Currently I have a list of prompts and some ideas beginning to take shape for how to turn this into a journal. I have chosen a couple of publications from my earlier research to look at in more depth.
Firstly, the Patternity Gratitude Journal. The design of this publication is minimalist and calm, and contains lovely photos that can act as inspiration. I’ve broken down some of the features I like in the images below.
What I’m less keen on:
The Daily Activities/Gratitude Log pages feel very generic in comparison. I think my publication should be more season-specific, as part of the point of it is to help users notice the rhythms of nature around them. In my last post I also discussed Almanacs. These are typically compilations of forthcoming events for the next year, often ‘weather forecasts, farmers’ planting dates, tide tables, and other tabular data often arranged according to the calendar. Celestial figures and various statistics are found in almanacs, such as the rising and setting times of the Sun and Moon, dates of eclipses, hours of high and low tides, and religious festivals. The set of events noted in an almanac may be tailored for a specific group of readers, such as farmers, sailors, or astronomers.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almanac
I bought a copy of a 2021 almanac by Lia Leendertz which aims to help users ‘reconnect with the seasons, appreciate the outdoors, and discover ways to mark and celebrate each month’. Below are some of the features I like from this:
This format – broken into time periods, with a combination of facts, activities and ephemera – really appeals to me. However, I don’t think I’d want to break mine into months.
In her essay “The Druid Renaissance”, Lucy Jones writes about seeking to “find ways of being in kinship with the wider world, even while living a sedentary, technology-based life in an urban environment.”. This desire lead her to look into Modern Druidry. I’ll discuss the rest of the essay elsewhere, but for now I’m interested in the Druid Calendar.
Druids celebrate and mark the rhythm of the earth through eight moments of the yearly cycle. The solar observances are the equinoxes that most people will be familiar with, which mark the moments when the sun is at its lowest and highest power, and when it is returning and waning. The four other sacred times are Samhain (the beginning of winter), Imbolc (the first celebration of spring, when the snowdrops emerge), Beltane (the start of the summer, May Day), and Lughnasadh (the early harvest, a time of slowing down and stillness).
Without these markers of time, what do we lose? What does it mean to be truly alive to the patterns and calendar of the earth?
Marking these times through the year gives Druids and Pagans a way to root into the cycles of the earth.
I don’t want to make a Druid-themed book but these ways of dividing the year appeal to me greatly. They are inherently linked to the natural cycle of the year in the UK and this feels like a good framework.
Each section of the year could have some of the same exercises in (to allow users to compare and contrast) and also some unique exercises for each.
I’m also thinking that these could be split into separate publications. This gives the user the flexibility to start whenever they like.
The last publication I’m looking at is Afoot and Lighthearted by Bonnie Smith Whitehouse. This is a journal aiming to cultivate a ‘mindful walking practice’ to aid creativity. Unlike the Patternity journal, this has a very simple format. There are 6 sections, each with a different theme: A Sense of Place; Well-Being; Attention; Exploration; Devotion; Transcendence. Each section has a short introduction, and then a series of exercises. I like the simplicity of this, and I like that each exercise is different. The Patternity journal contains lovely exercises but doesn’t really make space for the user to do them (except for the few blank pages at the back). The rest of it is devoted to gratitude logs, whereas every page in ‘Afoot’ is unique, and the user can respond to each prompt immediately.
I’ve now put together a list of features I would like to include in my journal:
- Big prompts/exercises (with space to complete them)
- Smaller prompts (no need for space to complete)
- Quote pages to contextualise and break up
- Inclusion of some research and key events
- Stages to break up the year
- Further Reading
- Directions to website
- Attempt to divide up the content into different ‘phases’
- Build on previous layouts – develop into layouts that suit the above features.