Sunday, March 29, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Well, I was wrong. I thought for sure it would be Kamrusepas again!

Instead I picked a different recurring Goddess: Ishtar, the Babylonian Great Goddess of Love and War, Goddess of the planet Venus. She came up just over a month ago, in a February 22nd post. She is a later version of the Sumerian Inanna, seen through Babylonian eyes; and similar stories of Her descent to the Underworld are told.

As Goddess of both Love and War Her character is properly one of contradiction; though perhaps it is simply that She is a Goddess committed to passion. Her somewhat bipolar nature is also related to the fact that Venus can appear in either the morning or evening sky. As the morning star that marks the beginning of the day, Ishtar is war and hunting Goddess; but as the evening star She is the Goddess of love.

I have shown Her here at one of the gates to the Underworld, making Her way with determination into the deep and the dark; and She carries a little bit of the light of heaven with Her, shown as the Star above Her head. I painted Her hair in deep ultramarine blue, a pigment originally made from ground lapis lazuli, a precious stone associated in the Near East with the Gods.

Last time She came up I noted the difference between Her character and that of Her earlier Sumerian counterpart Inanna; while Inanna was portrayed as adventurous, powerful, and sexual, Ishtar, in much the same circumstances, is seen as tempestuous, unreliable, and slutty. This still smells like propaganda to me; and Her message that week was one of honoring our anger, especially us women.

And looking back over the cards that have come up every week it is remarkable to me to see how they vacillate between anger and kindness: Ishtar (anger), Kamrusepas (kindness), Pele (anger--She is a volcano Goddess!), Gaea (a bit of a break, but still kind, I'd say), Kamrusepas (kindness), Ishtar (anger), Hathor (kindness)--rather a roller-coaster ride at first glance.

At second, though, I wonder if it's not more of a call for balance. After all I am only picking one a week so there are never two chosen at the same time, never a two-card reading to balance out. Perhaps the overall message here is both to be kind to ourselves and to honor our anger. And perhaps the latter is a part of the former.

I don't know. It is difficult as always for me to separate the personal message from the general; and it's true that this is what I have been working on lately, honoring my anger, taking it seriously and acknowledging it, trying to listen to it with compassion as a way to validate my feelings and be kind to myself. For me, anyway, I am learning that I can't get to forgiveness or peace if I am only skimming over my own negative feelings. They must rightly be acknowledged, without judgment, as the proper first step.

Balance, perhaps, is what this is about; a strong theme of anger followed by an equally strong one of kindness, reminding us that we are capable of holding both at the same time, and that the two are not mutually exclusive; and that, most importantly, they may in some cases be the same thing.

What does She have to say?

Descent, also, you forgot descent; this is a journey we are all making. Accepting your anger, claiming your strength is a journey into the dark, an unburying of treasure, new life brought back from death; and it is spring, which describes life-from-death exactly. Accepting your anger with kindness to yourself is transforming dark into light; instead of turning against your own strength you are accepting it.

Always, even in the dark, you have that little bit of light that belongs to you, that you bring with you. Always, always. Never alone, never without that little spark that will save your life. Some of the most amazing things are found in the dark--have you seen that crystal cave in Mexico? Not just dark, but underwater too, Apsu's realm, the true primeval matrix.

There are great wonders there. Why do you think I went?

You are called, too. You all are. That is what it is to be human. That is what it is to be divine. What do you think that little Star is?

Monday, March 23, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Good grief. I am starting to wonder. After all it is a homemade deck, of photocopies and bristol board assembled with rubber cement, and each card was cut out by hand; and a decidedly untrusting and un-magical thought has come to me. Is this card simply wider than the others and so more likely to be picked?

I do not think, really, that is what this is about. (And I did check Her card against the others. No, it is very much of average width.)

At any rate, this week's Goddess of the Week card is again Kamrusepas, the Hittite Goddess of magic and healing. She has come up three times already, on December 27th, a week later, and again on February 28th. She is remembered for bringing the Grain-God Telipinu back into the company of the Gods after He stormed off for some reason or other; and She cast an elaborate spell of healing and soothing which made His anger disappear.

Her message, in the past, has been one of kindness, especially towards ourselves. Of healing ourselves gently, steadily, thoroughly, and with compassion.

But I wonder. In my own life these are themes I'm working with, healing and unbinding and undoing past knots so that I can then invoke the new; and it is, I think, a big magic I am doing, mise mi fein, me myself. So it is hard not to take this personally, though I suppose in any reading the messages are both for the reader as well as the querant, in this case the world. And when I asked what She had to say to the world, this is what She said:

I am here because you are working Magic, and I love to see that. Deep magic, and not just you singular but all of you plural. There is powerful Magic being made in the world now. Not only the Magic of springtime and the turning seasons, but people-Magic. Something good and beautiful is coming into being, and so many of you have a hand in it.

Yes, I'm checking in again as a reminder; self-kindness should be as common as breakfast, or grounding rituals. Not something for special occasions, or only after everyone else has been taken care of; but first. It is ever important, that you are kind to yourself, yes, but it is vitally important now, that you do this, while this Great Magic is being made. And I will keep reminding you. This is a time of magic and healing. Now.

Yes, you are doing this. Yes, you are pushing it along. I am here to remind, to give the momentum that extra force. Things are moving, things are accelerating; it is spring now for many of you. And part of this movement is in undoing, yes, even as you are doing. How are you loosening paralysis? What has been bound that you are untying? What knots still need to be unpicked?

Mainly I am here, though, to offer encouragement, to let you know it is working and that things are moving. Yes, for you, but also for all the world--you do not think you are not part of it, do you? You are remarkably prescient if you would just trust it. Yes, all of you.

What is this Magic we are doing? What is your part in it?

Friday, March 20, 2009

Blessings of Ostara!

Happy Spring!

This is one of my favorite pieces. I will always hear XTC's Easter Theatre when I look at this, as I had it on repeat the whole time I was drawing Her. So here She is, Ostara, Eostre, Easter, with Her dress of yellow yolk and the ribbons She ties everywhere.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


It was a lovely day here in New England, sunny and warm; and after attending to some errands I decided I would pick up some trash from the side of the road in front of my house. I do this, or try to do this, every year or so at this time, before the leaves come in and I can't find anything among the undergrowth.

I live on a fairly busy stretch of road. Though it's residential, and rural, my road is the only road into a part of my town that is otherwise cut off by a loop of the river. So if a car goes by once it goes by twice, if you know what I mean.

Now, my town has recycling, so the stuff I pick up has to be sorted before I can get rid of it. So, today, just for kicks, I thought I'd keep track of the crap I picked up. I only did about half the frontage today, which I'm estimating to be about 275-300 feet's worth, at least if the Google map scale on the satellite picture of my house is accurate.

And just what did I find?

Bulk-wise, it was about half bottles, cups, and cans, with the other half miscellaneous bits of junk like lottery tickets, candy wrappers, shopping bags, a good sized cardboard Dell box, a single purple latex glove, and a plastic VW hubcap someone didn't miss. That's bad enough. But when I broke down the bottles and cans, good Christ.

There were a total of 52 beverage containers that I could identify (if I found a hunk of styrofoam that was more than half of a cup, I counted it as a whole). Of those: 22 were liquor containers (42.31%), another 22 (42.31%) were from fast food joints, and the remaining eight (15.39%) were either soda or water containers.

Let's stop a moment, here. Let that sink in. Did you notice that?

42.31%, getting close to half of the bottles/containers/cans I found on the side of the road in front of my house, were ones that had held alcohol.

Keep thinking about that.

Now, ask yourself, where does stuff on the side of the road come from? Well, okay, true, some of it does blow in from the neighbor's when they don't pack up their trash well (which is I suspect where the Dell box came from). But bottles and cans? Don't blow around all that much (and shouldn't be in the trash in the first place since they a) are not burnable, the prerequisite in my town if the truck is going to pick it up, and b) they get returned for the deposit). This stuff, these alcohol containers, are most likely being thrown from peoples' cars. Alcohol containers. That many of them.

Let me tell you it freaked me right the fuck out.

It matches, if you remember, the number of fast food beverage containers I found. That means, or it sure looks like it means (I am not a statistician, after all), that people are just as likely to be barreling down my road sucking down a Bud Lite or Busch or fucking Christ, one of those 50mL bottles of the hard stuff--Wolfschmidt vodka or Jack Daniels or Goldschlager, as they are to be sipping on a Dunkin' Donuts coffee or a soda from Wendy's or McDonald's.

I find this really, really frightening.

Happy Manannán Mac Lir Day

Well, no, it doesn't make a whole lot of sense for a Pagan to be celebrating the guy who converted the Emerald Isle, does it? Rumor has it that this day has been semi-officially reclaimed by one Anne Johnson for Manannán mac Lir, a.k.a. Little Manxman Son of the Sea, who, despite the name, is actually an Irish God (though maybe it's close enough to make no nevermind, I don't know). And why fancy that, I already have a pretty picture of said Sea-God; so, count me in!

(Should any of y'all like to spread it around, you are free to use the above picture, if you like, on your blog or site. Just credit me.)

Edited to add: oh I can just see it now! Round sugar cookies with sea green triskeles piped on top in frosting! I suppose, though, the green beer phenomenon is too entrenched to change. Ah well. It's not like I drink the stuff anyway. What else could we serve at a Manannán mac Lir party?

And edited again: I am reminded that it is also the Liberalia, the Roman holiday to the Deities Liber and Libera, Who are Deities of fertility and the vine (Liber is often associated with Dionysos). They formed a triad with Ceres, the grain Goddess, and all three had a temple near the Circus Maximus.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Silly Meme, Cat Edition

Because it's way funnier when you type in The Cat's name for this particular Google-game; though you can try it yourself with your own name if you like. The basics: type in your/the cat's/the gerbil's name with the word needs into the Google search engine, and see what comes up.

First, to establish the mood, here is Maude seated on an old chair in the piano room (which is full of furniture that doesn't usually live there as I'm refinishing another room in the house; it looks rather like an old, cluttered antique store, doesn't it?) that makes her look right royal indeed. I like how the velvet matches her eyes, though I do apologize for the photo being a little blurry. She moved. Well, one can't expect the Queen to wait around all day, can one?

Okay, then, what does Her Royal Highness need?

Maude needs people, you know, not squirrels. (I don't know about that; she is a cat, after all.)

Maude needs no encouragement. (Well no, true enough.)

Maude needs recognition and appears to be replaying some hurts from the past. (Oh no! That's terrible. We all need recognition!)

Maude needs to be more of a hard ass. (Now, burying past hurts is not the way to deal with them; it only hurts more in the long run. It's okay to cry. Really!)

Maude needs to learn that respect is earned. (Fair enough.)

Maude needs the mystery to be solved before she can finish her book. (She's writing a book? She can type?)

Maude needs to perform some additional rewrites. (This is ever the way with writing, yes.)

Maude needs a science project to fill up the spare time between being a Cosmo advice columnist. (I had no idea. What else has she neglected to tell me? And what's that book about?)

Maude needs to go back to graduate school. (Wait. Back? And who's paying for this?)

Maude needs a real job. (Oh. Good. 'Cause I'm still paying off my own student loans.)

Maude needs some marijuana from her nephew, Jeff. (Ah, yes. Grad school.)

Hmmm. I think perhaps it's time Maude and I had a little talk.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Goddess of the Week

Pele is a powerful Goddess of volcanoes, fire, and the dance in Hawaiian mythology. Her name probably means "Lava," and She is said to make Her home on the island of Hawai'i itself, within the crater of the volcano Kilauea, which may well be the most active volcano on the planet. She is reputed to be of an appropriately fiery temper, and can take many forms; and She is still accorded a great deal of respect.

Pele is usually said to be the daughter of the Earth Goddess Haumea. She is one of many brothers and sisters, though Her favorite is Her youngest sister Hi'iaka, the Goddess of hula. Given Pele's passionate ways, however, She frequently quarrels with Her siblings; and even She and Hi'iaka do not always get along.

In one tale Pele is driven from Her home on the island of Kahiki (perhaps Tahiti), after She (successfully) seduces the husband of Her older sister Na-maka-o-kaha'i, the Sea-Goddess. So Pele goes to the island of Kaua'i, in the northwest of the chain of Hawaiian islands, coming ashore to thunder and lightning. But when She digs a hole in the earth to make Her home, Na-maka-o-kaha'i quickly floods it; and Pele is forced to abandon Kaua'i, moving on to Oahu. But on Oahu She is again thwarted by Na-maka-o-kaha'i; and so She moves on to Maui, where the same thing happens. Finally She comes to the island of Hawai'i itself, where She is able to build Her home inside Kilauea, which is too high for Na-maka-o-kaha'i to reach.

Interestingly enough, Pele's journey follows the order in which the islands were created, as the Pacific plate moves slowly across a hotspot in the earth's crust.

In looking things up for this post I followed a link to the US Geological Survey's web page on Kilauea; and I was bewildered and amazed by the photos there, of that wild and uncanny beauty of that most active volcano, this living Earth, which looks so deceptively like an alien world, though it is not.

Take my advice and go. Spend some time marveling at the photographs there, at the pahoehoe lava flowing like quicksilver, at the deep glow of red beneath it. And look at the maps of the recent lava flows; see how the black line of Highway 130 abruptly ends now.

Here are some to get you started.

I don't know what to tell you about this card. It is a raw and primeval type of creation that Pele brings, one that always goes hand in hand with a powerful destruction. It is something that cannot be controlled or stopped; and I can't think of any other sane approach except one of awe, respect, and honor. Along with the warning that though it is tempting to think of volcanoes as something from another planet, of something safe and far away, not to be found among us humans, they are most decidedly not. Kilauea swallows things whole, streets and houses and volcano visitor's centers; and it is dangerous to think one can get comfortable with this sort of thing.

I don't know if one can work 'with' Pele; or at least I would certainly not advise it. She is a force of nature, and Her rules must be followed to the letter. Even then, there are no guarantees. Perhaps that is the message.

I don't know what this card means for this week. All the ideas I'm getting are of things that are way out of our control; and I don't know how to relate it to a personal level, or what kind of advice to give. Perhaps that is just it, that some things are simply out of our control, because they are so much bigger than we are.

As to what Pele says to us, frankly, I am afraid to ask. But as if there's any stopping Her:

I am here and I will be heard. Burn away the chaff; it is all chaff. Burn it all away! Become new, raw, powerful, healed, cauterized. Let your anger flow, and flow, and flow. Then, let it cool. Let the seeds be dropped, the pioneer seeds, those colonizing new thoughts. Let it be. Let it be both anger and calm. One will follow the other. I am not always erupting! And, truth be told, the constancy of my lava flows mean that I rarely explode in a catastrophic manner. I take back what it mine, true, roads and houses and your little built things, but you must be reminded you live on borrowed land. It is not yours to own, and your built things are never permanent. And borrowed time. Live, and adapt, and embrace change. It is all there ever is.

Good grief. What do you make of all this?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Kicking and Screaming

Some time ago I followed somebody's link from somewhere around here to last summer's Soul Journaling prompts at Caspiana.

Now, normally art journaling is not my Thing; and I don't quite know what to make of an art style that incorporates collage and texture and layers of gesso purposely obscuring things, or God forbid, that uses pages ripped out of old books (this is in my mind high sacrilege); I am an old-fashioned sort, I guess, and it just doesn't make sense to me. I am naturally hopelessly meticulous and precise when it comes to my art, though it should be mentioned that I've actually loosened up considerably over the years. (!) All my watercolor paper must be hot pressed. I don't even like using canvas because I can't control the fact that it has a visible weave. (Not to mention that the damned stuff moves away from the brush when you apply the paint. Arggghhh!)

But when I went to a local odd-lot store a few weeks ago, I found myself at the register clutching a twelve by twelve photo album with thick brown pages (I suppose it didn't hurt that it was only $3.99). And so, though it is deeply uncharacteristic of me, I started in on the journal prompts. I suspect, uncharacteristic though it is, it is very very good for me to do something fast and loose like this. And it has been more fun that I would have thought. At first I was just doing them to be doing something, and had to tell myself that the faster I did it the sooner it would be over. Ah, we fight change so, don't we?

Anyway, here are some of them:

This one (above) gave a list of twenty-four things to cut out of a magazine, then arrange in a grid. I added the li'l Athena. She needed to be there. Oh and the sequins too.

This one uses various kinds of tape, which was weird and really not anything I thought I would like; but this medical tape I had did this odd thing when combined with a Sharpie (another thing I would never, ever consider using in a piece of Art, good God no!); though you can't really tell here it has a lot of metallic gold paint in it. It came out surprisingly Klimtish.

This one is a little house pocket with paper dolls to represent my 'family.' I collaged it together with some paper I'd done ink blots on in a fit of Rorschachian playfulness. So that's my house, sort of. Left to right it's my guardian angel, me in an uncommonly slimming olive green dress, then Maude and Sir Isaac Mewton. The cats are wicked funny, don't you think?

This was the next prompt from the Caspiana site, which involved a list of things to do (like 'use pencil,' 'throw a wash of color over,' 'fill the page with adjectives,' &c) which were done in random order; while I like the color, which is more of that metallic gold paint with shades of red and purple washed over it, I don't know what to make of it as it's a bit too abstract for my brain. I don't know how to judge when something like this is finished, you know?

Then this one, which I willingly did all on my own, and which is not from one of the prompts. It's a collage with some painting and some writing (if you look closely you may be able to make out that I spelled 'witch' wrong the first time!) I don't know what it means, though I like it, especially the view of Glastonbury Tor through the lintels of Stonehenge.

ETA: Oh, I had forgotten. The above collage was done after I read the latest post over at Leah's, where she talks about Dream or Vision Boards, which led me to Christine Kane's site where she explains how to make one. So this is what that's meant to be. I didn't know what my vision was, though, so it was the kind where you choose images that appeal or resonate, then try to figure out why. I'm still not sure what it's about. Home, Witchiness, Deity, Returning?

And lastly, this one. I don't know where that faery came from; I wasn't purposing to paint her at all. But, really, that's the best kind of art, don't you think?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Goddess of the Week

This week while I shuffled I asked, as usual, what messages do the Goddesses have for the world? But under it, I could not help also asking a question for myself: What do I need to know about my creativity? Or, How can I get my creativity moving? For I am still feeling blocked, though I do think it is moving, if slowly.

So I thought it a very good sign when I picked Gaea. She is the primeval maker, mover, creatrix; and She is bursting with creativity and joy and life.

For all of us. She created this world. She made it all. The earth, the mountains, the rivers, the oceans, the animals, the plants, the Gods, and us humans, too. Great foremother Gaea.

She is also the source of inspiration and prophetic powers; and the Oracle at Delphi was originally Hers. So whatever is up this week, it looks to be a time of growth and creativity and fruitfulness. Perhaps it is because spring is coming. Can you feel this too?

I asked Her what She had to say to us. She said:

I know what it's like to be dead.

Hey now, I tell Her, though perhaps I should not be so argumentative with a Goddess, that's just a Beatles quote.

Well yeah, but that doesn't mean it's not true. I am all. Everything. How do you think I am so well-acquainted with prophecy? The dead return to me, and I welcome them; and I listen to them. Find the parts of yourself that are dead and dying. Welcome them; listen to them, hear what they have to say. The decaying and the dead never really go; they are transmuted into the new. Be aware of this through this process. The closer you listen to what has passed, and the more gratitude you can muster for your former self, the more you will learn and the more useful it will all prove. But let it decay. From decay, from rot, from compost spring the brightest, tallest, healthiest flowers.

Pay attention also to the season about you. Late winter, earliest spring? It looks stuck, looks in stasis, but it is not. Hard work is being done, though much of it is unseen right now. But it is well under way; and it cannot be stopped now. Before long, before long at all, buds will laugh and burst and new green leaves will be shining, the bees will be buzzing, the thousand flowers will bloom. How do you fit within this cycle, this energy? You are not separate from it. Believing you are is a great part of the source of your problems.

And to my non-northern children? I am all seasons at all times. Bring in your harvest and your glory. Kiss the leaves as they fall to the ground. Things are beginning to decay around you. It is rich, and it will lead to further richness.

What to do with this then? It feels intuitively right, to me, anyway. It is about trust that things are moving, even if they don't seem to be; and about honoring what has passed, an important and often-overlooked part of welcoming in the new.

What do you think? Any ideas?

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Art Blog Meme

Sue O'Kieffe over at the lovely Sacred Circle Mandalas gave me this award in appreciation of this blog. Thank you Sue! Be sure to go over there and check out her really wonderful mandalas. Also, she has Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In, by the Fifth Dimension, on her playlist right now! That brought me back, yikes. (Mystic crystal revelations, woo!)

So, before I pass the award on to seven of my favorite art blogs, I am to tell you seven facts about myself.

1. I believe in daimons. Well, okay, "believe," as if I'm taking it on faith. This is not how Paganism works. It's not faith leading to belief, it's experience. Isn't it now?

2. I don't know if I believe in God. I know, this contradicts #1. Life is paradox.

3. I am probably crazy.

4. Believe it or not, I have never done any drugs. Not even though I went to Art School, where I knew a glass major who had made his own blown-glass bong. (It was a thing of beauty, too.) I don't drink or smoke cigarettes, either. Blech!

5. My house is haunted. Hardly surprising; it's like 250 years old, quite ancient for New England.

6. One of my hobbies is lucid dreaming. A tricky thing, let me tell you!

7. I have recurring dreams in which I am married to Weird Al Yankovic. Which is not actually related to #6, come to think of it.

Okay, now that I've got y'all wondering, here are the seven art blogs I'm passing the award on to:

1. Owl's Wings. I suppose it's not always an art blog, but right now Beth is working her way through Julia Cameron's The Artist's Way, and I'm finding it immensely helpful and revealing.

2. Steve Emery's blog Color Sweet Tooth. His paintings are full of golden light and blue sky. Oh, and Grenouille: je t'adore.

3. Faerie Moon, featuring Hitty Dauphine and her 100 dresses. Basically, it's about a grown woman playing with dolls. She fills me with such hope, that my own playfulness is not lost! Also, I wicked want a dollhouse now.

4. Mousetales, home to Miss Rosie Posie and the Peppersnout sisters. Such beautiful colors and sure drawing. Louisa makes it all look so easy!

5. Then there is Tollipop, where the author (I can't find a reference to her name!) is also doing a hundred dresses; but these come with marvelous stories, too. And she has a genius for character names: Celeste Twickham, Tom Fingers the pickpocket, Vanguard Hastings, and of course, Quimpert Pittsnoggle IV! Very wonderful.

6. Joanna Powell Colbert's Gaian Tarot Journal, though thanks to that Stephen guy I don't know how I should be pronouncing her last name. She goes through the process as she makes each new card; and her blog is one of the inspirations for this one. So thank you, Joanna.

7. And of course, the mother of all art blogs, Leah Piken Kolidas's Creative Every Day, which besides being an inspiration, is a marvelous resource for connecting with other artists and discovering other art blogs!