Steampunk fiction, reviews and interviews

Posts tagged “Light

Light In The Lantern: With Imelda Almqvist

The Imagination is more important than knowledge
-Albert Einstein

I dwell in possibility
―Emily Dickinson

A Big Hello to you all and also a big thank you to Steampunk’d Lancaster for inviting me to write a guest blog!

My name is Imelda Almqvist. The word ‘creator’ sums up nicely what I am all about but I will give you the long and more tedious version as well: I am an international teacher of Sacred Art and Seidr/Old Norse Traditions, an Author of three published books (and two more in the pipeline), a painter and a Forest Witch. I am also a mother of three gorgeous young men (the most important creation in my life!)

This blog series is dedicated to re-kindling old beacons and keep the flames burning. To my mind that begs the question: which flames? In this piece I will try to answer that!

The twin flames I actively keep burning, and which I think all of us need to keep burning, are those of Creativity and Imagination.

When our creativity is in flow – other areas in our life flow too. There is a divine spark in this process, we step closer to our own Creator (however we perceive or name this cosmic force, this Power Greater Than Ourselves) and we understand how creativity is deeply embedded in all that surrounds us.

On October 30th my third book will be published by Moon Books and the title is: Medicine of the Imagination: An Impassioned Plea for Fearless Imagination.

Essentially this book explains how the human imagination married to innate creativity is a most powerful force, which shapes the world as we perceive it. However, we often perceive those things as nebulous: we don’t reflect too closely on how/what we create and how we use our imagination. This really means that a lot of mis-creation occurs (yes truly, we create unwanted things that we don’t even like or want!) Not only that, but by not healing settings or imprints from childhood (and that is before we even look at karmic imprints and settings!) the astonishing thing is that we keep dysfunctional reality going, even contribute to it, and we don’t even realise it!!

Take a moment to absorb that, it is not a comfortable thought!

The basic premise of my third book is that we are all born with the gift of the human imagination, but most of us do not harness this gift. The default setting for many people is to use ‘the muscle that is their imagination’ in a rather mindless way.

Jack D. Forbes, author of Columbus and Other Cannibals, wrote: “It is always very difficult to live in this life so as not to be a damaged person or one who damages others”. This is one of Life’s greatest ontological dilemmas (the other one is that “other life forms must die, if I am to eat”). Without harnessing and honing our imagination, we stand little chance of not living as a damaged person who damages others.

The human imagination gives rise to the most beautiful man-made structures and creations on Earth: architecture, literature, theatre, music, art, humanitarian initiatives, moon landings and space exploration, mythology, science – they all require a large dose of imagination. We are all surrounded by the results of the imagination of our peers and ancestors.

Without imagination there is no compassion, no moral compass and no progress. Without imagination there are no fear of Death and no magic (either “black” or “white”) but no premeditated murders or terrorist attacks either; all rely on the human ability to imagine, to call up images and test-drive possible scenarios in the human mind. Once we get out the magnifying glass, we discover that the imagination is a double-edged sword indeed.

The human imagination can both ignite and misfire! The Holocaust started as a concept in people’s imagination before it became an irreversible reality.

All of us together, humanity as a collective, are creating very confused and mixed outcomes right now: world peace remains elusive, wars rage and children starve. Division (Us and Them thinking) and projection (making others carry our disowned shadow material for us) remain the norm. Addictions and pollution proliferate.

Wetiko (Windigo in Objibway) is a Cree term for a mindset that cannibalises other people and earth’s resources for ever greater gain and ego-inflation. The human desire for excess drives military expansion, imperialism, colonialism and any kind of advancement or again at the expense of other people and beings: more-more-more, me-me-me. Whales choking on plastic show us where this mindset leads. We can choose to heal our addictions and the larger human field becomes healthier for every person who commits to recovery. The whole cosmos exists within ourselves – any healing we do for ourselves benefits the whole Web of Life.

The development of morality in human beings owes a lot to the imagination. The same thing is true for key qualities such as empathy and compassion. To fully understand those, this book takes a close look at their opposites: narcissism, psychopathy (and in a very different category: autism).

We can all learn a lot from studying minds that are not wired the “neurotypical” way. At times we even need a homeopathic dose of “psychopathic medicine”!

C. G Jung wrote that “We do not become enlightened by “imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” Humankind has a long way to go in making darkness conscious! Here is the bottom line: we cannot create what we cannot imagine – and we cannot eliminate things by pretending that they don’t exist. The shadow of human existence will not go away if we ignore it. It is deeply wired into the human psyche (and human condition) and it will unfailingly return through the backdoor, wearing a new outfit. Therefore, it is our moral duty to find safe and acceptable expressions for our shadow selves and shadow material.

I will go one step further and suggest that it is equally so our moral duty to engage our imagination in service to other people, especially vulnerable people – if we are to transcend religious wars, homophobia and medical “cures” worse than the diseases we face. This book also looks at dreams, personal and collective karma and the balancing of opposing forces in a balanced human psyche.

Every chapter in this book ends with an activity that allows people to engage personally and directly with the material presented.

I wrote this book in the months before Covid-19 washed over us and we all had to adjust to a new ‘pandemic lifestyle’. Only now do I realise how this book truly addresses some key issues of our time. Meaning that the delayed publication, (due to various editorial reasons), actually has given this book the perfect date of publication: October 30th, 2020.

I hope that you will check it out!

I also invite you to have a look at recent paintings:

Lockdown Paintings
http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=235589

Forest Studio Paintings
http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=236179

Fall 202 Paintings
http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/info2.cfm?info_id=236185

I have a YouTube Channel where I present my treasure trove of art videos:
https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Youtube+imelda+almqvist&qpvt=Youtube+imelda+almqvist&FORM=VDRE

If you are in need of some healing, I especially recommend:

Menglöð and the Nine Maidens of Lyfjaberg 2017 Imelda Almqvist Art Film

So that is a small selection of the fires I keep burning – and doing so saves my life! Let’s keep the twin lanterns of Creativity and Imagination burning, all of us – and have FUN doing it!!

Every once in while I get attacked by shadows: my own repressed material, other people’s shadows, all the dis-owned shadow material of our collective… so I stay safe by harnessing my creativity and imagination and I hope you do too!

You can buy my paintings through my website and all information about courses I teach is there too!

If you “do social media” and would like to connect, you can find me here:

Website: http://www.shaman-healer-painter.co.uk/
Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/imelda.almqvist/
Twitter: @ImeldaAlmqvist

Wild Blessings – Imelda Almqvist


Light In The Lantern: With Felicity Banks

Salutations, my fellow travellers: men, women, and wondrous creatures all!

As we face the long dark of this plague-infested season, it is time to brighten the glow of our lanterns, shining all the brighter against the black, and warming one another. My name is Felicity Banks and my lantern is my books.

Tonight is my shift, and I must brighten the watchtower lantern lest we be over-run. Even now, I see the unmasked hordes approaching across the hills, decrying all humanity and running roughshod over the authority of SCIENCE.

There is still hope to be had, and even joy. Because I might not be able to change the minds of the mindless, but I can write a mighty fine yarn. If you love steampunk adventures with bonus magic, you can read my entire steampunk trilogy on your device of choice, or buy signed copies directly from me at shootingthrough.net/store.

There are horrid apparitions gnawing on my extremities but I’m doing my best to kick them off, knowing that the sun will shine again one day. I hope you can do the same.

Although the pen is mightier than the sword, my books can only bring a certain amount of light (and my critics say they don’t burn especially well) so I’m wading into a larger battle—specifically, the battle to combat global injustice.

I’ve joined the crack soldiers of the Community Refugee Sponsorship Initiative, and gathered a squad around me in order to support refugees coming to my home city of Canberra. If all goes well, we can even venture forth into bringing newer, more desperate refugees over the seas as early as 2021.

If you’d like to buy my books, please do (shootingthrough.net/store).

If you’d like to send me alms in order to support this latest endeavour, I would be especially grateful, and my own hopeful lantern would blaze bright enough to light shores other than my own.

You can contact me, or PayPal any amount, at fellissimo@hotmail.com.


Light In The Lantern: With The Last Witch Of Pendle

Greetings! Welcome to to Steampunk’d Lancaster! My name is Mrs Albert Baker and… well yes, that’s right I am a witch, how very kind of you to notice! Perhaps it’s my magical aura… or the smell of freshly baked gingerbread that tipped you off? Officially I’m actually The Last Witch Of Pendle but, sadly, there is no Pendle any more, since The Chronic Agronauts utterly destroyed it with treacle and sprats. But I’ve set myself up quite nicely here in Lancaster, running my little underground soup kitchen for the street urchins.

Strange times have struck here in the Scattered Isles of Ire – Lord Ashton’s Flesh Eating Liver Birds plague the skies above us and hoards of Mancunian Sugar-Zombies roam the cobbled streets spreading their curse like a plague…

So some of us have decided to re-kindle the old beacon in the city watchtower and keep its flame burning each night as a way of giving hope to those running for their lives and being hunted down by terrifying monsters, or evil scarecrow landlords…

Tonight is my shift and never fear, I am well armed to protect myself with a hot cauldron of soup, a fistful of hexes and of course my trusty rolling pin, which has seen off many an Annoying Wizard, Giant Crab or Night Potato, I can tell you!

Over the coming weeks, a marvellous host of writers, artists and creators will each be taking a turn to keep the light in this old lantern burning through the dark and share with you some of their wonderful books, stories, artwork and other fabulous creations.

Now then, since I’m here I thought I would share a little excerpt from some of my own adventures with you. This is taken from The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry when those two miscreant wizards had the cheek to break into my house in Pendle and frighten the wits out of myself and my husband in the middle of the night!

lastwitch

The two wizards scrambled to their feet but, on cursory inspection, Skarry realised they were trapped. This was not magic that they, as mere initiates, would have any hope of disabling.

“Oh! Burglars? Thieves? Oh no!” The woman standing in the doorway, dressed in a long cotton nightdress and curlers, trembled, sending the glaring yellow light from her lantern quivering over the moon-slicked floor, serving no purpose other than to irritate the eyes of every conscious person in the room. “Oh, this can’t be happening! I…I must get Albert, yes, he will know what to do!” and she quickly spun on her heel and disappeared again. They heard her stumble back along some hidden corridor, muttering in frenzied tones as she went: “Oh blessed mother! Oh Green Goddess, why is this happening? Why? Oh this is the end, I know it is! The end of Pendle, the end of everything! Oh Goddess, if it is true, if you have really not abandoned us to the mercy of Wiz, please, please grant me the strength to deal with this! But I cannot, how can I? I am the last! The very last!”

Her ravings slowly faded, swallowed into the belly of the house, and Skarry fired a look of utter bewilderment at his friend and tapped his forehead in silent questioning appraisal of the woman’s sanity. But, to his surprise and further confusion, Mercurio’s own features revealed that he was lost in some deep private reflection which was obviously beginning to amuse him.

Before long, the woman returned, now sporting an ill-fitting black toupee, which she had hastily balanced on top of her net of tightly curled hair, a false moustache and a quilted claret dressing gown. She held the lantern high again, swinging its luminescence into their squinting eyes.

“Now, see here!” she said, failing dismally at affecting a manly baritone. “Just who, may I ask, do you think you are? Bursting into my abode and frightening the wits out of my wife like this? Hmm?”

Skarry blinked. Surely, surely, this strange woman must realise the flagrant flimsiness of her charade. He opened his mouth to speak, but the woman pre-empted him.

“Don’t move! D-d-don’t move or I’ll…I’ll…well, you can’t move, can you? Hmm? If you try to, you won’t be able to so…so just stay there while I… er… go and call the Watchers… and The Good Folk. Yes, that’s it… now just you stay there! And don’t move!”’

Mercurio held up his gloved hands and chuckled with amusement. “My dear… Sir, we have no intention of going anywhere and, as you have pointed out, even if we wished to, we would be unable to penetrate this.” He gestured to the thin blue field of magical energy which now surrounded them, regarding it with the eye of a connoisseur. “But this is quite astounding!” He gave the moustachioed woman a look of respect, mingled with curiosity, which was not lost upon its subject.

She lowered the lantern an inch.

“Surely,” Mercurio continued carefully, “surely a spell like this could only have been set in place by… and please do not take offense, my good man… by a wizard? And an extremely powerful one at that. Perhaps, even, a witch?”

To Skarry’s amazement, the woman sank down into the leather armchair and began to sob, wringing the lantern chain between her fingers.

“My apologies,” Skarry said quickly, “if my friend has upset you, please… er… here, oh damn I can’t do that,” he returned the useless handkerchief to his pocket and glared furiously at Mercurio, who gave him a withering look and then hitched up a mask of sincere compassion and sympathy and turned it towards their host.

“Oh, you’re right!” the woman sobbed. “It’s true, it’s all true!” She pulled off the moustache and toupee and flung them angrily onto the floor. “Oh, this silly charade has been wearing me to pieces! But I have had no choice! There have always been six witches at Pendle, and there always must be at least one witch at Pendle – even Wiz himself says it – otherwise the whole town will crumble to the ground; the manor, the park, the houses, everything!”

“Wiz?” Skarry looked sharply at his friend, but Mercurio hadn’t flinched.

“Yes. It is only by his will that I haven’t been forced into the caves to be hunted, like game, across the marsh, like my poor sisters. He allowed just six of us witches to stay on here at Pendle because of the curse. There have always been six and we’ve always managed to fool the townsfolk into thinking we were ordinary citizens, but I am the last! And what will happen if I am found out? Oh it has worn me so thin you cannot imagine. Of course I cannot marry – who would marry a witch in this day and age? And yet I had to marry Albert or else people would become suspicious; a woman living all alone… people have such suspicious minds… you wouldn’t believe the things they say when my back is turned…” She was beginning to rave, the pitch of her voice crescendoing with the speed of the words. If she went on like this, she would be hysterical within the next 60 seconds and if she hyperventilated and fainted, even worse asphyxiated herself, they would be trapped. Possibly permanently.

“Why don’t you have a glass of brandy?” Mercurio suggested.

The woman shook her head “I don’t drink,” she sniffed. “It’s Albert who’s the drinker.”

“Albert?” Skarry mouthed silently.

Mercurio raised his eyebrows at him. “Well, perhaps Albert would care for a snifter then? Settle his nerves?”

Skarry closed his eyes so that he would not have to witness the woman reassembling her disguise so that she could nod and stumble unsteadily out of the room in search of alcohol.

 

 

 

If you’d like to read more about my adventures with those two Terrible Wizards, Scarlet Skarry and her marvellous Land Pirate crew and of course Eightcups Max and his fabulous octopus Collin, you can find The Curious Adventures Of Smith And Skarry here:

Well thankyou so much for joining me this evening as we keep the light in the lantern burning. I’m afraid that’s my shift over for the night, thank goodness it was a quiet one! Who knows, perhaps the smell of gingerbread was enough to keep wary monsters at bay?
Stay safe good friends, whatever assails you, and when times are dark, look for the light in the lanterns of others and treasure the light in your own….