Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The Speed of Joy

Anna's Hummingbird
Ever since I learned to identify the song of our local hummingbird, I have been a fan. I love to scan the treetops in search of this tiny creature, bravely declaring its dominion. Within that gracile body is a thundering heart. They dive and whirl in the air to warn other hummingbirds that the vicinity and all its nectar is spoken for. My relationship with the hummingbird as a symbol has been colored by these facts. Still, its bright, iridescent presence among the flowers, its penchant for sweetness and its tiny form have lent it an association with joy, love, dance and playfulness.

Medicine Cards Joy especially is the quality I Remember from Medicine Cards by Jamie Sams and David Carson. This amazing oracle deck and book, published in 1988, greatly influenced my understanding of animals as totems and symbols. Still, it is important to blend the teachings of others with your own experience. Recently, this little bird has brought me a message by activating my memories and knowledge. When something unusual or out of the ordinary happens, we humans are hardwired to notice. Our survival may depend on it. In modern society where so much seems routine, the appearance of a hummingbird sitting in a nest is reason to gasp in awe.

I was going out to my car and happened to look to the left. I saw a flash of movement suddenly stop in a gangly tree. The nest was hardly more than a hammock strung in the fork of a branch. I tried to get closer but I was spotted and the bird flew out of sight. Later, I desperately wanted to show the nest to my daughter but we were in a rush. On another occasion, the nest was blending in with the tree branches. When I finally found it again, it looked too small and thin to support any weight and I wondered if it had been abandoned. Still, the hummingbirds are all around our condo and the adjacent carport. They have not gone.

Every day that I looked for the nest, I knew I was searching for joy. I was looking for a way out of my depression and apathy. The struggle against my greatest fear, that life is mostly misery, was taken up by this tiny bird. Or, I had assigned the bird this task. I don't really think that some conscious mind is trying to communicate with me through the daily comings and goings of nature. Rather, I think my own mind is speaking to me through symbolism, the language of dreams. How can I make sense of the cycles of my life? How can I accept the time that is passing away from me? How can I achieve contentment, let alone, joy? I have to keep looking. Joy is fleeting, like a hummingbird. It cannot last. It will not stay. But that moment, when it alights so close to you that the colors are dazzling, is worth it. Worth the pain, worth the struggle and worth the wait. It is always nearby. It is always singing.

Navajo Hand Etched and Hand Painted Hummingbird Pottery
On my honeymoon, I bought a southwestern-styled vase with a handle. The round belly of the jug features an etching of a hummingbird resting on some flowers Only later did I find out that it was a wedding vase created by Cecelia Benally, a Navajo artist. Maybe the hummingbird is the perfect reminder that joy in relationships is also fleeting. Not just in marriage, but in our relationship to ourselves.There will be highs and lows, dips and dives, as I endeavor to integrate all the various parts of my self. During the process, I have to remember to look for joy in places common yet unexpected and enjoy it before it zips away.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Wisdom is renewed! Athena and the Shadows

It's been quite a while but my love of goddesses cannot be ignored. Sometimes, you have to go back to basics and kindle the passion that started you on a certain path to begin with. Familiar ideas spring forth, seemingly from no where, but I think the mind has hidden depths. To reach these shadowy places, I am diving down with a simple concept. Like attracts like. If I hold up an image of humanity that inspires me, encourages me, comforts me, I will pull my own ability to do those things from myself.

A woman of strength and clarity lies buried within, like a forgotten statue, stuck in the sea floor.

To bring her to the surface, I started with a simple technique. I drew a card. Use tarot, use oracle cards, angel cards or goddess cards. There are many websites that will let you do a virtual spread or just pick one. Also, apps can put tarot decks and oracle decks at your fingertips. I used Goddess Enchantment Oracle app by Indie Goes Software. My first card was Athena, Goddess of Wisdom.

The Athena Fountain (Pallas-Athene-Brunnen)

Emerging fully formed from the head of Zeus, her father and king of the Olympian deities, she represents wise counsel, strategy, reason, intellect and warfare (but also peace.) She is the patroness of Athens, Greece. It is said that she and Poseidon competed for possession of the city. He brought forth a spring for the people to drink from, but since he was an ocean god, the water was salty. Athena created the first olive tree. She won Athens, making olives and olive oil a few of her sacred symbols. 

The symbol of the owl most resonates with me. Athena was sometimes called Athena Glaukopis meaning "blue-eyed" or "gray-eyed". Originally, it may have meant "bright-eyed". In any case, the relevant link is between the big, bright eyes of the owl and Athena's wisdom. Being able to see in the dark and is an apt metaphor for being able to "see" the truth of a matter. Also, there is a species of small owl that is indigenous to the area around Athens. It can be found on ancient coinage with Athena and is sacred to her.

If anyone can help us to see beyond the shadows, it is Athena and her owl companion.

Athene Noctua

Going back to my cafepress shop, I found a jumping off point from back in 2005! My Goddess of Wisdom design features an owl, though not an Athene Noctua. Still, the eyes are compelling, seeing deep into a problem and beyond it. It is no wonder owls are used to represent learning and knowledge. We see them every June when the graduates celebrate their hard work. We also see them in popular culture, movies and television. Wisdom can only come with time, I think. And it is more than learning facts. It is the synthesis of those facts along with a respect for the patterns of human behavior that we see again and again. Athena herself would never fight for a cause that was unjust. She is also the patroness of civilization, agriculture, handicrafts, all the things that allow us to live together in peace and prosperity. 

I hope she will bring these blessings to you and put the right tools in your hands.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Button Fairies for Free!

Some crafts are so fun, you don't want to stop at just one! Making button fairies was an instant hit with me since I have tons of buttons and a large collection of both digital and actual clipped (from magazines) clip art! The ladies on my scrapbook message board started talking about these so I just googled "button fairy" or maybe "button fairy tutorial." I'm pretty sure I worked out how to do it from looking at the pics. The wire that I used to string the buttons together was leftover from another craft so this was a NO SPENDING craft! Excellent. No trips to Michael's or Joann's, just start playing :)

This first lady looks like more of an angel and that's okay with me. The wings are Tattered Angels Foil Chip Chipboards. The body is clip art from The Graphics Fairy.

This lady is in a darker vein and already had her wings. I just had to decorate and give her a button body. The picture was cut from Dragon Magazine which is now only available online. Lucky for me, my hubby had many of these stashed away from his Dungeons and Dragons days :) I love going through and cutting out pics of mythical beasts and such. The buttons are decorated with a mix of Tattered Angels Glitter Glaze in Wicked (green) and Flirty (burgundy). I'm sorry I don't know who the artist is, though.

This sensuous goddess fairy is from a comic book! The figure was a dancing Mata Hari. The artist's name is Roy Allan Martinez and the comic was written by Rich Wilkes. I loved the colors as well as her pose and used that for the inspiration for the rest of the fairy. The buttons are decorated with Tattered Angels Glitter Glam Walkin' On Sunshine and Viva Decor 3D Glitter-Gel in Gold. I think I threw some red glitter puffy paint in there, too.

Last, but not least (because that would make her even more upset!) my sad, little pouty-face fairy ;) She is a photo cut from a magazine and stuck into my scrapbook long, long ago. I just liked the picture a lot. I wish I knew who the model or the photographer was! Anyway, she has some beautiful wings that I cut with my cricut and decorated with Star Dust Stickles. Her button body is also decorated with Stickles and Tattered Angels Glitter Glam in Chandelier.

Try it! It's one of those things that is so fun and really hard to screw up!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Princess Banner

Finally, after promising my niece Zoe a princess banner on St. Patrick's Day (because she loved my celtic banner) I nervously presented the finished product to her on Father's Day! I think I will blame it all on wanting to get it perfect for her :)
So, the papers I used are an assortment I received as a RAK, sorry I can't tell you who made them. I can share some of the other details though...
-Flower, butterfly and accent Die-Cuts from K and Company (Studio 112)
-Foil Chips Chipboard from Tattered Angels
-Glitter Alpha Punch Out letters from Colorbök

The box for the banner was created using this tutorial from Fabulously Artsy. It was meant for greeting cards but it worked out well for the banner. I just folded it up and put half in one side, half in the other.
At the bottom of this post, I will also include the .svg files so that you can cut some of the same images with your cricut and a make a banner for your favorite princess.
I'm really glad I set this challenge for myself. It's not too often that I give myself permission to dive headlong into pink, fluffy girly-ness with my crafts. The style of the banner is also very different from the celtic one I made for St. Paddy's day. I wanted it to be more layered and textural. Now, looking at the pictures, I'm wondering if it needs MORE glitter, MORE lace, MORE PRINCESS! Hehehehe, maybe not. Zoe seemed to like it and recognized many of the features of classic fairytales on the pendant. A glass slipper here, a royal crest there and of course, a unicorn who will only appear to pure-hearted young maidens.
I don't necessarily think our culture's emphasis on princesses is a bad one. It's a matter of which princess and which version of the story gets told. A princess is not far from a queen, who is not far from a legend who is not far from a goddess.... Disney is a great way to introduce one version of a classic story but probably needs to be followed up with literature, lore, folk tales and stories of real women who actually existed and did heroic things. In some cases, it's a matter of women who did they best they could under rotten conditions! Their stories need to be heard, too.
Well, that's all for now :) Except that I'm also excited that my Cafepress shop sold some new designs while I was in Hawaii vacationing with family! I did a series of three designs based on palmistry (one of my first loves in the realm of the occult...) and really loved how they came out. Here's the design for the heart line. Go here to see the other two for the head and life line.

Thanks for stopping by!
PS: Here are the svg files
Fleur de Lis
Glass Slipper
Pennant Base

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Too early for Halloween? Never!

There are some things that never fail to inspire me. I remember when I was very young, probably 7 or 8, I wrote a book on how to put on a play. The play featured in my theatre manual was, of course, a horror fest full of vampires and werewolves! I'll have to scan that little booklet for sheer entertainment value very soon ;) So, first, let me reveal my creation ("It's ALIVE!!!") and then I will share where I found help and tutorials from other crafty mad scientists...

This mini-kit is free for personal use! It has 3 patterned 12x12 papers, 2 svg cut files and 2 png files of the cameos. I don't think it's finished either, there may be more add-ons later :) Please email me if there are any problems with the download (haven't offered anything in a while so I hope it works!)
So, one tutorial that was invaluable was by Liz Ness at Liz Ness Studios. I found it on 10MinuteDesignTV, a YouTube channel that I am no where near done exploring! The medusa cameo was created from a graphic from The Bride's cameo was created from a still from the 1935 movie.
Why the hair? Why not my usual fangs and bat wings? Well, some days, my hair is downright scary ;) I wake up in the morning and often remark that I "look like I stuck my finger in a light socket." Or, after wrestling with it, trying to get it to behave, it seems a nest of vipers is growing out of my head! If you look into the Medusa myth, by the way, you will find that the whole situation was quite unfair...! I will continue to work on this and I appreciate any feedback :)

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ocean Goddess Design Poll...

Am I yearning for the beach? Summer days spent lulled by the music of the waves? The scent of coconut sun screen enticing the flies to buzz in my ear... um, wait. Okay, I'll admit, I actually enjoy beach trips that have nothing to do with bathing suits! More along the lines of shell collecting and drawing pictures in the sand. I have been known to swim in Lake Tahoe though ;) Still, the ocean has fascinated me since I was a child. Being a Pisces, I've only strengthened that tie over time, imagining that I have a special connection with the world of the sea. I know I'm not the only one who feels that way... I'm sure other woman have dreamed of receiving the gifts of an ocean goddess like Aphrodite, Yemeya, or Mary (in her aspect of Our Lady Star of the Sea).

Here are some update designs that I'm considering adding to my store... Do any of them appeal to my fellow mermaids, undines and nereids? Feedback is welcome of course :)

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

My Celtic Roots

My birthday and St. Patrick's Day are both in March. Today was a very Spring-y day and I was inspired to finish my Celtic Banner. I did it in honor of my Celtic ancestors.

I can't say that I really want to celebrate the destruction of the native Celtic beliefs as they were converted (sometimes forcibly) to Christianity... but I know that the holiday has now become a point of pride for people of Scottish, Welsh and Irish descent. Besides, I love the mythical lore of that part of the world! When I was in grade school, I had a very vivid "sighting" of a leprechaun! And who doesn't love lucky four leaf clovers, claddaghs and pots of gold? I was also inspired by legends of Avalon from England. The UK has such a rich history of magic, I wanted to honor that as well.
I used a variety of free svg files from the internet. Thank you to all the other artists who are sharing files too! Here are a few of the cut files I used (with Sure Cuts A Lot software) so that you can make a banner too!
Autumnal Birdie
Etruscan Horse
Celtic Knot Shamrock
Scalloped Flags
Little Sheep

Have a lovely spring everyone!