A lively discussion of ancient and modern Pagan literature -- including children's books, graphic novels, science fiction, fantasy, and mysteries -- along with interviews, author highlights, and profiles of Pagan publishers.
Title: The Ruin of Beltany Ring: A Collection of Pagan Poems and Tales
Publisher: Triskele Media Press
Author: CS MacCath
Price: $8.00 US (paperback)/ $5.00 US (digital)
Pages: 82 pp
My first exposure to the works of CS MacCath was in the pages of PanGaia. "Bringing Woden to the Little Green Men" was utterly unique: a Pagan science fiction poem. I had never before read anything like it. I was stunned, totally jealous, and completely enthralled. Yes, this. I wanted to read more of this.
Needless to say, I gave a little squee of delight when MacCath submitted some of her poems a few years later to my literary ezine, Eternal Haunted Summer. I snatched them up right away. I even cajoled (or conned or begged) MacCath into submitting her short story "Yundah" to The Shining Cities, the Pagan science fiction anthology I was editing.
When MacCath informed me that she was self-publishing a collection of her poetry and fiction, there was more squeeing. -- Okay, I'm passionate and excited about modern polytheist literature. Like that's a surprise?
I am happy to report that The Ruin of Beltany Ring is a wonderful, thoroughly engaging, always amazing anthology. Though familiar with a few of the works, most were new to me. I spent a happy few hours lost in magical worlds populated by seal-women, lame Gods, furious Goddesses, eco-warrior fairies, anima loci, and Wiccan lawyers. In "Ink for the Dead" a tattoo artist is guided by the whispers of spirits, while a man facing a life crisis dreams a possible future in "My Ammonite Baby." The spirit of a place speaks to a lost, sorrowful woman in "When I Arrived, This Is What She Said," while "Hephaestus" contemplates the many blows which made Him while he hammers metal into art. The stone ring of the title has its own age-old story to tell, while the unnamed narrator of "God-Touched" agonizes over the divide between human and divine.
MacCath has a real gift for crafting imagery. For instance, these lines from the poem "Fetters":
There, behind the chemical burn of cubicle food, / A fall of sun-warmed apricots, orange and sweet. / There, beneath a smooth mortuary of concrete, / Billions of seeds, patient as suns, wait to uncurl.
Or, this passage from the Celtic myth-inspired "Two Servants of the Morrighan" in which the narrator reminds us:
She doesn't exist to grant us permission, / and we are the least of Her concerns. / "Keep pace or step aside. zdo the work or pass the tool. / Speak the truth or shut up."
MacCath is currently at work on another collection, as well as a science fiction epic, Petals of the Twenty Thousand Blossom. I impatiently await both. In the meanwhile, I highly recommend The Ruin of Beltany Ring -- grab a copy, along with Erynn Rowan Laurie's Fireflies at Absolute Zero and Oracles: A Pilgrimage by Catherynne M Valente, and spend a few hours lost to beauty, cruelty, and wonder.