The Rowan Branch Trilogy
An adventure in discovered ancestry, magical beings and a new myth of reverent human participation in the natural world.
Vol. 1 "The Wizard's Return"
Vol. 2 "The Book of April"
Vol. 3 "The Song of All Things"
In 6th Century Wales, a girl child is born, sired by the fabled wizard Merlin. Fostered by a loving couple, Annwyl lives a simple life until her sixteenth birthday, when intimations of her power manifest. Merlin is called, but before he can properly school his daughter in the use of her powers, the enchantress Nimue ensorcelles him and curses Annwyl and all her progeny.
Nevertheless, Annwyl persists and Merlin's DNA travels from generation to generation, albeit unrecognized and cursed, until Raina Quinn, a retired college professor, discovers her birthright. Can the ancient Druidic wisdom be recovered in the present age to heal the rift between humanity and the natural world? Or will Nimue's curse and the efforts of those who have always sought to suppress such wisdom combine to confound the efforts of Raina and her intriguing companions?
The Rowan Branch Trilogy explores ideas of our connection with All That Is through cosmic energy, the return to a kinship orientation, the meaning of the Vesica Piscis, and a return to understanding nature as sacred.
The Wizard's Return
Merlin persists, among certain folks, as a beloved character, despite his frequent depiction as a cranky wizard. There is a fascination with the ancient earth-wisdom he represents, perhaps never more urgently hungered for than in our present time. He, and his many avatars (Gandalf, Dumbledore...), have been kept alive in our imaginations, and maybe that's all we can hope for...or is it? There is a prophecy of his return, as there is for the good King Arthur for whom Merlin gave his all. How might such a return be realized? What would it look like and what would it mean for our present age?
"The Wizard's Return," as the first book of the Rowan Branch Trilogy, offers the reader food for thought in answer to those questions, and an adventure in self-discovery that begins in 500 AD and continues into the present time, shifting from Wales, to a cozy cottage somewhere in the US, the magical gardens of Glastonbury in Somerset, England, New Grange in Ireland, and the Forest of Broceliande in Brittany.
Raina Quinn, barely having survived years of tormenting dreams and disappointments, is, at the behest of a cast of strange and delightful characters, reluctantly drawn into a quest to retrieve the Druidic wisdom of the past for the healing of the present.
The Book of April
Merlin's spirit has been released, but what does that mean for April Quinn and her companions as they strive to bring the awareness of the sacrality of nature back into the minds and hearts of humankind? New friends, new loves, prophecies and dreams begin to bring their end-game into focus, but there are enemies who have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo of this anthropocene age. To what lengths will they go to silence April and halt the movement toward unitive consciousness that is eager to be born, before it's too late? Is April strong enough to confront the ingrained repression of millennia and the ruthless people who perpetuate it?
The Song of All Things
In ancient Wales, Annwyl returns home to reconnect with her daughter. In the present, April and Tannen travel to Ireland to study with the Seabhean, but an idyllic stay with Jemma and Collen soon turns treacherous. Poppie and Wyn have discovered a way to connect people to the stream of cosmic energy, but when April and Tannen travel to Wales to witness their success, Vas executes an attack on Wyn's stronghold, sending the four fleeing for their lives, and eventually back to the States, where they hope to escape Vas' lethal pursuit. Can the companions share the blessing of The Song without drawing the attention of Ignatius Vas and his henchmen? New friends and unexpected allies join the companions as they continue the quest to restore our connection the Earth.
How They Came to Be
Elsewhere in these pages I have mentioned "Awen," the blessing of inspiration associated with Ceridwin's cauldron. It is not a fantasy. It's real.
Ever since completing my Master's thesis on Women in Arthurian Legend, I've had the idea to write a novel about "Merlin's Daughter." The idea was intriguing but the story never came to me...until. In 2017, my partner Dave and I went to England on an Arthurian Tour and there Awen descended upon me.
This is the Chalice Well in Glastonbury. People have journeyed to it for thousands of years seeking its healing waters. I came to the gardens thinking I was just visiting a "site" and came away with much more than I could ever have imagined. Inspiration literally flowed from it so powerfully, it brought me to my knees, and the message was WRITE.
This too is where I learned about the Vesica Piscis which is the design on the cover of the well. It's meaning is discussed the The Wizard's Return in the chapter "Low Tide." No other expression of sacred geometry has ever spoken to me as clearly as does the Vesica Piscis. For me, it says it all.
Another site: Merlin's Cave below Tintagel on the coast of the Cornish Sea. I didn't think my legs would handle the climb up to Tintagel and so I opted to make my way down to the seaside. Or perhaps that is where I was called, which is no surprise given my affinity for water. Inside the cave my imagination ran wild. How could it not? Tintagel is real, the site of the Duke of Cornwall's Keep. Whether Merlin was real or not, in England legend and history twist together like a celtic knot.
If you're on these pages, you likely know what this is. But no picture can capture the power of being in its presence. I was visited – no, I would say challenged – by a raven here. He flew right at me and when I didn't finch, he veered off, landed behind me, and stared me down. "I know who you are," I told him. By this time, I was throughly ensorcelled by this land of myth.
And so I have stayed joyfully wound in these legends, the result of which is the trilogy here explained. But I'm home in America now, where the land is not quite as saturated with lengend. Yet I wonder.
Does it hold a power of its own? I want to believe it does, and so I write the story of it being so because, as Sharon Blackie says "stories are spells."
About the cover artist for The Book of Merlin
When I asked my friend Gail Grow if she'd like to make the cover for my novel, she gave me a conditional "yes" -- depending on the novel's content and whether she thought she could work with it. So Gail became my first reader. I held my breath for the time it took her to read through and was rewarded at last with Gail's enthusiasm for the story and the challenge of creating a fitting "first impression." What she eventually settled on was a stunning evocation of the cliffs that surround Merlin's Cave at the sight of Tintagel in Cornwall, England. The image couldn't be more perfect, because it was at that very spot that the Muse demanded my attention. My deep gratitude goes to Gail for "covering" my story so beautifully.
Cover Artist for "The Song of All Things"
I'm blessed to have wonderful and generous artist friends! "The Song of All Things" is delightfully covered by Laurie Goodhart, a dear friend and amazing artist, creator of evocative and mythic images, of which I own a number. In her words, Laurie is a lifelong professional artist endeavoring to conjure a little sweetness and root it in the mythic, the mystic, and the cycles of Nature. She holds a BFA with a minor in eastern philosophies, and spent 30 years building and operating a diversified organic farm. Since 2007 she has focused her studio time on an extensive suite of paintings and mixed media work collectively titled, Glimpses of an Imminent Sanctuary. She lives in upstate NY.