love letter to pathetic fallacy

Dear friend, I’m writing a thing about pathetic fallacy which isn’t any of the things I’m supposed to be writing but is the only thing I’m able to write right now, which would be stressful except we’re smack bang in the middle of Storm Emma & the snow’s piled up outside my door, all sprinkled with cat pawprints & rose petals & it’s so different & dramatic it’s almost okay that my work’s all messed up because of it.

My work’s messed up for a lot of reasons, but I’m happy to blame the snow — powdery, deep & beautiful. Pathetic fallacy & all that.

It’s March now, suddenly spring. The eclipse season of the past two months dragged me through the dirt, not gonna lie, but here’s this moon in Virgo, first of two full moons this calendar month. Here’s the start of spring comin in on a snowstorm bringing the entire country to a halt. Here’s pathetic fallacy, bright snow nights, the street lamps all reflected & that moon just thrown right back up at the sky.

Every year on New Years Eve I spread out my cards in a wheel with one card for every month & one for the year as a whole. I pick a word for the year to return to over & over. I write my resolutions. From the start of the new year I knew that March would be the queen of swords, my guiding card, the one I write poems about, the one I have conversations with by lakesides. Get to know your cards, have deep chats by bodies of water. They’ll work with you better that way.

Here’s a spell for a full Virgo moon when the Sun’s stuck in all the feels of Pisces:

Pick a queen. Any queen. Queen of swords, queen of cups, queen of wands, queen of coins. Queen of hearts, queen of diamonds, queen of clubs, queen of spades. Pirate queens or fairy queens, witch queens or warrior queens, drag queens or queen bees, queens in constellations, queens of the underworld. Pick a queen to guide you.

Set up an altar to your queen (here’s a hint, the queen is you, doesn’t matter your gender, doesn’t matter the gender of the queen you choose). Put up a picture of her — a tarot card, a photograph, a painting, a doll, a crayon stick figure. Light candles. Scatter rose petals. Cut out hearts. Place down rose quartz. Massage your hands & neck with rose oil. Unclench your jaw. Breathe deep into the scent of it, the warmth.

Consider how you can embody your queen in the coming month. Stretch your spine. Imagine your crown, whatever that means to you — a symbol, a garland, a witch’s hat. Consider how you can wear it until the next full moon. Consider what that means to you. Feel the weight of it around your forehead, pressing against your third eye. Listen to what that weight tells you. Listen for clarity.

Draw whatever symbol comes to you. It could be a heart, a word, a picture, a number. Drawing it seals it: it’s now your sigil. Breathe into it.

When you’re ready, take your rose petals & open a door or a window. Throw them out into the snow. On the threshold carve your sigil into the snow. Invite knowledge, invite clarity. Breathe the cold air. Bring some of that clear, cold energy to bed with you. When you wake up in the morning, first thing, feel for your crown.

love letter to the new moon

I wanted to start writing a newsletter but I’m bad enough at being consistent on social media without adding another format to the list. I haven’t posted here in months. How would I write this if it was a letter? A missive straight into your inbox, quiet and private?

Dear friend,

I’ve been writing a book, but I’ve been writing a book for about as long as I can remember. This one’s wild and authentic, rough around the edges. This one’s an avalanche of old stone. I’m crazy about it. The second draft is starting to crack open and there’s light everywhere, like a Leonard Cohen song. There’s this one scene that makes me cry every time I read it. I don’t think that one will change much in the edits.

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I’ve been writing a story, too, at the same time, that’s different to most of the stories I write – fewer ghosts, notably; less psychological trauma, more self-affirmation. Before starting to play with it (because that’s how stories begin, as a small and haphazardly-curated selection of snippets and half-ideas that you play with until they grow into something you could love), I took four giant crates of old notebooks down from the topmost corner of the wardrobe. Dust and spiders and secrets live there. So do the one hundred and fifty diaries that I’ve kept since the age of six.

Sorting through them was a gargantuan task — not just because the crates were heavy & stored several feet above my head, but because teenage Moïra did not believe in dating her diary entries. There are entire notebooks without mention of a year & even a whole diary without a single date. Not the day, not the month, no indication that a day has passed except for a small dash between paragraphs.

This is probably metaphorical. I had a difficult adolescence.

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I didn’t set out looking for inspiration but I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised if some of these diary snippets end up making their way sneakily into my story.

The story’s for Proud, an LGBTQ+ YA anthology for Stripes Books that’s being curated by Juno Dawson. The illustrated collection will include short stories & poetry from eight established authors & will also include four stories from new talent so if you are or know of an unpublished & unagented writer who falls under the LGBTQ+ umbrella, there’s a link to submission guidelines in the Bookseller press release.

It’s a thing of awe and honour to be part of a book I’d’ve loved & needed as a teenager – the proof is in these diaries. I said it already on Twitter but in an attic bedroom in a suburb of Dublin in 2001, 15-year-old Moïra is using an antiquated internet to look for a book like this that doesn’t yet exist & couldn’t possibly imagine she’d ever be writing a story for one. My heart’s huge with it.

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It’s Thursday and the moon is new. Here is a spell for dark moon days, just before the moon is new, when your past is gathered up in your bedroom in one hundred and fifty notebooks and even though you know you are strong enough to carry them (both metaphorically and back into the top of the wardrobe), you don’t have to keep it all strapped to your back. You can put some of it down, sometimes. Makes it easier to move around.

You’ll need:

A red candle, or several (the more the brighter the burn)
Fresh, dried sage
Old words: diary entries you can afford to lose, scraps from another life, photos, letters, clippings, or even just a piece of paper on which you’ve written things from the past you’re ready to put to rest
A fireplace, stove or otherwise flame-proof space in which to safely burn what you’ve come to move past

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The spell:

Light your candles. Sit comfortably. Take deep, cleansing breaths. If you have a daily meditation or affirmation, breathe through it now. Ground yourself. Centre. Concentrate on feeling who you are now & why you are strong.

Light your papers, scraps and secrets with the candle. Drop them into the fireplace & watch them burn. Whisper, chant or say I love you, I love you, I love you to your past self with every flame.

Watch the fire until it’s only embers. Close your eyes. Burn the sage. Listen to the last of the heat crackle the cinders. Don’t open your eyes until you can’t hear it any more, until the past you’re ready to move on from is only ashes. When you’re finished, blow out your candles with one more I love you for the road.

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