This past Yule, Santa had a very thoughtful elf working for him. Fellow pagan blogger Vixxia Wyrdwritere at Travelling a Path between Church and Circle and I have been corresponding off and on for, what, three years now? It all started after I wrote about my former coven’s Imbolc/Candlemas practice of lighting all the candles we anticipated using over the next year off the main Altar candle, which was a Solas Bhride flame. (The post explains what that is.) She wrote to ask if I wouldn’t mind sharing the flame with her…and several months later, I surfaced from mundane banalities and did. Some time later, she mentioned that she had some items she wanted to send me in return…and several months later, she did!
Vixxia and I clearly operate on similar time frames, and its one of the things I love best about her.
I ended up getting her package a couple weeks after New Year’s, and I’ve kept the items on my altar ever since. I *still* tear up a little bit every time I pass the altar and see them–they’re so beautifully thoughtful.
Ages ago, (in retrospect, when she’d likely cooked up this crafty idea) Vixxia had asked me if I’d read Ben Aaronovich’s Rivers of London series. I had not, but shortly thereafter started acquiring Kindle editions and the Audible audiobooks–they were utterly *perfect* for listening to on my many road trips to Pennsylvania. I completely fell in love with the series, which sees a modern Metropolitan police detective, Peter Grant, become an apprentice wizard and begin working for the supernatural division of the force. Along the way, we learn that magic is real, all the London rivers are occupied with a genus loci or two, and that friendship doesn’t always trump desire. But I never understood what made Vixxia think to turn me onto them until I read Foxglove Summer.
If you’re a casual reader, you might not be aware that Melissa is not my legal name, but my Pagan name–the circle name I took in my first coven. It means ‘bee’ and ‘priestess’, and–to cut a long story very short–bees have subsequently become an important part of my life. Well, in Foxglove Summer, Grant meets a retired wizard and his purported granddaughter, Mellissa. Mellissa is certainly fae…and she’s the ultimate queen bee. The attic of her home is a giant hive, and she seems to attract and control some men as queen bees do their drones. She was an utterly fascinating character, and she made me want to buy a physical copy of this book (something I do not do lightly now that I’ve moved my library five times in the last decade). You can imagine my delight when I saw Vixxia had sent me a copy.
I also completely nerded out over the brochure from Kew Gardens she sent me about The Hive, a large interactive sculpture created by Wolfgang Buttress. Its a glory of steel, glass, lighting and vibration all connected to a real beehive. The effects of the lighting and sound help you get a sense of what it is like to be part of that hive. It is, of course, phenomenal and I’ve been trying to get to London over the summer for the past couple years to see it…maybe this summer will be the lucky one? (Oh, who am I kidding…I have to adult and build up my savings.)
But wait…that’s not all the bee-themed goodness. Vixxia also included a lovely wooden bee necklace that I utterly adore. I’ve been wearing it to school fairly frequently, and my students seem to think it’s pretty cool too. (They criticize–with love!–my lack of accessorizing skill on the regular, to this was a huge win for me.) But what completely humbled me was the little green crocheted bag. Vixxia made a Bees-in-a-Bag charm! She used a green Welsh wool that was gifted to her, and she made the blue string out of wool hand-dyed in woad. I had never seen fiber dyed with woad before, and was surprised at what a deep, rich blue it made. What I thought was particularly cool was that she made the bag look a bit like an old-fashioned bee skep! How sweet is that? Inside, she included five golden bee charms. I’ve decided to charge the bag to help me stay happy, prosperous, and healthy in my new home.
Vixxia also included a lovely book on the Winter Solstice from the artist Karen Cater, who runs the Hedingham Fair along with her husband, Colin. I adore it–it reminds me a lot of a book on Christmas my parents had. Every day leading up to The Big Day, we would read one of the little articles inside the book. I can totally see using this book to do that with my currently fictional future children, should I ever get around to making them. She also sent along a little length of applewood from her parent’s tree, and it is a lovely little wand. I am always surprised whenever I use an apple wand…you really can tell the difference.
So thank you again, Vixxia, for your lovely surprises! I adore them all, and am so pleased and humbled by how thoughtful they were. You’re amazing.