Celtic symbology and the holly maze in Twelvetide by Dawn Marie Hamilton

In Celtic symbology, the labyrinth, or maze, represents pathway(s) leading to the center of one’s spirit. ‘Tis said one should release burdens on the way to the center of the maze then accept what is needed most on the way out . For Twelvetide, I used a holly maze to unite the heroine, Ashley, with her destined mate, Caelan, her other half, and thusly combine their spirits. Or at least, that is what I hope the book’s readers take away from the symbology.

A post card from the 60"s of The Governor's Palace Maze Williamsburg
Postcard available at  CardCow.com.

The holly maze in Twelvetide was modeled after the maze depicted in this sixties vintage postcard featuring the holly maze at the Governor’s Palace in Williamsburg on sale at Cardcow.com.  I imagined the Twelvetide holly maze as more expansive and with only one tree, an ancient oak, at its center. The spot where Caelan awaits Ashley, first when she was seven and later, more importantly, when she was a grown woman.

Unfortunately, it is my understanding the maze at Williamsburg is now privet and shorter.

Twelvetide-1200

An excerpt from Twelvetide:

Ashley raced across the car park. The flame in the lantern flickered, its beam of light dancing crazily over the snow-covered, icy gravel. Slipping, she teetered, but regained balance. Hurry. She hadn’t come this far only to be too late. She slid to a stop at the gate and fumbled with the key. Dammit, her hands shook. Hurry. Hurry. She inserted the key and twisted. Crap. It didn’t fit quite right. With firm jiggling, she forced the key into position. The locking mechanism finally clicked. With a relieved sigh, she pushed the grille open and stepped within the ancient garden.

The maze wasn’t there. Was she too early or too late?

Precipitation no longer fell and the storm clouds slid away on a south-easterly wind. A bright half-moon cast silvery illumination over the landscape, diminishing the need for the lantern. She strolled toward the dolphin fountain. A dazzling light flashed in the sky, blinding her for a moment. When Ashley’s vision cleared, everything had changed.

The garden was as she remembered.

Bright sunbeams shimmered down from a cloudless cerulean sky. A warm breeze carried the mingled scents of roses and honeysuckle. Ashley parked the lantern on the edge of the fountain and dropped her wool coat to the ground as she had as a child. Pulse racing, she walk-ran over the stepping stone path to the holly maze.

With the key clutched in a firm grip, she hesitated at the entrance, swallowed hard, and entered the winding twists and turns. On her last visit, she’d had the blond-headed boy to follow through the maze. Where was he now? Would Cael be at the oak tree, if and when she found it?

Close your eyes and trust in your heart.

“Who said that?” The androgynous voice sounded corporeal, but no one was there. Was it a ghostly voice? Was Cael haunting the maze, trying to spook her with a disguised voice?

Why would he do that? He’d made her promise to return to him.

Believe in the magic and find your heart’s desire.

Ashley shivered, spooked by the voice in her head. Get a grip, Ashley. You’ve been waiting to return to the garden for what felt like a lifetime. She inhaled a deep breath and closed her eyes. Ignoring mounting anxiety, she groped with her hands like a child playing blind man’s bluff, and walked straight into a prickly holly hedge.

“Ouch!” She popped her eyes open and stuck a stinging finger into her mouth.

Damn. This wasn’t working and time was wasting away. She didn’t know how long she’d have with Cael before the magic expired. She shoved the key into a jeans pocket and took the first right. Hung a left. Another left. Turned right and hit a dead end. Grrr!

“Cael, where are you?” she shouted.

No response. With fisted hands, she retraced her steps then went right again. Left. Left. Left. Ending at a T-juncture. Ashley jammed her hands in her pants pockets and blew out a puff of air. Should she go right or left?

“Please, Cael, help me find you.”

Close your eyes. Believe in the magic.

That strange voice again. She swallowed uneasily, wary of such potent magic. Well, she’d just need to get over her apprehensions if she wanted to find Cael. And she did want to find him.

Okay. She closed her eyes, waiting, listening to silence.

Hmmmm. A faint humming. Should she? Slowly. One step at a time. Twisting and turning. She followed the hum through the maze. Astonishingly, she managed not to walk into the shrubbery walls. After taking a countless number of turns, the droning sound rose in pitch no longer mellifluous. She popped her eyes wide. The irritating noise instantly died.

In the center of the square clearing, the large oak tree stood proud as she remembered.

Her heart plummeted. He wasn’t there. Cael wasn’t there. Her shoulders drooped. Moisture pricked the back of her eyes.

Cael stepped from behind the tree, sporting a sexy grin. Damn, the man, the real man, was hotter than her dreams.

Ashley’s insides turned to mush. She ran toward him and stopped just short.

Enchanted Highlands
99 cents or free with Kindle Unlimited

Twelvetide is available at Amazon in the Enchanted Highlands collection from authors April Holthaus, Victoria Zak, and Dawn Marie Hamilton.

 

~Dawn Marie

 

 

Winter Solstice and Twelvetide by Dawn Marie Hamilton

In 2015, the Winter Solstice takes place on December 21st at 11:48 P.M. EST—the shortest day of the year and the longest night of the year.

To many, the Twelve Days of Christmas fall between Christmas and the Epiphany. To others the festival of Yule begins on the eve of the Winter Solstice and continues for twelve nights ending on Twelfth Night—New Year’s Eve.

“During this time of Yule, we honor the beginning of the sun’s return and the breaking of winter. Let the evening’s feasting begin.”

~Lachlan Og, Chief of Clan MacLachlan

Excerpted from Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic,
an Enchanted Highlands novella by Dawn Marie Hamilton

Twelvetide-1200

Twlevetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic, one of three novellas in the Enchanted Highlands collection, begins on the eve of the Winter Solstice with the dark moment climaxing just prior to Twelfth Night. Twlevetide—the twelve nights of Yule.

A variety of celebratory diversions were enjoyed by the well-to-do during Yule, and perhaps shared with their people or clan: feasting, storytelling, masking, music, and dance, along with other revelry,

‘Twas also considered a time when supernatural forces roamed freely—when the spirits of the dead returned to earth.

“Every year on the winter solstice the veil between realms thins and then tears and as Twelvetide progresses the breach between the earth and the otherworld allows all manner of supernatural creatures, including the spirits of the dead, like me, to travel through and roam the earth.”

“Aye. During the twelve days, the fiercest of spirits—men, horses, hellhounds—follow their leader on wild hunts, riding the stormy night skies, causing havoc and mayhem.”

~Caelan Innes

Excerpted from Twelvetide: Twelve Nights of Highland Magic,
an Enchanted Highlands novella by Dawn Marie Hamilton

 

Enchanted Highlands

 

 

 

 

Enchanted Highlands is available at Amazon for 99 cents or free with Kindle Unlimited.

 

 

 

 

~Dawn Marie

New Release: Enchanted Highlands by Dawn Marie Hamilton, April Holthaus, and Victoria Zak

Enchanted Highlands
Enchanted Highlands Holiday Novella Collection

 

99cents or free with Kindle Unlimited

Three magical holiday love stories…

 

Twelvetide-1200Twelvetide (Twelve Nights of Highland Magic)
By Dawn Marie Hamilton

He has twelve nights to gain her love.
She has twelve nights to save his soul.

Fulfilling a childhood promise, Ashley Dumont returns to an ancient Druid garden in the Black Hills of Scotland on the eve of the winter solstice—a time when magic hums and the veil between realms thins and tears, allowing all manner of supernatural creatures through. Will the ghost who claimed to be her destiny still be there?

Caelan Innes awaits her arrival. Unjustly murdered in the sixteenth century, a second chance at life depends on this woman. The Druids grant them the twelve nights of Yule to find love and save Cael’s soul. Will a trip through time and the treachery of enemies make the sacrifice too dear?

 

Stars and Stones - April

 
Stars and Stones
By April Holthaus

Riley Kincaid was a man who thought he had everything, until fate intervened. While traveling to London; only days before Christmas, a fierce storm blew in forcing Riley to land in Scotland instead. With treacherous winds and snow-covered roads, Riley found refuge at a small bed and breakfast as he waited out the storm. But little did he know that his arrival was not by mere chance.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Winter Solstice - Vikki

 

Once upon a Winter Solstice
By Victoria Zak

What if all moments throughout time existed at once? What if you had a love that stood the test of time? Never faltering, never fading. What if one legend brought both time and love together as one? Once Upon a Winter Solstice is dedicated to those who believe in true love.