Gawain & the Green Knight
Brand new audio and commentary

An extra special audio telling and commentary of Gawain & the Green Knight has begun on Martin’s online newsletter The House of Beasts & Vines, for paid subscribers only.

The first of four episodes, which will run fortnightly up to Christmas, is now available, an ideal gift for the festive season at £6 ($7) per month. As well as full access to the latest writings, audio and drawings direct from Martin’s desk, subscribers get exclusive access to everything in the vault as it builds up.

Martin’s telling of Gawain & the Green Knight came as a gift while in the throes of a Covid fever – “a beast to ride throughout the disorientations of the illness”. See below for a sneak preview of Martin’s introduction to the story.

It is a drizzly late autumn morning here in Devon. The embers of last night’s fire are still glowy-glow in the ashes. I’m wrapped layers deep in cardigan and Donegal sweater, my paws cleaving to a mug of strong dark coffee. Dear reader, I’ve been ill. I travelled far to the west and got sick. Thousands of miles, over Greenland I flew, only to be clobbered by the virus that’s wrapped four times round the earth like a serpent. Underworld on occasion it was, but I returned with a gift, as is fitting with a tough invitation. In all the tossing and turning and garish dream states a story continued to swirl in me: Gawain & the Green Knight.

In this weakened and irritable state, this tale proved my Gringolet, it gave me a beast to ride throughout the disorientations of the illness we are almost all personally familiar with by now. What follows is my own, very personal telling and take on the story. I’m not stating that it’s ‘what it means’. I haven’t attempted to keep in its alliterative poem form (there are great translations already), rather in the style of the oral tradition.

The last thing I heard before I got sick was that a black bear had been spotted in the area, the first for many years. Though a sickness-dream I’m sure, at night it felt like the bear totemically circled the cottage, chanting the story. An energy moving around and around in the dark. So now I pass it on, as is fitting.

House of Beasts & Vines newsletter

Last posting dates for Christmas Gifts

For festive reading or Christmas gifts, there are plenty of Martin Shaw options at the Cista Mysta book shop. To catch the Christmas post, please place orders by 5pm (UK time):

Australia, New Zealand, Africa, Asia: Wednesday November 30.
US, Canada, Europe: Thursday December 8.
UK: Thursday December 15.

There are also audio options for those who like to listen – The Night Wages, Courting the Wild Twin and Smoke Hole are available as audio books, along with a variety of short courses and stories.

See the Cista Mystica shop

Tristan & Isolde: a tale of love

Popular this year has been Tristan & Isolde, a tale of love from the Celtic fringe of Britain, both disarmingly psychological and profoundly mythological.

This version heightens the latent Dionysian tensions and at the same time masterfully transmits a story that can be located in the experience of every reader.

Says Shaw: “We live in the warring directives of sovereign and lover. All of us. Our job is to put down our swords and turn the battle into a dance floor. Learn the steps, not in the mode of anguished, doomed youth, but with the seasoned, wry, delighted manner of a true human being.”

This is the first volume from a major body of work Shaw has been working on over the past few years.

Order Tristan and Isolde

Free resources

A treasure trove of resources, all from Dr Martin Shaw, can be accessed over at the news section of the Cista Mystica website. These are all free and include interviews, videos, articles, book reviews, book extracts and essays. It’s our hope you’ll find something here to stash in your saddlebags for the road ahead, whatever it may bring.

See the archives