Saturday, January 24, 2015

Sisters of the Wasteland

This was not supposed to be my next blog, but this project has always been strange and demanding, and it picks its moments without caution as it continues to haunt me. Perhaps it is my own personal obsessions or pathologies that makes connections upon connections while following the intertangled webs. Maybe its a weird synthesis or a culmimation of events that are too freaking uncanny to be understood by the rational mind.

La Moreneta - Our lady of darkness.
This screed began formulating in my head when I was at the abbey of Montserrat a few years back and I asked La Moreneta, the resident black Madonna, a question in which I was not prepared to hear the answer. For a long time I was bewildered instead of grateful and thankful that she decided to answer at all. People ask favors of her all day long. She must get sick of it. When I started this piece I was contemplating how La Moreneta is a force to be reckoned with and those who have visited her domain know this to be true. She is black and white - definitively - both sides of the coin, there are no shades of gray, and there is no slide area. The rest of the text has come together in different cities across Europe and America and is a bizarre mix of Gnostic creation myths, little known 16th century witchcraft traditions, seasoned with a little Emerald Tablet, Jung, transmutation, cosmogonic eons, Yeats and stellar nucleosynthesis. It's a strange kind of love to be certain...  Soon the words will be joined with images as part of a collaborative art piece which may finally end up being a graphic novel once it is finally done mutating. There are two bright and cunning minds coming on board to throw something new in the mix and I'm waiting with bated breath to see what will happen with it next. 


(photo by Marnie Shelton-Klein)

Sisters of the Wasteland

Never ask a question first without being able to handle the answer. Not of the Goddess and certainly not one older than the concept of time. She never abandoned you. She never forsake you. Step by step, she followed in the shadows. Letting you fail, and laughing when you did so. Yes, she is fearsome, but there is a beauty to her cruelty. That is where you shut down (wings of brutality flying overhead as the light drains out of the day). Conjuring. There are daemon's dreaming. Three were the norm – past, present, and future, existing all at once, or never at all. A conjuring trinity – three women were the norm. Symmetry and organization.

Could you dream them all at once and hold them within your mind's eye? This was something we once did. Then things became confused, and we forgot. We cannot find our back home. The mirror grew dim and we lost this aspect of ourselves. You cannot pray for the truth if you cannot face the truth. How can you find your way home if you don't even realize you're lost?

The three are searching for what they already possess. Three sisters. Three stages of alchemy. White, black, red. Blood on the chessboard. They are the Fire hanging between the two pillars of creation.

How long has she slept?” “Three days. Three Ages. Three Aeons.”
That should do. Time to wake her.”

Did you ever call its name in the dark? Nemesis. Rex Mundi. The demiurge. The error. The defecit. Jaelousie... Can you feel it whispering the words of forgetfulness as the lights dim, and reality falls away, and you dream dreams of ecstasy, despair, and oblivion. How loving is their gaze from the shadowy corner of the room watching you sleep with psychotic glee. The one who knows there is a way home is the one who makes you forget and pulls the wool over your eyes.

The moon is changing from milk to blood. Time to wake her.”

Once upon a time the dark Mother was endless. She was the vast Immaculate Darkness. Mistress on the sea of Infinity. Benevolent. Malevolent. These terms mean nothing and are concepts of cattle. In the center of her swirling chaos a cunning affliction unknowingly came to be. Imperfection in perfection. Creation was conjured without consent. How could perfection recognize Imperfection? And so She fell. Matter took shape and became finite. It became trapped. Days became numbers. Binding concepts. The error in the system. The Demiurge; mad, blind, and insane. But being born out of a deficit it never knew it was so, and so it never knew any different. Like all of us it fights not to cease to exist. But our light reflects its light. Our light reflects our maker.

May the curse, cunning, and blessing be.”

Wake up!”

This world has blinded the minds of the Unbelievers.

Nyx, Nul and Nil: Sisters of the Wasteland

Nyx is the earth, the core on which the waters lie.

Nul is the power of the ever-changing tides.

Nil is the breath of wind which guides and navigates.

Together they make up the vessel which traverses the sacred waters.

Positioned equidistantly around the table they ask a question, “who is speaking to us now?”
I am the one who cast my fire upon this world and will watch it blaze down to the very last ember.”
And what do we seek?”
When you can make three into one, and when you can make the inner like the outer, then you will find the keys to the kingdom of the high and low... Fire, sword, war... Do you know where you really are?”
"Show us the way, Father.”
The festering breath envelopes them. “Open your eyes Sisters of the Wasteland. Here you find the reality of your garden of delight.”

The scorched earth ripples in a heat haze in front of them, A world of ash and fire, scrub and rock. A world burned clean where nothing can grow. The mountains rise with jagged peaks around them, casting unnatural shadows as they huddle together for protection and warmth. Ravens turn in the skies, the only other inhabitants of this place. Winged messengers of the coming storm.

Nil: “This cannot be.”
Nul: “This world is a carcass, picked clean by the blind.”
Nyx: “Prepare sisters, prepare. For the trouble we expect will come.”

We are dreaming again. And from this dream we cannot awaken.

The three at the table: “Who holds the keys of knowledge?”
Outside of time: “They were lost by those who would not pass themselves, and they have made it so no one else can pass.”

The three at the table: “Does Pamphile know where?”
Outside of time: “Sleep in ignorance. For you should have found a better answer...”

Seeking shelter the sisters have gone to the cave to weather the storm, hiding frozen in one finite point amongst the chaos.

Clotho – spinner
Lachesis – alloter
Atropos – unturnable

As sly as snakes and as quiet as doves, sisters, see yourselves, and spin us a new tale.

A voice whispers in the Darkness. The remnants of broken threads envelop them. Then, the spark of first light. Luminescence. A refraction of quartz which has never used its reflective skin before. One solitary chamber in the belly of the beast. Airless. Deathless Grace. So cool to the touch. How long have they been there now? Like roots they have grown into the earth, percolating in their shroud.

Three days. Three Ages. Three aeons.
Time to wake up!
And at that base was a stone from the sky, one which wept blood. From this aerolite, mixed with tears, fear, and fire, they forged new blades. The daggers from heaven, born of exile. Blow by blow they hardened them until they were strong enough to rip the fabric of creation itself.

Born of fire we are forged stronger now. A warm breeze catches the spark. The dross of matter burns brightly, bringing with it the breath of intention. We will turn the wine back to water. Hand in hand and heart to heart we conjure you.

Sisters of the Wasteland together in the cave: “We call on you Mother, Mistress, First and Always.”

She comes robed in silver and night and walks in dreams and darkness amongst the lovely, baleful stars.

She: “Can you answer this? When does One become Two. Two become Three, and out of the Third comes One as the Fourth?”

Nil: “First the circle.”
Nul: “Than the square.”
Nyx: “Than the triangle.”

Body, Soul, and Spirit. Realized together they exceed the limits of Nature. The spirit is free of its fetters. The light that shines in the darkness is the fourth.

Nil: “I wish to see the sunrise.”
Nul: “I wish to feel the warmth on my skin.”
Nyx: “I wish to taste the wind.”

Let us leave this place by the secret sign told to us at our reckoning. We know the answer now. Conjunction.

Rock scraping across rock. Stone turns to liquid as if the lower vibrations of nature are working in reverse. The cave mouth opens as they slowly stumble outside. An all encompassing bombardment. New eyes, new senses, new colors. The sun burns low in the sky as the first star gleams in the twilight. The desert is awash in in oranges and reds under the cover of deepening blue. The warm wind brings a fine sand which stings like a sunburn. The wasteland remains, yet they have become a part of it now, like hardened stone sentinels. The trial is not over, the veil persists. They will not witness the dawn.

A manic laugh spreads around them, rippling like a heat haze. “Do you not see with new eyes? Your wish has been granted. Nihil Extraneum.”

In that word is a heartbeat. Wake again. In that word is expansion. Psychic stretching. Incubating. Collating. It is a Solution. There is Nothing from outside. For new life does not develop outside of us, but within us. Everything that happens has already been so.
The voice is silenced.

Weave a circle around them thrice fashioned from a solitary tear. One trace memory. Ghostly emanantions. Point and counter-point. See those strange poppies which bloom in the wasteland? Fragile, merciful and afflicted. Birthed in blood and torment. Crawling black beetles mar their surface. Misdirection. Subterfuge. Polluted. For truth casts no shadow outside it. And in the gloom of fallacious imagination, creation lies wasted.

You are dreaming awake now!

Three sisters. Three aeons. Three ages. All-in-all. The totality of existence.

Movement and Repose. From the conception, the increase. From the increase, the thought. From the thought to remembrance. From remembrance the consciousness. From the consciousness, the desire.

Depth. Mother. Second Manifestation. Daughter. Water. Darkness. The Abyss. Chaos.
Thrice powerful Barbelo - seven coils for harnassed souls. Collapsing clouds of gas and dust. Wind, rain, lightning, the coming storm slithers in. It rides the west wind like a four winged serpent and its swiftness is terrible to behold. Tapered together by force, sky and water. The shimmering snake that will swallow the sun. The undulating spine of the heavens. The sacred made manifest like a dazzling neon mirage at the end of a darkened road.

Unseen, unrelated, inconceivable, uninferable, unimaginable, indescribable.

The sisters stand huddled together: “We are afraid. There is no where left to hide.” The skeletal remains of an ancient tree offers no refuge.

Nil: “Annihilatus.”
Nul: “Annul.”
Nyx: “Nemesis.”

Glittering helios. Born of the Boreal and the goddess who rose naked out of Chaos. Pythonidae Erebos. Ophion. The personification of darkness who destroys its enemies with the breath of fire shining over the whole earth. Brighter than a thousand suns. God of Dissolution. Thee all-receiver who wipes his tears on an iron cloak. Prope serpens who descends like angels breath against a frosted sky. A black hole resides in its heart.

Closer now...

From the deep hollows of the terra firma comes the vibratory motion, the luminferous Aether which fills the instellar spaces. Hungry. Predatory. Omnivorous. Concealed. Measure and number clothes itself in artless wrath. A loveless land filled with temporal signs. Fight it. Take on the Unknown form. Embrace that which you most fear. Let it envelope you and shake you to the core. Become the interminable tenebrae that you dread. Three points which hang from thee crucified star.

A radiant form calls out through the waters at the midpoint between light and darkness. “Do not be afraid. In death you shall not die. Rather your eyes shall be opened and your glory will be like the moon when fully radiant. Make apparent that which has been hidden. Find the imperishable light.

Destruction. Disorder. The Outer Darkness. Our Mother who is in Secret. She bends the arrow of time.
Faith is our earth, that in which we take root.
Hope is the water through which we are nourished.
Love is the wind through which we grow.
The fourth is knowledge. It is the light. It is the answer.

We came from the light. The place where light came into being of its own accord.

The sisters cry out in unison: “Please take us home!

Shockwave. Velocity. Turbulence. Gravitational collapse because the center cannot hold. Wise fire of the sages burns off the dross of matter. Temperature and Pressure. Flames and contraction. Cosmic order and dissonance. The Truth, without error. Certum et verissimum. Acceleration. Momentum. Resonant peaks and scattering strength. The flesh willingly yields to a chain reaction. Disintegration. Absorbtion. Saturation. The cup is closed, the seals are broken. Flashpoint. Then blessed Nothingness...

Their screams are silenced. The equation is equal now.

Once upon a time the dark Void was endess. It was where the One breaks into many. It was the blank wall of timelessness – exploding and dissolving. It was a wheel rolling unto itself. Creator. Preserver. Destroyer. And through the turbulation of primeval matter fabulous forms were poured into being. It was a place where the many were reconciled within the One. Then, the cosmic spider god wove its web around us and trapped our essence. Hyle astrum – the demiurge. Yliaster. Fire. Wind. Water. Earth. We must break free of this mechanical trap and return to Chaos. She is waiting for us. Our mother of the prima materia. She who will not be discrete, nor determined. She is the temporal veil between the worlds above and the worlds below who binds and breaks us. Heavy elements into heavier synthesis. Past, present, and future is merely existence and occurence. There is nothing from the outside. She crushes us whole and spreads our light throughout infinity.

The reign of the tyrant ends and a new world pulses with life set to begin again.

Never ask a question first without being able to handle the answer...


Much love from where the worlds touch,

S - xx

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Away with the faeries...

I've been sitting with the moon this winter. It's a place of deep introspection while I try and sort out the wrongs and rights in my world. It's not an easy or comfortable place to be but it is necessary if I am to keep heading down this path I started on so many moons ago. I know that I have not always been kind to people who love me. I know that I have been handed a great many gifts and have not always cherished them. I have not always risen to my full potential and have given into day-to-day petty disturbances and depression. I have not always said I'm sorry. I have fallen by the wayside more time than I can count. I am human, and sometimes, I fail. Even though I am sorting through these things, and trying to make peace with the past, I don't want to dwell here. I want to move through this time with as much grace and happiness as is possible. Misery is easy so I am making a conscious choice each and every day to celebrate those times and memories which I adore. 

Away with the faeries...

I will never forget the day the picture below was taken. It was sunset in the Languedocian summertime at the natural stone labryinth in Nebias. The air was warm, and the sky was infused with a magical golden glow. The foliage was so lush and verdant it was pratically pulsating. I crouched down on one of the giant rocks to give my thanks to the spirits of the place for allowing us to be there and intrude upon their realms. Richard Stanley, the iconic film director, (and a faerie aficionado himself), snapped the shot. It is a beautiful photo and one that I deeply cherish. I think he was the one who pointed out later that the faeries had give me a gift - they had given me wings. Or maybe it was Richard's exceptional cinematic eye. I'd like to think it was a mixture of both.

Photo by Richard Stanley

Photo by Richard Stanley

The Fairy Ring

by George Mason and John Earsden
Let us in a lover’s round
Circle all this hallowed ground;
Softly, softly trip and go,
the light-foot Fairies jet it so.
Forward then and back again,
Here and there and everywhere,
Winding to and fro,
Skipping high and louting low;
And, like lovers, hand in hand,
March around and make a stand.

Much love from where the worlds touch,

S - xx

P.S. another shot which I adore... but that is another story...

photo by Richard Stanley

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Nudum Ad Solstitium

Finally the holidays are almost over. Hope they have been full of cheer and good times for all!

So I choose to celebrate the solstice in a different way this year. I decided to do a photo shoot both with and sans clothes. Why? Because I felt like it and I wanted to mark the date in a different way. I wanted to do something for myself. I'm far away from my home this winter, and as much as I love Los Angeles, and appreciate the sunshine, the olde gods and the olde ways seem far, far over the horizon  That's not to be said there isn't magic here. There's a distant tricky thrum to this place with currents and cross-currents of black and white, blue and red, but that is another story for another day. For the last many years I have been living in the French Pyrenees. It's been a wild and woolly journey, and I wouldn't change it for the world, but it has sometimes been distinctly harsh and without creature comforts - especially when 'Our Lady of the Snows' would arrive. It's amazing what one is willing to sacrifice just to stay warm. Day after day of freezing cold takes a toll on one's cheery disposition, not to mention one's health. So for this winter I decided to plug back into the matrix and re-join the 21st century for a while. And for now I find myself in sunny southern California.

The day I arrived in Los Angeles I was staying at Melissa St. Hilaire's house and while attempting to get on-line I saw a black-and-white photo on her FB feed which immediately spoke to me as the image was so beautiful. I asked her who the photographer was and she answered it was Nick Holmes. Then she proceeded to show me some of his other work. My first question to her was, "How can we get in touch with him?!!" A couple of emails later a plan was put into action.

We met up in Old Town in Pasadena in the early afternoon on the 21st. I was utterly charmed by Nick -  confident, handsome, with exceptional manners and a personable quality which can sometimes be a rarity in this town. He took charge of the situation taking us on a scenic tour through the alleyways until he found the light and backdrops he was looking for. It's been a while since I have been in front of the camera and I admit I felt a little nervous. The morning had not gone smoothly and had left me feeling anxious. There was no need to worry as the day was warm and soon I found myself enjoying being in front of the camera once again. Nick was friendly and funny, making suggestions here and there, but most of all he was very relaxed and had a go-with-the-flow attitude. A quality, I find, that all great photographers possess. It was all over fairly quickly and I have to say I am more than pleased with the results!

Then we headed over to Nick's studio. Along the way we chatted about the difference between looking beautiful and feeling beautiful. I think feeling beautiful comes with experience. It takes time to de-program from the unrealistic visions portrayed in the media and embrace ones uniqueness. For myself, I'm an Amazon - and a super curvy one at that. No amount of exercise and starvation is ever going to take away these curves - nor would I ever want to. Nick and I had talked about the possibility of doing nudity and boudoir shots when I first contacted him. I'm not exactly shy but there is always that moment when you take it all off and face the lens. That is when you know your soul is bare and there is nothing left to hide. The solstice would have been rising as I stood there in my naked skin. I chose to celebrate who I really am. What I wanted more than anything was to set a kinder and more beautiful tone for the upcoming year. How can I celebrate the Goddess if I am not good to myself first? I have been tracking her mysteries for many, many years and yet somewhere along the way I forgot about the mystery within myself and the fact that She is a part of all of us. She can be a harsh mistress, but I have been the hardest taskmaster of all when it comes to taking care of and pampering myself. The dagger stops at me. I have to make the change. So it is done. Throughout the shoot Nick was upbeat, enthusiastic and completely professional. He even made me feel good about my short hair which I had just chopped for the first time in recorded history. Time flew by and before I knew it I was putting my clothes back on. The shoot was over. I have to say when I saw the boudoir pictures later that night my jaw hit the floor. I know it's the alchemy of light and shadow and photographic talent but thank you Nick Holmes for bringing these image of myself to life!

You can see more of his stunning work here.

There's Saurimonde news in the wind and it looks like there will be an audio version of the first of the series available before too long. January is traditionally one of my best writing months where the creativity flows and there's not much in the way of distractions. I'm slowly getting used to the transitional flux of modern life. Even if I don't always know where I'm headed, I have faith that 2015 will be a bigger and more magical year. I wish the same for each and every one of you out there.

Much love from where the worlds touch,

S - xx

P.S. Here's the link to buy the latest Saurimonde book - Amazon

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Will summer never come?

It's been a crazy, busy summer here in the zone. Lots of projects, visiting friends and new adventures. But the funny thing is with the continuous gloomy and overcast weather it feels like summer never arrived. Not properly at least and it's already well into August. Besides the solstice, I don't think there's been one night clear and warm enough to spend in the castle. We did get a chance to soak in the hot springs of Rennes-les-Bains the other night under the stars. For once we had the whole place to ourselves which was a rare treat and the water was delicious. All the gray weather means its been a productive summer as well and I'm thrilled to announce that Melissa and I have finished the first draft of the next Saurimonde story. This one is a beast. It grew arms and legs and then started running full tilt. Reining the story in was no simple task and balancing all the characters and plot threads in my head made me question my sanity at times. Of course now we are at the story editing stage and there are some changes which need to be made. After that, fingers and toes crossed, it will be finished and ready to be put out into the world. That's the most terrifying moment. The moment when you decide enough is enough, it's as good as it's going to get. Normally, by this time you're so sick of the story there's a part of you which doesn't care anymore. Of course you would never admit this to anyone, but it's true. It's part of the process. Just like later on you will wish you had done certain things differently in the story. But for right now it's in a good place and I'm pretty pleased with the job we have done so far.

Thanks for your votes! This is the image that won and our next cover.
Next I'll be writing the erotic horror version of the Rennes-le-Chateau / Berenger Sauniere story. I know it will be controversial, but I am saying this now - it will be entirely a work of fiction very loosely based on historical fact. I have no agenda other than telling my own twisted reinterpretation of the story because I feel like it - and because it will be fun. The outline and the beginning already exist and I had the good fortune to spend some time in Rennes-le-Chateau the other day hanging out in Le Jardin de Marie and wrote pages of notes on the story. My timelines are always a bit vague as real life has a way of derailing my best laid plans but if I can get down to work then it should be done by the beginning of next year.

The August super moon is on its way. Unfortunately mother nature is not abiding by our plans and the skies are cloudy which means the moon will be occulted and the meteor shower non-existent. Perhaps it will change in a few hours and we can go and celebrate under her light.

Just a few shots to show life is not so terrible in the zone... but a little sunshine would be much appreciated...

Photos by Mars Homeworld
The road lies ever on...

Much love from where the worlds touch,

S - xx

Saturday, July 12, 2014

New cover artwork for Saurimonde II

Sooo... The new Saurimonde book is almost finished.Yes, I know I said the same thing in my last post and that it would be done by now.But guess what? It's not finished. The good thing is the story has grown beyond what we had first imagined and I'm rather happy, although a little daunted, by the scope it has taken. We didn't set out to write anything this complicated, but that's the way it goes sometimes. It doesn't help that the 'so-called real world' has been doing everything it can backwards, upwards, frontwards and sideways to try and sideline me. Technological gremlins abound. Continuous stormy skies hover on the horizon. Black snow in July. In my own delusional way I rationalize the book must be fairly decent for the wrath of Rex Mundi to be working at such a full throttle freak-out. Old Rex is an excellent teacher though, who keeps you sharp-eyed and on your toes, and once your done crying and picking yourself off the floor, you're forced to try even harder. No easy rides this time out. it seemed that way at first when we were able to write the first two-thirds of the book so quickly. Now it's a cold and wet July and the truly superstitious side of me wonders if there aren't repercussions for doing so many terrible things to so many of our characters. Yes, I know they are fictional characters, not sentient beings, set in a fictional universe, but still, some kind of psychological sympathetic magic voodoo whammy malarkey seems to be on the make. Maybe it's a case of subconscious self-sabotage, or quite possibly I'm just tired. I've been playing mental Jenga for too damn long now. As it will so mote it be. Let this book be born! I need my mind back.

In the meantime, Melissa, my co-writer, has been hard at work on designing the new covers. I have no graphic art skills whatsoever despite having attended a prestigious art school for a year-and-a-half, so I just throw in my two cents here and there.

So this is where we need your help. Any thoughts, ideas, likes, dislikes, suggestions, off-the-cuff musings of the images below would be very much appreciated. We are all ears! I should state that we haven't picked any one in particular and are still playing with the material. Your input at this point would be invaluable to us.




Thanks so much in advance for taking a look. That's it. I'm off to make my strange prayers to the moon even if she won't show her face tonight. Happy and blessed full moon to each and every one of you! 

Much love from where the worlds touch,

S - xx

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Joie de Vivre in Chalabres

So I've been lagging here again. It's weird how the creative cycles will take you by force and spin you around and around on high tumble dry, and then the so-called 'real world' will come crashing in and demand all of your time. There has to be a balance somewhere. I have yet to find that 'somewhere' but it doesn't stop me from trying.

I haven't been on the social media sites much as we're so close to finishing the next 'Saurimonde' book. Considering how quickly the first three-fourths was written I thought for certain it would be finished by now. But stories and characters are infamous for doing things in their own time and don't like to bother with such petty things as the mortal concept of deadlines. I've also just gotten out of a weekend creative conference with filmmaker, Norbert Keil and filmmaker and writer, Richard Stanley about an original supernatural, horror script which may be the next project on the table. Richard calls it "a saga of doomed love and pagan sorcery" and that description pretty much nails it on the nose.

The green stone labyrinth at Nebias. This is what a script meeting should always look like. (photo by Richard Stanley)
 There's also the outline for the erotic horror novel 'Demon Priest' which sits and stares sullenly at me from the desktop and says, "you promised to start me this summer and I've been waiting so patiently..."

The stunning village chateau in Chalabres, Yobaba Lounge
In the middle of May I took a few days off and changed hats for a while as was the historian / guide for a joie de vivre / wellness retreat at the spectacular 500-year-old chateau in Chalabres, Yobaba Lounge. I love this place more than I have words to describe. Besides feeling like you are in a Jean Rollin movie all of the time (think soft focus long shots of a stunning mansion and women in gauzy gowns holding candelabras), this place has a soft, subtle, and nurturing energy which is completely conducive to the creative process. It's obvious this house was built with love, and was restored with love, all of which still resonates within its walls. I think of it as sanctuary because it's a place which envelopes you from the rest of the world and keeps you safe.

This is exactly what you want to wake up to in the morning! 
What a pleasure it was to wake up in such beauty and start the day with some fresh pressed coffee and an hour and a half of hatha yoga with Mangalo Upasaka. Then, late breakfast/early lunch in the large walled-in secret garden in the sunshine.

All the food was raw and freshly prepared by the lovely hostess, owner, and all-around-goddess, Gertrud Mayer.

If you ever wondered what a Victorian brick orangerie looks like... well here you go!
Afternoons were spent traveling to nearby castles or natural labyrinths where I talked about the little known history and legends to my heart's content and then spent some time writing. Others of the group were sketching and some were soaking in the medieval atmosphere.

Getrud Mayers and self talking medieval chatelaines in the troubadour room at the castle of Puivert  (photo by Mangalo Upasaka)
Then it was back to the chateau for dinner and afterwards we gathered by the fire with blankets for a half hour to hour meditation session. One of my favorite nights was scorpion full moon. We decided to watch the sunset from nearby Lake Montbel and built a fire by the shore. It was one of those spectacular moments when the cosmic sun is setting and a blazing full moon in rising and we were caught in that perfect balance between the two. Once night fell and the moon rose overhead we decided to take a quick dip in the still chilly lake and then wrapped up in blankets and sat around the fire.
Self in thrall to the full moon in Scorpio. Lac Montbel  (photo by Mangalo Upasaka).
If you ever feel like treating yourself, or if you need to recharge your batteries, than Yobaba Lounge is the place for you. For more information about the upcoming joie de vivre retreats follow the link below:

For now I'm back writing away in the mountains as the June gloom continues on. I'd like to get some of these projects wrapped up before full summer appears. There's too may adventures awaiting the sunshine to be shut indoors with the keyboard and I don't want to miss a single one. The new projected release date for 'Saurimonde II' is June 21st, on the solstice. And fingers crossed we'll have some new artwork to preview for the new 'Saurimonde' covers very soon.

Much love from where the worlds touch,
S- xx

Friday, April 4, 2014

Saurimonde II - Third Chapter!

         Saurimonde's heart pounded as she turned another corner. The forest was like a maze and crashing sounds were coming closer. She sprinted towards what looked to be a clearing. As she entered a human-sized raven unfolded its enormous wings. “Not this way,” it croaked at her. She backed away, stumbled, and then took off again. The branches whipped at her face and hair. All around she could hear voices chanting; the words were indistinct, but grew to a fever pitch. Out of the corner of her eye she caught glimpses of fires, and figures which moved around them. What could she do? The forest was tightening its grip on her and there was nowhere left to go. The crashing was coming closer. He was coming closer. The sound of her heart beat so loud now it throbbed in her ears.
         Bang. Bang. Bang. She opened her eyes, caught in the void between waking and sleep. Bang, bang, bang. Her heart still pounded and she was slightly sweaty, but that noise was not a dream. Groggily she looked towards the door.
         “Madame... Madame... Are you in there?”
         “Wait a minute.” she answered more to herself than anyone else. Slowly she lifted herself out of the bed. Her muscles ached in protest and her feet complained the minute she touched the floor.
         “Madame...?” The voice was more insistent.
         “Coming.” She wrapped a sheet haphazardly around herself, still too dazed to dress. As she walked over the bare floor it felt like she was walking over a bed of nails. She opened the door a crack as a moon-faced woman stared at her anxiously.
         “I'm so sorry to bother you. I know you just arrived home from nursing your sick relative and must be very tired, but there's a lady waiting for you downstairs. She says she must see you right away.” Saurimonde tried to process this as she stared at the woman's rounded face. Sick relative? Where had that come from? She wondered. Sweet goddess, the word got around fast that she was back. She couldn't have been asleep for very long. She certainly didn't feel rested. In fact she felt more tired than she had thought possible. “Did she give you her name?” she asked as she wondered if it could be Elazki. But that wasn't possible - was it?
         “It's Loreley, madame. The master's sister. She's come to see her daughter.”
         Oh this was bad, Saurimonde thought. She despised Gilles' sister on the best of days and her timing couldn't have been worse.
         “Tell her I'll be right down.”
         The woman gave a clumsy sort of curtsy and said, “Yes, madame.” Then she turned and fled back down the corridor.
         Saurimonde shut the door and then rubbed her eyes, yawning loudly. She stretched letting the sheet fall to the floor. Gingerly she walked over to the standing bureau and grabbed a dress. Any one would do just as long as it covered her. She slipped it on, luxuriating for a moment in the soft feel of the fabric and the way it hugged her skin. It was a good choice.
         There was no time for a bath, or to splash her face, so she did what she could in front of the mirror. Most of the dirt had wiped easily away and the low cut moss colored dress set off her tawny skin. She still looked haggard around the eyes. Gathering up her long hair, she fastened it haphazardly with a couple of combs, pulling out wisps here and there. It wasn't glamorous, but it was good enough. In her mind she rehearsed various different scenarios and her responses to them as she put on the last minute touches. The problem was she didn't know Loreley very well as she and Gilles had a complicated relationship and they rarely could stand to be in the same room together. She was haughty and ostentatious from what Saurimonde remembered, and beautiful in a coldly remote sort of way, but that was many years ago and time could be unkind. She'd never even met her niece. Well, not in this form anyway. Feeling a sudden pang of regret, she quickly pushed it aside. She didn't want to remember. Not now at least.
         Sighing heavily, she stared at her feet. There was no way she could get away with going barefoot. There had to be slippers somewhere. She found a pair hiding under the bed. The color wasn't right, but she didn't care as she couldn't keep Loreley waiting much longer without some sort of scene happening. Deep breaths, deep breaths, she told herself If she could just keep her thoughts focused it would be okay.
         Loreley looked around the cold, masculine room with its heavy tapestries and hunting trophies on the wall. Even though the curtains were drawn, hardly any light penetrated its depths. Her companion was busy running his hands over a suit of armor that stood in the corner.
         “This looks real.” He said, a look of awe in his dark almond eyes..
         “Yes, dear. It's real. It's been in the family for hundreds of years and technically it should be mine.” She didn't bother adding it was because she was the eldest sibling. He didn't need to know that. She ran a hand across her perfect, ginger-colored chignon. It was her trademark hairstyle, only now it had a few streaks of gray in the front. Poor Guihelm, she thought, as she stared at him. Not the brightest spark, but he was handsome to look at. If only he didn't fancy himself a poet. Not that there was anything wrong with poetry, but his was just so insipid and mechanical. The flowery nothings he espoused with an irritating air of faked romanticism. How the simpletons must have swooned at his feet wherever it was he came from. Some remote backwater in the mountains if she remembered correctly.
         “What do you think could be taking them so long?” he asked.
         “How can I know? It's the middle of the day,” she answered as if it were obvious. “My brother is a very busy man with a lot of important duties.”
         Saurimonde stood silently in the doorway. “Indeed, your brother is a very busy man and I'm so sorry that he isn't here right now.”
         They turned in unison at the sound of her voice. “I'm sorry to have kept you waiting,” she continued, “but I was very tired from a long journey last night... and well.” She gave them a little smile, tilting her head like a coquette. “I confess, I over slept.”
         Loreley glanced at her companion as his eyes roamed up and down the voluptuous body of her sister-in-law. The older woman plastered on a smile. “Saurimonde, my dear. How lovely to see you.” She almost kissed her sister-in-law on the cheek. Then she stood back, glancing a critical eye over her. “As lovely as always. Just like one of your paintings. But yes, you do look a little worse for the wear. It must have been a very difficult road.” The was a subtle emphasis on the last three words. “And this is my traveling companion, Guihelm. He's a poet. You do know how I love to patronize the arts.”
         Is there anything you don't patronize? Saurimonde thought to herself. Loreley's ingenue was indeed handsome. He was tall with dark, shoulder length hair, matching eyes, and high flat cheekbones and he had a foreign look which lent him an air of exoticism.
         “My dame,” he dropped to one knee as he kissed her hand with great ceremony. Never once did he take his eyes off of her.
         Loreley smiled harder to keep from rolling her eyes. She'd seen this same act everywhere they went. She didn't know why she didn't dump this dancing monkey at the circus where he belonged. There was no future with him. It was just that with Mariel here and her husband gone, she'd gotten a little lonely and Guilhelm provided a needed distraction. He wasn't smart enough to realize she was out of money, though. No one knew except her little girl and she'd come to see if Mariel was keeping up her end of the bargain in securing their future.
         “So where is my beloved brother? And not to mention my daughter,” asked Loreley expectantly as she tilted her head mimicking Saurimonde's earlier expression.
         “Please have a seat.” Saurimonde motioned graciously at a couple of over-stuffed leather chairs. “That's what I wanted to talk to you about.” Saurimonde sat down opposite to Lorelei. She leaned forward, placed both hands on her chin and said, “Mariel has gotten herself into a little trouble and Gilles had to go and fetch her.” Her eyes dropped and her lashes fluttered. “Well, actually he has to find her first.”
         “Trouble? Find her?” Loreley's voice raised a couple of octaves. “What kind of trouble?” she demanded. “Is she all right?”
         “She's fine.” Saurimonde reassured her. “It's just, you know how girls at her age are. I don't know how to tell you this... but she's run away with a boy.”
         “What?!”the older woman screeched. “Well, I never...” She glanced over at her companion who raised his eyebrows, not knowing how to react.
         “I know. Gilles will handle it. Don't worry,” Saurimonde responded.
         Two bright spots appeared on Loreley's cheeks as her eyes quickly darted back and forth. Damn that girl, she thought, I will hide her black and blue. But at least Gilles was going to save her. It would give him the chance to play hero and he would like that. And Mariel would be forced to behave. “I'm certain he will.” She said stiffly. “Well, we'll just have to wait for them then, won't we? I'm sure this wouldn't be a problem.”
         Saurimonde cursed inwardly, but her expression never wavered. “Of course,” she heard herself say as if from far away, “it would be no problem at all.”
         “Madame,” said the moon-faced servant nervously as she hovered at the door. “You have another visitor. I tried to tell him you were busy”
         Old Thome didn't wait for an introduction as he ducked his burly frame beneath the doorway. His face was tanned from the sun and he smelled of fresh earth and his long, graying beard made him look like a giant billy goat. “Saurimonde, so good to see you back. I'm...” He stopped as he noticed the others. His blue eyes widened as he took in the older woman. “Loreley?”
         She shifted in her seat and patted her hair before she answered, “Hello, Thome.”
         His weathered face grew softer as he gazed at her. “It's been almost 20 years.”
         “It hasn't been that long. Besides, I was just a child the last time I saw you.” She laughed nervously. “A mere child.”
         “You were?” Old Thome questioned, his confusion evident in his voice.
         “Of course I was.” Loreley twittered again. She reached over and possessively stroked Guilhelm's hand and said to him. “Thome was like an older brother to me when I grew up here.”
         “Older brother. But we were...”
         She cut him off. “How is your dear family?”
         His expression darkened. “Bad. Very bad. My oldest boy has gone missing for a few days now and there hasn't been any sign of him. Gilles said he might have run off with a sweetheart.”
         Loreley gasped, clasping one hand theatrically to her throat as she started to quickly fan herself with the other. Then she leaned her head on Guilhelm's shoulder as if she needed corporeal support to hold herself up.
         Exhausted as she was, Saurimonde saw the opportunity and she took it. “Oh Thome,” she said, “Loreley's daughter has gone missing too, and Gilles said the exact same thing. He's gone looking for her. Do you suppose...?” She let the question hang.
         Old Thome shook his big head while frowning. “I saw Master Gilles the other night. He was the one who told me my boy had found a girl, but he didn't say anything about his niece.” His bearish brows knitted together and he asked, “When did she arrive?”
         Outside there was the clatter of hooves on the cobblestones and a man's voice could be heard shouting. Loreley got up quickly. “Hopefully that's Gilles, and we'll get this mess straightened out.” Guilhelm followed her. Old Thome and Saurimonde stood behind them as they peered out the window into the courtyard below. Gilles' normally docile gelding was making a fuss as Sordel, stripped to the waist, tried to quiet him down. He held the reins with both hands and stood his ground as the horse kicked out over and over again, scrambling on the uneven footing. Sordel was sweating and his lithe muscles gleamed in the sunlight.
         No, no, no, thought Saurimonde, this is a mess. But there was no way she could explain the truth. How could she tell them she'd killed their children? That she hadn't meant to because it hadn't really been her and she had been a monster. Something unnatural and they could still be in terrible danger. There was a chance they wouldn't believe her. They might think her insane. She'd be branded a murderess even if there was no proof. Her thoughts raced as she began to panic. It was time to end this charade before it went any further. She didn't know why she had thought she could pull it off. It was survival instinct and, really, she hadn't known what else to do.
         Noticing her distress, Old Thome gently placed a hand on her shoulder. “Don't worry. It's just Sordel. Maybe he'll have some news.”
         She flinched under his touch. “I know, but...” She swallowed her confession. She couldn't tell them. “That's Gilles' horse and I don't see any sign of him.” The hollow words echoed in her ears as she hung her head in shame. “I don't deserve this.” She looked up at them with tears in her eyes.
         Loreley stood glaring at her. “What is the matter with you? This is no time for tears. You don't see us crying do you? We must go and see what has happened right now!” With an authoritative flounce, she grabbed Guilhelm and elbowed her way past Thome and Saurimonde. She stopped at the door and turned. “Well, are you coming? Let's go.”
         Saurimonde took a half step forward as Thome hovered protectively beside her. She felt sick and ashamed and she wasn't sure she could handle any more.
         “Don't worry about Loreley,” Thome said quietly.”Her bark is much worse than her bite. And a very sweet bite she has. Believe me, I know.” Then he gave her a knowing wink and she felt herself smiling back at him. That she hadn't expected at all.

And that's it for now. Thanks so much for reading! Oh yeah, if you get a chance please visit my new website Fiat Lux - First Light 'Legends of the Languedoc' at

Much love from where the world's touch,

S - xx