Some of you may know that a little while ago I completed writing a novel called “The Snow Witch”. I’m currently in the throes of laying it out, and have been hoping to get some illustrations to head up each part of the book.
I was at something of a loss. The story is allegorical, quite beautiful (I think, anyway!) and tells the story of a young woman who comes from a mystery tradition separate from Judaeo-Christianity, and yet connected to it.
One of my other jobs is dealing in rare books. About 15 years ago I bought a pair of stunning, extremely heavy 18th Century volumes filled with luscious copperplate engravings. Last night, I decided to dig those books out from my collection. And, well, I think I have what I want.
Here are the images I’ve chosen.
This is for Part 1 – this section includes reminiscences of the central character’s childhood, in which she was trained in in herblore by her mother.
Part 2 includes a section in which a wild wolf runs loose. This image seemed appropriate:
Part 3 comes to the crux of the story, and includes a narrative about the ancient archetype Lilith, who in Jewish mythology was Adam’s first wife before the unfortunate Eve. This seemed perfect:
Finally, we have an Epilogue. The image of the Phoenix from the bible seemed appropriate enough!
Scanning the 250 year 0ld images has been quite an education. Only once you start to manipulate the image and blow it up, do you see the extraordinary detail of the original craftsman, who scratched the image in reverse on to a copper plate with a steel stylus. The physical strength, endurance and patience it took is humbling for a 21st Century man who often ends up cursing Adobe Photoshop.
We sit on the shoulders of giants.