31 March 2014

a journey to the night circus

erin morgenstern the night circus

“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white-striped tents awaits an utterly unique experience, a feast for the senses. It is called Le Cirque des RĂªves and is only open at night.

"Beyond the smoke and mirrors however, a competition is underway between two young illusionists, trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial masters. Unbeknownst to the players, this is a game in which only one will be left standing, and the circus is but a stage for a remarkable battle of imagination and will.

"Despite the high stakes the players come to unwittingly think of the game not as a competition but as a wonderful collaboration and with no knowledge of how the game will end, set off a domino effect of dangerous consequences that leave the fates of everyone involved hanging in the balance."


oOo

So this past weekend I finished reading Erin Morgenstern's debut novel, The Night Circus, and as promised I wanted to share my thoughts on it inviting discussion with those who have also read it. It should go without saying, but what follows is most likely to include 'spoilers' of some sort or another, so feel free to click away now if, like Herr Thiessen, you would rather not know more of the Circus’ secrets...

erin morgenstern the night circus
So what did I think?

Now that I am finished reading I would say that overall I did like The Night Circus, though at times I felt it was slow going especially during most of the first half of it. Told in a non-linear timeline from the get go that spans more than a century, I also found it confusing to follow the sequence of events, though eventually as more was told this no longer seemed to matter. Fortunately the viewpoints of events as told from the perspective of Bailey and the unknown voyeur helped to anchor the flow of the tale in this reader’s mind.

After a slow start during which much detail was given to descriptions of how every player came to be connected to the Circus, the story really started to pick up speed in part three as the dream began to unravel. Each of the series of unfortunate events that then began to occur both took me by surprise and hooked me even more into the story as I eagerly wanted to find out what happened. Of all of these, the ill-timed meeting of Bailey with Poppet before the Circus’ final departure was the most surprising as I was truly rooting for him to join the Circus. And I was confused and then saddened to read of Friedrick’s unexpected demise. I liked this character very much and would love to have seen his clock.

So far as the central story about this being a ‘ferocious battle’ and ‘burning love affair’ between to opposing illusionists, I think this has been somewhat misrepresented. Instead it seemed to be very much a conspiratorial collaboration from the get go even though they were unaware of each other’s part. There never seemed to be any evidence that they were rivals which I was expecting to find, and I wonder if this is the point that the author was trying to make of Hector and Alexander’s choice to bind their players to the challenge. That such a thing is imperfect and doomed by its very nature. Certainly the fates of their previous entrants seemed to repeat this same pattern.

Though the central point of the story seems to have been not examined in quite the detail I would have wished for, the Circus itself was exquisitely imagined with clearly much thought and attention given to its atmosphere and character. Being a lover of illustrated books and miniature things it comes as no surprise that I would love to peek inside Marco’s detailed notebooks of the Circus and the room he devoted to housing his scale model. I also look forward to seeing how the various locations, artefacts and costumes are translated to film.

erin morgenstern the night circusv
Needless to say The Night Circus is more than simply a tale of ‘star-crossed lovers’, albeit magically enhanced ones, as it has far more depth and layers to it than that. The themes of what it means to seek immortality, the true identities of Hector and Alexander, and the true consequences of binding one thing to another, and many more that escape me.

I could go on about this book at far more length, but for now I hand it over to you. Have you read The Night Circus? What did you make of it? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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kindly note, this post contains affiliate links that when clicked on will result in my receiving a small return if you choose to purchase // this does not alter your experience but does help to support this blog, for which I am very grateful // see my policies + disclaimers for more info, thank you

28 March 2014

wind moon medicine wheel

new moon plant mandala medicine wheel
hollyhock // russian sage // pear

Welcoming another new moon with the creation of a plant mandala from things found about my garden.

While the shapes and textures of last year's remains are still interesting to me and I smile at Spirit's challenge to stretch myself in finding new ways to form these sacred circles, I shall truly be glad when there is some new life and colour to play with for these...

In the meantime, what I did think would be a nice complement to these mandalas would be to include some information on the folklore surrounding each moon. To this end I have included some of this below. For years I have done this in notebooks and journals as a way to seek inspiration for infusing my month (and occasional magick) with connections to the natural world. Though I like to gather references from a wide range of sources, it is then down to just being observant and simply noticing those things that are significant to my experience. This to me is practical magick.

Of course whether or not you work with magick, these observations can be used in many ways to infuse your life with references to the natural world and its cycles. As with all things, use what feels right and leave the rest...

new moon plant mandala medicine wheel
Folklore of the Wind Moon

Alternate names
...planting // earth mother // spring // sprouting grass // seed // egg // wind // hare // growing // budding // alder...

Medicine
...now is the time to stop planning and start doing // take all those ideas you've had brewing for the past couple of months and make them come to fruition // take advantage of and act on opportunities that are offered // put your energies into creating, manifesting and producing // balance nerves and emotions, embracing self-confidence and self-reliance // and time to begin planting a garden and speak with the fae folk...

Plant
...willow // alder // ash // watercress // loosestrife // hibiscus // oak...

Mineral
...diamond // malachite // beryl // sapphire // zircon...

Animal
...red-tailed hawk // magpie // ram // bull // hare // robin // woodpecker...

Element
...air // water...

Colour
...brown // light green...

new moon plant mandala medicine wheelnew moon plant mandala medicine wheel
How do you like to mark the cycles of the moon? What connections to the earth does the Wind Moon inspire?

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references & further resources
Llewellyn's Complete Book of Correspondences, by Sandra Kynes via Google Books
Moon Magick, by D J Conway via Marissa MoonDaughter

25 March 2014

currently reading

girl who circumnavigated fairyland in ship of her own making

I have to admit, after a month of struggling to find time to read The Night Circus as planned, I very quickly realised I need to ease up on myself as I retrain my reading brain to get up to speed. Silly to think I was going to be as quick as I used to be, really! Plus, I need to remember this was a 'just for fun' idea as light entertainment between all the non-fiction I read, not some marathon I am training for! Hey, ho. We live and learn...

So anyway, after much consideration I am excited to read The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne M. Valente through April, and which has possibly the longest book title I have ever chosen! With the impression of being a little bit Alice, Dorothy and Lyra all rolled into one, and beautifully illustrated throughout, I am anticipating a fantastical romp of a tale within it's pages. Can't wait!

Other books on my radar this month to get a hold of to read are:

The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho which I think everyone has heard of by now and for a long time I refrained from jumping on the bandwagon with, but now I am hearing it's call as it keeps popping up for me again and again. So I have it on request to come when it can.

I'm also on the look out for Joel Zaslofsky's Experience Curating: how to gain focus, increase influence, and simplify your life, which came to me via Emily's introduction and suggestion at Puttylike.

Lastly, and depending on whether I find the other two, I also want to revisit Pamela Slim's Body of Work which I tore through the weekend I got it and now need to go back and revisit at a more leisurely pace, complete with some dandy playsheets that Pamela was so generous to forward on to me.

In the meantime it's back to the final chapters of The Night Circus for me, hoping to wrap it all up in time to share my thoughts on it here next week.

How about you? What are you reading?

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kindly note, this post contains affiliate links that when clicked on will result in my receiving a small return if you choose to purchase // this does not alter your experience but does help to support this blog, for which I am very grateful // see my policies + disclaimers for more info, thank you

22 March 2014

colour therapy // blue

throat chakra blue colour studythroat chakra blue colour study
A peek into my explorations of the throat chakra and colour play with blue this week.

Enjoying working in one of my sketchbooks with this process I pulled out all my blue colouring supplies except for the fluid acrylics and began with making a chart of all the blues I have in my collection. I am really enjoying the soft and subtle blends of watercolours and watersoluble mediums...

I played also with some dripping and the need to overlay the image of the crystal-centered lotus flower that keeps popping up for me of late. The wax resist was lots of fun to reveal... Although this this is the lighter of the two blues to be explored through this rainbow journey, I kept wanting to pull in the full range of blue at times.

throat chakra blue colour study
At the moment I am not sure whether to add some journalling to these pages. I guess I am waiting for the right phrase to come through. When it does I will add those thoughts to these pages...

What do you think of when you see blue?

For me blue sparks thoughts of water, rain and vast blue skies that stretch from horizon to horizon. Being educated in England, I have always associated deep blues with uniform, so for a long time avoided blue of any kind outside of that environment. Today though I am drawn to the brighter, stronger blues of cobalt, azure, turquoise and kingfisher, taming them with deeper blues to calm their vibrancy.

Blue is associated with expression of voice and my thoughts leap to memories of singing as part of a choir and the power I felt in that joyful vocal expression albeit somewhat anonymously as my voice merged with others. Not for me solos or karaoke! Then or now. Some food for thought for private exploration certainly *grin*...

What of you? What does seeing blue spark for you?

the series 'Colour Therapy' is a peek into my colour explorations led by Louise Gale and her Creative Colour Energy workshop.

10 March 2014

a love note to paper

paperphilia paperlove bloghoppaperphilia paperlove bloghoppaperphilia paperlove bloghop

Dear Paper,

You make me so happy. Recycled, handmade, kraft, rice, lace, scrapbook, magazine, mulberry or Japanese, all of you hold such possibility for creative adventure with your myriad personalities.

I love the smell of you between the leaves of a fresh, bound book; the sound of you beneath my pen as I pour my thoughts across the page; the varied texture of you between my fingers, and the subtle shades and hues of you that colour my world.

Through our lifelong partnership we have ventured into the arts of book and card making, jewellery-craft and mixed-media collage. Never have you ceased to amaze me with your diversity, though I feel we have barely scratched the surface (if you will pardon me the pun!).

Paper, to live in a world without you would be such a soul loss, and I am so glad I don't live there!

Yours always and forever,
Beka

paperphilia paperlove bloghoppaperphilia paperlove bloghop

The PaperLove Blog Hop is a celebration of all things paper! Follow the links to discover more bloggers who love paper and use it to inspire and delight.

And if you want to explore a whole world of paper, and stretch your paper passion further with a host of creative projects, why not join the innovative new online course PaperLove (starts March 31). Led by book artist Rachel Hazell, PaperLove is a five week creative adventure for paper lovers. Find out more here.




// participants in today's bloghop with Paperphilia:
Majo Bautista / Tona Bell / Louise Best / Cathy Bluteau / Jennifer Bomgardner / Giova Brusa / Lindsay Buck / Joanna Caskie / Jonathan Chapman (Mr Yen) / Halle Cisco / Sarah Clare / Cathryn Clarge / Dawn Clarkson / Rhiannon Connelly / Jenny D'Fuego / Molly Dhiman / Ian Dudley / Ayisatu Emore / Akmal Farid / Monika Forsberg / Claire Fritz-Domeney / Louise Gale / Chrissy Gaskell / Julie Hamilton / Emma Hawman / Rachel Hazell / Holly Helgeson / Claudine Hellmuth / Kim Henkel / Sarah Hoffman / Joanne Hus / Paula Joerling / Beth Kempton / Julie Kirk / Eos Koch / Katie LaClair / Kristy Lankford / Michelle Manolov / Doreen Marts / Rosie Martinez-Dekker / Tori Mears / Maria Mederios / Lise Meijer / Debbie Miller / MaryJane Mitchell / Suzy Naidoo / Grace Noel / Hannah Nunn / Camilla Olsson / Jo Packham / Rachelle Panagarry / Monette Pangan / Melanie Paul / Nicole Piar / Jen Pitta / Liz Plummer / Julie Reed / Michelle Reynolds / Lisa Rivas / Angee Robertson / Natalie Ryan / Aisling Ryan / Elisabet Sapena / Kyrrha Sevco / Jamie Sprague / Elizabeth Steele / Terri Stephens / Juniper Stokes / Mary Tanana / Maike Thoma / Linda Tieu / Gabrielle Treanor / Tammy Tutterow / Deborah Velasquez / Jordan Vinograd Kim / Cat Whipple / Brooke Witt / Katie Wood / Amelia Woodbridge

08 March 2014

play // dance

street photography
street photography // GK Sholanke

When all else fails, I like to turn up the volume and dance! It brings me back to myself. Back to my centre. Shakes off the glum and turns up the attitude. So put on your red shoes and dance!

// see (and follow) more of my dance'pirations here...

05 March 2014

colour therapy // yellow

colour therapy yellowcolour therapy yellow

Picking up the pieces of my journey through the rainbow with Louise Gale's Creative Colour Energy workshop series, I played with yellow to explore the mash-up that are my thoughts of late. In search of a compass, following the yellow brick road and breadcrumb trail as I look for how to put the pieces together, to decipher the clues of what they are trying to tell me. To find my next step.

colour therapy yellow
// previously on this blog I also played with yellow during Susannah Conway's August Break with her colour prompt here...

02 March 2014

of quail

mule deer buck
california quail // Fritz Haeg Garden Initiatives

Family

Guardianship

Collective

Community

Nourishment

Spring's return

Fertility

Abundance

The naming of things

Soul's name

Awareness

Escape

Quick action

// further reading
Spirit Animal Totems, by Carol and Michael Hermesh
A Dictionary of Birds, by Animal Totems