Tag Archives: Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd

Candlemas for Writers

 

Rosetti_sibyl

Rosetti ‘Sibylla Palmifera’

February 2 is the feast of Candlemas. It’s a special day for writers. Traditionally, on this day, bees wax candles were blessed in churches before being taken home for use throughout the year. Candlemas was also a time when many women would make candles and re-stock their home supplies.  Candlemas coincides with Imbolc – the great fire and flame festival that rejoiced at the signs of winter ending and hastened the return of spring with its light filled days. This feast day is also sacred to Brigid, Celtic Goddess and saint.  Candlemas, or Imbolc, celebrates Brigid and the promise of the light and warmth.
Brigid is the patroness of all crafts. Metal work or smith craft was especially connected to Brigid. In some legends Brigid forged the great cauldron, the cup of life blessings, herself.
Smith craft has given shape to some of our earliest artefacts. Gold, silver, copper, iron, tin, lead and even mercury, once called quicksilver, have all been forged in the furnaces of time. Metal’s form can be altered through heat, known as annealing, and reshaped while red hot, before setting and cooling down. Metal can be worked in its pure state, or its strength and hardness altered by making it into an alloy, by mixing it with another metal. From metal, smiths have wrought horseshoes, swords, gates, and of course, candle sticks.
The word metal itself comes from the meaning to search after. Alchemists searched for the philosopher’s stone, the ability to transform base metals into gold. “The alchemists said that their prima materia (their prime material) could be found anywhere, rejected as useless by common man, but capable of being distilled and transformed into purest gold,” explains Gareth Knight in his book Magic and the Western Mind.  “So it is with the imagination. It is there for any to use, free to all, yet few realize its true potential or try to distil it to a precious quintessence.”
“‘But what gold? How will I know the gold?’ You will know the gold,” writes the author of The Artist’s Way and creativity coach Julia Cameron in her book The Vein of Gold. Creativity is an alchemical process that can transform the metal of your daily life. You can distil your dreams into gold, with the craft of your hands.

The ringing of its busy bent anvils, The sound of songs from poet’s tongues, The heat of men at clean contest, The beauty of its women at high assembly, Blessings on the forge!                                ~ Irish, traditional

Craftspeople of long ago would clean and prepare their tools on Brigid’s feast day to bring good fortune for the year ahead. It’s a lovely custom for writers:
•       Clean and organize your writing space.  Clear your desk. Order shelves and drawers. Empty the waste paper basket. Dust and tidy. Establish harmony and order.
•       Bring as much natural light and air as you can into your workspace.
•       Clear out clutter on your computer or tablet. Delete excess files and emails.
•       Clean your writing tools. Treat them with care.
•       Re-stock on stationery and office supplies.
•       Evaluate your writing hopes, goals and dreams for the year.
•       Light a candle.
•       Forge ahead.

signature

candle

Lady Godiva’s Ride into New York

Eliza Redgold at the Flatiron Building New York

Eliza Redgold (Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd) at the Flatiron Building New York

 

Of late I’ve been writing about Lady Godiva’s ride back into popular culture. I’m so excited to have the chance to present on NAKED at the Popular/American Culture Association in the US in 2015. Here’s the abstract for my academic paper:

‘The legend of Lady Godiva, who famously rode naked through the streets of Coventry covered only by her long, flowing hair, has lasted for centuries. Her tale has been revived and romanticized time and time again, especially during periods of change and liberation in women’s lives. This is one such time. Drawing upon the recently published NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva (St Martin’s Press) written by Eliza Redgold (the pseudonym of Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd) this paper explores the stories surrounding Godiva. It reveals her history, her myth and how far back in time her legend goes, to Christian saints and pagan goddesses. Whether fact or fiction, Godiva of Coventry was a unique woman and a heroine in more ways than one: as sexual symbol, spiritual icon and political activist. In a single leap, she jumps the hurdle of the double-standard that divided women into saints or sinners. Her return to popular culture today heralds a new kind of (post)feminist freedom. Her courage continues to inspire, her tale to be told, even after a thousand years.  Godiva is more than a naked lady. She is an evocation of the divine.’

My paper will be accompanied by a slide show of images of Godiva through time. If you’d like to share some of these images, you can check them out at my guest post (thanks so much!) at A Bookish Affair or on my Lady Godiva Pinterest board.

I’ll also be in New York and will have a chance to thank the wonderful people at St Martin’s Press in the Flatiron Building who made publishing Godiva so magical.

naked

best wishes,

signature

A Grace for Books: Mindful Reading

image (17)

Why have we no grace for books, those spiritual repasts – a grace before Milton – a grace before Shakespeare – a devotional exercise proper to be said before reading the Faeire Queen?‘ ~ Charles Lamb

Of late I’ve been thinking about how we read. It has changed so much in the last decade, with e-books and reading on line. We still read (maybe even more than before) but we read differently (though many noblewomen in the past read romance and books on spirituality and self-development just like we do today!)

Historically, noblewomen used Books of Hours, beautiful books of prayers, to mark their time. Richly illuminated with pictures of saints, Bible stories, and even signs of the Zodiac, they were sometimes encrusted with jewels. Some called girdle books were small enough to be hung from the waist. Books of Hours contained a calendar, gospel lessons, psalms and special prayers to be said at certain hours of the day: Prime (6am, or upon waking) Terce (9am) Sext (midday) None (3pm) Vespers (6pm) and Compline (9pm, or upon retiring).

The illustration above is taken from a fifteenth century Book of Hours. She is Virgo (my star sign).  I’m going to try the custom of marking my time with a Book of Hours by doing some daily devotional reading.

If you want to join me, here’s how:

Select your own Book of Hours: a prayer book, a hymnal, a spiritual text, a day book, or even a book of poetry. From this book, choose a short quotation, text or excerpt to use as a daily devotional reading (it only needs to be a few lines long). Or you can simply open your chosen book by chance and read the first section you see. Read your quotation in the morning and again at night. Try this for about a month for the most benefit. If you skip a day, just go back to it the next.

Alternatively, try the traditional marking of hours, reading a short text or quotation from your chosen Book of Hours, on the hour, every hour, for a whole day. (We check our phones that often, so why not try this instead!) It might sound arduous, but is found to be relaxing. Build this into a regular practice, or use it as a meditative technique to slow you down when you are feeling particularly rushed or overwhelmed.

Marking time with a devotional reading only takes a moment as the clock strikes, but it creates an entirely different sense of time and increases our mindfulness. Our days will feel very different when we mark the golden hours.

Wishing you blessed reading,

signature

 

Time Lady: Inspiration from the Past

Looking for Lady Godiva

Which historical time period would you like to have lived in? The time periods we are drawn to can inspire and teach us a lot about what we seek in life. Two of my favourite historical eras are the Middle Ages and the nineteenth century. In spite of the challenges many women faced, these were also times of female power surges.  In the Middle Ages women played a leading role in the creation of courtly love and romance – an inheritance we can still cherish today. In the Victorian era women began the inspiring movement  that became known as the suffragettes. Whenever I feel challenged, I revisit those eras and try to channel some of the passion and gumption of the amazing women of the past.

In July 2015 NAKED: A Novel of Lady Godiva released. Godiva certainly was an amazing woman as well as a legend.  A few years back when I visited Coventry, the English home of Godiva, I took a photo of the plaque below. It still gives me shivers.  It reads: ‘A Benedictine Abbey was built on the same ground by Leofric, Earl of Mercia and his Countess Godiva. Leofric and Godiva are said to have been buried respectively in the two porches which stood near this spot.’ It was here I became convinced of their true love and wrote NAKED. You can read my travel piece Two Times a Lady (featuring the image pictured above by Igor Saktor) or find out more in my recent interview in The Coventry Observer.

Travel back in history and find your own ‘Time Lady’ – I promise you will be inspired!

Godiva and Leofric at rest in Coventry

Best wishes,

signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going Wild Flower with Orchidmania

dancing in Singapore

Eliza Redgold (Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd) dancing in Singapore

Of late I’ve been writing about orchidmania. In August 2015 my novella Wild Flower published by Harlequin Escape released: ” Orchids drive us wild … For centuries fragrant orchids have made potent love potions. Exotic orchid expert Dianella Lee doesn’t expect to have anything in common with American tech whiz Wade Hamilton when he arrives in Australia. The scent of love arouses a powerful connection of opposites, but will distance pull them apart?”

pink fairy orchid

A pink fairy orchid I spotted on the Rainbow Coast in Western Australia

WildFlower-Harlequin1920_1920x3022 (1)From its exotic setting on the spectacular rainbow coast of Australia to sultry Singapore,  I hope you’ll be allured by Wild Flower.  Orchids bloom along the Rainbow Coast on the southern west tip of Western Australia. In Spring there is a carpet of beauty. Like the hero of Wild Flower I got orchidmania there too!  In Singapore, the National Orchid Garden at the Botanic Gardens in Singapore is an orchid lover’s paradise. The garden contains over 1000 species and 2000 hybrids and one of the largest tropical displays in the world.

Singapore is one of my favourite places. I used to lecture there regularly – and then go out dancing at night!

Wishing you dancing shoes!

signature

The Return of the Lady

Eliza on deck(1)

Of late I’ve been writing about the word lady. The word had a bad rap, but it’s made a 21st century comeback. A while ago I wrote an opinion piece for The Age newspaper (I loved the graphic they created for this article) and in Women and Language journal (as Dr Elizabeth Reid Boyd) I explored why the lady’s back and what her future may be.

Learn More

Following the lady has led me in all kinds of wonderful directions. The legend of Lady Godiva grabbed me and my version of her story is due to be released in 2015 as NAKED: A NOVEL OF LADY GODIVA published by St Martin’s Press, New York. To look for Lady Godiva I made a trip to Coventry, England. You can access my travel piece Two Times a Lady about Coventry in The Australian (another great graphic).

Are you a ‘lady?’ Enjoy listening to these ‘ladylike’ songs to decide!

  • Lady Marmalade (the version from Moulin Rouge with Christina Aguilera, Lil’ Kim, Pink and Mya)
  • Lady (a ballad by Lionel Richie sung by country troubadour Kenny Rogers)
  • The Lady is a Tramp (who can resist this duet by the incomparable first lady of song Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra? Or try Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett’s fab version!)

CURRENT RELEASE: In January 2015 I was thrilled Hide and Seek was released in a 3 in 1 summer bestseller print collection: Time for the Beach. In store now!

Best wishes, Eliza

Time for the Beach on deck Time for the Beach Cover