2.23.2011

Hedgehog Secrets: Repulsion & Curiosity

clay figure hedgehog goddess, Late Minoan III culture, 14thc B.C.
Last year I designed a hedgehog charm for Hint Jewelry, but it wasn't done without a long back story. The beginning of Hint Jewelry's hedgehog starts with the collision of two feelings -- repulsion and curiosity.

You see, I've always been slightly repulsed by hedgehogs. I could never fully explain why, because honestly they seem to resemble many other rodent-like creatures, and I completely adore hamsters, mice, rats, etc. I would see a hedgehog design and think to myself, "Why are people attracted to this creature and why would they want to wear it? Am I missing something?" Slightly embarrassed by my feelings, I kept my thoughts to myself.

In the midst of some reading about ancient sculpture, I saw this image of a hedgehog goddess pictured above. I was so taken by her charming design that I made a photocopy and tucked it away for future investigation. The little bumps all over her skirt were similar to many of the design elements I was including in my abstract clay sculpture.  Here was an example of me being attracted to something hedgehog related...very curious.

I was also intrigued by the snippet of text included with the photograph, explaining that this Aegean goddess was linked to regeneration and up until the twentieth century women in Alpine villages carried spiked balls painted red called "hedgehogs" as folk medicine for uterine problems.

When you are repulsed by something, it is always a clue that there is something you are wanting to learn about yourself but you are deeply afraid. Even though I knew this, I consciously chose to avoid hedgehogs for another three years. Then in a conversation with my mother about a book she thought I might enjoy, The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery, I realized that my curiosity and repulsion to hedgehogs had grown to such magnificent proportions that I had discover what it all meant.

So here begins my journey of understanding the secret of the hedgehog. I hope you will join me during this short blog series, to uncover and share your own thoughts about the hedgehog, and how it may relate to some of the most unique aspects of our human nature.

4 comments:

  1. I never thought of a hedgehog as repulsive.. lol, actually, I think they're cute... I wiki-ed and apparently they got their name because they hung out around hedgerows... and they also sound like they'd be great in the garden.. they get rid of pests that normally would reek havoc on plants.. and supposedly they can kill snakes? who would of thunk that? Can't wait to see what u come up with.

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  2. Wow. What a story of how your inspiration is manifested! I love that the picture of the goddess and your mom's book suggestion all aligned to point you in the direction of a deeper truth. I am fascinated with you, Miss Beth! Can't wait to read more!
    Enjoy the day!
    Erin

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  3. You might be interesting in knowing that the "Hedgehog Goddess" you've featured here is closely associated with the Ephesian Artemis, a fertility goddess of Asia Minor.

    The Hedgehog is also used in heraldry, associated with different families and names. They are supposed to mean "provider".

    Interestingly enough and how Green Girl Studios has a hedgehog bead, is that a ladies' sewing circle from England came to Bead and Button for years and years and begged Cynthia every time they saw her to make a hedgehog bead. Apparently the prickles of the hedgehog were associated with a sewing needle and became their mascot. Eventually they wore her down.

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  4. Christine, boy it would be fun to have them taking care of your garden! Thanks for adding your research to this community.

    Andrew, what a neat story about these ladies in England and how hedgehogs are associated with needles. Also, I'm so glad you mentioned the Ephesian Artemis sculpture. I've always wondered if it was connected to this tiny clay piece. Ephesian Artemis is one of my favorite pieces that I look to every once and awhile for inspiration. Thanks for all your wonderful insight!

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I'd love for you to share your ideas and stories on my blog! Please know that I may not always be able to e-mail you a direct response, so be sure to check back to my blog and continue the dialogue. Many blessings for connecting with me through word and image :)