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BOOK OF THE GREAT QUEEN: Final countdown to publication

A couple of quick updates about the book! I’ve been intensively pushing through the final work on the book – editing, reviewing artwork, cover design, proofing, indexing, and all of that fun stuff. This week, we received the first proof copies of the book – for the first time, I held the book in my hands! We’re finishing proofing and all the other final details over the next few weeks. And assuming all continues to go well, we expect to have print books some time in May – first for my campaign backers, and then shortly afterward, shipping to the public.

Cover Art & Illustrations!

Our amazing artist Valerie Herron has completed the exquisite artwork for the book. Cover design has just been completed and is shown here. We won’t be releasing the rest of the images until after publication, but here are a few glimpses Valerie has shared on social media. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the work she has produced.

Queen Cover Mock up3b

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Book Tour Updates

The latest dates and locations will be updated on my Events page. Here’s a quick list:

BOOK OF THE GREAT QUEEN Presentation | The Pagan Festival  May 9 – Berkeley, CA

Fire of the Badb | Irish Gods and Heroes | Gathering for Life on Earth  May 15 -18 – Camp Sasamat, Belcarra, BC  Canada

BOOK OF THE GREAT QUEEN: An evening with Morpheus Ravenna | Edge of the Circle Books  May 22 – Seattle, WA

BOOK OF THE GREAT QUEEN Signing | The Book Vault  June 10 – Endicott, NY

She Chanted Spells of Power | The Morrigan’s Call Retreat  June 12 – 14 – Camp Cedarcrest, Orange, CT

Keynote Speech & Cathubodua Devotional | Many Gods West Conference  July 31 – August 2 – Olympia, WA

Body of the Morrígan – A Spiritual Journey of Ireland | Coru Priesthood  September 7 – 16 – Ireland

BOOK OF THE GREAT QUEEN Author Evening | Treadwell’s Bookshop London  September 18 –  London, UK

She Chanted Spells of Power: A Rite of Poetry with the Morrígan  September 19 – Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK

More to come, too! You can follow updates about the book by checking posts tagged Book of the Great Queen.

Adventures to come: PantheaCon and beyond

This blog has been quiet as I focused on completing the manuscript for the Book of the Great Queen. I hope to be back to regular blog writing soon as work on the book winds down. For now, I’m just sharing some updates about what’s coming up next for me.

Book Publication

I completed the manuscript for the Book of the Great Queen on December 31st, in alignment with my devotional commitment to the Morrígan and my publishing contract. Folks who have been following the story of this book may be amused to hear that the  day I handed over the manuscript to my editors and peer reviewers for critiques, was the very same day that my physical therapist gave me clearance to begin walking on the injured ankle using only one crutch. As a good friend said that day, “Good to know none of this magic stuff is for real, eh?”

Presently, I’m receiving the last of the critiques from my peer reviewers and will be completing edits to the manuscript throughout the rest of this month. I’ve been seeing early sketches and drawings for the cover design and illustrations from Valerie Herron, and I’m virtually frothing with anticipation, because they are gorgeous. Publication is on schedule for early May.

Poetry Project

cover imageAs part of the crowdfunding for the book, we raised extra funds for a special project to create audio recordings of the Morrígan’s poems, in Old Irish and English translations. The Poems of the Morrígan project completed recording and mastering in January, and have been released privately to campaign backers. I’ll be making them available to the general public later this month, starting with a public listening session at PantheaCon, in the Coru Priesthood’s Temple space and then opening them for download online.

What I’m particularly thrilled about is the inclusion of the Poem to Cú Chulainn, from the text Táin Bó Regamna. This poem has not been previously published in English translation to my knowledge. It will therefore be new to most students of the Morrígan’s lore, and I feel incredibly honored to be bringing this poem to the community, with special thanks to Isolde Carmody of the Story Archaeology Podcast for translation help. I am also grateful to P. Sufenas Virius Lupus, the folks at EMB Studios, and all the fine people who contributed their voices and talents to the recording.

And speaking of PantheaCon

PantheaCon Happenings

So much is happening at PantheaCon! I have too much on my PCon schedule to delve into detail in this post, so I’ll just list them and link to event pages and other sites for details:

Blood Drive PantheaCon 2015: Find the Hero In You | Fri 2/13 – Sun 2/15

Details hereFacebook event page here – Organized by the Coru Priesthood and Solar Cross Temple. Volunteers and Blood Donors are needed!

Coru Priesthood Temple of the Morrígan | Fri 2/13 – Sun 2/15

Details hereFacebook event page here – Temple Consecration rites take place Friday evening at 7 pm, and are open to the public (though space is very limited). Open worship hours are listed in the event page.

Roving Hero/ine Cultus Ritual with P. Sufenas Virius Lupus | Fri 2/13 – about 11 pm

Details here – We host a portion of this ritual dedicated to Cú Chulainn, the Morrígan, and in honor of veterans.

The Morrígan Speaks: Arise to the Battle | Sat 2/14 – 7 pm

Details hereFacebook event page here – A ritual inspired by the powerful words of Her ancient prophetic poems and Her call to battle, facilitated by the Coru Priesthood.

Poetess and Prophetess: The Morrígan and Poetry | Sun 2/15 – 11 am

Details hereFacebook event page here – A workshop with myself and Rynn Fox of the Coru Priesthood.

Coru Meet & Greet + POEMS OF THE MORRÍGAN Premiere | Sun 2/15 – 7 pm

Details hereFacebook event page here – A social gathering, and first public audio screening of the Poems of the Morrígan recordings.

Whew, that’s a lot!

More Adventures To Come…

Also launching at PCon is Sharon Knight’s PORTALS project, which looks very exciting. If enough people buy in to pre-order the album, and stretch goals are reached, I’ll be on board to do some artwork for this project. So go check it out.

I’ve updated my Events Calendar for some of the adventures coming up later this year, including book tour visits to Seattle and Vancouver, Many Gods West polytheist conference, and the Coru Priesthood’s Body of the Morrigan pilgrimage to Ireland. More details and book tour stops will be added soon!

Stay in touch, and I look forward to seeing some of you along my travels this year.

Book tour!

Just a quick note from me here in book project world.

Over at the Book of the Great Queen campaign on IndieGoGo, after we met our first two stretch goals, I asked people for suggestions on further project goals. Many people wrote to me suggesting a book tour after publication. So I’ve set book tour funding as the target for my final stretch goal, and I’m also soliciting feedback on locations and venues for talks/workshops/booksigning events.

The good news is that as of today, we’ve already raised enough to do two cities and just on the verge of a third. That means the book tour is already happening! You, my readers, still get to decide how extensive it will be and where I travel.

I’ll be planning my tour sites based on where there seems to be the most active interest, so if you want me to visit your city, drop me a line to let me know! So far I’ve heard from folks in Seattle, Atlanta, Houston, Madison, and upstate New York. Where would you like to see me travel to? I’d also love to hear from people as to good venues in your area for a workshop and booksigning, or if there are events such as festivals or conventions you’d like to suggest as part of the tour. You can email me your suggestions at morpheus@bansheearts.com or comment here.

You can see all the details and updates on fundraising levels over at the IndieGoGo page. I’ll also be posting updates there as tour locations are identified.

Now, back to focusing on the book!

Taking the Book of the Great Queen further

Readers of this blog are likely aware that over the past couple of weeks, all my energy has been going into the Book of the Great Queen fundraising campaign on IndieGoGo, which launched June 10th, met its primary goals in less than 72 hours, and met both its stretch goals within a little over a week. That’s a testament to the power and passion of the community of devotees. I’ve been feeling incredibly proud and honored to be part of this.

Not only did we secure the funding for the completion and publication of the book; not only did we also secure funding to commission beautiful artwork from Valerie Herron for the book… We also get to do something that really is close to my heart – the Poetry & Songs of the Morrigan recording project. This will be a professional studio recording of the poems of the Morrigan, spoken aloud as an enchanting vocal incantation, in both the original Old Irish, as well as the English translations. It will also include a couple of beautiful devotional chants and songs in Irish and Gaulish, which have never been recorded before as they are original to the Coru Cathubodua Priesthood. This recording will be shared as a digital download with all of my campaign backers who come in at $20 and above.

I’m already hard at work moving all the pieces into place for this project. I’ve been corresponding with Celtic scholars P. Sufenas Virius Lupus (who’s also going to be consulting with me for the book itself) and Isolde Carmody (of the Story Archaeology Podcast), about guidance for Old Irish language pronunciation, and selecting text and translation versions for the poems. I hope to be able to post a list of the texts we’ll be recording, soon.

And so I’m presently in the unexpected position of having everything I envisioned for the project funded, with three-and-a-half weeks still to go! I really didn’t anticipate passing all my goals so early in the campaign timeline. And yet the contributions are continuing to come in, as people join in to receive the recording, pre-order the book, and for all the other reasons people choose to back the project.

So I’m contemplating other ways to give back to the community out of the funds that are continuing to come in. I would love to hear from you. What else would you like to see as a next stretch project?

Alternately, I may go another route, since the time that I have free to devote to further projects beyond the book and the recording is quite limited now. Instead of setting further stretch projects, I may just donate a portion of the extra funds toward one or more causes. If I go that route, I’m most interested in causes that are especially relevant to the Morrigan’s spheres of interest. Examples that come to mind might be:

  • Support of veterans or others impacted by war
  • Modern sovereignty struggles such as those of Indigenous nations
  • Work to study and preserve Celtic history and cultures
  • Or…?

I’d love to hear from you: what do you think would be the most honorable way to give some of this back? What organizations do you think are doing the best and most needed work that is relevant to the interests of the Great Queen?

Oh, and in case you don’t follow on social media, here’s the latest photo of progress on the illuminated manuscript painting.

illuminated vellum 13 square

Three…Two…One…

The past month has been a whirlwind of activity – since making the decision to run a crowdfunding campaign to fund the publication of my book, preparing for the campaign, and continuing my work schedule on the book, have demanded almost all my time. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

Illumination

As a way to create something beautiful for backer rewards for the campaign, I’ve been working on a new devotional artwork. In the illuminated manuscript style of the Book of Kells, a detailed ink painting of the Morrígan and Her “Peace to the Sky” prophecy poem, on authentic calfskin vellum. Followers of my social media feeds have been seeing process photos as I go along through the design, sketching, layout, and inking phases of the piece. It remains in progress and I’ll continue posting updates as I complete it. Here’s the current progress:

illuminated vellum 9 square

From this artwork, prints, cards, and downloadable versions will be made for backers of the crowdfunding campaign. I’m also going to do a one-color t-shirt with the image of the Queen from this artwork.

It’s been and continues to be a joy to work on. Something I’ve discovered is that working on vellum is amazing. As a friend put it, it’s sexy. The vellum is warm to the touch and has a silken texture, like – well, like skin. It shifts and stretches in response to the warmth of the hand and the moisture of the ink. It’s translucent, letting light softly through, highlighting ghostly tiny veins that appear and disappear. Colors sink in to its layered surface and seem to glow with life.

I hope to have the opportunity to show this piece to at least a few of you in person before it goes – it really must be seen with the eyes as the photos do not do it justice.

The Campaign

We launch June 10th – next Tuesday night. The campaign will run 36 days, closing on July 15th. And there’s a launch party you can join in on – either in person in Oakland, or remotely via the internet.

A preview of the campaign is up at BookoftheGreatQueen.com – and I want you to take a look and give me your feedback on the campaign before we go live!

Bearing in mind that this is a draft page and still may change, what do you think? Like the backer rewards? Which is your favorite or the one you’re most likely to choose? Have suggestions about rewards I should consider adding or changing?

And YES, there will be a video! My dear friend, Coru co-priestess, marketing empress, and Wild Hunt writer Rynn Fox is finishing editing on the video now, so we will have that up on the campaign page within a few more days and certainly before launch.

Book Progress

While all this is going on, I’ve continued to keep my time commitment to working on the book. I recently got access to some excellent UC Berkeley library materials and have been delightedly chewing through them: a tantalizing compendium on ancient Celtic cursing practices; analytical materials on Irish poetic forms including the poems of the Morrígan; a treatise on Indo-European heroic frenzy and the Hero’s Light… and SO. MUCH. MORE. I really could disappear for weeks into these books.

The book itself is taking shape, and I feel a stronger than ever sense of momentum with it. I’m looking forward to the time soon when, post-fundraising campaign, I’ll hopefully be able to cut back on my third job and devote that time to writing, writing, writing.

I can’t wait to share all this with you. In Her glorious name!

The Book of the Great Queen

Today is an auspicious day. I am thrilled to be able to share two announcements that mean the world to me:

1. The Book of the Great Queen to be published by Concrescent Press!

My book project, a comprehensive book on the lore, history, and worship of the Morrígan, now has a publisher: independent esoteric publishing house Concrescent Press. Concrescent is the imprint headed by Sam Webster, M.Div., a brilliant scholar of Pagan studies and the magical arts, as well as an old and dear friend. I am delighted to be working with Sam and Concrescent on this project.

My tentative working title for the book is The Book of the Great Queen. I’m completing the final 5% or so of primary research, and will be completing the writing of the book over the coming months, to deliver by the end of the year.

You can view an early, general topical outline here. As you can see, my intention for the book is to provide a comprehensive and in-depth look at the Morrígan as we know Her through textual, historical, and archaeological sources, Her role and cult of worship in ancient Celtic religion, and to provide guidance for the modern devotional practitioner drawing on these traditions.

And I welcome feedback. What questions related to the Morrígan would you like to see answered in this book?

2. Crowdfunding campaign coming soon!

My second piece of news: We’ve made the decision to go forward with a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for publication and to allow supporters to pre-order the book. I am working with Sam and several more key allies to prepare for the campaign, and we expect to launch in early June.

My hope is that crowdfunding will provide a small but much-needed financial backing to allow me to devote more time over the next several months to finishing the book, as well as covering up-front publication expenses, such as professional editing, illustrations, and layout. I also love the participatory aspect of crowdfunding and look forward to engaging with backers, sharing project updates, sneak previews from the book, and hearing feedback and encouragement.

At present, I’m looking at IndieGoGo as the most likely platform for the campaign – primarily because of its lower fees and availability of PayPal for payments (which some folks have requested). However, if you have an opinion about which crowdfunding platform would make it easier for YOU to back the project, feel free to let me know.

I’ll also be creating some new, original artwork just for the book and the campaign, which will be exclusively available to backers, along with pre-ordering options for the book itself.

I hope this news delights you as much as it does me! Stay tuned to this blog, or my Facebook/Twitter feeds for updates on the book and the campaign.

And may the fires of Beltane bless you and bring you fierce joy!

Noinden

You may notice me posting in this blog a little less frequently now-a-days. And if you follow my art and metalwork, I am producing new work a bit more slowly than usual. Here is what’s going on.

I have been for some time slowly gathering material for a book. The book that I have long wished someone would write: an in-depth, well-researched, comprehensive book on the Morrígan: Her history, lore, and cult of worship; incorporating contributions from historic, folkloric, archaeological, and modern sources, and guidance for devotional practice with Her in a Pagan/polytheist framework. The book that would bridge the gaping chasm that currently exists between the quality of information available about Her from academia on the one hand, and popular Pagan literature on the other. The book I constantly wish I could refer people to when they ask me what they should read to learn about the Morrígan.

This project has been slow-cooking on my hearth for about a year, but since I am kept busy working for a living at my art business, tattoo apprenticeship, and a third part-time job to make ends meet, I have not been able to prioritize it. Yet.

That’s where things are changing. Two days after I got home from PantheaCon, I got marching orders. In my daily devotional meditations, the Great Queen laid a binding on me that morning: a nóinden (ninefold counting of time). A nóinden is usually read as a period of nine days or nights; in this case, nine months. Nine months to get the draft written. This is what I’ve been given to do. It is a priority now.

I sat down with my calendar at that point and made a writing schedule: blocked out research and writing time for the rest of the year. So, okay; looking at the typical words-composed-per-hour rate of writers, and the time I have, I can do it. I think. I started in on that writing schedule right away.

And here’s the rub: I’m producing less art now, and less metalwork. For people interested in my medallions and talismans, it may mean that these are going to be a little more limited. When I sell out of a design, it’s now likely to be a few months instead of a few weeks before I can squeeze in the time for another batch of my rather labor-intensive creations. That means less income for me. That is a little scary, because I live fairly close to the margin, but this book feels important and necessary, and I’m trusting that I’ll figure out a way, with the help of the Gods and my allies.

Art is my primary work in this life, and I’m not keen on letting it be marginalized. If I had the option, I’d let go of my third job instead and give that time to writing. Presently, I can’t afford to do that. But something has to give. Tricky.

Several friends have suggested an IndieGoGo/Kickstarter type campaign to raise money to get this book done. I’m willing to consider something like that if there’s support for it. I’m interested in readers’ feedback about that.

In the meantime, while I puzzle these things out, writing is underway. I’m loving the research, delighting in each new jewel of lore I find in my diggings into ancient writings. And I will meet my appointment with the Queen, and have a draft to offer Her in nine months, whatever I have to do to make that possible.

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