Sunday, October 11, 2015

My Illustrations in Sage Woman Magazine

I did some illustrations for an article in Sage Woman magazine which will be appearing in the Fall issue, Serenity. It comes out this month and hopefully will be in stores by the end of the month. I'm so excited to have been a part of this opportunity! This issue of Sage Woman has articles written by people who share their experiences of how serenity found them. The article with my illustrations is titled "Our Mother is Both a Person and a Place". It's a lovely and comforting article about the authors children and her journey to becoming a mother.

In the article, the author relates motherhood to nature and animals. So I thought it fitting to center my main illustration (featured above) around a figure of an earth goddess. She is the tree with roots that reach deep into the earth and she is also the leaves on branches that

reach high into the heavens. She is
surrounded by a beautiful garden and has an owl perched on one of her branches. The author talks about how with her first child, she would dream of owls. So I decided to make the owl a focus in my illustrations as well hence the second smaller illustration of a snow owl.

I loved working with Anne of Sage Woman magazine and I decided to work with her again for the Winter issue. The articles and illustrations in Sage Woman have always inspired me and left me feeling warm and fuzzy inside. I feel blessed to have my work showcased in this beautiful magazine. Anne was nice enough to give me a review of my work and here's what she said: "Tara Reynolds is a consummate professional: her illustration work is evocative, crisp, and detailed, but never overwrought or fussy. Her artwork beckons the reader into discovering the story for themselves. She's also a dream to work with! - Anne Newkirk Niven, editor & publisher, Sage Woman Magazine"

I hope you will grab a copy of this lovely magazine once it appears in the stores! Thanks to Anne for the wonderful opportunity.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

On Struggling Times and Staying Positive

At some point in our lives we all will experience struggles and some form of suffering. Being a spiritual person myself and being active in the spiritual community I hear the same things over and over again. “Envision abundance” “Stay positive” “The law of attraction”. Apparently if you do all these things then your struggles will get easier and go away. But this is not true and to tell someone who is in the middle of a life struggle to simply “envision abundance” is to belittle their struggle. While I do believe that we should have hope that “better is on it's way” you should not expect yourself to surrender to this way of thinking while you're in the midst of suffering.

To tell someone that all they need to do is envision abundance is to demean and make light of their situation whatever that may be. I see it all the time. Just because we are spiritual does not mean that we won't suffer or that we should not feel our suffering. Life is good and bad, positive and negative, black and white and gray. It is not all rainbows and unicorns and glitter. It is not all fluffy bunnies and positive thinking and happy go lucky mindsets. Sometimes bad things happen. Life happens. And we should be made to feel that it's ok to experience our struggles and to experience the feelings and pain that comes with our suffering. To tell someone that they should not feel the pain of their suffering is to tell that person that the way they are dealing with their own struggles is wrong. And you're giving that person false hope. That all they need to do it is envision abundance and abundance will flow to them.

It seems that our world nowadays doesn't want to feel the “bad” only the “good”. But life is not all good. And if we keep teaching people not to feel the bad then we will never be prepared for when it inevitably happens because it always does. To tell the single mom with two jobs on welfare that all she needs to do is think positively is to belittle her suffering. Yes, if you want to think positively it does help with your mindset. But it won't necessarily help with your actual real-life situation. Sometimes things happen in life which are out of our control. And these things happen sometimes when we are being positive and envisioning abundance. This is real life. We do not live in a fairy-tale world with only love and light. There is real suffering in our world and to ignore it and tell people to think positively is just wrong. It's one thing to give words of encouragement or to try and give someone hope. But it's quite another to tell that person that basically they shouldn't be feeling the way they do because if they just envisioned abundance they wouldn't be dealing with what they're dealing with now.

We are allowed to be upset if we are struggling. We are allowed to cry and feel like giving up when life is being particularly harsh for us. To allow ourselves to feel all of our feelings is to grow and learn and mature. To suppress those feelings is not healthy and it doesn’t make them go away. Of course we all love the good times in our lives and we don't like to bad times. But life is comprised of both regardless of how positive you are or how much mediation and yoga you do or how much abundance you envision. We need to stop telling people these things because then it makes the bad times even harder because we think “But I think positively” or “I've been envisioning abundance”. So why has this happened? Life doesn't care how many affirmations you say a day. Life is meant to be lived and experienced and feelings are meant to be felt. We need to allow ourselves to feel and experience the bad as well as the good. Yes the bad will eventually leave and the good will enter. It is about getting through the bad the best you can so that when the good does come, you can appreciate it more. And you will be stronger because of it. Being strong is not envisioning abundance. It is making it through a tough situation and coming out the other side all the wiser. And many times wisdom comes from lessons learned. And many times learning lessons is no walk in the park.

Feel all of your feelings and don't feel bad for it. You are not weak because you are struggling. You are not weak because you may not think positively during tough times. You are not weak because you allow yourself to feel the bad. You are strong and you're doing the best you can with what you've got. Know that you are not alone and try to comfort yourself the best way you know how. To all of those who are in the middle of struggles or suffering, I empathize with you. Your struggles are real. Don't ever let any fluffy bunny or sparkly, positive affirmation guru take that away from you.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Goddess Connections is Finally Here!

My book Goddess Connections, Goddess Rituals for the Modern Priestess, is finally here! I'm so excited to share this with all of you. This book has been in the works for sometime now and I'm so happy that it's finally come to fruition! Writing a book is no easy feat and after having written a book myself I now understand what other authors go through. It is a labor of love and blood, sweat and tears! And I'm so happy with the finished product.

Goddess Connections is an illustrated book of goddess myths and rituals for the modern priestess. Nine goddesses from around the world grace the pages of this book complete with illustrations, meditations and rituals for each one. The goddesses within this book are Isis, Hathor, Aphrodite, Hekate, Artemis, Freyja, The Morrigan, Brigid and Yemaya. This book is for beginners on the goddess path but anyone at any point on their path will also gain wisdom from this book.

Some of you may have read my Goddess Connections ebooks which were about six of the goddess in this book. This book is an upgraded and improved version of those ebooks with three new goddesses, more info, illustrations by me, rituals and meditations. What you will get from this book is a better understanding of how to connect with a goddesses energy which you can then implement in your own rituals later on. I help to break down the details of how to perform ritual and how to understand your goddess and her message for you.

I remember myself when I was just starting out on the goddess path and it was a little overwhelming for me. There are so many goddesses and so much info to take in and I didn't know where to start. Now that I've been a priestess for some years, I wanted to help others to achieve the same thing in a easier to understand  format. My mission with this book is to do just that. And there are illustrations for each goddess to help you get a better understanding of what she represents. I do want to stress that this book's purpose is to help you connect with goddess energy and not so much to be used for information or research of each goddesses myth and history. There is background and mythological information for each one but this book is more focused on the meditations and rituals.

The book comes in paperback and a kindle version as well. You can find it on Amazon: Goddess Connections. Please feel free to comment on your own experiences with the rituals in this book and on your path of the priestess. I wan to hear from you! Thank you so much to all my friends and followers who helped to make this book a reality!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Inanna in Visionary Style

Inanna, Queen of Heaven
My newest visionary painting is of the Sumerian goddess Inanna. She is known as "Queen of Heaven" and is a goddess of love and fertility. She is also a goddess of the underworld and death in her aspect as her sister Ereshkigal. Inanna has always felt like a very ancient and powerful goddess to me. Her worship dates back to Uruk in Sumeria at about 4000 B.C.E. and she is probably much older than that. She feels primal to me and her energy very old.

I wanted to portray her as her energy would look in a version of heaven or the universe. I think and feel in color and certain goddesses in my minds eye have certain colors associated with them. Maybe it's their energy that just screams a particular color. For Inanna that color is blue and variations of blue. She is shimmery and covered in star-dust. She is one with the universe and has become the stars. I envision her wearing a sparkling ethereal crown made up of light and stars. Her hair has become the universe as it stretches out from her head and covers the vast expansion. She wears a shimmery purple and white necklace.

I'm hoping to do a series of about twenty or so of these visionary goddesses and then turn them into a beautiful book of goddesses. Since I'm known for working on multiple projects at a time, this one may take a while..... These goddesses are painted on 11x14 canvas with acrylic paint.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Know Thyself

Rendition of original text inscribed at the Temple of Apollo
I have a plaque that hangs over my work space which I painted and it reads "Know Thyself". These famous two words were also inscribed at the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. It is one of the Delphic Maxims or aphorisms which were given to the Temple of Apollo by the Oracle of Delphi. These two words were also uttered by various philosophers and sages such as Heraclitus, Plato and Socrates. Self-knowledge and self-enlightenment are also a very large component to spirituality's such as Hinduism. Knowing who you are and self-knowledge is viewed as the way to total self-enlightenment. 

The true meaning of "Know Thyself" can be so complex and philosophical that it can be defined in many different ways. I used to struggle with the real meaning behind this statement. It seems so simple and yet so profound at the same time. There is power behind these words and when spoken that power settles around you like a great and heavy mystery. It feels strange to think that we may not really know ourselves. I used to think that I knew exactly who I was. Until I discovered who I actually was. I also believe that a large part of knowing yourself has to do with being brutally honest with yourself and being able to accept what you find. There will always be a part of ourselves that we do not like or we wish we could change. But then we would be changing who we are and we can never do that. 

Learning to accept yourself for who you are means accepting and owning your darker aspects or your flaws/faults. It means understanding yourself and knowing how you handle certain things life throws at you. It means taking yourself out of your comfort zone and throwing yourself into the fray so to speak. I believe that once you truly get to know and accept yourself you will lead a more peaceful and content life. And according to many spirituality's we are on a constant journey of knowing ourselves which will not end until we achieve total self-enlightenment. There is power in being self-aware. There is also peace and love as with self-acceptance also comes self-love. You must love yourself for all your aspects for that is who you are and you cannot change who you are at your core. You can change how you react to things and how you behave but you cannot change who you are. So it makes sense that you must embrace yourself fully and live the life you were meant to live.

Who knew two simple words could have such a powerful effect? Sometimes, as was in my case, in order to know ourselves we must first break apart and experience a "dark night of the soul". For those of you who have also experienced these they may be some of the hardest things you will ever go through. What you thought you knew about yourself will be completely stripped away. You will feel lost and confused and you will struggle to find meaning. We must be completely emptied and broken in order to be refilled and repaired. It is a transformation and you are becoming who you were supposed to be. It is supposed to be painful but at the end you will be thankful for it. Even though going through my own dark night of the soul was the most painful experience of my life thus far, I wouldn't have changed it for the world. It helped me to see and to know. It helped me to love and accept and ultimately lead to a more peaceful and accepting life.

Know yourself, love yourself and accept yourself for you have a purpose. We all have one. It's the struggle to find it that trips us up.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

The Visionarium

I like to try new things so I decided to start a series of "visionary" paintings. I had heard about and seen lots of visionary art over the years but I still struggled to understand exactly what "visionary" meant. So true to form I did some research and decided to give it a go. 

Basically a visionary style painting is in the surreal category with emphasis on the spiritual side. With visionary art you are creating from your heart, not your head. You are creating what you see in your dreams or while under a trance during meditation. You have to let your minds eye do the seeing and your heart brings it into being. I always liked how colorful and transcendental visionary art was. It really does make you feel as though you've stepped into another world. A psychedelic dream world with vibrant colors and brush strokes that flow into one another. 

Since I enjoy painting goddesses I thought this would translate nicely to this style of art. Most times we see paintings or illustrations of deities (mine included) that are filled with symbolism which separates each deity and culture so that they are recognizable. With my new paintings though I wanted to try something different. I wondered what each goddess would look like if all that symbolism was stripped away leaving just a being of spirit and energy. What would each goddess look like in spirit form so to speak? So I meditated on one of my goddesses, Isis, to see what visions she would give me.

While in meditation a vision of her came to me in color form. Cool blues and whites coupled with warm oranges and reds came together to form a winged being. As soon as I saw her I committed her to memory, opened my eyes, thanked her for the vision and began my rough outline sketch. I started painting and didn't question what I was doing which as an artist and a perfectionist I often do. I had to let go and let my brush do the thinking. Finally after about three hours or so, she came alive on my canvas. In spirit form my minds eye saw Isis as a being of bright color with wings. With no symbolism to set her apart from other winged deities. She may not have a sun-disc crown or be carrying an ankh in true Egyptian fashion, but she is still Isis to me. 

When we strip away the symbolism of each deities culture, aren't we left with all the same deities anyway?Is not the Aphrodite of Greece the same as the Venus of Rome or Inanna of Sumeria? In my opinion the thing that really separates all of the gods are there cultures because in spirit form they are all one. I understand that for worship's sake it's easier to pray to one or the other as I myself do the same. But at the end of the day we are praying to the Mother and She is all goddesses as all goddesses are Her.

I hope you enjoy my vision of Isis. More to come in the following weeks!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Times are a changing....

"The only thing constant in life is change" - Heraclitus

If there's anything I've learned over the last few years of my life it's that life is ever changing. Change is always for the best in my opinion even if it doesn't seem that way at the time.  My life has changed over the past year in ways I never thought possible. I'm finally pursuing my dream of being an artist and it just feels right. You know you're heading down the right path when everything works out for you. When things will just literally fall into your lap. You know then that it was meant to be. And even if you had to weather the storm and make a ton of mistakes before you got there. Once you get there you'll realize that it was worth the wait. Sometimes life forces us to "wait" for our dreams for the simple reason that we are not ready. Maybe we are supposed to let go of someone or something that is bad for us or is holding us back. Maybe we need to forgive ourselves and move on. Whatever it is, if you're patient and work through it, the reward is sweet.

I've lost many people, jobs and various other things over the last few years that were painful to lose at the time. But now I realize that in order for me to move forward on my true path, those things had to be let go. I do not believe that time necessarily heals all wounds but that it gives you perspective. When you let go, you open yourself up to receiving. I am now in that receiving phase now and I couldn't be more grateful.

I decided to take some time off from writing to pursue my career as an artist and now that, that is well on it's way I thought it was time to come back to my blog. I will be making some changes on this blog, keeping up with the theme of this post. I will be doing more writing about my artwork, upcoming events and new projects. I will still post my beloved goddess mythology for time to time as well :)

As far as my art career goes; I will have some of my illustrations appear in the Fall issue of Sage Woman magazine so please check that out. I am also working on a new project which will be an illustrated book of goddesses complete with myth, meditation and rituals. I'm hoping to have it out by the end of this year. The picture at the top of this post is a painting which I'm currently working on of the goddess Yemaya. It will be one of the goddesses in my upcoming book.

Thank you to all of my readers and friends who have supported me over the years! I couldn't have done it without you.
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