During the Pech Merle tour, (see previous post and my article ‘Time in the Limestone Hills’ in Toast Magazine) we were first taken into a cavern with a long tail of tree roots descending from roof to floor. It was like entering the cave of the World Tree with it’s roots in the Underworld.
“The world Tree is represented as a colossal tree which supports the heavens, thereby connecting the heavens, the terrestrial world, and, through its roots, the underworld.” (Wikipedia)
Below is a photo of what is thought to be the ‘root’ tree above ground in the grounds of Pech Merle;
Inspired by the idea of a tree with branches in the upper world and roots in the underworld, I’ve created a collage, World Tree:
It also features a Cosmic egg, butterflies and a jumble of other images, letter fradments, poems etc. I wanted to add insects as we saw so many at the cabin, especially cicadas.
Cicadas spend years below ground in a larval stage, only living a few months above ground as an adult. They also shed their skins periodically – I found a few exuvia attached to bark with all the intricate details of the live insect, even the sheen on the insect’s composite eye. This is another link with the ‘underworld’, and metamorphosis too.
I’ve added bees and wasps to the collage as in Ancient Greece bees represented a link between our world and the ‘underworld’ as well. I found various pieces of paper wasp nest near the cabin – beautiful and intricate – which I might add to some creation (watch this space).
With the idea of bees and honey, I’ve played with the World Tree image in Photoshop. Here is a honey-coloured version:
This reminds me of the Mappa Mundi that I went to see in Hereford Cathedral, Hereford, a few years ago;
I like the idea of using maps in collage and plan to do more, perhaps adding some natural materials like eggshells, wasp nests and feathers. I’ll also have to do my own Mappa Mundi at some point :)