Skunk Dreams

The Skunk and the Magnolias by Jessica Roux

I'm sure I was not the only child who dreamed of sleeping with wild animals, although the closest I've come to that Jungle Book fantasy is to curl up with Tilly snoring beside me. The reality of animal life in the wild is different than fantasy tales of course -- as Louise Erdrich reminds us in this passage from her essay "Skunk Dreams":

"When I was fourteen, I slept alone on a North Dakota football field under the cold stars on an early spring night. May is unpredictable in the Red River Valley, and I happened to hit a night when frost formed in the grass. A skunk trailed a plume of steam across the forty-yard line near moonrise. I tucked the top of my sleeping bag over my head and was just dosing off when the skunk walked onto me with simple authority.

The Mouse and the Buttercup by Jessica Roux"Its ripe odor must have dissipated in the frozen earth of its winterlong hibernation, because it didn't smell all that bad, or perhaps it was just that I took shallow breaths in numb surprise. I felt him -- her, whatever -- pause on the side of my hip and turn around twice before evidently deciding I was a good place to sleep. At the back of my knees, on the quilting of my sleeping bag, it trod out a spot for itself and then, with a serene little groan, curled up and lay perfectly still. That made two of us. I was wildly awake, trying to forget the sharpness and number of skunk teeth, trying not to think of the high percentage of skunks with rabies, or the reason that on camping trips my father kept a hatchet underneath his pillow. 

"Inside the bag, I felt as if I might smother. Careful, making only the slightest of rustles, I drew the bag away from my face and took a deep breath of the night air, enriched with skunk, but clear and watery and cold. It wasn't so bad, and the skunk didn't stir at all, so I watched the moon -- caught that night in an envelope of silk, a mist -- passing over my sleeping field of teenage guts and glory. The grass in spring that has lain beneath the snow harbors a sere dust both cold and fresh. I smelled that newness beneath the rank tone of my bag-mate -- the stiff fragrance of damp earth and the thick pungency of newly manured fields  a mile or two away -- along with my sleeping bag's smell, slightly mildewed, forever smoky. The skunk settled even closer and began to breath rapidly; it's feet jerked a little like a dog's. I sank against the earth and fell asleep too.

The Deer and the Oats by Jessica Roux

"Of what easily tipped cans, what molten sludge, what dogs in back yards, what leftover macaroni casseroles, what cellar holes, crawl spaces, burrows taken from meek woodchucks, of what miracles of garbage did my skunk dream? Or did it, since we can't be sure, dream the plot of Moby Dick, how to properly age parmesan, or how to restore the brick-walled, tumbledown creamery that was its home? We don't know about the dreams of any other biota, and even much about our own. If dreams are an actual dimesion, as some assert, then the usual rules of life by which we abide do not apply. In that place, skunks may certainly dream themselves into the vests of stockbrokers. Perhaps that night the skunk and I dreamed each other's thoughts, or are still dreaming them. To paraphrase the problem of the Chinese sage, I may be a woman who has dreamed herself a skunk, or a skunk still dreaming she is a woman....

The Hare and the Oak by Jessica Roux

"Skunks don't mind each other's vile perfume. Obviously they find each other more than tolerable. And even I, who have been in the direct presence of a skunk hit, wouldn't classify their weapon as mere smell. It is more on the order of a reality-enhancing experience. It's not so pleasant as standing in a grove of old-growth red cedars, or watching trout rise to the shadow of your hand on the placid surface of an Alpine lake. When the skunk lets go, you are surrounded by skunk presence: inhabited, owned, involved with something you can only describe as powerfully there.

"I woke at dawn, stunned into that sprayed state of being. The dog that had approached me was rolling the grass, half-addled, sprayed too. The skunk was gone. I abandoned my sleeping bag and started home. Up Eighth Street, past the tiny blue and pink houses, past my grade school, past all the addresses where I had baby-sat, I walked in my own strange wind. The streets were wide and empty; I met no one -- not a dog, not a squirrel, not even an early robin. Perhaps they had all scattered before me, blocks away. I had gone out to sleep on the football field because I was afflicted with a sadness I had to dramatize. Mood swings had begun, hormones, feverish and brutal. They were nothing to me now. My emotions seemed vast, dark, and sickeningly private. But they were minor, mere wisps, compared to skunk."

The Goat and the Willow by Jessica Roux

The Chipmunk and the Bay Laurel by Jessica Roux

The art today is by Jessica Roux, an American painter whose work is rich in carefully-observed flora and fauna. Raised in the woodlands of North Carolina, Roux studied at the Savannah College of Art & Design in Georgia, and now works as a freelance illustrator and stationary designer.

"I can’t get enough of history," she says. "Old lithographs and studies by early naturalists are some of my favorite things. I love medieval bestiaries and the early Northern Renaissance. I’m also really inspired by nature. There are just so many strange plants and animals out there that I want to know more about."

The images here are from Roux's "Woodland Wardens" series, an oracle deck in progress. (I hope it's completed and published soon.) For those of you in or near Tennessee, the series can be viewed in the Jessica Roux exhibition at Gallery 205 in Columbia through Dec. 1st.

You can also see more of her work on her website and in her print shop here.

The Fox and the Ivy by Jessica Roux

The passage above is from "Skunk Dreams" by Louise Erdrich, first published in The Georgia Review (1993). All rights to the text and art above reserved by the author and artist.


From the archives: Morning in the Studio (2013)

The Kuerner Farmhouse, where Andrew Wyeth painted

From "How I Get to Write" by Roxanna Robinson :

"In the morning, I don’t talk to anyone, nor do I think about certain things.

"I try to stay within certain confines. I imagine this as a narrow, shadowy corridor with dim bare walls. I’m moving down this corridor, getting to the place where I can write.

"I brush my teeth, get dressed, make the bed. I avoid conversation, as my husband knows. I am not yet in the world, and there is a certain risk involved in talking: the night spins a fine membrane, like the film inside an eggshell. It seals you off from the world, but it’s fragile, easily pierced.

"....The reason the morning is so important is that I’ve spent the night somewhere else. This is nowhere I can describe exactly, only that it’s mysterious and limitless, a place where the mind expands. Deep, slow currents, far below the surface, shift me in ways I needn’t understand. There is no sound, no scrutiny. Waking, I’m still close to that silent, preconscious, penumbral state, still focussed inward. I’m still in that deep, noiseless place, listening to its voices, very different from those of the outside world."

(The full article is here.)

Snow Flurries by Andrew Wyeth

I read Robinson's piece (on The New Yorker blog) thinking, "Oh my gracious yes, that's it exactly!" -- for I too like to be up and out to the studio before anyone else in the house is awake, climbing the hill from house to studio by the light of the stars. I don't want to speak or be spoken to; I don't want to be jogged from this liminal state; I want to rest on the delicate threshold between the Night World and the Day World just as long as I can.

At this moment as I write, the sky is still dark, the studio hushed with pre-dawn enchantment; the only sounds are the ticking of the clock, water rushing in the stream outside, and a single owl calling from the woods. I compose these morning posts as I drink my coffee, waking (as Agatha Christie's Poirot would say) the "little grey cells" up. But I musn't be too awake, not yet, in order to slide gently into the writing day before the "fragile membrane of the night" has been pierced.

Tilly snuggles up beside me, yawning, dozing, waiting for our morning walk out in the woods. The tap-tap-tap of the computer keys is a familiar, comforting sound to her. She is waiting for the sun, and the click of the laptop closing, and the words: Okay, girl, let's go.

Master Bedroom by Andrew Wyeth

“Outside, there was that predawn kind of clarity, where the momentum of living has not quite captured the day. The air was not filled with conversation or thought bubbles or laughter or sidelong glances. Everyone was sleeping, all of their ideas and hopes and hidden agendas entangled in the dream world, leaving this world clear and crisp and cold as a bottle of milk in the fridge. ”
- Reif Larsen (from The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet)

The paintings above are by Andrew Wyeth (1917-2009). The photograph at the top of the post is of the Kuerner Farmhouse in Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania, where he often painted. This post first appeared on Jan. 16, 2013.


Finding the way to the green

Chagford in the hills

From Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape by Jay Griffiths:

"Every generation of children instinctively nests itself in nature, no matter matter how tiny a scrap of it they Tree Nymph by Virigina Leecan grasp. In a tale of one city child, the poet Audre Lord remembers picking tufts of grass which crept up through the paving stones in New York City and giving them as bouquets to her mother. It is a tale of two necessities. The grass must grow, no matter the concrete suppressing it. The child must find her way to the green, no matter the edifice which would crush it.

"The Maori word for placenta is the same word for land, so at birth the placenta is buried, put back in the mothering earth. A Hindu baby may receive the sun-showing rite surya-darsana when, with conch shells ringing to the skies, the child is introduced to the sun. A newborn child of the Tonga people 'meets' the moon, dipped in the ocean of Kosi Bay in KwaZulu-Natal. Among some of the tribes of India, the qualities of different aspects of nature are invoked to bless the child, so he or she may have the characteristics of earth, sky and wind, of birds and animals, right down to the earthworm. Nothing is unbelonging to the child.

Tilly in the buttercup field

Drawings by Virginia Lee

" 'My oldest memories have the flavor of earth,' wrote Frederico García Lorca. In the traditions of the Australian deserts, even from its time in the womb, the baby is catscradled in kinship with the world. Born into a sandy hollow, it is cleaned with sand and 'smoked' by fire, and everything -- insects, birds, plants, and animals -- is named to the child, who is told not only what everything is called but also the relationship between the child and each creature. Story and song weave the child into the subtle world of the Dreaming, the nested knowledge of how the child belongs.

Tilly as a puppy

"The threads which tie the child to the land include its conception site and the significant places of the Dreaming inherited through its parents. Introduced to creatures and land features as to relations, the child is folded into the land, wrapped into country, and the stories press on the child's mind like the making of felt -- soft and often -- storytelling until the feeling of the story of the country is impressed into the landscape of the child's mind.

"That the juggernaut of ants belongs to a child, belligerently following its own trail. That the twitch of an animal's tail is part of a child's own tale or storyline, once and now again. That on the papery bark of a tree may be written the songline of a child's name. That the prickles of a thornbush may have dynamic relevance to conscience. That a damp hollow by the riverbank is not an occasional place to visit but a permanent part of who you are. This is the beginning of belonging, the beginning of love.

"In the art and myth of Indigenous Australia, the Ancestors seeded the country with its children, so the shimmering, pouring, circling, wheeling, spinning land is lit up with them, cartwheeling into life....

Moor Maiden by Virginia Lee

Buttercup Girl

Chestnut Nuptials by Virginia Lee

"The human heart's love for nature cannot ultimately be concreted over. Like Audre Lord's tufts of grass, The Bird Keeper by Virgina Leeit will crack apart paving stones to grasp the sun. Children know they are made of the same stuff as the grass, as Walt Whitman describes nature creating the child who becomes what he sees:

There was a child went forth every day
And the first object he look'd upon, that object he became...
The early lilacs became part of this child...
And the song of the phoebe-bird...

In Australia, people may talk of the child's conception site as the origin of their selfhood and their picture of themselves. As Whitman wrote of the child becoming aspects of the land, so in Northern Queensland a Kunjen elder describes the conception site as 'the home place for your image.' Land can make someone who they are, giving them fragments of themselves."

The Listener by Virginia Lee

And yet, Griffiths warns, ''consumer societies are stealing children away from their kith, their family of nature, in a steady alienation. This is not about some luxury, a hobby, a bit of playtime in the garden. This is about the longest, deepest necessity of the human spirit to know itself in nature, and about the homesickness children feel, whose genesis is so obvious but so little examined. Writer on Native American spirituality Linda Hogan describes the term susto as a sickness of soul caused by disconnection from nature and cured by 'the great without.'"

The May Queen by Virginia Lee

Young Tilly

I'm interested in the ways that fantasy literature and mythic arts can address modernity's epidemic of susto, leading us back to the natural world in imagination, and in reality. Indeed, it's my belief that art-forms like ours, deep-rooted in myth, folklore, and archetypal symbology, are uniquely suited to do so. I'll be quoting more passages from Kith in the week ahead, as well as adding my own thoughts on the subject; and I invite you all to contribute to the discussion in the Comments below.

The art in this post is by my friend and neighbor Virginia Lee. To see more of her wonderful, whimsical, exquisitely beautiful paintings, drawings, and sculptures, please visit Virginia's website, mythic arts blog, and Etsy shop.

Buttercup field

Buttercup fieldThe pictures of Tilly as a puppy are from 2009; the others were taken in fields bright with buttercups this morning.


Passing it on

The Snow Queen illustrated by Anastasia Arkhipova

"After nearly a dozen years writing realism for adults, I felt an indefinable, irresistible urge to write a fantasy for young people. Not for any specific child; but rather, because I believed it could be a powerful and serious literary form. It turned out to be the most creative and liberating experience of my life, letting me draw on my own deepest feelings far more than I had ever done.

"Since then, my books have been children's fantasies -- a term I don't find very expressive or descriptive. In the same way I see no essential difference in writing for adults or young people, I see no conflict between realism and fantasy. Both try to illuminate human relationships, conflicts, and moral dilemmas. I do admit that I much prefer fantasy. To me, it has the emotional strength of a dream, it works directly on our nerve endings, whatever age we happen to be, touching heights and depths not always accessible through realism. In fantasy, my concern is how we learn to be real human beings. It's a continuing process."

- Lloyd Alexander (1924-2007, author of The Chronicles of Prydain)

The Snow Queen illustrated by Anastasia Arkhipova

The Snow Queen illustrated by Anastasia Arkhipoval

The Snow Queen illustrated by Anastasia Arkhipova

"There were always tales passed from mother to daughter, father to son. Down through the generations they came, so that we would never forget that place, that magic, that elemental and awesome power that abided in our forbears. In each generation the power of the tales rests with us, the storytellers. I weep, I cry with joy, I exult in the God-power of the words.

"And so I have tried to pass them on to another generation, to keep alive the mortal power of our earlier selves, even as the world changes and dies, sleeps and awakes anew to the force that gives life to our souls. So that some child can hear the tales and find them awakened in herself to pass on to yet another generation. "

- Evangeline Walton  (1907-1996, author of the magnificent Mabinogion Tetrology)

The Snow Queen by  Anastasia Arkhipova

The Snow Queen illustrated by Anastasia Arkhipova

The beautiful paintings for Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen above could easily have come from the Golden Age of book illustration at the dawn of the 20th century...but in fact they are by a contemporary Russian artist, Anastasia Arkhipova.

Arkhipova was born into a family of artists in Moscow, studied at Moscow State Academy of Fine Arts, and has illustrated many books for publishers in Russia and abroad. In addition to The Snow Queen, she has also illustrated Andersen's The Princess and the Pea, The Tinderbox and The Steadfast Tin Soldier; Moliere's The Bourgeois Gentleman and Tartuffe; Cervantes' Don Quixote; Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther; and editions of fairy tales from the Brothers Grimm and from Russian writers. She is a member the Russian Academy of Art, where she has the title of "Honoured Artist of Russia," and has won many international awards.

Today is the last in our series of posts spotlighting just a few of the many fine book artists of Russia and other lands of the East. Have a good weekend, gentle Readers, and I'll see you again next week.

Hans Christian Andersen by Anastasia ArkhipovaI regret that the picture reproduction here isn't of the best quality and doesn't do full justice to Arkhipova's art, but there is only a small amount of her work available online.


Written in the language of dreams

Pavel Tatarnikov

George R.R. Martin on why we read fantasy:

"The best fantasy is written in the language of dreams. It is alive as dreams are alive, more real than real...for a moment at least...that long moment before we awake.

Pavel Tatarnikov

"Fantasy is silver and scarlet, indigo and azure, obsidian veined with gold and lapis lazuli. Reality is plwood and plastic, done up in mud brown and olive drab. Fantasy tastes of habañeros and honey, cinnamon and cloves, rare red meat and wines as sweet as summer. Reality is beans and tofu, and ashes at the end. Reality is the strip malls of Burbank, the smokestacks of Cleveland, a parking garage in Newark. Fantasy is the towers of Minath Tirith, the ancient stones of Gormenghast, the halls of Camelot. Fantasy flies on the wings of Icarus, reality on Southwest Airlines. Why do our dreams become so much smaller when they finally come true?

Pavel Tatarnikov 6

Pavel Tatarnikov

"We read fantasy to find the colors again, I think. To taste strong spices, and hear the songs the sirens sang. There is something old and true in fantasy that speaks to something deep within us, to the child who dreamed that one day he would hunt the forests of the night, and feast beneath the hollow hills, and find a love to last forever somewhere south of Oz and north of Shangri-La.

"They can keep their heaven. When I die, I'd sooner go to Middle Earth."

Pavel Tatarnikov

Pavel Tatarnikov

The art today is by the award-winning Belarusian painter and illustrator Pavel Tatarnikov. He was born in Brest, studied at the Belarusian Academy of Arts, and now lives and works Minsk. His many publications include The Song of Igor's Campaign, The Princess in the Underground Kingdom, The Knights and Architects of Grodno, Arthur of Albion, The Rhinegold, King Lear, The Seven Wonders of BelarusThe Snow Queen, Beauty and the Beast, and White Russian History in Legends. Go here and click on each of the book covers to see the gorgeous illustrations within.

Pavel Tatarnikov

Pavel Tartarnikov

Pavel Tartarnikov

Pavel Tatarnikov


Dreaming awake

Udo Weigelt's The Legendary Unicorn illustrated by Julia Gukova

"I write fantasy because it's there. I have no other excuse for sitting down for several hours a day indulging my imagination. Daydreaming. Thinking up imaginary people, impossible places. Imagination is the golden-eyed monster that never sleeps. It must be fed; it cannot be ignored. Making it tell the same tale over Brigitte Schar's The Blind Fairy illustrated by Julia Gukovaagain makes it thin and whining; its scales begin to fall off; its fiery breath becomes a trickle of smoke. It is best fed by reality, an odd diet for something nonexistant; there are few details of daily life and its broad range of emotional context that can't transformed into food for the imagination. It must be visited constantly, or else it begins to become restless and emit strange bellows at embarrassing moments; ignoring it only makes it grown larger and noisier. Content, it dreams awake, and spins the fabric of tales. There is really nothing to be done with such imagery except to use it: in writing, in art. Those who fear the imagination condemn it: something childish, they say, something monsterish, misbegotten. Not all of us dream awake. But those who do have no choice."  - Patricia A. McKillip

Russian Symphony by Julia Gukova

Insectia: Symmetry by Julia Gukova

"I'm inspired by dreams and shadows, obsession and desire. By nature, I'm a dream collector and never stop working. I question people about their weirdest dreams and the strangest, most inexplicable experiences they've had. All this information whirls around in my mind, and new dreams emerge that form the seeds of stories and novels."  - Storm Constantine

Brigitte Schar's The Blind Fairy illustrated by Julia Gukova

"To be entranced, to be driven, to be obsessed, to be under the spell of an emerging, not quite fully 'comprehended' narrative -- this is the greatest happiness of the writer's life even as it burns us out and exhausts us, unfitting us for the placid contours of 'normality.' " - Joyce Carol Oates

Brigitte Schar's The Blind Fairy illustrated by Julia Gukova

The dream-like imagery today is by Julia Gukova, a Russian painter and illustrator based in Moscow. She studied at the Krasnopresnenskaya Visual Arts School and Moscow State University of Printing Arts, and has worked as a painter and graphic designer since the late 1980s. Gukova has illustrated over forty books for publishers in Russia and abroad, including Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, The Mole's Daughter, The Blind Fairy, Peter and the Wolf,  and The Legendary Unicorn.

Insectia: Asymmetry by Julia Gukova

Sweet dreams, everyone. See you Monday.

Udo Weigelt's The Legendary Unicorn illustrated by Julia Gukova


In the studio

In the studio

How to be an artist

Stay loose. Learn to watch snails. Plant impossible gardens. Make little signs that say 'yes' and post them all over your house. Make friends with uncertainty.

- Henry Miller
a note on the door of the Henry Miller Memorial Library in Big Sur, California

Drawing board

"The reward of art is not fame or success but intoxication."  - Cyril Connolly

The Dreaming (collage) by T Windling

The Dreaming (collage) by T Windling

Cuddle Bunnies by Terri WindlingLet me keep my mind on what matters,

which is my work,

which is mostly standing still
and learning to be
 astonished.

- Mary Oliver (from "The Messenger")

The Dreaming (collage) by T Windling

The painting here is called "The Dreaming," made of oil paint on paper with collage and hand-stitching. It is part of my Bumblehill series of art for children (and the young at heart), inspired by the flora, fauna, and folklore of Devon.

The tall figure is a woodland Guardian Spirit, the young girl represents the dreamier side of my younger self, and the little people are the gentle, joyous and mischievous fairies of Nattadon Hill, the hill that I live on in Chagford.

The Dreaming (full collage) by Terri Windling

Here's is a brief snippet of the tale that goes with the piece:

"Wrapped in the quilt, she closed her eyes and dreamed herself into a different story. The bunny snored softly in her arms. The wind pulled at her long yellow hair. Then she heart the rustle of footsteps...and the sound of giggling close behind her...."

I leave you to imagine (or dream) the rest.

Tilly dreaming in the studio


Into the Woods, 16: By the Light of the Moon and Stars

John Bauer

"The world rests in the night. Trees, mountains, fields, and faces are released from the prison of shape and the burden of exposure. Each thing creeps back into its own nature within the shelter of the dark. Darkness is the ancient womb. Night-time is womb-time. Our souls come out to play."
    - John O'Donohue (Anam Cara)

Remedios Varo

“Sometimes, when you're deep in the countryside, you meet three girls, walking along the hill tracks in the dusk, spinning. They each have a spindle, and on to these they are spinning their wool, milk-white, like the moonlight. In fact, it is the moonlight, the moon itself, which is why they don't carry a distaff. They're not Fates, or anything terrible; they don't affect the lives of men; all they have to do is to see that the world gets its hours of darkness, and they do this by spinning the moon down out of the sky. Night after night, you can see the moon getting less and less, the ball of light waning, while it grown on the spindles of the maidens. Then, at length, the moon is gone, and the world has darkness, and rest."  - Mary Stewart (The Moonspinners)

Jeanie Tomanek

Edmund Dulac

Virginia Lee

“Night falls. Or has fallen. Why is it that night falls, instead of rising, like the dawn? Yet if you look east, at sunset, you can see night rising, not falling; darkness lifting into the sky, up from the horizon, like a black sun behind cloud cover. Like smoke from an unseen fire, a line of fire just below the horizon, brushfire or a burning city. Maybe night falls because it’s heavy, a thick curtain pulled up over the eyes. A wool blanket.”  - Margaret Atwood (A Handmaid's Tale)

Arthur Rackham

Sulamith Wulfing

Adrienne Segur

“Anything seems possible at night when the rest of the world has gone to sleep.”  - David Almond (My Name is Mina)

Vladislav Erko

Kelly Louise Judd

"Night does not show things, it suggests them. It disturbes and surprises us with its strangeness. It liberates forces within us which are dominated by our reason during the daytime.” - Brassaï

Arthur Rackham

Charles Vess

"Our fantastic civilization has fallen out of touch with many aspects of nature, and with none more completely than with night. Primitive folk, gathered at a cave mouth round a fire, do not fear night; they fear, rather, the energies and creatures to whom night gives power; we of the age of the machines, having delivered ourselves of nocturnal enemies, now have a dislike of night itself. With lights and ever more lights, we drive the holiness and beauty of night back to the forests and the sea; the little villages, the crossroads even, will have none of it. Are modern folk, perhaps, afraid of night? Do they fear that vast serenity, the mystery of infinite space, the austerity of stars? Having made themselves at home in a civilization obsessed with power, which explains its whole world in terms of energy, do they fear at night for their dull acquiescence and the pattern of their beliefs? Be the answer what it will, today's civilization is full of people who have not the slightest notion of the character or the poetry of night, who have never even seen night. Yet to live thus, to know only artificial night, is as absurd and evil as to know only artificial day.”   -  Henry Beston (The Outermost House) 

David Wyatt

Catherine Hyde

Look, as the day slows towards the space
that draws it into dusk: rising became
upstanding, standing a laying down, and then
that which accepts its lying blurs to darkness.

Mountains rest, outgloried be the stars -
but even there, time’s transition glimmers.
Ah, nightly refuged in my wild heart,
roofless, the imperishable lingers.

- Rainer Maria Rilke (Uncollected Poems: 1912-1922, translation by Susan Ranson & Marielle Sutherland)

Karen Davis

'This is the ending. Now not day only shall be beloved, but night too shall be beautiful and blessed and all its fear pass away.”  - J.R.R. Tolkien (The Return of the King)

Inga Moore

Julia Gukova

The illustrations above are : "Trolls" by John Bauer (1882-1918), "Celestial Pablum" by Remedios Varo (1908-1963), "Capturing the Moon: by Jeanie Tomanek, Descent: The Arabian Nights by Edmund Dulac (1882-1953), a drawing from the "Inner Seasons" series by Virginia Lee, "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by Arthur Rackham (1887-1969), "Nature Spirits and the Angel" by Sulamith Wülfing (1901-1989), "Kip the Enchanted Cat" by Adrienne Ségur (1901-1981), "The Tin Soldier: The Dog Carries the Princess on His Back" by Vladislav Erko,  "Forest Sleep" by Kelly Louise Judd, "A Midsummer Night's Dream: Oberon and Titania" by Arthur Rackham (1887-1969), "The Fairy Procession" by Charles Vess, "Marianna and the Whippets" by David Wyatt, "Crossing the River" by Catherine Hyde, "The Moonrakers" by Karen Davis (of the lovely Moonlight and Hares blog), "The Wind and the Willows" by Inga Moore, and "The Legendary Unicorn" by Julia Gukova.


The dream of feathers...

From Ashs and Snow by Gregory Colbert

From "The Dream of Feathers" by Linda Hogan (of the Chickasaw Nation), published in her luminous book Dwellings: A Spiritual History of the Living World:

"Perhaps there are events and things that work as a doorway into a mythical world, the world of first people, all the way back to the creation of the universe and the small quickenings of earth, the first stirrings of human beings at the beginnings of time. Our elders believe this to be so, that it is possible to wind a way backwards to the start of things, and in doing so find a form of sacred reason, different from ordinary reason, that is linked to forces of nature. In this kind of mind, like in the feather, is the power of sky and thunder and sun, and many have had alliances and partnerships with it, a way of thought older than measured time, less primitive than the rational present. Others have tried for centuries to understand the world by science and intellect but have not yet done so, not yet understood animals, finite earth, or even their own minds and behavior. The more they seek to learn the world, the closer they come to the spiritual, the magical origins of creation.

"There is a still place, a gap between the worlds, spoken by the tribal knowings of thousands of years. In it are silent flyings that stand aside from human struggles and the designs of our own makings. At times, when we are silent enough, still enough, we take a step into such mystery, the place of spirit, and mystery, we must remember, by its very nature does not wish to be known."

The photograph above is from the Ashes and Snow series by Gregory Colbert.