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“For Pence & Spicy Ale”


5”x7” Archival Print on museum quality 100% cotton rag stock. Originally drawn with pen and ink.

Limited edition of 10 exemplars.

This piece captures the ancient spirit of the Christmas/Midwinter season, depicting the Welsh wassail tradition of the Mari Lwyd (gray mare/Holy Mary). A horse skull carried on a stick and covered in a ghostly sheet was carried through villages from door to door by a singing group who requested entry into the home. A poetry contest would then take place between residents and the singers and the group would subsequently be gifted food, drink and money before venturing to other neighborhood homes.

The custom has regional parallels in the Isle of Man and Ireland, as well as in other “hooded animal” traditions throughout Great Britain and Europe. Some believe it to have roots in an ancient pre-Christian horse cult, present in the British Isles from possibly as early as the Bronze Age. The tradition is presently being resurrected in Wales and elsewhere.

All Images © 2018 Johnny Decker Miller