|©Filidoro & Penco|
This Queen of Swords is amazing, isn't she? She stands in front of the walnut tree, with a sword in her hand, snakes all about her, a cat just behind her leg, and an owl above her. In the background we see strange creatures: a man-sized toad with glowing yellow eyes; a gremlin creature, a beaked beast with large, pointy ears, and other dark shadows. Yet the Queen seems unphased by it all.
She has been through much, and isn't one to start at shadows. She knows how to cut through the darkness, to see to the heart of the matter, and to heal it. She is helped by the mushrooms to one side of her and the censer to the other. I get the sense that part of her power is as an oracle, seeing beyond what most can fathom, and speaking that truth.
The LWB says: "Known as 'the city of witches', in ancient times this place was sacred to the Mother Goddess and often the site of pagan rituals." Well, that makes sense of everything, then... Not!
Thank goodness, then, for the internet. One site, describes the Stregha (witches) of Benevento as gathering together under the walnut tree to celebrate the solstices and equinoxes. They dance and drink strong spirits, and worship snakes (perhaps based on a cult of Isis). Another gives a lovely fairytale, in which a poor, young man is helped out by beautiful witches who spring forth from the walnuts of the tree. They give him great wealth, and help him win the love, and eventually the hand, of the local princess. And both link the witches to the Goddess Diana. A third makes no mention of Diana, but does once again mention Isis' snakes, though claiming that the walnut tree was amalgamated with a sacred Lombard tree on which bits of snakeskin were hung, to be snatched off and eaten as part of a test of strength and daring by young knights. In all of these accounts, there is mainly mention of a single huge snake, and an exceedingly tall tree (under which large numbers could gather).
Another aspect is the walnut itself, considered a dangerous tree which is "too damp" and can cause paralysis! Obviously, those demonologists didn't know about its antioxidant properties and ability to improve fat processing. Then there's the fact that walnuts look like human brains (if you were to crack someone's skull like you'd crack a nut shell, that is). There are many claims that walnuts are good for your brain, due to their high Omega-3 content. And they may even help you sleep!
With the Queen of Swords and the Walnut Tree of Benevento we find a combination of ideas. That she is a sharp cookie, with a brain full of omega-3. That she is wise in the ways of witches - gathering knowledge and herblore. That, like a fairy godmother, she has a soft spot for the underdogs of life, so long as they're willing to make a go of things for themselves :)
My mother-in-law is coming to visit today. She's a smart lady, too, though she wouldn't think of herself as a witch. And she isn't shy about speaking her mind, either :D First, though, I have to look into some healing - getting a good sleep and picking up a prescription.
I am grateful for the healing power of sleep.