Today is the thirtieth anniversary of PGH’s death. How did she want to be remembered? When Joyce McGrath painted her portrait in 1989 she chose to wear one of the capes that had been handmade for her in Greece, they used as background two Greek masks that she had hanging in the house and in her hand was a toy owl, representing Athena (or Minerva) goddess of wisdom. Thus the portrait tied her not just to her years of living in Greece but also to ancient Greece and its mythology. Almost certainly she was also making a statement about her own exceptionality.
PGH’s Sheiling Song (1932), a gorgeous portrait of a shepherd and his sheep, is a setting of an extract from Fiona MacLeod’s From the Hills of Dream. While it was likely a choice influenced by her teacher Fritz Hart, MacLeod’s interest in a mystic goddess can be seen in the poetry she wrote at school and later in her fascination with Robert Graves’s The White Goddess (1948), which she no doubt discussed with him when they met in 1956.
Fiona Macleod (William Sharp), Golden Dawn member, writer and mystic, wrote about a mysterious underworld goddess called ORCHIL (see ‘From the Hills of Dream’ 1896). Certain magical groups in the UK have been working with this goddess for many decades. pic.twitter.com/RNyQI44qhN
— Visio Smaragdina (@SmaragdinaVisio) June 15, 2020