I went for a walk in the rain through Birnam Wood this morning. The river had flooded the wood, and still surrounded some of the trees. Where it had subsided, most of the leaves which had carpeted the paths had been washed away. In some ways, it felt like nature had hoovered up the mess, as the leaves had been turning to mush and mud, and were no longer the crisp attractive autumnal delights which they had been a few months ago.
Signs of greenery brightened up the wood on this miserable day
Walking near the river bank, I saw signs of greenery, which was actually quite refreshing on such a dreich day. The Birnam Oak sat in a pool of water – a sight which is really rare… so I decided to capture some images of this on my iPhone.The reflections were quite impressive, and made me think, as always, that I am looking through magic mirror into a parallel world. It also brought to mind some research I have been doing lately into divination and scrying – a technique where the future could be read from glass, crystal, water or flames.
A rare sight – the Birnam Oak standing in water and casting its reflection
Inverting the photo – a glimpse into a parallel world?
I began to think about the seasons, and how the location looks completely different in winter, bare, cold, desolate, unwelcoming – compared with the lush and warm wood that I know in the summer, and the amber adorned trees of autumn. It’s no surprise that the ancient dwellers of this land, the Celts, worshipped the Sun, building stone circles and doing circular dances in its honour (which is where the Scottish dance the reel is derived from).
When I got home, I played around with some of the images I had taken in Birnam Wood, overlapping photos taken throughout the seasons to create new and mysterious fantasy locations, parallel worlds, dreamlike, as if they had appeared in a vision or prophecy.
“How deep is your love?” (digitally manipulated photography)
The steps leading to the wood, combined with Common Knapweed and foliage. Knapweed was used by young women in love divination spells.
“Sanctuary” (digitally manipulated photography)
The “door” in the Birnam Oak and Greater Burdock/ foliage. Burdock is used in magic to ward off negativity and for general protection.
“Knowledge is power” (digitally manipulated photography)
Beech trees and dew drops on their mossy bark. The Beech is linked with time, wisdom and knowledge and can grant wishes if you write onto its bark and bury it. Club moss is linked with power (I couldn’t find a magical use for Bonfire Moss, which is actually the variety in the photo). The dew drops look very like crystal balls.
These images are liminal spaces between fantasy and reality, like one dream which merges into another. They are reminiscent of Triptography, a surrealist technique discovered when artist Christopher Thurlow ran out of film and ended up using the same roll over and over again.
Christopher Thurlow’s accidental image, which he called Triptography
I really enjoyed making these fantasy landscapes and can see potential with making some faux-magic imagery and illusions, or perhaps even melding together images from Birnam Wood and Dusinane hill, as in the prophecy of Macbeth.