It's been one of those weeks where it's been a little hard to see my blessings, and all to easy to see my roadblocks. I'm participating in a community on Facebook where we post three things that we are grateful for each day, and it's helping me to stay focused on all the wonderful things in my life -- even when it seems all I can see are the setbacks and the "what ifs." So I chuckled a little when Changing Woman, The Navajo Goddess of the Corn, came dancing into my life tonight.
On November 22nd I had the honor of attending Andrea Arroyo’s opening reception for her Memories Interlaced exhibit. Above is the picture Andrea graciously took with me during her busy reception. I was honored to be standing next to a Goddess sister whose art has been featured in The New Yorker, The International Museum of Women, The Smithsonian and countless public exhibits. Her current exhibit, at The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Center, is free and open to the public until January 10th 2014.
Her featured Goddesses line the wall of the center with rich, warm colors that bring out the love within the cloths they are painted on. Andrea chose to paint Goddesses on cloths made by women from around the world. From delicate and powerful lace to an Indian prayer shawl— walking into her exhibit is a chance to be in sacred space with such Goddesses as Hathor and Sarasvati. You also have the opportunity to admire pieces from her Sacred Women series; paintings inspired by female characters from world sacred texts, and influenced by the outlines of sacred architecture.
It gives me hope as a woman who is working on my own ever-evolving Goddess art to see how far Andrea has come with hers. The world needs more art dedicated to the Divine Feminine! Andrea’s artwork creates a space to have conversations about the power and mystery of women, our divinity and strength—our Goddess selves. If you have the chance to visit NYC before January 10th, dance your way to the Goddess temple Andrea has created in Upper Manhattan and bring your sisters!
Often when I sit down to draw or paint, I don’t have a preconceived plan. I just want to start putting something down on the paper; maybe a few lines with a pencil, maybe just wild strokes of color.
This time, though I had something specific in mind. In fact, I’ve had it in mind for a while now. I’ve even made a few attempts in recent weeks, but each time there has been a disconnect between my head and my hand. I want to portray the Goddess in winter, but instead I keep filling my paper with the hot and bright colors of summer.
Living at the far western region of the Lake Superior basin, the season of cold comes early and stays late, like an unwelcome guest. I make that analogy with a hint of shame. I am a pagan priestess. I am supposed to have a relationship with Gaia in all of Her seasons. I should embrace each turning of the wheel for the aspects ushered in, but winter vexes me.
I imagine every artist creates a self portrait sooner or later, despite their medium or any physical resemblance to the artist recognizable in the final result. After all, as we were manifested at the will of the Creator, we too are innately driven to recreate in our own image, whether by bringing children into the world, creating visual, written or musical art, or simply infusing our life and work with personal energy.
The paint is barely dry on this piece, and yet she has been in the making longer even than my Big Bang Goddess. She is, in fact, my first attempt in the acrylic medium and my first human figure if I don’t count the years of children’s stick figures followed by a lengthy period of cartoon like faces exploring the significance of eyebrow shape and placement to convey emotion.
Since discovering my GoddessMuse several years ago, I have worked with women in middle age and beyond to help them do the same through the experience of transformational art.
The idea of creating art can be intimidating to those who have never tried it. There are so many expectations. It has to be good. One has to be trained, take serious art classes, study the masters, and learn technique. One must have artistic talent.
Perhaps one of the most intriguing ancient items that I have come across recently is the Strettweg Chariot, sometimes called the Strettweg Wagon. While researching the pre-Christian chariot burial of an ancient woman for my first blog post, I found this unique vehicle. The central figure is female; she towers over those assembled around her. The true meaning of this item is lost to time, but that won't stop us from discussing the tantalizing possibilities that the Strettweg Chariot offers up to the mind.
Highlighting the history of women and our connection to feminine concepts of Deity is the central purpose of this blog. While I won't always focus on items from the ancient past, recovering the role that women and Goddesses have played throughout time often means turning to the pre-Christian era. That is the time period that this artifact hails from. The Strettweg Chariot rested in a grave of cremated ashes for over 2,500 years. It was buried sometime in the 7th Century B.C.E. in what is now Austria and has come back into human hands to proclaim its mysteries.
I must begin this article with a disclaimer. There have been entire books written on each of these ancient symbols, and I cannot presume to include all of the information, or all of the esoteric theories, in these few paragraphs. I propose here to discuss the one theme which they all share in common: each of these figures is a three-tiered representation of the levels of Creation.
1) The first figure is sometimes called the Star of David, but it is not exclusively Jewish; you will see it carved in Hindu temples and used by Rosicrucian alchemists. In actual fact it is not a "star" at all, but two interlacing triangles, one pointing up (symbolizing human aspirations toward the Divine) and the other pointing down (symbolizing the Divine's willingness to meet humankind half way). The space where they intersect indicates the creation of a third state: the moment when Divine Consciousness manifests in human flesh. This is the state of Grace. It is Enlightenment. It is Samadhi.
The sacred triangles represent the union of heaven and earth, spirit and matter. They embody the metaphysical principle, As Above, So Below.