Mor, Goddess of the Setting Sun

As I near the end of my self-assigned project to create a deck of Celtic Goddess cards I find that my retelling of their stories is changing.  Now I am seeing a way to reclaim the power these Goddess had long ago, before the world turned and the age of Patriarchy took hold.

The Celts did not have a written language so all of their stories were passed down orally.  Many of their stories and myths were first written down between the 10th – 12th century, well after Christianity and a patriarchal world view had taken hold.  But the original power of many of these Goddesses and Gods can be gleamed from the written stories.   celtic goddess art by judith shaw

And now with only five goddesses to go to complete a deck of 30 cards, I find that I am de-patriarchalizing (a cool new term coined by Nancy Vedder-Shults, FAR member) their stories, changing up some details and giving them back their agency and power.   So looks like I’ve still got a lot of work left – editing and re-writing some of the first ones I wrote.

My most recent painting and story is of Mor, Goddess of Sun and Sea.  Though She is a Sun Goddess, She is mainly associated with the setting sun, thus reigning over death and rebirth also. Mor, was known to some as Queen of the Island of Women, one of the Celtic Otherworlds, characterized as a place of eternal youth, and abundance.

Read the 10th century version of Mor and my retelling of her place as an ancient and powerful Goddess on the Feminism and Religion Blog. Click here

Is Art Erotic?

gustav klimt the kiss

The Kiss by Gustav Klimt

“All art is erotic,” is one of the few quotes we have from Austrian painter Gustav Klimt.  Gustav Klimt is most well know for his erotic golden paintings of women.  The Kiss is one of his most famous but there are others that are more erotic, such as Danae.  So, is art erotic?

mark rothko painting

Yellow and Orange by Mark Rothko

That statement “All art is erotic” might be a bit extreme.  After all where are the erotic elements found in the abstract expressionism of Jackson Pollack or the mystical color field paintings of Mark Rothko or for that matter the work of the Impressionists or even the masters of the Renaissance?

Looking beneath the subject matter and style of any piece of art one might find truth in Klimt’s statement.  Perhaps it is the act of creating itself which stimulates the erotic in the artist.

What do you think about Klimt’s statement?   Is there truth there?

Click here to read my recent post on Klimt’s life and art on my new website Creativity Beat.

You might also enjoy my post on the work and life of Monet.

Our Response to Terror – Compassion or Hate?

It’s been a hard week, a hard year, a hard decade as violence and fear get more and more amped up.

Terror in Paris, terror in Beruit, terror in Mali, bombs taking down airplanes, drones targeting terrorists but killing civilians and on and on and on.

me and my sis

My sister and I in front of the Louvre, 2012. Paris- beautiful City of Lights where beauty and love are cherished.

My hope is with the youth.

Today I worked with my 8th grade students on an art project which looks at the importance of trees to our world.  They worked in groups to create a large painting expressing the concept of the Tree of Life, looking at the scientific, cultural and religious significance of trees.  One group of three girls decided to have a large Christmas tree as the central image and use the ornaments to show images about that concept.   I was so proud of them as they developed it, finding symbols for all the world’s religions to go in the ornaments and other symbols of peace and harmony.  They told me that the world needs to learn how to live together as one and to stop hating each other for our differences.

After school I stopped at a local store to pick up some food.  I had wandered over to the wine section where a little tasting was occurring of two French wines.  A man, somewhere in his 60’s was selecting a French wine and commented to me that French wines are the best.

“You can never go wrong with a French wine,” I responded.

“Yes and now they are taking their country back” he said.  He spoke with an accent so he was obviously not a native born American.

I was confused and asked for clarification as I did not realize that the French have lost anything in regards to their wine production.

His response was that France is 45% Muslim (true fact – 5 -10% of French citizens are Muslim) Next he claimed that the French will now get rid of all the Muslims as Islam is a religion of hate and war.

I responded with the thought that terrorists are created by poverty, lack of opportunity and mistreatment.

He spoke more words of hate.

I said I did not agree and walked away.

I was dumbfounded to hear him spouting his hateful and ignorant rhetoric., especially after my 8th grade students had expressed such compassion earlier in the day.

May the children keep their hearts open and lead us older folks to a better world.  We are certainly giving them a very troubled one.

Gift Giving Season – Tree Art Images

The gift giving season is here again.   In the spirit of the season I have a few things to give away – Let’s start with some tree art images and then move on to some cool DIY gifts

My “Tree of Life” painting is one of my most popular paintings.  So I’d like to tree of life painting by judith shawoffer a free print of this image (printed on matte photo paper, 8.5″x11″)  Here’s how you can enter and perhaps receive this gift.

Just head over to my “sign up for email updates” button (top right of this page) and sign up to receive my newsletter.  Once you’ve done that I’ll put your name in the hat with all the others who have signed up, pull one out, and voila – a winner will be born!  Deadline for getting in on the raffle is November 30.   (Another raffle for a different tree art image to be held in December)

If you already receive my newsletter just let me know that you’d like to be in the raffle and I’ll put your name in also.

My new website, judithsartprojects, is a gift to everyone – offering free art projects, info on art materials, articles on art and more.   And now you can find projects for making your own gifts this year.

I just put up a new project  – Cool DIY Gifts – Keepsake Boxes.  This is the first in cool diy giftsa series of projects I plan to post over the next few weeks with step-by-step instructions for each one.   Be sure to leave a comment if my instructions are not clear, letting me know what’s hard to follow so that I can improve these projects.

Try it out!   Show your love with personal, hand-made gifts.


Chlíodhna , Celtic Goddess of Beauty

In the past year and eight months I  have completed 23 Celtic Goddess paintings and stories.  Wow!  I really did not realize what a huge task it would be to create a deck of Goddess Cards.   With a goal of 30 – 35 total, I am nearing completion – only another 10 months or so to go.

I particularly want to thank the folks at the Feminism and Religion blog for giving me the space every month to publish.  Those deadlines have both kept me on track and kept me up late some nights as I finished up the painting or the story.

My latest post at FAR starts like this –

Having spent the past year and a half immersed in the study of Celtic Goddesses, celtic goddess art, pagan goddess artI am intrigued by the sharing of many of their attributes, symbols, and associations – shape-shifting, magical birds, and apple orchards in the Otherworld to name just a few. One other common thread found in so many Celtic Goddesses is the existence of many contradictory folk tales about them.  Their stories, like the otherworldly mists of the Celtic countryside, which materialize suddenly, obscure reality and then melt away again, exist on the frontier of myth and reality.

Chlíodhna (pronounced Kleena), Celtic Goddess of Beauty, the Sea and the Afterlife, is such a Goddess.

Click here to read the rest of Her story.

What is Inspiration and How to Get Some

I just posted an article on my art projects website about inspiration which I thought might interest some of you who read my blog.

There seems to be a big mystery around the concept of inspiration.  Does it come lightning strikein a flash – like a strike of lightning?  Is it only available to the select few?

The answer to these questions comes to us from the definition of inspiration  – “the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.”

The good news is it’s available to us all.  Click here to discover 7 action steps to find your own inspiration.

Canola, Celtic Goddess of Creativity

My most recent exploration of Celtic Goddesses was of one who left me with a very peaceful feeling, the type of feeling induced by deeply moving music.

celtic goddess art by Judith ShawCanola, Celtic Goddess of Inspiration and Creativity, is another ancient Celtic Goddess whose story comes down to us in very limited form.

One day Canola had an argument with Her lover.  Goddesses, being intermediaries between our physical world and the infinite Source of All, feel emotions in a similar fashion to mortal humans.  So, like any mortal woman, Canola was upset by their argument.

To calm Her distress, She decided to walk along the seashore and feel the peace and beauty of the natural world.  After awhile She heard beautiful, ephemeral music being carried to Her by the wind. She was so enchanted that She forgot her distress over the argument and sat down to listen more closely.  She fell asleep as the music continued to wash over Her soul.

Upon awakening, thoughts of Her lover and their argument were gone.  Still entranced by the music She searched for its origin.  And She found it – offered to Her by the Earth Mother who nurtures and loves all of Her children on land and on sea.  She found the source of the music emanating from the carcass of a giant whale laying on the beach. The wind was strumming the notes across dried sinews still attached to the rib-bones of the whale. From the death of one creature, new life would be formed.

When Canola lay sleeping, She surely was able to access the creative inspiration brought to us in our dreams.  Now awake and witnessing the gift offered to Her by Mother Goddess, inspiration struck.  Canola, with Her creative intelligence and Her love, created the harp, Ireland’s national emblem to this day.

Read about the shape of the original harp and the wisdom Canola offers on by post at the Feminism and Religion Blog – click here.