A Little Festive Magic

a little festive magic

Christmas may be the big star of the month but today is one of my favourite days of the year – the Winter Solstice.

You might know it as Yule, or Yuletide. It’s the day towards the end of the year in the Northern Hemisphere when the daylight hours are at their shortest. It marks the beginning of Winter when the darkness is greatest, and when light of any kind is to be cherished and celebrated.

Where Christmas is a nod to Christian values, the Winter Solstice is a quieter, less materialistic festival that looks back to the old ways.

My dad came from a mixed background when it came to religion and faith. His mother was a devout Episcopalian Christian and she held her faith dear to her heart. My grandfather had a more casual link to Christianity. He joined my grandmother’s church simply to please her, but he was much closer to the land, to nature, and to the old ways.

My dad had much the same attitude as his father to the church, while my mum saw attending services, having her child – me – christened, and being wed in church as the right thing to do. Where my dad would see Christmas Eve as a time for family to spend some quiet time together, my mum preferred to attend the midnight church service.

Even in the depths of winter, my dad would be found in the garden, not necessarily tending to the plants but just taking time to think, breathe, and appreciate his life. He found a peaceful happiness in watching the land change with the seasons.

I’m a lot like my dad. Some of my best moments are those spent amongst nature – walking the dog on a morning or going on a park-trek with my family.

On the Winter Solstice, when nature appears to recede and pause, I take the day to do the same. I put aside all the preparation and busy thoughts of Christmas to just be.

I think of the magic of this point in time, and all the threads that have led me here:

  • the colour of Christmas Day as a child, with my mum clattering around the kitchen making lunch while my dad kept me amused with toys and books,
  • the wonderful mistakes I’ve made in my life that put me on the path to meet my husband,
  • and the people I’ve met along the way who have added sparkle to my life.

In a few days’ time, I’ll be in the noisy, joyous midst of Christmas Day with its own vibrant magic. Today, I’ll enjoy the more subtle magic of the beginning of winter.

All the best for a peaceful Winter Solstice.

5 facts about the Magic System in the Haven Chronicles

5 facts about the magic system in the Haven Chronicles

“So it’s more like super-hero powers than wands and spells then?”

“Super-hero. I like that,” said Hartley. “It’s actually a little of each.”

Haven Wakes, and the other books in the Haven Chronicles series, are filled with magic.

I knew from the outset that I didn’t want to copy what magic is assumed to be in the real world or use the magic system of any other fictional works (although I’m sure there may be a little overlap). What I did instead is create a magic system from sources that I love and which serve my story.

So here are 5 facts about that magic system.

Magic has a consequence

“Using magic has a cost. It weighs on us in the same way that physical exertion does.”

Hartley Keg in Haven Wakes

The idea of magic use without consequence has always been problematic for me. if there are no consequences, then what’s to stop a magic user doing whatever they want to do? They could become so powerful that nobody could stop them, which is no fun at all when you’re writing a novel. Either the heroes or the villains can’t be defeated: that kind of set up can only run your story into a literary cul-de-sac. The End.

So in the Haven Chronicles, magic is so tightly sewn to the magic user’s physical form, that using magic is like using any muscle. It takes effort and is limited by the individual’s health and strength.

Cast too much magic and you’re likely to pass out, or at the very worst, die.

Birth magic

Each magic user is born with an innate talent for a particular kind of magic. This is their birth magic.

Earth-smiths have a talent for dealing with plants and the earth. That’s what makes them the best gardeners.

Enchanters have a way of influencing people, but not just persuading them to do things. An enchanter can also affect the way you see them, making them look younger or more beautiful than they really are.

Birth magic is generally inherited from a parent, but sometimes it skips generations and a magic user inherits the birth magic of their grandparent.

Charms and Spells

Beyond birth magic, charms and spells can also be learnt by magic users.

In my books, both charms and spells can have a physical effect on something or someone, but are created in very different ways.

Charms are a collection of items, for instance:

  • crystals
  • herbs
  • straw, string or ribbon

that are bundled together, and then imbued with the intent of the magic user. A charm might be used to contain something, reveal the truth, or find a missing person.

Spells are altogether different. Some are spoken, while others are written down. Some of the most basic but powerful spells, such as casting a light orb, are simply down to gesture and force of will.

No Magic School

In my books, magic is taught at home in a family setting. This works especially well for birth magic because there is likely to be at least one living relative who has the same magical skills and can pass their knowledge on.

The basic charms and spells are also taught at home:

  • casting a light orb
  • short-range finding spell
  • protection of an area

but these will vary from family to family.

Sources of the magic system in my books

The magic system in my books is based on all kind of sources. You’ll find nods to folklore and mythology, crystal craft, herbology and various forms of witchcraft too.

If you’re interested, the books I regularly go back to include:

along with many more and so much online research too.

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What kind of magic do you like to read about?