Over the winter solstice period of pandemic year 2020 I moved through a profound experience of descent into the realm of the Bone Mother, dismemberment and ultimately rebirth into the Land of the Living (see the webpage dedicated to the Secret Garden of the Bone Mother).
The night following my rebirth I had a powerful dream where I was looking after a girl the size of my thumb. In the (serial, connected) dreams that followed she was navigating fairy-tales.
I realized that she was my new self and that I was to witness her grow up in the magical realm. This second childhood was offered to me as a road to healing.
(The story continues below)
Leading a double life (or nocturnal life) as a character in a fairy-tale I soon made the discovery that, experienced from within, fairy-tales are not what they seem. They are like onions wrapped in centuries' worth of interpretations!
The most blatant example was Red Riding Hood. I discovered that the Wolf was really her fylgja (Old Norse for "following spirit") and that the story-line about the Wolf eating grandma hides a wisdom teaching about life-death-rebirth.
A truly wise grandmother teaches her grandchildren that life is cyclical and that there is no need to fear death. That death is "only" a birth back into the spirit world and part of the natural order of things.
A BABY GIRL THE SIZE OF MY THUMB
The night following my (re)birth, I had a powerful dream of giving birth to a tiny Baby Girl. She was only the size of my thumb (and I was terrified of something happening to her or me losing sight of her somehow) but very much alive. She was not a daughter - she was a newborn self.
This newborn self is slowly growing up, in my dreams and new series of paintings. This has brought me the concept of healing through a second and very magical childhood, where I am the adult (or even parent figure) holding space for myself. On a therapeutic level I suppose this means taking my power back and taking pressure off the people who truly had the job of parenting my child self. (My father died 11 years ago and my mother is alive but elderly).
The other notable thing is how the landscapes this "girl" (reborn self) now explores and navigates, are the landscapes of myths and fairytales. They are places/dimensions where deep learning and profound healing can occur, while ordinary life unfolds in the everyday (Lockdown) realm.
I did of course re-read the story of Thumbelina, because of the striking resemblance, girl-thumb. However, that story is not my story - but I took inspiration from the gorgeous illustrations (made for picture books for children) that story flashed up.
THE GIRL WITHOUT HANDS
The Girl Without Hands is a fairy-tale written down by the Brothers Grimm.
In the period following the rebirth I had a series of most magical dreams (the type of dreams where it felt like the secrets of the Universe were being revealed to me BUT I had equally many dreams of constriction and insurmountable obstacles. One year "under pandemic house arrest" in an inner city environment will bring that on, I guess!
Some people without limbs have gone on to be Paralympic Champions and Global Change Agents - I want to fully acknowledge those amazing feats. Nevertheless: have you ever dreamed that you had no hands, or felt that your hands were tied behind your back? Or dreamed about hands in other ways?
Have you ever faced a Faustian bargain with a dark force or dark power structure?
We tend to look at people's faces and judge how "attractive" they are, by the norms of contemporary society. Since childhood I have looked closely at people's hands. Hands show incredible vulnerabilities. Hands are not guarded the way human faces often are. And yes, hands can be manicured - but hands do not wear layers of make-up (aimed at impression management) the way some faces do...
And let me just add that the girl in the fairy-tale eventually grows back (silver!) hands.
How do you interpret that?
Another variation on the true nature of the "Big Bad" Wolf!
(60 x 42 cm) £185
The first Iron Age people venerated a goddess, whose main form was the White Swan. In her role as patron of childbirth she was associated with the Milky Way where the celestial swan flies (Cygnus) and her mark was the bird’s foot (forerunner of the Algiz rune!)
Scottish Western Isle people perceived whooper swans (also greylag geese), migrating North to their breeding grounds in Iceland, as carrying the souls of the dead to Heaven, which lay “North, beyond the North Wind”. (CONTINUES ON THE RIGHT >>)
Should a person be alive when the birds depart, they will be free of death for another year. - Is this how the circumpolar star constellation Cygnus came to be viewed as a Swan, linked not only with the journey of the soul to the Afterlife but also because it was seen as flying towards the celestial pole?
If so, this connection might have begun when Deneb occupied the position of Pole Star in c. 15,000 BC. Among the people of the Baltic, the Swan replaced the Stork as the bringer of new-born babies....
I hope that this painting speaks for itself, or that it speaks to you directly, in some way!
To me activism has always been a positive world. In my third book I promote "inner activism". In recent years I have come to face with the dark side of activism: modern witch hunts, fear being used to silence people, politically correct forms of gaslighting (being told what the only correct way of thinking is or else...)
We sometimes need to take a break, even from important activities such as activism, and engage in deep soul searching.
While painting fairy-tales I was also working on a non-fiction book (about the pre-Christian spirituality of the Low Countries). Tracking figures such as Mother Goose and Frau Holle back down the ages I realized that they were manifestations of a much older being: the Neolithic Bird Goddess. Even figures such a the Norse Swan Maidens and Valkyries have a connection to her.
My conclusion (for now) is that most European fairy-tales have their origin in pre-Christian times or even the Stone Age. And the same thing is true for sky lore and many stories about the stars.