Bright blessings to everyone for Imbolc! This year Imbolc is feeling perfect already.  It’s the time when the days are suddenly noticeably longer and the earth, although still cold, is starting to awaken. It’s a time of inspiration and beginnings.  In our beautiful new garden all the signs are there.  The birds today have been going wild - we have so many that visit us and it’s an endless delight watching them.  We have too many to mention, but the ones I particularly love are the Great Spotted Woodpeckers, the Goldfinches, all the different Tits and today I noticed a pair of little Treecreepers! The bird photos on the right are all taken by Mr B in our back garden.  Photos wanted Many thanks to Cornmother of our Stonewylde forum for the lovely photos.  She always sends some for the next newsletter, and it’s much appreciated.  The stunning green St Brigid’s Cross on the banner above is actually made from tussock grass, would you believe?  If anyone else would care to send any interesting photos relevant to Stonewylde, we’re always looking for new ones.  We’d also like to have some photos of people reading Stonewylde books (ideally in strange places perhaps) that we can put on the website.  Here’s one that appeared on Facebook - I Iove it! Fifth book to be called ... I’m now really well into writing the fifth and final book in the series, and I have an important announcement to make - the title!  This has now been approved by my lovely Gollancz editor, Gillian Redfearn, and I can  reveal that the last book will be called Shaman of Stonewylde.  If you’ve read the fourth book, you may understand why!  We’re now thinking of the cover art, which is always exciting, and I’m writing away in my little room.  I shall be sad when it’s all over. Moongazy Girl is back As promised in the last newsletter, I’ve resurrected my old Moongazy Girl blog and actually I’ve been quite good at keeping it up (so far!).  I can’t blog every day as I’m so busy writing, but I try to do it two or three times a week if possible.  Do take a look here - there are pics of my actual writing room amongst other things.   Stonewylde nominated for award! And now for the second VERY IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!  Shadows at Stonewylde has been longlisted for the David Gemmell Legend Award!  This is a prestigious prize awarded to the best fantasy book published in a particular year.  The voting is completely public so you get to choose who wins! First voting is to get a title through to the short list, so please do cast your vote.  To be perfectly honest, Stonewylde isn’t really classic, epic fantasy and in my opinion doesn’t stand the remotest chance of winning, especially as it’s up against some hugely famous fantasy authors’ books.  But it would be lovely to have some votes if possible.  The link is here.  You’ll need to scroll down the list quite a way to find Shadows of Stonewylde, and please note the box to click on is the one ABOVE each book.  Thank you all so much! On a similar note - Magus of Stonewylde now has 97 reviews on Amazon and it would be wonderful to make it 100 - please look here. I wish you all a very magical and inspirational Imbolc! Bright blessings to all my Stonewylde readers from Kit xxxxxxxx     Do join us and become part of our amazing Stonewylde Community.      Stonewylde Newsletter 41 February 1st 2012 Bright blessings at    to all Stonewylders What’s been going on ... This festival, also known as Oimelc, marks the beginning of the earth's awakening after the cold and darkness of winter. Some sources say the word means "ewe's milk" and some "in the belly". This is the time when female sheep begin to lactate, and is the start of the lambing season. But it's also the time when life begins to grow in the womb of the earth, so both meanings of Imbolc make sense.The festival is a Celtic cross-quarter day, and marked the time in the old farming calendar when ploughing began. The corn dollies saved at Lammas, believed to hold the spirit of the corn, were ploughed back into the earth at Imbolc to symoblise the return of the corn spirit to the earth, thus ensuring fertility for the year ahead. Imbolc is the festival of the Goddess in her Maiden aspect. The crescent moon and white candles are symbols depicting the strength and purity of the virgin goddess who brings new life to the earth. She has many names - notably Brigid or Bride, which are apparently the origin of the word "bride". The custom of the bride wearing white and carrying flowers at her wedding are said to come from this pagan goddess.Brigid or Bride was later christianised as St. Bridget, but her origins go back much further. The Brigid's Cross , an important Imbolc symbol, is woven with four arms. The ones pictured here were made by Cornmother, Visit the Stonewylde Website Folklore tells of the Maiden crossing the threshold at Imbolc, which makes this a liminal festival - a sacred time when the door between the worlds is open. It's also a time to clean and get rid of the old season's clutter, both in the home and one's life. The besom (old fashioned broom) is therefore also a symbol of Imbolc, and is often placed at the threshold. Christianity subsumed this ancient festival and renamed it Candlemas, echoing the white candle theme, and marking it as the purification of the Virgin Mary. The links here with the pagan goddess and Bride are very obvious. To celebrate Imbolc, light white candles in your home, have a good clearout, plant bulbs or seeds and remember this is the time to celebrate the strength and power of young womanhood - Brigit, Isis, Athena, call her what you will. Imbolc at Stonewylde is described in detail in the fourth book in the series, Shadows at Stonewylde. A young girl of fourteen or fifteen is chosen to be the Bright Maiden.  She wears white, with a head-dress of silver wicker woven with snowdrops.  Partnering her is the Archer, a young man chosen especially for his prowess with the longbow.  He wears green, echoing the myth of Robin Hood and Maid Marion. Even though this festival can appear to be in the middle of winter when the weather is at its most bitter, nevertheless there are often many signs around this time of the beginning of life stirring in the cold earth. The goddess is never dead – only sleeping – and Imbolc marks her first awakenings. ©Steve Perry St Brigid’s Cross  © Cornmother