Sunday, 21 April 2013

Tree Lore ~ Birch, magpie nests, and the 'Witch's Brooms'

As Caspian gets to know the forest for the first time, and I want to be able to tell him twiggy tales of those gorgeous forest guardians, I thought it would be lovely to flex my research feathers and start a series of posts and paintings about some of the wonderful tales of tree lore there are in England and Norway.

To begin with - the beautiful birch, also called the Lady of the Woods...

I've been spying these nest-like bundles of twigs in the birches near our flat, and was intrigued by them. After prowling around on the 'Skog og Landskap' (forest and landscape) website, I found out in Norway they are called 'heksekost', or  'witch's brooms' in England! They're caused by a cheeky fungus but the witches were suspected as when all the twigs grow in the same direction they look like broomsticks, abandoned in the trees after... they crashed?

What a fun story and wouldn't it make a super illustration! I then found out that broomsticks are traditionally made from birch twigs... I love the idea of combining ideas from witchcraft and tree lore with forest folklore! Wouldn't it be lovely to have a woodland sprite, curled with her birch broomstick in a nest?

A magpie's nest in a birch tree behind our flat in Sverresborg... we saw the magpies weaving in branches this week! 
Beautiful tall birches near Sponhuset Café in Trondheim, showing the witch's brooms!
PS ~ Part of my research has led me to the magical videos of Laura Daligan, artist, witch and psychic - she has made an amazing series of tree tales, faerie magick & animal totem lore on her YouTube channel Lauraredwitch, I adore her Witchcraft Diaries, you must take a peek at her video treasures!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Forest Faeries and Woodland Wonder...

Merry meet, beautiful blog voyagers!
I hope you are having the most star-spangled first flickers of Spring. 
Here in Norway the snowy carpet has melted and I'm feeling the tantalising honeybee buzz of creativity awakening, yawning and stretching after a long slumber! We've been exploring in the forest beyond the field behind our flat most mornings... today Caspian (our little prince aged 15 months) held my hand as we crunched over the birch twigs and meandered over the moss, and then found a puddle to splash in (sit in)... We dived under a shelter some woodland sprites have woven together from fir branches and logs bound to the trees with winding cobwebs of string when the hail swooped in. The forest is pint-sized but crammed with character; ancient feeling emerald rocks entwined with mossy roots... green puddles to stamp in, little hollows beneath the trees where I think we could leave some acorn cupfuls of herb tea for the forest faeries...
We've been collecting birch and aspen leaves and breathing in the sweet sun glittering air as the birds sing far above us in the towering pines... I am brewing new plans to paint using only natural materials, collected ephemera from the forest, and a pumpkin carriageful of dreaming and magic!
My heart is burning for faery, folk, forest, tree and plant lore more that ever... we've been to the library to gather books on botany and the woodlands like a squirrel foraging acorns! My gorgeous wonder-artist friend Lorna gave me a couple of fantastical faery books at Yule too, which are just magical.
I'm working through the super book, 'The Artist's Way' to find my path into new painting projects and so very excited about the new journey... I hope you will be with me all the way!