Art, Spirit, and Wonder: Finding the Sacred Through Art​

Art History tells the story of humanity. Here we'll look at how Paganism has been viewed in art through the ages; into the ancient past, the Renaissance and other eras, and how artists are exploring Paganism today.

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Reflections on 2016: Life, Death, Netflix and Hope

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Reflections on 2016: Life, Death, Netflix and Hope

I confess that although I did not write a great deal in this blog in 2016, there were certainly plenty of things going on in my life and in my world. It would be an easy way out to say that the events of this year simply rendered me speechless, and I doubt that there would be many who would argue with me on that. Personally, I hit many milestones and manifested a number of things I had been hoping to achieve. However, the harbingers of doom and despair came in the form of the deaths of many artists who influenced my life, and the lives of many others.

In the United States, we are facing what is probably the biggest regime change in our history. (I know there will be many who would argue this, however, this is certainly the biggest I have seen in my lifetime). As someone who not only teaches at a historically black university, but is also bisexual, pagan, and polyamorous, I worry about the kind of world my students and I will be facing for the next four years. I have heard the cries of dismay, grief, shock, and despair coming from nearly all quarters of my life, and I wonder what hope we might find as we face the coming new year.

As an Elder in the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, I am able to find community and linkage with many who feel as I do. Every Yule, we host a large ritual in which the Lady of Winter comes forth and speaks about the need for releasing the grief and pain of the past year, in order for her son – the Sun – to be able to come forth again into the world. The Raven of the Void comes forth and encourages participants to keen, to mourn, to release that which they need to release in order for the Sun to shine again. The Sun himself then comes forth, and he and the Wintry Lady light the candles of all present.

I had the privilege of aspecting the Lady of Winter this year, and she had much to say about the current state of affairs, which is to say that she spoke of how time for us is very different from how it is for the Gods. All times are now for the Gods, and all things are happening at once. There is nothing happening now that they have not seen before, and humans always manage to sustain themselves. There was indeed much to keen over this year, the work of the Raven was not that difficult. However, the work of the Sun was perhaps harder – the work of reminding one and all that the Sun always does return, and that we all carry the spark of the Sun within us.

It was with all of these thoughts in my head that I watched the Sense8 Christmas special. It may seem strange that the best message I’ve received about these times came from a Netflix series, but I felt as though the show’s writers – The Wachowskis and J. Michael Straczynski were speaking to me personally. The show features what may be the most diverse and inclusive cast on television: lgbtq characters of many ethnicities, who work together from disparate places around the globe, and who love one another, regardless of their differences. The show also features a uniquely frank approach to human sexuality, something missing in pretty much everything else I have ever seen on TV, or perhaps even the movies.

I watched this with one of my partners, and he made a comment that it was amazing this show exists in the current political climate. I found this tremendously hopeful, actually. In spite of the fact that the next United States government administration will be unabashedly the least inclusive and progressive in many years, American humans will continue to be humans. In other words, the amazing, diverse, straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transsexual, bisexual, queer, fluid, sapiosexual, pansexual people on earth – we will still be here. They might elect those who would do away with those of us who do not fit into their idea of what human means, however we will still be here. And our voices are louder than ever.

I think of Carrie Fisher leading the Rebel Alliance, I see Leonard Cohen singing plainly about What Is, I read Elie Weisel on finding light in the darkest of places, I hear David Bowie singing Gene Genie, Lemmie Kilmeister rocking hard, George Michael being unabashedly queer, Prince being simply amazing…. And all these people are now our Beloved Ancestors. They have not left us, they are reminders of what can be, and our guides from the Other Side.

As we approach the New Year, if you find yourself feeling hopeless, ask yourself, What would General Leia Organa do? How would Elie Weisel face the coming administration? What will be your soundtrack for this year? How will you rise up and make your voice heard? For surely, all of our voices are needed now. Let us make 2017 the Year of the Resistance.

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Tagged in: 2016 lgbtq Sense8 yule
Helena Domenic has been an art history nerd for her entire life, having toured the Sistine Chapel at the age of eighteen months. She never quite recovered from that experience (thankfully) and has been seeking out the sacred and profane in art ever since. She's even a real-life art history professor at a Pennsylvania university. She is also a Tarot nerd, having created her own Tarot deck, the Fellowship of the Fool.


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