Projects – In Progress
The idea for this project arose several years ago when I read about a feather cloak worn by Druids or Bards in ancient Ireland. I recently found a local, sustainable source for feathers and created a mock-up as a tutelary. The following excerpt is from an online resource includes information about the feathered cloak in both Celtic in Nordic traditions.
In the early Irish text known as Sanas Cormaic this human-bird transformation extends into the shamanic realm. It mentions a garment known as a tuigen (also known as an énchennach), a covering or cloak made from white and multicoloured feathers. Only master poets or bards – one of three categories of Druid – were permitted to wear it. The wearing of feathers is a sign of avian kinship, magical ability and poetic inspiration. A similar cloak was worn by the Druid Mug Roith; by reciting magical rhetoric, he was able to fly and then descend back to earth. The legendary 7th century poet Senchan Torpeist also wore a cloak of feathers.
Similarities can be found in Norse tradition. The text of Thrymskvida, reveals how the goddess Freyja – associated with the shamanic sorcery known as seiðr – donated her hawk feather cloak to Loki... The feather cloak is a recurring motif in shamanic lore. As part of a complex symbolism, its existence relates to the idea of the eagle as father to the first shaman and the notion of magical flight to the centre of the world – the world tree. This symbolism relating to eagles and ecstatic flight is found 'more or less all over the world, precisely in connection with shamans, sorcerers, and the mythical beings that the latter sometimes personify.'
The base for this cloak will be felted wool. For the mock-up I used a repurposed wool sweater and it worked well. Attaching the feathers was the challenging part. Initially, I sewed each feather individually onto the fabric but it soon became problematic because they slipped out of the stitching. In addition, the process was time and labor intensive. I imagine that original creators of the feather cloak would have used tree resin or beeswax. For the mock-up I resorted to a glue gun and it worked well. At this point, I'm not sure what method I will use for the final project. I recently learned of an adhesive that is ideal for attaching feathers to fabric because it remains flexible once it dries. However, a little more research is needed as some of the adhesives used today are quite toxic. In the meantime, I patiently await the arrival of sheep roving that I pre-ordered from a local yarn shop. Once it arrives I will begin to felt the under coat... stay-tuned for photos of the work in progress