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.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Skadi, Norse Goddess of Winter

Skadi is a Norse goddess and giantess of  winter and hunting. She lives high in the snow covered mountains and is often depicted with her snow shoes, skis and a bow. Skadi is considered to be a dark goddess and her name means "shadow". She rules over independence, winter, wilderness and wisdom. Skadi reminds me of a winter and Norse version of the goddess Artemis. In myth it is said that Skadi taught men how to shoot and hunt with a bow.

Skadi is a giantess and daughter to the giant Thiazi. In myth it is said that Thiazi kidnapped Idun, goddess of youth. The Aesir came to rescue Idun and upon rescuing her they killed Thiazi. Skadi then goes after the Aesir to avenge the death of her father. In order to appease her, the Aesir offer Skadi marriage to any god she wanted. Although none of the gods wanted her. They devised a plan so that Skadi could choose her husband by only looking at their feet. Skadi was in love the the god Balder who is said to be the most beautiful of the gods. Assuming that Balder would have the most beautiful feet, Skadi picked the cleanest pair of feet she could see. It turned out not to be Balder but Njord, god of the sea. The two wed but their marriage eventually failed as Skadi did not want to leave her snowy mountains nor Njord his salty seas. In some myths it is said that after Skadi left Njord she ended up marrying Odin and had many children with him.

In her stories Skadi is described as being a very tall and beautiful goddess with long black hair. She is said to have worn silver armor, a white dress and snow shoes. Since she is also a goddess of the hunt she is also depicted carrying a bow and a spear. In some myths Skadi is said to be an evil troll. She is not an evil goddess though. As with most dark goddesses they are quite often villainized in later myths or interpretations of myth. Darkness is as necessary as the light. One cannot be without the other.

Call on Skadi if you are going through a dark period of your life. Or to learn how to assert yourself or to strive for more independence. Skadi can comfort us with her darkness. She can cover us with her snowy blanket until we are ready to see the light once again.

Image ~ Unknown artist

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Navaratri, Nine Nights of Durga

During this time of year the festival Navaratri is celebrated in honor of the Hindu Goddess Durga. The festival begins at the new moon near the equinox which was September 25 and it will last until October 3. Since the dates for this festival are according to the lunar calendar they are slightly different each year. The celebration lasts for nine nights and each day a different form of Durga is honored. The word "nava" means nine so "Navadurga" means "Nine Durga's" and Navaratri means "nine nights".

Navaratri is celebrated differently in different areas around India. In some parts people fast for nine days while in other areas people dress in the colors associated with each day and dance. In West Bengal, life-sized clay dolls or idols of the goddess Durga are made and then worshiped in the temples. 

Below is a list of the nine manifestations of Durga with the corresponding day for the festival.

Shailaputri - The first form of Durga honored on the first night of Navaratri. Daughter of the mountains and was born in the Himalayas. Also known as Sati Bhavani or Parvati. Shailaputri is the first form of Durga. She rides a bull and carries a trident and a lotus in her hands. 

Brahmacharini - The second form of Durga and honored on the second night of Navaratri. She is known as "One who observes penance" and practices celibacy. She holds a pot of water in one hand and a rosary in the other. This form of Devi stands for love, loyalty and enlightenment.

Chandraghanta - Third form of Durga and honored on the third night of Navaratri. This form of Devi has a moon (Chandra) on her forehead and carries a bell (ghanta) to scare off demons. She rides a lion and stands for power and bravery.

Kushmanda - Fourth form of Durga honored on the fourth night of Navaratri. She is considered the creator of the universe and shines brightly like the light of the sun. She rides a lion and has eight hands in which she holds various weapons as well as a rosary.

Skanda Mata - Fifth form of Durga honored on the fifth night of Navaratri. She is mother of Lord Skanda who was in charge of the army for the Gods in their war against demons. She has four arms and three eyes and is often depicted sitting on a lotus flower.

Katyayani - Sixth form of Durga honored on the sixth night of Navaratri. She was daughter to the great sage Kata. It is said that Kata wished for a daughter in the form of a goddess. He underwent penance and long austerities to receive the grace of the Mother Goddess. Durga granted the sage his wish in the form of Katyayani.

Kalaratri - Seventh form of Durga and honored on the seventh day of Navaratri. She has a dark complexion and a fearless posture. She has three eyes, a necklace of lightning and she rides a donkey. Flames come from her breath and she holds a sword in her right hand.  Kalaratri represents protection.

Maha Gauri - Eighth form of Durga honored on the eighth night of Navaratri. It is said that Maha Gauri spent a long time in the forest of the Himalayas in devotion to the goddess and her complexion became dark. When Lord Shiva cleaned her with water from the Ganges she regained her original beauty and shine and her skin was pure white. She has four arms, rides a bull and wears white clothes. She represents peace, purification and intelligence.

Siddhidatri - Ninth form of Durga honored on the ninth night of Navaratri. She is known for her supernatural healing powers and blesses all Gods, saints, yogi's and other devotees of the Mother. She is depicted with four arms and riding a lion. She is seen as being blissful and happy.

Navaratri blessings!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Pachamama, Inca Goddess of the Earth

Pachamama was honored as an Earth Mother Goddess by the Inca people. She was worshiped in the Andes Mountains in an area that stretched from Colombia to Argentina which also includes Peru, Bolivia and Chile. She was seen as a dragon woman who lived in the mountains and when she moved she created earthquakes. She was also viewed as the universe itself and the Great Creatrix. Her name translates to mean "World Mother".

Pachamama is also honored as a goddess of planting and harvesting and as such was honored at harvest festivals. Often referred to as the "Good Mother", Pachamama is said to be the mother of the sun and moon. Her consort in myth is Pacha Camac although some sources say that it is Inti, the sun god. Pachamama and Inti were both worshiped as benevolent deities and were both seen as extremely important deities in the Inca pantheon.

The month of August was especially sacred to Pachamama as this was the coldest month of the winter for the Inca people. Illness was more prevalent during this time so families performed cleansing rituals in their homes in order to scare off evil entities. On the eve of August 1, families would cook a lavish meal in honor of Pachamama. Before anyone was allowed to eat they first had to give a plate of food to Pachamama. Holes were dug in the ground and if the soil was in good condition it signified a bountiful year. If not it was a bad omen for the coming year.

Pachamama was also honored throughout the year in many other festivities. Before every festivity people would make a toast in her honor by spilling some chicha, a fermented drink, on the floor and then drinking the rest. This toast is known as challa and it's said to be made almost everyday. Also sacred to Pachamama is "Challa's Tuesday" where people would bury food and burn incense in her honor. During these festivals people would sacrifice llama's to the goddess for good luck. The most important ritual in honor of Pachamama was said to be the Challaco. During this ritual families were said to cook a special food and take it to a nearby pond to give to Pachamama as on offering. They would then give a series of different offerings to Pachamama that consisted of drink, food, coca leaves and cigars.

Pachamama's sacred animals are the puma and the snake. The dragon is also sacred to her as she herself is viewed as a dragoness. The puma was also seen as a sacred animal to the Inca people in general.  Pachamama represents the fertile earth and the mountains as well as the sun, moon and stars. She is the Great Creatrix of the universe and she is the universe itself. Pachamama teaches us to care for her fertile world and if we do she will be bountiful. 

Picture courtesy of Hrana Janto
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