Credhe, Celtic Goddess of Love

This journey I am on with the Celtic Goddesses is like a walk into the labyrinth, with many twists, turns and confusions until I finally reach the center of each story.  Each goddess has multiple names and multiple stories which are sometimes even a bit contradictory.  Some have very few or no surviving stories as they were only put into written form in the 12th century.

Credhe, Celtic Love GoddessSome take me into dark and scary places, whereas others reach for light and love. The goddess I explored for my February post in the Feminism and Religion blog is a Love Goddess, who allowed me to reclaim the color pink as one of power and agency.

Credhe, also known as Creide or Cred is an Irish Faery Queen Goddess of Love and Spirit Contact. She is associated with Danu’s mountains, the Paps of Anu.  These are two gently rounded high hills that were adorned by the ancients with earthen and rock mounds and cairns positioned on top to represent erect nipples.  Her Sidhe was most likely located near the Paps of Anu.  She is also associated with crystals, the color pink and rose oil.

The most well-known of Her stories illustrates Her power, a woman’s power, to manifest her heart’s desire.  Credhe vowed that the only man who would win Her heart would be the one who could write a perfectly crafted poem, describing in detail every aspect of her home and its contents. She lived in the beautiful and peaceful Otherworld ruled by Manannán mac Lir, God of the Sea. This place was known as Tír Innambéo or’ Land of the Living’. As it was inhabited mainly by women, it was sometimes called the Land of Women.  Mortal men were not allowed in unless invited. Thus Her would-be lover must write this perfect poem without advantage of sight.

To read the rest of her story and to hear the poem written for Her, click here.

A New Democracy for Artists

It is really amazing how much the internet has changed so many of our institutions and ways of doing business.  For artists of all types it has opened up a world of freedom from the dealers and producers; the gatekeepers at the world of art.  From sites like Etsy to CD Baby to Lulu, options exist for artists to create and promote their own work.

Night Poppies, painting by Judith SHaw

Night Poppies, oil on canvas 14″x11″

I personally have not had much success in the traditional art world of galleries, museums, etc.  But since I decided to become my own dealer and promote my work online, people from all over the world discover my work and contact me with comments, and/or inquiries about purchasing. Invariably when I am feeling somewhat despondent about the difficulties of getting my work out into the world an amazing comment arrives in my inbox about how my work has touched someone.  These events always leave me feeling humble and grateful that spirit continues to speak through me with images of connection and oneness.

Recently I was contacted by a blogger from India who wanted to interview me for his blog.  We were going to do a Skype chat but the time difference made that a little hard.  So he sent me his list of questions which I answered and sent back.  Here’s a link to that interview.     Enjoy!

 

 

 

Greece – A New Day for Democracy?

Molivos Hills, drawing by Judith ShawOver the past few years I have been so sad to see the suffering of the Greek people as they bear the brunt of the financial collapse caused by the banksters.  Greek books were cooked with collusion between big banks and a corrupt government.  Then the big banks started betting against Greece and the rest is history as their economy collapsed and they found themselves under the control of the European central banks.   The people did not cause the collapse but the people have been the ones to suffer.

How could this be?  The people who never lost their own identity even under 400 years of Turkish rule, without a country to call their own, had finally succumbed through economic warfare.  But I should not have despaired so deeply as history is long.  And now, Greece, the birthplace of democracy, is raising her head again seeking a renewal of democracy.  In a landslide election on January 25, the Greek people voted in the progressive party, Syriza.  Syriza is opposed to neo-liberal economic policies which favor privatisations and the removal of laws protecting labour.  They are committed to eliminating the austerity which the EU has imposed on Greece, causing six years of severe economic hardship for the majority of Greeks.

molivos sea fr ss '87 72Perhaps after many, many twists and turns of history – from small Greek city-states, to Alexander the Great, to being a province of the Roman Empire, to the Byzantine Empire, to centuries of domination by the Ottoman empire, to the beginnings of reunification as a nation, to the Great Catastrophe when after World War I the Allies left the Greeks out to dry in their attempt to retake Istanbul (always called Constantinople in Greece), to the Greek Civil War after World War II which left a very right-wing government in control, to Greece’s entry into the European Union – perhaps the Greeks, a very hard-working and proud people, will lead the West back to democracy and an elimination of the huge gap between the rich and the poor which is far, far from democratic ideals.   I hope that the next time I have the opportunity to visit Greece I find it renewed and prosperous.

Caer Ibormeith, Celtic Goddess of Dreams and Prophecy by Judith Shaw

Judith Shaw:

Here’s my latest Celtic Goddess painting and story, published today on the Feminism and Religion blog.

Originally posted on :

judith Shaw photoCaer Ibormeith, Celtic Goddess of Dreams and Prophecy, is a pan-Celtic goddess who was worshipped in Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  In Scotland and Wales Her name was used to name places such as Caer Edin (Edinburgh). In Ireland Her name identified the homes of Goddesses and Gods, such as Caer Arianrhod, home to the Goddess Arianrhod.

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In the Flow

Our Bosque, painting by Judith ShawThe practice of painting continues to inform me about the nature of living in the flow.  I move through life and through painting with much more ease when I move with the flow; when I open to serendipity; when I trust.

In painting, as in life, one must learn to navigate the limitations of physicality. I start my day’s painting cold, dry, slowly moving into an openness to the flow. Finally the surface is covered and the oil paint is wet and sticky.  Now I can lose myself, lose ego, allowing the paint to move in its own way with a little help from my brush in hand.

The day ends, the light fades, my body tires and I stop.  But the painting is not finished.  And the next day or the day after when I can begin anew the paint has dried.  Now I must move from the dryness to the wetness.  I must move from stagnation to flow.

Under the Olive Tree, painting by Judith ShawOnly now fear can set in.  Maybe my next move will be wrong.  Maybe the risk I take of change will end in disaster.  Maybe it would be better to accept the known, even if not quite right, than fail while seeking the revelation of the painting. I confess that when these fears take the upper hand I engage in what I like to call “painting around in circles” – putting the same color, the same form, the same everything on top of the work of the previous day.  Until finally I get so fed up with myself that in a burst of energy I make a radical change in color or form thus moving myself back into the flow.  Other days I ignore that fear and move more leisurely into the flow.

Similarly my life sometimes gets blocked as I seek to hold onto conditions which call out for change.   The familiar is so comforting, that even if it is killing me, I hold on. In these times I must also face the fear, either with a logical, step-by-step plan or with a burst of energy and a surgical slice, and return to the flow, leaving behind the old way of being.

I am grateful that my practice of painting helps me face the situations in life that have grown stagnate and call out for a new flow.  Perhaps you too have a practice that helps you face the need to let go when it arises.

A Dark Goddess for the Dark Time of Year

In the West on this day, December 31, we celebrate the end of one year and the beginning of the next.  Parties sparkle with people and noise.  We make merry as we remember old friends and welcome new ones.

But the turning of the earth reminds us that we are smack in the middle of the dark days, when we in the northern hemisphere huddle around the hearth fire contemplating the eternal cycle of  life, death and life.  In that spirit I offer you my contemplations on the Morrigan, Celtic Dark Goddess.

The Morrigan, Celtic Dark Goddess, painting by Judith ShawMorrigan, Celtic Goddess of War and Death, is a dark goddess we mortals tend to approach with fear and trepidation. A great Warrior Goddess, She represents the more terrifying aspects of female energy; sensuality, magic, prophecy, revenge, and war. She could either shape-shift into a crow or raven or be accompanied by them.  In the Ulster cycle stories she also appears as a cow, a wolf and an eel.  This indicates Her connection to prosperity, sovereignty and the land.  Encompassing all essential divine functions, She is the Goddess of War, Sovereignty, Fertility and the Land.

Her name is linguistically rooted to the Indo-European words mor –  terror and rigan – queen.  Current scholars accept Her name to mean either Great Queen or Phantom Queen.  In addition, Celtic mythology refers to Her as Morrígu, Morríghan, or Mor-Ríoghain.  In Her aspect as Death Goddess, She is also called the “Washer at the Ford”, for when She was found washing a warrior’s armor in the stream it foretold his death in battle that day.

As with so many of the Celtic Goddesses, Morrigan is complex and hard to pin down. The Morrigan can be seen as a title given to either three different goddesses or three aspects of the same goddess.  Her three aspects are  Badb Catha, “battle crow”, Macha, “a plain” and Neaim, “frenzy”. She can appear as both a beautiful, sensual woman or as an ugly, old hag.

In Her aspect as Neaim, She was seen shrieking and flying over battlefields, striking terror and confusion into men’s hearts, often causing them to either fall dead from fear or to turn upon each other in confusion.  As Badb, She revels in the gore and carnage of war.  Here She is a flock of crows warning of a great battle or feasting on the slain warriors. As Macha, She takes on the most human of Her forms.  But even as wife and mother Her prophesy is of war and death as seen in Macha’s curse on the Ulstermen.

Read more in my recent post on the Feminism and Religion Blog about the stories of Morrigan and the little white bird that appeared in my painting of Her.  Click here.

 

 

Art, Nature and Spirit

Danu, Celtic Mother Earth Goddess, painting by Judith ShawThe beauty and the power of the Earth are all around us.  Even in the poorest and most blighted urban environments trees, hollyhocks, sunflowers and other sturdy plants grow up through the concrete.  We are children of the Earth, of the Goddess, who in Her many forms, is the manifest symbol of the sacred Earth.

Most of us love the space we find ourselves in when spending time with nature –  hiking, walking, camping, birdwatching, swimming in the sea, riding a bike, working in our gardens – all activities that help us feel connected to this Earth we walk upon; that help us find an inner peaceful place.

Sonoma Trees, drawing by Judith ShawAs a child growing up in New Orleans I remember vividly my desire to lie on the grass under the majestic oak trees of City Park, longing to merge with the land.  Now an adult and an artist, I have found that pleine-aire painting and drawing allow that feeling of merging to occur, bringing me to an inner space of connectivity with the land which in turn creates a connection to spirit and the cosmic source.

To read more about my experience with art as a vehicle to a deeper connection to nature and spirit read my latest blog post on the Feminism and Religion site. Click here.