Thursday, 3 May 2018

Serpent Green

I greatly underestimated the time it would take to get my studio into working order. I had hoped to be in there by now, writing and making art, but instead we are only just getting to the stage of painting colour on the walls. However, I thought I would tell you about the colour I chose—a warm green, called Serpent—for it means something to me. Not only do I hope that it will provide a calm space to work in, I also hope that it will be conducive to creativity itself, as green is the colour of growth. There is, in fact, an etymological relationship between the words green, grow and grass.

The name of the colour is also significant, for I’ve been preoccupied with the idea of snakes for some time: their earth-bound sensuousness; their ability to shed their skins—a symbol of regeneration; their connection with healing. 

Snake Goddess figurine, early Cretan Neolithic, c. 6500–5500 BCE (Source: Wikimedia, by Zde)
I wrote a story last year that featured Snake, the shedding of skins, and the healing of a rift between self and land. I wrote ‘Furies’, a poem alluding to the mythological Furies or Erinyes, snake-haired and winged ‘monsters’ of ancient Greece. And I read Sylvia Linsteadt’s powerful novella, The Dark Country (which I wrote about here)—a story of the return of the chthonic powers of the earth in the form of a great white serpent.

Sylvia’s writing has been a particular influence on me; as is her Witchlines Study Guild, which I am currently taking part in—most especially because I am learning more about the closely related Neolithic Bird and Snake Goddesses. Fascinatingly, elements of these goddesses can still be seen, albeit in diminished form, in later goddesses, monsters and witches. All of this is providing much food for thought, and inspiration for potential artworks. That’s why I am glad that this serpentine influence is going to be an integral part of my studio space.

Minoan Snake Goddess figurine, c. 1600 BCE, Heraklion Archaeological Museum
(Source: Wikimedia, by Jebulon)
This is also a good opportunity for me to tell you about Sylvia’s recent book, Our Lady of the Dark Country (2017). As I wrote last year, Sylvia’s novella, The Dark Country, was only available as part of limited print runs. However, it has now been published in this collection of short stories and poetry, through which a serpentine, feminine and earthy wisdom runs. As Sylvia writes in the introduction:

Women and men of heart, Earth’s snakes are speaking. It is time we listen for the truth they tell us through the centers of ourselves. Women and men of heart, we make a spiral round this planet. It is time to tell the old stories that have damaged us differently. To go beneath what we’ve been told and into the dark country, into the Earth, where the other side of those stories is hidden, the truth that was carried all along in the roots of the trees despite thousands of years of war. (p. xiv)


If you are not familiar with Sylvia’s writing, this is, perhaps, a very good place to start. You can read the full introduction on her blog, The Gleewoman’s Notes. (The cover art is Deer Madonna, by Rima Staines.)

Meanwhile, I will be thinking of Snake, in all her many forms, and of the snaking roots of wisdom that stem from the Neolithic, and how these things might manifest in my life and work.

2 comments:

  1. i have found sylvia linsteadt's writing very moving, and very a-propos to where we are at this time. that rima staines' artwork is intertwined with it seems perfect.

    i have a replica of that minoan snake lady in my study...she stands with a number of black madonna reproductions, and seems very much at home with them. chthonic powers, and snakes, and all. :)

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    Replies
    1. Sylvia is wonderful. It feels like such a privilege to take part in Witchlines, and to not only learn about Old Europe, but to also get an insight into where she gets her own ideas. I find it all so resonant.

      I am feeling very drawn to snake women, especially Medusa and the Gorgons, so I am excited to see where this line of enquiry leads—from the Neolithic, all the way through time to now. The Black Madonna is an inspiration too. :)

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