During the last lockdown my partner and I spent a lot of time playing Stardew Valley together. At some point he challenged me into making a Stardew Valley themed card. I, of course, could not say no to this challenge
I decided on making a harvest display as used in the Harvest Festival in the game. You get a grid of nine products to display, and display your best – and most expensive – wares. There is also a quality system in the game running from copper to iridium (purple). The stars on the items designate the quality. I filled the display with items we farmed and crafted, some specific to the game, and added the name of our farm to the front.
I used an exploding box card from Lawn Fawn as the base, and cut off the side flaps. The items were stamped using several sets from Clearly Besotted.
My partner loved the surprise card and I had a lot of fun making this fun display!
I also added a Card Gallery to the top of the page, where I display all cards that I’ve made over the years, including ones that didn’t get their own post. Please check it out!
Prompt: Two identical infants lay in the cradle. “One you bore, the other is a Changeling. Choose wisely,” the Fae’s voice echoed from the shadows. “I’m taking both my children,” the mother said defiantly.
I watched the children for a moment. One was looking up, not seeing much, but content with the colours and light that swirled around them. The other was looking around, fascinated by the world. Eyes too bright, too knowing, too wise. And yet. They were John’s eyes. John who would sometimes give a look that was wise beyond his years. Eyes the warm brown of fresh baked bread on a misty autumn morning. Sparkling with mirth and mischief and joy.
What was the right choice? The human world was a cruel and heartless place sometimes, I knew. I stayed my hand from where it wished to reach to the necklace I now wore. The wedding ring on it bent and twisted. No use giving the fairy watching me more to work with. Perhaps for a child being raised in the wondrous world of the fey would be kinder. I looked towards the creature that had taken my child. The grin it wore at seeing my apparent indecision was not kind. No, no-one deserved to abandoned here.
It would be difficult, raising a fairy child, but I could learn. Besides, Mother would know what to do. I’m pretty sure my brother used to be a hellspawn and she raised him right. A fairy would be easy in comparison.
I could love them both. And, if I was honest with myself, I did love them both. After all, they were all I had left of my John.
Just seeing John’s bright smile not once, but twice a day would be worth it. To see his brown eyes take in the world anew, filled with wonder. Yes, the choice was not the difficult part, that would no doubt come later. But with love we would get through anything, could endure anything.
So with a mother’s love wrapped around me like a cloak I walked towards the cribs and picked up the little bundles wrapped in soft leaves. I looked towards the creature still grinning at me with malice on contempt. I pulled on my mother’s defiance, on my aunt’s way to command room, on my sister’s strength, and lastly on John’s love and wisdom. I drew that all in and raised up myself and my voice. “I will take both my children.”
Sometimes I think that my house is boring and bland. But then I look around, and on top of the closet we have the wooden cat that my mother in law gave us, my mom’s old typewriter, my partner’s grandfather’s antique radio, the rainbow ampersand that we used in our wedding, and an entire row of jars with dice in them because they’re colourful and they make me happy when I look at them.
We don’t have a lot on our walls, but two were a gift from me to my partner, one was a gift from him to me. We have a wedding gift given by my grandparents which is an artpiece we both love, a poster of our favourite poem which was a birthday gift, and an amazing papyrus print that my mother in law got us in Egypt.
In front of the TV part of my seashell collection that I’ve been collecting since I was a young kid is displayed together with a beautiful ceramic tealight holder that my dad and second mom got us. In the bookcase is a crocheted dinomonster that a friend designed made based of my drawings.
Our house might not be decorated in any way that would pass muster, but it is filled with love.
I believe the Gods are the mirror of ourselves. Created by our ancestors’ need for answers and meaningfulness (zingeving), which we’ve fed through the years with worship and sacrifice and stories. We gave them their power and through it they became both the collective of all the people who helped maintain them, and grew beyond it. And because they came from us they are a mirror of us. They show us the parts of ourselves that we need, that we wish to emulate, or that we missed in our interactions with others. But it is all within us. They are within us.
However, simply because they live within the realm of the imagination doesn’t mean that they do not have power, quite the opposite. Human inventiveness, creativity, and imagination, our love and compassion and kindness, are the most powerful things we have. They are the source of our power. They are the source of the power of the Gods. Divinity is found within.
When I call upon deity I call upon this collective archetype that we built together, for ages and ages, and I call upon this power within myself. I use the mirror that is the collective stories and the art and the experiences and rituals of others, to call forth my own power. That power that has been with me since birth, but that I have kindled and nurtured and made grown.
I think the Divine is something that we’ve created ourselves. With our own sense of imagination and wonder at the world around us. We saw the beauty of nature and Named it, and we told its stories, and made it sacred. We had so much love for the world around us, and so much love for ourselves, that we made it powerful. That we lifted it above and beyond us and made it mighty. And isn’t that the most amazing thing?
The power of humanity, the power of love and curiosity. The Divine is not somewhere far removed from us, on a different plain of existence looking down upon their creations. It is us. All of us. Throughout all of time and space. All coming together, living life, looking for answers, being hopeful, seeking spiritual meaning, loving each other and the world around us, being kind. That is what builds and sustains Gods.
When building your worlds, don’t forget about museums! A fun and easy way to get your players involved and more immersed into the world you have built.
In bigger cities and towns they can be an amazing alternative way to get information. Your players could go to the library and study to find out more about a subject, or they could visit the exhibit at the local museum. Think about museums of history, natural history, science, botanical gardens, zoos, or the fine arts. In the zoo they could learn about weaknesses of monsters roaming the countryside (and perhaps help round up an escaped giant chicken without hurting it for a fun side quest). In the botanical gardens they could learn about which plants they could forage for their alchemy or herbalism kit. In the history museum they can learn about a specific historical event or -figure that ties into their current quest. (For the Critical Role fans, how amazing would an Aeorian history museum be?)
Then, think smaller. Often small, more quirky or specialized museums can be found in smaller towns and villages. These can often be broken up into different categories:
Niche collection, a collection that got so out of hand that it now turned into a museum. Think teapots, chicken figurines, papercutting art, miniatures. A great way to add some whimsy to your setting and to ground it a bit more. And of course, these would have great NPCs attached to them, perhaps with a quest for that one teapot that they has been eluding their grasp.
Historic events and -figures, usually specific landmarks or homes. With famous writers or artists for example their houses often get turned into museums. Think Casa Azul, where Frida Kahlo used to live or the Roald Dahl museum in Great Missenden. Here in the Netherlands we of course have many museums dedicated to the second world war, including specific buildings that were used as hiding places or for the resistance. We also have a museum dedicated to the witch hunts, because Oudewater was known far and wide as the place to get weighed, because they were fair. So don’t be afraid to get specific, and let your players learn about the history of your world.
Crafts, things that this area is known for. Oudewater was not only known for weighing witches, but also for making rope, so there is a rope museum. Schoonhoven is known for producing the best silver, so they have a silver museum. Including crafts museums is a simple and great way to show more about the region your players are in. And with regional pride comes the opportunity to add things like local festivals or heroes, all tied to these crafts. (annual rope pulling contest, with all sorts of food made into ropes, anyone?)
So when building your world, don’t neglect the museums. They are a great and easy way to show your players things about your world and the people living in it. And they can be great hooks for new sidequests, or provide information needed in bigger story arcs.
You stand tall within your sacred grove, The sun’s rays shining through your antlered crown I feel your call, oh, Cernunnos You stand rooted deeply within the Earth, Connected to all things living and passed, I hear your call, oh, Cernunnos
You lead the dance ‘round the blazing bonfire, The drums echoing the beat of your heart I feel your call, oh, Cernunnos You lead the hunt through forest deep, The spirit of hunting wolf and hunted stag both, I hear your call, oh, Cernunnos
You stand firmly ‘pon the threshold, The liminal of body and time and place is yours, I feel your call, oh, Cernunnos You sit cross-legged between the standing stones, The power of tree and root and fur and fang is yours, I hear your call, oh, Cernunnos
You wear the torc of sun-bright shining gold, The wealth of coin and wealth of life are yours to give, I feel your call, oh, Cernunnos You hold the horned serpent within your grasp, The keeper of ancient knowledge and lore long forgotten, I hear your call, oh, Cernunnos
Look at this beauty! I worked together with the lovely people of Godsnorth to create a custom statue for the Goddess Nehalennia. They were such a pleasure to work with and I am absolutely in love with the end result.
Some of the details that I wanted included: her loyal dog companion, grain/wheat for the harvest, water/the sea, her having one foot on the boat which is something that is also on a lot of the altar stones, as well as a symbol for her as a psychopomp.
Her signature cloak of course! As well as a basket of harvest abundance. I also love how her hair and clothing seems to flow in the sea breeze. I am in love!
Bonus! The final sketch!
The process went smooth and easy. We talked about what I wanted. She sent a sketch and we went over what I loved and what I wanted to change. Then when I gave the green light they made this beautiful statue (which is now also available to everyone!) I will definitely work with them again for statues of Cernunnos and Baduhenna.