A break from bad news – Pig/Sow Animal Spirit Guide

This month has delivered punch after punch to those who dream of a world in which all women and men can live together in peace.  My work as an artist has generally been about presenting images which show a world of love and beauty. In these times that intent can seem lacking. But then I remember that energy is part of the equation here on Earth.  So in the spirit of remembering and honoring the beauty and joy of life,  I offer my newest Animal Spirit Guide painting for your inspiration today.

Pigs, who were called boars in the wild, were the first animals to be domesticated. Pig domestication occurred about 9,000 – 10,000 years ago in two places – central China and Neolithic Anatolia in modern day southwestern Turkey.

Around 7,000 years ago when the Anatolians moved into Europe with their domestic animals and plants, they interacted with the indigenous Mesolithic hunter-gatherers and facilitated an interbreeding of their domestic pig and the local wild boar. The European swine descends from this interbreeding.

The mythical and cultural associations assigned to Pig in all its forms is very contradictory – sacred and beneficial to some, demonic and unclean to others. For our purposes here, we will concentrate on the positive associations.

Pig is associated with fertility, regeneration, death, inspiration, magic, knowledge, good luck, prosperity, transformation, Earth.

Pig-sow-painting-by-judith-shaw

The female pig is a sow and has a slightly different connotation from the male pig, a boar. Sow is associated with the Goddess and Mother Earth in many cultures around the world.

The ancients believed that Pig, grounded in Earth, favors us with fertility, life and abundance. A multitude of artifacts from all across western Europe show Pig in strong association with the Great Goddess.

Read more about the symbolic meaning of Pig and see more images from around the world on my recent post at FAR.

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Women are Raging!

I just have to reblog this poem from fellow contributor at FAR.  She expresses so very powerfully the rage women are feeling and the sense of power and solidarity to finally speak up against the violence that has been perpetrated on the battlefield of women’s bodies for millennia.

She begins like this:

“I need the grandmothers to help me

re-member my rage.

Cross stitch. Double knot.  I sew it back on. The raggedy parts I let fly loose

when I thought it was OK to not be “so angry.”

“Boys will be boys.”

And so then, girls will be angry.

And we will re-member—our rage.”

Continue reading here.

Bee, Bee, Sweet Honey Bee

I’m sad that I lost my hive over the winter. I think it was partially my fault as life has gotten way too busy and I did not have time to manage and maintain my hive properly last year. So now I have to satisfy my love of bees with all the neighbors’ bees who are foraging in my garden.  Here’s a painting I did in 2012 when I first started keeping bees.

“Attributes that are very important to consider when Bee appears to guide you are Hard Work/Productivity and Community. Bee speaks of focused energy. Hear Bee’s call to keep everything in order and everything will fall into place. ”

These words are from my recent post on FAR in which I share my Sweet Honey Bee Animal Guide card and symbolism.  I just realized that since bees came into my life I have been working very hard with a long-term objective in mind.

Bees have been part of the human community since the days of prehistory. Cave paintings created by Neolithic people in Spain from between 6000 and 8000 BC show them gathering honey from wild bee colonies.

The earliest record of beekeeping in human-made hives dates back to Egypt of 2400 BC.

egyptian bee keeper

The Egyptian Bee Keeper

Bees themselves have been around for even longer than their association with humans. The oldest bee fossil was found in Myanmar enclosed in amber. It is 100 million years old.

Worldwide, Bee is a symbol of good luck, abundance, hard work and community. The ancients believed that the bees’ ability to make honey was a gift from the divine. Bees who give us their sweet honey –  used for food, drink and medicine – are found in myth and story all around the world.

Read more about bees – their symbolism and their life on my recent post.

Animal Guides – An Oracle Deck Grows

I’ve made a good start on my next Oracle Deck – Animal Guides  – four done and many more to go

Ancient wisdom from around the world teaches us that all animals carry their own unique energy and spirit. Furthermore we can call on animals to help, protect, inspire, and heal us on our life paths. You might have a Spirit Animal who stays with you your whole life or you might encounter an Animal Guide for a particular time or situation. Animals can be our allies, guides and
sources of power throughout our whole lives.

So far I have completed Owl, Horse, Dragonfly and Fox.  Coming soon – Swan.

Fox – Cunning, Camouflage, and Persistence

Fox is intelligent, clever and cunning. While it is persistent, fox is gentler and less aggressive than wolf. Fox is associated with feminine magic, offering the power of the feminine to both men and women.  Read more about Fox on my recent blog post here.

Dragonfly – Guide to Transformation
and True Sight

With their translucent beauty, erratic flight patterns and speed, dragonflies have inspired people for centuries. They are found in myth and stories worldwide. They most frequently symbolize transformation, both physical and mental/emotional changes in self-perception.  Read more about Dragonfly from my April post in FAR here.

Horse – Symbol of Power & Freedom

horse-spirit-guide-painting-by-judith-shaw

Worldwide the horse has come to symbolize power, grace, beauty, freedom, nobility and strength. The horse is emblematic of the life-force imbued with spirit.

The horse plays an important role in cultures all around the world, both culturally and symbolically.  Read more about Horse in my February post in FAR here.

Owl – Guide to True Sight and Wisdom

Owl symbolizes perception and deception – quiet observation and wisdom. Owl is a harbinger of death through which we find the passage to new life. Owl with its large, all-seeing eyes peers deeply into the nature of reality, seeing what others fail to note. Owl, in the dark of night, in the dreamtime, gifts us with its all-seeing vision, opening our eyes to the truth of each situation.  Read more about Owl in my December, 2017 post on FAR – Wisdom of Reindeer Goddess and Owl.

In the meantime, if you love oracle decks, you can check out my recently published Celtic Goddess Oracle Deck. Sales are strong and I’m getting really good feedback from folks who are using it.  You can view the whole deck on my Etsy shop.

celtic-goddess-oracle-cards-by-judith-shaw

Are We Made of Star Dust?

“The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff.” ― Carl Sagan, Cosmos

Scientists have come to the conclusion that the carbon, nitrogen and oxygen which make up our bodies, along with all other heavy elements, were created in stars 4.5 billion years ago. The oldest stars consisted of only hydrogen and helium. When a star exhausts its supply of hydrogen it dies in a violent explosion, a nova. A massive star creates a Supernova when it dies, throwing a cloud of dust and gas into space and dispersing the heavy elements throughout interstellar space.

Starstuff-painting-by-judith-shaw

Read more of my thoughts on the connection between Earth and Sky, the importance of awe and wonder, and human beings long history of understanding these truths in my recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog.  And of course the Tree of Life figures into it all.

Star-Tree-Goddess-painting-by-judith-shaw

Our Long Connection to Horses

Humans have had a strong connection to horses for a very long time. The horse was first depicted in art about 32,000 years ago on the cave walls of southern France and northern Spain. Though archeologists disagree as to whether the paintings are realistic depictions or symbolic markings, many concur that they are both. Perhaps our ancestors applied a numinous meaning to the horses and the symbols painted on those ancient cave walls.

Horses were domesticated in the western Eurasian Steppes about 5,500 years ago. New evidence places the domestication of the Arabian horse at 9,000 years ago in current day Saudi Arabia. Culture and the movement of peoples was forever changed with the domestication of horses. Hunting, herding, migration and warfare were all greatly heightened after the horse was brought into the human fold.

Worldwide the horse has come to symbolize power, grace, beauty, freedom, nobility and strength. The horse is emblematic of the life-force imbued with spirit.

horse-spirit-guide-painting-by-judith-shaw

Read more about horse and its symbolic meaning to the Celts, the Greeks, the Romans and more on my post at the Feminism and Religion Blog.

My deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is out and being very well received.  Celtic-Goddess-Oracle-cards-by-judith-shawYou can  order your deck on my website. Experience the wisdom of the Celtic Goddesses!

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!