Category Archives: Seasons of the Year

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.

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A Goddess for Winter Nights – The Reindeer Goddess

The Reindeer Goddess warms us on long winter nights. She cries at our pain and Reindeer Goddess painting by Judith Shawsuffering, transforming her teardrops into  amber. She takes to the sky flinging those bits of amber  down, gifting us with glowing abundance and warmth.

Sometimes She is embodied as a woman, sometimes as a reindeer.  How did She become a Goddess? She doesn’t know. She only knows that she has always been one. Every year, on the longest night, She flies across the sky bringing light and love to the people below.

Look closely. Maybe you can still see the trail she left behind on her flight last month. Feel deeply. Her tears of amber soothe our pains and ease our fears.

Read more about the Reindeer Goddess in various lands on my recent post over at the Feminism and Religion blog.

A Time of Light – A Time of Darkness

Summer solstice fell on June 20th this year, which is my birthday.  I have always loved this time of year so much, not only because of celebrating my birthday but also and largely because of the long days of light and the buzz of activity from a world wide awake with bird song, ripening fruit, and the hustle and bustle of human endeavors.  But it is in fact the day in which we begin our return to the darkness.  This thought has rarely occurred to me, but this year at this time death seems to be prominent.  The truth of the precariousness and preciousness of life has become evident – from the death of celebrity after celebrity, to the latest mass shooting in Orlando, to fires raging in some parts of the world with extreme heat, to a friend of mine dropping dead of a massive heart attack a few Olwen, Welsh Sun Goddess painting by Judith Shawdays before the solstice – death seems to be all around us.

The Celtic Goddess I explore this month is the perfect one to nurture our understanding of the unending connection of life and death.  Olwen, Welsh Flower and Sun Goddess, rules in the three realms – the Underworld, the Earth, and the Heavens. She was known as the “White Lady of the Day” or “Flower-bringing Golden Wheel of Summer.”  In the medieval story which retells her ancient and lost stories, she is the motivating force in healing a world of aggression, violence and rivalry.

Yes the human experience has long been one of suffering and pain. Yet the more we allow ourselves to feel each moment – the good and the bad – the more we can appreciate the greatest gift of the Goddess – Life.  The Way of the Goddess guides us through the light and the dark on the path to balance and wholeness.

Discover the power of Olwen to help you on that path. Read my retelling of Olwen’s story in my latest post on the Feminism and Religion blog.

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.

 

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.

 

 

Spring Equinox – Life Renews Again

Starseed, painting by Judith ShawToday marks the end of winter and the beginning of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. It is a day of perfect balance – the hours of light and the hours of dark are equal.  Cultures all around the world celebrate new beginnings and new life on or around this day.  This is a time when the human family can renew our faith in the promise of rebirth; in whatever way we choose to honor life.

Poppies, painting by Judith Shaw

Watching spring blossom all around, I am reminded that we are all connected in this web of life.  The darkness of winter brought nutrients to the soil as last year’s life decomposed, nourishing the seeds and bulbs that lay waiting in the darkness of Mother Earth.   The early flowers are in bloom, opening their sweet faces to the glory of the sun. The seeds I planted a few weeks ago emerge from the earth, with the promise of fresh salads and tasty greens to come.  And baby lambs are born at this time.

Molivos Before, painting by Judith Shaw

Life Awakens, painting by Judith ShawThough our planet faces a multitude of difficulties, the yearly arrival of spring lends a sense of hope in our ability to create a balanced, harmonious world.  May we each take a moment today to be grateful for what we have and to reflect on what we can do to manifest a more harmonious earth.

Winter Solstice – A Time for Reflection

Persephone, painting by Judith ShawIn the Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice, usually December 21,  heralds both the time of deepest darkness and the beginning of the return to light.  It is a liminal day offering a transformation from darkness to light.

In the mid-latitudes in the ten days after the winter solstice the hours of sunlight increase by only a few seconds up to a minute or so.  The world slows down allowing a time to relish the quiet of long nights and the inspiration of winter dreams.

One of the most well known stories about the transformative nature of this time of darkness is the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone. Demeter, Earth Goddess of Grain had a daughter, Persephone.  Persephone lived in the golden glow of her Mother’s love and protection.

But like all youth she was compelled by curiosity and divine force to begin a journey of completion.  Persephone was walking in a meadow one day and she saw the beautiful narcissus flower – the flower of death. As she reached down to pick the flower, the earth split open, releasing Hades, the Lord of the Underworld. Hades then took Persephone, willingly or otherwise, in a Spiral Dance into the shadows of the underworld.

Read my full essay on Winter Solstice, Persephone and two other Goddesses in their dark aspect, Inanna and the Cailleach on the Feminism and Religion Blog. Click here.