Ashen Tree, Pray Buy These Bugs of Me

by Team House of Good Fortune

Design Statement

The ash tree or “Tree of Life” is thought to hold the key to universal knowledge and understanding through its winged seeds.

This piece uses everyday objects – nails, spools and bottle caps – to create a folk-art inspired totem of protection in the tradition of African Nkisi Nkondi (spirit-invested objects that hunt down and punish wrongdoers). In folk medicine, sticking a pin into an ash tree is said to cure warts. It was common to see ash trees thickly studded with pins for this reason.

The spire, which represents the ash tree and functions as a spiritual object, is emerald green, like the emerald ash borer that has invaded it. The painted design evokes the pattern of damage caused by EAB larva. The nails penetrating the spire represent EABs boring into the tree. Hammering the nails into the piece animates the force of the spirit within to hunt down wrongdoers – in this case, the emerald ash borers themselves, who destroy our community’s beautiful ash trees.

Materials: Acrylic paint with found objects & magical ingredients
Dimensions: 5″ x 5″ x 47″

Map/Spire Number: 37

Location: Woolsey Park

Address: 221 Washington Crossing Pennington Road, Pennington

About the Artists

About the Artists

The House of Good Fortune collects and explores good luck charms, amulets, talismans, beliefs, practices and totems of positivity & protection. The House’s spire draws inspiration from the traditions of folk art, folk medicine and African spiritualism.

More information about the background of this piece is available at:


HV Arts Council Fulmer Featured Photo
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Artistic Accolades:

“A wonderful design filled with folklore and tribal symbolism following the curving trail left by the ash borer beetle.”