Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dancing Around the May Poll & Other May Day Traditions

A Spring Walk in the CountryAs a child growing up during the 19th century, or so it sometimes seems, I remember placing baskets of flowers as a surprise on friend’s doorstep early on a lovely May Day morn. Also, dancing around the May Poll festivities in which, not I, but my younger brother and sister both participated. The little girls with garlands in their hair, decked out in pretty spring dresses. Mom made my sister’s. One year the wind toppled the May Poll and then there’s the time the children got all wound up in the ribbons and over it went.  Humiliating for my young brother who’d practiced so hard and tried to no avail to instruct his fellow dancers to wind them properly. I never did trust that May Poll thing to go as planned and hoped to be crowned May Queen, surrounded by a glad assembly of courtiers. No such luck. But May Day was special and has strong flowery associations in my memory. And wind. It never entered anyone’s mind that this revelry had possible pagan connotations. May Day festivities were simply a spring rite and good fun. (*Image of cherry tree in our yard)
How about the rest of you? Any May Queens among us?
birch tree in spring“May 1st, often called May Day, just might have more holidays than any other day of the year. It’s a celebration of Spring. It’s a day of political protests. It’s a neopagan festival, a saint’s feast day, and a day for organized labor. In many countries, it is a national holiday. (Royalty free images of birch trees)
Celtic calendar feast ushering in the start of summer. (It also went by a variety of other spellings and names in assorted dialects of Gaelic.)
Bonfires, often created by rubbing sticks together, were common features of Beltane celebrations. Related rituals included driving cattle between two fires, dancing around the fires, and burning witches in effigy. Another tradition was Beltane cakes, which would be broken into several pieces, one of which was blackened. They would be drawn by celebrants at random; the person getting the unlucky blackened piece would face a mock execution.
In recent years, Beltaine has been adopted or revived by neopagan groups as a major seasonal festival.
TreesBringing in the May: *This is more what I remember.  :)
In medieval England, people celebrated the start of spring by going out to the country or woods “going a-maying” and gathering greenery and flowers, or “bringing in the may.” This was described in “The Court of Love” (often attributed to Chaucer, but not actually written by him) in 1561. Totally irrelevant, but I am a direct descendent of Chaucer on my father’s side.
The Beauty of Spring in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia“And furth goth all the Court, both most and lest,
To feche the floures fressh, and braunche and blome;
And namly, hawthornbrought both page and grome.
With fressh garlandes, partie blewe and whyte,
And thaim rejoysen in their greet delyt.” (*Wild roadside flowers near us)
Another English tradition is the maypole. Some towns had permanent maypoles that would stay up all year; others put up a new one each May. In any event, the pole would be hung with greenery and ribbons, brightly painted, and otherwise decorated, and served as a central point for the festivities.
May Day was also a time for morris dancing and other dances, often around the maypole. In the 19th century, people began to braid the maypole with ribbons by weaving in and out in the course of a dance. Other later traditions include making garlands for children and the crowning of the May Queen.”
From an interesting site: Herbal Musings
Beltain, Bealtaine, Beltine, May Day, Cetsamhain (‘first Samhain‘), Walpurgis Night (Beltane Eve), Celtic ‘Flower Festival’
Druidic Name: Beltane
archangel-michael, old stained glass windowChristian Equivalent
Roodmas, Rood Day, Feast of Saint Philip and Saint James, Feast of Saint Walpurga
Beltane is the cross-quarter festival that marks the start of the summer quarter of the year and the end of the spring quarter. This is a time when nature blossoms and felicity and fertility return to the land. In times past, the livestock stockaded at Samhain was returned to summer pastures at Beltane.
…a joyful festival of growth and fecundity that heralds the arrival of summer. It is the festival of the ‘Good Fire’ or ‘Bel-fire’, named after the solar deity Bel. Bel was also known as Beli or Bile in Ireland, with Bile meaning ‘tree’, so Beltane may also mean ‘Tree-fire’. Beltane is the counterpart of Samhain (and is sometimes referred to as Cetsamhain, the ‘first Samhain’), and these two important festivals divide the year into summer and winter halves, just as the two equinoctial celebrations, Ostara and Mabon, divide the year into light and dark halves.
Lighting fires was customary at Beltane, and traditionally a Beltane fire was composed of the nine sacred woods of the Celts. All hearth fires were extinguished on Beltane Eve and then kindled again from the sacred “need fires” lit on Beltane. People would leap through the smoke and flames of Beltane fires and cattle were driven through them for purification, fertility, prosperity and protection.
AngelicaIt is a traditional time for Handfastings (marriages), and for couples to make love outside to bless the crops and the earth. Maypoles were often danced around at Beltane to bring fertility and good fortune. Beltane lore also includes washing in May-day dew for beauty and health, and scrying in sacred waters, such as ponds or springs.
The festival is sometimes referred to as Roodmas, a name coined by the medieval Christian Church in an attempt to associate Beltane with the Cross (the Rood) rather than the life-giving symbol of the Maypole. Beltane was also appropriated by the Church as the Feast Day of Saint Walpurga, who was said to protect crops and was often represented with corn.”
(*Royalty free images of the Archangel Michael and the sacred herb Angelica)

Friday, April 26, 2013

Short Historical Romance Story

“The Lady and The Warrior is a very short story that is a pleasure to read. Beth Trissel transports us into a special world with her descriptions, well-rounded characters and delightful writing.” ~Amazon Reviewer Reader Forever
ExcerptMay, 1783, the Virginia Frontier, the Allegheny Mountains
That terrified cry came from the stream.  Zane didn’t have much time to reach her.  And he was so close!
He slid the musket strap from his shoulder.  Grasping the long firearm, he raced over the misty path.  Like a buck taking flight, he dodged stones and sprang over fallen limbs.  He skirted an enormous downed trunk capped with toadstools.  Shouldering the musket again, he pushed through the underbrush.
Branches snagged his brown hunting shirt.  Briars snatched at his leather breeches and wool leggings.  He tore free.  A tangle of vines lay between him and the woman.  Taking the tomahawk slung at his side, he chopped his way through.  Chest pounding, he arrived at the engorged stream.
With eyes honed to detect the barest hint of man or beast, he scanned the swift current.  Woodland debris bobbed in the brown flood.  No woman.  She must be farther downstream.
He sprinted along the edge of the bank.  Whoever this unfortunate female was, she was about to drown.  Even without knowing her, it goaded him.  And the urge to save her swelled inside like the muddy water overflowing its banks.
There!  Zane spotted the young woman clinging to a branch as the torrent did its damnedest to rip her away.
“Hold on!  I’m coming!”
Her head swiveled toward him, face white with fear and fatigue.
“Hold on!”
She managed the barest nod.
He laid his musket on the ground.   Wedging his moccasins against the stones and roots, he sidestepped down the slick earth.  Then reached out and grasped the branch she held to—testing its strength.  The wood was firm beneath his hand.
So far, so good.
He leaned over the swirling water.  Careful.  One misstep and they’d both be swept away to a watery grave.
Desperate eyes met his, the hue of summer leaves and marbled with brown like the forest.   Her fingers slipped.
Quick!   He snagged her shoulder, digging in his fingers so her cloak wouldn’t come away in his hand.  “I’ve got you!”
She clutched at him.
“Don’t!  You’ll pull us both in!”
A look of misgiving flitted through her panicked gaze.
“Trust me.  I’ll not you let go.”
The Lady and the Warrior is .99 at Amazon. This short historical with a The Last of the Mohican’s flavor gives a taste of my long historicals.  If you like it, chances are you will enjoy them too. Also available at Barnes & Noble as aNookBook.
***Images of stream and old family musket, powder horn, and hunting pouch by my mom, Pat Churchman. Cover by daughter Elise.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Strange Occurrence in The Shenandoah Valley of Virginia

ghostly imageThis account is from ‘Shenandoah Voices by late Valley Author/Historian John Heatwole:
Dark Being:
“Between Dayton and Bridgewater (not far from where I live) around Christmas 1901 there were reports of a dark being standing by the road in the dead of night. Apparently, it threatened no one, but it was not considered human, and for a few weeks there was a general uneasiness in that part of Rockingham County. (The not human part would get my attention)
In Harrisonburg one night, a stranger stopped by C. L. Jordan’s livery stable on German Street and requested to be driven out to Bridgewater. Mr. Jordan harnessed a team and carriage and asked Follinsbe Welcher to accompany them, so he’d have a companion on the return trip.
Dark ForestThe three men drove along quietly for some time. They passed Dayton and were on the upgrade toward Herrings Hill when they beheld the dark form that had terrified the countryside by its mere silent presence. It stood close by the road, featureless. Mr. Jordan was a brave soul, and he sprang from the carriage to investigate. He grabbed the creature, but was overpowered by an unnatural strength and could do no more than call for help. Mr. Welcher rushed to his aid, only to find his added strength to be insufficient in contending with this entity. The unequal contest lasted for several minutes, and the two liverymen were left sprawled on the ground. The creature, the dark, unyielding form, had melted away into the night.~
What was it and where did it go? Nobody seems to know.  But I’m creeped out and hope it stays gone. I don’t want to see the dark being while driving by that spot at night.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

“You can bury a lot of troubles digging in the dirt.” ~Author Unknown

barn with tulips April 2011 241“I appreciate the misunderstanding I have had with Nature over my perennial border.  I think it is a flower garden; she thinks it is a meadow lacking grass, and tries to correct the error.”  ~Sara Stein, My Weeds, 1988
To that quote I add, and Nature generally wins. But it’s April and the world is newborn. I’m in my zealous mode, clearing away the old growth and wintering over weeds from around perennial herbs, flowers, and vegetables, like asparagus and rhubarb, and seeking out the newly emerging seedlings to determine whether they’re friend or foe. Or something in between. If foe, then they must be gotten out before they smother the surrounding plants. But it isn’t that simple. Many of the plants are wanted, within reason.
rose and larkspurTake larkspur for example, a beautiful flower, but will take over unless kept at bay and that’s the way with many of my cottage garden favorites. Sunflowers are wonderful, but if not curtailed will overrun the garden. A knowing eye and hand must make order out of would be chaos–an ongoing challenge. One mostly undertaken by me, with some much needed help from daughter Elise. This year I’m also starting many seedlings in the small greenhouse husband Dennis built me years ago. It had fallen apart but he recently restored it; I’m very glad to have the use of this happy space again.  So far the gardens look hopeful and are bursting with promise. I pray the weather will be reasonable this year. And that we dodge the frost tonight.
violasDespite all the challenges, creating a garden is inestimably worthwhile and blesses everyone it touches.  Go and plant something. And if you must wait until the snow melts, you have my sympathies. Spring is late but has arrived in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.
“Gardens are a form of autobiography.” ~Sydney Eddison, Horticulture magazine, August/September 1993
“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides.”  ~W.E. JohnsThe Passing Show
Spring Garden“Many things grow in the garden that were never sown there.”  ~Thomas FullerGnomologia, 1732
“In my garden there is a large place for sentiment.  My garden of flowers is also my garden of thoughts and dreams.  The thoughts grow as freely as the flowers, and the dreams are as beautiful.”  ~Abram L. Urban
“I think that if ever a mortal heard the voice of God it would be in a garden at the cool of the day.”  ~F. Frankfort Moore, Garden of Peace
*Images of my garden(s) by my mom and daughter Elise

Monday, April 15, 2013

The best place to seek God is in a garden. You can dig for him there. ~George Bernard Shaw

yellowtulips“I believe that gardens themselves are very healing. To be surrounded by the exquisite beauty of nature is to experience a healing of the soul.” — Author unknown
It’s gorgeous in the Shenandoah Valley now, and today a soft April shower is making everything even that much greener. The jonquils are in bloom and tulips just beginning to flower with the promise of many more buds. I’ve ordered several new David Austin roses to add to the roses that survived the winter (mostly Austin varieties so I’m sticking with those from now on), and the greenhouse is filled with seedlings for the vegetable, herb, and flower gardens. What wealth, if you count your riches in the bounties of the earth, and I do. I particularly love seeds. Each one holds such potential.
old seed packetsThere is much symbolism in seeds. Jesus said: “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” And mustard seeds are tiny. I ought to be able to manage that much faith…
Daughter Elise and I save seed, and get carried away ordering more, but use them all sooner or later. And we share. A  box of filled with ziplock bags laden with various kinds of seeds (I endeavored to  organize them into categories) sits under my coffee table by the couch as I write. That way, I can sort through them at any time, know what I have and need. And I just like having them nearby. The table itself is laden with gardening and herbal   books and seed catalogues…I’m seeing a pattern here.
spring flowers“How fair is a garden amid the trials and passions of existence.” ~Benjamin Disraeli
“Almost any garden, if you see it at just the right moment, can be confused with paradise.” — Henry Mitchell
“Those who labor in the earth are the chosen people of God.” — Thomas Jefferson
sprouting seed“Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.”  ~Robert Brault
“The kiss of the sun for pardon,
The song of the birds for mirth,
One is nearer God’s heart in a garden
Than anywhere else on earth.”
~Dorothy Frances Gurney, “Garden Thoughts”

Friday, April 12, 2013

My Native American Warrior Series--Beth Trissel

My Native American Warrior Series loosely ties together based more on time and place and strong Native American characters than as a traditional series that follows the storyline. However, Kira, Daughter of the Moon is the actual sequel to Through the Fire, and there will be other sequels. 
In addition to Native Americans, hardy Scots-Irish frontiersmen and women, colonial Englishmen and ladies, and even a few Frenchmen also play an important role in this series. So far, it spans the gamut from the dramatic era of the French and Indian War, through Pontiac's War, The American Revolution and shortly thereafter. But that time period may broaden as more stories are added to this line. I have a growing selection for you to consider. All lengths. A collection of historical romance featuring those Celts settled in the rugged Alleghenies and the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, and the Native Americans they encountered.
Kira, Daughter of the Moon~
"I have been a fan of Ms. Trissel's work for years. Kira, Daughter of the Moon completely lived up to every one of my expectations. I highly recommend this wonderfully written tale to anyone who loves historical romance." ~Five Stars from Poinsettia for Long and Short Reviews
‘A beautiful Scots-Irish healer in the rugged Alleghenies finds herself accused of witchcraft. With the terror of the French and Indian War fresh in her mind, can Kira love a white warrior?’
‘The Rugged Alleghenies, A White Warrior, Beautiful Scots-Irish Healer, Unrequited Love—Requited, Charges of Witchcraft, Vindictive Ghost, Lost Treasure, Murderous Thieves, Deadly Pursuit, Hangman’s Noose Waiting…Kira, Daughter of the Moon’
***Available in print and various ebook formats from The Wild Rose Press,  Amazon, Barnes & Noble in NookbookAll Romance eBooks, and other online booksellers.
Set among the superstitious Scots in the rugged Alleghenies, the story is an adventurous romance with a blend of Celtic and Native American flavors. Although written to stand alone, Kira, Daughter of the Moon is the long-awaited sequel to my award-winning historical romance novel, Through the Fire.
Cover by Rae Monet~
 Blurb: Logan McCutcheon returns to colonial Virginia after seven years in the hands of Shawnee Indians. But was he really a captive, as everybody thinks? He looks and fights like a warrior, and seems eager to return to those he calls friends and family.
Kira McClure has waited for Logan all those years, passing herself off as odd to keep suitors at bay–and anyone else from getting too close. Now that he’s back, he seems to be the only person capable of protecting her from the advances of Josiah Campbell and accusations of witchcraft. And to defend the settlers against a well-organized band of murderous thieves.~
(Logan, the ‘white  warrior’ from Kira, Daughter of the Moon. One of my all time favorite heroes.)
Amazon Reader Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Another splendid historical!, October 25, 2012
This review is from: Kira, Daughter of the Moon (Paperback)

“Beth Trissel has written another thoughtful recreation of colonial times in this sequel to ‘Through The Fire’. Kira lives with relatives deep in the mountains of Virginia at a time when the English, French, and Native Americans are embroiled in constant skirmishes and out-and-out war. Logan was captured by the Indians seven years earlier and returns, now more Indian that white man, to retrieve a cache of gold left behind by others. Once he meets up with Kira, his childhood friend, sparks fly and he will have her for his own.
While following Kira and Logan’s personal battles we meet the best and worst of mankind. Evil and criminal forces threaten to keep them apart, and even kill them. Kira must learn to curb her tongue, hide her strange abilities and develop a strength she never dreamed she would be able to show. But is Logan worth the cost? Will he be true to her and give her a life she will be able to embrace? Can they ferret out the true villains and find peace and safety?
Miss Trissel’s lush descriptions of the rugged mountains, the harsh living conditions, and the uncertain times give life to what our forefathers endured to build a land we now call America. The characters, rugged Scot-Irish men and women, soldiers, Indians, and engaging children, come alive in this romantic adventure of life and love on the frontier.”
Native American Historical Romance Novel Through the Fire:
Through the Fire cover Final4“The storyline of Through the Fire is well-written and uncommonly descriptive. Ms. Trissel took great time and effort to research Indian beliefs and their way of life. Anyone who buys this book will take great pleasure in it.” ~You Gotta Read by Laura
“Through the Fire is full of interesting characters, beautifully described scenery, and vivid action sequences. It is a must read for any fan of historical romance.” ~Long and Short Reviews by Poinsettia
2008 Golden Heart® Finalist
Blurb for Through the Fire:
Will love inflame these two natural-born enemies in fiery destruction?
Passions run deep in the raging battle to possess a continent, its wealth and furs. Both the French and English count powerful Indian tribes as their allies. English lady Rebecca Elliot, having eloped to America with a British captain, finds herself a widow. When she ventures into the colonial frontier with the militia to seek her uncle, she unwittingly enters a dangerous world of rugged mountains, wild animals, and even wilder men. The rules are different here and she doesn’t know them, especially those of the savagely handsome warrior who captures her body and her heart.
Red-Tailed HawkHalf-Shawnee, half-French warrior Shoka, former guide for English traders, is the hawk, swift, sure, and silent as the moon. He knows all about survival in this untamed land and how deadly distraction can be. His intent is to sell Rebecca to the French before she draws him under her spell, but if he lets her go he can no longer protect her. If he holds onto her, can he safeguard his heart? With battle looming and an enemy warrior bent on vengeance, Shoka and Rebecca must decide whether to fight together or be destroyed.
The French and Indian War, A Shawnee Warrior, An English Lady, Blood Vengeance, Deadly Pursuit, Primal, Powerful, Passionate…Through the Fire.
Shoka and Rebecca (2)Excerpt:
For a moment, he simply looked at her. What lay behind those penetrating eyes?
He held out the cup. “Drink this.”
Did he mean to help her? She’d heard hideous stories of warriors’ brutality, but also occasionally of their mercy. She tried to sit, moaning at the effect this movement had on her aching body. She sank back down.
He slid a corded arm beneath her shoulders and gently raised her head. “Now try.”
Encouraged by his aid, she sipped from the wooden vessel, grimacing at the bitterness. The vile taste permeated her mouth. Weren’t deadly herbs acrid? Was he feigning assistance to trick her into downing a fatal brew?
She eyed him accusingly. “’Tis poison.”
He arched one black brow. “No. It’s good medicine. Will make your pain less.”
campfireUnconvinced, she clamped her mouth together. She couldn’t prevent him from forcing it down her throat, but she refused to participate in her own demise.
“I will drink. See?” Raising the cup, he took a swallow.
She parted her lips just wide enough to argue. “It may take more than a mouthful to kill.”
His narrowing eyes regarded her in disbelief. “You dare much.”
Though she knew he felt her tremble, she met his piercing gaze. If he were testing her, she wouldn’t waver.
His sharp expression softened. “Yet, you have courage.”~
***Through the Fire is in kindle at Amazon
Cover by my daughter Elise Trissel
A Handsome frontiersman, Mysterious Scots-Irish Woman, Bearwalking Shawnee Warrior, Dark Secret, Pulsing Romance…The Bearwalker’s Daughter
~The strange awareness inside Karin grew, like a summons urging her to an untamed place. His gaze drew her almost against her will. She leaned toward him.
“Someone seeks you, Shequenor’s dahnaithah.”
The message rippled through her. And she knew—his was the inviting summons in the wind.~
Karin McNeal hasn’t grasped who she really is or her fierce birthright. A tragic secret from the past haunts the young Scots-Irish woman longing to learn more of her mother’s death and the mysterious father no one will name. The elusive voices she hears in the wind hint at the dramatic changes soon to unfold in the mist-shrouded Alleghenies in Autumn, 1784.
Jack McCray, the wounded stranger who staggers through the door on the eve of her twentieth birthday and anniversary of her mother’s death, holds the key to unlock the past. Will Karin let this handsome frontiersman lead her to the truth and into his arms, or seek the shelter of her fiercely possessive kinsmen? Is it only her imagination or does someone, or something, wait beyond the brooding ridges—for her?
(A revised version of Daughter of the Wind)
“Ms. Trissel’s alluring style of writing invites the reader into a world of fantasy and makes it so believable it is spellbinding.” -Long and Short Reviews
“I loved the plot of this story, oh, and the setting was wonderful.”-Mistress Bella Reviews
“I found this book fascinating.” -Bitten By Books
***Available at Amazon in Kindle 
Cover by my daughter Elise Trissel
Blurb for The Lady and the Warrior:
An abused young wife stranded in the Alleghenies in 1783 is rescued from drowning by a rugged frontiersman who shows her kindness and passion. But is he more than he seems? And can they ever be together?
About The Lady and the Warrior:
A short historical romance story with a The Last of the Mohican’s flavor to give readers a taste of my full-length American historical romance novels.  If you like The Lady and the Warrior, chances are you will enjoy Red Bird’s Song and Through the Fire, and Kira, Daughter of the Moon.  All have a strong Native American theme interwoven with the plot.
***Available at Amazon Kindle for .99
Amazon Reader Review:
5.0 out of 5 stars Really good romance, March 24, 2012
Amazon Verified Purchase
This review is from: The Lady and the Warrior (Kindle Edition)
“I’ve read a few other books written by Beth Trissel so decided to give this one a shot. Really glad I did. I’m in love with this story. It was incredibly touching. A true romance. This author has a way of pulling on your heartstrings. Yep, I got a little emotional. If you’re looking to read something memorable, this tale is for you!”
Cover by my daughter Elise Trissel
redbirdssong_w4782_680Redbird’s Song:
Blurb: Taken captive by a Shawnee war party wasn’t how Charity Edmondson hoped to escape an unwanted marriage. Nor did Shawnee warrior Wicomechee expect to find the treasure promised by his grandfather’s vision in the unpredictable red-headed girl.
George III’s English Red-Coats, unprincipled colonial militia, prejudice and jealousy are not the only enemies Charity and Wicomechee will face before they can hope for a peaceful life. The greatest obstacle to happiness is in their own hearts.As they struggle through bleak mountains and cold weather, facing wild nature and wilder men, Wicomechee and Charity must learn to trust each other. ~
2012 EPIC Ebook Award Finalist
Cover by Rae Monet

“This is a beautifully written story filled with adventure and suspense…This book touched my soul even as it provided a thrilling fictional escape into a period of history I have always found fascinating.” –Night Owl Book Review by Laurie-J
“I loved the descriptions…I felt I was there…Many mystical episodes are intermingled with the events…The ending is a real surprise, but I will let you have the pleasure of reading it for yourself.”  –Seriously Reviewed
With Red Bird’s Song, Beth Trissel has painted an unforgettable portrait of a daring and defiant love brought to life in the wild and vivid era of Colonial America. Highly recommended for lovers of American history and romance lovers alike!~Virginia Campbell”I liked this book so much. The author has done a magnificent job of creating both characters and setting. The descriptions of the area are wonderful and put the reader right in there with the characters…I will most certainly read other books by this author.” Overall rating 5 out of 5 hearts Reviewer: Jaye Leyel for The Romance Studio
***Available in print and kindle at Amazon, in NookBook, and from other online booksellers
Author Awards:
2008 Golden Heart® Finalist
2008 Winner Preditor’s & Editor’s Readers Poll
Publisher’s Weekly BHB Reader’s Choice Best Books of 2009
2010 Best Romance Novel List at Buzzle
Five Time Book of the Week Winner at LASR
2012 Double Epic eBook Award Final
2012 Reader’s Favorite Finalist