Ten Years Feral

This month is Feral Strumpet’s ten year anniversary. Celebrate with me–I’m offering 15% off shop wide during the month of March, 2020 at feralstrumpet.co.uk. No coupon necessary!

This business has grown from a shoebox full of beads, a kitchen table and a little Etsy shop to an independent business with my own maker’s space supporting my partner Mike, myself and our three cats. 

I miss the tight knit community of makers that Etsy used to be.  Without those early friends and allies, my shop would not have survived those early years, working alone in the kitchen of a rented bungalow outside of York. There is no way these relationships could be forged in the corporate, reseller based space Etsy has become now. 

Almost ten years ago, I wrote this post about my first four months as an Etsy seller,  In those first four months, I sold everything I put in the shop, except for a single necklace. I immediately reassessed my business plan, branding and packaging. I invested in the best tools I could afford.  Years later I created a devoted website which truly reflected my aesthetic and gave me the independence to make my decisions about what was best for my business.

So much has changed over the last ten years, but we are looking forward. I was recently diagnosed with fibromyalgia and osteoarthritis in my hands, so things will be changing. I will focus making more one offs, as that is what I really love, and continue to offer more carefully sourced vintage.  Keep a look out for monthly shop updates with unique pieces! 

I’ve been naking these designs for ten years. Which is your personal favourite?

New Year, New Patreon Tier

I have been cooking up a new tier to offer my patrons on Patreon. Members of The Charm Syndicate receive:

  • A guaranteed place in periodic, online writing workshops hosted by me
  • A podcast recording of my visits to Scottish Witches Monuments
  • Access to the entire archive of my writing on Scottish Witches Monuments
  • A monthly New Moon Tale read aloud with a downloadable PDF with custom collage artwork
  • 10% off at my webshop, http://www.feralstrumpet.com
  • Exclusive blog Updates
  • Updates about my writing life

A deal at $15, available in all currencies and discounted if you subscribe with an annual membership. You can enjoy all this and know that your support is helping me keep the heat on and soup in my cauldron while I birth this book about our shared ancestors.

 In other news, my short story “Selchie,” inspired by the grave of Lillias Adie and Scottish seal-wife stories, will be published in Fiddler’s Green’s first all fiction issue. Preorders are available here: https://www.fiddlersgreenzine.com/shop/tales-fiddlers-green-1 And the issue is due out in Spring.

I am planning to host a writing workshop via Zoom in March, following on the success of the Winter’s Last Ghost Missives Workshop. Watch this space!

Feral Gift Guides

This holiday season, let us help you remember friends and family. All our pieces come gift wrapped, ready for giving.  We are currently going to the Post Office several times a week–so you don’t have too! If you are missing someone this holiday, we have a unique gift that will say you are thinking of them. We can include a note as well on your behalf. 

I’ve put together some gift guides to help you choose:

Gifts for him
Gifts for Knitters
Gifts for Your Witches
Gifts under £20

Holiday Order Guidelines

With winter holidays quickly approaching, here is an easy guide to Feral Strumpet order deadlines.  As always these dates are guidelines not guarantees.  If you have your eye on a special gift, we’d encourage you to place orders sooner rather than later to avoid disappointment.

All our pieces come gift wrapped, ready for giving.  We are currently going to the Post Office several times a week–so you don’t have too! If you are missing someone this holiday, we have a unique gift that will say you are thinking of them. We can include a note as well on your behalf.

New Moon Tales on Patreon

Every month I write a new fairy tale based on a Scottish folktale, and I share it with my patrons on Patreon. Patreon is a website where you can subscribe to content writers and artists create. (For less than a fancy soy latte you can have a brand new fairytale in your inbox at each new moon!). I began writing these tales for my subscribers when the pandemic began. I asked my subscribers what they would like to see and this is what we came up with together. The tales were initially a kind of bed time story. I created a digital collage illustrations to go with each one. You can see them above. I also began reading them aloud so there is an accompanying MP3 recording of each tale.  They are archived at my Patreon page as well, so all subscribers in the Seelie Court and Golden Fold tiers get access to all seven tales available, as well as the new ones I will write.  I intend for there to be 13 tales in total, a year of new moons. To see the other publications and storytelling projects I have going, check out my Patreon and become a subscriber.


Feral Folk Interview with Grey Malkin

I have long been a fan of Grey Malkin, dating back to his band The Hare and the Moon, which I often listen to while I work in my little maker’s space.  Since that time Grey Malkin and I have have been published together in the Rituals and Declarations zine. He is a Renaissance person: a compelling writer, photographer, musician, flaneur and observer of life. I had the pleasure of talking to him about his current projects, favourite adornments.

Ally: Can you tell us a bit about your current projects? 

Since the passing of The Hare & The Moon into ghosts around 3 years ago I’ve been working on a few projects that are ongoing or now coming to fruition. One of these will be the début Widow’s Weeds release, which has accumulated a great number of songs and would be, in ye olde parlance, a double album. There are original songs, instrumentals, some traditional ballads; all in a sense folk music but essentially ‘electronic’, although with touches of guitar, flute and violin. Some of these have already been scattered on compilations and a few were the last songs The Hare & The Moon recorded, however these now feel more like the first utterances of Widow’s Weeds rather than the dying gasps of the previous incarnation. The singer Daughters of Grief is my companion on this outing, she also sang latterly with The Hare & The Moon which adds to the sense that this is an entirely new creature indeed. The third member of Widow’s Weeds is an artist who produces work under the name Hidden Velvet and who will be taking care of the visual side of the project. I am very excited for this album to seep out into the ether; it should appear around the winter solstice.

The current Covid situation has proved to be, by turn, a hindrance and mental block to creating at times, to alternately on other occasions allowing a great deal of outpouring and channelling into various musical projects. I suspect we are all having our individual responses to the crisis, all are valid. In the last month there has been a new single with Kitchen Cynics, two ghost stories set to music that came out on 7″ via the Reverb Worship/Future Graves label, and a download album of remixes of songs from an album I released with the Belgian artist Ashtoreth last year, ‘Hermit’. This features mixes from many friends and favourite artists such as Pefkin, Trappist Afterland, Richard Quirk, Pulselovers, Sky High Diamonds, Kitchen Cynics, English Heretic and The Rowan Amber Mill.

Speaking of Trappist Afterland, we have recently recorded a new mini-album together which is due out imminently on vinyl; this was our ‘lockdown’ project and very proud I am of it too. It follows our first album together, ‘The Trappist & The Hare’ which came out in April. I was also fortunate enough to play on the forthcoming Trappist album, ‘Seaside Ghost Tales’, which I have had a sneak preview of and can reliably inform everyone that it is splendid. There should also be a third album with Ashtoreth, ‘Heretic’, on its way which will complete our trilogy of releases, following ‘Pilgrim’ and ‘Hermit’. On the reissue front the album I recorded with David Colohan and Daughters of Grief under the name Embertides (‘Between Trees & Starlike’) is available again on CD from the Cursed Monk label and the Meadowsilver album (with Gayle Brogan and Stephen Stannard) will also soon be out once more in a new edition. Finally, there have been contributions (or possibly desecrations) from myself to the brilliant series of recent EPs by United Bible Studies. Phew!I’ve also been enjoying writing, an article on ‘The Burryman of South Queensferry’ featured in the second edition of the excellent Rituals & Declarations fanzine and I’ve been contributing reviews and features for the superb Moof Magazine, which focuses on psychedelia and folk music and is available both in print and online. This enables me to write about a lot of the music I love and interview artists whose work has meant a great deal to me, such as folk artists like Alison O’Donnell and Caedmon. Plus, it’s just great that in this day and age that you can pick up a paper copy of the magazine, all beautifully put together by Melanie Xulu.

It perhaps feels more poignant with the current pandemic situation and not knowing when I shall be able to travel freely again, see dear friends or revisit some of these unique places.

Ally: Do you have a favourite adornment? Does it have a story?

Whilst musing over my favourite adornment, I decided to choose the first two that instinctively sprung to mind. The first is a recent acquirement; a leather wrist strap from a small shop/workspace in Sleat on the Isle of Skye that sits at the end of the harbour. It is a marker of a very special summer last year, and of visiting a close friend up in the Highlands and of how much this time meant to me. It perhaps feels more poignant with the current pandemic situation and not knowing when I shall be able to travel freely again, see dear friends or revisit some of these unique places. I wear it daily, a tangible and visible connection to some important memories. The other adornment is a tattoo on my right inner arm of an old medieval woodcut of a hare with a tabor or drum. I had this done several years ago as, as well as looking very snazzy, it combined elements of folklore, music, nature and symbolism, all of which I have an interest and passion for. It also marks a period in time and has personal meaning and connotations. I have seen this particular image crop up on a few occasions recently online, it is, as they say, a corker.

Can satellite data make you cry? Yes it can.

Ally: Is there another artist, writer, or maker that you think we should be paying attention to now?

There are many artists I’d like to mention that I would love people to investigate; I’m going to be sneaky and mention a few before expanding upon one individual in particular! In music I’d like to highlight Gayle Brogan’s work as the windswept and otherworldly Pefkin, the songwriting genius and gentleman that is Kitchen Cynics, The Rowan Amber Mill (who are a huge inspiration for me and who have a new album out imminently), Burnt Paw (writer of beautiful songs and painter of beautiful paintings), the esoteric and addictive Trappist Afterland and the intense soundscapes of Ashtoreth. Art wise, I’d like to draw people’s attention to the gorgeous and haunted handmade dolls of Pantovola, every house should have one. However, if I was to currently focus upon one musical artist it would be composer Michael Begg, who also records under the name Human Greed. From his base in East Lothian, Scotland, Michael has conjured a repository of some of the most affecting and accomplished music I have yet come across. Sometimes electronic, oft cinematic, part modern classical and part experimental, indescribable and yet many favourable adjectives apply. He also puts on events and evenings in Edinburgh under the banner ‘Liminal Nights’, a rare and much needed forum for outsider and experimental music; previous happenings have included the likes of spoken word performances by Chris Connelly (Ministry/Finitribe). Michael’s chamber collective ‘The Black Glass Ensemble’ are also an emotive force in performance, as I can personally attest to, and his recent ‘Witness’ sequence of releases during the lockdown period that utilise satellite and astronomical data as a basis for sound have to be heard to be believed. Can satellite data make you cry? Yes it can. ‘Be Mine In Patience”, his amassed and layered collection of a number of artists submissions of a B Minor chord sequence (the key associated with patience) was a genuine reaching out and connective force during the pandemic and I was very fortunate to be asked to contribute. It is a veritable symphony, I urge you to listen. All Michael’s music can be found at www.omnempathy.bandcamp.com.

You can find Grey Malkin on Bandcamp Here.
And on Instagram here.

Feral Folk Interview with Nicole Piar

Nicole Piar, creator of the Spirit Cats Deck.

Nicole Piar’s Spirit Cats Deck

Nicole Piar is an artist and visionary.  Many may be familiar with her delightful Spirit Cats Deck, which I carry in my online shop here. I love her Spirit Cat’s Deck as a beautiful addition to my personal working altar. Nicole’s gentle, uplifting visions of cats and magical beings are not only beautiful, they are authentic, and come from a genuine soul.  I talked to Nicole about her upcoming Cosmic Allies Altar Deck and Book, her favourite necklace as well as other artists and makers that inspire her. Read on to learn more.

Ally: Can you tell us about your current projects?

Nicole: My Cosmic Allies Altar Art Deck and Book is on its way to me as we speak and I can’t wait for it to finally arrive. It’s been a long, winding and wild multi-year journey to bring the Cosmic Allies into the world. I learned so much about surrendering, pausing, and making space for Spirit to enter. It definitely challenged my ego who was hoping for a more linear, productive creative process. This was sooo far from linear.

I should have known I was diving deep down the rabbit hole when I decided to completely merge ritual magic and art-making for this deck. I had been practicing planetary magic for a while and was craving genderless visual expressions of the 7 planetary energies in astrology ~ Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, and Saturn. I couldn’t find anything like that so I decided to create it myself.

For each Cosmic Ally, I created an altar, made special offerings, did meditations where I invited the planetary energy to merge with me, and channeled guidance. I wove spells and opened to receiving visions in my dreams and in my waking life. I created each painting on the day of the week that is sacred to the corresponding Cosmic Ally. Venus was painted only on Fridays, Mercury on Wednesdays, Jupiter on Thursdays and so on. I did things in ways that sacrificed practicality, efficiency, and logic for the sake of the magic.

Consequently, each card in the deck is not only a work of art, it is also a powerful planetary talisman. The accompanying book share a plethora of ways to work with the Cosmic Allies so that you can really craft an experience that resonates with you specifically.

I can honestly say that this project worked on me more than I worked on it. I have claimed more of the full spectrum of my power and soul expression. I playfully infused my life with ritual and magic. In fact, I feel like I am living inside the ritual all the time now. I feel more expansive, more free. I can see more of the beauty in the world, both cosmic and earthly.

This next big project simmering up to the surface is my Witch Cats Oracle Deck. Many of the cats have already come through but more are on their way. Not sure when this will be finished but I love all the Witch Cats already. I think they will be good friends with my Spirit Cats Oracle Deck.

Ally: Do you have a favourite adornment? Does it have a story?

Nicole: I have a giant, art nouveau, hand-crafted silver butterfly necklace that I LOVE. It’s not subtle at all. It’s overtly magical and wild and I love that. People always notice it and ask me about it. I love telling them that it was a gift from my Mom. My Mom and I are very close. She is very empathic, loving, and open-minded and I admire that in her.

Whenever she visits me in LA from New Hampshire, we go to the Huntington Botanical Gardens. That place is pure magic! I can wander among the blooms and trees all day and they have the best curated gift shop with lots of items from artists. I fell in love with the butterfly necklace there and my Mom bought for my birthday. It reminds me of her and of nature. It warms my heart as I wear it which is almost every day.

This next big project simmering up to the surface is my Witch Cats Oracle Deck. Many of the cats have already come through but more are on their way.

Find more at Nicole’s website: http://www.nicolepiar.com/