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Into The Underworld

November's Newsletter - To read the full newsletter visit Cerridwen's Cauldron via the link at the bottom of the post.

Merry Met Virtual Traveller

Leaves turn in the canopy, time turns in the houses and so it is that this month we prepare for the winter ahead. Pausing between the celebrations on the turn of the wheel, we take a left at bonfire night, squirrel treats into the cupboards, don a warm jumper and settle on the sofa until the solstice, pulling around us the blankets that were once draped on the back of the sofa and disappearing into our own personal underworlds.

Photo by Jingda Chen on Unsplash

In story, underworlds are dark, dank places, places long cut off from the light afforded the upper world, places where nothing good will occur. Social constructs reinforce this. The need to continue being productive, continue with the routine and fill the space with neon lights to convince ourselves we do not need the dark of the underworld. That is not so.

Darkness is a very necessary place and if we play by their rules and do not lose ourselves to theses spaces, then underworlds can offer us a sanctuary.

Be sure of yourself and do not look back. Behave with reverence within the liminal space. Only take what you need and you will emerge from the underworld wiser and stronger.

That time between the magic of Samhain and the dark days of the winter solstice are a time of quietutde for me. A time of contemplation, recharging and preparation. A time to retreat to the underworld.

Modern life and rhythms of work do not always allow a total immersion in the coming dark in order to recharge, but in one way or another there is a time of hunkering down, even if it’s just the acts of stacking wood in the wood store, making jars of mince meat, adding the thermal covering to the chicken’s coop and feeding the Yuletide fruited cake.

Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

November is a quieter month for storytelling too but I have a few events this month, which you will find below. I’m also starting a new project with Portsmouth Education Partnership that I would love to tell you more about, but we’re not quite ready to announce it yet. I promise as soon as it’s live I will be letting you know.

A second piece of exciting news is that I have been commissioned to write my next book for the History Press - ‘The Little History Of Storytelling’. This is going to involve a lot of research and will be a chunky project so my deadline’s a generous one. The book’s unlikely to be out in the world until late 2025 at the earliest but I can’t wait to get stuck in and I’ll be sure to share research trips and pondering along the way with you in Behind The Scenes posts for paid subscribers.

Coming up this month on Substack for paid subscribers, ‘Notes From The Downs: Yellow Is The Colour’ and a new audio book: ‘One For The Rook’ the second novella in the Blake Hetherington Mysteries. In addition, podcast extras will include ‘Kitchen Witching: 'Fruit Of The Underworld’, a themed playlist, and a transcript of the folklore section from the episode.

Linda Pastan’s poem ‘The Months’ describes November perfectly and so I shall leave you with her words. Read on to find out what stories, events and recommended reads I have for you this month.

These anonymous leaves, their wet bodies pressed against the window or falling past— I count them in my sleep, absolving gravity, absolving even death who knows as I do the imperatives of the season.

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