Midsummer, Summer Solstice, Litha. Whatever you call it and whether you believe Fairies come a frolicking as portals open between worlds or just honour the longest day of the year as it marks a time of great abundance and beauty in nature, I wish you all a happy and sunny Summer Solstice! )O(
I don’t function well in hot weather. Dappled sunlight and whispering trees call to me on hot days so we headed for the woods this weekend.
The scent of Elderflower filled the air and reminded me that I have not made cordial for at least two summers now. I think I may have missed my window of opportunity this year too but I’m not beating myself up about it. There is always Bottlegreen’s!
We found some wooden carvings among the trees. A beautiful Litha Goddess and a very contented looking Greenman!
They watched us as we wandered the paths, side stepping Nettle and Bramble, stopping every now and then to gaze at the beauty around us before we headed for home via the pub.
I haven’t been reading much lately, time and tiredness mostly, but yesterday I picked up a book I hoped would draw me back into a regular reading habit. With great enthusiasm I read the first few pages of The Forests of Avalon before bed. I’ve read and re-read The Mists of Avalon a few times and I looked forward to immersing myself in that same fantasy world again. I struggle to find books that really inspire me but finding this series was like coming home. I might even have gone as far as saying that Marion Zimmer Bradley had become my favourite author. But that was yesterday.
Today I sat down for a quick read before my youngest came in from school but I didn’t even get as far as opening the book before making a horrifying discovery that completely threw me off course. Before I settled into reading I decided to post a quick photograph of the book on Twitter with a couple of relevant hashtags on the off chance it might lead to a conversation with other fans I could share my enthusiasm with. Sometimes I publish a tweet and go straight back to what I was doing but this time I decided to click on one of those hashtags to see what other people had to say about the author’s work. Initially it was just more fans praising Zimmer Bradley’s work and so on but then something odd caught my eye. There was a whole account dedicated to ‘the truth’ about Marion Zimmer Bradley. On investigation (and believe me I googled the shit out of this because I really didn’t want to believe it!) I found that Marion Zimmer Bradley author of the Mists of Avalon and Darkover books had been accused of sexual abuse by her own daughter and although she died in 1999 it is apparently on record that she admitted to knowing her husband was a paedophile and rapist and that she did nothing about it allowing the abuse of their daughter and others to continue.
My initial reaction to the information as it was appearing before me was one of disbelief but as I read through the facts I had to face the sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I deleted my tweet, horrified by the idea that I was promoting someone capable of such things. For a moment I considered if it was at all possible to somehow separate all this from the books as I read them but I know there is no way I could ever pick up one of her books again. Feeling heavy and sick I pulled all the books I owned off the shelf and threw them out for recycling. I’m not sure what I’m feeling right now. There is grief for the victims of the abuse of course but there is something else harder to define. It’s more than anger, disappointment and disgust, I think maybe it is another kind of grief , a grieving for the fantasy world I can no longer access. The portal to that other world has closed forever and I will never recommend it to anyone ever again.
So what do I fill this void with? I’ve been thinking of giving some Pratchett a go or re-reading The Lord of the Rings but neither contain the Goddess spirituality that was so intricately woven into The Mists of Avalon series. Oh what a gaping hole. I feel like my world just got a lot smaller!
Once again the great British summer lives up to it’s grey, wet reputation! It never ceases to amaze me the disappointment that we Brits still show despite the fact that we see the same pattern pretty much every year. Flaming June is a myth, a Leighton painting and the only orangey hot glow is coming from our camping stoves as we sit cradling hot tea in our sodden cagoules at various beauty spots all over the UK.
So far, this June is proving to be particularly depressing, partly due to the political upheaval resulting from last week’s general election but also because of the usual strains of supporting a teenager through exam season. Add in to the mix Prom suit shopping and you can see that for a lot of folk with teenagers, June has the potential to be quite grim. This is my fifth consecutive year as an ‘exam’ parent and I’m more than ready for the summer break! I have visions of us driving across the moors in the sunshine with a picnic and walking boots in the boot but the reality will be endless shopping trips for budget home wares to ensure that my University bound second child is ready to start her new life at the other end of the country in September. I’m in two minds about all this. I’m going to miss her terribly and no doubt worry myself senseless over stupid little things like whether she will be able to figure out the Launderette facilities okay or work out how to use a Microwave because she’s not used to one here at home but I’m also looking forward to there being just one less person in the house and being able to set up a work space in her room while she’s away. I’ve struggled for space for the last few years ever since we made the decision to convert the dining room into a bedroom for her and I massively underestimated how it would impact on my own creativity! I inadvertently sacrificed my own creative needs so she had the space she needed to first complete her A-level and then Foundation Diploma in Art and Design. I’m glad we were able to provide that space for her but I am definitely looking forward to getting even just a corner of the room back soon! For now I will make do with the coffee table among half finished cups of tea and last night’s wine glasses.