A Ritual to Yemaya – Mother Whose Children are the Fish

I spent the Winter Holidays in Rio de Janeiro with my sister, who lived there in the past, giving me almost a local’s insight to that city. Vaguely I knew that the goddess Yemaya was worshipped in Brazil but I had not made the connection to the New Year’s Eve celebration in which people all come to the beach at night, dressed in white and laden with white flowers. The white flowers are offered to Yemaya, known as Iemenjá in Brazil, at midnight by throwing them or sending them out on little boats into the sea.Yemaya, Yoruba Goddess painting by Judith Shaw

Once I realized that not only was Yemaya an important deity to the practitioners of the Candomblé religion but was also alive to Christians and non-religious folks alike, I knew I had an opportunity to experience something special.

Yemayá came to Brazil, Cuba and Haiti with the Yoruba people of Nigeria in the 1600’s during the African diaspora. Her most ancient and full name, Yeyé Omo Ejá, means “Mother Whose Children are the Fish.” She rules over the Seven Seas and large lakes. Her domain is the upper waters of the ocean, where life originated and continues to be concentrated.

candomblé ceremony to IemenjaThe Afro-Brazilians practitioners of Candomblé, the Afro-Cuban practitioners of Santeria, and the Haitian practitioners of Vodou all have deities called Orishas, of which Yemaya is a Great Mother figure. Each Orisha is celebrated on their sacred day with hours of singing and dancing in a circle. Certain kinds of herbs and drink might be imbibed. Suddenly the Orisha comes down and possesses the chosen among the faithful. Those who become possessed by the deity writhe, shout and moan. The deity is within them providing a link between the world of spirit and the human world.

We had heard contradictory accounts of when to see a Candomblé ceremony to Iemanjá.  Traditionally the worshippers come to the beach from a more inland part of Rio on New Year’s Eve. But as the crowds have grown with each passing year we were told that they hold their ceremony on January 30. We looked for them that day but with no luck. But we did find an unused blue candle on the beach – the candle color that is used during ceremonies honoring Yemaya.

With an expected turn out of 2 million plus people to the beach for the New Year’s Eve celebration of music, fireworks and offerings to Iemanjá we knew that we were not up to being in that crowd until midnight. So we went down to the beach in late afternoon to feel the build up of energy and to perform our own ceremony to Iemanjá at sunset, instead of midnight. That felt comfortable to me since in the Celtic tradition sunset and sunrise are considered to be liminal/transitional moments in which the veil between the worlds thins out a bit.

The boardwalk and beach were already hopping with people so we made our way to the opposite end of the beach from where the stage and main set-up for the fireworks was located. As sunset neared we found a spot on the beach where the waves met the shore, laid down our flowers, lit our blue candle and stood facing the sea in meditation. We offered our gratitude to Iemanjá for our many blessings and asked for her help in realizing our dreams for 2018. 

judith shaw after her ceremony to Yemaya

After our ceremony to Yemaya

 

 

 

 

We had kind of given up on finding a Candomblé ceremony but as we left the beach and walked a little further on the boardwalk we found one. The practitioners were enclosed in a little wire fence with onlookers all around. They were oblivious to us non-practitoners as their ceremony heated up. We watched in awe for awhile. When we left they were going strong. I can only assume that they would continue in that way until the spirit called them to take their offerings to Yemaya down to the sea.

Afro-brazilian- candomble-yemaya-ceremony

Read more about Yemaya, her story and where and how she is still worshipped today on my recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog.

My deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is in the world.  The second run is now available for order.  Celtic-Goddess-Oracle-cards-by-judith-shawYou can  order your deck on my website. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!

 

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The Healing Power of Gratitude

I have a confession to make. I  have turned into a raging maniac when driving. Blame it on the orange barrel hell my town has become for over a year now; blame it on rude drivers; blame it on my own spiritual deficiency – but no matter the source, it’s unpleasant and I want to be in peace even when driving under insane conditions.

So I began to consider the healing power of gratitude. With so much anger bubbling up on all fronts is it possible that gratitude could be the salve to heal our wounds?

Reflections-on-light-and-water-painting-by-Judith-Shaw

Reflections On Light And Water, gouache on paper by Judith Shaw

It is hard to feel grateful while the ongoing destruction of our Earth’s systems creates more and more climate catastrophes. Yet these catastrophes remind us not to take Earth’s bounty for granted. After my sister lost power and water for almost a week from Hurricane Irma, I remembered what I usually forget and said a small prayer of thanks every time I turned on the water. The miracle of running water is something we all take for granted. I am grateful for the modern convenience of running water and the ease it provides to our lives. I am even more grateful for the waters of Earth, which arrive in many ways and provide life and well-being 

Read the rest of my thoughts on gratitude in my recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog.

Celtic-Goddess-Oracle-cards-by-judith-shawUPDATE – the Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards
The decks and guidebooks are in production!
Expected date of arrival in my hands is the first week of December, 2107 (only a few days later than my projected date). That still gives plenty of time to give the deck as Christmas gifts. In the meantime you can pre-order through my website Judith Shaw Art.   There are still about 20 or so decks available from this first run.

Winter Of Our Souls

We are in the winter of our souls.
A cold wind blows across the land.
A bleak sky pours down.
The land is strewn with the dead,
mowed down by hatred, bigotry, and ignorance.

The gates of the Underworld are open wide.
And we must walk through to get to the other side.

Wild-things-painting-by-judith-shaw

Wild Things, goauche on paper by Judith Shaw

It might be long.
It might be hard.
It might be cold.
But winter will surely give way to spring one day.

Life Awakens, painting by Judith Shaw

Life Awakens, oil on canvas by Judith Shaw

The Turning Seasons – Transformation

My thoughts turn to transformation as the fall season deepens, bringing shorter days and chilly nights. Both the idea and the process of transformation have fascinated me my whole life. Blame it on my Scorpio rising. Scorpio is ruled by Pluto, the planet of transformation and regeneration.

Though the word transformation has become trendy in the last few decades – used by corporations, the government and even the military to describe Gold-aspen-leaves-photo-by-judith-shawbureaucratic change – the original meaning of transformation is very different. Our ancestors viewed transformation as a process through which a human being gains a deeper understanding of the spiritual dimension in life. In cultures across the ancient world people could participate in ceremonies and rituals that helped facilitate a spiritual awakening – an awakening to the understanding that we are all spiritual beings having a physical experience. This journey brings one back into union with Source from which we all come and to which we all return. 

I find myself returning to the theme of transformation again and again with my paintings. Guardians of the Passage presents a view of a doorway with Spirit Guardians on either side.  A figure is poised at the entrance, ready to pass through, seeking a transformative spiritual experience.

Guardians of the Passage by Judith Shaw

Our day-to-day needs – the tasks, the emotions and the body – keep our minds busy and focused on the physical. Through spiritual transformation we can open to the truth of spirit. In my view, this truth of spirit does not negate or belittle the physical. As a practitioner of Earth-based spirituality I believe that the goal of spiritual transformation is the integration of the physical and the spiritual creating an understanding which honors both and allows a world based on love, balance, harmony and equality to emerge.

Transformation offers the opportunity to turn the lead of our fears and self-limitations into the gold of our intuitive inner calling. Nonetheless it is not a door many chose willing – usually it is precipitation by pain and suffering.

Read the rest of my article on transformation and see more of my paintings in my recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog.

Oracle Cards Update
celtic-goddess-oracle-cards-by-judith-shaw
I want to extend a huge THANK YOU to everyone who contributed and/or shared my crowdfunding campaign, raising funds for the production of my deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards. The campaign ended successfully on 10/19/17. In fact it went slightly over my goal, reaching 120% funding. The final edits and pre-print work are in progress now. The decks should be ready for shipment by late November. In the meantime you can still  get one of the first 100 decks published. They are going fast. Pre-order on my website Judith Shaw Art.

Goddess Oracle Cards – Coming Soon

There are only 2.5 days left in my crowdfunding campaign which raises the needed funds to produce my deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle cards. It is currently 105% funded! I’m sending a HUGE THANK  YOU out to everyone who has contributed and/or shared.

Here are a few cards from the deck.
Aine in Celtic Goddess Oracle deck by Judith ShawBoann in Celtic Goddess Oracle Deck by Judith Shawthe Cailleach in Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards by Judith Shaw

Aine, Sun Goddess, indicates certainty of purpose, illumination, fertility, abundance, healing – Aine calls you to claim your own power and to experience true joy. She offers aide with love, fertility, health, and prosperity.

Boann, Goddess of Knowledge and Creativity, clears negativity and mental debris allowing space for spiritual insight and divine inspiration. She calls you to take time for your own creative expression.

The Cailleach, Dark Nature Goddess, calls you to embrace the quiet darkness and the oneness of being; to release the old and allow space for new light to emerge.

The campaign ends at midnight on October 19.  I’m asking for your help to push this project even further into the world.

If I reach $3000 ($1000 over my goal) I’ll be able to double production numbers and offer every backer a free gift (one of my greeting cards, signed personally) with their chosen perk. It’s a stretch with only 2.5 days left, but with your help I know it’s possible. A big huge THANK YOU to all. Pre-order your deck here

Andee: the non-gods of Ireland

Here’s an interesting blog post on yet more confusing elements found in Celtic mythology.

We Are Star Stuff

In the Irish myths a mysterious phrase crops up: the gods and the non-gods (or un-gods). We all know what a god is, but what is an non-god?

View original post 1,921 more words

Badb, Goddess of Life and Death

Strange that the last Celtic Goddess I am covering is one that deals with death and destruction.  But with all the craziness and division in the world right now I wanted to look death in the face and see if there were a way to find the positive side.  Badb fits that bill pretty well.

Badb is one aspect of the Celtic War Goddess Triplicity, The Morrigan.  Badb, Badb, Celtic War Goddess painting by Judith Shawtranslates as “Hooded Crow” and “One Who Boils.” She signifies fury, rage and violence. She brings war, death, chaos but also enlightenment, life, and wisdom.

In The Destruction of Da Choca’s Hostel She is the “Washer at the Ford,” washing the bloodstained clothes of the one about to die as She prophesied the death of the hero Cormac. Here she is seen standing on one leg with one eye opened and one eye closed; with one foot in the human world and the other in the spirit world. While She is the harbinger of death of our current mortal condition She also offers the promise of new life.

Visit my Feminism and Religion post to read the rest of Badb’s story

Goddess Oracle cards by Judith ShawAccess the wisdom of the Goddess with my deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle cards.  Pre-order your deck or purchase a print or original of my art (prices reduced) on my Indiegogo campaign page.

All proceeds go to the cost of production of the deck and accompanying booklet.