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!

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