The First Rule Of Sub Rosa? Confessions Made Under The Rose Stay Under the Rose | On Becoming A Rose of Tralee

Sub Rosa_Confessions Under The Rose Stay Under The Rose

“She was lovely and fair as the rose of the summer, yet ’twas not her beauty alone that won me;

Oh no, ’twas the truth in her eyes ever dawning,that made me love Mary, the Rose of Tralee”

 – Edward Mordaunt Spencer / William Pembroke Mulchinock

As I imagine the scraping sound of a quill and the bleeding of heart and ink onto parchment, I wonder what truth it was that could have inspired William Pemproke Mulchinock to write his famous Irish ballad.

What truth or secret was it that lay behind Mary’s eyes and immortalised her as the Rose of Tralee?

With the first round of the Rose of Tralee festival coming up, I have thought a lot about this question and enjoyed some time researching the properties and the symbolic meanings of roses. [as you do]

I also realised that I nearly fell into the trap of a thought process that contemporary society is hard-wiring us to have.

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#TakeMeHomeThursday | “Trust [That You Are Good Enough]” Watercolour Illustration To Help You Remember Your Worth

“We have all a better guide in ourselves, if we would attend to it, than any other person can be.” – Jane Austen


“Trust” by Cat De Pillar | Click To View Print Options

Untitled-1ave you ever really trusted? Have you ever exposed the most vulnerable parts of yourself knowing that you would be there to have your back in case ANYONE hurt you? Have you ever been so deeply tuned in to yourself that you could let go of your expectations and simply allow? Allow everything you want to come to you, knowing that you are good enough to receive it?

This piece of my #powerwordseries is about that kind of trust.

It’s not about trusting OTHER people, or things outside of your control.

It’s about trusting that YOU will always be there to love and take care of you. That YOU are strong enough to walk away from toxic people and situations that are not serving you, because you know that you deserve so, so much better. That YOU are confident enough to speak only from your truth, trusting that you will be able to deal with the consequences. That YOU are dedicated to loving yourself unconditionally, no matter how many people and situations tell you not to. That when YOU listen deeply, the right path will come to you. That YOU can let go of the ores and allow your boat to swim with the current – not against it.

This artwork is for the brave and fierce at heart, who realise that the most important person they need to rely on and trust? Is themselves.

About the Illustration:

When I set out to draw this commission, I was told about the woman it would be for.

She is a real powerhouse. She has everything under control. But, she lacks trust in herself. She doesn’t believe that everything will work out for the best, which is why she constantly struggles to have everything under control. Due to her position in the family she has learnt that she is not good enough and always has to WORK to be part of the group, worthy of attention, deserving of love. Every day she tries to be worthy by taking care of everyone else and always tending to herself last.

At her core, she does not believe that she is good enough.

That is why I chose “trust” as her power word for her.

trust illustration cat de pillar

When she looks at this piece, I want her to see the blossoms woven into the hair of my character. The blossoms stand for the unavoidable and cyclical recurring of spring. No matter how cold or dark the winter months were, everyone and everything on this planet knows that warmer and brighter days will come. We have come to trust this truth and find relief in it.

I want her to remember and feel this universal trust. That even after the darkest of times, everything will grow and come into bloom again. It is the way of life.

When she sees the eggs in the bird’s nest, safely tucked into the hair of my character on the other side of the blossoms [with all that nature nesting in her hair, she should probably visit the hairdresser at some point…], I want her to remember the absolute trust we experience as babies. A baby is composed of unconditional trust, and knows that being loved is its birthright. Just by being, a baby knows without a doubt that it is deserving of all the love and good of the world. A baby does not go looking for love, it receives it joyfully.

I want her to remember this place of absolute trust in the worthiness of her being.

Sadly, many of us have forgotten this deeply grounded place of receiving, and have been reprogrammed to feel we need to fight to be loved. But the truth is, if you have to fight to be loved, then it is only conditional and can bring you no happiness [it will also steadily chisel away your confidence and self-esteem]. Those vulnerable eggs in their nest are a symbol for that imperturbable trust that we need to establish again.

We are worthy of all the good and love of this world, just by being.

One of the character’s eyes is covered by a butterfly, while the other is open to the world. The butterfly is a symbol of metamorphosis and a reminder to trust ourselves and our path. A caterpillar spends its entire life seeking out the most valuable nutrition in its evolution of becoming. I want it to be a reminder of how we must trust our own path. Like the caterpillar, we are always already the butterfly in the making. We are always already everything we could possibly ever want to be. The only thing we need to do is trust that path and find the perfect nutrition for our body, mind, and soul. One eye is focused on this solitary path, trusting that it will lead to the best possible manifestation of you, while the other is open to taking in impulses and gifts from the world.

When my client’s gaze happens upon the covered eye, I want her to remember to trust her own, magical metamorphosis.

Even though it is necessary to look into the world, it is more important to expand based on what you feel is true on the inside, rather than what you are being told from the outside.

I’m not going to lie. Trusting is scary. And trusting yourself is possibly the scariest of all.

The oxford dictionary says that to “trust,” means that you have to have faith or confidence in a person, quality, or a thing.

This piece wants you to have faith and confidence in yourself, who you are, and what you are capable of. But it also wants you to practice having faith in the world around you and that everything you need will be provided – if you are able to allow it.

Imagine how it would feel to remember your untouchable worth and what that would look like in your life. Maybe one of the ensuing action items is to hang a print of this piece where it can help you as you relearn to trust yourself?

Imagine how it would feel like to believe in  your worth and that you are good enough  – what would that look like in your life? One of the ensuing action items could be to hang a print of this piece where it can remind you of how that feels every day, so that you never forget again. 



Illustration Details: 

Watercolour and ink on 150 g/qm watercolour paper.

The original is no longer available. 


Take care,  xo


On Becoming A Rose of Tralee Part 1| What it is & Why I Want to Be a Part of it

Exciting news! I have been accepted to the Rose of Tralee International Festival [a big thing for Irish people 🙂 ] and I decided to document my personal journey as I participate, and share it with you.

This is a little introductory video on the festival itself and why I wanted to participate this year.

I am sorry if the sound is not ideal, but I really wanted to take my gear out into the woods and talk to you from there – if you can’t hear me properly, at least you will hear the rush of water and the singing of birds [which is way more interesting anyway].

I would love to hear your thoughts on this and can’t wait to take you with me on this exciting adventure!

Take care, xo


#TakeMeHomeThursday | “Sensual Enlightenment” Watercolour Illustration of the Divine Feminine and Sacred Sexuality

“The feminine does not save itself for some glorious moment in the future, nor grieve over some lost moment in the past. It holds nothing back. Now is all there ever is.” – Marion Woodman


“Sensual Enlightenment” by Cat De Pillar. Click to View Print Options


his piece is the result of a beautiful collaboration with the woman behind earthbodymama, a blog focused on guiding women to wholeness, sensuality, and liberated sexuality.

When I set out to illustrate the new post for Jillian, all I knew was the general theme: sensual enlightenment, sacred sexuality, and reclaiming our sensuality as women.

I spent many days thinking about this theme and how to best bring it to life. Even though I had quickly arrived at a very specific idea for this piece, nothing actually turned out as I had planned  *You can listen to me complaining talk about this in part two of my series Behind the Art:Embracing The Ugly Stage

Originally, I had intended on keeping my illustration very graphic with only little splotches of colour. However, this goddess did not want to be drawn in black and white. Every time I thought about this piece [I wanted to draw it in black and white and some hot pink], it came to me in bursts of colour and texture.

The sensible artist that I am, I stopped struggling against this vision of the piece pretty quickly, and was even inspired to mix medias in a way that I had never done before.

About The Illustration:

At first glance, the crossed arms might make one believe that she is actually closed off from her body, or ashamed of it – but the opposite is true. The crossed arms show her literally embracing herself, while simultaneously keeping societal and ancestral restrictions away. She does not allow others to dictate how she relates to herself and her body.. Her breasts are unashamedly visible [as are her nipples #freethenipple] and her gaze is slightly absent – signaling how she is listening into herself -, while also challenging the viewer. She is not private about her pleasure, but bravely displays her joy; that intimate knowing of self.

“The west is heavily indoctrinated by teachings that perpetuate myths: sex is sinful, your body is less-than-holy and cursed, your blood is dirty, and desire is responsible for humanity’s fall from grace. 

But we know better. We know our sensuality is not a curse. We know it’s a blessing, a gateway to bliss and union.” – Jillian Anderson


The halo surrounding her head not only symbolises the connection to her higher self [or personal enlightenment], but also how she radiates into the universe. There are little pyramids hidden in the outer circles [a Legend of Zelda fan might call them Triforces] that represent the union of masculine and feminine energy; that she is brings stilness and action into perfect balance.

“Most of us are burdened by an excess of doing, and in turn, are lacking the pleasure of being. In a rush to produce results, attain an outcome, and accomplish the next big thing on the list, we miss out on what’s before us, here and now.” – Jillian Anderson

Her luscious flesh is overflowing as much as her red hair. She has no specific size and her body finds no end as it flows seamlessly into her environment; this woman knows no boundaries, she is not afraid to claim her space and to expand into what she was born to become.

“Let’s be the sensual women that we are without fear of repercussion. Let’s silence the voices that say we’re drawing too much attention to ourselves, that we’re taking up too much space, that we’ll be abandoned for our radiance.” – Jillian Anderson

Even though she has been created through me, she is not my creation. This goddess manifested herself into my life, into this shape, because she wanted to be. She came because I needed to learn her message and read the words that decorate her so perfectly, as if she wrote them herself. If you are reading this, maybe she also came into being for you to meet her and her message now – what gift does she carry for you?

She calls us to make space to consciously indulge in the senses without shame.

Read more on this subject and 3 ways to be more sensually embodied on Jillian’s blog. 


Illustration Details:

Watercolour, Acrylics, and ink on 150 g/qm watercolour paper.

Gold leaf and gold mica embelishments

The original is still available for 215 €. Contact me at cat [at]catdepillar[dot]com if you are interested in purchasing her.  


I send you my love,




#TakeMeHomeThursday | “Ruling the World (from My Couch)” Watercolour Illustration for Planners and Dreamers


“Ruling the World (from My Couch)” (2016) Watercolour Illustration by Cat De Pillar | Click to view print options

As a videogame aficionado (heck, I’m actually pursuing an academic education in this field) I love seeing people wearing t-shirts with some variation of “achievement unlocked: [what you managed to do].”

Not only do they make me laugh, I always end up making up my own versions of the phrase, which I find highly entertaining.  Some of my favourites are:

“Achievement unlocked: I left the house today.”

“Achievement unlocked: I washed myself”

“Achievement unlocked: I tackled my to-do list and survived”

But my most favourite phrase – and interestingly, the one I usually think of first – is:

“Achievement unlocked: I changed out of my pyjamas today.”

YES! I admit to it – judge me all you like! [we both know you are guilty of this too]

I am one of those people who, if they don’t have to leave the house and have a day to putter around for themselves, they stay in their pyjamas. *I usually throw a XXL, bulgy, and absolutely unflattering jumper into the mix, just for good measure

And that, my friends, is what this illustration is about. [Although, it’s less about the disgusting, unwashed side of it, and more about that constructive emotional and mental space we enter into on those days.]

As we lounge on the couch, ideally with a hot cuppa and a notebook (the new one, not the thousand other ones you bought and are saving for “something special”), we are able to rule the world from our couch – by starting in our heads.

It is that beautifully cosy moment where we take some time to plan and and become clear on what we want in life. [or for dinner] Where we lean back into the soft cushions and imagine where we want to go, where we want to be, and what we want to achieve.

Where we surround ourselves with all the books that we have only read half-way through, but that inspire us just by lying in sight. Where we finally jot down the next steps we want to take; the next projects we want to tackle; the next experience we want to allow.

Where we take some time for ourselves; where we let go of pretences, and get to work on what is happening inside.

Where we are so much closer to ourselves and what really matters to us ,  that magic is possible.

Illustration Details: 

Watercolour and ink on 150 g/qm watercolour paper.

Let me know what you think and share it with all your friends to give them a subtle hint! [that staying in your pyjamas all day is awesome, of course]

I send you my love and a big hug,


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