Explorations Into Liminality
“and there came an arm and a hand above the water and met it and caught it, and so shook it thrice and brandished it, and then vanished away the hand with the sword in the water.”

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Winsome Words for Wednesday

Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere

~Alfred Lord Tennyson

Like souls that balance joy and pain,
With tears and smiles from heaven again
The maiden Spring upon the plain
Came in a sun-lit fall of rain.
In crystal vapour everywhere
Blue isles of heaven laugh'd between,
And far, in forest-deeps unseen,
The topmost elm-tree gather'd green
From draughts of balmy air.

Sometimes the linnet piped his song:
Sometimes the throstle whistled strong:
Sometimes the sparhawk, wheel'd along,
Hush'd all the groves from fear of wrong:
By grassy capes with fuller sound
In curves the yellowing river ran,
And drooping chestnut-buds began
To spread into the perfect fan,
Above the teeming ground.

Then, in the boyhood of the year,
Sir Launcelot and Queen Guinevere
Rode thro' the coverts of the deer,
With blissful treble ringing clear.
She seem'd a part of joyous Spring:
A gown of grass-green silk she wore,
Buckled with golden clasps before;
A light-green tuft of plumes she bore
Closed in a golden ring.

Now on some twisted ivy-net,
Now by some tinkling rivulet,
In mosses mixt with violet
Her cream-white mule his pastern set:
And fleeter now she skimm'd the plains
Than she whose elfin prancer springs
By night to eery warblings,
When all the glimmering moorland rings
With jingling bridle-reins.

As she fled fast thro' sun and shade,
The happy winds upon her play'd,
Blowing the ringlet from the braid:
She look'd so lovely, as she sway'd
The rein with dainty finger-tips,
A man had given all other bliss,
And all his worldly worth for this,
To waste his whole heart in one kiss
Upon her perfect lips.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Sing a Song of Serpents

Snakes have big mojo. Serpent symbolism can be traced back to ancient cultures with both powerfully positive and negative aspects.

Everyone has heard the tale about the snake that tricked Eve. We all know about dangerous dragons, petrifying basilisks, and vengeful sea serpents.

What about the protector; a snake king shielded Buddha during his meditations. The Gadsden flag of the American Revolution is a rattler warning “Don’t Tread On Me.” The wisdom of Pythia, the Oracle at Delphi. The knowledge of Sophia.

Minoan priestesses clutched snakes, so did Moses. There’s Kundalini and the caduceus. The crown of Egypt. Medusa’s crown of hissing locks. So many world mythologies have serpents coiled about the World Tree, the Tree of Life.

Snakes have venom that can poison, heal, or take you on a magical mystery trip. They tell us about renewal as they shed their skin, about eternity when they eat their tail.

Fire, water, air and earth; rainbows, feathers; Chthonic birth-death-rebirth, earth and the underworld. It’s all there. I told you snakes have big mojo.

Now, for the sparkly snakey shinies. Victorians were so cool in their love for weird and creepy jewelry.

A bangle bracelet circa 1845; hundreds of pave set natural turquoise cabochons, rose cut diamonds and ruby cabochon stones.

Sarah Bernhardt's Cleopatra handflower, made designed by Alphonse Mucha and created by Georges Fouquet in 1899; gold, enamel, opal, diamond.

Mermaiden Creations snake skin pendants; shed skin preserved under glass with spiral accents reinforcing symbolism.

Friday, July 10, 2009

It's My Birthday and I'll Blog If I Want To

I was tagged a little bit this week by some FAE friends of mine, but I sometimes have trouble following rules, or doing things I’m told (and yes, I have passed that down to at least one of my children), so I’m going to participate in my own way. And like I said, today is my birthday and I can blog like I want to.

I love chainmaille. It is so intricate and webby, and harkens back to times I often read about. Athena’s Armoury makes some wicked chainmaille on Etsy and Janine does some fantastic blogging about especially strong women.

Glass fascinates me. Ancient Roman, hand-blown artisinal, or stained glass like you’ll find at Radiance Art on Etsy. Amy also has some really rad watercolor prints- and mermaids! She has a great blog too!

Here’s the part where I will do as I am told, and share ten honest things about myself:

1. I have an extreme lack of patience and high irritability with regards to b.s. Yes, I can be a bit forthright.
2. I heart tattoos. I wish I had my legs covered one arm, and my entire back. [grin] So far it’s just one piece on my shoulder and the lower side of one leg.

3. I organize my closet by color. Not shirts, pants, skirts. Pink, white, orange, brown, green, blue, black.
4. I am a clutter junkie. A collector. A treasure hunter. A prizer of cool things found. I like to display them and admire them all around me.
5. Onions are most-hated beasties. I cannot abide them raw in anything at all, and I will leave a clean plate but for a pile of cooked, translucent striated stinky chips. Blah, blech, nastiness like an armpit made into “food”.
6. If I could have another shot at education (and some memory enhancers please), I’d want to become an Archaeologist. Enough of this armchair stuff, give me a shovel and some brushes. Paleolithic Europe, if you please. Or some dark age castles. Or some Greco-Roman ruins.
7. I find myself getting very distracted at concerts by the stream of creativity that I start to channel during live music. Do I pay attention to what song is playing, or do I follow that necklace fluttering by to the left….hmmmm, what was that you said?
8. I have had three children through natural childbirth, all boys, none of them weighing under 10 pounds. Yes, I do wet my pants now and again.
9. I do not *do* Perfect. I don’t understand it; it freaks me out and gives me anxiety. I like things raw and wonky in my work. It’s the way I see the world; beautiful and asymmetrical, non-matching, chips and frays, gaps and tears.
10. I believe in magic. It rubs right up against you if you pay attention. You’ll step right in it if you’re not looking. You might get lost. Or worse, you might never find it.

AND, if that was not enough, I am having a birthday celebration sale in my Artfire shop! Come on in for 20% off every item through July 12th.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Touching Ancient Byzantium

Maybe 7 or 8 years ago I made a discovery that delights me to this day. While researching ancient jewelry styles I came across a website that blew me away- I just could not believe the sort of things they were selling. Really?You can actually buy authentic ancient jewelry and artefacts? And some of them are actually affordable? And *wearable*??? Wowowowowow. Since that day I’ve found some other sites that seem reputable and interesting as well, but I keep coming back to the original one. Now, I have never actually bought anything of this sort, but I know one day I will. I am waiting for my Wunderkammer in a liminal room with squishy couches, spiderwebby windows and an awesome sound system.

I think every once in a while, I will share my latest favorite finds from Ancient Touch http://www.ancienttouch.com/index.htm

Today I found these beautiful jewelry artefacts from ancient Byzantium. The ring is silver set with a green glass piece, made in VII c A.D. The earring is gold, from the second half of VII-IX c. A.D., and it looks just like a pomegranate to me.

Byzantium was founded by Greeks in 667 BC and was dedicated to Artemis, bearing the crescent moon as its symbol for nearly a thousand years until conquered by Rome in 196 AD. Being a crossroads harbor between the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea, its strategic location drew the eye of Emperor Constantine, who rebuilt the city and renamed it Nova Roma. Upon his death it became Constantinople and remained a Greek-speaking Roman state. The Middle Ages brought about the final change of rule with the Ottoman Empire’s crusader conquest and the eventual name of Istanbul in modern times. Historians use the term Byzantine for cultural and land references. Over the centuries the Byzantine Empire survived the collapse of the Western Roman Empire underwent ebbs and flows of power and status, but became known as a wealthy independent center of Christianity, culture, education and artistry. Even in the downturns, citizens continued to adorn themselves; they just used less expensive materials.

Over the ages, the jewelry of Byzantium became crowded with influences (Greco-Roman, Italian, French, German, Middle Eastern) due to the prominent trade industry and the wealth of the city, though the most recognizable and abundant pieces are heavily jeweled crosses. Women of all classes wore earrings, and rings were widely worn as well (following Roman tradition). Other items include crowns for the nobility, necklaces, brooches, fibula and belts. When the Ottomans gained control of the city, the amount of jewels and opulence increased according to the sultan’s preferences and show of power. Tribal motifs were introduced, and the Ottoman women preferred to wear headdresses and ornamentation, and more bracelets were worn as well.

I mentioned Byzantium’s location at the mouth of the Black Sea. There is something special about the deep, cold waters, in that they are deprived of oxygen so that wood-boring mollusks cannot live, and therefore cannot destroy shipwrecks and their cargo (including human remains) as in other maritime areas trafficked in the ancient world. Wooden shipwrecks of antiquity are remarkably well preserved for thousands of years and are a unique source of study for marine archaeologists.

Fascinated by these discoveries and the treasures and secrets they have to reveal, I dreamed up some earrings that I imagine might be uncovered in one of these ancient shipwrecks one day…Byzantium’s Harbor Earrings in sterling, and Byzantium and the Black sea in brass.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wistful Words for a Wednesday

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?

I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves

Combing the white hair of the waves blown back

When the wind blows the water white and black.

~T.S. Eliot