Yesterday I had an unexpected and kind comment from someone who visited my gallery. This came during a time when I've been considering attempting another gallery show. It's been awhile, and I've never done one in Baltimore where I imagine the competition is considerable. I don't think people realize how much their comments can motivate and inspire. So if you happen to stop by again, thank you Laura!
The pumpkinseed sunfish started my series of stone paintings. I was stunned at the brilliance of his colors. I expect the vivid palettes in salt water fish, but seeing them in a fresh water fish took my breath away.
I painted 8 different types of fish from the Yellow Breeches, as well as dragonflies, luna moths, kingfishers, great blue herons and more.
My next series will probably focus on insects, using some of the new techniques I've been learning.
St. Patrick wasn't Irish, he wore blue, not green and there were no snakes.
But there were vampires and leprechauns and witches. Oh my!
In celebration of St. Patrick's Day, I'm using my alphabet prompts to learn more about all things Irish. I'm only doing one or two topics per letter, even though I can think of many more for some.. Even so, be warned. This will be a long post. Happy St. Patrick's Day!
A - Abhartach - the Irish Vampire
Let's start with something light and fun! Ha!
A is for Abhartach, the Irish Vampire.
Even though Dracula, the character created by Bram Stoker, is most often associated with Transylvania, in reality he may have been based on an Irish king, Abhartach. He was said to be a dwarf and considered to be evil and feared by all who knew him.
He was a very jealous man and was suspicious of his wife, convinced that she was having an affair. While spying on her from a high castle window, he fell to his death. The entire kingdom was relieved.. They buried him upright, apparently the correct burial position for royalty, and enjoyed a peaceful night's sleep. One. Just one.
Because the next day, he rose from the dead, and demanded that all of his subjects slit their wrists and drain their blood into bowls. Well, you can imagine they were upset, so they traveled to the next village seeking help from another king, Cathan, who came, killed him and buried him once more.
You guessed it. Up he came, ready for yet another snack.
This continued until Cathan decided to seek help from a saint who explained there was no way to kill someone who was already dead!
His suggestion was to bury him upside down, cover him with thorns and ash branches, and top it off with a huge boulder. As far as we know it worked, and peace returned to the kingdom. He served as inspiration for Stoker's Dracula, and all lived happily ever after!
B - Banshee
A banshee is a terrifying, wispy, floating specter with a piercing scream who warns of a coming death in the family. First reports were in Ireland in the 8th century. This alarming figure, usually female, varies in age from a young maiden to an old woman. Some families were reported to have their very own banshee, possibly having been a family member who had passed. They were known for their keening, mournful singing and wailing, as they lamented the death of loved ones.
C - Children of Lir
,King Lir, Bobd Derg, was left with four motherless children, one daughter and three sons, when his wife Aoibh, the queen, unexpectedly passed away. The king decided to marry Aoife, his wife's sister,
The Queen of Flowers - the Rose
Our 'Romancing Herb" series ends today with the Rose, the Queen of Flowers and the undisputed floral symbol of love. The Society of American Florists predicts that nearly 198 million roses will be sold for Valentine’s Day. There is so much information about roses that one could write a book about their origin, symbolism, legend and lore. So I did! Ode to a Rose is my tribute to this glorious flower.
The rose is a perfect example of beauty, romance and sensuous living. She is a vision of delight, her petals are velvet, her fragrance is divine and her delicate flavor is sublime. I've just discovered Victorian Rose tea at Baltimore Coffee and Tea, and it has become my unrivaled favorite.
For Valentine's Day, i wish you all the gifts the rose offers - love, friendship, beauty, romance and sensuous pleasures. Happy Valentine's Day!
Two days ago I posted about violets, and since then I've been working on a project in honor of this delicate flower. She has such versatility, presence and power. Her impact is really rather remarkable considering she only blooms for a short time each year. This little herb of Venus has influenced history, brought beauty and romance into our lives, and inspired Shakespeare, among others.
Sonnet 99 by William Shakespeare
The forward violet thus did I chide:
Sweet thief, whence didst thou steal thy sweet that smells,
If not from my love's breath? The purple pride
Which on thy soft cheek for complexion dwells
In my love's veins thou hast too grossly dyed.
The lily I condemned for thy hand,
And buds of marjoram had stol'n thy hair:
The roses fearfully on thorns did stand,
One blushing shame, another white despair;
A third, nor red nor white, had stol'n of both
And to his robbery had annex'd thy breath;
But, for his theft, in pride of all his growth
A vengeful canker eat him up to death.
More flowers I noted, yet I none could see
But sweet or colour it had stol'n from thee.
Violets have over two hundred folk names and most of them are reminiscent of sex or love. In addition, their leaves are heart shaped, giving them a place of honor in our Romancing Herbs series in honor of Valentine's Day!
Like the rose, the color of the violet has great significance in sending messages. Blue violets promise "My love will always be true", purple send the message, "I return your love." White signifies "I'm willing to take a chance on happiness". They also represents modesty and humility as they hide their spectacular beauty under heart shaped leaves.
One story comes from Venus asking her son Cupid if he thought she was more attractive than a group of maidens playing along the edge of the woods. He said he found the maidens to be more beautiful so she beat them until they were blue. Since then, because of their association with Venus, they have been associated with love and romance. Huh?
Another legend suggests at one time violets were white, but Mary's grief at seeing the suffering of Jesus on the cross turned them all blue. She has been associated with the modesty of the Virgin Mary, the Angel Gabriel, the Holy Trinity, and Greek and Roman legends and lore. Athens has been referred to as the "Violet Crowned City" Napoleon returned from exile in the spring and used the violet in a secret code to determine loyalty. This tiny, delicate little flower has an endless significance in all aspects of history.
In addition to the legends, there are recipes for aphrodisiacs, love portions, candied violets, beauty products. I had planned to do the iris this spring, similar to the Rose legend and lore e-book, but the violet may win out!
My favorite use for violets is sprinkled on a tossed green salad when she first appears in the spring. She is rich in vitamins A and C, as well as antioxidants. Add strawberries, orange sections, and avocado. My poppy seed dressing from an earlier blog post is the perfect salad dressing.
All parts of the orange are used to attract love! Fresh blossoms are used in bouquets and baths. Dried blossoms, seeds and dried peels are used in sachets and potpourris. The juice of the orange can be mixed with wine or enjoyed alone to increase love and lust.
The orange is one of the Aquarius zodiac herbs, particularly prized for adding sunshine during a time of year that can be filled with gray days for many of us. In addition, this golden fruit is also prized for attracting wealth and abundance! Love, lust, health, wealth, and abundance - what more could we want?
If you're preparing your shopping list for your Valentine's dinner, don't forget the radishes! In addition to their zingy flavor, they add a splash of color. This bouquet of "Easter egg" radishes includes rosy red, fuchsia, lavender, purple and white.
Radishes contribute more than simply color and flavor. They are prized for their ability to increase lust. A few radishes in a salad or as a garnish may bring the benefits of spring fever a few weeks early. It's worth a try!
Carrying a mullein leaf will attract the opposite sex. You can also determine a person’s interest by finding a mullein stalk growing in the vicinity of your intended’s house. Bend the plant in the direction of their home and if they are interested, the plant will return to it’s upright position. (The trick here is not to bend it too far!)
Note: For those of you casting spells this Valentine's day, the dried leaves of mullein can be crumbled and substituted for graveyard dust. Handy to know if you live in colder climates and the ground is frozen.
Mint has been associated with romance since the beginning of time. The first caveman grabbed a sprig to chew to keep his breath fresh before bashing his beloved on the head and dragging her off by the hair. Now you can find it in breath mints and it's used to settle an upset stomach (possibly simply butterflies from being in the presence of that special someone)!
I think of mint as the ideal honeymoon herb. It provides protection during travels, and induces lust! once the couple arrives at the honeymoon suite. Added bonus - if either the bride or groom develop a headache, due to excessive celebrating at the wedding, mint leaves rubbed on the forehead will provide relief!
"My mission is
to help others see and cherish the beauty,
romance and treasures within and around them
that are often dismissed or completely overlooked."
Mikell is a writer, artist and professional treasure hunter, finding the greatest treasures in the wonderful people who enter her life!