The Bark of Trees

December 12, 2010 § 2 Comments

The bark of trees has been used for many things; for instance, it has been worn as clothes or armour, it can be used to make ropes, or used as a surface for paintings and map-making. Various hallucinatory chemicals can be extracted from bark.

When writing about Germanic tribes, the Roman geographer Pomponius Mela mentions that the people of these tribes wear the hides of animals and bark as clothing (Christopher Wood, p. 129). The bark-as-clothes is a sign that connotes the symbiotic existence between the people living in the forest and the nature itself. Mela describes the people of the forest tribes as being wild, aggressive and as having hardy bodies and being insensitive to cold. The practice of wearing bark as clothes reinforces the image of their bodies as being robust and resistant; the wilderness of nature being incorporated in their very own bodies.

Pliny the Elder suggests that the physiological structure of trees are analogous to that of the human body. To Pliny, the bark of the tree is like the skin of the human body (book 16, chap 55 and chap 72).

In the chapter about how the bark of trees is used, Pliny says that when a spy has been sent out he often leaves information for his general written upon fresh bark. The bark of the beech is also used for certain sacred rites (book 16, chap 14).

Pliny lists a number of remedies where the bark of branches, roots and trunks is used. For instance, the red bark of the roots of wild pomegranate, taken together with wine, promotes sleep (chapter 61, book 23). The bark of the upper branches of the willow, reduced to ashes and mixed with water, is curative of corns and callosities and can also be used to remove spots upon the face (book 24, chap 37).


Occurrences of the Colour Blue

November 2, 2010 § Leave a comment


A new wristwatch.

Someone is redecorating my home, and has put up blue wallpapers everywhere.

I’m climbing a blue ladder. A little boy in blue clothes.

A blue paper hanging on a glass door. A drawing on the paper shows a bag that I have lost. A telephone number is written on the glass.

Blue Tarot cards.

An amulet with blue glowing stones, in a pattern that looks like a scorpion.

Butterflies & Moths

October 26, 2010 § 2 Comments

“Among the ancients, an emblem of the soul and of unconscious attraction towards the light. The purification of the soul by fire, represented in Romanesque art by the burning ember placed by the angel in the prophet’s mouth, is visually portrayed on a small Mattei urn by means of an image of love holding a butterfly close to a flame. The Angel of Death was represented by the Gnostics as a winged foot crushing a butterfly, from which we may deduce that the butterfly was equated with life rather than with the soul in the sense of the spirit or transcendent being. This also explains why psychoanalysis regards the butterfly as a symbol of rebirth. In China, it has the secondary meanings of joy and conjugal bliss.”

– J.E. Cirlot

Peacock butterfly (Inachis io)

October 18, 2010 § 1 Comment

This butterfly can turn up almost anywhere. Peacock butterflies can be found in woods, fields, meadows, pastures, parks, and gardens, lowlands and mountains. When hibernating, they can be encountered in outbuildings, such as a garage, shed or barn, where they’re often found in groups. Other hibernation sites include hollow trees and wood piles.

The adults spend most of the morning nectaring. The adult butterflies drink nectar from a wide variety of flowering plants, including buddleia, willows, dandelions, wild marjoram, danewort, hemp agrimony, and clover; they also utilize tree sap and rotten fruit.

The name is derived from Greek mythology, meaning Io, daughter of Inachus.

Last night I had a dream where I had been transported back to my old room, in the house where I grew up. I was watching a magnificent butterfly outside my window. It was a Peacock butterfly. I’ve not seen any butterfly equalling the size of this one: Each of its wings was as big as the the palm of my hand. It had settled on a flower, near the glass of the window – even though my room was on the 2nd floor. Sometimes it was flapping it wings slowly, which made the wings seem heavy; sometimes it lifted from the flower and fluttered about in the air as if to fly away.

The Brimstone (Gonepteryx rhamni)

October 13, 2010 § 1 Comment

Some say that the word “butterfly” is derived from “butter-coloured fly” which is attributed to the yellow of the male Brimstone butterfly (the female is a much paler whitish-green).

With the approach of autumn, the Brimstone settles down to hibernate – often among leaves of Ivy, Holly or Bramble. The Brimstone is one of the few butterflies that hibernates as imago.

They prefer purple flowers that are rich of nectar, such as Thistle, Purple Clover and Devil’s-bit Scabious.

My mother once told me that if the first butterfly I see in spring is a Brimstone, it will bring me happiness and luck.

Bitumen. Its characteristic and physical properties; Medicinal and formal uses.

April 17, 2010 § 2 Comments

“The ancients stained their statues with bitumen, which makes it the more remarkable that they were afterwards fond of covering them with gold.” (B 34, c 9)

“In the lake Asphaltites, in Judæa, which produces bitumen, no substance will sink, nor in the lake Arethusa.” (B 2, c 106)

“Bitumen, to be of good quality, should be extremely brilliant, heavy, and massive; it should also be moderately smooth, it being very much the practice to adulterate it with pitch. Its medi- cinal properties are similar to those of sulphur, it being naturally astringent, dispersive, contractive, and agglutinating: ignited, it drives away serpents by the smell.” (B 35, c 51)

“Taken internally, with wine, it alleviates chronic coughs and difficulty of respiration.” (ibid)

“Taken internally with vinegar, it dissolves and brings away coagulated blood.” (ibid)

“It staunches blood also, heals wounds, and unites the sinews when severed.” (ibid)

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