All the things we’ve lost

Bellevor Cist Sunshine 2

I spent a week of November on Dartmoor, a place I cannot stop returning to. Each time I visit, I make tiny inroads to the vast wildness – this time I visited Bellever Forest/Lakehead Hill. I’d been to the outskirts of the place before but had been defeated by the quagmire of the forest. This time, I found the stony forest road and walked up through the middle of the trees. Like other parts of Dartmoor, it’s a conifer plantation that’s slowly being restored to native species. Unlike the other forest I’d explored (Fernworthy, near Chagford), Bellever has a benevolent atmosphere. We turned off the forest track, onto the Lych route, where the dead were transported years ago, and then up onto Lakehead Hill. Over the top of the rise, past the charcoal bog that threatened to suck one of my boots from my foot, lay a cist and a stone row. I saw a few walkers in the distance, making their way to Bellever Tor, but no one came near us and we sat by the cist in soulful peace for some time.

Cist Stone Row 6

Our pilgrimage earlier in the year (Jhonn Balance’s memorial/Horsley village/Lindisfarne), to places of great personal and spiritual importance, were everything both myself and T had hoped they’d be, but our visits to various parts of Hadrian’s Wall failed to connect with either of us. On reflection, and after being on Dartmoor and at various local sacred sites in west Cornwall, it occurred to me that the energy at Hadrian’s Wall was essentially very male, whereas the prehistoric sites I usually go to have a female energy. Ironically, the only part of the Wall I did connect with was the Temple of Mithras, set amongst the moors and the curlews, apparently a place exclusively for men to worship at.

She calls to the king of fishes

Lindisfarne by T Knight

Lindisfarne by T Knight

To begin, a distinctly Lovecraftian dream from a few weeks ago that I can’t forget, even though I can only remember it in flashes: set at night in a large room with a bay window in a grand house, the gentleman sitting opposite me – white, well-groomed hair, big sideburns, 19th Century dress – widens his eyes and says in a sinister voice, “Dark forces!”. Whether he has conjured something up himself or is warning me, I can’t tell, but there is a terrifying but unseen Thing in the room.

As you can see, just a section remains, and this might be for the best. I certainly woke up – not sitting up, in a sweat, like they do in films – too afraid to move. Given its style and setting I can’t even use this one in a story. However, Widdershins is making decent progress. Over 3,000 words in, which is good going, bearing in mind I began with virtually nothing other than a saying of my partner’s, which she uses when she’s busy but which has always made me shiver slightly: I’ll meet myself coming back in a minute. The story, as the title would suggest, involves the supernatural and folklore. I’ve just finished reading Goose of Hermogenes by Ithell Colquhoun, artist, writer, occultist (with thanks to Matthew Shaw for pointing me in her direction and providing the music, via Fougou’s Further From The Centre of Disturbance, that has accompanied much of the writing and note-making so far) and no doubt the surreal, dream-like nature of the novel will influence the story in some way, even though Widdershins bears no relation to the book. And perhaps this is all an escape from a life that right now is more about dire poverty, illness and bereavement than the things that I would prefer to connect with. Saying that, I don’t intend the story to be either escapist or irrelevant.

The picture above is one of the few available from my trip around the north of England; due to two cameras becoming faulty simultaneously, I found that instead of having a detailed document of the trip, I have two reels of blank negatives and a digital camera that’s now completely useless. The 35mm SLR may be fixable but that just isn’t an option at this point in time. All I have is one shot of Jhonn Balance’s memorial; the close-ups I took of the plaque, the shots around the woodland and by Bassenthwaite Lake, the magical island of Lindisfarne – all have been lost.

A festival of optimism in the Age of Worthlessness

My self-enforced low profile has come to an abrupt end, after only around a month. Perhaps Beltane has given me some energy. After some more tweaking I realised From The Bones was now actually finished and so it’s been sent to Grey Matter Press to be considered for their forthcoming anthology of dark speculative fiction Ominous Realities. They seem a very organised bunch of people and as they cite Clive Barker as a big influence then it’s definitely worth seeing if a story of mine would fit. After having information forwarded from Ginger Mayerson, the editor of Storylandia journal, about authors giving talks to book clubs, she asked to see any stories I had for possible inclusion to the mixed-genre March 2014 issue (Storylandia is not usually in the horror/dark fantasy camp). I’ve sent her Theophany (the Darkworlds II opus) and The Ferocious Night. And a new story is on the horizon. I have a title, Widdershins, and have begun making a few notes. My forthcoming trip to Jhonn Balance’s memorial in Cumbria, Hadrian’s Wall and Lindisfarne is bound to provide some different perspectives and inspiration so who knows where the story will end up?

As you can see, a trailer for Urban Occult has been put together by Mark West, one of the anthology’s contributors. It’s a snazzy, professional looking job. Nice one, Mark! I’ve yet to read a review of the book that even mentions my story, but someone once said to me, “Your work will only be appreciated after you’re dead!” so perhaps I should expect nothing else.

Beltane was marked in Penzance/Newlyn by the May Horns procession, which I’ve been lucky enough to see since its resurrection a few years back. The sight of a huge Crowman, several Green Men and Women, and dancing folk dressed in green and white, blowing horns and banging drums, making their way along the seafront, is reassuringly oddball.