Of heirs, hares and airs…

 Of photographs and fading…

Above the pantry door hangs a black and grey photograph taken 84 years ago.

I can be so precise because I know that it captures my grandparents on the day that they avowed marriage. A stranger wouldn’t though; no white finery trails veiled hints nor top hats doff a clue. They look, instead, to be in their Sunday best, ready to stroll off into the monochrome backdrop scenery, perhaps to be lost there forever.


As we will all, one day, be lost of course – when the last of our friends whispers the final anecdote, when our offspring’s offspring’s offspring recoil from family stories, when no one’s sure – nor cares – who the faded couple in the photograph are any more.

For familiarity is fundamental to the worth of most photographs – they are important to us solely because they preserve a person, provoke a memory or push a button of connection. Once that link is lost, our copious visual catalogues of life have less relevance than last year’s Argos catalogue.

And in a generation’s time, neither rarity nor social history value will add to their charm. The growing accessibility of photography – along with archive footage to match – means that everything is documented and we document everything. I have perhaps 30 photographs of my first five years of life; I suspect most babies born in Britain today have a similar number of their first week, if not their first day.

Albums, then, are no longer something to dig out on a wet Saturday afternoon, each familiar shot re-enforced in our photographic memory by its verbal provenance. Instead, packs of snaps clutter our cupboards or stretch our RAM to bleating point. Hell is other people’s homepage… or, worse still, their blog…


I’m sorry. I think I’d better go out, shake myself and come back in again – I’ve obviously got into blog on the wrong side today.

I do worry though about what will happen to the old photos after my day; they are so very precious to me and so very pointless to anyone else. Some of them can be divided amongst branches of the family which have continued to grow… ‘Here – he was your great great uncle – have him back – but look after him properly, mind…’

A few of the more modern ones could go into a sort of ‘Story of This House’ scrapbook I suppose, to sit with the deeds until someone who appreciates it comes along (along, of course, with a gentle curse attached for whoever throws it out… something of the ‘embarrassing itches and a niggling sense of guilt’ variety, I think…)

I’d better get it sorted out soon though, for I am, after all, rapidly approaching 45.

Once those of you of 50 or over have stopped snorting, let me explain that for some time now I’ve dealt with the certainty of death by annually adjusting the capacity of the glass-half-full-half-empty. At 44, I can still tell myself fairly rationally that I could live to be 88 and so still have half my years ahead. A doubling of 45 though requires a much larger leap of the imagination… an altogether more determined suspension of the laws of probability.

Please don’t think I have any designs on immortality though.

Of poetry, places and posing…

In my teens, weekends would often find me posing on a spring riverbank or the lea side of a windswept outcrop, poetry book in hand. There I would sit and read aloud, waiting for my soul mate to ‘happen upon me’ – and discover me for my mind.


He had long hair and wore a satin-backed waistcoat which blinked in the sun – although I made do with curls and a suit of armour at times. Our first exchange of words came as I began one stanza… only to look up, bewildered and enchanted, as his dark voice completed it from memory…

He never quite showed up of course, but in his absence – strolling with Keats, Byron, Owen and Shelley – I developed a new penchant for thin, pale and preferably consumptive young men – as well as an excellent rapport with the (depressingly hale and hearty) dog walkers of the district.

Premature death wasn’t actually a prerequisite for my reading list; Yeats, Donne and Blake were regular companion and Tennyson was a particular favourite – as much for his melodic word-weaving as for the beauty of his expression:

‘Let Love clasp Grief lest both be drown’d

Let darkness keep her raven gloss:

Ah sweeter to be drunk with loss,

To dance with death, to beat the ground

Than that the victor Hours should scorn

The long result of love, and boast,

‘Behold the man who loved and lost,

But all he was is overworn’….

And Dylan Thomas, too – all be he paunched and more likely to be puffing from tobacco then tuberculosis – captured my ear and heart:

‘Do not go gentle into that good night,

Old age should burn and rave at close of day;

 Rage, rage against the dying of the light’… sang the son of Swansea – and whispered the daughter of Pembrokeshire.

His sentiment, at the time, rang so true; life is after all extraordinary, astonishing, precious. Who would not clutch it with both hands?

Since, though, I’ve touched sufficient deaths – of both the brutal, untimely sort and the quiet, close of day variety – to revise my opinion. Thomas’ father, who inspired the poem, was, after all, dying, blind and in his 80s. Who, in those circumstances, would unwish a loved one the graceful sense of completion that seems to fall with long life’s dusk? Give me life in excess yes, but not excess of it; when I reach out for death, hold my other hand – but please don’t grip too tightly. And then bury me with my negatives…


Of lunacy and harebrained schemes…

I wish I’d felt quite as philosophical at 4.00am. Although it’s March 1st or later when you’re reading this, I’m starting to write it on the 21st February and the total lunar eclipse is less than eighteen hours passed.

I kept dutiful vigil. From midnight on I hovered, liminally, Janus cursing me every time I transgressed his boundaries and me cursing him back every time the back door creaked. But after days and nights of clarity and anticipation, first fog and then cloud blotted the sky, eclipsing everything. Excitement about the ‘blood red moon’ to come turned rapidly to mutterings about the ‘bloody moon’ and, at the moment of theoretical totality, I bad fellow chat-room vigilantes goodnight, sent a grumpy last email and stuck my head out one more time…

And there, of course, it was, a tiny crescent of silver just at its base smiling lop-sidedly down at me. I grabbed my camera and spent a glorious twenty minutes grinning back at its deepening beam before the chill of the night made shake unavoidable.

And then did I sensibly go to bed? Of course not… I breakfasted on a warming whisky and three medicinal chocolate truffles whilst downloading my photos… Only download came there none. ‘Insert stick into drive E’ chanted the ‘Windows Download Wizard’, again – and again – and again. ‘Insert pointy stick in wizard…’ I hissed back… realising that although I could see tantalising moon thumbnails, Magicpants had no intention whatsoever of letting me access them, no matter how many times I typed ‘downloadiamus!’

Rational people would have given up and slept on it. Rational people would have concluded that the problem was with the memory stick. I, however – tired, tipsy, and under the influence of the dark slides of the moon – concluded that my camera was dying.

Did I hold its hand whilst it reached out to death? Did I just… I changed its battery. I shook it. I growled at it. When the wizard kept chanting I almost cried at it. I shut the laptop down, tried shaking that and then restarted.

It was a particularly unfortunate point for my previous nemesis – the ‘Desktop Cleanup Wizard’ – to put in an appearance.


Do I look as if I’m in the least bit perturbed that I have ‘unused icons on my desktop’? In comparison to world hunger, global warming, war and pestilence is it really a big issue? No. So each time it pops up to lecture me I shut it down again… And then the damned thing re-opens, as if clearing its throat and speaking LOUDLY and CLEARLY… ‘Erhem! Madam! You don’t seem to have fully appreciated the gravity of your crime… you have unused – yes, unused – icons… on your desktop! What will the neighbours say?’

In lighter moments, I assuage my ire by thinking of a not-so-long ago episode of Spooks, where the good guys have only moments to save the earth. To achieve this, a geek has to power up his laptop on the bonnet of a car before hacking in and patching up… or whatever non-wizard kids do… in the nick of time. But no, in my fantasy, as Windows opens here comes the wizard… and its name is Gates, not Gandalf…

This morning though, not even accrediting Microsoft with Armageddon helped my humour. And so it was that I finally climbed into my man’s arms muttering – sincerely – ‘the wizards are after me’…

Today though, I remembered the brighter side of the eclipse… and a mystery that got buried somewhere in my grumpiness.  It was just gone 3.30 and as ebony as a shrouded moon night – and yet there were birds singing…numerous birds, all at some distance to the west, towards town.

When a Scottish friend bemusedly reported hearing birdsong there a couple of hours earlier, I assumed she’d encountered a confused robin. Their large eyes mean that they cope with levels of darkness deeper than most birds and it’s not wholly unusual to find one singing by streetlight. I’ve since discovered though that night-time song is increasingly being reported in urban areas. At first, light pollution was blamed, but research points the finger at the daytime noise levels in our streets. Town-dwelling birds can no longer hear each other to establish their territories with song during the day so have to do it by night instead; what was unusual wasn’t the song but that we were out to hear it.


I was, I must admit, relieved to discover a rational explanation for this phenomenon; I try not to be superstitious but it’s a trait knotted deep in my cultural roots and one to which I can succumb at times of chance and change. Birds or animals behaving ‘oddly’ rarely bode well in folklore and I was glad to be able to file my unease away under ‘S’ for ‘solved’.

Of dottiness and derivations…

Oh! It being the 1st of the month, I trust you all remembered to say ‘rabbits’ this morning? But I wonder how many of you also said ‘hares’ before going to sleep last night? The latter tradition seems now to be largely lost, but it was once believed that to salute the closing month with ‘hares’ and welcome the new one with ‘rabbits’ would secure you good luck, a wish or a gift. The Oxford Dictionary of Superstitions also records a farmer from Suffolk – born in 1891 – recalling a saying repeated there at the end of the month ; ‘Let the old hare set’…

An interesting one that. Although many cultures – from China and India through Africa to Mexico – do claim to see a hare or rabbit on the moon in the same way in which we ‘see’ a man’s face, or have folk stories associating the hare with the moon, it’s not a British thing. But then saying ‘rabbits’ and or ‘hares’ at the turn of the month certainly is… Why for goodness’ sake?

 Had people here in fact noticed the pareidolial hare/ rabbit image on the moon? It is, after all, pretty obvious once you look for it…


Pareidolia, by the way, is a kind of apophenia… (oh, how I love that sentence… even though I know it will have completely deserted my brain next week) …apophenia being the perception of patterns, pictures, reason or meaning in apparently random data or happenings. It may be the optical or aural illusions associated with seeing pictures in clouds or hearing words in white noise – both of which would also be examples of ‘pareidolia’.

Apophenia though would also cover the perception of ominous hidden messages in the media by people with psychotic illnesses, some of the more off-the-wall aspects of conspiracy join-the-dot theory, thinking that the behaviour of birds or animals carries portents – or even, I suppose, the discernment of meaning in an utterly random blog…

Apophenia also, before we leave the subject, happens to be the name shared by a death metal band from Tucson, another metallic collection from Ontario and an altogether softer combo from New York. Links to all three from the bottom of this blog enable one to explore how utterly unconnected something that at first sight looks the same can be – and how annoyed any of their fans might be if they picked up a ticket for the wrong gig… The Canadians, incidentally, get the vote of the Welsh jury.

Anyway, back at the early Britons staring at the moon, if  they saw the hare-cum-rabbit there, might they perhaps have once paid oral homage to it at the turn of the moon – and then, later on, at the turn of the month instead? (you must have noticed what peeps out if you double the ‘o’ in ‘month…)

And did early Christians perhaps try to convince them that it wasn’t a hare, given the animal’s links with native pagan deities? ‘Operor non exsisto leviculus , is est non lepus , is est vir! Vultus! Sinister oculus, dexter oculus quod magnus caseus frendo!’ (as close as online translation could get to ‘Don’t be so silly, it’s not a hare it’s a man’s face! Look! A left eye, a right eye and a big cheesy grin..)

‘Ok, look, I’ll do you a deal… You lot stop going on about the hare in the moon and we’ll re-name Pasque after your spring fertility goddess Eostre… does that sound fair to you? Pardon? You still want some reference to the scared hare? Well how does the Easter bunny sound?’


Any links between Eostre, hares, rabbits and eggs are largely speculative though. Bede is the only early source to have ‘recorded’ her, and then only in the context of suggesting that Eostur-monath – the old Anglo Saxon term for April(ish)  – was named for her. A thousand years later, Jakob Grimm (of fairytale fame) took things a little further in his Deutsche Mythologie , suggesting a link between Bede’s Eostre and a German ‘Ostara’ – but neither made any links to other symbols commonly associated with Easter. 

One oft repeated – but as far as I can tell wholly unsourced – story relates how Eostre found a wounded/ freezing bird and transformed it into a hare to ‘save’ it. The hare continued to have the ability to lay eggs and did so each spring in gratitude to the goddess. Though neatly linking the themes, it does so a little too neatly for my liking and as such has the flavour of something contrived retrospectively to do so.

It’s one of the frustrations fundamental to the exploration of folklore that so many stories start ‘they say that…’ but no one ever quite knows who ‘they’ were for citation purposes. The adoption and exchange of deities, symbolism and traditions between cultures, the morphing of names and the incorporation of native beliefs further complicate any disciplined search.  And even at the search’s end, all you’ll often find are fragments which look like they might be connected – a jigsaw puzzle not only with pieces missing but which might have bits of another picture jumbled in with it too. Educated supposition is often all that can draw them together.

Of endless tails…

The way in which things travel and change across the centuries is beautifully exemplified by the ebb and flow of a symbol most commonly known in Britain today as ‘The Tinner’s Rabbits’.

An effective tromp l’oiel, all you perceive at first is a circle of three rabbits – or more accurately hares – chasing after each other. Look more closely though and you will find that although each hare has two ears, they only have three between them…


This one is contemporary – kindly reproduced here with the blessing of father and son stone masons and makers Martin and Oliver Webb of Herefordshire – a link below takes you to their fascinating website.

The symbol thought is ancient. The earliest British examples date from around 1300 and it’s particularly common in Mediaeval Devonshire churches, with a distinct cluster around Dartmoor, almost invariably in the form of carved roof bosses. It was for a long time accepted that this was some sort of ‘badge’ of the influential Dartmoor tin-miners, with various explanations linking the symbol itself to the old alchemical symbol for tin or even the fact that rabbits, like the miners, dug in the ground.

That the same symbol also crops up at churches and cathedrals across England, Wales, France and Germany however rather undermines these origins.

Further examples of the conjoined hares have been found on the base-plate of a 13th/ 14th Century silver casket at Trier Cathedral attributed to an Iranian craftsman working within the Golden Horde, on a Mongol coin of 1281 and on a Cistercian Monastery bell in Germany dating to 1224. The real hare’s leap though – back to the 6th Century and from one religion to another – comes with the discovery of the same symbol painted on the ceilings of Buddhist cave temples in China.  

If you accept that the symbol originally had a single source, its long journey west to Devon seems to have taken over a millennium – some have suggested via the Silk Road and possibly the capture of Constantinople during the Crusades. Others still suggest an even earlier Sassanid Empire origin for it, given that other symbols in the Buddhist cave temples can be linked to this source.

It was quite a relief then to discover two examples much close to home. The first, I was delighted to find, is in St David’s Cathedral – the focal point of the smallest city in Britain and practically on my doorstep.


Of pilgrimage, penance and pictures…

Although a regular place of pilgrimage all my life – and please note that two pilgrimages to St David’s were declared equal to one to Rome by Pope Calixtus II, although I’m fairly sure he didn’t mean by Richards Brothers’ bus – I’d never before noticed the garishly painted roof boss in the Lady Chapel. And even if I had noticed it, I would probably have interpreted it as three donkeys…


I searched high for a Green Man too, for they are often found in partnership with the three hares – but it was low that I eventually found one – grinning from the base of a miserichord – the little ‘shelf’ on which derrières could be rested during long sessions of upstanding worship.


It is, on the whole though, the sort of cathedral you come away from with a crick in your neck rather than a pain in your seat; I hope some of the ceilings pictured at the end of the blog will help you to understand why.

Oh and today is, incidentally, St David’s Day too… but more of him another year…

The second example of the symbol made me feel slightly ashamed. I decided to blog about hares a few weeks ago now (yes, believe it or not there actually is a planning stage involved in my ramblings, the first couple of questions being 1) will I find enough material that interests me? (invariably yes) and if so, 2) will I be able to illustrate it?

Having never even seen a live hare, the chances of finding one and persuading it to pose for a photograph in the space of a month seemed remote. I knew though that around my home I had several representations of hares which would, at a push, more than do – a large stone one, a little silver one, a moon-gazing one, one on a wall plaque in the back yard and one on a bowl which I always long to fill with soup just for the punch line.

Then, that evening, my surf – mouse washed up at a site about the three hares symbol and a reference to the St David’s boss. If confirmation of my subject was needed, I had just found it.

The following morning, on the way to the robin, I glanced at the wall plaque just to confirm that it was of a hare, not a rabbit. Oh it was a hare alright – three of them in fact – running round in a circle and sharing three ears between them. Ho hum… I wonder if there’s a term for seeing only random rabbits in significant, meaningful pictures…


I’m usually the other way inclined; as a teenager (when not posing with poetry) I was entranced by Kit Williams’ ‘Masquerade’ – a treasure hunt within a picture book, with a riddle and a hare in every picture. His art combines a slightly disturbing realism with fascinating detail and I swam for hours in those images. I also clearly recall the frisson that ran down my spine the first time I saw sinister-in-her-innocence young Myrtle Morrison showing Sergeant Howie a drawing of her missing sister Rowan in The Wicker Man… It is, as I’m sure you’ll remember, a picture of a hare…

Hare today, woman tomorrow…

Rowan was of course not the first young Scottish woman to ‘go into a hare’. Probably the best documented lady-to-Lepus transformer was ‘self confessed’ 17th Century Scottish witch Isobel Gowdie, who delighted her persecutors with her lengthy and vivid descriptions of shape shifting, sabbats and dealings with the Devil as well as obliging them with the actual spells used for the transformation.

I could of course rant at length about the use of physical and psychological torture coupled with assurances of a) mercy and/ or b) salvation to ‘encourage’ confessions from the feeble, fanciful, downright unwell or just persecuted, but trust I’d be preaching to the converted. I could even mention Guantanamo Bay…

Instead though I’ll share the hope that Isobel – whose execution was assumed by many but never actually recorded – either died an old lady, still regaling her captors, or managed to lose herself somewhere in fertile fields, be they of the landscape or the mind.

Her testimony though lives on, both as a poignant memorial and a fascinating sampler of the folk beliefs of her time with which she embroidered her stories.


Some, it would seem, had already been around for centuries. Giraldus Cambrensis, writing 600 years earlier in his 1184 ‘Topographia Hibernica’ or ‘Topography of Ireland’ reported ‘It has also been a frequent complaint, from old times as well as in the present, that certain hags in Wales, as well as in Ireland and Scotland, changed themselves into the shape of hares, that, sucking teats under the counterfeit form, they might stealthily rob other people’s milk…’ 

In Wales the ability to shape shift into a hare was also thought to run in the women of some families – a belief recorded by John Rhys in his 1901 ‘Celtic Folklore’, who remarks that ‘I have known many such, and my own nurse belonged to one of them, so that my mother was reckoned to be rather reckless in entrusting me to y Gota or ‘the Cutty One,’ as she might run away at any moment, leaving her charge to take care of itself.’

Oh I love passages which pose as many questions as they answer…

The only likely definitions I could find for ‘cutty’ though were either ‘cut short/ abnormally short and stubby’ (as in the cutty wren, or the Cutty Sark – ‘sark’ originally being a Scottish chemise or nightdress…) or as slang for ‘an immoral and unchaste woman’ – and if the latter was the usage intended by Rhys I would imagine the danger of his nurse transforming into a hare would be the least of the local gossips’ concerns. Were these Welsh hare-women then renowned for their tiny stature? It seems unlikely. EVERYONE here is short.

I had to turn back to Welsh then to find a more probable interpretation, where ‘Y Gota’ – or ‘Cota’, before my native tongue performs its own shape-shifting mutation on it – translates as ‘short’, yes, but also as ‘abrupt’. And it seems quite likely to me that women renowned for supernatural prowess would also be associated with being brusque or of course ‘cutting’…  Well wouldn’t you be if children shouted ‘hello Thumper’ after you in the street?

Manx witches meanwhile were known as ‘butches’, says Rhys, for which he suggests derivation from ‘witch’ and ‘bewitch’. He records though that whereas in Wales only women can transform themselves into hares, the men of Man can also be hare-witches. He also remarks that in both cultures, only a black greyhound ‘without a single white hair’ can catch one and that only being shot with a silver coin can kill one.

Of fire, fish and fissures…

It is of course probably not surprising that hares – active at night, silent, fleet and capable of giving you one hell of a shock if disturbed by day – became associated with things not quite of the light. They were traditionally considered ill omens – the appearance of a hare running through a town was said to presage fire, fisher folk around our shores wouldn’t even utter the word ‘hare’ let alone put out to sea if one had been sighted near their boat or nets and if a hare crossed your path you might as well abandon your journey for no good would come of it.


The sighting of a hare by a pregnant woman was thought to threaten deformity in the unborn child (viz. a harelip), but immediately tearing her petticoat might avert the threat, the rent in the cloth presumably being symbolic of the split in the hare’s upper lip and something divided ‘instead’ of the baby’s features.

A similar belief was attached should an expectant woman accidentally put her foot in the ‘form’ of a hare – ‘form’ being the name given to the shallow hollows which are home to hares. For hares, unlike rabbits, do not burrow and also give birth to far fewer, more mature young. Leverets are born with fur and with their eyes open, usually two or three to a litter. It’s common for their mother to spread them between more than one form, presumably maximising their chances of survival.

The adoption of abandoned hare forms by ground nesting birds for their nests is one possible source of the belief that hares laid eggs. What gave rise to the idea that they were either androgynous or changed sex with each season and were capable of virgin birth is less obvious.

Still, Pliny recommends eating hare both as a cure for sterility and an aphrodisiac and John Baptisa Porta, in his ‘Natural Magick’ records how ‘jugglers and impostors’ would set a lamp burning, filled with the fat of a hare… ‘If the lamp burns in the middle of women’s company…’ he writes ‘…it constrains them to cast off their cloths and voluntarily to show themselves naked unto men.’ A popular new scent for ‘Colonial Candles’ to offer perhaps?

By 1738 though, Swift wrote in his ‘Polite Conversation’ that hare was considered ‘melancholy meat’ and Brand, in his 1777 ‘Antiquitie’s records ‘the antient (sic) Britons made Use of the Hare for the Purposes of Divination. They were never killed for the Table. ‘Tis perhaps from hence that they have been accounted ominous by the Vulgar.

The source for this claim is almost certainly Cassius Dio’s account of Boudica’s 1st Century rout of the Romans (before being routed right back). In volume 62 of his 80 volume History of Rome he writes: ‘When she had finished speaking, she employed a species of divination, letting a hare escape from the fold of her dress… and since it ran on what was considered the auspicious side, the whole multitude shouted with pleasure’.

That Boudica then goes on to thank Andraste (identified as a war goddess) has led some neopagans to claim that the hare was sacred to Andraste, but neither Dio nor Tacitus – the only other source for this encounter – make that link and indeed just sentences earlier Dio quotes Boudica as comparing the Romans to ‘hares and foxes trying to rule over dogs and wolves’ – hardly an allusion she would have made to sacred animals and particularly not one sacred to the goddess she was just about to invoke…

I accept of course that stories will get warped and wefted as new generations weave them for their own time – the urge to look for patterns, to find explanations, to join-up-the-stars is just too human to expect otherwise. I wish people would admit though – sometimes to themselves – that that is what they are doing – and preferably stick a date on it!

Or perhaps my high horse is too high? Will some blogger in 3008 be quoting ‘judeness.wordpress.com’ as an ‘early but grumpy’ reference to the ‘ancient tradition of linking hares with Andraste’ whilst sighing about their contemporary neopagans?

Bear with me that I’m odd then; that I content myself with fragments, try to blag some random connections, lay them before you here and say ‘look, hares’ –  and hope, of course, that you enjoy them.


Of plagiarism and puns…

A final morsel before you go though; the mysterious ways of hares are not, it would seem, confined to yesteryear.

As long as aeroplanes have been taking off regularly, it’s been noticed that hares seem to gravitate to runways and indeed will often course alongside planes as they take off. Stefan Buczacki records this phenomenon in his Fauna Britannica, quoting a First World War pilot and citing the famous hares of Aldergrove in Belfast. And only last year, Milan’s Linate airport was closed after ‘a plague of hares’ confused the ground radar there.

I’d like to offer an explanation.

Hares, after all, are particularly common in the south east of England – and their natural habitat is more and more threatened by development…

‘Oh!’ cried little Sixer, waking from a dream, trembling ‘I have seen the great yellow trundlebunnies coming, flattening our forms and levelling our leverets… What are we to do? Where are we to go?’

Pistachio leaped to his little brother’s side…

‘We must go and see Gooseberry,’ declared Pistachio, ‘for he is hairy and wise in all things…’ and so, after Sixer had drunk his rescue remedy, they loped off into the darkness.

It took them a long time to find Gooseberry, who, being green, rather blended into the scenery. But, having appealed to Froth to light their way, they found him, eventually, at sunrise. Poor little Sixer poured out his vision, still quaking.

‘Fear not,’ said Gooseberry…‘I was up on the hill the other night and was listening to the workhumans chatting. I was confused at first too, but managed to work it out…

‘They spoke of a place not far from here which they are building especially for us… a new home… “at ‘Eathrow – a new running way”, they said – “a bloody great ‘are field”…’

A hoppy Eostre to you all – may your hares never grey…



The Three Hares Project


Some lovely stonework and lots of history to explore


half an hour of happy radio 4 listening about the hunt for the three hares’ origin


hares in Manx folklore – and lots more besides


a whimsical, quite large site about floppy bunnies and their lore and lots of very pretty pictures


Dylan Thomas reading ‘Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night’


birds singing at night


Isobel Gowdie’s confession


apophenia – the phenomenon


Apophenia – the death metal version


Apophenia – the Canadian version


Apophenia – the New York version


John Baptista Porta’s ‘Natural Magick’


Cassius Dio’s account of Boudica and the hare…






~ by Jude on March 1, 2008.

29 Responses to “Of heirs, hares and airs…”

  1. Awesome photos all the way around. Spectacular photos of the church/chapel. Wonderful photographs – really!!!

  2. THANK you Paul… You have to pay a small fee to get a ‘licence’ to take photos at the Cathedral – but I think they should have made it a provisional one in my case. It was one of the first times I’ve used a tripod and felt extremely inept trying to persuade it to do this or that. And for some daft reason as soon as you stick a tripod on your camera other people stop and watch you taking photos… especially when you’re balancing one of the legs on the toe of your boot because it’s the only way you can get it straight! Anyway, glad you appreciated the result 🙂

  3. Really enjoyed reading your blog, thanks. I can’t take my eyes off the picture of the carved hare (just above “hare-lip”) – what/where is it please?

  4. Kate thank you… the odd ‘enjoyed it’ remarks make it a pleasure to post…

    The hare you asked about lives with me… purchased for ridiculously few GBPs at a little shop now sadly closed. There are some amazing hare artists out there though; try searching Brian Hollingworth and Paul Jenkins for a start….

  5. Hi! Interesting thoughts and beautiful images. I’m very curious about the bronze relief of the woman with rose leafs – who made it, where is it…

  6. Hello Ola – I found it in a street market in Swansea (west wales) four or five years ago – who the maker is I’ve no idea, sorry – but it’s made from some sort of resin rather than bronze. I love her – she sits on the scullery wall opposite my kitchen window and winks at me now and then 😉 Thanks for your kind words about the blog and sorry not to be more help, but should I ever come across the same stall I’ll let you know.

  7. Hi Jude, thanks for your answer! So you actually have her at home, fantastic! I thought she was a bronze from some church yard or monument. The reason I ask is that I’m designing lables for a new, small brewery in my home town in Sweden. We’re trying to do something unusual and interesting, It’s in a really small scale but with quality and passion. Already in the second year there are a few fantastic beers coming out of the business, but no money yet 🙂 Just now I’m about to create a lable for an easter beer called Eastre – that’s how I found you, with a little help from Google of course. And now that I have met the beautiful rose-lady I can’t let go of the idea of including her in the design, she would be perfect! What do you say, can you imagine letting your photo move to Sweden and, tinted orange, meet the world as the face of spring? If you email me I can show you what we’ve been doing so far, and a first sketch of Eastre. With hopes and best regards! / Ola

  8. Hi Ola 🙂 I’ve replied by email – if you don’t get it safely let me know here and I’ll try again!

  9. Lovely to find your informative post. Thanks to Mr Google. I am tyring to find as much as I can on the three hares symbol. I live near Corfe Mullen (roof boss) and have friends in Chagford (another roof boss)

    Does that work on the Trier casket look like Celtic zoomorphic stuff, or is it wishful thinking?!

    Thanks again

  10. Val thank you for your comment and sorry that I’ve only just picked it up. The three hares continue to amaze me – and I’m always in favour of wishful thinking 🙂

  11. i am going to link shamelessly to your blog- and to your article. i google eostre and clicked images and ran across the green lady. this is one of the best posts i have had the pleasure of reading and i intend to add you to the google reader. thanks 🙂

  12. Found your lovely post today through the blog “A Polar Bear’s Tale” – by happenstance she has used today a picture of the roof boss in St. David’s and I had used it http://www.basicnorth.blogspot.com/ on February 27. It seems that we’re all dreaming of hares, moons and goddesses? Quite the stroke of synchronicity … or something more I believe! Last evening, our nearly full moon, gave us a very distinct view of the “rabbit in the moon” in the sitting up position.

    Thank you!

  13. Betmo your shameless linking is so welcome – thank you! 🙂

  14. Thank you Ricka… if we could choose our dreams I’d happily go with that combination! Synchronicity? Serendipity? If it makes us smile together that’s special in itself 🙂 And yes, the moon last night was amazing wasn’t it? I wonder, given how ‘attractive’ it is to the gaze, how many people’s eyes meet at the moon at any given time???

  15. Hello,
    yes I know an old post, sorry, Was desperately trying to show my son the Hare in the moon last night, and he couldn’t see it. So today i was googling the hare in the moon and stumbled across your WONDERFUL post. I fell in and read the whole bloody thing! I often wonder who will inherit all my ancestral photo’s. I have them going back to tin types and paintings. I know the boy has little interest.
    Do you suppose that they will be dust catchers in some future museum of antiquity? or perhaps just fodder for a fire some where down the road when some spouse is disgruntled?
    Thank you for the thoughtful ramblings, and the excellent image of the hare, and all the wonderful links.

  16. Oh, any thanks due are to you for your kind words; I’m just glad you found some enjoyment here. Don’t give up on your son finding some interest in your photographs just yet though – if he has a dad who bothers to try to show him the hare in the moon, my guess is he will treasure lots of memories once you’ve gone 🙂

  17. Hare and Moon topics have helped my research today, thank you!

  18. Glad to know that – I look forward to viewing the results!
    J x

  19. They can search for food in their environment

  20. St. David’s is about to be assaulted by 20+ 1st & 2nd year photography students tomorrow. The weather of course is said to be typically Welsh, pissing down rain. I am so looking forward to being the one who knows where the Green Man is, it may very will make up for the lack of knowledge of my very new camera.

    Please, please, please, keep on writing, your words flow like silken water and make me believe that my own blog, pitiful as it is, can and will get better.

    Oh, and as far as what to do with old photographs, I have a few ideas. Use the ones not too dear to your heart in some art project, decoupage, whatever, or do what I am slowly doing with those that do mean so very much. I’m ‘giving them back to the Universe’ by sacrificial immolation. A bonfire is befitting and the sparks seem to reach the stars…

  21. I am so glad to read this post and learn tat others have the same solution for “what to do with old photos.”

    In my case, not only do I have photos that mean so much to only me or others who are gone, I often “inherit” photos, portraits and even snapshots by the box lot because I frequently buy at auctions.

    On more than one occasion, I’ve given photos back to the universe by means of flame … my mother always said that “fire purified” and was the fitting way to let go of precious things you no longer wanted. “Giving them back to the Universe” is exactly the way I think of this ritual ceremony.

    Must be a part of race memory, yes?

  22. Katie – I love your bonfire idea – and truth be told I’d quite like to be piled on top myself – once my time comes of course lol… it even feels rebellious, like re-claiming the flames once used to punish women who were ‘different’

    Thank you for your very kind words about my writing too – the odd reminder that others find something to smile at here is the kick up the erhem… I need (I hope). Life has been silly this last year. I need to find more time to string more words together:-) And I don’t believe your blog is ‘pitiful’… give me a link, let me judge for myself… but like most things in life, writing becomes easier the more you do of it.

    I trust St David’s will have read your warning and will, even now, be bracing itself. Pssst… The misericords are in the small enclosed choir, under the lantern ceilings… 😉

  23. Ricka I’m so glad you read this post too 🙂 Your comments filled me with hope.

    I’ve been spending a lot of time looking into flames recently, contamplating endings, beginnings and change – I’m sure you’re right about there being an instinctive, inbuilt element to it. Long may the fascination of flame last 🙂

  24. This is really quite touching 🙂

  25. Thank you Ella – I’m glad you found it so 🙂

  26. just adding a comment here because I notice quite a few people have subscribed to the comments list – to let you know I’ve actually managed to blog again…

  27. My wife said I could fly a triskellion flag from our gazeebo–where can I get one?

  28. here http://www.buyexcalibur.co.uk/index.php?act=viewProd&productId=123

  29. Thank you very much – I love reading things that make me see the world a little bit differently than before I started reading 😀
    Happy Spring Equinox to you too 🙂

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