I have been drawn to the Goddess for a variety of reasons. Initially, as a young woman, She spoke to me of my own power, self-worth, self-determination and my/every woman’s inherent beauty. She lent Her hand to my emerging sense of independence from male domination.
Over the years my experience of Goddess deepened. At times I feel Her as manifest in me and as a symbol of my own power. At other times She is who I pray to for both personal and community help. And certainly She has come to be my strongest symbol of the beauty and power of the natural world, ruling over life, death and rebirth. In all these ways I have sought to express Her wisdom through my art.
For many years, as I grew to maturity, my paintings both expressed and integrated Her power manifesting in the world through me, through us all. This painting, Aphrodite Dancing, celebrates my/our sensual, sexual female nature. It speaks a loud “YES” to the beauty of our sexuality. It is a response to the “NO” which has been imposed on our sexuality by patriarchal religions and world views for so many, many centuries.
An expression of Goddess power burst forth with my installation, The Shrine of the Bird Goddess, in the late 80’s. The central piece, The Bird Goddess, is a very large painting – 6′ x 10′. The painting and installation was inspired by the work of Marija Gimbutas, amazing archaeologist who uncovered the ancient artifacts of a harmonious, pre-patriarchal Goddess-worshipping Neolithic Old Europe.
In more recent years The Goddess has come through me in the form of my many tree paintings. This painting, The Olive Tree, is seen by many as a dancing woman. Quite unconsciously I painted in the opening in the tree without realizing that it was vulva shaped. The shape takes you into and through the tree, allowing passage to another realm, in the way that a child is born through woman, coming from the before space into the now space.
Often times She even appears in the tree. In this painting, The Mother Tree, you can see Her in the trunk. She also appears in the trunk of The Tree of Life.
I also call on Goddess for help and healing when my sadness and pain over the ongoing destruction of our natural environment gets too hard to bear. I long to get on a soapbox and yell at the world to wake up! But not having that kind of platform open to me, I return to my studio and do what I can do, paint – in the hopes that on some level my paintings will touch people and open their hearts to the Goddess, who is our Earth.
After the BP oil spill, I turned to Yemaya, Yoruba Goddess, who is known as the Mother of All Fish, The ocean is Her domain. She came to the Americas with the African diaspora and continues to be worshipped in many places. These two paintings are prayers to Yemaya for healing of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The affects of that massive oil eruption are ongoing and pervasive. An article by David Kirby explains how not only are the damaging affects of the oil continuing but the chemicals used in the “clean-up” continue to cause serious problems.
In late 2013 I heard a report on the radio about the persistent crisis of toxic radioactive releases at Japan’s Fukishima power plant which was badly damaged in the 2011 earthquake and tsunami. http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/04/world/asia/japan-fukushima-crisis/index.html
I felt so angry at the stupidity of the perpetual patriarchal approach to controlling and using nature that this fierce Goddess appeared in a painting. I call it Gaia Wields Her Justice. It expresses my belief that She, our earth, is alive, is conscious and is now fighting back. Her power is so much greater than anything we can fathom. Though She created us and loves us, ultimately she will not allow us to completely destroy life. She has put up with centuries of abuse but She is now rising, like a dragon who has awakened from a long sleep.
In this world of interconnectedness She responds to our out of balance actions in a way that will return us to balance. With ever increasing wild weather incidents – floods, droughts, massive forest fires, earthquakes, tsunamis, tornados, bug infestations of our forests and so much more – She creates blocks to our current path of destruction.
Yes, those who embrace control and destruction continue to rule but She is awakening in our many hearts. More and more voices sing out every day with the words form Libana’s Goddess chant, “There’s a river of birds in migration, a nation of women with wings.” Women and men together, from the Middle East to the Midwest, are spreading their wings and demanding a return to balance. From the fast food workers’ walk-outs and calls for a living wage to the masses rising up to say no to the Keystone XL Pipeline our wings are spread and our hearts are open wide. The Goddess is reborn. Her justice might at times be difficult for us to endure but it is wielded with love and it is inescapable.
Judith’s project, a deck of Celtic Goddess Oracle Cards, 5 years in the making, will be out by Thanksgiving, 2017. Visit Judith Shaw Art to order yours now. ( http://judithshawart.com )
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