Taking a Walk with Pussy Willow An-Dro into the (Negative) Space of Possibility


Pussy Willow Circle Dance

Like the other eco prints on watercolour paper in  the  batch made the other week, this is a pair of mirror image prints.

Quite by chance (if you believe in coincidence – I don’t) there’s an inner circle of imprints where the two sheets meet.  The imprints are from willow catkins, harvested over a year ago and preserved between sheets of paper. I’ve arranged three of the willow pussies and above these, a eucalyptus leaf serendipitously pretends to be a fourth. The mirroring of these imprints makes a full circle at the heart of the pair. Eco Dyed Pussy Willows on Watercolour Paper 14 February 2018

A circle of eight.

The negative space at the middle of the circle is nebulous. How deep is this space? What forms might exist there?

The phrase space of possibility came to mind – another definition to add to my list, for negative space.

Circle dance also came to mind. I read that the circle dance is likely the most ancient of all dance traditions and that there are versions of the circle dance performed the world over, to mark occasions, as ritual and to encourage community.

Came to mind in particular was the An-Dro (The Turn) – a Breton circle dance which I’ve seen performed (and had a go at) a good number of times, at the annual Festival Interceltique de Lorient (Brittany) and during the festival’s tours to Paris.

As circle of eight,  it came to me that the figure 8 consists of two circles, one balanced on top of the other. Unsurprisingly, in Pythagorean Numerology, I read that one of the attributes of 8, is balance. I read also that in the Bible, 8 represents a new beginning. The Celtic year is divided into eight festivals. As is the Christian. It seems to me that 8 must represent eternity, since it is a closed form; thus, never-ending.

And I have made the figure of eight many many times, over and over – on ice (on ice skates) making 8 on both the inner and the outer blades.

As a nautical knot, the figure of eight prevents a knot from unreeving. 

Metaphysically, might a figure of eight be a concept held, so that an idea can move forward in a particular direction?

The metaphysics of figure of eight is worthy of exploration.

The poor willow, it has such a negative reputation. Rev Hilderic Friend in his fascinating book Flowers and Flower Lore writes that “… in Bohemia, the Willow is said to be the tree on which Judas hanged himself, whence the vulgar supposition that the devil has given it a peculiar attraction for suicides.”   

In his chapter Bridal Wreaths and Bouquets: The Willow Garland, he writes:  “It was once customary for slighted lovers to wear a Willow Garland as a symbol of their grief; …”

“In love the sad forsaken wight
The Willow garland weareth;”
(Michael Drayton)

… also …

“But since my sister he hath made his choise,
This wreath of Willow, that begirts my browes,
Shall never leave to be my ornament,
Till he be dead, or I be married to him.”
(A Woman is a Weather-Cocke: Nathan Field)

In Aubrey‘s “Remaines of Gentilisme and Judaisme,” we read that “The young man whose late sweetheart is married to some other person does often in  frolique literally wear a Willow Garland, as I have seen in some parts of Oxfordshire.”

Willow is also identified in the Rev Friend’s book as, “… the scourge with which the Saviour was beaten.  The Willow is … by some believed to have been employed for this purpose, in consequence of which it has ever since drooped its boughs and wept.”

He also writes, in the chapter Flowers and the Seasons, that, “Palm Sunday has long been celebrated in England, … with processions and decorations, and since neither Palm nor Olive grow amongst us naturally, Willow and Yew have been employed in their place.”

“In Rome upon Palm Sunday they bear true Palms,
The Cardinals bow reverently and sing old Psalms :
Elsewhere those Psalms are sung ‘mid Olive branches,
The Holly-branch supplies the place among the avalanches ;
More northern climes must be content with the sad Willow.”
(Attrib. Goethe)

and also, “… Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. xxIII.40) may have had something to do with the introduction of the Willow here : “And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs (margin fruit) of goodly trees, branches of Palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and Willows of the brook ; and ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.”

And further, “Mr Henderson tells us that in his boyhood they used to go and gather Willow and make it into crosses for Palm Sunday. They formed them like a St. Andrew’s Cross, with a tuft of Catkins or blossoms at each point, binding them with knots and bows of ribbon. There is a proverb still current in the north of England, to the effect that “He that hath not a Palm in his hand on Palm Sunday must have his hand cut off.” and the crosses used on these days may still be seen in some out-of-the-way places, suspended on the cottage walls during the rest of the year.”

And in the chapter, The Weeping Willow:  “Let us now look for a moment at the language which the trees with their buds, leaves, branches, and flowers speak to us. … The Weeping Willow has long been expressive of Mourning, and all will recall the beautiful Psalm in which the Jews are represented as hanging their harps on the Willow. This has passed into a proverb, and we now often hear it remarked of a person who is sad and mournful, “He has hung his harp on the Willow.” “

And not to forget the “… pretty Chinese story connected with the “Willow Pattern, …”.

I don’t think the willow weeps; I think it is in perpetual reverie – that most positive of spaces.

 

 

 

 

 

About AnnIsikArts

Artist/Writer, Proofreader/Copy Editor
This entry was posted in Aesthetics, Art, Eco/Natural Dyeing and Printing, Inspiration, Nature Journal, Printmaking, Research, spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Taking a Walk with Pussy Willow An-Dro into the (Negative) Space of Possibility

  1. Suzanne says:

    This is an interesting post. I love your art work and the way it has led you into deep reflection. The circle dance of Breton must be wonderful to be part of.
    I was raised a Christian and used to be given those little crosses on Palm Sunday. I’d forgotten about them until now.
    Interesting what you say about the number 8. I was suddenly aware of 8’s these past few days. 08:08 kept showing up when I checked the time on phone. I did some reading on 8 as a result. On it’s side 8 forms the symbol for eternity and is seen over the head of The Magician in the Tarot. For the Chinese 8 is very auspicious and is the number of success and abundance. In numerology it seems to be associated with personal power, inner strength and the power of the mind.

    Like

    • AnnIsikArts says:

      When I started ‘Poetic Mapping’ in 2013 I had no idea what maps I might find or make. It is only fairly recently that I’ve seen a pattern in it – a way of thinking that’s ‘me’. It seems random and undisciplined. And usually I have no idea what I’m going to write in advance of writing it. It’s like my ‘pen’ is taking me for a (cartographic) walk. I like these unplanned journeys, which without fail add something to ‘the map of my life’. Sometimes, a lot of the time, it’s like I’m translating rather than composing. Bretons are very nationalistic and cling fiercely to their Celtic roots. The Breton language is close enough to Welsh for the two nations to understand each other. That’s fascinating you’ve had 8’s turning up. I didn’t know about the Magician and ‘eight’ in Tarot. And the word ‘magi’ certainly deserves further reading up on. It seems to have originated in Zoroastrianism. And the ‘magi’ of the New Testament were astronomers, as opposed to ‘Old Testament’ ‘sorcerers’. Thanks for that. And I’m hoping that since we have both been drawn independently to ‘8’, that it augurs ‘success’ and ‘abundance’ for us both. I am desperate for artistic abundance and seeking always to find ways of including my maps in my work. It is coming but oh, too slowly. 🙂

      Like

      • Suzanne says:

        I like the way you talk about writing and about making art that maps your life. In my journals I’m scribbling ideas about map making but, at present, my production is mostly centred around haiku. Something new is emerging that will be a fusion of both streams but for now I’m seeking it. Like you, it’s coming but oh so slowly. Lately I’ve been thinking that the slowness might actually be a blessing for in the long process I am getting closer and closer to making art that really speaks about the inner me. Maybe that’s what the 8s are teaching – self mastery and self empowerment. I’m still seeing 8s. They keep turning up everywhere. I like your ideas about the magi – that speaks about self empowerment and self understanding too.

        Like

      • AnnIsikArts says:

        I understand entirely your comment about slowness being part of making art that is truly authentic. What would be the point of fast art that says nothing? I’ve just read your blog ‘A Shamanic Journey’ and about the whale’s goodbye and her and her baby’s journey back to the Antarctic. At the same time I received an email from Greenpeace asking me to write to a company urging it to stop selling krill oil – as ‘brain’ food for humans – fished from the Antarctic. Krill form the staple diet of many animals including whales. I’ve been a customer of this company for many years and so have emailed them that I will stop buying from them if they don’t agree to stop selling Antarctic krill oil. It’s about a sensitive ecosystem. It seems that your shamanic journey could be seen as, in one aspect, about a sensitive ecosystem – your own and also its connection with others. Wow! Talk about ‘correspondences and synchronicities’!

        Like

      • Suzanne says:

        The whales are really singing to a lot of people at present. In 2013 I met with some aboriginal people as they did a Whale Dreaming Ceremony. The same ceremony was held in different parts of Australia at the same time. An aboriginal woman in the Kimberley region in Western Australia organised it for she saw in a vision that the whales were in trouble.
        Right now a lot of people I know are talking about whales in a lot of different contexts. I think the message that the whales are in trouble in being heard by more and more.

        Like

      • AnnIsikArts says:

        How wonderful – the Whale Dreaming Ceremony. A few years ago, my husband, from a fishing boat off the coast of Newfoundland, watched whales ‘playing around’. One bigger than the boat he was on, came across and dove right under it and came up the other side, then sat stilly watching my husband with one eye. It changed my husband’s life.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Suzanne says:

        Ah – I had a connection with a whale looking right at me with one giant eye many years ago. I can still recall it clearly. I don’t hear of many of people who have had a similar experience. It does change your life and you never forget about whales afterwards.

        Like

      • AnnIsikArts says:

        Yes, there can’t be many folks who’ve come up close to the eye of a whale! My husband’s job takes him to places you’d not visit in the normal run of things. Your comment brought to mind the Eye of Horus, an ‘agent of action, protection or wrath’. I’m researching it more deeply.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Suzanne says:

        That’s a fantastic insight. Thank you very much for sharing it with me.

        Like

      • AnnIsikArts says:

        Thanks for all yours! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Bumba says:

    Wonderful post. Looks like a crab. Not an empty space at all. Eight is two squares at 45 degree angles, stability, the mandala, the order of the world. Also a figure eight!

    Like

    • AnnIsikArts says:

      Yes, I can see your crab there, Bumba! Be careful though, as these little prints are in effect, Rorschach images and you could end up, like me, being classed as ‘borderline unsuitable for acceptance into the US military’. Only borderline? Where did I go wrong in life? Thanks for reminding me of the mandala. To think that all those times I tried to scratch perfect figures of eight into ice rinks, I was engaging in spiritual practice… 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

Share your light here:

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.