As usual, time has galloped away, and now it’s nearly a year since I posted on my blog. As an excuse, I have been writing regular Immanion Press blog posts to keep people up to date with book releases.

I’ve been very busy this year, mainly working on ‘SHE: Primal Meetings with the Dark Goddess’, which I’ve co-written with long-standing friend and colleague, Andrew Collins. We’ve also got contributions from Deborah Cartwright, Maggie Jennings, Richard Ward and Caroline Wise and the book is fully illustrated. I’ve created some imaginary landscapes, and Danielle Lainton has brought many of the goddesses to life with wonderful pictures, reinterpreting the ancient deities in a vivid and dramatic style.

‘SHE’ began life a few years ago now, when I was thinking about publishing some of the pathworkings and rituals that Andy and I have worked on together over the years. While I was collating all of this material, and during discussions with Andy, we realised we had another – and perhaps better – book on our hands. There’s a tendency within modern Paganism to reimagine certain ancient goddesses, usually by making them less dangerous or ferocious, over-writing their less comfortable aspects with the qualities of a benign, nurturing goddess. A prime example of this is The Morrigan, originally a figure of Celtic myth associated with war and the fate of kings, but now said by some to be a mother goddess. The historical evidence for this is scanty, circumstantial and open to interpretation, or rather the preferences of the individual. While we understand why people perform these ‘rebootings’, because the mother goddess to them is a very positive figure, we feel that it undermines the authentic nature of such entities. It hides or diminishes what they originally meant to people and why they were created to interact with a certain part of nature and life.

‘SHE’ investigates the primal versions of goddesses who are (or were originally) often thought of as ‘dark’. We can see no reason why such powerful entities, from whom we can learn a great deal about the human condition, should have their claws and teeth pulled and be presented as limpid maidens or smiling mothers. This – to us – seems like a form of female castration. These strong feminine archetypes deserve to retain their original meaning and powers. It doesn’t make them any less relevant to modern practitioners – in our opinion, quite the reverse. There are plenty of mother goddesses and pretty maidens out there for people who want them.

The book examines thirty goddesses, demonesses and females of myth – some of them quite well known, such as Hecate and Lilith, others more obscure such as Breksta and Akhlys.  They illustrate our fears and our secrets desires. They encapsulate how Nature was regarded as a wild and unpredictable force to be appeased by people of earlier times.

‘SHE’ includes an essay on each of these goddesses, accompanied by a vivid pathworking to meet them in visualisation. All of them have a ‘dark’ side to their nature, some darker than others. We hope that people who buy the book and perform the pathworkings will gain insight into their own inner lives. It’s been great fun – as well as an important learning experience – working on the book and I can’t wait for its release in December. We will be having a launch event for it in Stafford, co-hosted by Hart Magical Gifts, which is owned by Maggie Jennings, one of the contributors to the book.

The cover is by Brom and there’s a preview below – this is not the final version, as there is still work to be done on the text.

She Taster

Here also are some tasters of the interior illustrations by Danielle Lainton – a goddess from the Preface and an illustration of Eris, the goddess of chaos and disorder. (Eris looks a little like Danni – I’m not sure if this is deliberate 😉 ):

‘SHE’s launch event will also be shared by ‘Vivia’, the latest of our Tanith Lee re-releases, originally published in 1995. As I’ve been copy-editing this book one thing struck me profoundly, even though I’ve read it before: Tanith was writing grimdark fantasy even before it existed as a genre. ‘Vivia’ is a dark and unsettling tale, which gets darker and grimmer as the story progresses. It starts with Vivia, the daughter of a barbaric, brutish lord, discovering something very weird in a deep, forgotten chamber, far below her father’s castle – an entity trapped in the rock. Is it a god, a demon or simply a peculiar sculpture? With her mother dead (carelessly murdered by her father), her nurse a far from mothering presence, and with no friends, Vivia escapes often to this dank, abandoned underworld, where her imagination takes over, especially concerning its possible supernatural resident. Could something be living down there, or is it only in her mind? When war and plague strike the kingdom simultaneously – described in as much graphic detail as any typical Game of Thrones fan could want – Vivia’s life inevitably has to change.

The golden prince Zulgaris who comes to the ravaged castle is hardly a rescuer – golden only in his physical appearance, he matches Vivia in darkness of nature. Their relationship is perverse, and Zulgaris encourages Vivia into habits and hungers she’s only just beginning to understand. This has no 50 Shades of … urgh sentiment or codswallop, if anyone reading this was starting to think that; ‘Vivia’ is gritty, brutal and uncompromising. I can’t say I particularly like any of the characters in the book, even the innocent victims, but by all the gods I believe in them. It presents humans at their very, most selfish worst: an incredibly realistic vision of a savage, unjust world in all its stinking, blood-soaked glory. And despite how you might wince at what goes on, you want to know more. It feels almost like a guilty pleasure. Just how can this story end?

Here’s a preview of the cover by John Kaiine:

Vivia Web.jpg

I’m also working on a fiction project of my own at the moment – which I’m developing from ‘The Emptiness Next Door’, a story that appeared in the latest ‘Para Spectral’ Wraeththu Mythos anthology, I co-edited with Wendy Darling.

The tale was inspired by an old ghost story I read – I’ll write more about that nearer the book’s release – but I realised my adaptation of this was far more than a short story. Fortunately, I found a way to finish the piece as a novella, so it could be included in ‘Para Spectral’ but there’s a lot more I have to tell, which takes it far from the piece that originally inspired it.  The novel is set in Ferelithia, and in the longer version, includes a very minor character from ‘The Enchantments of Flesh and Spirit’ in Karn, one of the musicians from Rue’s band. Rue, of course, (for those familiar with the Wraeththu Mythos) went on to much greater things as the first trilogy progressed and Ferelithia was left behind. This new story reveals how the settlement was originally set up – or rather a town was appropriated from the remaining human population – and how Wraeththu victory was ensured by dangerous dealings with weird entities of the landscape. Things got out of control but were contained. However, the seals are weakening, and a catalyst reawakens the past. Karn is now a respectable pillar of the community, holding a high position in public office. Few know about his earlier life, or where he rose from. In order to deal with the current threat, the past might have to be revealed and some hara have reasons for not wanting that to occur.

That’s the basic background, and against that I have the stories of the main characters, with their own secrets, desires, problems – and hauntings. I’m enjoying writing the story very much. I had intended to release it this year, but in order to do it justice I might need more time, so I’m not committing myself either way. If it’s ready to join ‘SHE’ and ‘Vivia’ for the December launch, great, but I’m not fretting that it might not be. It’ll be ready when it’s done. 😊

Ruby did a wonderful cover for ‘Para Spectral’ based on my story, and she’ll be doing something different for the full length novel. In the meantime, here’s a version of the ‘Para Spectral’ art, without any lettering on it. The character could be Leupardra, the vanished witch-pard, or Seladris, the unfortunate har now inhabiting a house in Ferelithia, haunted by the past and the legend of the Blue Leopard.

Leupardra Web

If anyone reading this post is interested in reviewing any of the books mentioned, I can send you a review PDF and hi res jpgs of the covers in November. Please mail me at editorial(at)immanion-press(dot)com

 

 

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