A Reprise of Blackberries

This coming week, 26th September to 2nd October 2011, is an exciting and important week for me. In Earth Pathways Diary 2011 the week is faced by an article I have written, Picking Brambles. If you’ve got a copy you can turn there now and check it out!

In accordance with the time of the year, the Wheel of the Year, the piece concerns folkloric, anecdotal and ecological ideas around the harvest of late fruiting wild Blackberries.

The publication of this piece marks a significant milestone in my personal journey, one spanning over seven years, stretching back from now, autumn 2011 to spring 2004 when a version of Picking Blackberries was first published. Back to 2004 and beyond, in both directions.

The Free Pagan Press, who first printed Picking Blackberries, was edited by Dill & Pete Ravell, it was a small independent quarterly. Small press publications have always been a great passion of mine, particularly magazines and pamphlets. This passion is all the more driven in the current cultural environment where I hear on a regular basis of independent magazines, small publishers, alternative bookshops, and distributors going bust.

Or they become e-zines – tiny exquisite crafts lost forever in the information overload/content lite becalmed oceans of cyberspace.

The Free Pagan Press sub-titled itself “The Magazine for Open Paganism”. This ticked many of the boxes for me, so I wrote Picking Blackberries and posted it to Dill (hardcopy A4 double-spaced, in an envelope, with a stamp, in a pillar box).

I was delighted when my complimentary copy dropped through my letterbox, pleased to have my writing appear in such a lovely little ‘zine. In fact the Spring 2004, Free Pagan Press issue 15 was the last paper version of the magazine.

There are still a few small independent pagan ‘zines going, Deosil Dance, Northern Earth, Hedgewytch and The Cauldron come to mind, but the pool is becoming ever smaller.

In 2009 Silver Wheel Magazine, another small press magazine which had been publishing quarterly since the 1986, changed its format to an annual Journal. Although it was sad to see another independent magazine fold, the new book format opened the opportunity for longer, more considered and advanced articles on British Witchcraft Traditions to be published. The Author & Editor, Anna Franklin included a version of Picking Blackberries in the first volume. Silver Wheel Journal has gone from strength to strength. This year’s volume, the third, is better than ever, including articles by Nigel Pennick, Emma Restall-Orr, Sorita d’Este, Kristoffer Hughes and Michael Howard. The stunning colour cover depicts a blazing horned wicker man raising up his arms to a fat full moon. This is made all the more poignantly beautiful as it was the last work of Artist and Photographer Paul Mason, who died unexpectedly earlier this year. The loss of an artist is a greater loss to the world.

In March 2010 an edited version Picking Brambles was selected for inclusion in the inspiring Moonshare Collective’s Earth Pathways Diary 2011, with Glennie Kindred, Jaine Rose, Hannah Willow and Suzi Goose as fellow contributors. It is this version that appears facing 26th September to 2nd October. This week, in fact.

Jean Dark
September 2011

Earth Pathways Diary
Silver Wheel Journal
The 2012 Earth Pathways Diary, which also features Jean Dark, is available from
Libra Aries Books

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