"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.

Sunday, 25 August 2013

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Babe in the Woods

Resting in the magical realms of Sherwood Forest. 

I have been going through my publishing archive boxes today, trying to put all of my back catalogue into some sort of order and sequence.  With well over a decade of published words to my credit there is a lot to sort out and it is going to take me quite some time, not least because today I allowed myself to be distracted by a big box of Spirit&Destiny back issues.  These are the early issues, long before I was one of their columnists, when I was already an established author and S&D was still relatively new to the stands. 

I was looking through the pile of magazines for two issues in particular...I was searching for the fashion shoots that I found incredibly magical and inspiring at the time.  The Dream Weaver shoot from September 2003 issue had a fairy tale 'Sleeping Beauty in the Woods' theme, with an iron bed placed in the middle of the forest and a model sleeping peacefully.  The rest of the shoot was made up of images of the model wearing diaphanous night clothes and be-ribboned ballet slippers, dancing beneath the branches, gazing into a silver hand mirror and lighting her way with a candle.  It was such an enchanting fairytale shoot, and it was followed up with a piece called A Bedtime Story...another lovely shoot of how to make your bath and bedtime routine more magical.

A publicity photo taken in my garden...yes, that IS an orb.
The next issue I dug out was from January 2004.  This fashion shoot was called Into the Woods and it was themed around the notion of wood nymphs and elves.  The images in this shoot were of a model wearing cosy knits and autumnal dresses in shades of brown, plum, bronze and gold as she walked with a beautiful grey horse and strolled through the long grass.  This is the kind of thing I wear in the autumn and winter months so the shoot really resonated with me.  It was followed up with a 'where to buy' spread called Earthly Pleasures and I must confess that I went out and purchased most of the items shown - the faux fur bag, suede gloves and scarf I still have and I dig them out every autumn.  Again, this shoot was followed up by a piece on beauty products which used berries and leaves as their main ingredient so that readers could turn themselves into little wood nymphs if they were so inclined.  I liked that their fashion, shopping and beauty pages always ran with the same theme back then and that their themes were so magical and enchanting.

The evocative images from both these fashion shoots have stayed with me in my mind for a decade, inspiring me far beyond the shelf life of the magazine.  It makes me smile to think that I am now a part of Spirit&Destiny, inspiring readers in my turn.  What goes around, comes around.  If you have the S&D back issues mentioned here, dig them out and revisit those stunning shoots.  Or simply enjoy being a wood nymph in your own right by getting out into the forest, wearing autumn tones of brown, bronze, russet, gold, plum and dark berry red.  So what if you're not a model?  Neither am I, but I still like the photos I had taken in Sherwood Forest and among the trees in my garden.  As summer draws to a close and the shades of autumn dapple the trees, get out into the woods and snap some memorable wood nymph photos. 
BB Marie x

Sherwood Forest is stunning at any time of year, and I love spending time there.
Ahh well, soon be autumn...

Friday, 23 August 2013

POET'S CORNER; Highland Blood Rite

This is my kind of man!

Highland Blood Rite

The cut did not leave me with a scar
No silver white line marks his dirks passing
In a daily declaration of perfect love and perfect trust
When once he held my hand across the Eagle Stone...

I have nothing to remember him by
Save the promise held in the gift of a pressed flower
His mother's ring, I still sometimes wear upon my finger
The image of his soul-stirring, lightening sharp eyes
And the ghost of his kiss on my lips.

By Marie Bruce

I wrote this poem some time ago to commemorate a special moment of trust between myself and a Highlander I barely knew and whose name I wore pinned to my sleeve...Scots readers will understand that last part! We were conducting a special ritual by a Pictish standing stone in Strathpeffer, up in the Scottish Highlands. It was one of those impromptu moments of magic that just seem to happen to me when I am in Scotland.  I came across the poem again recently when  flicking through my work book of song/poetry snippets. It is an unpublished work from my private collection but I am happy to share it here on my blog.  It is a glimpse into my past, a moment of Highland magic and romance, captured forever in poetry.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Knights Awakening

Knight of Stars

This morning I woke up very early, before the dawn.  I went downstairs, careful not to wake Pyewackett and brought a cup of coffee back up to bed.  As I sat pondering on the new day I watched daybreak slowly creep into my room.  As the dim light glimmered through the window, I witnessed my paintings come to life...each knight slowly awakening to the dawn.  

The colours of my knight pictures suit the twilight hours, with blue, grey, pink and purple merging into a twilight background.  I love the way the artist Jack Shalatain blends out the edges of his paintings so that it looks as if his ethereal subjects are walking out of a magical spirit mist. You can clearly see this in the Knight of Stars above - the caparisoned horse is just stepping out of a cloud. Is it a portal to the past where knights still ride; is it the gateway to Elphame and this is a faerie knight of the Seelie Court?  Maybe it is a spirit guide, offering protection, constant and true. He certainly makes me feel protected each time I look on him.

The Knight of the Holy Grail
I watched the knights wake up as the water-colour dawn bathed them in dewy light.  The Knight of Stars woke first, his white charger quickly being picked out by the new day...I could almost hear the chink of armour and bit, making me want to ride through the misty woods with him.  I've had this print for a very long time, ever since I was a teenager. It is quite small though, so I am considering purchasing a larger version.   I love the crest of the charger's neck, the starry pennant flying, the shining gleam of the knight's silver armour, as if he is bathed in moonlight.  Because I ride myself I am not one to dream of riding pillion, much preferring to ride my own mount alone, but for The Knight of Stars I would make an exception - I would feel honoured to ride pillion behind him, safe in his hands.

The Knight of the Holy Grail took a little longer to rouse.  The moon behind him was the first hint of his presence this morning, followed by the shield, sword and helm.  Because the colours are much darker, his armour is more of a pewter tone than the bright silver of The Knight of Stars, so it was almost full daylight before he made his presence known.  When he did, he stepped gradually out of the purple grey shadows, looking serene, armed and ready to do battle. 

The Knight of the Holy Grail isn't quite as showy as The Knight of Stars. His colours are more muted,  like camouflage amid the shadows.  He creeps up on me stealthily, playfully  - he's been there all along, but he kept himself out of sight until the perfect moment when the sunlight brings him to life again.  Then all at once he is there, magnificent, majestic - a loyal hearted knight.  The very last thing to catch the sun beams is the silk rose I placed at the top left hand corner of his frame...a rose in bloom...a Rose knight... forever close by to inspire me as each day unfolds.

Both these prints are available to purchase from the artists website www.jackshalatain.co.uk  and I believe that the original painting of The Knight of Stars is also up for sale, priced so high as to put buyers off - I think it would break Jack's heart if someone actually bought him!  But the prints are very beautiful, non-shiny, so once they are framed they do look like paintings.  Check out Jack's work and see what magical paintings you could be waking up to each day.

To read my post on how I got The Knight of the Holy Grail click here
BB Marie

Wednesday, 7 August 2013


I often hear an owl in my garden late at night, calling for its mate.  It makes me smile, though sometimes his screech startles me. I feel an affinity with him because I have always been a night owl.  I can quite happily stay at my desk all night working, going to bed with the dawn and sleeping until noon.  On nights out I tend to get my second wind at around midnight which can annoy friends who are usually flagging by the witching hour!

            There is more to a night owl than a nocturnal body clock and in a daylight driven world, night owls can be misunderstood.  Convention dictates that the light hours are when we should be the most active, which is natural and easy enough for most people.  This natural order of things becomes more challenging for night owls though.  It should be stated here that by night owls I am not referring to those who enjoy the odd late night and a lie in the following day, but to those individuals who quite naturally become more alert and more productive after dark as a matter of course each and every night and consistently throughout their lives.

            This tendency towards dark living can mean that a night owl might find themselves being labelled as lazy.  This is because the daylight world sees only a late riser and someone who lies in bed half the day – under cover of darkness though the night owl is usually hard at work when most people have been sleeping for a good few hours.  This is especially likely to be the case with creative people and artists as the quiet night colludes in creativity, offering inspiration and peaceful tranquility in which to work. So far from being lazy, night owls can be some of the most productive and hard working people around.

            By the same token a night owl will usually be more active and productive during the darker months of autumn and winter.  To a night owl sunlight can feel very draining and the longer, warmer days of summer are a trial rather than a joy.  Although a night owl may try to reprogram their body clock, eventually they will fall back into their normal routine of late to bed and late to rise.  They may look forward to the longest day purely as the herald of the return of the dark season.  When darkness falls early on a mid-winter afternoon a night owl is truly in their element.

            If you can relate to any of this then perhaps you are a night owl too.  If so you might find yourself drawn to employment which offers permanent night shifts or late twilight shifts.  If you are a night owl then embrace this darker aspect of your character – do not apologize for it if it is who you are. If dark living means that you get more done then be true to yourself, not to convention.  Spend as much time in your element of night as you can.  Be true to your nocturnal body clock and you will probably find that you are more productive and happier for it.  Dare to defy convention.  I always have!

Images from www.google.com

Friday, 2 August 2013

ONCE UPON A DREAM; Night School - I've Enrolled

One of the very pretty note books I bought for night classes

It has been a busy couple of days here in the house of Bruce.  If you were reading my blog back in March you will be aware that I was considering a return to college to take up some kind of academic class.  Well, on Wednesday I enrolled in night school at the local city college and I start in September.  

I've always been a pro-active kind of person.  Whereas lots of people might simply sigh and dream of doing something, I always take steps to make the dream a reality.  That is how I got published after all - by taking the necessary steps to make myself a published writer, rather than just making excuses as to why I didn't have time to write.  So rather than bemoaning the high cost of the college fees, I decided to use some of my savings to pay for a short taster course and see how I like it.

I wanted to do something that would be interesting and that would ultimately make me a better writer.  I toyed with courses on creative writing (it didn't teach anything I haven't already succeeded in), journalism (as a freelance I am already a journalist and I don't plan on being a staff writer, so this was no good to me) and editing ( I've been editing for years, so again, it wasn't what I needed).  It soon became obvious that I needed to think outside the box.

What I really needed was a way to enrich the connection with readers through my work, rather than a course that teaches the nuts and bolts of actually being a writer as this is akin to teaching one's grandmother to suck eggs.   I thought about my main genre of Mind, Body, Spirit; I thought about what the traditional role of a Wise Woman was and how I could incorporate that into my writing a bit more.  I decided to enroll on a therapy course that deals in emotional well-being, mental health and personal development.  I think that this will make my work more insightful and problem solving for my readers. I am quite an empathic writer anyway so I'm hoping that the course will build on what I already do naturally.

The course is just one evening a week and the rest is self-study at home, so as I work from home anyway this really suits my usual working pattern and I can fit the study time around the deadlines of being a working writer.  I am strangely looking forward to being back in the classroom again, and of course I cannot wait to get acquainted with the student library!  I am a little nervous - but I was nervous before my first ice-skating class and piano lesson, so I know the nerves will fade once I am learning something new again.  Mostly I am excited to be adding another new string to my bow. 

Yesterday I went shopping for new college supplies and I bought some lovely blush pink note books with Art Deco ladies on the covers as pictured above. They will make my studies much more fun and feminine. They are currently sat in a pile on my second desk in my study and I smile whenever I see them. I am so glad that I bit the bullet and enrolled.  It will be a new phase in my learning experiences and also in my writing too. Surely the worst thing has to be to stop learning;  to give up on one's ability to learn something new, master a new skill and to just stagnate into a mundane routine?   I'm too much of a Bruce for that - I feel the drive to press ahead, onwards, upwards, forwards into a new destiny. 

Meanwhile my copy of Philippa Gregory's The White Princess arrived today, so I plan to clear the decks and read all weekend.  It is such a pretty book and I can't wait to fall into it.
BB Marie