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Art and Creativity, Witches and Modern Mysticism

A Self Portrait honouring my ancestor, my Scottish Grandmother.

A Self Portrait honouring my ancestor, my Scottish grandmother, Effie Lorraine McKay. The images painted on my dress represent the Mary, Queen of Scots Tapestries, embroidered while she was imprisoned. For more information on these amazing tapestries, visit the V & A Museum – The Prison Embroideries.

With this new website under the name The Laurel Witch, I am able to move forward with my life’s work. Although I have many years of artwork – textile-based and paintings and illustrative work that I am proud of that brought me to this point in my career, I am archiving it, to give space for new work.

Grandmother Presence, Original Painting 2020 by Laura Daub

Here is a painting I painted of my grandmother in 2020, called Grandmother Presence. She is nothing like the sweet grandmother in the apron and white hair that I knew as a child, but of what I imagine she could have looked like in the 1920’s/30’s, having to run around with my boxing, truck and construction company owner, prohibition times rum-running, foul-mothed grandfather in Steeltown, a la f*cking Peaky Blinders. I can only imagine what she went through as a woman in those times.

As a child, it was always rumoured that she had her family tree done and was a descendant of Mary, Queen of Scots. I don’t know if that is true or not, but it sure provided me with some fantastical inspiration into diving into strong and empowered women, despite their ever-present limitations, and perhaps even magical women throughout history – women who may have had to keep their magic secret. It’s incredible to think that is still going on today and how the word, Witch, is vilified.

The reference to Witches in my work encompasses everything I am passionate about. Although I have never labeled myself in anyway, the archetype of the Witch deeply resonates with me. I no longer worry about what others think about my love of anything Mystical and Magical and I proudly embrace Feminism, vowing to fight Misogyny and all old school patriarchal messaging still prevalent today as I can, through my art, wherever and whenever possible.

In much of my work, particularly my cross stitch designs, my witches come across as adorable – well, if I do say so myself – Ha!
but, I actually use The Laurel Witch name in proud defiance of how strong women have been wrongly perceived throughout history and to this day, and in honour of our women ancestors. As I get older and wiser, I get closer to the Wise Woman Crone archetype – yes, let me proudly wear that crown – where the thought that the word Crone actually comes from the word Crown – with my mystical power of wisdom emanating out the top of my head. I want to break down the misogynistic attitudes ingrained in so many towards strong women of all ages and be a proud, empowered woman who embraces the gifts that were handed down to me by my descendants of strong women before me. I am a Modern Mystic. A descendant of Magical Witches. I acknowledge my privilege today to be able to let my magic and wisdom fly without hesitation or worry.

Interestingly, as my new website has been coming together, articles on International Women’s Day came out on Scotland issuing an apology for historical injustices to the thousands of people persecuted as witches in Scotland from the 1400’s to the 1700’s. So many years later, and still so much work to do in the fight against misogyny and the vilification of empowered women, but ever so important in today’s world –

~ Laura Daub, The Laurel Witch