The August solar and lunar spreads in my Alchemical Rituals art journal were two of my most favorites to create. This post focuses on the solar pages. The technique of the month was botanical printing and, first, creating a rust mordant. Never did that before. Given how (to me) unpleasant and skin-crawly the prep process was I'm unlikely to do it again. Never say never, for sure - especially where creativity is concerned - but all the same I'm unlikely to pursue further investigation.
Be all that as it may last week I impulsively sent a couple of the prints I made to Grace thinking she might like to draw on them. She asked about their significance and what I told her was accurate but not nearly as significant as this post and its not-yet-written companion focused on the lunar spread.
The month's thematic focus was Harvest. And that worked really well for my autobiographical experiences of the time. After a few years of non-activity flower essence preparation had reasserted itself as a primary seasonal activity. I was also able to prepare several medicinal tinctures for the first time after patiently building up relationships with the specific plants and trees involved. But the biggest harvest of all was good health. During the month of August I learned I was well enough to stop taking an unpleasant immunosuppressant drug that controls the runaway symptoms of Graves Disease. Trouble is the drug, in the process of doing its job, wreaks a lot of corollary havoc on my ability to feel mentally/emotionally balanced and in a good flow with ongoing physical process. Quite fortunately, unlike many other pharmaceutical detox procedures, this one feels wonderful. And so the crowning personal achievement of the season related to a 'harvest' of returning to myself on all sorts of physically intimate levels. Spent a lot of that month, and ever since, internally yelling in exuberation I'm back, baby!!!
The background of these pages has a few layers of leaf prints from plants that are very prominent emissaries in our little field. The thin green leaves are Evening Primrose. The large metallic leaves are a mixture of Burdock and Comfrey. I also included two gold foil lions to represent the unseen (but strongly felt) big cat energy that's been in the mix since we moved from Boston to mid-state exurbia. My (likely impossible) dream is to somehow locate a large yet affordable stone lion that can be positioned as if it was just emerging from the woods we leave untouched and untraveled by us so that All The Others may have a little corner of private sanctuary. Good thing I'm a bird watcher and not a birder, though. The tantalizing variety of warbler songs from the swampy no-fly zone is an ongoing temptation to get in there and Identify. But of course identifying on a whole other level is much more our speed and so this is how we do.
In the beginning I had no plan of including foil lions or op-art wonky stars or anything else beyond the prints and something simple and more or less not-there for the background. It somewhat horrified me when the archangel figure lurking at the edge of my work table loudly insisted on being included. But then I saw the image could be re-classified. I could give it a gender and an occupation. She could become, just like that, the Mugwort Queen. And the page spread could therefore become a scene from her coronation.
Mugwort is an enormous presence in the field - all springing from the same tiny three stemmed transplant a friend contributed when I first arrived in this Place. Now its original clump has formed a central presence that serves as home to countless ladybugs and also facilitates an exuberant grasshopper nursery. A virtual wall of mugwort, all of which sprang forth in the third summer we were here, fully formed into a privacy hedge along the southern side of the garden which would otherwise be subject to ongoing scrutiny from the road. Pronouncing this plant medicine spirit Queen was a big step in solidifying my sense of what the landscape wished to express as it continued to teach me. This was a powerful enough experience to stop worrying about using the botanical prints "incorrectly" meaning: with more of a mixed media flourish than I'd planned in advance. To that end, when I felt The Queen really needed a scepter, I nipped out to the field to pick a leaf. Once I'd made a scepter print I decided to press the printing leaf, and then include it, for extra embellishment. I mean, why not. My impressions of this planet and what I experience here are always going to have a layer of shine and sparkle.
Another personalized rebellion against my own ideas of how things should or should not "be" in the creative sense relates to the fact that I have an ongoing block about the proper alchemical glyphs for the four classic elements. I nearly always automatically make the air glyph for the element of fire because my brain feels pretty strongly that the same glyph that denotes the sun ought to apply to its primary element. By the time I realized I'd been doing this straight along with this project it seemed a lot more authentic and true to myself to keep going with the mistake rather than going back and correcting it throughout the journal. So that doesn't bother me. It did, however, bother me tremendously that I had to cut parts of a print apart in order to make it sit comfortably in the book while closed. Even after enough time to be used to it, I still felt myself cringe to see the gap when I first loaded the above picture into this post. And, being me, that prompted me to not delete it like I kinda-sorta wanted to, but instead include the image where the gap is most noticeable specifically so I could talk about it.
[p.s. although it's probably always going to be noticeable only to me - I worked at (highly enjoyable) length on shading certain elements of the leaf prints with j. herbin perle noir drawing ink and a yellow pencil just a shade or so less orange than the tumeric tracings I used to amplify the plant alkaloids' natural printing process.]
Next time I post I'll share the lunar spread companion to this coronation scene. It's my favorite spread in the book.