Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Poem from Darryl Price

Darryl Price is a reader and poet who contacted me, and we had a lovely correspondence... the week of Thanksgiving he sent me this lovely poem inspired by my book, which I received while on the beach of Caper's Island with my sister, harvesting oysters.

It made my day, and with his permission, I'd love to share it here:

Colored Orbs Floating Above Grass
by Darryl Price

"We all shine on."--John Lennon
 for Signe
We find there are still a great many good
witches all down the western leys who will
come and wash their rings in the chalice fed 
springs at Glastonbury,mirroring the
bright lights living there who shine with their own
softly sensuous humming, to purify
their own reasons for caring, helping
to continue the dance we're sending on
its merry sparkling spiraling way home
again.Just knowing this makes us come alive
with possibilities for fresh poetries
within the many tired old stairways.
I know those rings are out there pulsing
off those fingers right now like palmtree fireworks
just waiting to crackle and burst forth
a most colorful just treatment for one
and all used to defend the path of
spirit with compassion's brave kindness. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Colorado in Winter

Black Cat Books Signing, Manitou Springs

Faery Display for the Dec. 15 Erie Library Event
I've been touring now off and on since November 8th, but luckily for me, Colorado feels like home. So many great experiences to share, and yet, I am so exhausted right now... so in the meantime, I'm posting some pictures.... you know what they say... a picture is worth a thousand words... not that these pictures are that amazing, really. But I hope you like them. 

I'm going to sleep now, and it's going to be sooo wonderful.

Be well, 
Manitou Springs at dusk
Ruh, who is not adverse to being posed and exploited when it comes to faeries. 

The reading nook at Black Cat Books in Manitou Springs... the window overlooks a creek. Heaven!
Border's Signing in Colorado Springs, CO to support the Pike's Peak Writers
The Celestial Seasonings Operation near Boulder, CO -- a definite highlight. 
The Front Range at Sunset


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Lowcountry Women Authors Holiday Signing

If you live within a few hours of Charleston, I hope you'll consider coming out to this weekend's event, the Women Authors Holiday Signing. 15% of book proceeds go to fund programs at The Center for Women, and while there are many great causes in town, I have to say, The Center for Women is one of the best of them. They provide educational programs on emotional, physical and financial health, life transitions, discrimination of all types, multiculturalism, and career and business for women from all walks of life, and I've been nothing but impressed with every interaction I've had with them.

Women Authors Holiday Book Signing & Tea
Saturday, December 4
2 - 5 p.m.
South Carolina Thrift & Resale
1670 Hwy 17 N, Mt Pleasant (next to new CVS)
$10 at the door
Free giftwrapping, Readings, Tea & refreshments
Center for Women
With Barnes & Noble (use your Barnes & Noble discount card)
Special Thanks to Kaminsky's

2010 Authors Michelle Adams * Sarah Boone * Ida Becker * Sharon Becker * Cleo Brown * Nina Bruhns * Jan DiRuzzo * MaryAnn Dunham * Nathalie Dupree * Peg Eastman * Dixie Fanning * Linda Annas Ferguson * Jayne Jaudon Ferrer * Mary Edna Fraser * Rebecca Godwin * Pattie Welek Hall * The Hat Ladies * Holly Herrick * Maggie Hoybach & Joan Brown * Trish Hutchinson * Ann Ipock * Marcie Jacobs * Charlotte Jenkins * Kate Boehm Jerome * Kieran Kramer * Ann Kulze * CJ Lyons * Susan Laughter Meyers * Dianne Miley * Sheila Mills * Mary Alice Monroe * Signe Pike * Margot Theis Raven * Maryann Reid * Lisa D. Robinson & Lori Robinson * Terry Ward Tucker * Lily Herndon Weaks * Marjory Wentworth

2:00 p.m. -- Signe Pike
2:30 p.m. -- Mary Ann Reid
3:00 p.m. -- Mary Alice Monroe
3:30 p.m. -- Charlottte Jenkins
4:00 p.m. -- Ann Ipock
4:30 p.m. -- CJ Lyons

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving: For my Father

Losing my father sneaks up on me
Like this grey day and the sidewalks of New York
Where my father spent his prom night on the starlight roof of the Waldorf Astoria
Jones Beach to watch the sunrise
Back home before breakfast, bacon and eggs,
Or how he took the ferry from Kyle of Lochalsh to Portree on Skye
just to taste a drop of pure single malt whiskey, just to fall from his chair,
Because Scotland was a search for the Loch Ness monster, the epic hero and his quest for a trophy, a bite on the nose, or how my sister and I walked those same streets fourty-five years later,
Hoping to trip over
Just one footprint.

There’s the photograph artlessly tacked to the wall of the dead man and the dead dog
two ghosts peering wildly up that steep stone staircase.
I dreamt he was swinging on a net, hanging over the fastest running gorge and he told me to jump
I dreamt I heard his deep clear voice, calling in the early morning hours for the dog
I dreamt we opened his refrigerator and it was brand new, stainless steel and empty
I dreamt I was in a car, pulling away and he was holding my hand until he couldn’t, anymore.

In springtime the ice will melt from the pathway of Upper Treeman
like it always does
the urn is always waiting, anyway
we ask ourselves what this means
to keep him, so long after he’s gone
so long after he’s puzzled over poems, scarring them with a green pen,
so long after he’s delivered the last omlet on a Sunday morning with ham, peppers, onions and Olde English just how we like?

Thanksgiving this time we would go walking in the woods, naming things,
or we’d drink our hazelnut coffee, eat too much and head out the front door to find the Grandfather tree. There would be the looping of our fingers as we stretched our way around the trunk in the quiet forest with the leaves turning brown and drifting all around us, drifting into the glassy, bass-filled water of the pond across the street.
The picture window of the kitchen steamy with the heat of a thousand delicious dinner smells,
the radio blasting Prarie Home Companion, the little man dancing around on the dull terracotta tiles, smiling, teaching me how to fox trot. 

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

NPR's All Things Considered: Three Books Segment

This was a blast -- check out my recommended "Three Books to Help Grown-Ups Believe Again!"


Faerie Con 2010

It was a whizzing blur of feathers, cloaks, costumes and wings this past weekend at the Hunt Valley Marriott Hotel in Maryland for this year's event, where faerie fans from across the country gather to "Celebrate the Magical Life."

This being my first "Con," I was utterly wowed from the moment we arrived at the hotel. As far as the eye could see, there were faeries everywhere. If only I'd known -- I could've saved myself three months research and a big fat airline ticket. All kidding aside, it was an eye-popping experience. Vendors manned their tables filled with ornately carved masks, delicate gold and silversmith work, books, corsets, dresses, wings (of course! And how many to pick from... if you're willing to carry them onto an airplane...) dolls, dragons, music, the list goes on.... and on...

A woodland faerie and a Betty Paige lookalike attend the Good Faeries Ball
Author Carolyn Turgeon and I shared a room and once we got settled we got gussied up to attend the Good Faeries Ball, where we entered a dark ballroom filled with throngs of costume clad merrymakers and a foot thumping array of musical entertainment. My mask securely in place, I danced without a care... it was so freeing, you know, to be anonymous, and wild, and to be able to dance with abandon.

From top to bottom: The Faeries of Sproutwood Farms, some faerie mischief, and me getting some mermaid hair
Saturday was filled with three panels -- I spoke about "Faerie Tales in Modern Times," with Jane Yolen, Tiffany Trent, Melissa Marr and Maggie Stiefvater, in which we explored the current and historical fascination with faeries and fairy tales in human culture, and after lunch did a reading from the book for "A Writer's Life," which was a total blast. (The Glastonbury section, if anyone is curious... )

But the highlight of the weekend by far -- aside from getting to hang, workout, and wine with the sassy and fabulous world traveler and ridiculously talented writer Carolyn T. -- was re-uniting with Brian and Wendy Froud for the panel entitled "Seeking Faerie: the Search for Enchantment." Though we were without a moderator (et-hmmmm, FaerieCon organizers, that was not fun) I flung myself into that role and it was the perfect dynamic actually, for the Froud's to share their wit, whimsy, experience, and deep running wisdom regarding all things fae. It was a wonderful success and I was approached afterwards by many a conference goer who found something inspirational, fun, or educational about the 45 minute session. It was super rewarding.

By Sunday my throat was raspy from projecting (I was supposed to only moderate two panels, and ended up speaking on/moderating FOUR...) but with the opportunity to just hang out and enjoy the festivities, energy was still running high.

Sunday by five the vendors began packing up -- it was sad to watch faerie land crumble.

But invigorating to think (or hope, in my case) that we'll all be back to do it again next year.
Oh yes.

And I got a tattoo.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Ladies Lotto: Books, Booze and Burlesque! Oh My! Faery Tale Book...

Ladies Lotto: Books, Booze and Burlesque! Oh My! Faery Tale Book...: "On Thursday, November 11th, join author Signe Pike, for an evening of cocktails, conversation and a little mystical misbehaving. Hear a read..."

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Foggy Morning...

Faery Tale received a glowing review for the Reading List on Harper's Bazaar.com this morning:

Here in Charleston it's cool and foggy -- the mist hugs the shrubs and bushes of our very suburban neighborhood and I can't help but think how much the air out there feels like Scotland.
Which I miss.
So much.

I remember standing, my feet on the edge of the beach on Isle of Skye, mourning the fact that I had to leave, and again on the sand at the Moray Firth, Findhorn Bay. Looking out at the gray-green water I promised myself I'd remember: this is the same ocean that touches our eastern shores. One particle, one small particle of air, of moisture, of water, will somehow carry its way over, and find me, standing on the sand on Sullivan's Island, South Carolina.

I try to remember this on mornings like today, when I want to be walking the gently tumbling line of Fairy Pools up into the Cullin mountains. When I wish I were sitting in a spongy soft sweater, reading in a cafe in Edinburgh. When I am longing to explore again the mysterious hills of Fairy Glen, with their moss covered trees and brightly colored foxglove.

And so I am out, now, to take a walk in the mist. 

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

A Book is Born

Last night I couldn't sleep.
It wasn't an anxious, horrible sort of feeling, nor was it a smacking my head on the ceiling in excitement kind of feeling. It was a sort of calm alertness that kept me awake -- a certain settled sense of relief, I finally figured out.

As I lay there gazing at the ceiling, I wondered, Is this how women feel, the night before they give birth? Excited to see the baby in person, but good and ready to... (forgive me) have it out of them? Because more than anything, I felt relief.

The waiting is over, and so is the indecision, because now that my story has been born, she will embark on a life of her own. She'll meet people who will want to befriend her, people who will ridicule her (I know this much not just from being an editor, but from life!) people who will see things in her that they want to see, people who will not see anything in her at all. But it doesn't rest on me anymore.

Now I all can do is tend to her. Everything is out of my control, and it feels so incredibly freeing, in a way. Of course I want nothing more than to protect her -- after all, she is such a huge part of me. But the peace comes in having had the opportunity to bring her into this world at all. The peace comes in the sheer joy of being able to share her.

The peace comes in hearing the stories from women who were inspired to make a change because of the change I made myself.
Like the girl who booked a week in Ireland, spent sitting in pubs feeling the trad sessions thrumming, resonating within the old wooden walls. Or the girl who flew to Isle of Man, where she looked for a faery tale of her own.
Or the woman who is going to tend to her backyard garden in an even more connective way, and in spring time, a new partnership will be born.

My great friend Liz Butler called and left me a message today -- she said it would make her day to hear the excitement in my voice. Funnily, it made my day to hear the excitement in hers. These are the moments I relish since rediscovering enchantment in its many forms -- the day by day, "normal" sorts of things that most of us don't recognize before it's too late.
The incredible power and warmth of a friend, calling, with such high hopes, with such enthusiasm, for someone, anyone... you. This is what makes living beautiful. This is what I want to share.
All of these things are gifts that Faery Tale has given me.

And so I've done my part.
Now it's up to her.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

A Promise

With thanks to Cathy Wilke, for passing this along... typically I shy away from quotes with a high cheese factor, but the message is undeniably important, and for me, it was nothing less than inspiring. So I wanted to share:

"I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days, to allow my living to open me, to make me less afraid, more accessible, to      loosen my heart until it becomes a wing, a torch a promise.
I choose to risk my significance;
to live so that which came to me as a seed goes to the next as blossom and that which came to me as blossom goes on as fruit." 
- Dawna Markova

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Faeries in Charleston

Faery Tale was a Charleston magazine Editor's Pick! It's a gorgeous magazine, but for any who live far beyond the marshy shores of the Lowcountry, I've posted it here, with huge thanks to Jacqui Calloway for the lovely review.

Finished books should be arriving in stores in the next three weeks here in the United States!

It looks like the UK edition will go on sale in June 2011, just in time for my visit with John, Wol, Paul, Huw, Big John and crew on the Isle of Man.

EDITOR’S PICK: Faery Tale, by Signe Pike
"Lowcountry newcomer signe Pike’s travel memoir will make readers want to hand in their two-weeks notice and head to the UK for a cup of elder-berry tea and some good lore. as the book begins, Pike decides that she’s had enough of adulthood disenchantment and wants to recover her child-hood belief in magic. so she waves goodbye to the Big apple and hello to England, Scotland, Ireland, and Mexico, where she does some serious research, interviews faery-savvy folk, visits sacred moors and stone circles,
and makes a few good pals along the way.

A former book editor and a fantastic writer, Pike is hilarious, easy to identify with, and honest enough to
admit that sleeping alone surrounded by spiteful aluxes (the fabled trolls inhabiting Mexico) is downright terrifying. Reading about her bumming around the world for a couple months, you’ll envy her, of course, but you’ll also start to believe that her faery encounters could be the real deal. For the record,
I’m beginning to wonder...."
—Jacqui Calloway, Charleston magazine

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Faery Website...

After weeks of slaving, the book website has finally arrived. Slaving on the part of the fantastic Rachel Estrada-Ryan, that is, web designer extraordinaire of her company Both is Better LLC.

Visit the website for tour dates, reviews, and more excitingly... to view trip photos and the evidence collected on my enchanted sojourn to Ireland and the United Kingdom.

With faery special wishes,


Tuesday, August 31, 2010


A space within this blog for quotes, language, or ideas.

"The things a man has heard and seen are the threads of life, and if he can pull them carefully from the confused distaff of memory, any who will can weave them into whatever garments of belief please them best." 
-- William Butler Yeats, The Celtic Twilight

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Talking 'bout Faeries

Funnily enough, it never truly occurred to me that if I were to write a book about exploring the existence or non-existence of faeries, people would be someday asking me some very tough questions about them.

My father always wanted to write, and yet was so paralyzed by his inner-critic, he never wrote a single word. Though he told tales of magical Tibetan Longumpas, or a man who traveled the wilderness dowsing for water, after he passed away, nothing remained of these stories except for the flicker of light they'd kindled in my imagination. In order for me to write, especially given my years of professional evaluation of other's writing, I had to shut my inner-critic down. This is an altogether comical process for any writer, and I'm still mastering my various techniques, but the one that has worked best so far, is to simply pretend that no one is ever going to read it. In this way, I write for myself, I write to understand, and most importantly, I continue to write honestly. It's not influenced by anything but my desire to entertain (myself) and learn something about the world around me. And no one else is ever going to see it, I tell myself. Though my inner-critic, sporting a sweater set, plain white pearls, a tight bun and wire-rimmed glasses, whispered evilly, For now.

You look like a librarian. I snapped, knowing this would get her goat. To this, she sniffed, and went back to her reading.

This technique of course, becomes a problem when people do see it.
And then, naturally, there are things that they'd really like to know.

I can't help but smile when I realize in discussing Faery Tale, whether at a party on Sullivan's island or over the phone with a journalist, people are asking me the very same questions I first asked of my interview subjects when writing the book.

But what is a faery? I asked Brian Froud.

How can I see one? I asked Peter Knight.

Why do you believe that faeries are real? (I asked pretty much everybody.)

The trouble is, I'm no faerie expert. Yes, I've been there, done that, and happened to have written the book. But my adventure, truly, is just beginning. The true experts are the people I met along the way -- Sure, I can spout Brian Froud's beliefs, or folk lore, or discuss what the story teller Eddie Lenihan told me -- but as for me, my journey is on-going. I very consciously made the decision that my job as a writer is not to tell people how to believe, or to believe or not to believe, but to share my story, and in sharing my story, allow people to draw their own inspirations, their own conclusions. For my part, my story of 'figuring this all out' continues. What I do, I hope, is to provide both myself and readers with the pieces to a puzzle -- some which are quite compelling -- some which have helped me to believe. But the puzzle itself isn't a puzzle about there being faeries or no faeries. The puzzle pieces belong to the story about the reality of human existence. And that is a wee-bit of a heady topic for any interview; mine or theirs!

Talking 'bout faeries is a favorite past time of mine. I feel so lucky to get to discuss this topic more over the coming months. I continue to do reading, I continue to do research. Most of all, I continue to work over the experiences I had this past summer, but not because I'm combing for more clues, so much, more so because in remembering my trip I can feel its magic once more.

And really, it's that feeling of enchantment, more than anything, that I would hope to share with others. Because only when we can begin to see our lives as the greatest source of enchantment, can we begin to discuss.... anything.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Honey Comb - A Trip to the Charleston Farmers Market

I've been obsessed lately with trying to eat more locally. The importance of this having been drummed into my head by recently watching the documentary Food Inc., which will change the way you shop and eat, probably forever -- but also because I've been thinking a lot about how our bodies adjust to the world around us. Food is the ultimate absorber: since growing a few of my own vegetables this year, I've realized for the first time just how much our veggies are impacted by the world in which they are born. When I eat the zucchini from my garden, I'm not just eating any old zucchini. I'm eating that thunderstorm that came through yesterday like a flash flood, raging as though we should all cease any other activities and immediately commence building our own arks. I'm eating that hot summer sun that beat down on my back all last week, wilting me on even the short trip to the front yard mailbox, causing things to grow and grow until they ripen and burst, and return to the earth. I'm reconsuming every day that has come before this moment, and when you think about it this way, intimately knowing those moments because you were there, and then consuming them, bringing them into your body, eating a zucchini becomes quite a beautiful and miraculous thing.

Yesterday at the farmer's market I roved the stalls like an insatiable woman, loading up on onions, collards, cucumbers, lettuce, asparagus, broccoli, and local chicken from a husband and wife start-up farm called Fili-West Farms -- happy to fork over $20 bucks for 3.5 lbs of boneless skinless chicken breasts after talking with them for nearly 20 minutes about their chicken raising techniques.

And then there was the honeycomb. It caught my eye at the local stand because I knew I wanted to buy SOMETHING there, but I'm pretty flush in the honey department now. There it sat, a big old flat brick of honeycomb, oozing with golden possibility.

"What do you use honeycomb for?" I asked the woman with grey-streaked hair who was manning the table.

"Well," she said, "You can slice it up to put on biscuits, fresh bread or toast...the wax in it is amazing for your digestive track."

Which gave me an idea...

"I bet it would be fabulous with some fruit and some fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano."

"Exactly." She agreed, probably eager to make a sale. And so the next thing I knew, I had handed over $8.00 for my own personal chunk of honeycomb.

So today I'm making tea, and as I'm reaching for my honey to add, I figure, why not go whole hog, and dip into the real thing!

I open up the container and sliced off a chunk with a table knife. It sank into the honeycomb so effortlessly, it was promising. Glopping my serving into my tea mug, I poured the boiling water over it, watching it melt away, thinking, Awesome! It melts away completely. So much less gross this way. Because truthfully, raw honeycomb is a little disgusting. But on my first sip of tea, I got it. Stuck all over my teeth, to be exact. So here I am drinking green tea with a film of honeycomb wax that has settled on top. It's pretty gross. I don't want to know what those round little white things are. Please don't let them be... bee eggs or something. But I feel virtuous. And I will not let my $8.00 go to waste.

Perhaps tomorrow, I'm better off learning how to bake some biscuits.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

My First Official Review

Just in from Kirkus Reviews... 

I feel elated, yet defensive. The book world is a small community in many ways, and of course my husband happens to be the non-fiction and managing editor of Kirkus, the pre-publication book review magazine with a reputation for being... Eric likes to say honest -- I, having been on the receiving end as an editor like to say, well, they're somewhat brutal. Of course, as an editor, this is what I knew, made Kirkus mean something -- the fact that a woman named Virginia Kirkus had started it out of her New York City home over 70 years ago, based on a passion for books and providing a forum for honest analysis of them, a tradition they carry on today.  My worry is that people in the book business who know us will see this and think it is unearned.

It can be refreshing (if not terrifying) that Kirkus is not here to do anybody any favors. Which was why, when Eric sent my galley off to get its obligatory review, he sent it "blind." To a reviewer who doesn't know who I am, probably doesn't even know that Eric is married, and he blacked out all the distinguishing characteristics -- tore out my author bio page, etc.

When I heard the review was in, my stomach plummeted. But as it turned out, I had nothing to fear... here's the review, below:

A search for faeries—and magic in general—allows former book editor Pike to reclaim a happier, more engaged life.
While working for two different publishers in New York City, a fog of disgruntlement had settled over the author. She was weary of the hustle and bustle, as well as reading piles of manuscripts, but there was also a greater malaise involved. The whole world seemed to be going to hell in a hand basket, and somewhere along the line she had lost her sense of wonder and the joy of surprise. She hungered for a little magic and a belief in something to restore the pleasurable ache of innocence and reinvigorate her daily life. So, Pike decided to go looking for faeries. One of the most appealing aspects of her book is that she does it all with ringing earnestness—even when she’s a witty smart-aleck—and without a hint of frou-frou spirituality. “I wanted to travel the world, find the people who are still awake in that old dreamtime, hear their stories,” she writes. “I was going to find the goddamned fairies.” As the author discovered, there are plenty of them out there, and numerous people for whom faeries are a fact of life to be reckoned with. Through these people, Pike re-engaged with the world in a way that was more typical of her youth. Her deceased father—a complicated, pungent soul who wends his way through the story—had been an energetic guide to the mystery and myth of the outdoors, and he effectively conveyed that to the author, despite her being a fearful kid. Pike writes of her various encounters with faery-believers and faery lands, from New York to Mexico to Ireland to Scotland, in a winning voice that roams freely from melancholy to mirth, incredulity to bright surprise.
“In chasing the beliefs I had as a child, I’d somehow managed to grow up”—into a person easily as captivating as her quarry. -- Kirkus Reviews

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mid-Summer's Eve

"I believe that faeries exist as a tribe of spirits, and appear to us in the form of men and women." -- Donald McKinnon, 96 years old, Barra Penninsula, Scotland, 1910

In Faery Tale, one of the many startling discoveries that I made was that my trip to the United Kingdom to collect faery lore and study what may be left of local belief, followed another momentous search conducted by an academic at Oxford named Walter Evans-Wentz: exactly 100 years earlier, to the very day.

Academics like Walter Evans-Wentz and even poet and writer William Butler Yeats traveled the countryside in their day, searching to solve the riddle of faeries for themselves. They collected stories and first-hand testimonies from the country folk they encountered who referred to the faeries deferentially as "Themselves," "The Fair Folk," "The Shining Ones." Many a farmer at the turn of the century in Britain and Ireland could claim to have spotted lights coming from within a dark glen, music floating on the evening breeze with no explicable source, catching sight of a ring of faeries dancing, hand-in-hand, and even long lines of tall, stately dressed men and women coming down from the dark hills under the light of the moon.

In faery lore, references abound of the faerie's love of feasting, dancing, and celebration. Since faeries are believed to be spirits of the earth, many believe that on important days like the fall equinox, the summer solstice, Samhain or All Hallows Eve, were of particular importance to the faery race, and at these times of the year the world of magic became a little more tangible: our world was drawn somehow closer to theirs.

While we today classify June 21st as the First Day of Summer, in ancient times festivals that honored today celebrated the summer solstice as Mid-Summer -- the ancient Summer season began on May Day and ended on August 1st. So today is actually the very height of summer. It begins a time of incessant heat and humidity for many of us, of global warmth, thriving of plants and fruits and vegetables, and today being the longest day of summer, we will have 15 hours of daylight. All across Europe and Scandanavia bonfires were built to celebrate this, the pinnacle of summer and of the earth's miraculous bounty and fertility. And yet today, with more environmental heartache than we've seen in decades, many of us feel hopeless, sad, and disillusioned.

Many of us are asking, what can we do in a time like now? The press says volunteers are not needed to clean the shores of the gulf. Any who are able can of course send money, but where could we send it where it can have the most impact? It's easy to feel helpless on a day like today, even guilty -- after all, when we acknowledge the importance of today, it's a terrible feeling to understand that instead of honoring the earth and its cycles, we are destroying it. But this has been on my mind a great deal. We can't deny this is a tremendous wake-up call. And I think the most important thing we can do, on a day like today, is give the earth our love.

It's easier than it sounds! I'm not talking about meditating, or chanting, or building your own private ritual bonfire under your next-door neighbor's window -- I'm talking about seeking a way in which to make your own footprint lighter. And there are so many ways that we can begin, today, to make a difference. No matter where we live. We only need to understand that each of us does indeed, have the power to make a change.

-How much trash are you putting in the trash can on a daily basis?
-How many plastic bags are you using, both grocery bags and ziplock, for example?
-Are you leaving lights on and electronics plugged in perpetually, when things could get switched off and unplugged?
-How much water are you using for brushing your teeth, washing your dishes, washing your hands and taking your showers? Can you shut off the water while you soap up, or fill up a dishtub part way, rather than letting it run?
-Can you set your air-conditioner at 76 degrees instead of 72?

Recently Eric and I started composting -- we got a pretty silver container with reusable filters from Crate and Barrel, and a $40 black recycled plastic compost bin for outside. Yes, we were late to the eco-party, but I've been amazed at how conscientious it's made me about everything else. It feels so amazing to see it fill up with summer's bounty: Watermelon rinds, local lettuce, summer squash and garlic skins. All of these will mingle with our shredded paper, our eggshells, our pine straw from our big lady pine in the back yard, producing good, sweet soil to nourish our tiny garden of zucchini, tomatoes, and jalapeno peppers. We walk around feeling unplugged and not knowing why. This is a way to plug in, and the more we plug in, the more we can recognize harmful habits and work to improve our relationship to the one thing that sustains us all: our planet. So in celebration of today, think about what change you might be able to make and do something today to put it into action. You'll feel incredible, I promise!

As I was reading up on Midsummer, as often happens these days, I came across something that surprised me. Any of you who read the book will read about this plugging in, and how once we do, we may even begin to get little... feelings about things. These whispers of intuition have become, since my journey, as familiar as my own reflection in the mirror. A big believer in purifying my living space using the ancient method of burning sage, I recently gave my last sage bundle to a friend who was moving out of town and into a new home. I knew she'd use it well, but it made me sad that I had none left, and no place in Charleston to buy more. It occurred to me then that I have sage growing quite well now, in the little herb garden I planted on the side of the house. Why did I need to rely on someone else to sell me dried sage when I could produce my own? Perhaps this came as a whisper. I read up on how to harvest herbs properly, respectfully, when they are to be used for such purposes, and was planning on waiting until the end of the summer to harvest from my plants. But yesterday I kept feeling that I should harvest it now, now, now. So last night at twilight, I knelt in the dirt and clipped three long bundles of the fuzzy green leaves, making sure to leave enough growth for it to regenerate in  the next few months. Taking it inside, I bound it with thin, pink yarn from New York State Sheep and hung it in my closet to begin its drying process. My very own sage!

It wasn't until this morning that I read that herbs for sacred and magical purposes have always been gathered on Mid-summer or Mid-summer's Eve (the night before) for centuries. This is because it is believed that plants around this time possess their most intense essence, as this is the day when the sun is at its most powerful. So there you go. Perhaps today, if nothing else, is a good day to begin listening to that inner-voice, and see what surprises it gives you!

Attached are some pics I took moments ago of the entrance to our backyard with our gardening shed, my teeny herb garden, and just so we know the faeries are paying attention -- a dragon fly that sat oddly still, letting me snap its photo to say happy mid-summer to us all! Can you spot it perched on the unopened Canna Lily?

With hopes for an enchanted evening of your own,

Sunday, June 13, 2010

For my Mother on my Birthday

I had forgotten about this poem until my sister sent me the most incredible birthday gift -- she had a line from this etched onto a beautiful bracelet. It made me dig through my computer files to find the whole thing. The first half of this poem is a bit private, and heart-breakingly sad, about the death of my uncle Tom, and my mother taking our cousin, Murielle, to live with us. Murielle is a wonder, a delight to all of us who get the unmitigated pleasure of watching her grow up.

But this half of the poem is for my mother.

The Guardian

II). Fall Creek, Ithaca NY

The water rushes under the bridge
crayfish scuttle from underneath the rocks
they learn to play
each teaching the other
this is what it means to be a child
twice by plan, thrice by divine intervention
            I watched you, when I was with God
open the blinds and make the coffee
raise two girls
            until you could raise me

one generation to the next
one generation to the next
alert even at night
when all the children are sleeping
safe in the peach colored house on the corner
where the lilies bloom and tuck themselves away
and the back porch cradles the echoes of a family
who are soaked into the pores of the wood.
I left my tears on the shingles of the roof
under the stars by the window
where she stretches, and kicks in her sleep.

I whisper from here,
to the guardian
when the Victorian house is creaking and settling at night
when everything is less bearable
            you carry us all on your slender spine
            your magic still lingers in the lining of our bellies
in the width of our hearts
you taught us to open
one for the other
and so we are
just a circle of you
stretching through the distance
ageless through the ages
a memory stamped into the earth
we will whisper
we were here
we were loved
and you birthed us all
the ancient mystic roots itself through you
the mother
the guardian
the woman who sometimes forgets she teaches us all
in how to believe. 

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Bunny Messenger

This morning I walked into the sun room to spot a rabbit under the bird feeder. Willoughby the cat has never seen a rabbit, so knowing this would be a particularly compelling development to her Friday morning ritual, I bent down slowly and scooped her up so she could see it, the rabbit eyeing us the whole time. I was amazed at how long its front legs were -- long and graceful -- and how even though we were separated by a wall of screen and glass, I could see its little heart pounding against its chest. It took a moment for Willoughby's eyes to lock on the subject of my fascination, but I could tell the moment it happened -- her tail began to swish violently as she spotted this: her first rabbit. 

After a while, the rabbit got used to us, and we to it, and I put Willy gently down on the floor so she could stare on ground level, and soon the rabbit had relaxed enough to stretch out, lying so prone under the myrtle that I wondered if it couldn't be injured. I was plotting how I might best approach it to get it into a carrier to take to the vet when I realized, no! It was just... hanging out. I couldn't help but wonder: surely something special must happen when you get to begin your day by spotting a rabbit! 

And sure enough, I logged into my email this morning to find this lovely, lovely quote from author Sharman Apt Russell, author of a thought-provoking, explorative book on pantheism: 

“Do fairies exist? There is a certain innocence in the belief that they do and a certain magic in that innocence. With considerable humor and flair, Signe Pike asks us to return to the awe and innocence we knew as children. It's a worthwhile journey.”
 —Sharman Apt Russell, author of Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist

So on this muggy summer friday, I might not have been thinking on this stuff when I rolled out of bed, but I have a lot to be thankful for. A long-limbed brown rabbit, a sweetly curious black kitten, the way wilderness sneaks into our lives, if we only take the time to notice it, and the encouragement of another writer, perhaps the greatest gift of all. 

I hope everyone can find many moments to be grateful for this weekend!

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Dreaming of My Father

When I dream about my father, gone now four years and nearly five months to the day, I wake up forgetting sometimes, that he is still gone. Four and a half years seems like a moment ago. People always say that, and I would agree that it's true.

When I dream about Dad we sometimes end up at a waterfall that is all the waterfalls in Ithaca, put together. Their bits and pieces and personalities blended into a whole that I think must somehow be the Divine Gorge. It is, at one end, far away in the countryside. And at the other, it is nestled in the steep hills of College Town. I wake up feeling fresh and cold, like I have just gone for a swim. Like I have really just seen his face, or heard his voice, or smelled the clean spicy smell of his favorite T-shirt. Because the waterfall is perfect.
And I wonder if it is his.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Perfect Charleston Morning

This morning finds me in downtown Charleston to work on a freelance assignment, and with some time to kill, I set up camp in my new favorite mobile office, "Baked" on East Bay Street. Light and airy with huge windows, deliciously evil sweets and piping hot cappuccino's, there is a long wooden table in the side room with a gorgeous old book case and a fat stack of Charleston City Papers. Stress seems to melt away under the cool of the air-conditioning ducts while the caffeine goes about its business. No matter how much writing or editing I do, taking on a new project never fails to give me butterflies. Each project is a unique beast, some beautiful, some masterful, some twisted and broken, some stilted and sad, some regretfully, beyond hope.

But sitting here, just the sight of the palmettos against the blue sky and old brick buildings makes me feel that the world is bigger. Charleston is older, and she has seen worse, she whispers, with a wink. Wars, famine, plague, revolutions, revolts, I know she means. My butterflies are laughable, in light of these things, in light of the footprints left on these streets. If every city has a certain pull, and I believe they all do, I wonder how Charleston chooses her residents. New York has a power buzz that's difficult to ignore. New York vibrates with energy, possibility, and the sheer throngs of humanity all there to carve out their own private piece of the American dream. Sticking out toward the ocean and surrounded by two rivers, I chuckle sometimes to note the sheer geographic similarities between the two places -- my old home and my new one. Charleston too, is a peninsula, with ocean, surrounded by rivers. And here in Charleston, people are carving out their dreams too -- but they involve, I think, a good restaurant, a watercolor of the beach, a community pool, home owners fees, maybe a plot of land big enough to plant a few vegetables, and floating in the silty ocean.

Sitting here I watch fellow residents milling on the street, I watch the tourists pass by with their hawaiian shirts and straw hats, watch a sparrow climb the spiky innards of a palmetto tree, and I wait, hoping one of these perfect Charleston mornings, she'll reveal to me at last why she has called me here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Wonderful, wonderful David Yeadon

Eric and I tied the knot this past weekend, which was so magical in and of itself... we keep looking down at our left ring fingers in wonderment, then we hold our hand up to the other's face and say, "Ha! Married!"

I was pulling myself from my week of dreaminess thinking that things could not possibly get any better, when I received this note from author David Yeadon about Faery Tale. Named by the Bloomsbury Review as "One of our best travel writers," he is an award winning writer and photographer who has written many, many wild, beautiful, and powerful books about being a traveler in the world, about living and observing. I had fallen in love with his writing when I read AT THE EDGE OF IRELAND, which chronicled a year he spent living on Ireland's Beara Peninsula, and I have since gone back to dip into his backlist, as quickly as I can get my hands on them. I so badly wanted him to read my memoir, and at the same time I thought, "There is no way in hell that David Yeadon is going to want to read a book about faeries." But he read it. And he understood it and me inherently -- it's not just a book about faeries. It's a book about life.

I was bowled over by his note -- instead of writing an obligatory few sentences, he wrote me a commentary. If you're interested to read it, I've posted it below.

FAERY TALE by Signe Pike — A commentary by David Yeadon

I really didn’t want to be entranced. I didn’t want to be enticed into yet another world of strange fantasy-beings. But with Signe Pike’s ‘Faery Tale’—I was. Honestly.
I resisted of course but then found myself being bewitched both by Pike’s silken, sensitive prose and the encouraging realization that she once shared my dismissive skepticism. She admits in numerous situations that despite her deep desire to discover the faery world, her brain “began the process of doing what it does best—denying.”

So I let down my guard and allowed her charming tales of mystical experiences in other-worldly places buoy me along on delightfully adventurous journeys with a host of colorful characters (real folk and fairies). She certainly chose—or was led to—some of the Celtic world’s most mystical places including England’s Glastonbury (Avalon), the Isle of Man, the wild western region of Ireland, the Isle of Skye in the Scottish highlands, and the unique faery-filled community of Findhorn. And, in all her journeys, her own emerging enlightenment engendered far deeper relationships with her sister, her friends, and her late father.

Pike’s open-eyed explorations and deliberate vulnerability remind me of my own years of zany wanderings and adventure travel book writing when, from time to time, I wondered if I was being guided by invisible presences and forces. Certainly, in the numerous instances of ‘near death’ events, I was convinced that my mortality was being protected by much more than pure luck. Faeries? Maybe. There are so many words to describe such secretive entitities. The key to allowing them into our own world is summed up succinctly by Pike—“I refused to give up hope…all I had to do was believe.”

So thank you Signe Pike for making us all more aware of the hidden dimensions of our earthly existence—for ‘helping people believe in magic again”—and for showing us how such spirit world magic can transform the perceptions of our own lives.
-- David Yeadon

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Early Praise for Faery Tale

I'm so delighted to share these truly sweet and lovely quotes from three ladies whose writing I admire and respect above all else.

Truly, I think I've had some help from the faeries:

"An honest, funny, and deeply moving story of a dreamy realist who eventually discovers that there is magic in the simple act of believing. Anyone who's ever seen something curious out of the corner of their eye, heard the million whispers of trees, or checked under their bed looking for more than dust bunnies will thrill to Signe Pike's FAERY TALE. She not only embarks on a mythic globetrot; she navigates the rocky shoals of love and loss in her own life as well."
- Cathy Alter, author of Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Loss, and Starting Over

“Faery Tale is more than just a refreshing romp among waterfalls, searching for that shining, hidden race of spirit-people. It’s Signe Pike’s answer to a grief-sick heart. Whether you use the words faith or faeries, God or magic, Pike’s thirst for belief is both moving and inspiring. She has a wild willingness to reach through her grief and abandon herself to life’s adventures, and I felt so lucky to be along on her journey. Reading this book is like remembering that elusive magic of childhood. Pike went looking for enchantment; well she found it, and she left its light and gracious footprints across every page of this delightful book.”
- Jeanine Cummins, bestselling author of A Rip in Heaven and The Outside Boy

"A beautiful book, wide open and shimmering, full of enchantment, pain and sweetness. Signe Pike is warm, open, funny, thoughtful, vulnerable, wise -- reading her is like sitting over tea or around a fire with your best girlfriend, listening to her wildest tales. Faery Tale transports the reader to mist-covered mountains and magical, sun-filled glens scattered with faery offerings. But more than that: it makes the world seem better, fresher, and lovelier than it was before." - Carolyn Turgeon, author of Godmother: The Secret Cinderella Story

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

A Seder on the Fourth Floor of an Old House in Charleston

Last night Eric and I attended a Seder to commence Passover, the first that I've been to as an adult. Jeff and Lis are fellow former New York City dwellers, though Jeff, much like Eric, grew up calling Charleston home. Located only a few blocks from Colonial Lake, I could see the gray blue waters of the harbor glinting in the early evening light as we pulled up in front of a massive historical home. There's something about downtown Charleston that steals my breath in any light, rain or shine, and last night, buffeted under the dark threat of storm clouds, the colors were even more vivid: deep pink red buds, lush green grass, and the towering teal house with black shutters that Lis and Jeff call home. Bottle of Chianti in hand, we wound our way along the old wooden porch to a set of stairs that headed up on the outside of the house, climbing the steep and narrow steps to the fourth floor. I wondered how many apartments the old beauty had been carved into -- given its sheer size and domination of the block, there was of course no doubt that this home was once a bustling, single-family home, complete with cooks, maids, slaves.

Inside the kitchen was warm with the smell of short-ribs and matzah ball soup, Lis moving about the apartment in a green party dress with orange heels and their new dog, Einstein, a shaggy white and brown mop, trotting around at her feet.
"People tell us that our apartment used to be the slave quarters," Jeff explained as he poured us two glasses of red wine. More guests arrived and at last when we settled, elbow to elbow around the table, Liz passed around stapled pamphlets she'd made - the Haggadah - which contained all the readings for the night and doubled as a nice "how-to" for guests like us, attending their first real Seder.

Honoring the Jews flight from slavery out of Egypt and into freedom, the meal itself tells their tale. In the Haggadah I read that Egypt in Hebrew is "Mitzrayim," which literally translates to "places of constriction and limitation." In this way, Mitzrayim comes to represent not just a geographic location, but also a metaphor for all the enslavements we meet in life. And so Passover becomes a time to awaken to places in our lives where we are stuck, so we might release ourselves from the slavery of old patterns, beliefs, and ways of being that hold us back from personal growth. It was beautiful, unexpected, and imbued the night with a new meaning for me: I have not always found religion to be so easily relatable.

As we sipped wine and took turns reading from the Haggadah, I was captivated by the concept again and again:

"Like the Jews in Egypt, we are not simply enslaved by others. It is not only a Pharaoh outside who keeps us in bondage. We carry Pharaoh within ourselves. We seek to remember that we hold the keys to our slavery and our freedom. We keep ourselves stuck with limiting thoughts like, 'I can't,' 'I'm not ready yet,' and 'I don't deserve better.' We are the slaves and we are the enslavers. Only we can set ourselves free."

Sitting there under the sloped roof of the dining room, lightning flashed over the churches and steeples of the Holy City, and a table filled with people from all faiths cracked Matzah between their fingers even as we ate in the slave quarters of an early 19th century home. These are the things that I love about Charleston. These are the things that I love about our friends.

That night was a full moon, and I woke after 3 am to the sound of a dog barking. Looking out the bedroom window I saw two dogs, a black one and a white one, lit in the moonlight. The fat black dog was only about eight feet from the house, and they were both facing me, looking inside almost, as his bark echoed through the dark early morning. They must have stayed there for nearly an hour, facing our bedroom window and barking, and it was an eerie ending to a magical evening. What their connection could have been, if any, baffles me. But then again, maybe it was, in its own way, a call to freedom as well.

Two dogs, half wild, running in the night, baying their freedom under the light of the moon.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver

"I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?"

With thanks to Lea Beresford, for sending me a poem on a Monday.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

History is a Fairy Tale

Recently I’ve been thinking a great deal about our plight here on this planet. So many people walking around lost and wounded, with no sense of the beauty and incredible richness that surrounds them called “life.” This was the reason I felt so stirred to abandon every day life in a search for something more – because I was lost, wandering the streets of Manhattan in a zombie-like work-a-day way. Melancholy, disconnected, trapped…. hopeless. And the worst part is, where there is hope, where there is help, we turn our faces away. This hope is in understanding our stories.

“Fairy tales” are at the very root of our lives and yet we constantly dismiss them. When our children come to us wide-eyed and wild we tell them “it’s only a story.” We dismiss writers imaginings as “fiction,” we relegate our magic, mystery, and sense of incredible possibility to the nursery where it becomes outgrown, abandoned. We tell our friends that for them, anything is possible, and yet we fail to believe it for ourselves. We forget that in reality, the story of human existence is nothing but a story – a fairy tale all its own.

Human history.

The stories of what has happened in our span of existence on the historic record are so commonplace, so deeply ingrained in our every day consciousness that we no longer see them for what they are.
We have princesses and queens: Diana, Grace Kelly, Cleopatra, and Boudiccea. We have our magicians and our wizards too, in Galileo, DaVinci, Magellan, and as scholars are uncovering, the not-so-mythical Merlin. We have our villains, too – so many they clog the history books: Nero, Pol Pot, Attila the Hun, Genghis Kahn, Hitler, Stalin, Ivan the Terrible, Napoleon, the list goes on. We have our heroes: Joan of Arc, Gandhi, Rob Roy, Harriet Tubman, Abe Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Sitting Bull, Theodore Roosevelt.

When we begin to read and study our history books, we learn that human kind is capable of the most beautiful creations, the most compassionate tenderness, and the most horrible atrocities – acts of violence so dark that they would be banned even from any director’s cut, boycotted by readers or movie-goers. And it is these conflicting forces that are nothing less than the genetic code for the fantasy stories we learn about as children.

When you look at our human story and understand the impact of this, the line between fiction and non-fiction will blur. Everything is informed by our reality. Nobody is writing in a vacuum – it’s impossible. We are working with the human brain, and all we know is our own story.

But the value comes truly, when we can step beyond our daily lives and gain the ability to see things in this light. What we tell we remember. What we don’t tell is lost. And somewhere in the middle, where these two things meet, is the truth of what our world really was, the truth of what really took place -- it begins to make you realize that we have the power to change our story.

When you can see our existence in this light, you begin to realize that out of any storybook we’ve ever read, truly our own lives can be the most spectacular fairytale of all.

Monday, January 04, 2010

A Faery Happy New Year!

Yesterday was surprising in so many ways. Firstly, it was cold, and yet... sunny.

This is an anomaly for someone who comes from upstate New York. Our winters are dark, cold, bleak, and relentless. There is a beauty there you learn to love -- the yellow fields of dried wheat, or flattened fields of corn draped in a blanket of winter snow. The masses of ice --frozen water caught in mid-fall, the hardened muddy trails and the hillsides of delicately etched branches, showing dark against an overcast sky.

Here in Charleston the sky was blue as a jay feather, the air biting, the plants that outlasted the freeze the night before basking green in the sunshine. At the bird feeder we had the male and female cardinal, the slate colored juncos, and three nut-hatches flittering in arcs over one another, hungry for the sun-warmed seeds. And then there was me, kneeling at the foot of our glorious river birch in my puffy blue jacket, working on installing my very own, brand new, Faery Tree House. I'll explain...

We spent New Years near Pawley's Island where I came across a fabulous store -- Blair Creek. I was lured in by their sign in the window "Create Your Very Own Faery Garden!" And I thought, "Why, yes! How could my life be complete without a Faery Garden?" Like most people, I'm sure. But this is what happens when you devote your life to writing a non-fiction book about trying to believe in faeries. So of course I had to go in. The trip may be over, but old habits die hard.

Inside I met Butch (yes, really) the co-owner and he showed me around the store -- whole houses for outside made of all "found" materials by artist John Curtis Crawford that really tickle the imagination but totally repel the wallet (at $300.00 or more!) And then my eyes settled on The Tree House Kit. A window, a door, and a chimney, designed to turn any willing back yard tree into a home for your wayward faeries. I bit my lip and forked over my credit card. Happy New Year to me -- I could hardly wait to get back home to get started. There are pages and pages of directions that come with these kits, and while somewhat daunted, I poured through them on the car ride back to Charleston.

1) Determine the tree that would like to be your faery tree house. (With instructions on how to accomplish this.)
2) Put said tree to sleep using enclosed "Tree Sleeping Spell" using included frighteningly real looking "magic wand."
3) once said designated tree is sleeping, drill the necessary holes to mount your door, chimney and window.
4) Wake the tree back up.
5) Leave a thank you for the tree and a welcome gift for (hopeful) habitation of faeries.

So there I was, standing in the puffy coat with the magic wand. To pull a now classic Kate Gosselin "Self-Interview":

"Was I feeling silly?
Did I feel like I may have lost my mind?
Was it the first time I'd felt this way?
Was that going to stop me?
If I were a tree in my backyard, and someone was going to drill a couple huge screws into me, would I appreciate the courtesy of an attempted sleeping spell?
Was I embarrassed that my neighbors were looking at me with unmasked interest?
Were they clearly thinking, "There goes the neighborhood?"
Did I do it anyway?
Am I glad I did it?

But actually, what happened was... unexpected and even better.

My neighbor Andrea has two kids, Ian and Zoe, and a lovely mother who comes to visit named Martha, who I'd met on one other occasion. I went over to the fence to wish Andrea a Happy New Year and told her about my backyard project, and that I was a little embarrassed to do it with everyone.. watching. So Andrea gracefully went inside, but not before her mother came over -- a stunning woman with clear blue eyes and pretty silver hair. She stood at the edge of the fence and said,
"Andrea just told me what you were planning on doing, and I wanted to come and tell you that I think it's wonderful. (Said in a Kate Hepburn-like way.)"
"Wow." I said. "Really?"'
"Yes." She said. "I live in a small house in the middle of the woods. Two miles away from the nearest person, miles away from any amenities. And I'll tell you, I don't just believe in faeries, I know they're real. In fact, I have all kinds of spiritual creatures that come to visit my home."
"Really?" I repeated.
"Really." She said.
"Well, in that case," I said, "Maybe I could come and get you all when I'm through, and perhaps you'd like to come over with Ian and Zoe and have a look at it?"
She gave me a formal nod. "That would be wonderful." She paused a beat. "I'll bring something to leave for them too."
(Meaning the faeries.)

So I put the tree to sleep, I sang to it, just like the directions said. Eric helped me drill the holes, we mounted the pieces, and I went over to fetch Ian, Zoe, Andrea and Martha. By the time I reached the door both Ian and Zoe were absolutely beside themselves with excitement to come and see the Faery Tree. They each picked out leaves to put at the base of the tree, and a stick. Zoe had a piece of purple and blue yarn so the faeries could make a coat. Andrea brought a perfectly formed pine cone. I brought a piece of pyrite (faeries like shiny things) and a stone I found on the beach for the tree. And lots and lots of pretty beach shells. As we four kneeled, placing gifts here and there, Martha found her way over.
"Where I live, a lot of the faeries come from the Native Americans who lived on the land for so long." She said to us, and to the tree. "So I brought a few pieces of corn..." she laid them down. "Some cookies for dessert..." she said as she scattered them, "And this piece of lapis." She held up a small bluish stone, cold and round in her fingers. And then she reached out, and she put it in the perfect place: directly over the front door.

Then she said something to Ian and Zoe that really stuck with me. You see, in all this trying to believe, I've read so much, tried so much, and somehow managed to get buried in so much... excess information. I told Ian and Zoe,
"Anytime you want to come over, if you find anything, or make anything that you want to leave for the faeries, you can just come on over and put it here, whether Eric and I are here or not, okay?"
But then Martha said,
"But kids, you don't have to be here to do something nice for the faeries. If one morning you're just getting ready for school, and you look out to the backyard and you think of them, and just wish them well, they would love it. If you're going to sleep at night and saying your prayers, you can think of the faeries and say goodnight too. That's all they need. Just for us to remember them. Just remembering them is enough."

She was right. All the folk tales you can read say faeries are so tricky, faeries are so temperamental, faeries are so demanding, faeries are so dangerous. Faeries must be placated with gifts, food, trinkets.

But in my journey so far, I've never found that to be true. Faeries, whatever they may be, I would say, seem more kind, more loving. Faeries are in the whispers of the trees, the spark of a firefly, the flash of a bird's wing. They are hopefully now utilizing my costly tree house.

But all they really ask for, I am willing to bet, is that somebody remember them, and that in remembering them with a thought, or a gesture, we are remembering and honoring the earth, the greatest thing that humans, and faeries, have in common.

Wishing you a bright and beautiful New Year,