Asphodel Meadows Picture

I’m not the kind of artist who likes to dictate to the viewer how to interpret my art, but since this is a piece I designed specifically for the ‘Slytherin Pride’ challenge over at the Spinner’s End comm, I wanted to share with you all my thought processes as I conceptualised this piece.

Slytherin House, to my mind represents the element Water, the Moon and the Night. These symbols represent fluidity, intuition and emotion, i.e. traditionally the Feminine Principle. The Snake can be seen as a depiction of the Great Goddess of ancient myth, thus representing the cycle of birth, death and regeneration. It is a therefore symbol of change and adaptability, echoing the fluidity of the water element. The snake is also symbol of Healing, as represented by the Caduceus/Rod of Asclepius; it can, however, kill with its venom.

Snape in canon is adaptable, mutable, intuitive and prone to over-emotionality at times, although he attempts to control/conceal his feelings via Occlumency. As a Potions Master and a Dark Arts expert, has the ability to both heal and kill. A melange of opposites: Good and Evil, Yin and Yang. The potion that, to me, encompasses this dichotomy, by its very name even, is the Draught of the Living Death, the first potion mentioned by Snape in the Harry Potter books. A powerful sleeping draught, comprising Asphodel and Wormwood – the two plants I have drawn in the foliage – which delicately balances the drinker on the knife-edge between life and death. Asphodel is, of course, a member of the Lily family, and Wormwood is the bitter plant used in drinks like absinthe, that can be highly poisonous in concentrated form.

Asphodel Meadows, in Greek mythology, is a part of the Underworld. It is essentially a plain of Asphodel flowers, supposedly the favourite food of the dead. It is the place where souls of people who lived lives of near equal good and evil rested. It is a land of neutrality, where souls lose their identity, becoming like machines. It is entered by the shades of the dead after drinking from the waters of the River Lethe in order to forget their earthly life. Lethe literally means forgetfulness, oblivion or concealment. This symbolism of moral ambiguity again appealed to me in depicting the complexity of Snape’s character.
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