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The tribal Sidhe have a history that predates the written word. This history is kept alive by this half-human race – who are the keepers of their own lore. Shannon Avery traces these strangelings and the mythological bindings of kith and kin of the tribal Sidhe back 10,000 years or more in The Queen’s Rune and Other Tales of the Sidhe. This curious volume of stories was published by Vulgar Marsala Press in 2009.
For Avery, keeping the tradition of the Sidhe alive is a sacred calling. Winding the spirit of the Sidhe into a community of fellow seekers is a great task, and it is not for everyone. Avery, a performance artist and magician – is capable of these and other feats. Not only is she a storyteller, poet, and a traveler in supernatural realms, she’s also a weaver of the web. Avery has initiated and contributed to magical communities in many places.
Avery was originally from New Orleans, where much of her childhood was spent. There, she learned about the Sidhe and their magic by listening to stories a family cook told to her at an early age. As an adult, she studied anthropology and visited the sacred places of many of the tribes, spread across the earth.
These imprints of stories remained in Avery’s consciousness. Today tidbits from her childhood and tales from her travels have grown into larger epics. When Avery performs live, the spoken word is accompanied by original acoustic music, with guitar, drums, or even electronic musical accompaniment.
The immediacy of times long past is conveyed in her writings and her performance work:
“Just an inch away,
writhing toward me,
Held distant by the force of my ambition for my first
from “Essence of Me”, The Queen’s Rune and Other Tales of the Sidhe
Though she evokes a bygone time in her work, the era Avery inhabits is the contemporary age. The tribe of witches, poets, musicians, and magical people she has assembled around her are evidence she has something special to offer. Avery lives in Norfolk Virginia, in the section of town known as Ghent, and has ties to a coven there. The Sidhe tribe meets on Thursday evenings at the Colley Cantina and is frequently seen performing in the area.
Avery plays the drums and the guitar, sings and chants. She dresses in costumes appropriate to her tribal origins, has a pair of fairy wings, and she teaches others how to chant, drum and empower their own magic.
In The Queen’s Rune and Other Tales of the Sidhe, Avery’s simple stories are set in the past but also make reference to the magic of present times.
Here’s an excerpt from Rhiannon and Pwyll, one of Avery’s epic poems:
Rhiannon and Pwyll
Long ago it was, and yet,
Not so long ago,
That I can not remember songs
Of these two lover’s woe.
Warriors hold the battlements,
Rajah nobly born.
Arrows tremble on the string,
Children newly sworn.
Pwyll’s Elfrida stalk the field,
Knuckles white in dread,
Barefoot innocents untried,
Mothers from the bed.
Goblin galleons prowl the waves,
Murder on their breath.
Red dawn sears the milky shore,
Drums beat bloody death.
Even as Avery remarks upon times long past and feuds never settled, she comments on the spirits of contemporary times, rife with difficulties and embitterment, too. In other places in the book Avery’s remembrance brings about a similar consciousness and presence in the reader. Her verse is easy to understand and symmetrical in its lyricism. Avery’s carefully crafted stories always reach dramatic conclusions that give the reader pleasure, pain, or at the very least — pause.
The Sidhe are a tragic race of people who have been banished from the upper realms of the earth. Some have returned in half human form and some lurk in the corridors of another plane of existence altogether. The Queen’s Rune and Other Tales of the Sidhe gives substance and liveliness to a mysterious race. Their tribal origins and social structures may seem strange to outsiders. The ways of the Sidhe create unity for the tribe and those among them.
Through Avery’s work, the Sidhe mythology and way of life is finally to be recorded in written form after thousands of years. The Sidhe are certainly worth discovering. Avery opens the door of the ineffable, making the tribe familiar to us through their tales of sorrow and joy.