The Ballad of Tam Lin

The Ballad of Tam Lin

I forbid you maidens all
who wear gold in your hair
to travel to Carterhaugh
for young Tam Lin is there

Scotland, 1323

When 18-year-old Janet Douglas is given Carterhaugh Forest and its surrounding property as a gift from her father, she is thrilled to become the guardian of such an ancient and sacred place. But Janet soon finds that she has an otherworldly rival for her role as protector of Carterhaugh. An elfin knight by the strange name of Tam Lin haunts her forest, and extracts a heavy price from any unwary maiden who might wander there and cut the legendary roses. After her best friend returns from a terrifying encounter with Tam Lin, brave Janet sets out to confront the mysterious and malevolent knight. She cuts the sacred roses to goad him into appearing, but soon finds herself ensnared by the laws of the fairy kingdom. Her transgression is such that Tam Lin demands the ultimate penalty from a noble maiden: her virginity.

As Janet prepares for her fate, she discovers that there is a darker force behind Tam Lin’s actions: he is in service to the ruthless and omnipotent Fairy Queen, who demands a severe price of her own. It is told that every seven years she is required to pay a tithe to Hell, a human sacrifice, and the seventh year anniversary is rapidly approaching. In order to save everything she holds dear, Janet will have to go to battle with the spellbinding and terrifying queen on Halloween night. Tam Lin prepares her for the ordeal – but can he be trusted?

The trials Janet endures at the hands of the Fairy Queen are rich in symbolism and 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.

The Ballad of Tam Lin is a novella based on an ancient folksong from the Scottish Borders. It is the first in Kathleen McGowan’s series, Legends of the Divine Feminine. A non-fiction analysis of the ballad, its origins, and its exquisite preservation of ancient wisdom teachings follows the fiction along with the author’s notes on her years of research into the story and locations.

The Ballad of Tam Lin is a profound spiritual and esoteric fable, an illustration of the power of the divine feminine in its multiple guises unlike any other.