Pooka Pages Magazine Imbolg 2021

26 01 2021
Original Art Work Copyright : Lora Gaddis 2018

The Imbolc issue of Pooka Pages free magazine for pagan kids has been posted! Go to http://www.pookapages.com/ to download or print out your copy.

Lora, Pooka, the Team and I would love to see photos of your children enjoying the various activities!

Hmmm/. I was trying to tag #pookapagesmagazine #pagankidslit #LoraGaddis and stuff – and this strange, magic box above appeared.

I think I will leave it for now and look at fixing it later!





Duck Feet – Ely Percy

23 01 2021

Book Review

  This beautiful Young Adult novel tells the story of Kirsty Campbell in a series of vignettes during the crucial six year period of growth from child to adult. The story is set in a working-class area of Renfrewshire, Scotland. Kristy comes from a close and loving family consisting of both her parents and her younger sister, Karen.  Her family are important to her and they are central to her life as she grows. The unusual title of the book is a childish name for swim fins but it also becomes an extended metaphor for lasting love and friendship.

Kirsty attends Renfrew Grammar and it is school that is crucial to her development. Education is important to Kirsty but she keeps that low key as not all of her contemporaries see the point in education.  Those she attends school with are a cast of characters straight from the best kind of gritty drama; saints and sinners all. As Kirsty navigates the problems of growing-up in her society, we follow her choosing who to be and defining her own moral code. We see her be best friends with Harpreet and Charlene one minute, best enemies the next. All of it creates enough real drama and tension to keep any avid soap fan delighted for years.

The story has powerful elements of funny and identifiable realism for most Scots, including that rite of passage known as ‘Social Dancing’ – something either enjoyed or hated at school but an experience people become thankful for later in life when attending wedding ceilidhs. Other events the reader can relate to include the first serious falling outs with friends and the experiences of first loves; every one realistically written with humour and masterful linguistic flair. Kirsty too encounters them all and the reader is left on tenterhooks, wishing the character well.

The themes in the story are the powerful themes one would expect to find in such a novel: growing-up, transition, friendships, love, choices, teenage pregnancy, drugs, alcohol and relationships.  However, there is one powerful – and shocking – theme in the novel that is unexpected:  violent death. It is a death portrayed in all its messy, unnecessary, painful and too realistic violence. Whilst there are many YA novels that deal with death as a main theme, they tend to do so in a syrupy manner that almost sanitises the grim and final reality. Percy pulls no punches and tells it like it is. To write anymore about this aspect of the novel would be an absolute spoiler, but it is an episode that is crucial to understanding the person Kirsty has become and who she will finally metamorphose into as an adult.  The pain of grief is not hidden. Indeed, Kirsty experiences a personal ‘Clarence the Angel’ moment which shows her that her life is worth living no matter how hard and bleak the present moment. Kirsty’s pain is all too real and it would be a very stone-hearted reader indeed who did not feel sympathy for the character.

Whilst Percy’s novel does not shy away from difficult subjects, there is much humour in the tale. The dialogue is very realistic, reflecting the speech patterns of the Renfrew / Paisley area. The book is written in Scots and the beautiful uses of metaphors and imagery reflect the vibrant and lively cadences of the Scots Leid.  It was an absolute pleasure to read a novel where the language used is that of the characters and the country and where any occasional English used felt very intrusive indeed.

This is an excellent Young Adult novel which ought to be on the secondary school syllabus in Scotland.

Fiona Tinker

Duck Feet  Ely Percy     (Edinburgh: Monstrous Regiment: August 2020)

ISBN: 9781916117921





Pooka Pages Magazine Yule 2020

15 12 2020

The Yule issue of the Pooka Pages for pagan kids is posted. Feel free to read it online, print it out and share it with your friends. Pooka, the Team and I all hope you have a wonderful solstice holiday. www.pookapages.com





From Wooden Brakes to Stories for the Songs of the Year

1 11 2020

One of the many delights in having small children in our lives is watching them trying to make sense of their world as they learn how to navigate through the ups and downs of this being alive business. Observing how children learn is really fascinating. One of my favourite stages is in those early years where everything is taken literally and there is no understanding of metaphor or multiple meanings. This early stage is where telling a small child to: “hold your tongue,” will result in them doing exactly that; whilst they gaze at you with enormous, puzzled eyes as they wonder why you are laughing fit to burst.

But they are only young and at this point they learn through remembering by repetitions and patterns, whether words, routines or play. Such young children delight in the familiarity of favourite stories even if their parents despair at reading the same books again and again to them. Anthropomorphism is entirely sensible and believable – why shouldn’t toys and animals talk? Surely this belief is something we would wish our children to keep as adults, given the landscape of Pagan pantheons and stories? How do we encourage this? Should we encourage this?

Be encouraged! Take consolation from the fact that although all this repetition and anthropomorphism of the most unlikely machines can be painful for adults, it is but the first stage on a six level model of learning called Bloom’s Taxonomy. Bloom’s Taxonomy is one of many useful tools for Teachers and it can be used by parents to help their children progress from dependent to independent learners. In straight-forward terms the progression is:  Remember – Understand – Apply – Analyse – Evaluate – Create.  The little ones mentioned in the first paragraph are at the first stage: Remembering. So, even if another repetition of Thomas the Tank Engine* makes you want to weep, be encouraged and think of the positives in reading the same story yet again. You are helping your child to remember and to develop their language skills.

Children grow and by the time they are in their teens, they will have moved up Bloom’s hierarchy of learning. Remembering develops into understanding, which in turn children apply to what they learn. Literal understanding develops into an appreciation of metaphor and symbolism. By the mid to the end of the teenage years, young people are able to analyse and evaluate what they know and what they have learned. They are ready to become creative adults able to synthesise their own learning into their creativity.

But what use is an academic theory of learning to Pagan parents?

It is useful in exactly the same way it is of use for school learning but with the added dimension that we can use this model to encourage our children to grow into creative adults who have been grounded in Pagan myth and story and who have the tools to analyse / evaluate their own knowledge and understanding of the same. Fully functional adults have the ability to think critically, to explore for themselves and they have the ability to dissect language for meaning in metaphor and symbolism. This is what any parent would wish for their children and this is what we set the groundwork for when we grit our teeth and read that same damned story one more time.  We are helping our children explore the wonder of the world.

That wonder has a spiritual element to it and we share this with them through the stories of childhood: Santa Claus, Krampus, The Tooth Fairy and so on. We tell them stories of our Gods and Goddesses, of ancient deeds and mighty battles. We want our children to know our Gods in all their glory.  As children, most of us learned about the Gods and Goddesses of various cultures through such stories. One of the greatest gifts we can give our own children is the gift of stories and this is the idea behind Pagan Portals: Stories for the Songs of the Year.

The tales in this book are different in that they speak of the essences of the Gods and Goddesses who populate them. They are mostly new tales of Old Gods. My focus is to encourage children to know the Gods as immortal people – almost like them but with the magic and wonder of Deities.  The Pantheon is the Celtic Gods of Scotland and Ireland: children are introduced to the world of these Gods through stories that are easy to understand and told through the eyes of a cat and a rabbit. The Triple Spiral is presented as the major symbol it is but in terms that small children can follow. However, this book is not aimed at one primary audience. Whilst my intention was to delight small children by introducing them to the Scottish / Irish Celtic Pantheon, wee ones are not the only intended audience.

If we return to Bloom’s briefly, the two levels of development above remembering and understanding are apply and analyse. These stories encourage those stages in questioning children. If the Celtic Gods and Goddesses resonate, then the tween / teen child will be able to use them to develop their own spiritual path and think through the attributes, meanings and lessons in the tales. This then leads on to the last two steps in thinking development: Synthesise and Create.

For example, this small extract is from one of the stories in my book:

As she spoke, she drew a pattern in the sand with a stick. Jack watched as a beautiful triple spiral appeared on the ground.

      ‘This is an ancient symbol,’ said the herb-wife. ‘Its wisdom exists in many things and it has many lessons to teach us. The lesson it needs to teach you today is the flow of life.’

      The herb-wife traced over the arms of the spiral. ‘Past, present, future, ‘she said. ‘Land, sea and sky.  Life, death, re-birth.  All of it ebbing and flowing, growing and dying, all to start again. It’s the pattern of life, Jack. All of it moves around this centre. And what is at the centre never changes. Do you know what lies in that centre, Jack?’

      Jack shook his head.

      ‘Love,’ she said, simply.

It is a retelling of a tale from Scottish Travellers that I heard over fifty years ago now. The tale helps small children to understand why there has to be Death in the world; gives lessons of balance and of the flow of life. For a small child, it is an interesting story about a scary subject and all is well at the end. For an older child, there is the pattern of the Triple Spiral to explore, the symbolism of the tale, an understanding of the necessity of Death; and what all of it may mean for them and their development as spiritual beings. For parents, it is a way of explaining a difficult concept to a little one. My retelling is in itself an example of synthesis of other learning with creativity: the herb wife did not appear in the original version but she was needed in this version to re-assure and to teach. This triple-layered audience approach to reading my book is intentional.

The book is structured around the Wheel of the Year as the earth sings stories for each turn of the wheel. Two stories accompany each festival and a short factual essay discusses some ideas about the four major sabbats in a child-friendly way. There are a few old stories retold but the majority are new stories that centre some of the major Celtic Gods and Goddesses.

Our small children will hopefully grow into large adults who devour the ancient myths in all their glory and learn much from them. But the ancient sagas and tales themselves can difficult for little ones. These stories are a way in and the familiarity with the Pantheon will hopefully encourage explorative reading and research in later years.

Here the Gods’ stories are seen and told through the eyes of a cat (with half a tail) and a rabbit. Earlier versions of some stories were written for parents / readers of Pooka Pages Magazine to use as both a teaching tool and as entertainment. But primarily, they were written to appeal to small children who, after all, have absolutely no problem with talking animals. Or talking trains.

I wish your children delight in the stories and delight in the characters of the Gods & Goddesses they meet here. I wish you, as parents, delight in watching your children grow into curious, questing adults hungry to learn the truths at the heart of ancient tales.

Fiona Tinker

Fiona Tinker – Pagan Portals: Stories for the Songs of the Year  (Moon Books, 2020.)

ISBN 978 1 78904 470 6         E-book: 978 1 78904 471 3

*”I told you those wooden brakes were no good,” said James, the Red Engine.  Thirty odd years ago now and still stuck in my brain. Today’s parents of little ones have my sympathy – just bide your time. It will pass, though the mental scars and unwanted quotations may not!

©Fiona Tinker 2020





Pagan Portals: Stories for the Songs of the Year, Fiona Tinker (Moon Books)

29 10 2020

What is the purpose of a story?  Stories entertain for sure, but many have deeper purposes and one of those is to instruct. It may be many years before the recipient of the story works out the lesson in the tale but a good story will have taken root and grown before then.

As adults, we appreciate the stories we heard as children and how they shaped who we are. As parents, we wonder how to introduce Pagan ideas to children. Luckily, there are now many children’s books written for Pagan children.   

Stories for the Songs of the Year is an addition to this growing genre. It is a set of tales written specifically for Pagan children, tweens and their parents. These tales meander happily through the wheel of the year and the festivals are seen through the eyes of a magical cat and a know-it-all rabbit, in the company of a supporting cast of Celtic Gods, Goddesses and assorted people of the Sidhe.

Young children will enjoy the literal level of the tales. Older children may wish to use them as the basis for their paths of self-discovery and the stories are accompanied by discussions of the major festivals. In addition, an essay for the adults explores various aspects of Pagan parenting from the author’s own three-decade experience as a secondary school teacher and as Education Officer for the Scottish Pagan Federation for over a decade.

Pagan Portals: Stories for the Songs of the Year, by Fiona Tinker, Moon Books. Out 30th October, 2020.

Available in stores and widely available online:

Amazon UK  Amazon US  Amazon Ca   Amazon Aus   Foyles   Barnes & Noble   Waterstones





Pooka Pages Magazine Samhain 2020

26 10 2020

Pooka Pages Website has the gremlins visiting, so till Lora finds a way to evict them, the latest magazine can be downloaded here:





Pooka Pages Magazine Autumn 2020

12 09 2020

I’m still writing for Pooka Pages Magazine for Pagan Kids – and very much enjoying bringing new tales of Ancient Gods to modern small children. Not sure what the Ancient Gods make of it but no-one’s been round with a Harp of Sleep or a Spear of Light, so I think I might be okay.

Anyway, the Auntum Equinox / Mabon 2020 edition is available now for free download, if you fancy an interesting and different magazine to share with your children. It has stories, crafts, recipes and things to do from  many contributors, so there’s something for everyone!

Click on the link and enjoy!

Pooka Pages Magazine for Pagan Kids





The First Sisters: Lilith and Eve, Lady Haight-Ashton, (Moon Books, 2019.)

20 06 2019

Book Review:

The First Sisters: Lilith and Eve, Lady Haight-Ashton, (Moon Books, 2019.)

 

This is a fascinating introduction to the legend of Lilith and her relationship with her sister of creation, Eve. In this book, Ashton extrapolates their histories from many sources; explores the dichotomy of the Madonna / whore trope in the Judaeo-Christian creation myth and discusses the relevance of these to women / society today.

Ashton begins with the forgotten Lilith and her part in the Judaeo creation myth: her equal creation with Adam as a partner. Lilith’s refusal to submit to Adam leads to her banishment and the creation of Eve from Adam’s rib as his wife. It is from this mythos that the patriarchal systems familiar in monotheistic western religions are born.  That Lilith was not the sister blamed for the concept of original sin is a point worth repeating: Lilith knew herself and her worth in a way that Eve, before the apple, did not.

Ashton explores the Lilith through the lens of many ancient matriarchal beliefs and through the repeating imagery of the serpent. She skilfully undoes the process of forgetting and brings Lilith back in to the light; whilst making the point that the deliberate obfuscation of Lilith and what she represents is an injury affecting the whole of humanity, not just the female half of it.

This is a book that is not only worth the reading but also very much worth the thinking afterwards. Ashton leads her readers to conclude that original balance, as opposed to original sin, is what is missing from our present times. Indeed, by re-discovering Lilith and the hidden strength of the sacred feminine, we could bring much needed balance back into our present day world.

The First Sisters: Lilith and Eve, Lady Haight-Ashton, (Moon Books, 2019.)

Amazon  £6.99 PB;  £3.79 Kindle.   Lilith and Eve: Amazon.co.uk

 

Fiona Tinker,  June, 2019.





Book Review: A Dance with Hermes, Lindsay Clarke

13 10 2017

Book Review:  A Dance with Hermes, Lindsay Clarke    (Stroud: Awen, 2016.)

 

It is somewhat difficult to know where to begin with this slim volume of poetry: just as a bead of quicksilver will scatter in a thousand different directions, glittering and enticing you to follow their paths, so too will the ideas and images in this deceptively simple collection call you to follow the myriad directions of their dance. Indeed, the patterns of disturbed mercury brings forth  an image of thoughts, ideas and communications flashing through the mesh of neural pathways in the brain, synapses sparking as each new thought is transmitted and grasped. In turn, that image leads to pictures of the electronic interconnection of the world-wide web and a reminder of the Hermetic premise all is one.

Clarke’s collection of forty-nine poems transmits meanings on at least three levels. They begin as a biography of Hermes in three emanations: the older God of crossroads and fertility, proudly erect and worshipped by the Minoans and Mycenaeans as a god who ‘made things good;’ by the Greeks as a son of Zeus; and as Hermes Trismegistus, the God of sacred writings revered by alchemists. This is the Hermes of both scholarship and of the neophyte.

Clarke is an adept.

He makes it clear that Hermes is also a God of Now; time is irrelevant to one so steeped in trickery, magic and language. Clarke brings Hermes into our world and context, showing his manifestation in characters such as lawyers, PR gurus, advertising folk and computer hackers. Clarke pulls no punches as he explores the dual nature of the God – past and present. The trickster aspect of Hermes is not glossed over or disguised, nor is the event leading to the birth of his son, Autolycus, presented as anything other than the rape it is. Such an event is somewhat shocking to modern sensibilities, but it is also a sharp reminder that the ways of the Gods in ancient times are no different from some male behaviour now. It is an old story told across both pantheons and newspapers.

Once the essential first nature of the God is grasped, the poems explore esoteric matters. In ‘He Giveth Tongue’ – a somewhat amusing pun, given Hermes’ sexual conquests – Clarke explores the gift of language, as bestowed by the God on humanity: ‘all babel was let loose.’ This gift was a double-edged sword, language both clarifies and confuses and Hermes will: ‘still be laughing when all’s said and done.’ The obfuscation of meaning through language is merely a God- joke, one we’ve all been on the receiving end of at one time or another and the joke extends the confusions to those caused by electronic miscommunications.

Hermes’ trickiness with words is wonderfully explored in: ‘He Monitors Its Use’ where the God-persona expresses exasperation at the wordiness of literary criticism: ‘Hermeneutics – just the kind of oblong word for which the god (…) invented dictionaries.’ This caused me much amusement and was taken as a warning to lay off my natural inclination to analyse Clarke’s poetry in terms of poetical techniques. The poem explores some paradoxes of language and ends with the warning that those who use language to: ‘sanitise atrocities’ won’t be overlooked as: ‘they counterfeit divine proclivities.’ That is a warning not to be ignored – play god with words and actions at your peril.

The third level of exploration leads the reader to Hermes Trismegistus, the Emerald Tablets of ancient wisdom, the mysteries of the Kabbala and alchemy.

His Opus explores the four stages of alchemical change and transformation, whose outcome: ‘has made his mind responsive to his soul.’ Arguably, the desired outcome of alchemical experimentation is esoteric and its aim is the achievement of Yehidah – the true gold of the philosophers’ stone – the highest state of enlightenment, of oneness with the divine, a human soul could reach in some Kabbalistic paths; a state achievable by very few humans, if any. However, this is a state Hermes achieves and: ‘His opus ends; the dance goes on.’

The final poem, Envoi, is a masterpiece by one who seems to be a skilful priest of Hermes and equally adroit at manipulating language for his own means. In this poem, Clarke states: ‘the only remedy for life is love’ and questions how difficult love is. It is a beautiful prayer of faith and in it he acknowledges the ineffable divine that is Hermes through the pattern of syllables he uses. The Sephirot of the Kabbalists states there are ten attributes of God, through which the infinite is revealed. The Tree of Life has ten stages of transformation and the seeker of moves through each as he travels his path. Clarke alludes to this through the use of ten syllables in each line – but changes to eleven where he acknowledges the mysteries of the infinite are not necessarily of this world: ‘These half-rhymes are the best reply I have / and though full rhymes may lie beyond the grave.’

This is truly a stunning collection of poems that will satisfy both a casual reader and a reader willing to follow the many quicksilver trails laid before them. Yeats posed the question: ‘How can we know the dancer from the dance?’  Clarke’s poetry goes a long way to answering that.

 

Fiona Tinker

A Dance with Hermes, Lindsay Clarke, (Stroud: Awen, 2016.)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Dance-Hermes-Lindsay-Clarke/dp/1906900434

 

 





Book Review: Sanners Gow’s Tales and Folklore of the Buchan: Pat Hutchison

12 04 2017

Pat Hutchison has inherited the gift of storytelling and the twenty-six stories in his first collection are a glorious set of tales. The authentic voice of the North-East of Scotland comes through loud and clear as the stories are written in Doric Scots, which adds to their beauty and means nothing is lost in translation.

It would be extremely difficult to choose one or two favourites as every story in the collection is a joy. The stories range from ancient tales about treating strangers well because you never know who they are to more modern tales of bravery during the 20th C World Wars. Jessie Hutton is one such war story – a truly beautiful love story about Jessie’s bravery and what she went through for love of her man. It might sound Mills & Boon, but it truly isn’t. It’s a tale with a twist and a half and the supernatural element conjures goosebumps.

There are other ghost stories too – more than enough to whet the appetite and leave the reader wanting more. But the jewels in this treasure of a book are snippets of folklore contained in some of the stories  such as s The Lichten Green and The Prechum Steen.

Pat Hutchison’s first book will not disappoint.

 

Sanners Gow’s Tales and Folklore of the Buchan: Pat Hutchison (The Deveron Press, 2017) Published May 20th. Pre-publication signed copies available now from Unco, £9.99

http://www.unco.scot/store/p117/Sanners_Gow_Tales_and_Folklore_of_the_Buchan_.htm