Like many of my finished pieces, this one began as a doodle using the supplies I had available at the time. Initially I did not have a subject matter in mind and was simply laying down some interesting forms and lines with the highlighter marker. The central portion of those forms became a wizened face, and the swirling area surrounding it was first a shroud, then hair, and finally an equally wizened tree. Due to the worn nature of the face and hands, the fungi, as well as the yellow tone of the marker, I tentatively titled this piece "Sallow Mushroom Elder." At that point in time it was still incomplete and I wasn't sure who this imposing figure was, I also had no idea if this figure was male or female.
Around the same time period I really began trying to investigate Teutonic faerylore. Resources on Celtic faerylore abound (there are some that seem to believe that the Celts have a sort of cultural monopoly on faeries, but this is definitely not the case), but I am also interested in learning about the creatures my ancestors may have recognized and honored. The Irish have been known to reroute new highways around trees and hedges sacred to the fae, Icelanders have been known to do likewise with stones sacred to the fae. The religions of the Germanic ruling classes have come down to us more preserved in the form of Eddas and Sagas than the beliefs and practices of commoners, but even in those we find the Light Elves residing in Alfheim and Dark Elves who reside in Svartálfaheim. Beyond the more "official" mythology, there is also strong faery presence in Teutonic folklore.
One faery of folklore that caught my attention was the Hylde-Moer ("Elder Mother") or Hylde-Vinde ("Elder Queen"), who is the guardian spirit of a certain tree, the Sambucus nigra. It was customary to request permission from this spirit before taking any of her wood. She required a compact of sorts before someone took the task of cutting her tree: "Ourd gal, give me of thy wood / An Oi will give some of moine / when Oi grows inter a tree" and "Lady Elder, give me some of thy wood; then I will give thee, also, some of mine when it grows in the forest" are variations on that promise. In some cases, this tree was regarded as a witch in plant form.
More to come!
Size: 5.5" by 6.75"
Media: black ballpoint pen, highlighter marker