Thursday, 11 July 2013

Faerie thoughts of summer shells .....

'Evening' -  contemporary Japanese artist Asako Eguchi
     Shells, tiny or large, simple or magnificent - all reminders of long, summer, faery-days by the sea. Padding and splashing bare-footed along the sand, always alert for the next treasure. We found bi-fold shells with hinges still in tact, pink as a rose-petal or striped gold and grey. Shells coiled like turbans, oily-black or knobbly brownish-green. Long razor shells, abandoned by their real owners and now a perfect place to keep a special pencil.
Illustration by John Elliot from 'The Great Sea Horse' by Isabel Anderson 1909
Sea Shell, Sea Shell,
Sing me a song, O Please!
A song of ships, and sailor men,
And parrots, and tropical trees,

Of islands lost in the Spanish Main
Which no man ever may find again,
Of fishes and corals under the waves,
And seahorses stabled in great green caves.

Sea Shell, Sea Shell,
Sing of the things you know so well.
by American poet Amy Lowell 1874-1925 
'Sea Shell Fairies'  from Welsh contemporary fairy artist Trudi Finch
  All faeries love curiosities and this one writing now is no exception!  Browsing among my shells, and thinking later of the sea-moon pearl, I came across these wonderful writings from an ancient Hindu astrology text - The Brihat Samhita of Varahar Mihira ......
'Sloka 1:  Pearls are got from   (1) elephants  (2) serpents  (3) pearl-oysters  (4) conch shells          (5) clouds  (6) bamboos  (7) whales  (8) hogs  -  but the best pearls are those that are got from pearl-oysters.'
'Sloka 22-24:  Elephants:  it is said that pearls are produced in the heads at places where the tusks meet the happy elephants born during the sun's northern course at an eclipse of the sun or moon. ......  these are beyond any estimate and not be perforated, being too brilliant.'
Illustration by Margaret Tarrant from 'The Tide Fairy'  by Eila Mackenzie 1956
'Sloka 24: Clouds: they say that pearl is produced in the clouds of the seventh layer of wind in the sky, in the manner of hailstones. It falls therefrom with the brilliance of lightning and is taken away by the denizens of heaven.'
Enough of pearls - the enchantment is shared by each shell in the rock pool and lost on the sea-shore. It doesn't matter if it be the magic bowl of the abalone, of the vast tropical conch moot-horn,  the extraordinary beauty of the nautilus shell ....
Illustration by Australian fairy artist extraordinaire Ida Rentoul Outhwaite 'Fairy Islands'
.......  or the cherished simplicity of the scallop fan and the tiniest, bravely clinging winkle and whelk, they bring us memories of beaches long ago - of faere-folk we have known and thoughts of many magical sunshiney pleasures still to come.

From the wondrous pen of contemporary artist J B Monge

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