From the desk of
Kathleen McGowan

August 2012


Announcing New Fiction from Kathleen McGowan, Summer 2012!

I hope you are all enjoying your summer! It has been an exciting and active one for me, and I will close this newsletter with some personal photos from this summer’s “big event” in my life. I hope you are finding time to relax and enjoy all the best that summer has to offer wherever you may be! But before summer draws to a close, I am excited to share some writing news with you all:

ANNOUNCING MY NEW & INNOVATIVE FICTION SERIES, “LEGENDS OF THE DIVINE FEMININE ”

I have been bursting to tell you all about my new hybrid fiction project, a series I am calling LEGENDS OF THE DIVINE FEMININE with the first book in the series being based on the Scottish fable/fairy tale THE BALLAD OF TAM LIN. I have so much to reveal about it that I think the easiest way is to answer some of the basic questions right here:

WHAT is “Legends of the Divine Feminine”?

For the last two decades that I have been investigating the stories of women in history who have been maligned, misunderstood and in some cases forgotten almost entirely, I have been blessed to explore many countries around the world. Along this amazing journey I have uncovered more stories of exceptional women – and the rich cultures from whence they came – than I will ever be able to tell in full length novel form. But there are elements of these stories which inspire me regularly and continue to be a huge part of my own spiritual and cultural awakenings, and as such I am eager to share them. I have kept an ever-growing list for years of the women – some real, some mythical and archetypal – who have inspired me. Some of these women can only be the singular, starring subjects of their own lengthy books and require years of research for just one complex character. Anne Boleyn, for example, features in both my forthcoming full length novel, The Boleyn Heresy (eta December 2012) as well as a non-fiction project called Avenging Anne Boleyn (eta 2013). Similar projects for superstars Marie Antoinette and Joan of Arc await my attention in the future as they will also require years of time and devotion to do justice to the re-telling of their epic, if mostly misunderstood, lives.

But in the shadow of these Diana Ross characters from history are the ever-constant Supremes, the other women and stories who deserve to be celebrated for their own importance in the grand concert of the human experience. (Recently while visiting the town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer with my brilliant writer friend Eleanor O’Rourke, she commented that Mary Magdalene was really the Diana Ross of spirituality in France and that all of the other stories of amazing women were somewhat lost in her shadow. I loved the comparison and have borrowed it from her. Read more of The Divine Miss El’s insightful observations by checking out her blog, here at www.eleanororourke.com)

And so it was in searching for a project to tell more stories, more readily, combined with the quickness and versatility of the new e-book formats, that I developed this idea of a series to celebrate these lesser known but supremely (ahem) important women. I will draw from a long list of culturally diverse stories from the places I have personally explored. Now, here is why I think this is a truly innovative idea, and I hope you will agree. I will tell each story first as fiction, introducing you to some of the richest characters I have come across in history and legend, so as to explore their inner lives and ultimate motivations and awakenings. I will use a “novella” format, which is shorter than a full length novel, but quite a bit longer than a short story. Following each work of fiction will be a non-fiction exploration of the themes within the story, including the back-up research, photographs of the actual locations, historical details, and my personal journey of discovery to find these legends where they live. All of the books will conclude with an examination of how the story chosen represents the Divine Feminine for the culture in which it was born, as well as how the archetypes and lessons take us to new understandings of the Divine Feminine around us and within us into the 21st century. The combination of fiction, non-fiction and spiritual/inspirational exploration is what I think makes this project so unique and exciting. Certainly for me as a writer, to have the opportunity to introduce you to these magical and extraordinary characters (through fiction), while also having full freedom to show you how, why and where they have inspired me (through non-fiction) makes this a most joyous job indeed.

WHY is THE BALLAD OF TAM LIN the first story you have chosen for the series?

I first fell in love with the 16th century Scottish Ballad of Tam Lin when I came across it in a collection of fairy tales from a Time-Life book series called The Enchanted World. I was 20 years old when the series came out, and utterly captivated by the international tales of myth and magic. The legends from Scotland, specifically the supernaturally charged stories of Thomas the Rhymer and the elfin knight known by the strange name of Tam Lin, both captivated me as they each featured an omnipotent and potentially wicked fairy queen. A few years later, a friend introduced me to the ballad as it had been recorded by an English folk-rock band, Fairport Convention, and vocalized brilliantly by lead singer Sandy Denny. The Fairport Convention ballad (Google it – there are versions on YouTube) illustrates musically this story of two very powerful female protagonists locked in an epic and ancient power struggle. The clear cut heroine is young and courageous Janet, who must endure a profound spiritual battle to secure the release her true love, the knight Tam Lin, from the fairy queen’s clutches before he is sacrificed to the powers of Hell.

The trials Janet endures at the hands of the fairy queen are so rich in symbolism that I became utterly obsessed with exploring them, and all the layers of this very ancient story, steeped in the wisdom of the Celts. For this is no mere fairy tale, no simplistic story of dark and light, wicked queen and maiden fair. This is a complex and sensual exploration of feminine power in all of its aspects, with some unexpected twists. Although the earliest documented versions of Tam Lin emerge from the 1500s, the story is far older, and the events it may be based around are believed to have occurred shortly after the death of William Wallace in 1305. Yet these themes are as old as humanity itself. The Ballad of Tam Lin is a spiritual and esoteric fable that just may be the richest and most profound I have encountered in all of my studies. It is certainly an illustration of the power of the divine feminine in its multiple guises unlike any other.

For years, I kept The Ballad of Tam Lin on the back burner as a book I would one day write, perhaps in a series exploring women in Celtic legends, which is one of my great passions. But fate intervened when I fell in love. My newlywed husband, Philip Coppens, has a home in Scotland, within an hour’s drive from these magical locations where the legends of humans having encounters with the Otherworld remain strong to this day. It was in spending many hours climbing through the stunning, mythical locations of the Scottish Borders from whence the original Ballad of Tam Lin first emerged that I became inspired to use it as the launching point for this series. Further, it is one of the lesser known legends, yet in my opinion, arguably the greatest – a perfect place to begin!

HOW and WHERE will the new series be available?

Initially, I am releasing the books included within the Legends of the Divine Feminine series solely as e-books, and they will be available on all formats, including Kindle, Nook, iPad, etc., but they will also be available as a PDF download to your computer for those of you who do not have e-readers. This e-book format gives me so much (exciting!) freedom to include links, artwork, maps, etc., which I would not have otherwise, and it gives me freedom to release more books, much faster. Eventually, if there is enough demand, I will consider releasing the series in a trade paperback format.

WHEN will the first book be available?

Due to some technological issues (I am still learning what all of this new technology can do, and it seems to be changing every day) my original plan to release the first book on the Summer Solstice didn’t quite happen, but I do intend to have it out before the end of the summer. The current release date is September 1, 2012. Barring incident with Kindle, Nook or ipad files, we should meet this date! We will send out an official release email when it is up and available on all formats.

Finally, and this is what I am most excited about, each project will be tied to a charitable component as well as a project that helps a female artist. A percentage from the sale of each copy of The Ballad of Tam Lin will be donated to my favorite charity, Made By Survivors, an organization founded to support women and children who have survived enslavement and human trafficking. Many of you have donated to MBS in the past; in fact, you are the reason we were able to put the roof on a building that now shelters up to a hundred survivors! MBS continues to expand their great work around the world, and with our help even more women will find a haven of safety and opportunity on the way to building worldwide awareness to the plight of the 27 million enslaved people on the planet today.

For more information on helping survivors and to save women’s lives (by shopping!) please visit www.MadebySurvivors.com

Heaven on Earth – the Cathar music of Devayani, and how you can help share the beauty!

And speaking of the divine feminine, I would like to take a minute to introduce you all to the artistry of a pianist/composer who is finding a way to change the world through her music. Her name is Devayani, and she lives and performs in the heart of Cathar Country in the Languedoc region. Her music is otherworldly and we have watched members of our groups absorbed in transformational and powerful experiences while listening to her play. If you read my book The Poet Prince then you are already familiar with the concept of “infusion” in art (and if you haven’t read The Poet Prince, then what are you waiting for?) Devayani infuses her music with so much intention and light that it is as much a spiritual experience as a musical one. And listening to her music while traveling has eased my long international flight times and even helped with my jet lag!

I want to share a really personal story here, because it illustrates how powerful this music of Devayani’s truly is, and why I support it so passionately. Since my first visit to the Cathar stronghold of Montsegur in 1995, I have been obsessed with the place and absolutely certain I had a past life there. Back in 1991, I became a past life regression hypnotherapist and I have conducted hundreds of regressions and conducted some very interesting past life experiments. Yet try as I might, I could not access any of my own memories from Montsegur. Regressions by other professionals who tried to help me also unsuccessful. I was completely blocked until the Summer of 2011, when I first met Devayani and heard her play a composition entitled “Montsegur.” As she moved through the stunning and powerful composition, I was totally unprepared for what washed over me: memories. Like Joshua at the battle of Jericho, Deva’s music broke down the walls in my subconscious and the powerful memories of Montsegur in 1244 flooded through me.

Later, I would share my experience with Devayani and her mother, a dynamic spiritual matriarch named Sarah, and they explained that Deva wrote her composition “Montsegur” for precisely that reason – because she wanted to call the children of Montsegur together through her music, and give them a way to access all that they are and all that they have been. It was her letter of love to all of us who feel called to this amazing place at this wondrous time. I have since watched Devayani work her angelic magic on hundreds of others who come to see her play. You can download “Montsegur”, and all of her music, on iTunes. I recommend her album L’envol de Colombes (The Flight of Doves) with all of my heart. It not only contains Montsegur, but the follow up composition, “La Colombe” which invokes the legend of the Cathar spirits turning into doves as they flew from the flames. Haunting, powerful, and special.

YOU can help to support this amazing young woman who is impacting hearts and spirits, and awakening all of us to a better understanding of our shared past through her music. She is currently pre-selling her new CD, due for a 2012 Holiday release, as a means of raising the money to complete the recording. We have been blessed to hear Devayani play some of these new compositions live, but in order to commit them to a CD, it requires approximately $7,000 in recording costs. If even a small percentage of my reader-friends buy her CD in advance, it will give her what she needs to cover the recording. Any additional money over recording costs goes into a Languedoc-based charity by and for women called, Femme En Mouvement, which supports mentoring for young women in the region. Besides, it will give you great new music to look forward to in the Holiday Season!

To pre-order the CD, and/or to make a larger donation to Deva’s recording, visit her Facebook page here. You will have to “like” her and then click on the “NEW CD 2012” tab to pre-order the CD.

Deva gifts us all with “Montsegur” on her Facebook page with a recording of her performance (click on “virtual concert”) but I implore you to support her work if you love it by supporting her new venture!

Sacred Journeys – Join me in my travels to some of the most inspiring sites in Europe!


Last year, I began taking small groups of readers (now, they are all friends!) to the sacred sites which have inspired my books. Along with my beloved, Philip Coppens, we began the Sacred France initiative and were overwhelmed by the interest. The original, single excursion we proposed became seven over a one year period to keep up with the demand, and it has been an exciting and often life-changing experience for all of us involved. Enduring friendships and transformational experiences have been the by-product of this fun and rewarding approach to spiritual travel. We are planning a more limited number of Sacred France journeys for the spring of 2013, and will keep you all posted via my newsletters, but you can also subscribe to our Sacred France list specifically for those announcements. To do that and read what some tour participants have to say (we have about a hundred testimonials, but these are all we have had time to post so far), go to www.SacredFrance.com.

We will be scaling back our France itineraries in 2013 to make way for a few new places, including Sacred Scotland (Summer Solstice 2013), featuring magical locations from my new e-book, The Ballad of Tam Lin. If all goes as planned, we will be announcing Sacred Italy for Autumn 2013, featuring locations from The Book of Love and The Poet Prince. Most of our Sacred France alumni want to continue to travel with us and the other new friends they have made on these amazing journeys, so we are constantly thinking of new vistas to explore with them. As a result, Sacred Scotland was sold out before it was even announced, but if you are interested we have a few extra spaces as we secured additional hotel rooms. Here is the itinerary: www.sacredfrance.com/scotland13_1.html. If you know you would like to check immediate availability or be put on a waiting list for 2013, please send an email to info@philipcoppens.com with the heading SACRED SCOTLAND 2013.

Also, our Writer’s Grail intensive retreat for aspiring authors was a huge success this year, and we will do another in 2013, also in Scotland, with a very limited number of participants. To subscribe specifically for Writer’s Grail updates and information, go to www.TheWritersGrail.com.

Very Last Chance for Bosnia!

We still have two extremely special journeys available for 2012, but time is running out for them, so if you are interested, we need to know NOW.

In early September (September 5th -14th), Philip, and I will be spending nine very special days in beautiful Bosnia. This is by necessity a very small group and we only have a few potential spaces left for those of you with an adventurous spirit, an open mind, and a curious heart – but we need to know by August 12th at the very latest! This trip constitutes an amazing exploratory combination of archaeology, spirituality, and social consciousness. In the first part of the trip we will explore the stunning and fascinating Bosnian Pyramid Complex. Philip has been involved with the project since its very foundation, with the amazing discovery of the Bosnian Pyramids in 2005. He swears that if there is anywhere you can feel like an early explorer, this complex is it, as it is here that an entire new chapter to Mankind’s early history is being uncovered. I am jumping out of my seat with excitement to be on the cutting edge of this discovery along with him and the other pioneers we will be exploring with, including Bosnia native Dr. Sam Osmanagich who made this discovery and is the Director of the Foundation of the Bosnian Pyramids Complex. We will spend a full day at the “Hidden History Conference” featuring lectures by key writers and experts, including Philip’s lecture: The Big A’s: Aliens and Atlantis (if you are fan of the hit History Channel show, Ancient Aliens, you will not want to miss this chance to be in the middle of the research as it is happening).

We will leave the ancient world to explore the more modern Bosnia, a country which only two decades ago was ravaged by a brutal Civil War, but which is now an inspiring culture of religious integration, tolerance, and forgiveness. My friend and teacher, Isobel Denham (the inspiration for the character of Isobel in The Book of Love), has been doing philanthropic work in Bosnia since the terrible genocide of 1995, and has been asking me to accompany her there for years. She tells me the women she works with in Bosnia have inspired her like no others with their courage and ultimate commitment to healing and forgiveness. It will be a real honor to meet with and be inspired by some of these women. Another personal highlight for me will be visiting the shrine of Medjugorje, the site of the most famous and controversial modern apparition of the Virgin Mary in the 1980s, as well as some locations with associations to the Bogomil culture, the eastern European brothers and sisters of the Cathars. All of these events have been on my personal “bucket list” for years, so the opportunity to do them all is too much to miss. For more information on the Bosnian itinerary, go to www.philipcoppens.com/bosnia2012.html, but go soon as we will be closing the doors and finalizing this one by the 12th of August.

Autumn Wonders in Peru!

In October (4th – 16th), Philip will lead a tour of Peru which includes some of the oldest pyramids in the world, flying over the famous Nazca Lines (top 5 on my bucket list!), visiting the wonder of the world that is Machu Picchu and so much more, including a train to lake Titicaca and an excursion into Bolivia to see Puma Punku. I was recently comparing this itinerary, carefully crafted by Philip and a professional tour company, with some others that are out there and I was really excited by how much amazing ground this tour covers, and all in the highest quality accommodations and transportation available. There are few countries that are as historically and spiritually as Peru and my writer’s soul is looking forward to a magical journey of inspiration for some future projects! For more information on the Peru itinerary, go to www.mystictravel.info.

And FINALLY… THE BOLEYN HERESY

I remain hard at work on my fourth novel in The Magdalene Line series, The Boleyn Heresy. At this moment, I plan to be finished with this story of the secret Anne Boleyn, based on her years and influences in France, by the end of the Summer and will keep you all posted on the release date as we get closer. Books of this magnitude and with so much extensive research do have a life of their own, and it is amazing how they often take you into unexpected places as you write! As a result, they can’t be pushed, but it is on its way and will be worth the wait – I promise!

The Best Day Ever

On July 22nd, my beloved partner of the last three years, Philip Coppens, and I officially “tied the knot” in a ceremony inspired by The Book of Love, in the garden of Rennes-le-Château. Thanks to all of you who have so generously sent well wishes. We are still overflowing with the joy and magic of the day.

 

The Time Returns!

Kathleen