Celtic Hawthorn Mixed Media Spread

From the superstitions, the Celts would appear to have had a contradictory relationship with Hawthorn. On the one hand children were scolded for bringing it into the house for fear of causing a death while in other lore it was used to protect a house from witches. Witches were also believed to make their broomsticks from Hawthorn. Also it was thought to be unlucky to disturb Hawthorn bushes as these were sacred sites of the Faeries and the Faeries were not to be disturbed. Some of these contradictions may be explained by the existence of two different trees of the same name. One, which would of been scarce centuries ago and is more common now smells sweet and grows as a tree. The other, Woodland Hawthorn, smells of rotting flesh and would have been more common when these superstitions were popular.

More contradictions occur when Hawthorn is compared with another tree that flowers early in the year. The blackthorn, also name sloe, flowers earlier than the Hawthorn, also named Quickthorn. It is a source of many jokes when I walk along the coastal path with my mother:
isn’t the Sloe quick this year?
Yes, but it’s not Quickthorn is it?
and so on and so forth.

Hawthorn inspired art journal spread
A mixed media art journal spread inspired by the Celtic reverence of hawthorn.
So this journal spread was inspired by the old ways of Celtic farmers: they believed that if, on 24th February, there was a strong new growth on the Hawthorn then it would be safe to plant their barley and oats. I collage a mixture of text and patterned papers to divide my page into sky and earth and add Celtic designs by spraying through stencils. I suggest the structure of a ploughed field by using translucent gelatos and draw my characters on top of this with inktense and gesso. The piece is a quick and loose illustration of a farmer ploughing his field under the watchful gaze of a hawthorn faerie.

You can view a YouTube video of this Celtic Hawthorn Mixed Media Spread here.

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