Monday, 20 May 2013

Symbology of Hedgehog and the Hidden Side of Spring

Spring has arrived in Norway with a toasty 27 degrees! Everything is green, glittering and gorgeous, the forest is buzzing with birdsong, and the lakes and waterfalls are spangled with sun-diamonds.

I went walking round the lake just up the road from our house (Theisendammen) last night, after a sun-roasted day, and was enchanted by a beautiful energy humming through the forest - the feeling of all the trees and plants quietly recharging after a long day of growing and working in the sizzle of Spring. I felt so inspired by this energy - it seemed like there was a hidden side of Spring which perhaps we don't normally see. While the Spring days can be popping at the seams with colour and vibrancy, when the cloak of evening is draped over the forest, a more subtle energy takes over, where the ferns furl up in magical spirals, the flowers nod their heads into sleep, the leaves fold up for the night, and the nocturnal animals are waking up and beginning their mysterious work in the shadow of night. Everything was sunkissed and drowsy.

As I mentioned in the previous post, I am feeling very drawn to the Hedgehog at the moment, and the symbolism of Hedgehog as a totem animal. Being a nocturnal animal, Hedgehog would fit well into the new painting I was imagining, about this hidden side of Spring. 

After a little research I found out that in Celtic lore, Hedgehog is actually a symbol of Spring arriving! He has many other beautiful earthy symbols too. With his belly lying close to the plant life on earth, he is a symbol of fertility and connectedness to Mother Earth. When we see Hedgehog curled in a ball, we can be reminded of the foetal position. The curled ball form is also an encouragement to us to be centred, and with his spiny armour, Hedgehog is wonderful for helping us develop self-protection. As a nocturnal creature, Hedgehog represents intuition, psychic ability, prophetic dreams and visions.

To weave in the symbols of fertility, connectedness, and protectiveness, at the moment I am imagining a pregnant woman sitting in the woodland, in the stillness of the Spring evening, caressing a hedgehog perched on her pregnant belly. She would have 'hvitveis' (Norwegian woodland flowers which appear in Spring) woven in a crown around her hair, and perhaps dandelion clocks too, representing the passing of time and seasons, and adding more circular forms to the painting, also apparent in the belly, the hedgehog, and the spiral-furled ferns. With the dimming evening light around them, I think an albino hedgehog would be striking and symbolise the new lightness of Spring.

One more aspect of the concept behind the painting I was thinking about last night - the hidden side of Spring could be thought of as a 'between' time and place, where the realm of faerie is thought to exist, or be more easily accessed. I think this could lend a magical quality to the picture too.

Now I will start sketching! I'm so excited to begin this new painting and can't wait to share my progress with you all.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The Wise Raven and the Lady of the Woods

Here is a snap of a new canvas I have been conjuring on the last couple of weeks! The painting is inspired by a lovely yoga quote I read ~

"Knowledge comes from learning. Wisdom comes from letting go of what we think we know."

... And also from an old Irish proverb, "to have a raven's knowledge", meaning to have a seer's supernatural powers. Raven is thought of as the oldest and wisest of animals in Paganism.

I thought I would represent knowledge as a raven and have him being set free by a birch tree dryad (tree spirit - though 'dryad' originally referred specifically to the spirits of oak trees, it has come to mean a spirit of any tree), the Lady of the Woods. She has three raven eggs in the nest in her hair, symbolising the birth of new ideas. When she has hatched a new idea, she will let it be free, like the grown raven, and share it with the forest and the beings who share the forest with her. My wonderful chum Lisa, a marine biologist, said that she thinks it is so beneficial when scientists share their knowledge gained from projects, and I loved how she brought her own perspective to the concept behind the painting.

I am now planning what to paint next, and currently feeling very inspired by the hedgehog and the symbology of Hedgehog as an animal totem. I have read so far that Hedgehog can symbolise fertility, their bellies lying close to the Mother (Earth), and being a mamma now I think that is partly what is drawing me to Hedgehog as a character in the new painting. I will research Hedgehog a bit more today and make sketches... and flutter my wings back here very soon!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

I thought it would be lovely to show you a peek of my sketchbook journeying at the moment! These are some sketches for tree spirits, working especially with the idea of the aspen tree currently, as we found lots of aspen leaves in the little twinkle of faerie woodland near our nest! The aspen tree was known to the Celts as 'the whispering tree', and if you go to watch the aspen, you will hear its magical whispering song, and see the ethereal leaves shaking their booties in the breeze!

Sketchbook pages - The Aspen Spirit