I begin with blobs of colour, a canvas and a sense for the atmosphere I am searching for. My brush spreads the paint, thick and textured, across the woven surface. A space emerges, like an ocean from the pearl-white ground.
As the sun sets in the distance, mimicking the turn to the darkness we know will come again, a song hums through the waves and carries our thoughts into the depths.
While painting this evening the piece I’m working on – four canvasses for the four festivals of Imbolc, Beltane, Lammas and Samhain – revealed their story to me.
Until now three images had begun to take shape. The story behind Robert Burn’s poem began to wind through my thoughts and the final piece of the puzzle became clear.
There was three kings into the east,
Three kings both great and high,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn should die.
They took a plough and plough’d him down,
Put clods upon his head,
And they hae sworn a solemn oath
John Barleycorn was dead.
But the cheerful Spring came kindly on,
And show’rs began to fall;
John Barleycorn got up again,
And sore surpris’d them all.
The sultry suns of Summer came,
And he grew thick and strong;
His head weel arm’d wi’ pointed spears,
That no one should him wrong.
The sober Autumn enter’d mild,
When he grew wan and pale;
His bending joints and drooping head
Show’d he began to fail.
His colour sicken’d more and more,
He faded into age;
And then his enemies began
To show their deadly rage.
They’ve taen a weapon, long and sharp,
And cut him by the knee;
Then tied him fast upon a cart,
Like a rogue for forgerie.
They laid him down upon his back,
And cudgell’d him full sore;
They hung him up before the storm,
And turn’d him o’er and o’er.
They laid him out upon the floor,
To work him further woe;
And still, as signs of life appear’d,
They toss’d him to and fro.
They wasted, o’er a scorching flame,
The marrow of his bones;
But a miller us’d him worst of all,
For he crush’d him between two stones.
And they hae taen his very heart’s blood,
And drank it round and round;
And still the more and more they drank,
Their joy did more abound.
John Barleycorn was a hero bold,
Of noble enterprise;
For if you do but taste his blood,
‘Twill make your courage rise.
‘Twill make a man forget his woe;
‘Twill heighten all his joy;
‘Twill make the widow’s heart to sing,
Tho’ the tear were in her eye.
Then let us toast John Barleycorn,
Each man a glass in hand;
And may his great posterity
Ne’er fail in old Scotland!
~ Robert Burns
The layers built up as the story unfolded…
I’m having one of my periodic site overhauls 🙂
The old set-up had a few features which I think made navigating this blog harder so I’ve chosen a new ‘theme’ which gives a better layout. Unfortunately it does mean retiring the old colour scheme and the beautiful banner which Simon created for me… but I’m sure it’ll be back!
So, what do you think? The two main features are less sidebars taking up page width on the blog page – so hopefully posts will be easier to read and everything can always be found in the one sidebar – and the blog posts now nestle underneath each other so, if you wish, you can just keep reading. I feel it makes it sleeker and easier to navigate – and I really like the font and simple colour-scheme!
Any feedback on what you like, what you miss or what you’d like to see to help you find your way around would be most welcome!
I was called to travel with my friends on a pilgrimage, in search of my direction, my crown?
On the South West coast of Wales stands a cathedral where a flame of peace was to be lit, at a shrine behind which stood the Mother of Saint David, St. Non.
The cathedral was filled with light and pretty things, but empty for us. No magic danced in the colours which streamed from the windows. No nourishment in the food that lunchtime. This was not a place for us, though others were clearly blessed.
From the hidden icon of the Mother, however, peace and love flowed.
We travelled further towards the sea, to St. Non’s Chapel, her Well, her Ruins, upon the windswept cliffs of Wales.
Processing down the slope, greeted by the Well and a choice. Do you choose the chapel, or the ruins? Civilisation or the wilds of the wind and waves?
We each presented ourselves to the well, blessed by her healing waters.
We chose the sea path.
Passing through the stone circle of the ruins we separated, lead by the magic to where we belonged. I found myself above the waves, breathing the sea-mist, buffeted by winds.
I asked; what must I do to reach my dreams? How do I do what you have asked me to?
A seal appeared, carrying the song of the sea…
The Mother held me, rocked me, washed me clean until I walked, entranced, along the cliff to the chapel where I was crowned, unasked for, in buttercups.
A candle lit, a prayer spoken, respects paid. We explored the ruins. A place of power. And then, we returned, passing the Well with thanks. Washed clean and each transformed into more of who we are.
I wonder; what pilgrimage are you making, or would you choose to make, this year?
Beltane. The turning of the year from darkness to light.
A time of transformation, of beginnings, of springing into the future.
A time where that which you have dreamt over the long winter nights can enter the world…
It has been a magical month, Beltane coincides with May Day and this year May itself became the day on which the year turned!
It began with the full moon’s growing before May itself. A birthday party. Divination by the river… a call to sovereignty. My question was; how can I make a living doing what I love?
The answer; first you must be Queen.
Well, what do you do with an answer like that?
I committed to finding Sovereignty in my life, trusting that it would become clear. And so began my Beltane quest.
I wonder; what is the quest you are on right now? What is the quest waiting for you?
(Watch this space for the unfolding of the story…)
When I finished writing my Faery Heart book I had a dream for the artwork on the cover – a gateway between two trees through which the magic of Faery would shine. I took up my brush and painted the first of my Faery Gates series, pouring magic into each brush-stroke as a prayer in pigment to bridge the worlds and allow enchantment to pour through for each person that gazed upon it.
My flat is now full of these gates, they flow from my brush and feel like coming home. But the second that I began… it remained formless for two years. I painted the faery-light but there was something missing. So I painted others and waited.
And then my bunny died.
She reappeared in the painting. Finally, it was complete.
Domino was a rabbit, but in the picture she also becomes a moongazing hare, carrying the magic of the ability to burrow into the dark places for healing and the sacred swiftness and stillness which is twinned in each of the long-eared Goddess-beasts across the neo-pagan world.
The hare has long been seen as a familiar, or a form, of the witch, wise-woman, magic-worker, the one who crosses the gap between the worlds beneath the full moon’s light to bring back knowledge and power into our realm. This picture is one of reflection, of becoming aware of other worlds and other possibilities deep within ourselves and within the heart of the world. It is an image of love and the peace before action. As a painting it holds all that I poured into it and all that you find within it. As a prayer, a spell, it carries the magic of the otherworlds and the blessings of the spirit-world into our lives. And it honours the hare, the rabbit, the Goddess and those that we have loved and lost who are never far away…
I am producing a limited run of 50 canvas prints, hand-made, mounted, numbered and signed by me. When they’re gone I won’t be printing any more like this!
You might have seen my recent post inspired by Creating With Care in which I talk about the reasons why creative folk would be best off respecting nature when we work. It can be tricky to work out how we are to do that however, so I’ve crafted a mini-workbook to help, which I offer here for your enjoyment 🙂
All you need to do is click the image in this post and you’ll be guided through a process which signs you up to my newsletter and delivers the link for you to download the mini-workbook all ready for you to print in colour or black and white, complete with tips and instructions to help you get the most out of it!
I’m excited to be able to offer this mini-book and I’d love to hear what you think 🙂