It's the most wonderful time of the year!
Yes, it's almost Halloween! So many stories of things that go bump in the night, and masquerades, and frights! Today's newsletter covers some about Tam Lin, the Ancestors, and mushrooms!
A classic Halloween fairy tale is the tale of Tam Lin. You can listen to the Fairport Convention version of it while you read this missive, if you're so inclined! It's the story of Janet, the daughter of the King (or local Lord, etc depending on the variation) who decides she doesn't need to listen to papa and goes to Carterhaugh Woods, some say to pick roses, other say straight up to meet Tam Lin. In any case, she finds herself pregnant & has to tell her father who insists that whoever did it will have to be married to her to make it right. She says, nope, no can do - none of the men in your court is the father because it's Tam Lin. Now, Tam Lin has, of course, been gone for many years, having been captured by the fairies, so Janet goes back to Carterhaugh Woods to see what can be done. Tam Lin tells her that on Halloween night, she must wait at the crossroads for the fairy folk to ride and explains how to recognize him. Her task is to pull him off his horse, and be brave and no matter what not to let go of him, no matter how angry the fairy queen gets and no matter what he becomes. She does as he says, and pulls him off his horse, and holds on to him as he transforms into a "newt or a snake" to a lion bold to a naked knight. Infuriated, the faery queen swears she'd have turned him into a tree if only she'd known, but Janet has won the day (night!?) and saved Tam Lin from certain sacrifice.
What I love about Tam Lin is that Janet is a bold young woman acting upon her own agency. She does as she pleases, seems entirely unfazed by the consequences, finds out what she needs to do in order to get what she wants, does it, and... ends up with what she wants. Self-determination and persistence. I like that in a woman!
Halloween is also Ancestor time. Whatever you may think of your family (I'm so lucky, I have a good family indeed!), the life that ran through your ancestors veins, runs through yours. Every day, my ancestors ask me, 'and what do you do with this gift of life? What are you doing to someday be worthy of being called benevolent, honored ancestor?' What indeed? Life is short and few of us are remember much as people more than a few generations. Our lives then, are for us to fully live and experience because no one person besides ourselves ever will know the entirety of our own experience. But what is remembered by others is what becomes our legacy. What will you choose to be remembered for?
And then there are the mushrooms. They come out in full force this time of year. They feel later to me this year than they have the past few years, but I have not had the opportunity to hit the walking trails I used to walk along in some time. All week this week, my plan has been to go out for a walk and all week, it's been pouring. Maybe tomorrow. This time of year there is always the classic Amanita muscaria -- the red with white spots, extremely poisonous mushroom. But they're so beautiful! Mushrooms fascinate me. Not only are they more closely related to animals than plants (yes, for real!), but they provide the internet of the forest (yes, trees and plants can communicate with each other via mycelial networks, for real!)! They are a whole taxonomic kingdom to themselves. This weekend is the Puget Sound Mycological Society's annual Mushroom Show. I'm not sure if we'll go this year, but it's always so amazing to walk through their exhibit and see how many different types of mushrooms are living right under our noses!
Last but not least, I'm so pleased - the Mythic Librarian Bookplates are here and ready and available on my site! I'm still figuring some things out, but everything appears to be all systems go. These are the first of my curiosities for sale! I had fun creating them, and I'd love to make more, maybe in additional styles. But I have plans for other items as well. :)
Until next week, mind the Queen of Faeries doesn't catch you, and treat kindly the spirits that come to your door!
In curiosity & with mycological glee,