Ritual Burials: Arctic Hare

Around Christmas I had just gotten Marc Bolan finished and as usual had been hatching plans for a new series of ten embroideries for a few months.

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In my usual style it’s now July and I’m half way through the series, which, if you follow me on Instagram you’ll know! But I decided as I’m halfway through I better start blogging again and share my progress on these.

The concept for the series explores the way we as humans share an ancient history of honouring animals in life and death, and invites the viewer to consider how the sacred place those animals once held, has now changed. In the transient nature of life and death, there are clues all around us of the importance and significance certain animals have – in the names of plants, in the folklore and mythology of global cultures. This series specifically looks at ten animals, all native to the British Isles at some point and all with special cultural or religious significance to pagan communities. Inspired by ancient Celtic burial rites, the composition of each piece suggests a burial ground where the spirit of each animal is ritually honoured.

The first of this series is the Hare.

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Using anatomical reference I began by transferring the simple skeletal design onto my fabric and used a combination of split stitch, back stitch and french knots to embroider it. Finally the outline of the animal’s body is laid down in glow-in-the-dark thread; I like the idea that the ‘ghost’ of the animal has a second life at night.

Once this was done I used my favourite air-erasable pen to freehand sketch in the other elements.

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Using simple paper patterns I created detached slips of the Harebell flowers and leaves then laid them out on my fabric.

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I then embroidered the plant’s stem in stem stitch.

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The opposing element in this piece was the Hare’s Foot Inkcap, which I created with simple felt applique oversewn with embroidered detail.

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I wish I’d cut the mushroom cap instead of overlaying it and causing that lump.

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Next I created the sun and moon by first padding the circles with felt then attaching rough silver purl and smooth gold purl.

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Finally I added two Norse runes in iridescent filament:

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// H A R E//

The Arctic Hare was the original Hare of Britain. For the druids the Hare represents rebirth, initiation and balance. This ritual burial shows the Arctic Hare surrounded by Harebells representing Spring, Hare’s Foot Inkcap representing Autumn, and the full sun and moon representing the two equinoxes. The rune Berkana further signifies balance and Jera for abundance and fertility.

1st in a series of 10

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