moss & clay

2

r///enewal (2014, ceramics)

Based upon the Japanese practice of Kintsugi, which aims to commemorate breakage and transform it into a pivotal structural feature rather than damage, moss was utilised to repair a broken ceramic bowl. By replacing the usual gold lacquer, botany was incorporated into the piece, allowing the material to be taken over and surrendered into growth. The moss actively overtakes and incorporates the destroyed scraps of clay into itself. 

 

6

Here are the little guys! I’ve got one for each of my potted plants. I’ve already got more in the works that the studio tech at school requested, but considering the response they’ve gotten… stay tuned and they might show up on Etsy!

I was so happy with how the mossy glaze turned out. They’re quite adorable if I do say so myself.

Sacred Well cult of the Celtic Nations: Introduction

            “There is no superstition stronger in Ireland than a belief in the curative power of the sacred wells that are scattered over the country; fountains of health and healing which some saint had blessed, or by which some saint had dwelt in the far-off ancient times. But well-worship is even older than Christianity. It is part of the early ritual of humanity, brought from the Eastern lands by the first Aryan tribes who migrated westward, passing along from the Mediterranean to time Atlantic shores,” (Wilde, Holy Wells).

The great regard that the people of Ireland had for wells is so great that, at one time, they were referred to as The People of the Wells. Within Ireland and Wales, many sacred wells dotted the landscape, each coveted for their holy powers of magic, insight, and healing. From ancient times, to the spreading of Christianity into the British Isles, and even today, the cult of Sacred Wells still lingers. It holds a very profound and important meaning to the people of the Celtic lands (Bonwick, 239). It is often called Wilweorthunga, a term from Old English meaning, “literally - well worship. The worship of a well or fountain that is characterized by tying cloth to trees near them,” (Wordsense.eu).

Its important to discuss the cult of Sacred wells, especially when seeking to understand Celtic lore and the Fairy Faith, within three different contexts: Pre-Christian history and practice, Christian influence, and then finally the Sacred Well cult as it is today.

Source: Derek Voller “Ancient well in the grounds of The Weir Gardens”

            Various Celtic folklore is littered with tales of wells, whether they be the main subject or not. There are the tales of the wells of Saints: The Well of St. Ludgvan, Pedws Ffowk and St. Elian’s Well, St. Seenan’s Well, St. Winifred’s Well, and so on. There are tales of the wells of fairies, connecting them to Fairyland and being places of great importance in the Fairy Faith: The Imp of the Well, The Weasel and the Well, The Bride’s Well, The Fairy Well, and so on. In the tale of The Horned Women, the main character is saved from the witches by the advice of a sacred well, “….she sat down by the well and wept. Then a voice came by her and said–“Take yellow clay and moss and bind them together and plaster the sieve so that it will hold.” This she did, and the sieve held the water for the cake. And the voice said again “Return, and when thou comest to the north angle of the house, cry aloud three times and say, ‘The mountain of the Fenian women and the sky over it is all on fire.” And she did so,” (Wilde, The horned Women).

Stories told of wells that had spirits, which would offer protection and advice. They also told of fairies fiercely protecting their wells, “…They had wells, too, called fairy wells. All that paid a visit to such wells left something in them–a pin, a button. Such wells seem to have been different from those having a curative power,” (Gregor, 59). But, what is the origin of the Sacred Well Cult?

“The Celtic tribes, starting from hot countries, where wells were always of the utmost value, still continued that reverence for them which had been handed down in their traditions.” This opinion may be controverted by ethnologists,” (Bonwick, 241). Some believe that the worship of sacred wells and fountains came from the south and east. When ancient tribes settled in the Celtic nations, they brought this belief with them; however, its still just a theory. The Sacred Well cult is very old, and most of the information has been lost to time due to most of the lore being oral vs written.  The practice holds ties with Druids, since many quoted that the Druids worshipped and honored the wells like gods. Some wells are believed to have gotten their power from the spirits of ancient Druids, the Druid magician Tregeagle is said still to haunt Dozmare Pool giving it power. Ancient Druids would gather to hold their rituals and ceremonies around wells for various reasons and purposes.

                Like many of the Celtic practices, the practice of well worship blended easily with the introduction of Christianity. The old wells known and named after spirits, fairies, or Druids, were now named after Saints, and they were said to have received their power from the Saint instead.

Source: Song of the Sea

However, the worship of worship of sacred wells was not a practice necessarily approved of by the Catholic church. Often the following phrases were used, “We teach that every priest shall extinguish heathendom, and forbid wilweorthunga (fountain worship), and licwiglunga (incantations of the dead), and hwata (omens), and galdra (magic), and man worship, and the abominations that men exercise in various sorts of witchcraft, and in frithspottum (peace-enclosures) with elms and other trees, and with stones, and with many phantoms,” (Anonymous, izquotes.com). It was still a popular and important practice within the daily lives of the peasantry of the British Isles. Such practices would include the following:

  • altars and shrines being placed at the wells
  • offerings being left
  • near by trees being tied with cloths and old clothing
  • praying at the wells
  • holding baptisms near them (or using the water)
  • washing oneself at the well to cure sickness or remove harm from witchcraft

“It is the custom there, he states, for people suffering from any malady to dip a rag in the water, and to bathe the affected part of the body, the rag being then placed on a tree close to the well. When Mr. Davies passed that way, some three years previously, there were, he adds, hundreds of such shreds on the tree, some of which distinctly presented the appearance of having been very recently placed there,” (Rhys, chapter 5).

Even today, a form of well worship exists. Many will flip a coin into a well or fountain when making a wish or prayer. Its not exclusive to just the British Isles. However, it is more apparent in Ireland and Wales compared to other places in the world. The customs are still held in high regards. Such examples being: the tying of cloths to nearby trees and the act of washing clothing or oneself at the well, (Rhys, Chapter 5).

Photo by J. Champion 8.29.2006 (Source)

Though having only just touched the subject of the Sacred Well cult, I hope that this was informative and a helpful introduction. I do plan on writing more about this, specifically its ties to the Fairy Faith of the Celtic Nations.

SOURCES

  • Wordsense.eu
  • Irish Druids And Old Irish Religions by James Bonwick
  • Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, and Superstitions of Ireland by Lady Francesca Speranza Wilde
  • The Religion of the Ancient Celts By J. A. MacCulloch
  • The Folk-Lore of the North-East of Scotland By Walter Gregor
  • Celtic Folklore Welsh And Manx by John Rhys

Marie Laveau

She was known as The Queen of Voodoo, born a free woman of mixed race (Louisiana Creole and white) in the French Quarter of New Orleans in 1794. By trade a hairdresser to the New Orleans elite, she was also a fervent practitioner of Voodoo, a mixture of Roman Catholic practices and African religious beliefs. According to one account, she used her magic to help free a young Creole of a murder charge, and received his father’s house as reward. She died in June, 1881 at the age of 98.

With her reputation related to magic and the occult, it’s no surprise that Marie Laveau’s ghost has been reported. She is buried in Saint Louis Cemetery, New Orleans, and her ghost wearing her turban has been seen moving about the tombstones, uttering voodoo curses. Some also believe that her spirit appears as a phantom cat with glowing red eyes that has been seen disappearing into her sealed mausoleum door. Marie Laveau is also said to haunt 1020 St. Anne St. in New Orleans, the house that now stands on the location where her clay and moss once stood.

aware

if i have remembered you since, it has been  best blessed through
an orexis of quatrains i rearrange from the alphabet of my birthmarks

because the body, in its evanescent vocabulary, does not lie
because i have the unspoken finesse of a dialect that is
your legs on a coffee table, your domed eyebrow
contesting my circadian vernacular

instead, this is a common parlance; a trove
of grins, grunts & giggles. a seeding
of slang that eases two mouths into
an excursion of godly doldrums

memory mimes a potter’s wheel - we blunder
& osmose; the literacy of anachronisms sleeping
under the peat moss. a clay bull dug out from
the womb of harappa. an archaeology of speech
-lessness buried beneath the bed of red sand

red as the river east of where you first
discovered the alexandrites obscured
in the terra-cotta cups of my breasts

red as the murmuration of copper-
tailed starlings, a blanket of wings
eclipsing the saharan skies

red as the single fire opal
narrowed between my thighs

red as the word
i leave blurred
on the edge of your teeth

red as you, flame-muscled,
falconer of conflagrations

i go to you as i must
to remember the ease with which
everything can be returned to its own silence

look, how the world is still fading around us
strands of islands dissolving below the ice
of abuttals, forests folding the verdant silk
of their timeworn hair, countries collapsing
into découpage of minefields. all we can do is
endure this ground swell of vicissitudes as

the newspapers hang crepe over the disappearing
civilizations, - a horn-jeweled mursi mother
with the machinegun cradled  between her twin sons.
the coy chrysanthemum crown nested on the head
of an almond-eyed girl  frm ladakh.
each face is a memoir of an eloquent mirror

each face has the skin of camphor
each body is a brush-stroke of smoke

tell me then - in this concert
hall of ghosts, this circus tent full
of blind acrobats - what good is
the mouth except to kiss
the hand that will feed it
a name caught between
a person & a place


note : in japanese, “aware” means a soft, bitter-sweet moment of something beautiful but ephemeral.   

Scherezade Siobhan