The Lioness is featured in L&M Hospital’s Online Magazine, First Hand.

The first book in the Urwelt Chronicle series
The first book in the Urwelt Chronicle series

This recent article was written by Bill Hanrahan, L&M writer and photographer, as a personnel profile for First Hand, the L&M Hospital’s internal online magazine.  

Marian Lee, an L+M Hospital Chaplain, is also a weaver – a weaver of themes and cultures and ideas, all of which thread together in the words on the page of her first book, a fairy tale saga set in Wales, in a place called Brumley Hall, where a loving grandmother sometimes morphs into a lioness.

The 219-page book for “Tweens,” or middle-grade children, is titled The Lioness of Brumley Hall; And Her Most Unusual Grandchildren. On sale in the L+M Lobby Shop for $9.95, the self-published work stems from a lifelong literary passion, says August Pearson Benners (that’s Lee’s pen name on the book).

“Ever since I was in fourth grade I just had to write,” Lee says. “I kept journals with words and phrases, and I’ve always been fascinated with word play. I remember writing stories and having my teachers read them and give me feedback.”

That passion took flight one recent summer as Lee tried to decompress after a semester in Tampa, Florida working on a doctoral degree.

“I needed a break from academia,” she said. “Working on my Ph.D. was very intense. I was writing about five papers a semester, all academic writing, and I was reading a couple of books a week. So, over summer break, I just wanted to relax, but I couldn’t not write. I had had this book idea in my mind for a couple of years and it just suddenly all came together.”

While the book is aimed at kids grades 9 to 12, “It’s written sort of on two levels,” Lee says. “It’s a story about a magical family that works together to fight the evil king in the fairy world, so for kids it’s an action-fantasy-adventure. Then, I wrote it for my generation, too, with references that the kids might not necessarily get. So it’s a good read for grandparents and maybe parents as well.”

Themes woven through the chapters include environmental preservation, Celtic mythology, a touch of Buddhism and cultural diversity. There is a boy from a Jewish background and another character who is half Japanese, Lee says.

And, while Lee is a chaplain, “The book is not religious, although it does have spiritual concepts throughout,” she notes.

New to L+M in July, Lee has previous experience as a chaplain in Tampa, Florida. She moved back to the New England area in part because her son is stationed as an officer at the Submarine Base in Groton and because she missed the seasons and family nearby in Maine.

Lee says the work of being a chaplain is something that rivals her enthusiasm for the written word. Like the themes in her book, her work at L+M combines an appreciation and understanding for different cultures, religions and approaches to life.

As for the grandmother who turns into a lioness, that character is partly based on Lee’s own grandmother, an inspiration in Lee’s life. “She’s very present in the book,” Lee says. “My grandmother was a very straightforward, down-to-earth woman, but she often told me of her interesting mystical experiences, too, so she was open to the unseen world of spiritual experience.”

Lee will hold a book-signing at the New London Public Library at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 19. She is also looking into the possibility of holding a signing event at the Lobby Shop.

And, for those who read and like The Lioness of Brumley Hall, there’s good news. “It’s going to be a series,” Lee says. “I’m already three-quarters of the way through the second book.”

Join in on the fun at Brumley Hall.

“A colorful cast of characters illuminates every page…fantasy in the C.S. Lewis tradition…”  Beloit Magazine

Loness CubEnjoy my new family oriented action fantasy adventure about a magically gifted family pushing the limits of their powers to battle against dark magical forces with surprising results – all in the service of protecting the Faerie Queen and her daughter of the faerie realm of Urwelt. My first book in this middle grade (8 to 12 years) visionary fiction book series, The Lioness of Brumley Hall and Her Most Unusual Grandchildrenintroduces you to the world of Brumley Hall and the Lioness (grandmother matriarch) who oversees the magic, mystery and mayhem.  Grandparents will also find the book an entertaining read, especially to share with a favorite grandchild (yes, I know, every grandchild is your favorite). Gran’s eldest ten year-old granddaughter, Azalea, will keep you “in the know” as she knows everything there is to know about Brumley Hall, except what will happen next!  Join in on the rollicking misadventures at Brumley Hall. Order your print or Kindle book here.

LionessBrumleyHall_Cover_Benners Cover Small

Five Ways to Attract the Faerie

Just Beyond the Veil
Just Beyond the Veil

My second book (still in the writing process) in the Urwelt Chronicles series, The Lioness and the Faerie Enchantment, features a greater integration of the Faerie and their particular magick into the story.  Phineas Treadworthy, a faerie seer from the land of Urwelt, comes to Brumley Hall causing a disconcerting amount of mayhem, but also bringing his special brand of merriment and magick. Faeries are not disneyfied, always benevolent creatures.  They are sentient beings of varied dispositions and sensitivities.  Some are small sprites with wings, while others take a human appearance.  For the most part they lie beyond the veil of our consciousness taking many mysterious forms.  Attaching themselves to certain geographical areas such as Europe and particularly to certain countries such as Ireland, Wales and Scotland (the Celtic world) they live their lives in close proximity to us under

Woodland Faeries by Richard Doyle
Woodland Faeries by Richard Doyle

secluded hills, deep within the surrounding woods and forests and in and about bodies of inland waterways such as lakes, ponds and rivers.  Their domains are spiritual and they seek to instruct us with the inner knowledge of our sacred role.  This role is to recognize and redeem our creative forces in serving the living magic of individual and collective integration within the whole of nature, both human and non-human. With this in mind, I have listed five ways to attract the Faerie.  There are others to be sure, but this is the beginning of the Faerie journey.

Under Secluded Hills in Celtic Lands
Under Secluded Hills in Celtic Lands
  1. Incorporate the Faerie into your domestic life, both ordinary and ritualistic.  This lessens the veil between our world and theirs and helps our connection to grow stronger.  By setting aside a special dwelling within the home and offering them food to their liking, such as milk, bread, honey, cake or apples, the household faeries will guard and protect your home from harm (theft, fire, and
    By Streams, Rivers and Lakes
    By Streams, Rivers and Lakes

    other damage).  Bring them into your holiday festivities and make them a part of your magickal practices.  Use herbs and roots such as mandrake which possess the Faerie spirit but beware to harvest it according to tradition to make use of its guardian energy.  Magickal ritual with the Faerie is a partnership and mutual exchange, not an authoritarian summoning.  The Faerie which is a force of nature cannot be commanded to do ones bidding. The exchange must be mutual.

  2. Communication is on their terms, not ours. The humanseekerwill be advised when the Faerie wish to communicate.  They are threshold beings living in the mists between the living and dead, inner and outer worlds and the gloaming (dawn or twilight). Contactmay be easier during times of the year when the veil is thinner such as All Hollows Eve and Beltane (Halloween and May Day).  They may also be present along the roads and trails that lead into and out of the Faerie world or in places they hold sacred.

    Communication When Ready
    Communication When Ready
  3. Respect sacred space guarded by the Faerie. Refine your consciousness through meditation andawarenessto be sensitive to such places.  Ecosystems such as woodlands and watersheds contain their own central point of intelligence where clusters of species have a potent affinity.  Attune to the inner power of place by honoring the balance and integrity of nature.  Respect this interlocking pattern of intelligence and walk lightly leaving no trace but your respectful footfalls behind.

    Leave Only Your Footfalls
    Leave Only Your Footfalls
  4.  Develop powers of the Faerie. Cultivate inner stillness and second sight.  Healing powers and other magickal abilities may be given by the Faerie.  Be in tune to the subtle forces surrounding you and be willing to alter your lifestyle of excessive consumption to live in harmony with the natural world.  Be the transformation you seek.
  5.  Understand the Faerie culture, traditions, rules and prohibitions. You may be asked to fulfill certain tasks and as stated before, commit to inner changes of transformation.  You will be tested by the Faerie and undergo an ordeal of shadows and strange forces along the journey.  Transport to hidden realms every seven years may occur whereby you will be expected to pay a tithe or offering.  Enchantment goes without saying as one attunes to the distinction between the two worlds, illusion and vision.

window.amznpubstudioTag = "urweltchronic-20";

Snowdonia National Park, Wales

Snowdonia Waterfall
Snowdonia Waterfall

 

 

The Summit of Snowdon
The Summit of Snowdon

Snowdonia National Park is the setting (referred to as the Snowden Reserve in my book) for Brumley Hall and the surrounding parkland, as well as, the faerie realm of Urwelt.  The Faerie especially love the lush green forests and plentiful waterfalls wherein they dwell.  Snowdonia National Park lies on the northwest area of Wales and covers 823 square miles of diverse landscape from the highest mountain in England and Wales to woods with lush waterfalls and natural lakes.  The park is home to over 26,000 people, more than half who speak Welsh, and picturesque villages such as Betws y Coed and Beddgelert.  Snowdonia offers many outdoor activities along with natural wildlife and a strong cultural heritage.  Activities include: hiking, mountain biking, fishing, gliding, ballooning, climbing, water sports, local festivals with Celtic music, poetry and dance, and a trip on the mountain railway.

Snowdon Mountain Railway
Snowdon Mountain Railway

The Lioness took all of her grandchildren on an outing on the Snowdon Mountain Railway train to the Summit of Snowdon, Eryri, Land of the Eagles.  This is also the land of the Faerie, giants and Welsh kings who once held council in these ancient mountains. Soon after the train left the Llanberis station the track crossed the first of two viaducts over the Afon Hwch river with a wonderful view of the waterfall plunging into the gorge below.  Bumbles thought it was a bit too wonderful and had to be yanked back into the train by Azalea before he tumbled through the window.

Ascending by Rail
Ascending by Rail

Soon the grandchildren saw their first “peek of the peak” of Snowdon as it poked its head above the ridge to the right of the train. The train soon passed Car Esgob, Bishops Field and the ruined Hebron Chapel before starting its ascent to the summit through spectacular countryside before finally revealing one of the worlds great panoramas on top of the summit.  Schuyler informed Gran that King Arthur had vanquished the giant ogre Rhita and he is now buried under the mountain.  As long as the giant was truly buried, Gran didn’t mind.  She didn’t need any more intrusions at Brumley Hall to deal with, especially vanquished giants.

Snowdonia Landscapes
Snowdonia Landscapes

Although the Lioness lives nearby with her grandchildren and other assorted guests, I have not been so lucky to visit Wales and this beautiful park.  A visit is on order before the next book in the series is published, the Faerie Queen willing.

The Magic Flute by Mozart: Music for Rescuing a Little Brother

Nasty Gnome by Brian Froud
Nasty Gnome by Brian Froud

The Magic FluteI grew up listening to my parents play their opera recordings on what is now considered an old-fashion record player almost every weekend.  My mom and dad had worked for the US State Department in Germany after WWII and saw many operas during their time overseas.  I didn’t really come to appreciate opera until I also lived and studied in Germany during a year abroad in college.  I referenced The Magic Flute in my book, The Lioness of Brumley Hall, because it contains a profound reflection on spiritual enlightenment while simultaneously telling an enchanting fairy tale as well.  In my book, Azalea, along with her cousin, Schuyler, play the Papageno-Papagena duet on their instruments to entice a faerie gnome to come out and release her little brother, Bumbles.  Unless they were able to free him from a faerie enchantment, Bumbles would be confined in the faerie realm of Urwelt for many a year.

Papageno and Papagena
Papageno and Papagena

The Magic Flute, an opera by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart creates an enchanting world where love conquers all through the treacherous minefield where good faces the forces of darkness. Mozart was adept at producing a delightful blend of high comedy and serious drama. Papageno serves as the comedic sidekick to a love-struck prince, Tamino, throughout his fantastic journey to rescue the Queen of the Night’s daughter, Pamina.  With the aid of a magic flute and the bumbling, lovelorn Papageno at his side, Prince Tamino endures dangers and temptations to rescue his love.  Papageno also finally meets his love, Papagena and they sing a whimsical duet together.  The Papageno/Papagena duet below is particularly sweet.  The Queen of the Night aria is one of the most difficult of all as you will hear.  The best version of the aria is by Diana Damrau.

Diana Damrau as Queen of the Night
Diana Damrau as Queen of the Night

Tyntesfield House

 

Tyntesfield House Photo by Andrew Butler
Tyntesfield House
Photo by Andrew Butler

 Tyntesfield House is a fine Victorian Gothic Revival country house created by one of England’s richest commoners, William Gibbs, who built his fortune on fertilizer.  Spiraling turrets and pinnacles adorn the roof, ornate stone carvings and thick mullion windows complete the whole Gothic look, giving the house the feel of a mysterious, faerie tale mansion.   Terraced lawns give way to spacious parkland filled with hundreds of trees collected by the family, and a glorious walled kitchen garden beyond. The rolling Somerset hills in the distance create an atmospheric backdrop at any time of the year.

Although Brumley Hall is a combination of many British stately homes and my own imagination, this “faerie tale” mansion perfectly captures the spacious elegant old-world feel of Brumley Hall.  Magic mingles with daily life and one can almost hear the grandchildren noisily going about their day, classes in literature, math and science, followed by music and art lessons along with breaks for elevenses and tea. Supper is served at the Spike and Crown where Mr. Armstrong reigns supreme behind the pub’s bar (serving the grans only non-alcoholic beverages, of course).  Mr. Harrington and Mrs. Ainsley, with occasional help from dust faeries, keep the Hall running smoothly, while Gran deals with all sorts of wacky and vexing interruptions.  Queen Victoria roams the upper hallways and big cats pace nervously about the great hall’s domed ceiling ready to pounce at a moment’s notice.  All one big happy magickal (and somewhat chaotic) family living in this country manor house hotel.

More information on Tyntesfield House: http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/tyntesfield/.