When we were in Wiltshire, a month and a half ago, I had planned a complicated music video inspired photoshoot, with changes of scenery, dynamic poses and a text around body image and beauty standards.
Indeed, as we carry only backpacks on our nomadic journey since October, I decided not to bring makeup. This is my first barefaced photoshoot. I have rosacea, a condition that causes me to always be red-cheeked, and am often sadly self-conscious about it, but not ashamed, and this is a great opportunity to raise awareness about this condition. That said, I have the best lip balm (really) and hair serum made by Amandine from Vegan Voyage, an inspiring woman we met here in Wiltshire. I did cave in to the beauty standards by shaving my legs and armpits for the occasion. Whatever works to feel comfortable…
I’m wearing dresses, a hat and shoes from charity shops in Royal Wootton Bassett. My hair was cut and coloured by the talented Gemma from the hair salon Pixal-Rose in Swindon.
In the end, we ditched the whole music video screenshots concept and we stayed in Swindon’s amazing bluebell wood, entranced by the calm surroundings and the subtle scent. Hagbourne Copse is an unexpected natural reserve in the middle on an industrial estate, a surprising pocket of peace. We photographed it at its peak, and the flush of sapphire flowers flooding the ground took our breath away.
My fascination for bluebells compelled me to write an article six years ago, detailing a lot of facts and fictions around the gorgeous early Spring flowers.
But somehow, one story had escaped me.
That an old scientific name for Bluebell is Endymion, the lover of the Moon Goddess Selene – nearly my namesake.
Botanists decided bluebells would be called Hyacinthoides Non-Scripta, as the bluebells are related to hyacinths. Why Non-Scripta? Hyacinthus was Apollo’s lover. He died, and hyacinth flowers grew from his blood. Apollo, heartbroken, wrote messages of anguish on the hyacinths with his tears.
Bluebells are Hyacinth’s cousins no one wrote on. Non-Scripta. Subsequently they shifted taxonomies, keeping the Non-Scripta name even when it didn’t make any sense for international naming reasons, but they’re now back to the Hyacinthoides family after having been called Scilla non-scripta or Endymion non-scripta for a while.
Endymion was a beautiful mortal, a shepherd or a king depending on the stories. Gods granted him immortality by making him sleep forever. Selene, Endymion’s lover, what still in love with him. Every night, the Moon goddess would “visit” Endymion and ended up bearing children from these… “visits” (yuck). I don’t like this story as Endymion is unaware of what’s happening to him.
Lois Tilton, a gardener that used to write vampire novels, explains that bluebells are poisonous and the poetic shift to eternal sleep is not hard to see. To further explain the old Endymion naming, she also links the myth of Endymion with Celtic myths of warriors and wizards, asleep until Britain needs them, like Arthur or Merlin.
So let’s imagine Endymion was not a young shepherd sleeping forever- but a beautiful elf named Bluebell.
Bluebell liked to live in the present moment, as if each second was an eternity, smelling flowers and walking in the woods, waiting for his lover Luna – Selene’s Latin name – to come to Earth and walk with him.
Luna was a being of night, but not oblivious to the charms of daylight. When gods and people thought she slept, she was actually escaping to the forest to meet her lover, disguised as a mortal with what she thought was a natural hair colour and shapeshifting clothes she thought humans could sew. Passersby thought her strange but never guessed she was the Moon.
Bluebell never told her secret to anyone. Everyday they danced in the woods, carefree as only mythological beings can be, grateful to be alive and together.
Pics by Alexis and me.