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
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.

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.

The Fruits of Summer

Apples, small painting by Judith ShawI’ve started working on a series of small triptychs which celebrate the everyday.  Each triptychs has one piece that is 8″ x 8″ and two that are 6″ x 6″.

Here we have Apples, oil on canvas mounted on plywood, 8″ x 8″.  Full confession – it began as watermelons, but something happened along the way and it became apples.  Kind of weird.

Oranges, small painting by Judith ShawAnd next up is Oranges.  This one is also oil on canvas mounted on plywood, 6″ x 6″.  Someone on facebook commented on this piece, saying that it’s happy.  So that’s exactly the point, taking joy in our mundane world.  Orange juice anyone?


Strawberry, small painting by Judith ShawAnd last but not least, we have Strawberry, also done with oil on canvas mounted on plywood, 6″ x 6″.   I have enjoyed all the wonderful fruits of summer this year.  Only a little bit longer to be able to buy or harvest them locally.

What’s your favorite fruit?

Summer Solstice – Sulis, Celtic Sun Goddess

Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the the year,and I find myself reflecting on my love of the long, hot days of summer.  The bliss of lying on a beach caressed by the kisses of sun and breeze, with the promise of the cool inviting embrace of the sea by my side, is one of my most favorite forms of relaxation.  Though the ozone layer has thinned and I can only indulge this desire in small doses now, I still love the feeling of the sun on my skin as She paints colored visions in my mind’s eye.

She –  how can I personify the sun as She when from across the world we hear only of Sun Gods and Moon Goddesses?  Yet hidden deep in mythology one discovers that long, long ago the sun was worshipped as a goddess. From Aditi – Hindu Solar Goddess from India to Uelanuhi – Cherokee Goddess of the Sun, the sun Goddesses symbolize, with female imagery, the power and life force of the sun. Aditi was seen as the  keeper of the light that illuminates all life and ensures consciousness. She was the source of all, giving birth to the universe and the heavenly bodies. Uelanuhi was responsible for dividing time into units. She was aided by Grandmother Spiderwoman’s web to capture the sun’s warmth for humankind.

Sulis, Celtic Sun Goddess painting ny Judith ShawLikewise, before the ultimate life-giving power of the sun shifted from the Goddess to the God my ancient Celtic ancestors worshipped a Sun Goddess.  Sulis, a Gaulish and Brythonic goddess, has the iconography of a solar deity. The name “Sulis” has a complex etymology, with various overlapping meanings. Her name may be related to the proto-Celtic word for sun, from which the Old Irish súil (eye) was derived. which probably leads to one of Her title, “The Bright One”.  Her hair radiates around her face like the sun surrounded by sun rays.

Click here to read the rest of my article on Sulis at the Feminism and Religion blog.

The Story of Ereshkigal, Inanna’s Older Sister

ereshkigal drawing by judith shaw

Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld

In the Sumerian pantheon, Ereshkigal, Queen of the Underworld is Inanna’s older sister.  Inanna is the Queen of Heaven and Earth but she does not know the underworld.  Without this knowledge she remains immature.  “From the Great Above she opened her ear to the Great Below”.  Thus begins Inanna’s  journey into a deeper life with the knowledge of death and rebirth.

Ereshkigal was given the Underworld for her domain.  Here she eats clay and drinks dirty water.  She has no loving mother, father, brother or sister.  She has no friends or companions.   She longs only for her own sexual satisfaction.  She is unloving, unloved, abandoned, instinctual and full of rage and loneliness.

Ereshkigal can be seen as the other neglected side of Inanna, the side which feels all those feelings of worthlessness and abandonment.

Inanna's Descent, painting by Judith jShaw

Inanna’s Descent

She becomes enraged when she hears that Inanna, clothed in light and glory, wants to enter the underworld.  Ereshkigal commands her gatekeeper to remove her royal garmets as she passes through the seven gates in route to her Underworld Kingdom.  She wishes for Inanna to experience the rejection and loneliness which she lives with daily.

Naked and Bowed Low, drawing by Judith Shaw

Inanna enters the underworld “naked and bowed low”. The Annuna perceived her neglected parts, her shadow side.

“The Annuna, the judges of the underworld, surrounded her,
They passed judgment against her.”

“Ereshkigal fastened the eye of death on Inanna.
“Inanna was turned into a corpse,
A piece of rotting meat,
And was hung from a hook on the wall.” *

Ultimately, with the help of her spiritual servent, Ninshubur and her mother’s father, Enki, God of Wisdom, Inanna is rescued.  Though Ereshkigal ordered Inanna’s death she now moans in anguish, as she has killed the other part of herself.  Creatures created by Enki sympathize with Ereshkigal’s pain.
Now that Ereshkigal is comforted by others, she has released part of her pain.  As she grows spiritually, she is now able to release Inanna.

Inanna is reborn.  But no one leaves the underworld unmarked.  Inanna must

Inanna's Return, painting by Judith Shaw

Inanna’s Return

choose someone to replace her in the Underworld.  The connection between Ereshkigal of the Great Below, the unconscious, and Inanna, of the Great Above, the conscious, has been established and must be maintained.  Inanna must never again forget that part of herself which is Ereshkigal.

The ancient Sumerian story of Ereshkigal and Inanna illustrates the importance of owning all sides of ourselves – the light and the dark.   On this day of the winter solstice when the hours of light are the shortest and the hours of dark the longest, reflection and meditation on this story may help us integrate and understand our own inner pain and feelings of abandonment. Here, in the dark of winter, lay the seeds of our transformation into greater depth and understanding.

* Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Noah Kramer.