Tag Archives: Witch’s Bedtable

From the Witch’s Bedtable


Here’s what I’m reading lately. What’s on your bedtable?

* Many other women would contribute to the Pre-Raphaelite movement. Most were sisters or daughters of male artists: in addition to Christina Rossetti, Rosa Brett (1829-82), the sister of John Brett, created a small corpus of works of hypnotic intensity, but abandoned her art when expected to fulfil a domestic role within her family. By contrast, the life of Jane Burden (1839-1914) was closer to that of Siddal. Born the daughter of an Oxford stableman, she was discovered as what they called a ‘stunner’, or distinctive beauty by a group of young men whom Rosetti had gathered to work collaboratively on a mural scene for the Oxford Union building. She soon married Morris, who had painted her as La Belle Iseult and, in collaboration with her sister Elizabeth ‘Bessie’ Burden, developed an artistic identity as the creator of subtle and ambitious works of embroidery. Women played a key role in the revival of the applied arts and crafts in the Morris circle, working both as designers and as expert practitioners of many craft skills. William and Jane Mossis’s younger daughter, May (1862-1938) became a leading exponent of revivalist needlecraft, the author of important publications, such as the illustrated Decorative Needlework (1893), and an active socialist.

~ Pre-Raphaelites: Victorian Art and Design by T. Barringer, J. Rosenfeld, and A. Smith.

* Eudora noticed the spread of camellias through her home state, with certain towns known for their particular flower. In 1942 she wrote to Diarmuid, “When you go around the countryside you see that each community of any age has its own variety, grown from seed by some lady once and cuttings given away, and there you will see a great parent bush in some yard and little and middle-sized ones scattered in the yards aroun it, all a camellia known only to the one place. I am trying to collect cuttings of the ones that are the nicest and after years by by I’ll have them all in one place — whatever kind of instinct that may be.

~ One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place by Susan Haltom and Jane Roy Brown.

* Top [Rosetti’s wombat] came into a glorious menagerie. Into a prosperous Bohemian household where ghosts jostled with racoons, and antique Persian carpets with the latest fashion in fabrics on Rosetti’s lady sitters; where prostitutes became virgins and poisons became medicines.

~ Rosetti’s Wombat: Pre-Raphaelites and Australian Animals in Victorian England by John Simons.

* Grandpa belonged to the farm, the barns and fields, the pastures and crops, the animals. The farm had been his life, his passion and his trial. The economy of the farm, depending as it did on markets and the money economy, had been during most of his life far less stable and secure than the household economy that depended almost entirely on the place itself. Grandpa’s long effort to possess and thrive on a place whose economy he did not in the least control had been inevitably a trial. But insecurely as the farm belonged to him, he had belonged absolutely to it. he had been ruled absolutely by his vision of pastures deep in grass, abundant crops, good animals well fed.

~ A Place in Time: Twenty Stories of the Port William Membership by Wendell Berry

* Captivity also creates disturbances in intimacy, because if you view the world as a place where everyone is either a victim, a perpetrator, an indifferent or helpless bystander, or a rescuer, there’s no room for relationships of mutuality, for cooperation, for responsible choices. There’s no room to follow agreements through to everyone’s mutual satisfaction. The whole range of cooperative relational skills, and all the emotional fulfillment that goes with them, is lost. And that’s a great deal to lose.

~ Truths Among Us: Conversations on Building a New Culture by Derrick Jensen

Photo of camellia from her garden by the blogger; if you copy, please link back.

The Witch’s Bedtable

So Many Books

The ultimate method [that Ted Hughes uses] to balance the forces he finds is the [same] one [with which] he began: myth. In doing so, Hughes sets his shoulder against the Audens, the Larkins, and the whole blank, alienated intellectualism of the modern enterprise. As magicians, we are doing the same work. Our culture is hostile to the numinous, disenchanting nature that it might be destroyed, splitting man and woman into consumer slaves[, and] selling us the grave goods of industry. It is time that we made our spells potent in song and deed, make terror our ally. Hughes relates to that: The inner world separated from the outer world is a place of demons, the outer world separated from the inner world is a meaningless objects and machines.

I suggest we befriend and bring back the demons, the abominations, the jaguar spirits and with them destroy the machinery that is murdering us, singing meaning back into things. Yet we must also face up to our own complicity, our own guilt. The confession must be made. We are not somehow set apart from this, as some of the egocentric approaches to the left hand path suggest[;] we are inseparable. There can be no self-deification unless the hero undergoes change. Entropy is not attainment.

~ Apocolyptic Witchcraft by Peter Grey

Sudden Light
I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell:
I know the grass beyond the door,
The sweet keen smell,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.

You have been mine before, —
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at that swallow’s soar
Your neck turned so
Some veil did fall, — I knew it all of yore.

Has this been thus before?
And shall not thus time’s eddying flight
Still with our lives our love restore
In death’s despite
And day and night yield one delight once more.

~ Dante Gabriel Rossetti in Pre-Raphaelite Poetry: An Anthology, edited by Paul Negri

The technology that’s useful to help a human worker do his job more effectively is not the same as the technology that’s needed to replace him or her with a machine. As cheap abundant energy becomes a thing of the past, replacing workers with machines will no longer be a viable option, but providing workers with tools that will make their labor more productive is quite another matter. The problem here is that very few people are used to thinking in these terms. While every industry in the world once had a vast amount of practical knowledge about the tools and training human workers needed to do their jobs well, nearly all of that knowledge is endangered, if it hasn’t already been lost.

~ The Wealth of Nature: Economics as if Survival Mattered by John Michael Greer

Picture found here.