Hedgeriders, Soul Flight and a not-so-literal Brocken

 

The Flying Ointment Necklace, inspired by an old hedge-rider’s recipe.

Flying Ointment, the poisonous balm that aided witches in flight, has many recipes.  Modern ones might not get you there, as the most potent and potentially lethal ingredients will have been omitted.  In this necklace, however,  I’ve included three of the most dangerous.  Datura, henbane and nighshade are represented with Czech glass flowers and the  beautifully detailed little Queen stands in for the beeswax vehicle.   Soot is often mentioned as an ingredient– hence the black colourway of the piece.  I’ve included the skulls because if the recipes for flying ointment teach us anything, it’s that witches were skilled poisoners as well as herbalists, and the nuanced proportions of ingredients in the ointment could either aid in soul flight, alleviate the pain of childbirth or other woes through “twilight sleep”, or of course, kill you.

One of the oldest recorded accounts of the use of flying ointment is from the 2nd century in Apuleius’ delightful Golden Ass. There are also recipes mentioned in Margaret Murray’s exhaustive (and exhausting) Witch Cult in Western Europe, which modern day witches can only read critically, trying to decipher the truth through the lens of these “confessions” often elicited under torture. Much of the evidence we have left to us from our powerful female ancestors is weighted with such distortions.  Perhaps by flying ourselves to visit them, through soul-flight and meditation, we might know a better truth. Often witches are depicted flying in groups, communing– there are few solitaries where flight is concerned!  So were such ancestral Sabbats the ultimate destination of their night flights as well? Did they also meet with those who’d come before, not at a literal Brocken but somewhere else beyond this time and space?

This necklace was made to honour the hedge riders of the past who risked everything for wisdom and the healing of others.

Image of witches concocting flying ointment before the sabbat (Hans Baldung Grien, 1514) from PotShot

For a more in-depth treatment of this subject online, see Sarah Ann Lawless’ Blog.

 

Boxing Day Treats at Feral Strumpet

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We are making room for new designs in 2017, and are busy filling up the Boxing Day Sale Section at feralstrumpet.co.uk.  Starting on Boxing day, you’ll find some old favourites there and many more new pieces– one offs and prototypes, all an additional 50% off with coupon code KANGAROO.  This offer is good from Dec. 26th-Jan. 2nd, 2016. (This offer can’t be combined with other coupons or offers and can’t be used retrospectively.)  Here’s a peek at just a few of the designs that will be on sale! boxing_square_text3 boxing_square_text5 boxing_square_text4 boxing_square_text2 boxing_assortment

What the Dwarfs Taught Me

Sudri, the Chrysoprase pendant from the Sindri's Forge collection at Feralstrumpet.co.uk

Sudri, the Chrysoprase pendant from the Sindri’s Forge collection at Feralstrumpet.co.uk

Dwarfs get a bad rap– chthonic whistling hoarders, pathologically sneezing, sleeping or grumpy, these homunculi have never been able to compete with the glamour of elves.  But what if I told you they really were elves?

Moss Agate Pendant from the Sindri's Forge collection

Moss Agate Pendant from the Sindri’s Forge collection

Hot Dwarf or Dark Elf? It's semantics--my point is made. Aidan Turner as a Kili the Dwarf from the Hobbit.

Hot dwarf or dark elf? It’s semantics–my point is made. Aidan Turner as a Kili the Dwarf from the Hobbit.

When I first started cold forging, it was a magical process.  As I have become more masterful, something else guides my hands, something older and wiser than myself, but who or what is helping me?

 by Arthur Rackham

by Arthur Rackham

rose_quartz_pendant-4According to Norse myth, dwarfs were born from the maggots swarming the dead body of Ymir, the primordial giant birthed from melting ice in the great void.  Their beginnings were less than auspicious, it’s true. Dwarves have made some of the most powerful artifacts of Norse legend– Thor’s hammer, Freya’s necklace, the magic ring Draupir, the fetter to bind the apocalytpic wolf Fenrir and Odin’s spear as well as the replacement for Siv’s golden hair.

Nordi.  Rutilated Quartz pendant from the Sindri's Forge Collectiom

Nordi. Rutilated Quartz pendant from the Sindri’s Forge Collectiom

GOALS.  Total aside, but what of the Dwarf women? Read this wonderful post on male-bias gender neutrality and dwafs up at Lady Geek Girl.

GOALS. Total aside, but what of the Dwarf women? Read this wonderful post on male-bias gender neutrality and dwarfs up at Lady Geek Girl.

The delicacy of my wire work, the fluidity of the copper and vine-like qualities of the metal come from hands that have begun to ache with arthritis, that are cut and calloused.  It is a common theme in mythology that the smiths that create great beauty are wounded, misshapen, as if their bodies are a foil to their creations. I’m no different.

But in the words of the Völva in the Völuspá, what of the elves?

In Norse mythology, dwarfs live in Nidvallir, or Dark Fields, which is also called Svartalhiem or dark-elf-land. Dwarfs are dark elves.  I have named my recent collection after their ancestor Sindri.  Adornment was a powerful force in Norse myth, and beauty forged of metal and stone was an essential part of Old Norse life.  The power to make such things was seen as magical, something which originated with the beginnings of the universe.  When the gods made their first temples they also made forges alongside them. They smelted ore and created tongs and tools for smithing before even creating human beings. The dark elves are the keepers of these first secrets, and they have shared them with me.

My alter-ego.  Jewellery vendor dwarf from the Hobbit film.

My alter-ego. Jewellery vendor dwarf from the Hobbit film.