Catrionaby Jeanette Baker
When Kate Sutherland visits her ancestral home in the Shetland Islands, she becomes torn between her present life, and her visions of a 15th-century woman of royal English blood, Catriona Wells, who is betrothed to a powerful Scottish border lord against her will. See more details below
When Kate Sutherland visits her ancestral home in the Shetland Islands, she becomes torn between her present life, and her visions of a 15th-century woman of royal English blood, Catriona Wells, who is betrothed to a powerful Scottish border lord against her will.
"I don't think I can recommend this book highly enough. This is really a great read that I had trouble putting down." - Books Like Breathing
"Jeanette Baker knows how to tell a story. She is one of those writers who tugs at the mind as well as the heartstrings with her historical romances. " - Debbie's Book Bag
"The author has woven together in a flawless fashion, a blend of the past and present for an irresistible read that draws you in from the beginning" - Eva's Sanctuary
"A delightful, engrossing read that I really had a hard time putting down." - Broken TeePee
- Pocket Books
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.25(d)
Read an Excerpt
Cait Ness, Scotland
Leaving her with Bonnie Sutherland was clearly the most difficult thing I'd ever done. She was so very small, her skin milky sweet, her features yet unformed, her stare the vacant opaque gray of the netherworld. She was the reason I'd kept in touch with Bonnie and Ken across thousands of miles, the reason I sent for them from halfway across the world.
We were all Sutherlands, of course, but the connection was too distant to call us family. Yet, because of who I was and what I saw, I knew Bonnie would come. I knew she would take her, raise her, love her and send her back to me when the time was right. I knew also that she would never betray me. What I didn't know, what I couldn't possibly imagine, was the pain I felt when it came time to let her go.
She was born of my flesh and blood, but there was little of me, nor of the isle of Cait Ness, in her, neither hair nor eyes nor temperament. She was all Hunter, from the wispy black hair sprouting from her small, perfectly shaped skull to the odd Celtic slant of her eyes.
I took some small comfort in that. But when a woman carries a child beneath her heart for nine long months, feels the fluttering life force quicken and turn within her, suffers the agony of childbirth, hears the first faint wail heralding life and knows the age-old, insistent pull of a tiny mouth against her breast, somehow lineage pales in significance.
I knew from the beginning how it must be. The vision was clear enough, although, not being one of the twice-born, I never knew why I was the one selected to see what others could not, to bear the burden and the wonder of the Sight. I was taught that it wasn't suitable for mere mortals to question the web destiny chose to weave for those of us caught in her silken strands. It was a gift handed down to the very few. For that gift, I would pay the price of obedience.
Most of the time it is enough for me to understand that every small cog in the windmill of life has its singular purpose, that we are here not once but many times, on a journey that ends quite differently than we could ever imagine. Occasionally there is a moment of doubt, a flash of awareness, a diamond-edged moment when duty gives way to a pain so acute, so all-consuming, that I cannot help but cry out in anguish, pleading for answers, for release, for the blessed peace of the sightless. The answers come, but not soon enough, not nearly soon enough.
She was born, as I was, here on Cait Ness, one of the islands in the far North Country called the Shetlands. Here, where legend tells us that Morgawse was queen to King Lot, mists hover like blankets of smoke over stark hillsides and barren shorelines. Waves of cerulean blue pound coarse-sand beaches and gulls circle and shriek beneath a leaden sky. On Cait Ness, land of the Sutherlands, the old ways of the Druids mingle with the teachings of Christ in a jumble of sacred confusion. Here, where the Picts ruled for centuries, tracing their lineage through matrilineal bloodlines, Christianity came late and, to many, not at all.
To the Catach, the worshipers of sun and moon, of fire and water and earth and wind, the concept of woman and her role in original sin was met with great skepticism. Women were life givers, harbingers of mystery, their bodies carrying the secrets of immortality. Men honored, revered and served them. It was here, on Cait Ness, that I learned my craft.
It is not for me to question why infants are fed spoonfuls of dirt to cement their partnership with the land, or why salt and rock and sea and air are given the same regard as sheep and cow and human child. It is, I was taught, as it always was.
I came soon to the understanding that I would be a seer of the Pectiwita as my mother was before me and her mother before her and her mother before that. I knew that I would be alone, forbidden to share my life with another, and that I would know what others would not. All this and more I was prepared for.
Although the followers of the Goddess are greatly maligned in the more civilized parts of the world, there was never a time when witchcraft was not practiced among the Celtic people who populate the islands known as Britain. Wicca-or wise ones, as we are called-rarely live up to the expectations of outsiders. White witchcraft is nothing more than to work magick for the benefit of others, to use herbs for healing and to look into the future.
We do not, as our persecutors proclaim, worship the devil. Indeed, we do not admit to the existence of Satan. He is a biblical fabrication. Our beliefs are older than the Bible, older than Satan. I have often thought that men need a devil to justify the evil that exists in their hearts, but that has nothing to do with us. We worship the Goddess, Mother Earth, the sun and moon, and we use our magick to practice only good. Occasionally we are called to a cause we do not understand. And so it was with me.
If I had known then what I know now it would have made little difference. I could no more have changed the path of my future than I could command away the mists separating the summerlands from the Isle of Cait Ness. Nor did I wish to. It is not often that the chosen of the Pectiwita may follow their hearts. In that I was more fortunate than most. The ways of the star-born are not our ways, although they often work through us. That year the Beltane fires would hold their own special magick for me.
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