Tag Archives: transformation

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.


Cerridwen, White Lady of Inspiration and Death

Having just celebrated Halloween, also called Samhain, and the Day of the Dead we are truly in the time when the veil between the world of the manifest and the world of the unmanifest is the thinnest.  We remember our ancestors, we reflect on losses and we look forward to positive transformation as we enter the quiet, meditative time of year.

Cerridwen, Celtic Goddess, painting by Judith ShawCerridwen, Dark Goddess of Transformation, Inspiration and Knowledge is a perfect goddess to remember during this time. She  is best known as the mother of Taliesen, the greatest of all the Welsh poets.   But Her story is much older and Her powers run deep.

Cerridwen (“White Sow”, or “White Crafty One”) has many other names:  Dark Moon Goddess, Great Mother, White Lady of Inspiration and Death, Goddess of Nature, and Grain Goddess. She rules the realms of death, fertility, regeneration, inspiration, magic, enchantment and knowledge. Her ritual pursuit of Gwion Bach symbolizes the changing of the seasons, nature’s yearly cycle of death and rebirth.

Cerridwen, as a powerful Underworld Goddess, is the keeper of the cauldron of knowledge, inspiration and rebirth.  She and Her cauldron most likely appear in the Welsh legend of Bran the Blessed. She came from Ireland to the Land of the Mighty disguised as a giantess named Kymideu Kymeinvoll with her husband Llassar.

Read more about Cerridwen and Her wisdom on my recent blog post on the Feminism and Religion blog site.  Click here

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?

From Inanna to Persephone – Two Tales of Transformation

When I was younger I thought transformation only happened once.  Upon my first visit to the Underworld of Transformation, I remember walking that terrain as if in a daze.  Where in the world was I and why was the landscape so desolate? Then I remembered the teachings of the Goddess and Her descent into the Underworld.

At that time I was in the midst of deep and sometimes painful changes. This was also when I discovered the Sumerian story of Inanna and learned of Her descent into the Underworld.

inanna enters the underworld

Naked and Bowed Low, oil pastel on paper

Inanna heard the call of the Underworld, which was ruled by Her sister, Erishgikal.  She passed through the seven gates and entered Her sister’s realm, naked and bowed low.

Inanna, unlike Persephone, took that journey only once.  She descended, died to her old self and was reborn;  end of story.  So I naturally thought that was the way it would be for me. Perhaps in those early days of the patriarchy it only took one time to get it right.

Surrounded by Her Love, pastel on paper

Well, times change, right?  Consider Persephone, a legendary Greek maiden, who descended into the Underworld every year for 6 months.   Bless her heart… she keeps going back in a continual cycle of death and rebirth.  The story opens with Persephone, daughter of the Goddess Demeter, as an innocent young woman, who lived in the golden glow of her Mother’s love and protection.

But like all youth she was compelled to explore.  Persephone was walking in a meadow one day and she saw the beautiful narcissus flower. As she reached down to pick the flower, the earth split open, and Hades, the Lord of the Underworld emerged.  Hades then took Persephone, willingly or otherwise, in a Spiral Dance into the shadows of the underworld.  Here she  learned the power of transformation; from death to rebirth, from dark to light, lost to found, chaos to clarity, fear to transcendence.

But, what I didn’t understand about Inanna’s experience is that even though she returned to Her Realm of the living, she did have to send someone in her place.  The process of transformation is cyclical and ongoing for everyone.

Times continue to change and we now seem to be in transformation hyper-drive.  Sometimes it feels as if the old ways, the old structures are melting down around us at lightening speed.

I resist the season’s turn to winter with every step into autumn. I mourn the waning light and fear the approaching darkness.  But once the winter solstice arrives, I relish the quiet of the long nights and the inspirations of winter dreams.  The winter season is the perfect time to explore the terrain of transformation.  The hours of sunlight are short; the dark and the cold are prominent.  We are forced by nature to snuggle into ourselves and uncover the diamonds hiding in the  dark coal.

Both Persephone and Inanna  guides us during the winter season to look inside, to contemplate in stillness and to seek inner peace.  They both teach us what it’s so hard to see; the loss of what is outmoded is in our best interest; we must die to be reborn.

Inanna’s Descent and Return – an ancient story of transformation

Continuing my musings on transformation, I’ve been thinking of all of the art that has been created over the ages by all of the different artists. Much has lost it’s meaning to us, but some continues to speak to the human experience. Some are so much a part of us that we forget their was a time when they didn’t exist. A saying like “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”, or a painting like “The Mona Lisa”, seem to be part of who we are. They are the timeless works of art that transforms us and at the same time express our transformations. As the eons roll on, we live our lives going through many individual and cultural transformations. Every moment the cells of our bodies are dying and being reborn. In this world of opposites, transformation is constant. The universe is constantly creating itself anew through the process of birth and death and rebirth. Stars live billions of years and butterflies live a few days. Matter, which is formed from energy, dies, but energy lives and is reborn into new matter.

The many cycles of death and rebirth are played out in the mythical realm of archetypes. This realm is a visually rich field of symbols from which to draw inspiration for art. I was and continue to be intrigued by the Sumerian Goddess, Inanna. One of the things that I love about the Inanna story is that she is the Goddess who encompasses all of the transformations of a woman’s experience. Unlike the later Goddesses who are fragmented, Inanna guides us through all aspects of our lives; daughter, maiden, lover, mother, queen, holy priestess. Inanna’s underworld sojourn is courageous and triumphant. Hearing the call of the Underworld, hearing Her Sister’s cries, Inanna voluntarily descends into the Underworld, the world of death and dissolution.

The two paintings posted here are part of my Inanna series. The first one, “Inanna Descending” depicts the beginning point of Her descent into the Underworld.

No one can enter the realm of the Underworld dressed in their worldly attire. This paintings shows Her at the first of seven gates through which

Inanna's Descent

Inanna's Descent

She must pass. At each gate the gatekeeper removes part of Her clothing. Finally, naked and bowed low She enters the throne room of Erishgikal, Her sister, Queen of the Underworld. Erishgikal passes judgement on Her, decrees She must die.

But Inanna is rescued and She is allowed to return to Her life in Sumer. The second painting, “Inanna’s Return” shows the first moment that She emerges from the Underworld. But no one returns unscathed from the Underworld. She is accompanied by the Galla. They are with Inanna to find Her replacement, someone to take Her place in the Underworld,. In order to transform, to reach the next level in our development, we must let go of something. Something must die to make way for the new.

Inanna's Return

Inanna's Return

In this world of dualities we are only aware of the light because of the darkness. Have you had an experience with the “dark night of the soul”? What jewels of light have been the result of that experience?