In a busy, present day clowder or settlement we can often lose sight of the more subtle things in life – the quiet rustling of the leaves on a summer day, the trilling of the nightingale in the bush, or the happy gurgling of a stream as it makes its way down to the sea. Of course, we must always accomplish our daily tasks and chores no matter how mundane or tedious they may be, but one must always find time to take stock of one’s surroundings, especially the natural ones, for the first sign of the turning season may be missed in the hustle and bustle of life – the hint of red on the oak leaf, a small gathering of swallows at the end of summer, and the slight chilly bite on the nose that tells us winter is on the way.
Our whiskers must always be atwitch at these delicate signs for, when the season is upon us, our daily tasks will change and so must we. Our very survival depends on it. And so, we refer to our books, our calendars and our almanacs to prepare for the tasks at paw and take heart that, although our existences may change over the course of our lifetimes, the activities and responsibilities of living within a community do not and will forever keep our clowders and settlements going. So it has been for many thousands of years and will continue for many thousands to come.
Yours by Star and Stone,
Chief Historian and Deputy
Clowder Mother of Grimalhame
From the 1st day of Hazel Moon to the last day of Fir Moon, autumn, or sotohru in Old Grimalkin, holds sway. For most Grimalkins, this is a wonderful time of year when all gather together to bring in the last of the harvest and to begin the task of pickling, salting and preserving for the long months of winter. In Arcadia, spring and autumn are relatively short compared to summer and winter, so late summer/early autumn is a very busy time for citizens of all clowders and settlements.
Autumn, the waning part of the year, is symbolized by many things. It is associated with the west where the twin suns set, and with the element of water. It is a time of gathering up one’s resources and reflecting upon the year past. As the deciduous trees’ leaves turn from bright green to mellow yellow, russet red and finally to rich, warm brown, it is a signal to all who behold the annual shedding of the leaves that another chapter of life is closing. To some, it is a sombre time when those who have gone before are remembered, and a longing for the hot, fun-filled summer days and the balmy evenings when citizens relax outdoors drinking mead and cordial and catching up with friends and family after much toil in the fields.
For many, winter is a testing period, especially for those who are old or infirm. Winter, the time of Deepest Darkness, the time when the world sleeps, is also a time of healing and regeneration in preparation for the rigours of the coming of spring.
During the Deepest Darkness, Grimalkins retreat into the safety of the clowders and settlements, to roaring hearths and hot meals. At Deepest Darkness, when Shamash’s supremacy is diminished by the Black Horse of Winter, the power of the Sun-Cat is not completely weakened by the loss of his magnificent mane of sun-rays. In these most shadowy of days, we are not forsaken but even the mighty Sun-Cat must rest and regain his strength. For now, The Black Horse of Winter and Inghira Moon-Cat rule these long nights and starry skies.
Winter is a productive time even though the earth seems to be sleeping. While the ground is covered in a deep quilt of snow, seeds are germinating below the earth and, like the seeds, Grimalkins are busy making do and mending. While the hard work of harvesting and gathering is at an end, the more creative pursuits if making Mordrach gifts and decorations begins.
Hibernation and retreating into the safety of the clowders and settlements is not just practical and life-saving, it is also a symbolic act – all must return to the earth, the body of the Great Mother, once a year, for regeneration and rebirth. We may lament the passing of the warm, heady days of summer but we rejoice that the toil of the past two seasons is over and we can finally enjoy the fruits of our labours. Winter is the final act in the great opera of the year, a time when we gather together with family, friends, neighbours, acquaintances and strangers and reaffirm our bonds of kinship with one another and express our gratitude for all that we have.
Currently in Revision
Currently in Revision
The Grimalkin Almanac in Four Parts has been retired from circulation for the time being. This is because I want to consolidate all of the Almanacs into one large annual Almanac in the future. In this new Almanac there will be more star lore, tree lore, information about the clowders and the surrounding country, as well as more of Alfridaria Henderai's famous herbal concoctions. There will also be new illustrations and designs, and the new, annual Almanac will be a better, more comprehensive version that I hope you will all enjoy. I will still be posting updates on this page in between exhibition work.