For women, the divine feminine is a concept that may be unfamiliar except in the context of the Virgin Mary.  I painted this to remind us that our legacy as women is the entire history of the divine feminine found in ancient cultures around the world.  She is earth mother, healer, creator, and destroyer.  She embodies love, compassion, courage, strength, and creativity.  All of these goddess images are our legacy and all reside within each of us.

This piece is featured in Volume 3 Issue 2 of Wild Woman Rising magazine, an amazing online magazine that celebrates and honors women.      http://www.wildwomanrising.com/category/volume-3-issue-2/

Legacy:  The entire history of the divine feminine is our inheritance.

Legacy: The entire history of the divine feminine is our inheritance.

Detail of Legacy.

Detail of Legacy.


Detail of goddess image.


Restoring Balance

I need creation to balance destruction.  I need nurturing to balance power.  I need love to balance hatred & intolerance.  

How do I find balance when bombarded with information & technology every waking moment?  I quiet myself & dive ever deeper into my spiritual practice to bring to the surface valuable pearls of wisdom from wherever I can find them– native traditions, poetry, art, mainstream religions, & most importantly right now, goddess faiths– beliefs that enhances my spiritual life with the sole purpose of making my entire existence more spiritual.  I don’t cling to the past; I make it relevant in my present.

As I drove to Alexandria VA on Saturday for an art date with my sister, I listened to Sally Kempton’s audio CD titled Shakti Meditations.  On the first of 4 CDs, she explores such topics as the feminine face of spirit, the power of the goddesses, & experiencing goddess energies.  While Kempton’s CD focuses on Indian deities, I consider all those I’ve studied from around the world– Yemaya, Lakshmi, Arianrhod, Brighid, Diana, & Oshun, to name a few.  I’m not called to worship them, per se, but I feel called to honor them as symbols of the attributes women possess at various stages of life.  I study them to better understand myself.

For example, I’m going through a rather long period of “nesting”.  I’m tending my home as if preparing for something sensed but yet not seen on the horizon.  Like Hestia, I’m keeping the hearth fire burning as well as the flame within myself, as I’ve described in a previous post.

There are moments when I embody the compassion of Kuan Yin, the passion of Pele, the love of Aphrodite, & the intellect of Athena.  I’m a creator– painting canvases, experimenting with a new recipe for dinner, & designing flower beds that will bloom in the spring.  I’m a nurturing mother figure– caring for my dogs every minute of every day, nourishing Jim with a hearty Irish stew on a frigid winter evening, & supporting women through my sacred work.  I’m a warrior– standing up for myself in situations where I must, speaking up for those whose voice goes unheard, & protecting what matters most to me.

From all this study & meditation, I have come to believe with all my being that truth, beauty, & wisdom can be found anywhere, if we look with openness of heart, mind, & soul.  And when I say “everywhere”, I mean outside of ourselves & within ourselves.  Or, to put it another way, Rumi wrote, “I looked in temples, churches, & mosques.  But I found the divine within my heart.”

Recognizing the divine within myself restores much needed balance.  It’s not about the job, the possessions, & the little dramas playing out around me; my spiritual practice (yes, it’s always PRACTICE) acknowledges the divine spark in each of us & the sacredness of the world around me.  And it’s that understanding that brings peace, allows creation, & infuses my life with light & love.

Vesta & Me

Years ago, an amazing college professor introduced me to the world of Greek & Roman mythology.  While I’ve regrettable forgotten her name, I vividly recall the myths she brought to life every time she walked into class, hopped up onto her desk, & told us stories as if we were eager grandchildren crowded around her feet.  She brought them all to life– Zeus, Diana, Aphrodite, Apollo, & Persephone to name a few.  The goddess who comes to mind when I pull in my driveway, the porch light shining like a beacon in the dark is Vesta, Roman goddess of the hearth (Hestia in Greek).  Romantically, I envision her lighting a fire in the fireplace & turning on a lamp beside the sofa… beckoning me to come home where I can rest, reflect, & rejuvenate when the windchill dips below zero & the ice lays thick on the dangerously slick roads.

Now I know I’m the one who left the porch light on for myself; yet, isn’t it lovely to picture a goddess tending the fire of the home, making it welcoming, warm, & safe for all who enter?  I embody the qualities of that goddess every time I light a candle at dinnertime or leave a small light on in the kitchen so my boyfriend can find his way to make coffee before sunrise.  These are all attempts to bring in light where there was none.  I’m the keeper of my own hearth.  I am Vesta.

I take the image of Vesta step further.  Home is often a symbol for our spirit or Soul so could Vesta also represent the flame within each of us?  Ovid is credited with calling her “the living flame”.  Could I embody this goddess’s attributes, living my life so the Divine spark within me turns into a living flame, illuminating my path & those whose lives I touch?

Yes, I am Vesta but I am also Aphrodite, Athena, Kali, & Kuan Yin.  As are you.

A Symbol of Halloween… & more

Happy Halloween, everyone!  Last night, I watched a History Channel special about the origins of Halloween traditions.  Fascinating!  The part about witches was particularly interesting because it goes along with women’s study workshops that I’ve led for a few years.  These classes explore women’s contributions to the arts, religion, politics, & literature.  They’re not Religion 101 or History 101 courses… they are opportunities for women to pursue their spiritual journey while learning about women’s roles in history.  How does that relate to Halloween & witches?

In pre-Judeo-Christian traditions, women held positions of power & authority.  In fact, the earliest religions were goddess-based & influenced matriarchal societies for generations.  Women were healers, mystics, & leaders.  Back then, the terms “crone” & “hag” meant wise women.  Somewhere along the way, these terms were twisted into something negative by authorities in a changing world.  An independent, land-owning woman who could heal with herbs & perform midwifery was seen as a threat to the new “barber-surgeons” & religious leaders who were male.  The tools of their trade– cauldrons, herbs, & a broom were villiafied.  According to the documentary, even the headcovering of a peasant woman (pointed hat) was turned into a symbol of witchcraft.  All this would be ridiculous if it hadn’t led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of women during the Burning Times in Europe & early America.

Many women feel it’s time to reclaim their divinity.  There is honor & value at every stage of a woman’s life– maiden, mother, & crone.  How this impacts each woman can differ widely.  It has definitely influenced my art & how I see my place in the world.  I feel a greater connection & sense of responsibility for the earth & all living things.  That’s why so much of my art has animals and landscapes as subjects.  How would your life be different if you saw yourself as divine?


Reclaiming the Divine

It’s human nature to question, search, & try to connect with something greater than our Selves… call it God, Mother Earth, Great Spirit, or whatever you choose.  We want to know our existence has meaning.  I’m lucky to live in a time & place where I can freely search for meaning in my own life.

For “Reclaiming the Divine”, one of my recent works, I reflected on the earliest religions from around the world, religions that were centered around a female deity, represented by the figure in the middle of my collage shown below.  Ancient people represented the Goddess in a variety of ways from voluptuous earth mother to more birdlike female forms.  They also represented themselves by including human figures or handprints in cave paintings.  I, too, used my handprint  to symbolize the intimate relationship between the individual & the Divine.   However, I put a modern twist on it by including locally found materials and by twisting copper wire around the figure so it appears to rise off the canvas.

Reflecting on ancient beliefs led me to ask questions like… What connects us all?  What do all human beings have in common?  I conclude that each of us laughs, smiles, loves, & wants to be loved.  That’s why connection has such a place of prominence in my art– connection to the earth, the Divine, & one another.

If you have been reading my blogs, you may have noticed a common thread tying them together in a beautiful tapestry that is my personal mantra… Everything is connected.  What we do affects the earth.  What we do affects each other.  I saw a documentary recently in which a female writer & activist said that if we realized our actions affected everything else, we’d act differently.  We’d see that what we do is of great importance.  I hope you feel a connection to something greater than your Self– something formed of love, peace, & light.

Check out the art I have for sale at www.etsy.com/shop/PureSusan

Reclaiming the Divine: detail

Reclaiming the Divine: Everything is connected.