Perhaps I have always walked death’s road. After all, my corpse so easily reaches out ‘cross space and time to touch its siblings: to lay in the snow on a stark Russian mountainside (it was not your fault, Igor, you could not have known); to curl up among the masses huddled beneath Pompeii’s tephra burial shroud; to drown in Sendai’s monstrous waves or freeze in the north Atlantic on a clear April night. These deaths, these beloved dead, are clear as my own memories. Is this witchcraft? Is this wyrd? (Is this anything?)
Behold, my 2020 book list! 2020 wasn’t kind to me reading-wise, as being part of my state’s covid response really messed up my overall schedule, so I read way fewer books this year than in most years. Still, I made up for that by reading some REALLY good books – including 26 with queer characters and at least 13 from authors of color. Highlights included The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home, The Shadow of Kyoshi, and the Locked Tomb, Broken Earth, and Ascendant trilogies. House of Leaves was good, but I was expecting it to have a higher body count and I wanted more spooky house shenanigans and less relationship angst.
Did you read any of these books? DO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT THEM WITH ME?? Let me know!
All the Windwracked Stars – Elizabeth Bear
The Grand Escape – Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Flaming Lioness: Ancient Hymns for Egyptian Goddesses – Chelsea Luellon Bolton
By the Mountain Bound – Elizabeth Bear
The Sea Thy Mistress – Elizabeth Bear
She-ra and the Princesses of Power: Legend of the Fire Princess – Gigi D.G
House of Leaves – Mark Z Danielewski
Ice Ghosts: The Epic Hunt for the Lost Franklin Expedition – Paul Watson
Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth: Her Stories and Hymns From Sumer – Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer
The Cat in Ancient Egypt – Jaromir Malek
Karen Memory – Elizabeth Bear
March Was Made of Yarn: Reflections on the Japanese Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Meltdown – Ed. by Elmer Luke and David Karashima
Down With the Old Canoe: A Cultural History of the Titanic – Steven Biel
Ghosts of the Tsunami: Death and Life in Japan’s Disaster Zone – Richard Lloyd Parry
Deathless Divide (Dread Nation) – Justina Ireland
Stone Mad: A Karen Memory Adventure – Elizabeth Bear
The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel – Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor
Lord of Strength and Power: Ancient Hymns for Wepwawet – Chelsea Luellon Bolton
Descent to theGoddess: A Way of Initiation for Women – Sylvia Brinton Perera
The Essential Rumi – Trans. by Coleman Barks
The Best of Elizabeth Bear – Elizabeth Bear
Mongrels – Stephen Graham Jones
Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1) – Tamsyn Muir
The Shadow of Kyoshi – FC Lee
Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 2) – Tamsyn Muir
Drowning in the Floating World: Poems – Meg Eden
Lord of the Ways: An Anthology for Wepwawet – Ed. Dianne Bolton
Seven Devils – Laura Lam and Elizabeth May
The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth Book 1) – N K Jemisin
The Obelisk Gate (The Broken Earth Book 2) – N K Jemisin
Heathen: Volume 3 – Natasha Alterici
The Stone Sky (The Broken Earth Book 3) – N K Jemisin
Dragon Pearl – Yoon Ha Lee
Excuse Me, Are You A Witch? – Emily Horn and Pawet Pawlak
Crow And Weasel – Barry Lopez and Tom Pohrt
Girls of Paper and Fire – Natasha Ngan
Wilder Girls – Rory Power
The Scapegracers – Hannah Abigail Clarke
The Deep – Rivers Solomon
The Priory of the Orange Tree – Samantha Shannon
Three for the Road: Stories from Dread Nation – Justina Ireland
The Tiger’s Daughter (The Ascendant Trilogy Book 1) – K Arsenault Rivera
The Phoenix Empress (The Ascendant Trilogy Book 2) – K Arsenault Rivera
Girls of Storm and Shadow – Natasha Ngan
Witch Pilgrim Heretic – K.D. Hume
Titanic: Psychic Forewarnings of a Tragedy – George Behe
I am not the granddaughter of the witches you couldn’t burn. I am not the blood of their blood or any of that suburban white witch bullshit. I am Witch because the title is mine to claim by right: by right of my rage by right of my resistance by right of my existence in a world that threatens to crush everything I love under the boot heel of assimilation. You want Burning Times? I’ll show you some motherfucking Burning Times.
The picking could be worse!
At least I didn’t make anything bleed today.
Well, this morning.
Okay, in the last hour.
…anything that’s visible to others.
But I promise I’ll be better!
I’ll go cold turkey right now.
I mean, starting tomorrow.
Okay, starting Monday.
Well, the first Monday of next month.
this would make a great New Year’s resolution.
Now I know you are gone, truly gone because I no longer hear your voice in my head that subtle blade which you wielded so expertly to reopen old wounds and when did you ever miss a chance to remind me of my failures?
I think perhaps
I am as much a woman as
Scylla with her many serpent heads
Charybdis with her churning waters
Ammit with her long crocodile jaws
all bloody from chewing rotten hearts
which is to say
To those ancestors with whom I share blood, be welcome here To those ancestors with whom I share identity, be welcome here To those society cast out unfairly, be welcome here Spirits who share this land with me, be welcome here
May this offering give you strength May this sacred space bring you peace May you find here what you most need And may I be of help in your journey
You are not forgotten; I will remember you You are not unloved; I will mourn you You are not unclaimed; I will honor you
Oh Starry Cow, your beauty fills the sky!
At dawn flowers open toward your radiant smile
Daisies, poppies, sunflowers, roses
At dusk flowers reach up to your starlit eyes
Jasmine, lilies, orchids, water lilies
And all through the day, all through the night
We your children dance beneath your benevolent gaze
Oh Golden One, your beauty fills the sky!
O trickster! O thief!
Return to me my heart Given under falsehood! This least valued of your treasures Forgotten and unremarkable What profit can it bring you? Return it that I might lock it away And never err again in offering!
Your halls are sandstone monoliths
Your garlands flowering succulents.
Rattlesnakes shake their sistra tails in joy
Coyotes sing your praises to the moon. Awoo, they cry, great is our Lord the Divine Jackal! Awoo, they carol, great is our Lord the Giver of Life!