The Oak King reigns again!

The winter solstice has come and gone, the days are beginning to lengthen, and summer is on its way! Not that you’d know it from our house right now. We’ve had snow, but more importantly it’s been super cold, and Rosie and Jasper don’t understand why we took a few days off from hiking in the mornings. They have been enjoying their holiday gifts, though!

They did not get to enjoy our Christmas dinner, which consisted of grilled cheese sandwiches, arugula and watermelon radish salad, tomato bisque with horseradish crème fraîche, and ginger ale floats (with real ginger!) for dessert. This may not sound like traditional holiday fare, but wow was it tasty. (For the record, I did no cooking, but I did have a glass of wine while the chef’s mother and I watched the proceedings.)

Thanks to the Midwinter Fae anthology, I’ve read quite a bit recently about the mythology associated with Midwinter – quite a bit of which morphed into Christmas over the years. The Holly King rules from Midsummer to Midwinter, then he and the Oak King fight a great battle in which the Oak King wins. The Oak King takes over the rule, and reigns until Midsummer, when they battle yet again.

The Holly King represents the waning year, and is associated with the holly plant and the wren; The Oak King represents the waxing year, is associated with oak, mistletoe, and the robin. The Holly King was often depicted as an old man with long gray hair and a beard who wore red robes, which sounds suspiciously similar to Santa Claus. The Oak King is a younger man wearing green. The Horned God, which is the character I used in my story, is sometimes thought of as a dualistic god who is both the Holly and Oak Kings at the same time. I really enjoyed the research I did for this story, and would like to write something else along the same lines in the future – perhaps for Midsummer? 🙂

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No lights were visible at all now. Not a single lamppost was in sight. The only light came from the star-filled sky and the crescent of the moon that loomed low on the horizon and caused the trees to cast long, spooky shadows across the desiccated, silvery grass that lay between them. The twinkling lights on the skyscrapers she saw every evening when she walked home were gone, replaced by nothing but darkness, as if the power had gone out everywhere in the metropolis.

But if there had been a massive power outage, she should be able to see the outlines of the buildings against the light from the moon, and she couldn’t. It was as if the skyscrapers had vanished.

Or as if the park was no longer in the same place as the city.

– from “The Kiss of the Horned God”

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The next volume in the series A Procession of Faeries launches in May; the theme is faery paths, portals, and passageways. I found the artwork for the cover the other day (after spending probably four hours looking at images…), and have the titles and covers lined up for volumes four and five as well.

Next up, though, are fairy tales! I’m writing a retelling based on “The Glass Coffin,” from the Brothers Grimm. I’m also writing a fairy tale-like story about a dragon, but that one isn’t based on an existing story. And I’ve embarked on a very long reading list of both fairy tale and fantasy stories in preparation for a week-long fantasy writing workshop I’m attending in April. The list is divided up into stories we’re required to read, should really read, and extras. I aspire to get through the whole thing…we’ll see how that goes!

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