Fine Art Witchery: Where the Arts & Magick Meet

An exploration of the metaphysical intersection between the Fine Arts & Witchcraft: including history, current usage, and practical application.

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At the Couch of the Gods

At a recent occult meet-up, the topic of the discussion was "Goddesses" and we had gotten to the point where we were discussing our experiences and perceptions.  Perhaps because there was a light focused down directly where I was sitting, I was especially talkative at that meeting.  

During one of my ramblings, the following description dropped out of my mouth: "With my art, versus my personal practice, I can't say that I'm specifically aligned with any certain deity or pantheon.  Rather it's like there's this mystical psychiatrist's couch in my studio, and They line up to have a lay down and tell me Their problems and what They want for art."  Up until that moment, I had never really voiced it, but that's exactly what it feels like to make my art. 

I think people often assume that if I make art for or that depicts a certain deity, that I must be devoted to them.  It would be quite the busy, chaotic temple if that were true, spanning quite the range of gods!

While there particular gods that I do work with for my personal spiritual process - and I may create artwork especially for them, the majority of my work falls under the title of vocation. In much the way a freelancer can work with a variety of companies, yet is not distinctly connected to any of them - that's how much of my work is created. Or similarly, it's how someone who specializes in herbs may serve a variety of diverse customers. The dedication is in the skill and the service, but not necessarily reserved for just one type of client. (I guess you can say I'm an Art Witch.)

Therefore my artwork is not a work for personal devotion or worship - it's about having some sort of encounter with that spirit, entity, or deity. I actually really don't like to use the term "worship" for anything I do.  I much prefer to call it a relationship - energy flows both way and needs to be exchanged courteously.  Some come to the couch once, have tea, work with me for a few hours or days until the piece is done, and They're on their way.  Others come back periodically, expanding upon Their story. 

However, I will say that when someone commissions me to do a work of art for their particular deity, what that person or group is doing is definitely part of an act of devotion.  They make the personal sacrifice/exchange to commission the work, and in turn they get something that inspires them and makes them feel more connected to that deity.  These experiences are a little bit different in approach than my general work.  For the latter, I am constantly creating a (waiting) list for concepts to explore, which get done as I get the time and inspiration.  For the commissioned pieces, it's about reaching out to consult with that particular spirit. 

And what's especially interesting is that through this process, one comes to see that even if a deity shares the same or similar name with one you may personally work with yourself, that does NOT mean you are talking to the same being. 

What do I mean? Well, many years ago while visiting the UK, I was doing my nightly meditation, and when I said a specific deity's name, the spirit Who answered was a completely different entity than the one I worked with back in New England.  That made me VERY aware that a deity can be very different, despite the same name, and tied to that land, especially a whole ocean apart.  And furthermore, each person can experience those deities very differently. (Which is another reason why I shy away from "worship" because I feel like that can become very one-sided, if you become enamored with thinking how a deity should be and require, versus how They are revealing Themselves to you.)

So it's very important for me to connect with the devotee's specific deity, versus filling it in with my own ideas. A recent commission involved a much more reserved, well-mannered deity than the one I personally work with by that same name - which we all found rather funny. By abandoning my own personal experiences and inviting Someone else to tell me how it should be, the piece becomes far more powerful and connected. I let them guide me and tell me what They want, and the work tends to flow more smoothly.

For my fellow artists and those interested in creating artwork for gods, I would say it's vital to remove yourself from the tropes and stereotypes - what others or myth may tell you MUST be there. Instead have a conversation and let that inform you of what the art needs. 

I guess I can add to my business card, "Art Therapist to the Gods." 

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Laura "Tempest" Zakroff is a professionally trained visual artist, designer, writer and a Modern Traditional Witch. Her artwork explores the realm of Myth and the Esoteric and has been featured in numerous publications and shows across the world. She is also is a world-renown belly dance performer and instructor, focusing on sacred and darkly inspired fusions that pull from the traditions of North Africa, the Middle East, and the Mediterranean. She is based in Seattle, WA.


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