Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dreams and Calendars

Tired.  I got to work on two of the four inch paintings today.  It went fairly well.  I think I need to make the bugs a little more prominent.  After all, they're the reason why the tomatoes are getting revenge!

I painted for several hours, beginning around 9:30 or so.  No wonder I was ready to take a nap around 3:30, which is exactly what I did while a storm came in.  I only slept for about fifteen minutes but it was interesting.  I had one of those rare dreams where I knew I wasn't too far asleep and I was talking to someone.  I don't remember who or what was being said this time but I felt calm and fairly peaceful when I woke.  I had the feeling that I had gotten some good encouragement somehow. 

It was somewhat like the dream I had not long after Granny died.  We hadn't gotten along in a long while but in this dream, we settled things.  Like today's dream, I don't remember much about what was said.  I do remember very clearly standing in the kitchen, like we always did.  I was leaning against the stove, cup of tea in hand.  She was making biscuits and we finished our conversation before she got out her 'biscuit cutter,' which was a small, old tin can with both ends cut out.  It was like those tins blueberries used to come in with the blueberry pancake mix. 
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Lammas is coming up on August 1, or Lughnasadh, if you prefer.  I really need to find something more meaningful to me.  I've stuck with this Celtic calendar...for convenience, I suppose, or laziness.  I have tried over the years to make peace with it (no one can call me a quitter) but it just doesn't resonate with me.  I may come from a line of farmers - two! - but I'm not one.  No matter how it's dressed up, it's still an agrarian calendar.  Outside of Samhain and Yule, it just doesn't cut it. 

Plus, it's a Celtic thing.  I come from Celtic stock but the calendar and mythology just doesn't resonate either.  According to the origins of my last name, there may also be Anglo Saxon as well too but a lot of that leaves me cold too. 

I do love Egyptian mythology but I'm not sure of the calendar.  It seems to be lunar based or something because it doesn't seem to be like Western calendars and the holidays wander.  I need to look into that.  Maybe. 

I know, I need to just get off my ass and figure this out.  Of course, now that the month and NaJoWriMo is nearly over, that's when I finally start getting down to the heart of things.   

Monday, July 27, 2015

Creating the Big A...or Not

Geez, it's hot in here today.  I guess it's no surprise.  I looked up the temps a little while ago and it was 86, with a heat index of 96.  Phew!

Today was spent in one of my favorite ways - building supports for the birch boards.  The gallery owner gave me an idea based on the Revenge painting and said I could have a week or so to do more paintings before the show became too hard to rearrange, so...

I came home yesterday and did my research on tomato pests.   Today, I made the supports and got them gessoed.  I thought about working on the painting on the easel while the glue dried and I had used all my clamps (I really need to replace some and add to the collection.  Like brushes, one can never have enough clamps.) but it took much effort than I was willing to put in after several hours of measuring and sawing to switch back and forth between 'building' brain and 'painting' brain.

Someone told me yesterday that she hadn't painted in fifteen years but has been getting the calling to pick up the brushes again and it's scary.  We agreed that on one hand, it could be a freeing thing - she doesn't have all that academic stuff in her head and she can just play.  Then she said an interesting thing: "Well, plus I finally realized I'm not going to make some Big Art.  I think we all through that at some point."

It's true.  There used to be that little voice at the back of my head.  It said that the art had to be Good - a Masterpiece - that could  hold up against Masters of Art: Dali, Miro, Warhol...of course, I would do it all my own way too. 

I wonder why we think that?  Is it more than just artists that go through this?  Is it just one of those engrained childhood things?  I mean, don't most parents say their kid is going to do Big Things?  "My kid's going to be a Doctor!  A Lawyer!  The PRESIDENT!"  I know it's a good thing meat to be positive thoughts for the future but I just wonder.  Maybe I'm just warped.

One thing to remember is that Van Gogh sold just one painting during his lifetime.  It also strikes me as a lot of trouble to have so much attention on your work.  I read somewhere about an artist (I can't remember his name) who got so popular that the business side of things took up so much of his time that he had two hours a week in  which to paint. 


I have ideas of how I want my art career to go from here, plus I have a standing invite for the gallery as well (that will and can be a post all in itself.)  I may as well get off my ass and do it.  It's not going to make itself. 

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Shop Talk



The paintings for the Tomato Art Fest are done!  Yay!  All that's left is to put the info on the back of them (title, medium, contact info, etc.) and delivering them tomorrow.  I do wish I hadn't obsessed so much on the carnival theme.  I would have gotten more paintings finished.  C'est la vie. 

I hope the caterpillar painting's photo is okay - it was a bitch to photograph. Then again, I didn't have the greatest equipment for the job.

I also went ahead and got another painting started.  This one has been floating around my head for about four years and I guess it decided it was time to come into the world.  It pretty much put itself on the board when it came to sketch it out and block in the colors (or rather, block in *some* colors.)

I accidentally got an oak board when I bought
supplies a while back.  I wasn't sure about it when I framed and gessoed it.  The grain is much different to what I'm used to - it is very deep, compared to poplar, and textural.  I want to play with it now with dry brush and building the colors with the base color in the grain and just dragging the other colors on top of that grain. 

I want to advance my skills and damn it, I'm going to do it!  My paintings need a bit more...what's the word?  Sophistication.  Keep the whimsy and odd but advance the techniques. 

My re-ment came on Thursday!  I ordered some loaves of bread and ceramic plates to put them on.  They're so tiny, yet detailed!  The plates are about an inch square and the loaves are about as long.  They even have the cuts in them so they could 'expand' as they 'baked.' 

I see why so many people get hooked on collecting the stuff!  I want a few more things, lettuce being in the mix, of course. 

This means I need to properly set up the shrine.  Altars, I'm used  to having but this is a new thing for me.  For one, I'm not used to having a deity take so much interest in me.  I've had a few that asked me to do things for them but not *this.*  Then again, there haven't been that many I would even consider setting up a shrine for.  I mean, there hasn't been any I really considered cultivating a relationship with. 

This is new alright.  I've resisted the whole deity thing from the beginning.  When I first became Pagan, way back in :::coughcoughmumblemumblecough,::: everyone was insistent on two things: everyone had to become clergy as soon as possible and everyone needed patron deities.

I never was very good at following the crowd or the rules but look at me now...and I can't figure out way a god of chaos is interested in me.  :-D

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Offerings

I think I will come back to water after I'm finished with the paintings for the Tomato Art Fest.  For some reason, it's hard to write about water - I didn't realize I was so rusty on it!

Another question came up while I had the podcasts going as I painted.  I think it was an older New World Witchery podcast and they were talking about offerings - especially food offerings.  How to deal with them?  Do you leave them for awhile and eat them yourself at a later time?  Do you throw it out when they're 'done'?  (Wait...was it The Jaguar and The Owl podcast?  One of those two.)

I still have conflicted feelings about it, even after all this time.  On the one hand, it feels rude to put out food, only to come back later and take it away to eat it myself.  One of the guests made the observation: "You don't invite family over and let them fill their plates, only to have it taken away and eaten by someone else."

However, it feels quite companionable sometimes to have something like a burger or a snack to share with Them.  It's a little like sharing the popcorn at a movie.  I also like to sit down and offer a cup of tea.  It doesn't seem so...wasteful that way.

That is the crux of the thing, right there.  I am the granddaughter of people who lived through the Depression.  My paternal grandparents never talked about it but there was always plenty of food stored away in the root cellar - all things canned by grandmother out of the garden.  My maternal grandmother rarely talked about the Depression but she had a lingering distaste for macaroni and tomatoes because many times, that was all there was to eat.  (It was just cooked macaroni with canned tomatoes added to it, juice and all.)

So it is almost an ingrained thing for me.  You just do not waste food, no matter what.

I came across a blog (was it Devo's?) that explained the shrine they had set up.  What surprised me was the use of re-ment - in this case, good quality 1/12 scale food, plates and even beer.  They talked about how they had enough to switch out 'meals' fairly often.  The author of The Twisted Rope blog points out that is is not only the food (or spirit of food) that feeds the gods, but also the ritual, the words we say - the entire act of spending time with the gods that nourished Them.  Granted, re-ment may not work in every situation but it still seems like a viable option in a shrine.  It definitely looks like an easier option than paper things that is so popular in some Asian ceremonies, where they are burned to send the spirit of the things to the spirits. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Moving around the Septagram - the Land

So the second point on the septagram is the Land - Earth.  Before I go much further, I'll add the mystical aspects first, since I didn't feel that I covered much of it for the Sun.


The Earth, for me, is a steadying influence.  It is very much the foundation.  That foundation can be a very solid thing - like the limestone deposits that underlie much of this part of Tennessee.  The thing to remember is that sometimes, that limestone is dissolved away by the action of rainwater.  The rain washes the pollution out of the air - excess carbon dioxide, stuff from fossil fuels, etc. - and this creates a slightly acidic solution. It dissolves the limestone and after a while, BOOM!  What looked like solid ground is now a sinkhole. 

The lesson in this is that it is important to examine our foundations from time to time, so that we're standing on a firm foundation instead of having some insidious thoughts or beliefs dissolving it out from under us.
 
Not only is the Land a foundation but we depend on it for our very existence.  Our food grows in it.  Some animals eat the things that grow in it and we eat them.  It is also symbolic of the material world - where we live.  Abundance.  Security.  Health.  Our very bodies...

One of the first things I learned in Sunday school was that we were made from dust.  Clay.  This is true - many of the elements in our bodies is found in the environment.  Carbon.  Iron.  Traces of gold.  If we go further, each and every one of the elements on the planet were forged in the heart of an ancient star.  This is another mystery to ponder. 

The colors of the Land include all the colors of Earth - browns, ochres, black - but also the colors of the natural world throughout the seasons.  There are the bright greens of Spring and the whites and pinks (Ew. Sorry.) of the new blossoms; the darker greens and brighter colors of the Summer flowers, the muted reds, oranges and yellows of Fall and cold whites, blues, greys and purples for Winter. 

In some ways, the Land - Earth - is one of the most frightening things some can think of.  After all, we all die.  May people are put into the ground - dust to dust.  Some transforming, yet frightening stories involve going underground - Orpheus going to Hades to bring back Eurydice; Dante's Inferno.  Even stories about the Faery world involve mounds and underground courts.

Freya has a very earthy aspect.  Not only is she known for her 'earthy' attitudes (she certainly isn't ashamed of her body and knows how to use it for pleasure - both hers and one can assume, her partner as well) but she traveled to the underground realm of the Dwarves.  There she bartered a night with each of four Dwarves for her amber and gold necklace, Brisingamen.

Of course, the Land above isn't as tames as it seems.  Sometimes, it shakes.  There are animals - and other things - that remind us of its primal wildness.  Cernunnos can roam the land, sometimes inspiring wild, primal urges - to run!  To dance!  To have mad, passionate sex!  Other times, He can inspire the exact opposite.  Madness and fear follows when He leads the Wild Hunt. 

Pan can inspire the same feelings - after all, he is forever chasing nymphs in the Greek myths.  Yet He also lent his name to the words PANdemonium and PANic. 

Artemis can also be included here.  She is ofter in the forest, surrounded by Her Little Bears, free to roam.  She can be just as ferocious as a bear when they are bothered. 

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Moving around the septagram - The Sun


Since I skipped last night from being absolutely brain fried, I suppose I should jump straight into it.  I've tried writing about the septagram before but I don't think I've actually written about why it resonates with me so much. 

I came across this particular set of what the points mean years ago, I don't even remember where.  I don't even remember there being any explanations, other than the labels on the points.  The definitions have come along over the years, but I'm not sure anyone could ever be finished plumbing the meanings of each point. 

It's said that the septagram first appeared in Hellenic Greece, when a seven day week was adopted.  Since then, it has appeared in quite a few places - alchemy, various forms of witchcraft and Wicca, math...

For me, the seven points represent, in a clockwise direction from the upper right: 1.) the Sun, 2.) The Land, 3.) the Waters, 4.) the Magics, 5.) the Winds, 6.) the Moon and 7.) the Connection that binds all the other points together. 

The Sun: It is our closest star, at 93 million miles away from the Earth.  It can also be said to be the creator of our solar system, when something billions of years ago set off a chain reaction that began with a nebulous cloud of dust compressing and catching fire.  That single little proto-star set into motion the dust around it, where it whirled and whirled; crashed and crumbled, until the planets formed and settled into their orbits.

(I'll take that creation story any day, although Dave Sobel can tell it much more poetically than I in The Planets.)

Of course, in Egyptian mythology, the sun can be Ra, or Aten, Horus or Set (there He is again!)  Ra or Aten is the sun; Horus is the rising sun while Set is sometimes the setting sun although Horus' epithet of 'God of the Two Horizons' (under his guise as Horakhty) makes Him the god of the setting sun as well.

Paula Gunn Allen calls our sun Sutalidihi, Sixkiller.  Not only is She the lifegiver of the planet, but she is also a deadly thing, as deadly as an atomic bomb.  There is also a Cherokee story about how the Sun was once too close to the Earth, making all its inhabitants suffer.  The sorcerers tried to move it and it took four tries to get it far enough away. 

We can all see this dangerous side of the Sun when we're not careful.  Things left too long on the clothesline fade.  Too much exposure burns us, which can lead to other, nastier things. 

However, without the Sun, there wouldn't be any life.  The action of the Sun's warmth at the equator causes the atmosphere to expand and move and circulate around the planet.  It also feeds plants and trees, when they convert the sunlight to sugar via photosynthesis. 

The Sun has its obvious associations with fire - after all, it is a big, roiling ball of nuclear energy.   It is the symbol of all that is known, or out in the open, hence the saying, "Bringing it out into the light of day."  It can power spells and cleanse magical objects and stones.  It is symbolic of action, of power, of passion.  Yellows, reds and white are its colors.  It is a very powerful energy - so powerful, I've had people tell me that if you draw it down and channel its energy, it will poison you.  (I haven't had any bad experiences with it though.)


Friday, July 10, 2015

A post about painting and Egyptian Gods in which Star Wars references were NOT made...

I was seriously considering blowing off tonight's entry.  Sleep will not be long in coming tonight, I hope.  I worked about six hours on a painting today and when I say six hours, I mean "turned on the podcasts and off I went without a break."  I listened to some old Snap Judgement Spook episodes and Dreamland, plus one interview with Brian Cox that I completely forgot I had. 

The painting ended up being redone from yesterday, but I was prepared for that.  I'm not entirely in the love with the background - mostly the purple left from the previous composition. 

I hope the painting will be fine.  After I finished for today, I hung it on the porch in the usual place by the door for the night.  A storm blew up and it was a strong one.  The wind blew the rain in horizontally...all the way to the front door and the painting.  Hopefully, it will dry without any spotting. 

All this work today...I suppose some people will be disappointed to find out it is the third composition for that board.  I finally just painted over the ferris wheel.  It just wasn't working and it was a chore to work on - hell, to look at again.  I had forgotten my rule of thumb: if it doesn't make me smile or chuckle, then it needs to be gone.  It's a lesson I've been relearning on several fronts lately. 

Perhaps that is why Set is back, perhaps He was never gone and I was just not in shape to perceive Him (hell, I could barely perceive the mundane there for a while.)

ANYWAY...

He's been on my mind a lot lately.  A friend posted in her blog night before last about the Furies and mentioned how they have been maligned in modern times and how they were originally storm gods.

The same could be for Set.  I'm not saying He has a completely undeserved reputation and He is all puppies and ice cream (heh.)  It simply isn't the whole picture. 

He is one of the oldest gods in the Egyptian pantheon.  Of course, one the best known stories about Set is the one involving Osiris.  You know: family squabble, Osiris gets murdered (there are two different stories about how it came about) and it's all because of jealousy.

But was it?  Really?

The thing about mythology is it sometimes get influenced by whoever is in charge.  In the older stories, Set is simply the opposite of Horus.  He was Night to Horus' Day and they were equals - more like yin and yang.  Some say this is because the lands were in peace, Set's North and Horus' South.  Somewhere along the line, the South may have gained more power, hence Set being maligned. 

What does this have to do with Osiris?  If you look at the stories, in the beginning, Osiris was a vegetation god.  That's it.  But once Set got a hold of Him, Osiris descended to the underworld...and became Lord of it and of resurrection.  In other words, He went from being a vegetation god to being a Big Deal.  Without Set's actions, He may have never risen (pun intended) within the pantheon.  I suppose it could even be seen as an initiation. 

I could make a comparison to Darth Vader and Obi Wan but I'll refrain.

Coming back to today's painting, destruction was certainly the name of the game.  Hopefully, this comp is infinitely better than the other one with the ferris wheel.  I had wanted to do something different but I don't know.  It just wasn't working.  Perhaps the idea just needed time to go to ground and come back bigger and better.