Today as I disassembled my annual ancestors altar, I felt a rush of energy as though I’m finally getting ready to enter the work of November fully. Just as astrologer Corina Dross says: “Welcome to Scorpio season, the time to ask what’s underneath appearances.
One of the things I want to do this month is write more. I thought about playing in some variation of the NaNoWriMo for non-novel writers, but I couldn’t find a right-fit challenge I wanted to commit to. So we’ll see how I unfold this for myself. But for today I’m inspired to close the door on the Samhain/Dia de los Muertes celebrations with a few reviews. I’ve been a crazy voracious reader this year and I have quite the backlog of books I want to mention, but for today I’ll keep it “seasonal.”
First up is Literary Witches: A Celebration of Magical Women Writers by Taisha Kitaiskaia and illustrated by Katy Horan. This is a charming albeit light-weight little book with blurbs covering 30 women writers of various genres. It offers a few sentences for each writer about how they might be described as viewing the world and how the world views them, along with an imaginative title describing them. For example Joy Harjo, our current poet laureate is described as “Cosmic Traveller of Crows, Horses, and Survival. Gertrude Stein is titled “Madame of Roses, Geometry, and Repetition. In addition there’s a short list of recommended reading for each author. I confess I was especially delighted by Horan’s illustrations of each of the women.
Given the book’s self-imposed limitations of “time, space, and seniority” meaning they chose “long-practicing (literary) Witches before newly initiated Witches,” most of the cited authors are well known. However, I was quite pleased to find a handful I’d not heard of before and certainly will be checking out. These include Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad who was given the title of “Rebel of Sensual Love, Green Gardens, and Perfume” and the Hindu poet Mirabai who was born in the 1400s. She’s been titled “Dakini of Holy Ecstasy, the Dark One, and Ankle Bells.” Given my love of poets AND made-up titles I’m totally elated by these new-to-me discoveries.
In keeping with my practice of awarding a rating based on floriography, the language of flowers, giving a hint at the plot as well as my appraisal, I’m offering a small vase filled with Black Bat flowers and Canterbury Bells. I haven’t ever found Black Bat flower listed in any floriography listings and probably won’t as it is typically found in Asia, but working with its vibrational essence I’m finding it’s a flower that promotes productive ferocity. I think that fits those women honored as literary witches. Canterbury Bells are for acknowledgment.
Next up is a favorite children’s book that I pull out every year – Ghost Wings written by Barbara M. Joosse and illustrated by Giselle Potter. It’s set in Mexico amidst the monarch butterflies annual migration during Dias de los Muertos. It’s a poignant tale of a young girl who has lost her beloved grandmother and is beginning to wrestle with the concept of death and how we honor those we love by remembering them. I really love this book and award it a bouquet of Butterfly Weed (let me go), Rosemary (for remembrance) and Ambrosia (love returned).
Something else I pulled out this weekend is not a book but rather a favorite tarot deck – Dark Goddess Tarot created by Elaine Lorenzi-Prince. While I did do an entire spread reading, one of the cards I pulled was to see which goddess wished to accompany on my journey from this cross-quarter until the Solstice. How appropriate that The Priestess card, The Pytha in this deck, appeared. Ellen’s brief description of the card is “from dissolution comes awareness.” Sounds like timely work for the rest of season leading to the end of the calendar year.
So tell me, what have you been reading? Have a favorite tarot deck, or find you lean into one deck more than others seasonally? What are your plans for November? Do tell – you know I love to hear.