The Groom and His Tutor

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February 1, 2013 by smithartonline

The Groom and His Tutor The Groom and His Tutor is a piece from late 2011 and the subject matter harkens back to my early interests in Celtic mythology. The theme of a ruler being responsible for the success and welfare of the land is one I return to regularly. Perhaps it is not surprising that my focus on this theme occurs around the time of presidential elections in the United Sates.

This concept of preparing a leader to work with integrity and concern for the welfare of the land and the people, putting self interests aside for the greater good, was part of ancient Irish culture. Proinsias MacCana best describes the concept:

            Tara was also the site of the famous Feis Temhra,

            ‘the Feast of Tara’, which was held in pagan times to

             confirm or legitimize the recently elected king and during

             which, it would seem, his ritual marriage to the realm was

            celebrated  (the word feis means both ‘feast’ and

            ‘to sleep, spend the night’): as the early triad has it,

            the Feast of Tara was one of the ‘three things that

            hallow a king.’         

                                      Proinsias MacCana,Celtic Mythology(London,

                                                                Hamlyn Publishing, 1973) 117.

The work shows two similar male figures on the lower right, one being the teacher and the other the student. To the left, the green robed female represents the land as the bride. The bird motif is employed to indicate otherworldliness. Central to the image is the sacred oak tree and another female teaching figure. The picture is filled with symbols I associate with the theme as a whole.


I note the use of the planet Jupiter in the upper left area. Any time I employ this element in a picture, it is indicative of the passage of time. It once was common practice to use the Galilean moons of Jupiter to synchronize clocks at various locations around the world: a first step in determining one’s longitude. (The difference between one’s local time and Greenwich time helps determine longitude)


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