Category Archives: The Goddess

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!

 

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Goddess Oracle Cards – Coming Soon

There are only 2.5 days left in my crowdfunding campaign which raises the needed funds to produce my deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle cards. It is currently 105% funded! I’m sending a HUGE THANK  YOU out to everyone who has contributed and/or shared.

Here are a few cards from the deck.
Aine in Celtic Goddess Oracle deck by Judith ShawBoann in Celtic Goddess Oracle Deck by Judith Shawthe Cailleach in Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards by Judith Shaw

Aine, Sun Goddess, indicates certainty of purpose, illumination, fertility, abundance, healing – Aine calls you to claim your own power and to experience true joy. She offers aide with love, fertility, health, and prosperity.

Boann, Goddess of Knowledge and Creativity, clears negativity and mental debris allowing space for spiritual insight and divine inspiration. She calls you to take time for your own creative expression.

The Cailleach, Dark Nature Goddess, calls you to embrace the quiet darkness and the oneness of being; to release the old and allow space for new light to emerge.

The campaign ends at midnight on October 19.  I’m asking for your help to push this project even further into the world.

If I reach $3000 ($1000 over my goal) I’ll be able to double production numbers and offer every backer a free gift (one of my greeting cards, signed personally) with their chosen perk. It’s a stretch with only 2.5 days left, but with your help I know it’s possible. A big huge THANK YOU to all. Pre-order your deck here

Badb, Goddess of Life and Death

Strange that the last Celtic Goddess I am covering is one that deals with death and destruction.  But with all the craziness and division in the world right now I wanted to look death in the face and see if there were a way to find the positive side.  Badb fits that bill pretty well.

Badb is one aspect of the Celtic War Goddess Triplicity, The Morrigan.  Badb, Badb, Celtic War Goddess painting by Judith Shawtranslates as “Hooded Crow” and “One Who Boils.” She signifies fury, rage and violence. She brings war, death, chaos but also enlightenment, life, and wisdom.

In The Destruction of Da Choca’s Hostel She is the “Washer at the Ford,” washing the bloodstained clothes of the one about to die as She prophesied the death of the hero Cormac. Here she is seen standing on one leg with one eye opened and one eye closed; with one foot in the human world and the other in the spirit world. While She is the harbinger of death of our current mortal condition She also offers the promise of new life.

Visit my Feminism and Religion post to read the rest of Badb’s story

Goddess Oracle cards by Judith ShawAccess the wisdom of the Goddess with my deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle cards.  Pre-order your deck or purchase a print or original of my art (prices reduced) on my Indiegogo campaign page.

All proceeds go to the cost of production of the deck and accompanying booklet.

 

Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards

Finally, after almost 5 years of work my deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards is ready.  The cards are designed: the stories are written; the only thing lacking is the funds for publication.

To that end I have just launched a crowdfunding campaign with Indiegogo.  Here you can pre-order the deck with it’s booklet (out by Thanksgiving) or one of the other many perks of prints and originals of my work – all at reduced prices.

Click here to visit my Indiegogo campaign.  Contribute if you can. If not and you like the project then please share the page with your friends.

My most recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog is of Corra, Celtic Celtic Goddess Art by Judith ShawSerpent Goddess. Corra, whose name is almost forgotten today, embodied the Earth, calling forth the serpents of life, death and rebirth to twine the magic of eternity around the lives of our ancestors.

Corra is of the earth and yet She can also transform into a crane, symbolizing the transformation of body to spirit on our journey through the great circle of life. 

Click here to read the rest of Her story

Gifts of the Goddess

Inanna, Queen of Heaven, painting by Judith Shaw

Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, oil on canvas, 41″ x 30″

In the early 1990’s I discovered the compelling story of Inanna, the ancient Sumerian Goddess, translated and retold in the book, Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth by Diane Wolkstein and Samuel Kramer.  I was inspired by Inanna’s story to create a series of paintings over several years time.

There are four main parts of Her story – The Huluppa Tree which explores creation and Inanna becoming Queen, Inanna and the God of Wisdom which shows how She brought the Gifts of Civilization to Her people, The Courtship of Inanna and Dumuzi, a sacred marriage and the Descent and Return of Inanna, the story of death and rebirth.

Read more about the Huluppa Tree and how Inanna brings the Gifts of Civilization in my recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog. 

Star Tree Goddess

If you have been following my work you know that I am inspired by trees and by the ancient wisdom of  Goddess.  In recent years the two have merged as one truth in my mind and my vision.

While reading Elizabeth Cunningham’s second novel in her The Maeve Chronicles series I was inspired to paint a star tree by her words.  A Goddess was involved in the magical, mytical scene in which a sacred grove turned into a Goddess Temple with a huge tree in the center.  The Goddess looked up and saw stars in the branches.  That was the beginning of my journey to find that image on canvas.  Here’s where I started.

Star-tree-goddess-study-1-by-judith-shaw

Star Tree Goddess Study 1, gouache on paper, 15.5″x19″

Another study followed this one.

Star-Tree-Goddess-Study-2-by-judith-shaw

Star Tree Goddess Study 2, gouache on paper, 12″x18″

Read my latest post on the Feminism and Religion blog for more info on the sacred nature of trees to the Celts and to see the oil painting (probably still in progress) that sprung from Cunningham’s words.

And if you haven’t read Cunningham’s 4 book series, The Maeve Chronicles, I highly recommend that you do.

Shapeshifters

One of the things I have loved learning about in my studies of Celtic mythology is the mystical, magical nature of the Celtic worldview as reflected in their stories. The most ancient of their stories, those of the Tuatha de Danaan, belong to eternity whereas the heroic cycles belongs more to the earth but all of their tales are imbued with magic.

I find the magic of the shapeshifting goddesses to be compelling in many ways. Swan Goddess-Swan Song,painting by Judith ShawThey show the relationship between the human and animal world and the need to understand our animal nature.  Horses, seabirds, swans, deer, reindeer, butterflies are a few of the creatures you could meet which might actually be a Celtic Goddess.

Read more about the shapeshifting Goddesses in my most recent post on the Feminism and Religion blog.