Tag Archives: Matlock the hare

The Arboridium – a review

The Arboridium is a beautiful new oracle set from Phil and Jacqui Lovesey, creators of the Matlock the Hare books. If you’re already a Matlock fan then you will fall happily into this world. If not, it will – as is usually the case with cards – depend a lot on how you feel about the art.

You can have a look at the set here – https://www.matlockthehare.com/arboridium

If you like charm and whimsy, if you want magic but would like something a bit less familiar, then this is an excellent set even if you haven’t read the books.

I use it less for divination, more for guidance. Like the previous White Hare Wisdom cards, these are stand-out as non judgemental. Each card represents an idea, an energy, a trajectory – and there isn’t a day when any of these cards wouldn’t be useful reminders to me of qualities I can work with or aspire to.  They are in many ways the perfect cards for people who aren’t into the woo-woo side of divination, but would like some enchantment and wisdom to add to their lives.

I have used many different oracle cards and divination methods at this point – not least because I had a few sets come my way as a reviewer a few years ago. I’ve come to the conclusion that life is challenging enough without also being challenged by oracle cards! What I benefit from most are the sets that uplift and encourage me, that inspire me and give me things I might use to overcome the daily challenges. I also like the way that in these cards there is a keen sense that it is perfectly fine to be messy, wrong, muddling along, a bit lost, a bit clottabussed (as the dale folk would say) – that this is all part of the rich tapestry of existence.

It’s nice having an oracle set that encourages you not to feel like you must magically know about every setback before it happens. It’s nice to explore divination gently, to feel ok about not knowing, and to have the future remain complicated and unpredictable.  It’s good to take a daily reminder of the tools I already have and the ones I would like to develop.

I heartily recommend this set.

You can buy the cards here – https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/782472915/the-arboridium-oracle-44-card-signed

White Hare Wisdom – a review

The White Hare Wisdom oracle cards are the latest creation from Jacqui Lovesey, of Matlock The Hare fame, with Phil Lovesey involved in the guidebook. I jumped in during the kickstarter, but you can now get the cards from etsy. So, how does it work having an oracle card set based in a fictional reality?

The short answer is that this is without a doubt the best oracle card set I have ever worked with – and I have had my hands on quite a few over the years.

The art is lovely, and you can check that out here to see if it suits you – https://www.matlockthehare.com/white-hare-wisdom

There are two things that have really struck me about using this set. The first is that there are concepts here that you don’t find in most decks because we don’t have words for them. Phil and Jacqui have taken the simple approach of inventing whatever words are needed – this is very much in keeping with the Matlock the Hare setting as a whole. The concepts in here are great, these are words to slip into your personal dictionary, to relish and be inspired by.

The second thing that really struck me is the lack of judgement. Usually oracle card sets have some judgy content – if there are reversed readings it will most likely show up here. This is, so far as I can remember, the first card set that hasn’t at some point focused on telling me what I’m doing wrong or where my personal shortcomings might be. Sometimes, when I’m having a bad day, that kind of oracle reading just knocks me down further, even if it is technically right.

What we have here, is good advice. There’s recognition that if you’ve picked up an oracle set you may have problems on your mind, but the advice is warm, friendly, nurturing stuff. Every card represents ideas about kinds of energies to work with, actions to take, forms of self care to think about and sources of inspiration. If you’re looking to bring fresh energy into your life to cheer your heart and ease your journey, this is a fantastic set to work with. Every card offers a substantial message and ideas you can really dig in with.

You can find the cards on Etsy – https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/683845358/white-hare-wisdom-44-card-oracle-deck-by

Wisdom from a White Hare

A guest blog from Jacqui Lovesey



So,  some things you need to know about Ursula Brifthavfen Stoltz:

  • She is a white hare.
  • She is a witch.
  • She appears in the Matlock the Hare books I create with my husband, Phil.
  • I have been painting her for 7 years now, in various guises, and on various adventures in the Matlock the Hare trilogy and our other books.
  • She ‘talks’ to me.


Probably all good until point 5, I’m guessing – the ‘talking’ one.  Here, surely, is the rambling of a hard-working illustrator who doesn’t get out that often.  But please bear with me. As other artists and writers will tell you, the longer you’re focussed on creating and bringing ‘life’ to a character, the more they begin to surprise you with unexpected mannerisms, gestures, opinions – and yes, even ‘advice’.  And Ursula, a white hare-witch from across the Icy Seas, certainly has a lot of that.

Gradually, the idea to create an oracle deck of Ursula’s  ‘witchy wisdom’ grew in my mind.   Here could be the perfect platform to allow her thoughts on all sorts of matters to be aired.  As someone who both owns and uses oracle decks, I couldn’t think of a better vehicle to express the insight that has bought me both comfort and whimsy in the past.

So I set to work painting 44 brand new watercolours for the deck, alongside Phil writing a 108 page booklet that details all the meanings of each card. The deck itself will be split into 7 sections: Air, Fire, Water, Earth, Spirit, Celtic Festivals & Witch – and using it to connect with your own inner wisdom couldn’t be simpler!  Just let yourself be drawn to the card that ‘speaks’ to you, then discover how its meaning relates to your situation.



I’m currently funding the deck on Kickstarter – and if you’d like to join the project and let a little of Ursula’s ‘White Hare Wisdom’ into your life, please take a look at the project to discover more about, me, Ursula and the deck.  And, of course, besides the deck itself, there’s a saztaculous plethora of other goodies and rewards for backers, too! Hopefully, you’ll decide to become a backer, and allow Ursula to begin ‘speaking’ to you, too…




(I’ve supported this Kickstarter, Matlock the hare stuff is reliably gorgeous and soulful. You can get involved here – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/934318055/white-hare-wisdom-oracle-card-deck )

The League of Lid Curving Witchery – a review

This is a new book from Phil and Jacqui Lovesey, whose Matlock the Hare books I have reviewed before on this blog. Set in the magickal dales, this volume focuses on the history of the league of lid curving witchery – the witches who inhabit this strange and lovely landscape. While the first three Matlock the Hare books were illustrated prose, things clearly took a bit of a turn with the previous title – Upon a Tzorkly Moon – which was hard cover and densely illustrated in colour.  The new one is more in this style.

Here we have stories and illustrations, and a physically very beautiful book. It’s imaginative, and engaging. I’ve been pondering this for a while and I think the best way to describe it is to say that this is a children’s book that has been written for adults. Maybe that makes it an inner children’s book. It’s pretty dark in places – violence against those perceived to be outsiders is a reoccurring theme, and as these are witches, boiling other creatures in your cauldron is a popular choice. It’s probably not suitable for most children (if in doubt, buy it and read it first).

The underlying theme of the story is about how we square up to our differences and rise above them. Tzorkly (it’s a parlawitch word in case you were wondering) means ‘to rise above’ and this book is absolutely an invitation to do just that. It delivers the message without being smug or preachy.

One of the things I find especially interesting about the Lovesy’s work is how they handle death. This is an animist reality, everything and anything can have feelings and a voice. Everything creaturey eats. Sometimes what is eaten, protests. Everything will die eventually, and the deaths of main characters are very much part of the stories. This book focuses on three witches, and all of them die, and that’s absolutely fine. It doesn’t even feel like a spoiler mentioning this, because it’s about life. They live, and therefore they die. The human desire to extend life for as long as possible, is not helping our species or our planet. We need different stories about what death is and how it fits into our lives, and this book is just that sort of thing.

As a household, we’ve had terrible trouble with the title for some reason. Tom first misnamed it as the league of wood carving lechery, we’ve also had witch carving lechery, and last night I inadvertently called it the league of witch curving and then had no idea what the last word could be. We’re a bit splurked, and we haven’t the oidiest extrapluff as to why.

Find out more about Phil and Jacqui’s work here – https://www.matlockthehare.com/

See inside the book here – https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/584650624/a-book-the-league-of-lid-curving

Upon a Tzorkly Moon: Review

Upon a Tzorkly Moon explores the world of Winchette Dale, home of Matlock the Hare. I’ve enthused about those books in the past, you can find out more at (https://www.matlockthehare.com/). Upon a Tzorkly Moon is both a new thing and familiar, as it focuses on art associated with the Dales, and is written by the artist half of the team – Jacqui Lovesey. For fans of Matlock, it’s a must. If you’ve not encountered this work before, you could dive in here.

This is a book very much dominated by the art, and includes full colour images of illustrations from the novels. Previously we’ve only seen them printed in black and white. Jacqui’s colour use is warm and gorgeous, so it really adds another dimension getting to see the pieces as they were intended.

The book is a wander through the world of the magical dales, showing landscapes, and inhabitants. There are accompanying notes about what you’re seeing, and those are charming to read. It’s a warm, uplifting sort of book, easily nibbled in small quantities, so ideal for a person who is world weary, whose attention is shot or who is short of time and needs to be able to dip into something gentle and generous.

I was struck by a number of things as I sauntered rather slowly through this book over a period of days. Firstly, this is the reality I want to live in; richly animist, full of life and presence. Secondly, I really want to live in the kind of house that looks like Jacqui imagined it. Thirdly the world needs more lush and gently uplifiting creativity in it, critically that which does not patronise, sugar coat or dumb down. Fourthly, I really, really want to make a book this lovely.

So, thanks to Matlock the Hare I am pid-padding into the world of interior colour printing, asking questions about book design, making outrageous demands of my artist/husband Tom Brown, and plotting how to do something along these lines. The story is written, and if it’s half as cheering as Upon a Tzorkly Moon I shall consider it a job sufficiently done.

In the meantime, seek out this book! https://www.matlockthehare.com/project-02

And here’s a guest blog Phil Lovesey did for me a while back – https://druidlife.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/matlock-the-hare/


Living with Bimbles

Bimbles are creatures from the third book of the awesome Matlock the Hare series, but they are also a truth. When a person has a plan, bimbles will latch on to them, get in their way and slow them down. The bimble in your life needs you to stop when you are busy and hear a story you have already heard about a problem they won’t try a solution for. They need to regale you with a blow by blow account of what they saw on the telly last night. They will respond to the thing you are actually doing by wanting an indepth conversation about something similar they had once thought of doing. Online they’ll drown genuine issues in a swamp of maundering over the most trivial details. “But you said he was wearing a green hat when he did it, and clearly it was a red one.”

Much of it, no doubt, is motivated by boredom, loneliness and a desire for attention. However, one of the things that really sets a bimble apart from someone who is merely bored or lonely, is that the bimble has to be the most important person in the conversation. They aren’t doing much of interest, and will use their banality to undermine your enthusiasm. The White Wolf Changeling game used the term ‘autumn people’ to identify a similar trait set. Terry Pratchett talked about it in terms of the crab bucket. Banality that cannot bear the presence of genuine energy and activity, failure that cannot bear success, will try to smother it. It’s useful to have terms for these things and to be able to identify the habits of the archetype.

So, let’s imagine that you are working on something. The something in question is wild, radical, creative, innovative, life changing and big. The bimble will respond to this by trying to take energy from you. They will be quick to say how pointless, futile and silly your plan is. They will bring you down to earth with a bump, confident they are doing you a favour and then you’ll get to hear a long story about how the cat was sick on the rug last week, and they had to clean it up.

We are all obliged to deal with mundane reality. It’s an essential part of life. The trouble is that for some people, it’s only the most banal and repetitive things that have reality, and anything else, anything with a dash of change in it, looks like a threat. At the very least, the bimbling routine protects them from having to know about what you were doing. It helps them maintain the belief that change doesn’t happen. It leaves them feeling in control of their space.

A small dose of bimbling doesn’t do anyone any real harm. The problems come if the bimble is part of your household, workspace, or social network in a way you can’t avoid. A bimble who is in your life in an ongoing way will be an ongoing obstacle to anything and everything. My guess is that they try to keep others powerless and passive as a way of dealing with their own powerlessness, but if you want to get anything serious done, avoiding the bimbles is an essential part of the process.

More about Matlock the Hare here – http://www.matlockthehare.com/


The Clottabussed Hero’s Journey

I’m on a mission to imagine as many different kinds of ‘hero’ journeys as I can at the moment. So, this week it falls to the clottabussed hero. The term ‘clottabussed’ comes from Matlock the Hare, a series of books where the lead character is most certainly on a clotabussed hero’s journey.

The clotabussed hero does not set out to be heroic. They’d probably prefer to be doing something else. They aren’t especially competitive folk, and this is in no small part because they have no stand out abilities. They are never fantastically clever, they aren’t gifted with anything much except their good natures and their desire to do the right thing. Harry Potter, Bill and Ted, Sam Gamgee, these are classic clottabussed heroes.

In many ways, the clottabussed hero is much closer to us than the overtly heroic, dragon slaying, maiden rescuing hero. They end up doing things because those things really need doing, and no one else will, or they do it by accident, or in their ineptitude accidentally trigger the thing that causes someone else to save the world, or foil the plot, or whatever it is. One of the greatest strengths of the clottabussed hero is that most of us can see ourselves in them, and within their stories, it’s their shortcomings that often endear them to those who might help.

The clottabussed hero’s journey is always one of collaboration, because they have neither the wit nor the means to go it alone. Their good natures and willingness to admit cluelessness means help comes to them. They may work in teams with other equally inept but well meaning figures (Labyrinth springs to mind; confused and useless Sarah would be lost, literally, without her team). A great deal of good natured comedy can be extracted from the clottabussed hero, and they don’t tend to mind the laughs at their expense, because they don’t have much ego, and know that they’re all too likely to make a mess of things.

Along the way, big events can happen, but they aren’t essential. The clottabussed heroes of fairytales end up doing things like pulling up enormous turnips, mistaking vegetables for eggs and hares for baby horses, they have to stop their own magic porridge pots from overflowing and drowning the village. However, most of them find friendship and a sense of place in the world. Their cats sort their lives out for them. By the end of the story, the clottabussed hero is in a place of gratitude, appreciating friends, comrades and helpers, conscious they couldn’t have done it alone, but also aware that they may be better than they first thought.

The Hero of Campbell-style hero’s journeys gets to the end and has to figure out how to get back and fit in with their tribe again. The coming back is hard for them, and they feel misunderstood. The clottabussed hero comes home like Dorothy ‘there’s no place like home’ to hug all the people who look very much like the folk who helped her with the adventure. Dorothy is a fine example here – she doesn’t mean to thwart witches or bring down dodgy leaders, she just wants to go home.

In thinking about this blog, it dawned on me that Owen from www.hopelessmaine.com fits this kind of model. He’s not especially clever, has no magical skills (although he learns to make talisman and the like). He seldom knows what to do, but he’s a good team player and he means well.

Why you need a Tweazel

I’m a big fan of Matlock the Hare. I met Phil and Jacqui Lovesey through the medium of Twitter quite some years ago, and instantly adored Jacqui’s artwork. Through their regular posts, I met some of the creatures of Winchett Dale, got to know the magical hares at the heart of their books, and came to the conclusion that I needed to read what they’d created. I bought The Trefflepugga Path, and then The Tillian Wand, and now I’m waiting (and I’ve been waiting ages) for The Trial of the Magical Elders. I need this book. So, this is a plea – support the kickstarter because that’s how we get book three and I’m going mad with not knowing what happens next. Book 2 finished on a serious cliffhanger.

Go here (please, please) https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/934318055/the-trial-of-the-majickal-elders

Why, you may legitimately ask, is this fabulous book needing crowd sourcing to get published? It’s a bloody good question. The trouble is, that the main character is a talking hare, and most of the other characters are creatures. In the eyes of conventional publishing, this means it is a book for very small children and no one else could want to read it. However, the writing is grownup, and sophisticated, clever, plotty, totally unsuitable for very small children. My teenager loves these books. I love these books. The other adults I’ve bought these books for also love these books. These are great books, but they defy the rules, and so publishers won’t take a risk on them. Because, you know, Watership Down, Animal Farm, The Duncton Wood Chronicles – no one has ever written a really successful book for older readers that had talking animals in it. Umm.

There are tweazels in this kickstarter. Alarming and simultaneously wonderful things, tweazels (the orange fellow in the image at the top of the blog). A handmade, lovely thing, there are at time of blogging, several left. I have a dripple (another denizen of Winchett Dale), I can vouch for the quality of these creations. They are superb.

I need books that surprise me. I need books that take me somewhere else, and fill my head with things I’d never have thought of and get me looking at life from different angles. I need to be stretched, and unsettled and uplifted. The first two volumes of Matlock the Hare were, quite seriously, everything I have ever looked for in a book. If you’ve been with my blog a while then you probably like the same sorts of things I do. I encourage you to check out their website – http://matlockthehare.com/page/654816-books.aspx

Wandering Other Worlds

When Pagans talk about otherworlds, it’s usually in a shamanic sense. You make a deliberate journey to an otherworld for a purpose – a spiritual, learning or healing purpose usually – and then you journey back. The otherworlds associated with various spiritual traditions have defined characters and there are specific reasons for visiting them. This is not something I really do.

Every now and then I find a book, or a series (and just occasionally, a film) that takes over my thoughts. A piece of creativity where the world is so complex, rich and involving that the act of reading the book is a journey into it and emerging takes a while. I finished the second Matlock the Hare book about a week ago, and am only just leaving the dales now. I’m not sure what happened to me while I was there – the journey created by a book and the aftermath of a book is not one I have full conscious control over. Certainly it has facilitated changes for me. I have seen other perspectives, thought new (to me) thoughts. I have wondered, and felt and dreamed and been carried to places of other people’s imagining.

Really good, imaginative fiction (of which Matlock the Hare is a fine example) takes the reader somewhere else. Out of your own life, out of your everyday concerns and into another place, one that may or may not shed light on things for you, and where the experience itself is a blessing. Really good, imaginative fiction can create worlds for you that are like nothing you have ever encountered before. Landscapes and challenges, characters and possibilities can blow you away. These worlds can be utterly surprising and yet wholly pertinent to life lived.

Which leaves me wondering why our descriptions of otherworlds in the mainstream of non-fiction books often seem so samey. The idea that we would all experience roughly the same things in comparable ways seems to underlie most of the shamanic books I’ve read. All too often, the otherworld of non-fiction is not presented as likely to startle, overwhelm, radically change or otherwise upheave a person. It’s a fairly safe place. You go in, you find your spirit guide, or animal guide or whatever your tradition dictates, they take you sightseeing. So long as you have them, you are safe. There are some basic rules to follow – precise etiquette varies with tradition. You go in, you get what you need, you come out. There’s no room for the place to radically change you – in fact I wonder if the methods and setups are very much about avoiding that happening.

Step into the world of a fictional novel, and if it’s any good, the lives and fates of imaginary people start to matter to you, and the world itself is able to seep into your mind. Not a world you control, or choose, or get to direct. Not a world that exists necessarily to heal you and answer your questions. It may be going to challenge you, break your heart, throw your own world into chaos, demand you rethink your personal philosophy. It may leave you grieving or shocked. The worlds inside books are not safe places – not in terms of the power they have to act on your emotions.

I thought about trying to review Matlock the Hare: The Puzzle of the Tillian Wand in a normal way, but it’s the second book of the series and assumes you’ve read the first one. It is too plotty and complex to start here. Get a copy of the Trefflepugga Path first.  Find out more about them on www.matlockthehare.com

And question why it is that so many authors present the otherworlds of magical tradition as safer, more predictable and less awe inspiring than the magical worlds available to us in books. Step onto the Trefflepugga path and anything can happen to you. Your life is no longer in your control. It’s very difficult to have wild change beyond your imagining if you also insist on staying safely in control of the experience.