Tag Archives: light and dark

Seeking A Balance – Darkness and Light

“Deep in their roots, all flowers keep the light.” – Theodore Roethke

“Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that.
Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”  – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Golden-Bee-Light- painting-by-Judith-Shaw

Golden Bee Light, oil on canvas, 16X 20″

I began my latest post on the Feminism and Religion Blog with these two quotes.

King’s quote expresses how out of balance we were and still are.  Roethke expresses the truth the our world, when at it’s best, maintains a balance of the light and the dark.

In this post I explore my journey through darkness brought on by the recent increase in and acceptance of bigotry and hate to an attitude which embraces the light that shines in the darkness even more fiercely than before.  You can read it here. 



The Day After and Beyond

I am writing this on the day after (Nov. 10), the day after (Nov. 9) of the 2016 U.S. presidential election on November 8.
I woke up at 3:30am on Nov 9, checked online to find the election results, only to discover the nightmare of a possible Trump presidency was now a reality.  Nausea and fear set in immediately and I was up for the day.  My first reaction was to do what many did – search the internet for possible escape routes.  But where can one really run when a man with the temperament of a 13 year old bully (I taught in middle school so I know that m.o. well) has his finger on THE button.
I reeled around all day trying to get some work done on my computer but was lacking focus or the ability to think much.  I felt like I’d been punched in the stomach knowing that the leader of our country, a country who for so long has been trying to live up to its own values, is a man who jokes about sexual assault and how easy it is for him to force himself on women, a man who belittles disabled people, a man who calls a whole nation a bunch of rapist (could that have been projection), a man who calls for increased and more horrible methods of torture…. I could go on but we’ve all heard it and we know who he is.

Painting after Trump elected by Judith Shaw

Light in the Darkness – work in progress by Judith Shaw

Finally I took refuge in my studio with paint brush and canvas.  I had a canvas already prepared with a glaze of alizarin crimson on which I intended to paint something related to bees.  At first I could do nothing but apply dark, dark colors with no form.  I thought that I’d have to let the “bee” concept go and just delve into the darkness I was feeling about the state of America and the consciousness of her citizens.  But oddly enough as I worked the feeling lifted a little and I started to feel a glimmer of light.   The painting is not finished but here it is for you to see.  It’s dark but the bees have come back and they bring a bit of light with them.

A week has passed and it’s still hard for me to find the light in this darkness.  Guess I’ll just have to focus on the bees and the sweetness and light they bring to the world.  And I plan to get much more active than I have been.  We must stand up now and let the voices of love and compassion be heard loudly and clearly.

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.



The Interplay of Dark and Light

New Mexico cactus with blue skyThe sun was shining brightly, lighting winter blooms and golden grasses, as I walked in the foothills of the Sandia Mountains which border the east side of Albuquerque.

It was the time of quietness between Christmas and New Year.  The New Mexico land shone like a jewel and I relished the warmth and beauty provided by the sun.  But as I looked closer I saw the shadows.

mtns rock72It’s these shadows that define the beauty of the land, that allow me to see the bright jewels of cactus, rocks, trees and grass.  The darkness defines the light.

In this physical world of duality, it’s the interplay of the dark and the light which allow our eyes to see. As a single candle lights up the dark, a small shadow defines the light.  Our task is to find and maintain the balance of the two.

New Mexico foothils drawing by Judith Shaw

Sandia Foothills, east side of Albuquerque, prismacolor and oil pastel on paper

Fear Not the Darkness


Guardians of the Passage by Judith Shaw

Guardians of the Passage, oil on canvas, 33″ x 68″


Before the light, there was the eternal darkness of source.

Fear not the darkness, the ground of our souls, the dark womb from which we come.

Earth Whisperer

I am not a warrior.  I am not a merchant.  I am not a bureaucrat.

I am an Earth Whisperer.  I listen as She whispers to me.   She sends visions of her utter beauty, Her light and her dark.  I whisper my love to Her with the manifestation of the visions she sends me.

I’ve seen Her in  woman.
I’ve seen Her in man.
I’ve seen Her in lotus
I’ve seen Her in tree, in deer, in horse.
I’ve seen Her in bee, in bird, in butterfly.

But she now ravages back at our human hubris.  She has been paved, pruned, ravaged and raped and She will take it no longer.  She speaks loudly.  Can you hear?

We are Earth’s Children.  We come from her dark womb, born of her union with Father Sky as stardust fell on Her body.  At the end of our days our bodies return to Her.  From dust we come and to dust we return.

For many centuries our Mother Earth has been forgotten, forsaken, seen only as a source from which we take and take. Now the time has come in which we, as a species, must recognize our part in the Mother’s web of life.  We have exhausted Her resources. There is no place left to go –  no new world, no promised land. We are face to face with the transformation, the birth, out of duality into oneness.  Can you hear Her call to live in harmony with Her rhythms, with each other, with ourselves?

Finding Hope During Times of Darkness

There’s a lot of talk about 2012 theses days.  Some proclaim that we are in the end times, expecting the world to end in a series of horrific disasters, culminating on December 21, 2012.  They point to every bad thing as evidence that the end is near.

It’s easy to feel discouraged, as the dark side of human nature is all over the evening news.  Even before the mass shooting in Arizona on January 8, current events have been leaving me extremely disappointed in the human species.  How do all these atrocities continue to happen?  And it’s nothing new, as this capacity to inflict great harm on one another has been evident since the beginning of “civilization” in Sumer around 3,000 BC.

But there are things that give me hope.light and dark quote

One cause for hope is the quiet lives of people who contribute to a world of love and peace.  It’s easy to forget the goodness in humanity because it rarely makes the news.  But for a week after the horror in Arizona that goodness in the human spirit has been making the news.  The response from the vast majority of people prove that we haven’t lost our capacity to be horrified when violent actions match the extremely violent words of our political climate.  Our collective compassion for the victims has been evident.

Even the events of that tragic day show the power of love over hatred.  Dorwin Stoddar shielded his wife’s body with his own, sacrificing his life for hers.  The intern, Daniel Hernandez, heedless of his own safety, went in the direction of the shooting to help the wounded and saved Congresswoman, Gabrielle Gifford’s, life.

The American Revolution continues.  The concept of a government of, by and for the people is an idea born out of love and a core respect for one another’s human dignity.  In it’s inception it was certainly flawed – only white men could participate as “the people”.  But with each passing year the struggle goes on to fulfill that vision as more and more are included.  Slavery was abolished, labor unions were born, child labor was outlawed, women fought for equal rights, civil rights were granted to all races.  And today we see rapidly changing attitudes, moving toward full acceptance of gay and lesbian people.

light and dark quoteThe dark side, ruled by fear, continues to push back against the ongoing American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all.  Though the problems we confront today can seem very dark and overwhelming, we can rest assured that there is always light to shine through the darkness.  We simply have to recognize it and turn it on

So I’m hoping and praying that the prophecies of the Mayan calendar, as interpreted by the Mayan Elders, are true.  They say it is the end of the consciousness of duality which will usher in unity consciousness.  Unity consciousness will bring an end to this ongoing insanity of war and greed and entitlement and power over and fear and selfishness.  I’m hoping and praying..