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Michaelmas: The Start of Story Season

 “I was visiting a friend in the borders one Michaelmas and we happened upon a hiring fair. A place called Hazeldine. I found a charming boy to be a page for you, Mother. Whatever happened to him?”

- I found a relevant quote from Dance With Me, our next release, which is coming out on 22nd October this year!


Michaelmas is a great day for inspiration and storytelling.

Traditionally, it was one of the days when hiring was conducted, and the school term started. All these opportunities that people had to gather together and share stories about whatever had happened since the last time they saw each other. (We’ve got less of those opportunities this year, but technology still allows us to share our stories and news with people further afield.)

You can read all about St Michael chasing the devil to Earth in Susan’s latest blog post. The feast day actually belongs to St Michael and all angels, especially his fellow archangels – Gabriel and Raphael. Some traditions observe a fifth – Uriel. There was another one too, of course, the aforementioned devil, under his original guise of Lucifer. We don’t celebrate him quite so much.

St Michael is usually portrayed as a warrior and is never really pictured or sculpted without his sword. It was this sword with which he finally defeated Lucifer. It was also this sword which Pope Gregory I saw St Michael wielding atop Hadrian’s Mausoleum, since named Castel Sant’Angelo.

Gregory was walking through Rome during a plague epidemic in the sixth century, when he saw a vision of the archangel sheathing his sword. The pope took this as a sign that the plague would soon be over, which – as it happens – was absolutely correct. This story came flooding back to me when I saw the news that we may be due the strongest geomagnetic storm for over a year on 29th September 2020. Here we are, in the middle of a pandemic, and we may be treated to a fantastic display of aurora borealis on 29th September! Are we witnessing the twenty-first century equivalent of Pope Gregory’s vision?!

We will be eating goose tomorrow (find out why here) and then – hopefully – waiting until it gets dark before we head out to look for the northern lights. We don’t have to wait long for the dark now: winter is coming, with all its sights, sounds, tastes and memories. And on Thursday we will be into Halloween Month, when the veil is thin, and the voices of the dead are not always beyond our reach. We are moving into the harvest-time for stories. And, with all these strange happenings around us this year, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the muse isn’t that bit more tangible than she has been before.

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