There’s something utterly lovely about having a book with my name and Tom’s art on the cover. Druidry and the Ancestors is the first paperback to land with this setup. We’ve done ebooks before, and there is Lost Bards and Dreamers – but that’s self published, which is different.
When we started contemplating the cover, we knew there would have to be a tree. You can’t have a Druid book without some kind of plant life on the cover! The tree in question lives fairly near the canal. We knew there were some good, gnarly trees in the area, and I like ivy, so the pair of us went out with a camera, and came back with images for Tom to play with. I like willows. I know an oak says ‘druid’ more obviously, but the area in which I wrote the book is all willow and alder, oaks aren’t so partial to the damp. I love the capacity of willow to regenerate, and its beautiful flexible wood is wonderful to craft with. I have a wicker man in my history.
How to represent the idea of the ancestors? I didn’t want anything too obvious, so that ruled out standing stones and the like. I also didn’t want to peg it to one period. So we settled on a sort of charm bracelet, each individual image representing something I find meaningful.
Up at the top there’s a pentagram – which probably doesn’t need much explaining. This is a book I feel is as much for the wider pagan community as it is for Druids, even though I’ve come in from a Druidy angle. Then below to the right, we have a Celtic cross, because I’m very conscious that plenty of my ancestors were Christian, and their presence in the mix is important to me. Next down is a Pictish boar. Now, I’m not aware of being ethnically Pictish but I love the art style, and it also gave us a creature because I have a broader definition of ancestry than just immediate human bloodline stuff.
Then, going down the left side, there’s an awen symbol, not just for the Druidry, but for the crazy revival folk who invented so much and who I have a real love-hate thing going on with. Below that, an oak leaf, not just for the obvious Druid reference, but to include plant life in my depiction of ancestry. Then a skull. Because we like dead people, and skulls evoke all sorts of useful things, and we like skulls and I’m a bit of a goth at heart still.
Right at the bottom is a symbol Tom created for me years ago. Squint closely, and you’ll see it also features on this blog, and on the cover of Lost Bards and Dreamers. One of these days I shall get it tattooed onto my person. It’s a purple poppy, for dreams and visions, but the leaves are arranged in the style of a triskel, picking up on the Celts again, on all things that come in threes. This is my image of self, constructed from things historical, very much me, dangling off the bottom of the chain.
Peer at the background and you’ll see a hill that could well be Cam Peak or Silbury, or Glastonbury Tor, and some houses that could be Celtic roundhouses, or then again might not be.
There isn’t much that I do that doesn’t get thought about a lot. There’s a wonderful, magical process going from ideas in my head to things Tom creates. They never look how I expect them to. They always look better.