This week sees not only the glorious Lammas festival, but also a full
moon on August 2nd, known at Stonewylde as the Corn Moon. And at
the end of August we have a Blue Moon too - which mirrors events in my
latest book, funnily enough. So it seems appropriate that this week, I’ll
be putting the very final touches and edits to this final book in the series,
Shaman of Stonewylde, at the time when we celebrate the start of the
harvest and have two full moons in the month.
With the publishing date for Shaman fixed for October 18th, I’m currently
arranging a series of book signing events. But I’ve also been out and
about with the new paperback edition of Shadows at Stonewylde,
having been invited back again to Swindon Waterstones. I also spent a
lovely day supporting the Wessex Schools’ Literature Festival at
Thornden School in Eastleigh, Hants. This school visit was kindly
arranged by Nicky Gale of West Quay Waterstones, who’s an ardent fan
with the proclaimed mission of converting the world to Stonewylde! I
spoke to a large audience of Year 9 pupils and then taught two creative
writing workshops - many thanks to the fantastic kids at Thornden School
and especially the librarians Sue and Liz.
Sadly I couldn’t send out a Summer Solstice newsletter as my laptop had
recently given up the ghost and I didn’t have any of the necessary
software on the replacement. See in the Community News below of the
incredible Stonewylde Gathering at Avebury, and the Handfasting that
took place there. During my laptop disaster, I also lost a lot of e-mails
and contacts, so if you’re still awaiting a reply from me for something,
please do contact me again. Sorry about this.
We’re happy to put up some readers’ photos and would welcome some
more please of all the books, the funnier the better. This one from Spain
comes via Facebook, with the caption “ Fab weather, fab drink and fab
book, what more can a girl ask for?!”
Did anyone think of Stonewylde when watching the opening ceremony
for the Olympics? That meadow, the tor, the Village Green - all were very
reminiscent. One of my forum members thinks Danny Boyle must have
read the books for inspiration! Another has devised the new slogan:
“Stonewylde - fifty shades of green”. Wouldn’t it be great if people were
reading about Green Magic instead of that!
Mr B and I spent a wonderful long weekend at Port Eliot Festival as I’d
won tickets in a competition. We met up again with Dovegreyreader,
the famous literary blogger, and enjoyed listening to her interviewing
many authors in her knitting tent, including Tracy Chevalier, Robert
McFarlane, Michele Roberts, Ali Smith and Kate Summerscale amongst
others. We also met for lunch with Cornmother and her Other Half,
although sadly we couldn’t make it to her special corn-dolly event at the
Museum of Witchcraft in Boscastle which took place last weekend.
My three lovely chickens are thriving, and are now all laying daily. We’ve
had a couple of visits from Mr Fox, but luckily the girls were safe in their
Eglu. I’m now in the process of persuading Mr B to let me have a dog as
we’re only minutes away from the woods and fields and I’d like some
company other than my somnolent cats for the autumn and winter when I
start working on my next book.
More details in the Autumn Equinox newsletter about dates when I’ll be
out and about in bookshops, and do check on the website, forum and
Facebook page for up-to-date news. At the time of writing, there’s a
great pre-order deal for Shaman of Stonewylde on Amazon and
apparently you won’t pay more if their price goes up subsequently.
However it’s always much better if you can come along to a signing event
if possible and support a book shop.
i wish you all a blessed Lammas - I hope you all have a successful
harvest, whatever it may be! And I also wish you a magical time at both
the Corn Moon and the Blue Moon.
Breaking Stonewylde news
Stonewylde Newsletter 44
August 1st 2012
Bright blessings at
to all Stonewylders
What’s been going on ...
The Lammas Festival at the
beginning of August is one of
the four Celtic Cross Quarter
Festivals, linked to the old
farming calendar - some call it
Lughnasadh. This was a time
people were very close to the land
their lives were governed by the
changing of the seasons and the need to grow enough
food to survive.
Lammas takes its name
from hlaf maesse, the
Old English for loaf mass
and this is the time when
the cereal crops are
harvested. There are
links to other cultures
and religions too, notably
Demeter and Ceres, also
associated with crops and the harvest. There are many
ancient customs involving the cutting of the first and
last sheaf. The spirit of the corn, sometimes referred to
as the Corn Mother, was the sacred symbol of this
festival. Many cultures, including the Ancient Greeks,
Romans and Egyptians, held similar types of rituals
where the bounty of the land was honoured. It was
also the time when John Barleycorn was sacrificed.
Corn dollies are a feature of
the Lammas festival, and in
times past, different areas
wove their own beautifully
complex designs often
decorated with bright
ribbons or wool. Traditionally
the corn dollies woven at
Lammas (or their ashes)
were ploughed back into the
land at Imbolc, symbolising
the return of the Corn Spirit
to the earth, in an attempt to
ensure a good crop the next year.
Lammas is also the time of year when sweethearts
exchanged favours - these were simple knots woven
from corn and sometimes tied with a ribbon. If a girl
accepted a boy's favour, she'd pin it to her clothing to
show the community she was "walking out" with a lad,
and he'd pin her favour to his hat to do the same.
The symbol at Stonewylde for Lammas is the head of
wheat or corn, and it's a full day of celebrations for the
folk of Stonewylde, but particularly the Villagers.
Rituals start before dawn up in the Lammas Field, with
the community spread around the perimeter and linked
together to greet the sunrise. The crop is harvested in
this special field in the traditional way using sickles,
Visit the Stonewylde Website
Dates for your diary ...
Do come along and collect a bookmark and badge. And if you own a Stonewylde T-shirt - please wear it!
Book launch for Shaman of Stonewylde at Waterstone’s in Dorchester
Saturday October 20th from 11.00am till 3pm. All five books will be available! At the last book launch
in Dorchester, we sold out of copies of Shadows. There’ll be plenty of copies of Shaman available at
this launch, but if you know you’ll definitely be coming, you may like to reserve one to make sure of
getting it. And if you can’t make it on the day, they can reserve one and I can still sign it for you.
Waterstone’s Book Events
Saturday October 20th - Dorchester, Dorset *Book Launch Event*
Saturday November 3rd - West Quay, Southampton,
Saturday November 17th - Swindon, Wilts
Saturday November 24th - The Oracle, Reading, Berks
Friday December 7th - Camberley, Surrey
Most Waterstones signings start at 11.00am and I stay in the shop for about three hours or so,
but please check the website here for full details as some of the events are different.
* Independent Book Shop Events *
Saturday October 27th - Cat & Cauldron, Glastonbury, Somerset 2 - 5pm (Avalon Faerie Ball after)
More events will be added - latest information and details can be found on the
Stonewylde website here
Stonewylde Community news ...
In May we once again gathered at Avebury to meet up with members of the Stonewylde Community. Our very
special member, Swampy the Campmeister, had once again been a complete star and organised a rally at
nearby Blacklands Campsite at Calne. We’d completely taken over one of the paddocks, and had the use of
“the Barn” for an indoor-ish barbeque party on the Friday, and also a Stonewylde Craft Fair on the Sunday.
Both were lovely and it was so good to meet up again with old familiar faces and many new ones too. Anyone
who’s a member of the Stonewylde Forum is welcome to join us, and you can come along as a day visitor if
camping isn’t your thing. But with the excellent rally rates negotiated by Swampy, camping is a fun and cheap
option, and dogs and children (and ferrets) are welcome too.
On the Saturday we all
spent a magical day at
Avebury, where once
again we’d hired the
Village Hall. We had a
lovely cafe there
staffed by volunteers
with cakes kindly
brought along by
readers, and everyone
came dressed very
beautifully for this was
a special occasion - a
who’s read the books
knows this is an old
country tradition that
can be performed as
well as, or instead of, a
traditional wedding. I’d
written a handfasting
scene for the new
book, and sent a copy of this ceremony to a special member of the community, known there as Faerieface.
She’d converted this into a usable ceremony and at Avebury, our lovely Bekki and Brian, who own Neveah Hair
in Portsmouth, were joined together.
We processed through the street of Avebury and in a circle of friendship amongst the ancient stones,
Faerieface and her husband, helped by other Stonewylde readers within the circle, led a really moving
ceremony. Up until this point, the weather had been gloomy if not positively wet. But as we all stood in a
circle, suddenly the sun burst from behind the clouds, and the lovely couple were blessed with warmth and light.
It was amazing! Afterwards in the Village Hall we shared a wonderful Green Man handfasting cake make by
Beantighe, another long-standing member of our community.
That night we had a huge campfire and party at the campsite with entertainment provided by some of our
talented folk. It was a wonderful gathering, and Swampy has booked the site again for next year. If you’d like
to join us, you’d be most welcome. Full details are on the Stonewylde Forum.
Members of the community get together regularly, with real friendships (and the occasional romance) flourishing
way beyond anything ever imagined amongst a group of people who’ve met because they enjoyed reading a
series of books. There are now many new groups on Facebook formed from Stonewylde readers, and people
join together for weekends, parties and celebrations. We’re getting together in a local meetup to celebrate the
Blue Moon at the end of August in a very sacred place - details on the forum.
and every man, woman and child from the Village is
involved with harvesting the Lammas Field in time-
honoured fashion. Lammas cakes are eaten for
breakfast, made from corn, butter and honey and
flavoured with nutmeg. This is the day for honouring the
Corn Mother, the symbolic spirit who lives in the crops
and sacrifices herself every year for the community.
When the last sheaf is
harvested, it's carried
Magus and the
Lammas Queen. She
must weave it into a
special corn dolly that
is used in the rituals
up at the Stone Circle
that night, and is then hidden up in the rafters in the Great
Barn, to protect the Corn Spirit during the cold winter
months. At Imbolc, the dolly is fetched down again for the
Corn Spirit to be returned to the waiting earth in the
Lammas Field. There is also another custom that takes
place when the last sheaf is cut - the killing of hundreds of
rabbits trapped in the centre of the field, and made into
special Lammas pies for supper. No place for
squeamishness in the countryside!
Information about the ancient craft of corn-dolly making
can be found on the website of the Guild of Straw
Craftsmen. Many Stonewylde readers have memories of
making simple corn favours at school, but generally it’s
not a craft that’s taught to children nowadays. There’s
also a serious shortage of the old-fashioned type of crop
needed to make corn dollies - it must be the hollow-
stemmed variety which isn’t widely grown any more.
Members of the Guild of Strawcraftsmen are dedicated to
keeping the craft alive, and run workshops and
demonstrations. Our own Cornmother can be seen in the
first section outside the Museum of Witchcraft in
Boscastle working on a small corn dolly - behind her are
two “necks” bound with red ribbon.
You can read all about the Lammas festivities in the
second book, Moondance of Stonewylde. Lammas is a
good time to remember that we're all dependent on the
bounty of the earth. Without the fertility of the land, and
the life-giving powers of the sun and the rain, there'd be
no living creatures on this planet. Take time to honour
Nature's gifts to us at Lammas.
We’re delighted to present the cover of the fifth and final book
in the Stonewylde series - Shaman of Stonewylde! I’m so
pleased with the cover, designed by Larry Rostant and the
wonderful Art Dept at Orion/Gollancz. Many thanks to all of
them for doing us proud again.
Here is the back cover copy for the book - beware spoilers if
you haven’t already read the other four books:
In the final book of the series, the future of
Stonewylde teeters on the cliff-edge.
The Outside World clamours at the wrought iron gates,
and the evil alliance within Stonewylde
threatens to destroy everything.
With the new business and their relationship in tatters,
Yul and Sylvie find their once-beautiful world
has been desecrated by the dark forces.
But Stonewylde is as old as the hills themselves,
and the landscape endures.
Leveret has discovered her true calling and is determined
to lead the community back to
the golden age of magic and prosperity.
As the enchanting tale of Stonewylde draws to its end,
Sylvie finally realises why she was brought here
and Yul understands his true destiny.
Whilst Leveret sees exactly what lies ahead
for Stonewylde …
So there you have it! I hope to be able to bring you an extract
soon, and Gollancz will be producing a promotional film from
footage shot at Avebury last year. In the meantime, if you
have any short film showing people reading any of the
Stonewylde books in amusing situations, please let me know
as we’d love to launch the Stonewylde You-tube channel with
some funny promos.
Please follow us on Twitter - there’s a Kit Berry profile and a
Stonewylde one. We also now have a brand new Stonewylde
page on Facebook (rather than just my profile) which will have
competitions, giveaways and event notifications, so please
help spread the word by “Liking” and sharing the page.
I’m sorry for all this hype - it’s not the Stonewylde way, but we
need to get the books out there and help to make the world a
greener, more magical place.
Stonewylde on Twitter
and Facebook - Like Us!
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