Lightning Tree:
New interview marks 10 years
Cista Mystica is celebrating ten years since the publication of Martin Shaw’s first book A Branch From The Lightning Tree, with an in depth interview going right to the heart of how the books have evolved over the last decade.
In the 50-minute interview, which can be heard on Soundcloud here, Martin reveals how a conversation with musician Joe Strummer from The Clash sowed the seeds for the book many years before.

He explains: “I met him once at a party and he knew I was living in a tent on a hill, and he said you should write about that, that’s a book…but at that age I had never thought of going in that direction…so it was seeded quite slowly.”

To further mark the anniversary, Martin will sign all copies ordered from Cista Mystica by August 4.

A Branch from the Lightning Tree was published by White Cloud Press in 2011, moving to Martin’s small publishing house Cista Mystica two years ago. An early edition was published in 2009 by Ragnell Press.

In the interview, Martin tells how he began researching for a PhD straight from the tent, investigating the relationship between rites of passage and myth.

This first book, he explains, came from a mix of that research and real life primary encounters out in the wild.

Since 2011, Martin has published 14 books, each with their own unique character, but he reveals, “When I started Lightning Tree I had no thoughts that I would be a good writer, I just wanted to get my thoughts in a pile and see what happened.”

A Branch from the Lightning Tree was the first in a trilogy, followed by Snowy Tower and Scatterlings, now all available through Cista Mystica.

Buy the book
Listen to the interview
A Hut at the Edge of the Village
The power of Moriarty, says Martin Shaw, is that he has found a thousand beautiful ways to say something very disturbing: we have to change our lives.
He contunues, “I believe John Moriarty has something to say to younger people and readers from outside typical philosophical or spiritual areas – something about how we change our relationship to both the circumstances of our life and our beholding of a world on fire. A Moriartian consciousness can kick start an old love affair with the earth we have grievously neglected. It can teach us manners.”

A Hut at the Edge of the Village is a new collection of John Moriarty’s writings, edited by Dr Martin Shaw.

The book was launched with a lively online discussion about the Irish philosopher described as ‘one of Ireland’s greatest secrets’. Martin was joined by writer and documentary-maker Manchán Magan, author of the rip-roaring Thirty-Two Words for Field.

Manchán describes Martin’s introductions to John’s work as having the same ‘wildness, boldness and vivacity as Moriarty’s writings’. The recording is available on you tube here.

Shaw’s carefully chosen extracts are supported by an introduction, and a foreword by Irish comedian Tommy Tiernan, a long-time admirer of Moriarty’s work.For those new to Moriarty, there is a great introduction over at the Smoke Hole Sessions podcasts, in the first episode where Martin and Tommy discuss stories, performances and practices that have helped them get through the last year.An article written by Martin on the editing process also marks the launch, published at More information on the book can be found at Cista Mystica.
Buy the book
See launch discussion

Podcast season finale

In the final episode of the Smoke Hole Sessions, Martin Shaw chats with music legend and icon, John Densmore, drummer for The Doors. They dive into the last year and the publication of John’s new book The Seekers, and discuss their own encounters with musicians and artists. They also discuss Martin’s book Smoke Hole, and how the story of the Handless Maiden, who has to ‘grow her hands back’, is the perfect metaphor for coming out of the pandemic. Previous episodes include conversations with actor Sir Mark Rylance, rabbi and author Dr Ariel Burger, and writer Jay Griffiths.

Listen to the Smoke Hole Sessions
See Martin talking about Smoke Hole

Audio collection

For those who like to listen or who can’t attend Martin Shaw’s live courses, the Cista Mystica shop has a varied collection of audio files for download, including full recordings of gatherings in Ireland and Devon, and a recently released brand new reading of the ancient Irish story The Birth of Ossian, recorded by the banks of the River Dart in Devon with violinist John Matthias (Radiohead/Coldcut). The audio shop also features Courting the Wild Twin and The Night Wages audiobooks.

See the audio shop