"FUIMUS - We Have Been"

"FUIMUS - We Have Been!" motto of Clan Bruce


All material on SHIMMERCASTDREAMS copyright of Marie Bruce and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Samhain, Then and Now

A sign of things to come! 1984; I was 11 years old here and at my Nan's house.  Not the best pumpkin I ever carved.


Now;  from the Spirit&Destiny photo shoot to promote my spell-casting column. And yes, the hair IS all my own.
www.spiritanddestiny.co.uk



There is a saying in witchcraft; once a witch, always a witch.  Basically it means that if you feel drawn to the gentle positive magic of witchcraft now, you were probably on this path in a past life.  It is more like finding your way back and remembering the techniques than learning something new.

Although most kids enjoy the spirit of Halloween, I always felt especially excited at this time of year.  I never went trick or treating as my father wouldn't allow it, but my brother and I enjoyed many other Halloween games such as apple bobbing, apples on strings, 'suck and see' where you are blindfolded and dip your finger into foodstuffs and guess what it is by taste - black treacle always had me stumped!

Looking through old family albums I discovered this photo of me as a child celebrating Halloween. It made me smile,  as it is a foreshadowing of future events and the turn my life has taken, working as a full time pagan author. I thought I would share the pictures even though they are fuzzy, share the magic and possibly make you smile too.

I will be observing Samhain quite gently this year, rather than celebrating; but I do wish you all a very magical Halloween night.
Blessed Be.


Saturday, 20 October 2012

MUSICAL DOLL; Fairytale Melodies

I am a woman who adores fairytales.  A fairytale can be any literary genre at all; ghost story, mystery, thriller, Gothic, erotic, always romantic...I am drawn to the concept of 'Happy Ever After' even though I know Life rarely gives people such a marvelous gift. 

I turn to the innocence of fairytales when reality becomes too painful.  A beautiful fairytale is a great antidote to sadness, taking you back to the safe realm of childhood; cocooning you in the secure knowledge of a happy ending. They are a wonderful form of escapism.

As I am currently writing my second pagan album which has a Gothic fairytale theme, I have been immersed in this enchanted branch of folklore for some time.
I have been searching for modern variations on old, much loved fairytales and came across some quite stunning pop music videos which are full of fairytale inspiration. 
These are some of my favorite ones. I hope you enjoy watching them as much as I have. I find them all quite enchanting, charming and inspirational.

Katy Perry's Wide Awake is a stunning interpretation of a woman's descent into the Underworld to become Lady of the Labyrinth, facing and overcoming her personal demons.  I love the blue hair and the fact that she punches out the Prince!

Kelly Clarkson's Don't Waste Your Time is a darker, more Gothic version of Sleeping Beauty In the Woods. I especially love the red gown and the astral projection/spirit walking that takes place in this video. Once again this fairytale maiden is choosing independence over a less than princely Prince.


Amy Lee and Evanescence in Call Me When You're Sober re-work the Red Riding Hood tale, exploring the  theme of  a woman's disappointment in falling for a man she thinks is a Prince only to discover that he is a predatory wolf.  Oh, and I WANT that red Tartan dress!!!

Another Evanescence offering, this time with Amy Lee cast as the Snow Queen, trapped in an icy numbness,  freezing out raw emotions in an avoidance tactic and effectively blocking out past pain. Haunting piano melody and vocals.  This song is an old favorite of mine. 

Memories by Within Temptation is quite beautiful.  A woman in white; a ghostly lover in the mirror; a wraith of a woman, haunted by her own memories of love lost and found again in remembrance.

One of the things which I love about these music videos is that they do not pander to the stereotype of fairytale maidens being helpless damsels in distress; quite the contrary, as these maiden tend to kick the Prince into touch if he fails to live up to expectations!  These are strong, independent modern women living in a fairytale world of magic and enchantment, just like any modern day witch.

My own fairytale album follows on from my debut Moon Chants and is based around pagan magic, Wiccan ritual and traditional Gothic themes.  I will be writing the album throughout this winter, as I find the dark season most inspiring, it being in perfect harmony with the concept for the album. Click here to find out more and watch this space for more updates on the musical side of my career.
Blessed Be
Marie x


Saturday, 13 October 2012

DARK DAYS, SEARCHING FOR SILVER LINING

It seems that Life is teaching me the true meaning of Halloween this year as I am having to come to terms with the death of my step-father who passed away just yesterday.

This is not a moping post and I don't want to depress anyone.  I just wanted to explain that I will be absent from my blog for a little while; maybe a week or so.

I will start posting again as soon as I feel up to it; but in the meantime I am going on an active search for the silver lining...I know it must be somewhere close!

Love and blessings to you all
Blessed Be
Marie xxx

Wednesday, 10 October 2012

IVORY TOWER; Regal Winter Nesting

Beautiful deep plum soft furnishings - the new colour for my winter time boudoir

Photo from; http://househomegarden.blogspot.com/

Last night we had the first deep frost of the season here in Yorkshire.  It was so cold my cat Pyewackett stayed snug indoors with me all evening and I turned the heating on.  I love the chilly nights at this time of year, when the darkness falls early and the sky looks like black velvet.  The October moon is one of the prettiest of the entire year, taking on an amber glow, like a pumpkin in the night sky.    It has barely warmed up at all today; it is grey and clouded over, so no frost tonight, but it is still decidedly chilly.

So I have given into my autumnal nesting instincts and spent the morning transforming my pretty lilac bedroom into a regal boudoir fit for a queen.  My room is painted a deep Lilac colour and during the lighter months I have pastel lilac voile panels hung to the windows, allowing the sunshine to filter through into the room.  Trouble is they don't afford much privacy and as the nights are getting darker earlier I wanted more substantial window dressings.  I was also ready to spruce the room up a bit and give it a mini make-over with new soft furnishings, candlesticks etc.

I went shopping and bought beautiful new curtains in a deep plum-purple faux suede.  They are thick and thermal lined, blocking out any silhouette at the windows and keeping heat and light from escaping. With coordinating plum voile blinds the windows now look like those of a royal palace.  I also bought a full bed throw in plum velvet, with matching plum duvet set and sequin boudoir cushions from www.kylieminogueathome.com to scatter and spruce up the bed.  I have spent the entire morning pottering in my room, cleaning windows, hanging new curtains, dressing the four poster bed and now I'm worn out!

I am very happy with how it all looks.  The room is ready for a cold, frosty winter.  The deep plum colour is inviting and warm; it feels as though the room hugs you when you walk in through the door.  The velvet feels rich and decadent.  It is queenly and regal in the deep purple tones of royalty. Best of all it feels completely private.  I am burning Yankee's Black Cherry to bring in the scent of autumn and putting out new candle holders so that I can retire to bed early with a good book or  snuggle down and watch a DVD.  It feels like a room where I can hibernate  when the winter sets in, or when my thyroid disorder decides I must curl up and sleep like a dormouse.  It is a room for sipping something festive, picking through a pile of new books and feeling like the Queen of my own little dominion.  Winter, you are most welcome...my snug little nest is ready for you now.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

ONCE UPON A DREAM; The Witching Hour




The Witching Hour


See the pumpkins grinning on Halloween Night
See the black cat's fur stand up, tail fluffed in fright!
See the bats go flying by and a cloud flit across the moon
Feel the eerie silence descend upon the room
We sit around the table and wait for it to tap
To tell us that a ghost is near; we listen for his rap...


Rat-a-tat-tat!  "Is there anybody there?"
Was that a ghostly footstep upon a creaking stair?
Rat-a-tat-tat!  "Is somebody here?"
Hearts beating loudly, breath held in fear.
We watch the fire burning low
Scrying pictures as the embers glow.


Then we gather round the hearth to hear a spooky tale
Was that keening just the wind or a banshee's wail?
Was that a Shade that passed me by?
Or just a trick played by the eye?
Anything can happen - and we are ready for a fright
For it is the Witching Hour on Halloween Night!

By Marie Bruce

Saturday, 6 October 2012

SHIMMER SPELL; Persephone Speaks...

Proserpine is Rossetti's version of the beautiful Persephone.

"Come now Shadow Seeker; listen to my dark secrets in the whispering voice of the autumn wind.  I, who hold the keys to the dark tower of your dreams can also unlock the greater mysteries of your heart.  Here in the sublime sanctuary of my Underworld realm the darkness sighs for you."

Persephone lifts an ornate lantern and lights the candle within. “At the center of all things is the light of all lights; the light of spirit and the light of hope.”
  A large black moth flies from the darkness to the light of the lantern.  You watch fascinated, as again and again the moth makes for the lantern, beating its wings against the filigree pattern.  In one quick movement Persephone reaches out and gently catches hold of the moth.  It sits peacefully upon her open hand and you take a closer look at its beautiful dark markings.

            “Light any spark in the dark and the moth will come, for he is eternally drawn to the darkness; the deeper, denser shadows beyond the pool of light. As he struggles to reach the shadow side of candlelight he exhausts himself, constantly striving to attain an illusion and reach his dark goal.  But of course the moth will never reach this denser shadow... except in his own demise.

           Human nature is very similar in that you have a tendency to believe that circumstances are somewhat blacker then they really are. You forget to see the light and neglecting to seek its warmth and comfort, you are burned by sorrow.  Remember then that it is in the darkest days that you should look to the light, not to the shadows beyond.” Persephone blows gently on the moth and it flies away into the night. 


 "Fear not the dark nights of the soul when the weight of melancholy presses down upon you…if you will but step forth into the shadow-scapes of nature you will discover your night vision and come to see the gentle truths behind Life’s harsh trials.  Embrace the Darklore and allow your heart to release the ruby tears of past pain.  Only then will your spirit be free to pursue your own Gothic fairytale, for who knows what may happen in the enchanted Shadow Lands that lie beyond ‘happy ever after’?"  

I have always been drawn to the goddess Persephone and her mythology.  The story tells how Hades, god of the Underworld, saw Persephone picking flowers in a meadow and became infatuated with her.  Hades abducts Persephone, dragging her down into his dark realm, forcing her to be his queen and tricking her into eating the seeds of a pomegranate (the fruit of the Underworld) in order to bind her to his dark world. But Persephone is goddess of springtime and without her the world falls into decay. 

Eventually Persephone's mother Demeter goes to see Hades’ brother, Zeus, demanding that he intervene and make his brother return Persephone to her duty as maiden of spring.  Because Persephone has eaten the pomegranate seeds she is bound to the Underworld, so a compromise is reached wherein Persephone returns to the Earth and to her mother for six months of the year, maintaining her role as spring goddess, but each autumnal equinox Persephone must go back to her husband and take up her crown as Queen of Death and the Underworld for the next six months, giving the Earth over to autumn and winter as Demeter mourns this annual loss of her daughter.

On the surface this would seem to be a simple myth told to explain the cycle of the four seasons, but Persephone’s story is full of dark themes being overcome; abduction, trickery, betrayal, possessiveness, violation, rape, brainwashing manipulation, control, loss of innocence/ignorance and apparent powerlessness.  But Persephone is far from powerless and in the end, after all her trials, she becomes more powerful than she was before as Persephone is now both the beautiful Maiden Goddess of Spring and also the Dark Goddess of the Underworld.  She carries both light and dark within her and this is what makes her so beguiling.

I believe that most women go through their own 'Persephone Years' ...those periods in life when some difficulty must be overcome; betrayal confronted; deception brought to light and enemies faced and conquered. Our Persephone Years are those phases of sorrow, loss and sadness, which may come from divorce, illness, bereavement etc.  The trick to keeping positive is to realize that Persephone's story is a teaching myth...in the darkest time you are transformed to become stronger, more beautiful and more powerful than ever.  If you are struggling through such issues let Persephone be your guide with the meditation above...allow her to help you ascend back into the light, not as a vulnerable young women, easily manipulated and taken advantage of, but as a powerful Queen of great fortitude.





Thursday, 4 October 2012

IVORY TOWER; I'm enjoying a PJ day...


Today I have been having a lovely relaxing time, busy doing nothing, curled up in my nightie; reading, pondering, writing in my journal and generally being very lazy! Here's what my day looks like...

It all began with a bowl of sweet cinnamon porridge and coffee

Then a lovely shower with this autumn scented body wash from www.thebodyshop.co.uk

I'm wearing this soft blue nightie from www.hush-uk.com
And burning this warm, comforting scented candle from www.yankeedirect.com
I'm reading this fabulous history book and pondering on the finer qualities of Mr Neil Oliver - yes I have a little crush!  I was at Eileen Donan Castle (in the background there)  just a couple of weeks ago...it is beautiful.

I enjoyed a lovely cream tea of plain scones with blackberry jam and Cornish clotted cream....

....and spent time writing, blogging and tweeting.

I plan that my cosy evening will look something like this...
....with a marathon of my three favorite magical sisters....

....and a few of these to round off a lovely day of lazy indulgence!
So that's my day!  What have you been up to today? Whatever you did I hope you had fun :)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

WRITER'S DREAM; Start Small

New writer's often ask me how to 'go about it' ...it being the business of becoming a professional writer.  As I have said time and again, there are no short cuts - becoming a writer is generally a long road.  It might be that you have to work hard in another field, say nursing, before you are qualified to write a book about nursing care...the hard slog doesn't just mean sitting at a desk reading rejection slips, though that is usually part of the journey.

There is no quick-fix formula to getting published - if there were someone would have bottled it by now and sold the writer's dream on the open market. Also new writers should be prepared to work for free, say for a school newsletter or a hobby club newsletter.  Even published books that are based on blogs are the product of someone who took time to write their blog for free. Sadly this not what most people want to hear.  They think that;

  •  I was published immediately upon sending something out to an editor - No, it took me five years to get anything in print and even longer to get paid for my work.
  • That I was an immediate success - No, no-one is. 
  • Or that I 'knew people' namely editors and that I was published via nepotism - No, I was a complete outsider to the industry and didn't know a single editor or publisher when I started out.
People see where I am now as a successful columnist, recording artist etc and that is what they want to emulate; they want to slot themselves into publishing at the same level in order to reap the same recognition and rewards.  But let me make it crystal clear... I did not start out by writing for a national magazine and I was invited to write for Spirit&Destiny and Paradise Music only after years of publishing success and hard work...I have a proven track record; I am a known name and one of the top writers in my genre in the UK.  But that is not where I started out as an unpublished writer and I have worked my way up from the very dregs of the slush pile!

It took me almost nine years, from sending off the first piece of work (rejected) to signing a contract and getting paid for my work. Just to put that into some sort of perspective - it only takes three years to train as a nurse and six years of post-grad medical school to train to be a GP doctor!  Yes, I was that dedicated to my goal.   When I started out I began writing humorous poetry once a month for a local pub-guide, which I did for free, for over a year, until the publication folded. There are some who would (and did) sneer at me for it and turn up their noses at this small start....but look where it's brought me!...I recognized it for what it was at the time - a starting point.  I am still proud of myself that I wasn't too proud at the time to write poems for free; poems which were dismissed by those close to me as 'not quite Byron, is it?'  It was never meant to be Byron - I am not into Piggy-Backing and the industry always closes ranks against copy-cats! - it was meant to be Marie Bruce and it was the beginning of my career as a published writer.

So that's how I did it; beginning in my teens and published in my twenties.  You need to swallow your pride, forget the best-seller lists for the moment and start small. Start small, start local and be prepared to write for nowt! If you are not prepared to publish in a small, seemingly insignificant way, and deal with the sneering that brings, then you are chasing the dream for the wrong reasons.