…and your bear will feed your fire.” is a quotation that I have long remembered from the novel The Manticore by Robertson Davies. I think of it now as my design for this year’s Celtic Roots Festival in Goderich, Ontario is complete. There are different messages in that quotation. One for me is to cherish the wild parts of yourself as a source of creative energy.
To get started, I found a photo in google images to help with the shape of the design so she began as a brown mother bear. Every image that I create for the festival comes out of the piecing together of the four elements, earth, air, fire and water. I gave her a dragon fire heart, a belly full of fish, a tree as part of the earth and winged crane on her back giving her flight and the celestial connection to the stars above her; the constellation Ursa Major, The Great Bear.
The four strand knot work tree also connects to the four elements. It was chosen because of a bear cult known at Muri near Berne, Switzerland connected to the goddess Artio, the protectress of bears and whose name means bear. In the Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend, Miranda Green writes, “The goddess is depicted sitting on a chair, with fruit as her main attribute, facing a large bear who confronts her beneath a tree” (Green, 41). I imagine that the fruit in this bear’s tree transforms to become the stars of fire and air that form Ursa Major while the roots are a part of a rainbow river of earth and water. Through her connection to earth, air, fire and water this mother bear invites us to our own creative energy. She becomes a matrix, all that is…the substance of life.
Davies, Robertson. The Manticore. Toronto: Penguin Group, 1972. Print.
Green, Miranda J. Dictionary of Celtic Myth and Legend. London: Thames and Hudson, 1992. 41. Print.