The BOOK OF HAG is wrapped around travels into old age and towards ancientness. Old women, elders, grandmothers, crones and hags inhabit its pages and propel it through cycles of time and wild landscape as they traverse the winter years. Hardback volume, beautifully bound with linen, cover embossed with bronze foil, 224 pages, with 42 colour and sepia images (drawings, paintings and photographs) and 13 songs with music notation.

SKU B6 Category Tag


The Book of Hag is wrapped around travels into old age and towards ancientness. Old women, elders, grandmothers, crones and hags inhabit its pages and propel it through cycles of time and wild landscape as they traverse the winter years. It unravels a tale of one woman and braids together the tales of many. The ongoing journey of Bark, an old woman who is travelling the hag road and navigating a chaotic and challenging winter threshold, is threaded through with a captivating and diverse collection of stories, snippets and songs.

Price: £24 plus £4 postage within UK, £4 additional posting to Europe, £11 additional international tracked posting outside Europe. We are offering both the Book of Hag plus the double album Winter Folded Everything Inside a Shaw of Feathers for postage discount of £2 for orders within the UK; additional postage charged as a single item only outside of the UK. To order the book and album together please follow this link.

A Note from Carolyn

This is the book I have been waiting impatiently to become old enough to write! Striding towards the threshold into old womanhood, I wanted to create something that would add to our collective appreciation and profound honouring of the challenge, depth, liberation, grace, pain and humour of reaching older age. For if we run from it, or try to duck and dodge the truth of our shape-shifting bodies and our pulsating minds, we may find ourselves pursued by glowering grandmothers and crinkled crones, through dreams or forests or city streets, until we are ready to turn and inhabit the old woman we have become.

The writing journey was not always easy; winter held the secret to this unfolding story of Bark and so it was into the deep dark isolation of those cold months that I plunged, in order to find her and to follow her unsteady and uncertain path. But I came to realise that there were often other old women lingering close by, ready to twist the plot and lighten the mood. They accompanied me out to the edge and home again.

Book of Hag will eventually unfold over four volumes. Each book is whole unto itself, but I hope that together they will offer a magnificent and comprehensive celebration of old womanhood. So you are invited to travel with this company of hags. They will set sail on cold seas and dip down to deep waters but, once there, they will fish around for the laughs. After all, the hag time is not all grim and gristle.

List of Contents

The bones of this book might be sorted into two piles. There are the individual tales and there is the continuing story of Bark, which wanders and weaves among the other yarns. So that you may be sure when you are returning to the longer story, the typeface is different. This index lays out a linear map of Bark’s journey. The First Season begins a journey that will spiral through four volumes of the Book of Hag.

Old-Fashioned Postcard | Enough And Quickly Shared (Bark 1) | Dancing With Billie | Their Terms Set Out (Bark 2) | The Chalk Cottage | Nothing We Could Ever Dream (Bark 3) | The Hagetty Drum | Forgotten There Ever Was A Dance (Bark 4) | One Evening At The Cosmic Lost And Found | Crushed Beneath the Antlered Fury (Bark 5) | Granny Yule | Sock Notes | Ty’nebya Walked Past In The Snow (Bark 6) | Mooning The Bear| Left By Her Among The Ash And Embers (Bark 7) | A Curse On Ironing | Crone’s Foot Song | A Spiralling Barkskin Dance (Bark 8) | Rebellion At The House of Rivers | Touching Edgeland (Bark 9) | A Kettle of Bilberry Soup | That Muddle Of Masks And Mirrors (Bark 10) | A Song We All Knew How To Sing | Crow Song At The Grave Place (Bark 11) | The Way We Die |Return To The Shydi (Bark 12) | One Crone’s Wheelbarrow| The Bee Herder’s Hut (Bark 13) | Anarchy: Rules Of The Hag Road | More Old-Fashioned Postcards | Hag Hands| Songs For The Hag Road (First Season) | Defining Words | The Last Bits

Excerpts from the Book of Hag

Enough and Quickly Shared

They came to me one frosted night, all crowding round and hungry, having journeyed here in chaos since, although each knew the route, they had quibbled about it on the way and passed through a few diversions. I fed them what I had, which was enough and quickly shared. My hut was too small really to fit everyone in, but they squashed their hips together and moved my things until each old woman had her space to sit, and they seemed content with that. I was dreading to be told the purpose of their visit for, judging by the firm set of their chins and the bright blades of their eyes, I knew it would not go easy for me. But I riddled my stove with the poker to lift the flames and filled the kettle once again, then squatted down against the door to wait. The dense cold rising from the marshes slid through the wood onto my back but it offered some relief from the warmth building up inside the hut among those closely packed old women, especially since they were not much inclined to remove their assorted hide coats, heavy cloaks, wraps, hoods and blanketing. We sat in silence for a long while, just the breathing of the fire and the murmur of simmering water. Owls strung distant beads of song around the valley. A creature rattled through the icy grass nearby, a deer most likely or a badger; I would check trails in the morning. The ringing cold of the air outside the hut shifted to a higher pitch. The patience of those old women inside proved to be far greater than my own, and I was the first to speak…

Crushed Beneath the Antlered Fury

Time is like a moth when you get older. It likes to quiver and confuse, shifting this way and that, madly speeding up in circles then lingering through interminable patches of listlessness. There can be no logic to its chosen flight path; there can be no joy in trying to pin it down. Old women allow time to flit and fuss around our heads, while we get on with the job in hand. In my arms I carried the pot that held the beads that fell from the remembered sisters’ lips. My route still took me to the north. The forest grew dense and relentless at my side. I walked and rested and then I walked again. I mocked the moth of time when she flew near me; the passing days and nights had become so concentrated and close, it seemed they might implode and leave me lost without a rudder. That moth, she was persistent however and kept me locked into a rolling cycle of light and darkness. Eventually I would not have been able to work out if time was still turning, even if I had the will to try…

Nothing We Could Ever Dream

I know you are there, seeing, hearing through your window into my landscape. You wonder, perhaps, how I come by this knowledge? It is simple; I can smell you. I can smell the earth on which you are standing and the air that surrounds you. I can smell your curiosity and your doubt and your trust. I can smell the choices of the girl that you have been and the acceptance of the hag you will become. Sometimes I breathe the sweet dust of your desert, or the clear mint of your mountain, or the honey of your garden. Then I know that you are with me, wordsister, watching my travels once again. My scent of you is best away from cities; when you come to me from crowded places I struggle to identify your trail. But once you step into the clarity of nature, then I have you in my senses…

A Curse on Ironing

Four hags sat by a warm stove supping hot tea through the chill of a winter afternoon. Their feet were thickly socked and their hands were busy with all manner of small and clever crafts. They were discussing the weather, of course, and the on-going annoyances of housework…

Rebellion at the House of Rivers

Women had been arriving for many days to the House of Rivers. They all felt the growing agitation in the air, and a general restlessness in the earth. As for what was happening to the streams and pools and springs, it was far beyond their experience. At the House of Rivers the women congregated and discussed the situation. They sat in clusters by the hearth pits, becoming in turn curious, anxious, furious, frightened. They wondered if other women higher up between the mountains or lower down across the plains were meeting in their river houses. They understood that something was coming but they could not pin those feelings into a solid fact…

A Kettle of Bilberry Soup

The grandmother was old, her granddaughter was young and they met in the space in between. The old woman was Black Grouse, the young woman was White Stoat and those were the ways that they knew. Black Grouse had many travels packed into her well-weathered bag; lots of bundles of landscapes, bright skeins of adventures, and fat little notebooks all stuffed with the things that she had learned and discovered and dreamed through the years. For Black Grouse was a dreamer…

That Muddle of Masks and Mirrors

A quest is not over when you finally reach the place where you are destined to discover or rescue or transform something, somebody or yourself. You still have to get back home…

One Crone’s Wheelbarrow

If, said one crone to another, you were to pile only your most cherished stuff into a wheelbarrow, what would it be? If, she then added, you were setting your feet on the hag road heading north, what would you miss if you’d left it behind? If, she insisted, the barrow tips over or becomes far too heavy to push, you have to take some of it out. What, the crone asked, is your treasure? Well, said her friend, it is this…