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.


Explore Positive and Negative Space in Art

I’ve been working away on my new website, Judiths Art Projects – Creativity Beat.  Today I put up a new art project, A Positive Negative Space Art Lesson – the Y Tree.

Everyone loves trees!  Plus they are fun and easy to draw.  By drawing a tree with an emphasis on all the points where the tree branches out (always forming a “y”) you will also have an important positive / negative space art lesson.

Dancing Cottonwoods, painting by Judith ShawAs I love trees and paint them often, I personally explore the positive and negative space created by tree branches all the time.

Here’s an example of a student’s drawing for this project.Student drawing of y tree

If you would like to give it a try just click here .

Music Heals the Weary Soul

Oh Hellos, fok rock band

The Oh Hellos, Eclectic Folk Rock Band, performs at the Four Corners Folk Festival

I had an awesome experience at the Four Corners Folk Festival over Labor Day weekend.  Unbelievably that was the first time I camped out at a multi-day music festival.

I came of age in the late 60’s, early 70’s when the music scene was shifting from folk to rock.  My own musical tastes then brought me through rock, to world music and onto to all types of Latin music.  Folk sort of drifted to the back burner of my music radar.

But a few years ago when my son, who is a gifted singer/songwriter, switched gears from leading a funk band to an eclectic, folk rock blend I opened my ears to folk music again.

Not only did I hear some fantastic music at the Folk Festival in Pagosa Springs, but I felt like I had stepped into the way back machine and was experiencing the 60’s summers of love.

The music I heard was a bundle of upbeat, positive, foot-stomping fun.  The musicians spoke and sang from their hearts.  The vocal harmonies were stunning and moving.  I remember one of the musicians said during his performance that he’d been touring the country and he wanted to let everyone know not to believe all the bad news – people across the country are good.

The folks at the festival were also full of joy and good spirits.  We spanned the generations – babies in arms to the over 60 crowd and everything in between.  Everyone was smiling – there was lots of random dancing – new friends were made and old friendships renewed.

For sure I heard great music on stage.  But equally as fun and inspiring were the amazing jam sessions happening at campsites all around the grounds.  I can’t remember the last time I had a smile on my face for 3 days straight.  Even the constant rain and huge downpour on Saturday night couldn’t dampen the high energy, good spirits of the Four Corners Folk Festival.

HotRizeSunday night was the final performance by a bluegrass band who has been around since the 70’s, Hot Rize  They did a bit in the middle of their set in which their alter egos, Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers, took the stage.  I was laughing so hard my belly hurt.  That whole bit was a huge spoof on country music, musicians and their dress styles, technology and much more.  It was a roaring end to the weekend – though I do think the older folks like it more than the younger one.

We headed home on Monday in a leisurely fashion.  The weekend was a great break from the constant stresses of modern life. The experience made it easier to go home and once again allow the bizarre and chaotic nature of the world to enter my consciousness.  The experience reminded me to remain open to the goodness all around us and to be grateful for my many, many blessings.

Artio, Celtic Bear Goddess of Wild LIfe and much more

I’ve been working on my series of Celtic Goddess art for about two years now. My goal with this undertaking is to create an oracle deck of cards of Celtic Goddess.  I have 21 completed – so only about 14 to go.

It has been a very exciting and interesting journey as I did not know much about Artio, Celtic Goddessthe Celtic Goddesses when I began.  Though certainly not an authority, I have learned so much and developed a deep connection to some of these Goddesses.

Since the Celts did not write down their myths and beliefs much information has been lost about many of their goddesses.

Artio, Celtic Goddess of Wild Life, Transformation, and Abundance, is one of the more obscure goddesses in the Celtic pantheon.  She is often shown with baskets of plenty and surrounded by animals.  Artio is frequently depicted as a bear. Her name comes from the old Celtic word for bear, arth(e), which the Roman’s Latinized to Artos.

Discover Artio’s connection to the skies, to abundance, to wild life, to shamanism and to King Arthur (in the comments section) in my essay on Artio in my recent blog post over at the Feminism and Religion blog.  

If you know of a particular Celtic Goddess who you would like to see in the deck of cards please let me know.

Art Projects and More

I’ve just started a new website with all kinds of information about art projects, art materials, and articles about art and artists.  For instance –

Are you wondering what art is?

How does one define artistic expression?

Art takes many forms today.  In the fine arts world, artists have freedom to Joseph Beuys artchoose from many different styles; from traditional, to abstract, to modern, to post modern, to conceptual.


Click here to read more and discover what’s the deal with this suit.

A World in Deterioration

International Districtr tire shop,photo by Judith ShawIn October of 2011 I spent an afternoon on my bicycle touring my neighborhood, the International District, seeking the beauty and the ugliness of it all. The International District was given its name in 2009, after decades of duress in which it was known as “The War Zone”. Of course where there is much poverty one usually finds much ugliness.  But in reality on that afternoon I also discovered a great amount of beauty.  This photo of a tire shop on Louisiana and Zuni illustrates the beauty found in the ID.

Now almost three years later and “deeper in debt”, as the old song says, I see my city and my neighborhood deteriorating around me.  Every day there is another murder or swat situation or fugitive chase or dumped dead body or… or… or.  Desperation of the people slipping deeper and deeper into poverty and drug addiction increases coupled with an ever increasing militarization of the police.

Six and a half years into the Republican administration of Susana Martinez and New Mexico has been swept down to 49th in terms of economic growth and well-being. Oh and let’s not forget the ongoing attack on public education. Adding to the perfect storm of poverty and ignorance consider the closure of mental health clinics a few years ago which left people with serious mental issue with nowhere to go for help.

On Wednesday  there was a swat situation in the neighborhood.  It began with an early morning carjacking in the Northeast Heights (supposedly “safe” neighborhood), followed by a car chase. The police and the criminals raced through town, first touring the Southwest and finally ending in the Southeast about 4 blocks from my house.  Here the carjackers abandoned the car and ran into a tire shop.

swat situation abqYep, that’s the same tire shop from my photo illustrating the beauty of the neighborhood. This screen shot of a KOAT video shows my beauty spot in a completely different light.  The War Zone is too often truly the War Zone.

But unfortunately the war zone is much much larger than the pre-conceived notion – it seems to be surrounding the whole world.  How have we gotten to this state of continual war and violence”.  How has my neighborhood, my city, my town, my country become a place of such unending violence and desperation?

International Districtr tire shop,photo by Judith Shawswat situation abq

Rosmerta, Celtic Goddess of Abundance

As we near August 1, known to the ancient Celts as Lughnasadh or Lammas, examples of abundance are everywhere.  Gardens and farms are in full bloom with some crops ready for harvest and others very near.  Lambs born in spring are now reaching maturity. Days are still long and we are full of energy. It is a perfect time to remember the Celtic Goddess, Rosmerta.

Rosmerta, celtic goddess painting by Judith ShawRosmerta,  a goddess loved by both Celtic and Roman Gauls was known as ”The Great Provider”. She is a goddess of fertility and wealth. She was worshipped in South-western Britain, Gaul, and along the Rhone and the Rhine rivers.

After the region was conquered by Rome, Rosmerta was incorporated into the Roman pantheon, becoming associated with Mercury.  Though She has been called Mercury’s consort there is no evidence that was the nature of their relationship.  She survived in the Roman era as a powerful goddess in Her own right, being depicted alone many times.  Alone and with Mercury, She carries a cornucopia and a basket of fruit, symbols of abundance.   A giving goddess, She was often shown with a patera, a ritual offering bowl, and with a ladle or scepter.

Read the rest of my thoughts on Rosmerta and view some ancient images of her on my recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog.  Click here.