Albion, Alchemy, Art, Books, Don and Wen

Dear Don: Norman…

Dear Don,scotland trip jan 15 335

Yes, The Legend seems to have caught fire somewhat… which is rather nice. It will be interesting to see what happens when the copies hit the dancing ground.

I’ve been thinking about this whole Devouring Beast malarkey. We’re missing something. Well, we’re probably missing a fair bit, of course, but I started wondering …sort of backwards. I may waffle…bear with me.

For a start, these ‘Norman’ fonts… well, are we sure they are all Norman? Just because the experts date them to a specific era based on contemporary designs, doesn’t mean that’s when they date from really does it? It just gives a likely date of construction. But don’t we, as a society, often harp back to older artforms as a matter our course? Either through nostalgia, an appreciation of the meaning and beauty or… as in the Ancient Egyptian, for example… through an awareness that perhaps the Old Ones knew something we have lost or forgotten?

scotland trip jan 15 013I mean, how many modern ‘Celtic’ crosses have we seen lately? Hundreds if we include all the gravestones! Copies or taking inspiration from a much older style going back to the beginnings of Christianity in this country… and possibly beyond if some of our theories are correct. We’ve seen jewellery based upon ancient carvings, Modern notebooks with covers that look like the illuminations of the Lindisfarne Gospels… We look back… we do it all the time.

So supposing Norman the stonemason, faced with this chunk of stone he has been commissioned to carve into a sacred object, decides he wants to make it as deeply symbolic as he possibly can. What is he going to draw upon for his designs? He’ll either go for something nice and safe, like the architectural pillars on the old font at Bradbourne… because you can’t offend anyone with pillars… or he could go all avant-garde and use the very latest designs. Which should have the fonts looking like something from the Bayeux Tapestry… but they don’t. Not at all. They look Saxon. Or Celtic. Their very crudeness is utterly out of place within a culture capable of the high art and craft that left such fabulous artefacts.

snow weekend 042 - Copy - Copy
Now, if good old Norman isn’t Norman, but of indigenous stock with his roots, through his forefathers, deeply enmeshed in the spiritual history of Albion, he might just draw upon that symbolism instead of the more modern imported art. In the same way we are taught the fairy stories, myths and legends as children, so would he have been, In fact, the Oral Tradition was far stronger then than it is now when we lose so much to digital entertainment and everything has a scientific explanation and no sense of awe or wonder.

Regardless of the priests and the prevailing politics of organised religion, there would have been the magic and folklore of the land woven intricately through belief and reverence. That reminded me of a passage from James Clavell’s Shogun:

UntitledSo, back to Norman. Whatever he carves he’s going to have to have an acceptable explanation for the priest, of course, that fits the Christian iconography, but I am betting that like the Filid, there were layers of meaning.

So, take the Tissington font, for example. We could just have Adam and Eve. Or the Divine Twins. Or the Two Worlds… Heaven and Earth, Inner and Outer, Real and Otherworld… We may have the Dove of peace being chased by the ravening beast… or the pursuit of the Raven of prophecy. The beasts in Christian terms, at the simplest level, symbolise the animal passions… in older versions they are the bearers of Knowledge. Why would you have a dragon tailed lion swallowing a fawn on the font used to baptise babes and bring them into the Kingdom of Light? But then, in the older versions that would have been a simple Transformation… even a magical shapeshift… like the Merlin…

collageYes, I know. I’d better end there… I’m getting dangerously near heresy again, if not already up to my eyeballs in it… but you get the idea. We need to dig deeper. Backwards.

Speaking of which, our very own Beast has disembowelled the sofa again and built the Castle Perilous from its cushions. I’d better go rescue them…kitewalk 2 022


Wen and Anu x

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