This is my painting for the Monsters Among Us group show hanging at Gristle Tattoo right now. The subject is Erictho, a Greek witch and necromancer consulted by Pompey’s son in Lucan’s Pharsalia. Her face has taken on the pallor of a corpse and she lives among the tombs, stealing bodies and body parts and resurrecting them to answer questions from the other side. I was really drawn to how joyfully destructive and antisocial she is, and how she appears to be in complete control of her own expansive powers and fears no god or spirit. The background monuments were designed after ones you can still see at the Kerameikos and the ghost emerging from the head is made up of animals associated with Hecate (who she invokes later in the story)
"Whenever black storm clouds conceal the stars,
Thessaly’s witch emerges from her empty tombs
and hunts down the nightly bolts of lightning.
Her tread has burned up seeds of fertile grain
and her breath alone has turned fresh air deadly.
She doesn’t pray to gods above, or call on powers
for aid with suppliant song, or know the ways
to offer entrails and receive auspicious omens.
She loves to light altars with funereal flames
and burn incense she’s snatched from blazing pyres.
At the merest hint of her praying voice, the gods grant her
any outrage, afraid to hear her second song.
She has buried souls alive, still in control
of their bodies, against their will death comes
with fate still owing them years. In a backward march
she has brought the dead back from the grave
and lifeless corpses have fled death. The smoking cinders
and burning bones of youths she’ll take straight from the pyre,
along with the torch, ripped from their parents’ grip,
and the fragments of the funeral couch with smoke
still wafting black, and the robes turning to ashes
and the coals that reek of his limbs. But when dead bodies
are preserved in stone, which absorbs their inner moisture,
and they stiffen as the decaying marrow is drawn off,
then she hungrily ravages every single joint,
sinks her fingers in the eyes and relishes it
as she digs the frozen orbs out, and she gnaws
the pallid, wasting nails from desiccated hands.”