Of ashes, the harvest and magic wands
Everything at the moment is lush and fruiting.
Everything here is green and damp and deep summer fragrant. A few days ago there was a blue moon. I walked in the meadow, looking thru the pine trees at the giant orange blue moon just rising, a doe and two fawns silently grazing, the barn owl swooping overhead, all in that ethereal glow of that orange moon. It’s it amazing how the moon seemingly glides several thousand miles closer to us at times? A few days ago it was Lammas, the first harvest.
In that moment, in that meadow, I wanted to celebrate the magic of the evening. Wanted to make something tangible, a keepsake, something I could turn to and remember.
I walked down the lane, past the new, noisy neighbours, to the first field, which has been planted with clover…
Started tripping over four leaf clovers and had to pick some. (I stopped at 10.)
Walked past a hedgerow of thistle, just ready to release all the thistle down…
To this little out of the way copse.
I came here because there are ash trees.
Do you like mythology and lore? I do. I like the lore of the ash tree. The favourite wood for besom broom handles, for straight and true arrows, for Druid wands, the female Mother Earth to the male All Father oak.
The tree grows to 150 ft with a very broad and deep root system, linking the earth with the heavens. In the Book of the Druids the ash is said to be the World Tree, having a root in the Heavens, a root in the Earth and a root in Hell.
Silently I asked the tree for a branch, and I didn’t feel any guilt cutting the branch, so the tree seemed to be OK with it. It is customary to give something to the tree in return, and so I promised to paint a painting featuring the ash branch.
Back home, I searched thru my stack of papers, maps, music sheets, and nothing seemed just right, till I came to this page from a 1900 boy’s magazine called Chums. On this page are directions for sleeping outside on a summer evening. The passage reads:
The boy who has never slept out under a wide and starry sky has missed one of the greatest experiences of life. To lie snugly tucked up in a comfy bed with the earth smell in your nostrils, listening to the night-wind playing a rustle chorus on the harp strings of the tree-tops and gazing at the glittering stars – well, it just about beats description.
I thought about how lovely it would feel to sleep under the World Tree, and then I knew I found the right page.
I took the branch outside and studied it. I wondered how best to celebrate the magic of the ash and decided I’d like to carve runes into the branch, making a magic wand of sorts.
So I wrote down the Elder Furthark runic alphabet, briefly wrote the associated meanings, and, with intuition, numbered the runes from 1 to 24 according to their importance in my life right now.
Then I began to carve them into the branch turning the branch a 1/4 turn with each rune, spiralling them down from tip to handle.
After a couple hours I put the branch aside and went into the studio, and sketched an ash leaf on a branch and crowned it with a little goldcrest.
Then for the next couple of days it was carving, painting, carving, painting, in the short available moments in my day, till they were both finished.
I like this wand. It has a slight bend at the handle end, making it fit beautifully and comfortably.
I like being able to run my hands along the runes. I like holding a piece of the world tree.
I like the little painting on the summery page.
I’m happy to celebrate the season, the first harvest, the mythical magical ancestry of Britain.
I like saving a beautiful, happy page from a boy’s magazine whose destiny was to rot in an abandoned shed before I found it, giving it new worth and a new life with a bit of pencil, ink and paint.
Lovely, harmless fun.
(Robert did say he’d laugh his head off if the wand were to start glowing at night.) 😀
I absolutely love how you tied this all together! My family is originally from Lithuania, and I, too, am fascinated by the ancient lore and traditions of that country. I’ve been reading your blog for a few months now and am finding it very inspiring!
I look forward to your every post. This one is poignant and simply lovely. Enjoy every second of your season.
And I love mythology and lore!!!!!!!!!!!!
What a lovely story. Pairing a goldcrest, with ash and that particular page is perfect. We don’t have so many ash up here but they are magnificent trees aren’t the? Juliex
Oh you are so very clever! I just love what you have done here. And the story of the ash tree. You have brought that page to life .. the painting is magic. I wonder if that wand just might start glowing 😀
Such wild beauty here. I love that painting, and especially how you chose to paint it on that piece of paper.
what does robert know, eh? no offence intended. ;))) and where’d yoou get all the inspiration from?? well, i love how you share your processes, i always really like reading about it. thxs, v. n?
Gorgeous! The walk, the story and the art.