Sunday, January 27, 2013

Decorative relief carved ceramic tree tile

6x6 relief carved Celtic ceramic tree tile
The worship of one of man kinds most potent symbols, the tree was widespread in nearly all parts of the world where they grew. They are the embodiment of life where the heavens, earth and water unite and an axis around which the universe is organized. Believed to be infused with an abundance of divine creative energy, forests came to symbolize mystery and transformation.
In the Druid calendar January 25th to February 3rd is represented by the cypress tree. A very long lived evergreen cultivated since pre historic times for it's fragrant wood, the cypress has long been associated with the protective aspect of death and garlands and wreathes of it's branches represent eternal life. Know by the ancient Greeks and Romans as the 'mournful tree', sacred to rulers of the underworld and their associates, It was customary at funerals for mourners to carry sprigs of cypress as a sign of respect to those gods and goddesses. There was a story that the tree was named after a favorite of Apollo, Kyparissos, who after accidentally slaying Apollos beloved stag, remorsefully asked the gods to punish him with everlasting gloom. They granted his wish and turned him into a cypress tree. Linked to the elemental earth, the cypress tree is strongly connected to Cybele, the Phrygion goddess of earth, caves and wild animals. But despite the many sorrowful aspects of the cypress it also represents life after death and it's fragrance is said to ease emotional transitions that are a part of life, helping to lift the spirit out of the introspection of grieving and back into the light,  reminding us, in the words of Chief Seattle 'There is no death, only a change of worlds'

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Decorative relief carved ceramic frog and fern tile

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6x12 Relief carved, hand painted ceramic frog and fern tile.
For thousands of years frogs and toads have lived in the stories and myth of almost every human culture, taking on almost every conceivable role. From the devil to the trickster to the mother of the universe. Unfortunately some folklore surrounding them is negative, especially lore based in Medieval Europe where in the eyes of most Christian religions of the day frogs and toads were typically thought of as evil, demonic creatures who possessed witches spirits. Such folklore was the result of inquisition propaganda and did not reflect earlier Pagan beliefs, which were more in keeping with many other cultures that have and still do view amphibians in a more positive light, relating them to good fortune, protection, fertility and more.
In Egyptian mythology the frog goddess Heket was a very important figure associated with matters of fertility and pregnancy. Working together with her husband, the creator Khunm, Heket was believed to give all creatures the breath of life before they were placed in the womb. In many ancient Chinese legends the toad is a trickster and magician, but also the keeper of the powerful secrets of the world and immortality.
Many tribes of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica worshiped a goddess that took the form of a frog with many udders. Her name was Ceneotl and much like the Egyptian goddess Heket she presided over fertility and childbirth. Frogs were also considered spirits of rain. The Aymara tribe of Peru and Bolivia fashioned small frog images which they placed on hill tops to call down the rain. Early Aztecs saw the toad as the earth mother goddess Tlaltecunti who embodied the endless cycle of death and re-birth.
The life cycle of frogs and toads involves at least one major transformation from tadpole to adult and many species also shed and eat their skin as they grow. This may well explain why so many cultures see frogs as a symbol of creation and transformation. In the most famous frog tale in Western culture, 'The Frog Prince' the frog is depicted as a master of transformation. In earlier variations of this story the frog or toad is a woman.
Frogs and toads have been our companions on earth for countless centuries and the human imagination with it's need for meaning and hunger for stories casts and re-casts them as a major character in the story of the world. But their numbers diminish and we hear less and less from these companions. What richness our stories will loose if we stop hearing their voices and their spirit is lost. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Handmade Celtic , relief carved ceramic tripple horse tile
12x12 Relief carved Celtic triple horse tile
In pre-Roman Gaul And Britain horses were used for hauling, hunting, battle and in Gaul, as food. A symbol of wealth, like sheep and cattle, they were of great significance in Celtic life. Horse bones were buried in the foundations of houses as well as in ritual pits for good luck and that association continues to this day with the belief in the horse shoes ability to bring good fortune.