Anyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about Wales, where I grew up and spent most of my adult life. When I had the privilege of being one of the authors in the Wild Rose Press’s Song Of The Muses anthology I set my story, ‘Dancing With Fate’ in 5th Century Wales and used much of the wild scenery, with its mountains and lakes as background to that story. My first full length futuristic novel Starquest had several chapters set on the planet Niflheim, and again the inspiration for that planet came from memories of the Welsh mountains, and was reflected in the sequel, Children Of The Mist, published last year,
When thinking about my post for this blog, I decided to talk about one of the many old Welsh traditions, the love spoon. First of all, what is a ‘lovespoon’ exactly. Well, in the words of David Western, a very talented hand carver of these items: “Welsh lovespoons trace their roots back to the 1600s. They are hand carved tokens of love or esteem, each an extraordinary work of art… Originally, it was a handmade spoon given by its maker to the girl who had captivated his heart in the hopes its acceptance would lead to the beginnings of a courtship. The custom was known throughout Wales and was known to exist in Sweden, the Alpine regions and even down to Hungary; it is even reputed to have occured in areas of Spain, France, Italy and Greece. It is in Wales however, that the lovespoon has survived the industrial revolution and it is the only country where it has survived in a notable fashion.”
David was born in Cardiff and now lives in Victoria, BC. He is not only highly skilled, but very passionate about his craft. The picture is of a love spoon formed tor represent the Welsh dragon for the Portland ‘West Coast Eisteddford’ 2009. I think it is exquisite.
This is what he says about one of the other spoons he was commissioned to craft.
“What really makes this spoon special is something that you can’t see. Rather than putting together a series of symbols or meaningful images, this spoon was designed to capture a feeling. For the couple who commissioned it, the spoon is a remembrance of a single significant event in a lifetime of memories. For you and I, it is a nice walnut spoon with a cheerful yellow cedar inlay and some nice Celtic knotwork. For them, it is the memory of a long-ago walk on a wintery moonlit night when the promises of a life-long love were made…The heart shaped bowl signifies the unity and strength of their love joined as one. Even to those of us unaware of the true meaning hidden in the spoon, the heart lets us know this spoon is about love.”
I can imagine a young Welsh man after a hard day’s work, returning to his family home and spending the long evenings carving a piece of wood into the shape of a wooden spoon, with an ornately decorated handle. The more complicated and difficult the design, the more it would symbolize the depth of his love and desire to labour on behalf of the woman he yearned for.
The young carver would probably have been shy and unwilling to show his emotions, and would attempt to convey his true feelings through the use of various symbols and motifs. Over the centuries, many more such symbols have been added and as the love spoons became more elaborate and decorative, they have become valued as collectibles. Many of the symbols used are familiar throughout Europe. For instance, a chain or a Celtic knot would mean a wish to be together forever, a diamond would mean wealth or good fortune and the richness of a life filled with love, a cross would mean faith, a flower would mean affection, or a dragon for protection, or to symbolize Wales itself.
How romantic is that?, There has to be a wealth of romance tales in this one love token, alone! No amount of machine made, mass-produced trinkets could convey half the emotion of a single wooden spoon ornately carved by hand and made with love.
Excerpts reprinted with permission from David Western’s blog, all material © 2009, David Western –http://davidwestern.blogspot.com/
David is a regular contributer to Americymru, a blog specifically aimed at People with Welsh roots, living and working in the USA: http://americymru.blogspot.com/
BIO: Hywela Lyn lives in a small village in England although her heart remains in her native rural Wales, which inspired so much of her writing.
Although most her writing tends to be futuristic, the worlds she creates are usually untainted by crowded cities and technology, embracing the beauty and wildness of nature. Her characters often have to fight the elements and the terrain itself. Her heroes are strong and courageous, but chivalrous and honorable – and of course, handsome and hunky. Her heroines are also strong and courageous, but retain their femininity and charm. However difficult the journey, love will always win in the end.
Her latest book ‘Children Of The mist’ was released by The Wild Rose Press on 19th June 2009 and is a sequel to her debut novel, ‘Starquest’. She is currently working on the third book in the series. Her novella ‘Dancing With Fate’ is included in Book II of The Wild Rose Press’s anthology, ‘Song Of The Muses’.
She also has a fantasy ‘free read’, entitled ‘A Bargain With Death’.
All her books can be purchased here: