The Season of the Witch
Welcome to the the first Foggy Bummers Bulletin
It's lovely to have you here 🎃
Firstly, I trust this post finds you well in what's been rather turbulent, uncertain times. It is strange to think that we have been living in a pandemic for almost two years now. It is my hope that it hasn't been too difficult and that the future is looking a little brighter for you all.
With regard the plot move, inevitably, the pandemic slowed things down. But much of it was legal process. The joys of purchasing a plot in the middle of a forest. Turns out the seller only had the right to grant us access to half the track up to the plot. The other half belonged to the Forestry, and we could hear our solicitor rubbing his hands. Fortunately we employed our architect Glen Strachan to not only design the house but to project manage the build. And we have found him to be worth his weight in gold, his advice has been invaluable.
We bought a wee static caravan and as soon as, it will be moved to the plot. However, thanks to Covid and folks holidaying at home, statics were in short supply. So options were limited, it was either a new mortgage or a fixer upper. But it's nothing a lick of paint and a bit of imagination can't fix. That said, it doesn't have double glazing, insulation or a flushing toilet. I reckon the three weeks my hubby's gone a month, I'll have the dogs in the bed with me for extra warmth. Our neighbour (the seller) has kindly agreed to let us hook up to his electric and water until a supply is brought into the build. But this also means we won't have drainage, so it's a composting toilet for us. Just as well my hubby and I know each other well.
The last year has definitely been a learning curve and a lesson in patience. And we haven't even started the build yet. But despite the many ups and downs, we are almost there. Planning permission should be any day now and then it's all systems go.
"And all the lives we ever lived
and all the lives to be
are full of trees
and changing leaves"
- Virginia Woolf
However, despite life's uncertainties, one thing that's always constant is the changing of the seasons. As sure as the return of the pink-footed geese with their recognisable klaxon ushering Autumn in.
Autumn is my favourite; when leaves offer amber hues as if they know the weight of Winter. But it's not just her beauty. Here on the N East Coast of Scotland, the bitter winds tend to make Winter and Spring blend into one. Until one day you wake up and the snowdrops have sprung. Plus I'm not built for Summer, it makes me feel disjointed. But then Autumn arrives and puts me back together again.
The season is etched in my bones - a connection to my kin.
"By the pricking of thumbs, something wicked this way comes."
- William Shakespeare, Macbeth
For centuries, witches were considered healers; people that aligned with Mother Nature. Some were midwifes, homeopaths and herbalists. That was until The Church decided they weren't, sin was in and the vulva was where it was at. So in a bid to kill their lust, women mostly, were persecuted, tortured and murdered in the name of God's unconditional love.
In 1563 the Queen's Act against witchcraft was introduced in Scotland. The practice of witchcraft, a crime punishable by death. Established by King James the VI and I of Scotland, the son of Mary, Queen of Scots. He believed his return journey from Denmark had been cursed and the blamed the perilous journey on witches. It is said that Shakespeare wrote Macbeth at the behest of the King. A story of witchcraft and regicide written in order to flatter and appease his paranoia. Such was James influence, the persecution was to sweep across Europe like the plague.
In Scotland it was known as the Great Witch Hunt of 1597 which is believed to have begun in Dyce, on the outskirts of Aberdeen. Historical records show that of cases recorded in Scotland, eighty percent involved women. In Aberdeen, the accused were imprisoned at the East Kirk of St. Nichols (for those that know the city, the church round the corner from M&S on Union Street) or the Tolbooth, as were the trials. Many historians believe that Aberdeen killed more witches than any other city.
By the mid-17th Century most places in Europe had stopped persecuting witches. The last successful prosecution under the Witchcraft Act in Britain was 1944. Sooner after the Act was repealed and witchcraft was no longer considered a crime. But mud sticks.
You Say Witch Like It's A Bad Thing
Samhain. The Season of the Witch. Halloween - is not just pumpkins and Michael Myers. It's a Sabbat, one that celebrates death and renewal. All Hallows Eve is my time to reminisce and reconnect with the past.
That said, I do like a pumpkin. Yes, they are an American tradition, but there is something nostalgic about orange dotted doorsteps with candles burning bright. Plus they are much easier to carve than a neep (Doric for turnip). My folks refused to buy pumpkins, they were considered an indulgence. I had to make do with a neep. But you had to start days before, carving one was akin to chiseling granite. Me and my Granda, his hands near bleeding. He was adept at making them look scary but it just wasn't a pumpkin.
We may not have bought pumpkins but we certainly celebrated Halloween in our house. Every year my ma would decorate the house, we'd have a wee party and invite the neighbours kids in to 'dook' for apples. When I moved into my own home, I carried on the tradition. For the past twenty years, I've never missed one. Much to my neighbours bewilderment. But to be honest, here, it's Halloween 365. Couple of weeks back our new postie said "I like your decorations." I replied "thanks, but I haven't started yet."
In the street, I'm known as the "witchy wifie." And in the run up, should I meet any of the local kids coming out of school, they'll ask "you dein the scary hoose again?" I use the same decorations but every year I try to outdo myself by making something new. It's not a success unless I spook a few children.
Different times nowadays, so no kids in the house, but I do try n dress up to answer the door. Usually Maleficent, but I've also been Morticia and Wednesday Adams, even Jack Skellington. Last year, thanks to the virus, sensibly, there was no trick or treating. Tonight, I'm just leaving out bagged sweets, as we are not out of the woods yet.
The youngest and his girlfriend bought their own house this year. Rather apt, as they moved to Cruden Bay, home of Slains Castle and Bram Stoker's Dracula. I was chuffed to find that not only can you see the castle from their house, but that the street is named Stoker Road. I messaged them this morning to see if they wanted to meet for a walk. My heart smiled at his reply "sorry, we've got Alfie's first Halloween party today, got to go dooking for apples."
My eldest has kept the house in the family, and next year I reckon he'll put out a pumpkin but I can't see him decorating. So this Halloween comes with a tinge of sadness knowing it will be my last in this house. But just like the seasons, the cycle of life keeps turning, and it's time for them to make memories of their own.
Where we're going I'll have to give folk a map to find us. Regardless, I'll still decorate come October. I can't not.
For we are the granddaughters of the witches they couldn't burn.
Plus which witch would I be if I didn't.