ghost stories, fairy tales, and other supernatural lore, but it seems to me that human culture has never stopped telling such stories. As scholars of fairy tales will tell you, reading and writing about fantasy and the paranormal may look like escapism from reality, and sometimes I tell myself that’s what
I’m doing, but in truth these stories end up giving us all the useful lessons about real life that any good stories do: empathy, courage, love, respect for nature and community, and the importance of thinking fancifully and creatively.

What are the goblins like in this book?
In keeping with both the “Goblin Market” poem and the bulk of faery lore, they are mischievous and villainous. They laugh a lot, but they are decidedly laughing at you, not with you. They steal, and in particular they lust after gold. Like other fae, they enjoy making deals with humans, but humans would be wise not to enter into such deals, as the obligation tends to be heavier than it sounds at the outset. These goblins go further than merely them, too; they assault and sometimes steal away humans and turn
them into fellow goblins, and at other times enchant them into wandering unhappily in the woods until they waste away and die. Although the goblins are sometimes amusing in their level of witty rudeness, they are nearly all amoral and highly dangerous to get involved with. Only a scant few of them, who were once humans, manage to retain any human empathy. However, not all of the fae in my book are this cruel—the goblins are the worst of the lot! Others are willing to be quite helpful to humans as long
as they are respected in return.

What kind of magic system does this book involve?
In this book, my main characters are ordinary humans who can’t do any magic, but they become involved in the dealings of the fae realm, which is a bit like another dimension. It can be entered or glimpsed by summoning the fae (which includes goblins), who might or might not answer you. But you’re luckier on the whole if they don’t, because many of them are treacherous, and the realm itself is a wilderness containing many uncanny dangers. From the point of view of the human characters, the magical rules and the cultural norms of the fae are nonsensical, almost inexplicable, but since some of
these people have fallen under curses, they have to step in among those dangers and work with the rules as best as they can anyway.

What do you find most challenging in writing a novel?
At first, it’s usually getting to know the characters. I tend to start with a general idea of who they are, but then when I begin writing, I realize there’s too much I still don’t know about these people and therefore they aren’t coming across as real yet. It slows me down in the early stages while I take breaks to write notes in which I interview them and figure them out. I also have a perennial problem with writing antagonists. They have to do fairly awful things (being antagonists and all), but I still want them to feel like real people (or other beings), and therefore I have to get into their heads and figure out why they would feel justified in doing such a thing. It’s not a comfortable place for my mind to go. I suppose that’s why I gravitate more toward romance and lightheartedness: I much prefer spending time with those who love and laugh.

What are the easiest parts of writing a novel for you?
No part of the process is exactly easy. But sometimes lines will occur to me seemingly out of nowhere when I’m writing, and they’re perfect for the moment; or I’ll find my characters talking to each other in my head when I’m not writing. And I love those moments, because for them to have come to life in my imagination like that, it means I must have done sufficient groundwork in figuring out the world and the
characters. So although the groundwork is the hard part, it pays off and leads to easier parts later!

How did the writing of this novel, a fairly short stand-alone paranormal, compare to the writing of the Persephone trilogy?
It was far simpler! The Persephone’s Orchard trilogy had dual timelines, for one thing: the ancient world in Greece, and the reincarnations of those people in the modern day. For another thing, it had far more characters, both in original and reincarnated versions. And for any series, you need to have plot arcs that stretch over the whole series as well as smaller ones that get wrapped up within each volume; and you have to keep the whole thing internally consistent in terms of mood and themes and character personalities. It turned out exhausting enough that I didn’t want to write another series again anytime soon. So I picked The Goblins of Bellwater as my follow-up project: small cast, straightforward plot, and simple timeline. Most of the action takes place within about six weeks, in this small town, which is indeed a contrast to the millennia of world-spanning events covered in the trilogy!

Would you want to live in any of the fictional magical worlds you’ve created?
Strange though it might sound, I’d love to visit the Underworld as I wrote it in Persephone’s Orchard and its sequels. I made it much less scary, for the most part, than it is in traditional Greek mythology; and besides that, I love caves and glowing things, and definitely would be interested in a ride on a ghost horse as long as an immortal was keeping me safe during it. As for the fae realm we see in The Goblins of Bellwater, I’d like to catch glimpses of it, and of the fae themselves, but I wouldn’t want to actually enter
the realm. Too perilous!

What are you writing next?
One of the genres I love, and haven’t written enough of myself, is male/male love stories, so I’ve been working on a couple of those. One is contemporary, no magic or supernatural stuff, and it’s undergoing the feedback-and-revision stage right now. Another will involve a fae realm like that of The Goblins of Bellwater, only in a new location in the world, a fictional setting I’m creating. I stoll have to figure out how
this place works and what its magic system is like, in addition to getting to know the characters, but I’m excited about the idea and it has definitely taken root in my brain.

What are the most magical places you’ve been to in real life?
Puget Sound and its surrounding forests and mountains—which is why I chose the area for the enchanted lands in The Goblins of Bellwater. Also some of the forests and meadows in the Willamette Valley in Oregon, where I grew up. Oregon and Washington are both overflowing with natural beauty and I’m spoiled to have spent most of my life here. In addition, some places in Great Britain have felt quite magical to me, such as Tomnahurich (Hill of the Fairies) in Inverness, Scotland; or Old Town Edinburgh with its many close alleys and dark medieval buildings and brick-paved streets; or Westminster Abbey, not only because of its beauty and its many graves of astoundingly famous historical figures, but because when I first visited it as a 19-year-old, I’d never been in any building anywhere near that old before (having grown up in the Pacific Northwest), and it blew my mind.

The Hidden Secrets of Water by Dr. Paolo Consigli- REVIEW

A heavy read about the secrets of Water. Discussing Water from its molecular, scientific, and spiritual states was at times like reading an encyclopedia about a topic that is at its core- undefinable. Explaining Water in all these states leaves the reader with an appreciation of this elusive element. Talks on our Aquatic ancestors, big bang, dowsing, physiology, and countless others was an extremely deep and rich exploration of something that is so ingrained in our being- physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually and beyond. Water is everywhere, it’s ephemeral, wise, needed, wanted, mysterious, and un-explainable. The Secret History of Water was a passionate and poetic analysis of this strange and yet beautiful substance. The more we learn about ourselves and the universe, the more we will be able to unlock more of its secrets.

Tarot Time Traveller by Marcus Katz & Tali Goodwin- REVIEW

A must read for Tarot enthusiasts, newcomers, and occultists!

Taking the reader on a journey through Tarot and other similar cartomanic practices such as Lenormand and playing cards, the authors paint a historical story about the evolution of Tarot. They provide the readers with a background of Tarot before the Golden Dawn, Waite, and Aleister Crowley.  Tarot Time Traveller not only weaves a tale about the history of Tarot but provides the reader with many new techniques on how to read them. Borrowing lost and forgotten techniques from the different eras of Tarot adds a special meaning, and readers who are bored of the traditional ways of reading Tarot will appreciate this.

Discussing Tarot as points of consciousness, a Kabbalistic, numerological, and astrological system, provides a rich background about why these various esoteric traditions have been incorporated into Tarot. I appreciated the sections on scrying and time traveling using the Tarot which was unique and captivating. Having small biographical sections on various Tarot influencers was also an excellent way of explaining the reasons behind Tarot’s archetypal and symbolic inclusions over time.

What appears to be a history of cartomancy is in fact a deep esoteric timeline of Tarot. At the end of the day, there is no special magic contained within the cards. Reading Tarot is about reading one’s consciousness and current state of spiritual awareness. Tarot does not have to be an intimidating art, and what this book captures is that Tarot is a map that allows anyone to time travel. Time travel does not mean that you visit another country or era, but a different point in your own spiritual timeline by either going deep within yourself or high above in an elevated state of being.

Reincarnation Blues by Michael Poore- REVIEW

This quirky books tell the story of one soul- Milo and his nearly 10 000 incarnations. Each chapter tells the story of a different incarnation and the strange experiences and characters he encounters- everything from being eaten alive by a shark, to travelling the cosmos. Milo is in love with Death herself- Suzie, who he meets after he dies and the short stints he spends with her before moving on to his next life. He encounters her in each of his incarnations, although he does not remember her. They are madly in love with each other, but it is their complicated relationship of her being Death and him almost finishing his incarnational cycle that they devise a plan in order for them to be together. The plan is for Milo to achieve Perfection- meaning he can surpass becoming part of the Oneness of the universe and can therefore be with his true love. We accompany Milo during his different soul experiences, sometimes laughing, sometimes relishing in the simple beauty of life, and sometimes grieving alongside him. As someone who has always been fascinated with the concept of reincarnation, I thought this book while appearing to be yet another mystical fiction read, turned out to be a much deeper metaphysical exploration of the human experience. Appreciating the fragility of life while living up to your soul’s contract is a delicate balance we are all hoping to achieve.

It is easy when reading this book to jump to conclusions and cringe when we see Milo making a mistake and smiling when he’s done good……if only life were that easy. In the beginning of the book Milo does not want to stop reincarnating as he tells Death and some other elusive cosmic characters that “who doesn’t want to live?” What becomes apparent, is that Milo truly wasn’t living, he didn’t treasure every single moment of his lives because somewhere deep down inside he knew he would be back for another turn again. I believe the whole concept of reincarnation comes with a massive responsibility- we all like the idea of being recycled when we die, but somehow, that can become a cop out and excuse for not living a full life. Perfection- the state Milo is so desperately trying to achieve is not something we strive for, it’s something we must become.

The Sacred Power in Your Name by Ted Andrews: REVIEW * A Must Read!!

If you are interested in learning the metaphysical meaning of your name, then this book is must read! Traditional name meaning resources stick to historical and cultural meanings, while this book includes the spiritual essence behind your name. Our names are like magical words that carry vibrations and codes which determines the path of our life. The power and sounds of words are like spells which weave our destiny and purpose here on earth. Each vowel and sound carries power that enables us to awaken to our energetic patterns revealing secret information about our soul and essence. By learning the esoteric meaning of your name, this allows you to use your name as a talisman, spell, magical tool for enlightenment, expansion, and evolution. A great portion of the book focused on the history of magical and sacred naming practices, and also spent a great deal of time on sacred vowels. In ancient times, vowels were considered the most sacred as consonants cannot be discerned without vowels. The primary vowel sounds in your name- especially your first name tells you which elemental kingdom you have come to work with, and they can assist you in expressing your own creativity. Each vowel is linked to an element and combining this with your astrology is helpful and insightful. For example; I have a lot of water in my Astrology, but my primary vowels are Ether- so I have come to link the Ether with all 4 elements- bringing everything into balance.

There was a great discussion on the esoteric meanings of the letters themselves which was both unique and incredibly eye opening along with both the positive and negative traits of each vowel.  The sound meanings of the vowels were also included along with the musicality of names. The best part of the book was the Metaphysical Dictionary of Names. Common names were included alphabetically and provided a page long analysis of the spiritual meaning. This was profound and enlightening. Looking at my own name, I could see just how accurate and eye opening it was for me. I highly recommend this book for anyone who would like to learn more about their name, who is thinking about changing their name, or is in the process of choosing a name for a baby. A remarkable read! And as the famous saying goes “know thyself.”

 

The Voynich Manuscript- REVIEW

This is the most comprehensive book I have read about the Voynich Manuscript which is a manuscript written in an undecipherable language featuring sketchings of herbs, and cosmic imagery. The theories, researchers, and facts about this strange ambiguous book are featured throughout this quick read. Detailing the book’s personal and academic history allows the reader to come to their own conclusions, as the book was written with a scholarly objective perspective. I loved that the book included pictures of the Voynich Manuscript which is a nice added bonus and allows the reader to conduct their own research. I was hoping for a more concrete theory and or more succinct answers, however, as an introductory book- it was both informative and concise. Overall, this was an easy read that provided a nice over-view about this mysterious manuscript. I would highly recommend this for anyone who has ever been curious about its origins and full history.