Monday, October 18, 2010

Crone goddess

This is actually the second thrown and altered goddess I made.

I like the idea of her coming from the plants, having a shape that's distorted, and drooping, and definitely not "hour glass".  Ugh.  But it's a good lesson to me of looking at how the actual thrown pot was pretty amateur.

I was looking for a picture of another one of my goddess pots...a small jar with a lid and a Sacajawea coin on the lid...but it needs another picture taken, and since that's the next big project for today, I will just drop this one here and move along from here to there eventually.

Sid Reger is coming to Asheville.  Great artist of goddess mandalas.  I don't think I'll go, cause I'm already committed to this figure sculpting class.  Oh, that reminds me I need to call them to find out how to get the clay.  It is supposed to start in a week.  Whoopee.  I'm so psyched about having a model, and even if it's a man, I can just practice some ideas I've already got brewing.  I've got a sculpture of 2 figures already in my mind's eye.

I'm also going to meet with another woman today to plan a program about dreams...which the women's spirituality group will be holding next month.  Sounds exciting, and pretty easy.

But first it's setting up some boards and lights.  Then playing with the camera, lots of pots, then downloading and editing pictures!  I was hoping to pick up my latest mugs, but the studio isn't open this then I'll do more picture taking when I bring them home.  So this time I need to set up the picture booth a bit more permanently than I usually do, holding onto the lights and clicking the shutter with the other hand.  I am inclined to set up the "picture booth" here in the bedroom for that also has northern light.  But it means moving the pots further.  Can't win!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Yoga and goddesses

OK, I have taken Yoga, probably more than Tai Chi, but I love them both, especially yoga that includes a little movement like Tai Chi.  Kripalu yoga is done that way, gently moving between asanas.
But now it's difficult for me to move just to work on the plants, which are screaming to be repotted before putting them on shelves in sunny windows for the winter.
So rather than continue sitting here writing in comfort, I will go tend to the live beings that depend upon me for their care.  That's the spiritual side of yoga, or perhaps the "community" aspect, where all that lives around us is part of our sphere of awareness.
So this is short.
My breath is also short. 
But I think sitting in the sunshine will help.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Who was Lillith?

Lillith, the woman...the goddess...the devil?

All kinds of demons and devils have been given her name, which were the myths told through the Talmud .  Were these myths an amalgam after Jews saw the sculpture that was depicted yesterday?  The clay plaque from Mesopotamia is from the Old Babylonian period, c. 2000-1600 B.C. and tribes of Semitic peoples definitely travelled in that area at that time.  (This art was made that long ago!)  The goddess depicted must have had a story of a woman with bird feet (why we may wonder) and horned animals on each side of her (or under her feet), and don't miss the wings!  Another plaque depicts her much the same, standing nude and looking directly at you. 

She is mentioned in the Gilgamesh story about Inanna as a young goddess finding Lillith in the Huluppu tree which Inanna was growing in her garden.  There are also two other beings in the tree: a snake who could not be charmed who made its nest in the roots of the tree, and an Anzu-bird with its young in the branches of the tree.  Lillith is referred to as "the dark maid" who build her home in the trunk. The three beings in the tree keep Inanna from harvesting the wood for building her throne and her bed, until Gilgamesh comes and clears them away for Inanna.   This story was told on Sumerian clay tablets which predate the Talmud, and have been interpreted from cunieform writing.   (Wolkstein and Kramer in Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth, Her Stories and Hymns from Sumer, 1983) 

In a paper on the subject of feminist theology, Deborah J. Grenn, of the Kohenet Hebrew Priestess Institute, has argued that Lilith was a mother goddess whose demonization was designed to keep women alienated from their own 'original sources' of power and spiritual authority. The case is argued for "a reinterpretation of the divine as embodied by the Semitic goddess Lilith, she who has been represented and misrepresented in a variety of sacred texts". (Kohenet Deborah J. Grenn. Lilith's Fire: Examining Original Sources of Power Re-defining Sacred Texts as Transformative Theological Practice)

I don't think I'll go much further with the scholastic pursuit of Lillith's story.  I like finding that among all the more modern interpretations, there still exist a few that allude to her authentic myth.

So here it is the first day after the first frost warning.  Being warm inside a building while cold blows outside has begun.  This signals the way nature lets me really know of the change that astronomical events gave my brain several weeks ago.  Now my body knows also, as well as my house plants that have been outside in their pots all summer.  Time for them to come inside.

Next goddess to share...

Let's mix tree roots and trunk with yogini and see what we get...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Goddess in Clay

Goddess of Pottery:

Someone made the first successful pot, probably after a long process and lots of accidental triumphs.  Any mythology often includes some of the joys of discovery, giving a creatrix a status well above that of mere mortals.

Originally all pottery belonged to women. "The art of pottery is a feminine invention; the original potter was a woman. Among all primitive peoples the ceramic art is found in the hands of women, and only under the influence of advanced culture does it become a man's occupation" (Briffault "The Mothers" 1927.)

The use of pottery for functions in the home are the places where she, the goddess of clay, must have resided.   And oh, how fickle she (the goddess of clay) was. For any of you who have had a beautiful pot fail, your hope that is dashed by it splitting, exploding, or just drooping into uselessness...think of all the failed pots that our foremothers had to deal with. No wonder there would have emerged a deity who might be asked to give the creations her blessings.

If you haven't noticed yet, pottery and sculpture are married and intertwined in clay works.  There's a wonderful incestuousness, but most of us just enjoy it with eyes wide open, and hearts singing whenever art enters into crafts, when the functional pieces have such beauty of design, light and color that they must be art.  But sometimes an object doesn't have a useful daily task, and then it becomes art.  What that means seems to change with the standards of different cultures, but it usually represents the highest values of that culture or at least the artist.   When sculptures have another purpose (in rituals for instance), they represent something else besides what you see...which means symbols were being used.  For the archaeological finds, they go with lost stories.

What are the clay myths?  In Sumeria, Mami (also known as Amadubad, Aruru, Ma, Mah, Mama, Ninmah and Nindum) is the potter creatrix, using clay to form seven male and seven female figures, which then are given life. As Babylonia took power over Sumeria, her name was changed to Aruru the Great...but the story was the same. And through the many recorded cuneiform stories, (on clay tablets) her name became Ishtar, Inanna, Ninhursag, and Mammitu.

Native Americans of the Southwest US had Clay Woman and Clay Man...mainly as part of a creation story. They are kachinas of Spider Woman's parents, and wear masks with white faces and red eyes. This is a dance/pantomime which the kachinas act out, where Old Man is dancing with a stick while Old Woman is making a pot...and so on. The story moves into the clay figures that represent every kind of animal...thus creating the actual ones. Clay figures are taken to be the seed from which the real objects grow.

Remember who found the goddess figures in various archaeological digs around the world, preponderantly male archaeologists.  Many a "Venus" figure was supposed to be a "fertility" figure.  But the preponderance of evidence says that any culture which provides leisure time enough for one person to create a non-survival-oriented object has just begun to support art.  The enjoyment and pleasure to be derived from beauty endure in the artifact, though the meaning and symbolism must be guessed at.   I now use the term "female figure" that has replaced the term "Venus" figure.  And not just terminolgy is frequently a stumbling block dealing with archaeological finds, but the changing of meaning completely, so it's not subsuming a prior culture with a term from the Roman one.  Thus the mythology again changes to a more "modern" one.

Today's goddess:

 Here stands Lillith, first wife to Adam in the Bible.  But she did exist before the Jewish tribes wrote her into their stories (myths?).  Do you know her history?

That shall wait for another posting.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Down Memory Lane

I just posted a final fairwell on my old blog, Goddessinclay.

I also copied off of it pictures of my pottery.  It's a great place to save them when you have computers that die!  So now I've got a new "folder" of my pottery and clay sculptures.
Most of them came forward, even though I'd forgotten many because they sold quickly.  Some of them I'm glad to let go into the ether.  Gadzooks, I can't believe I kept them.

I'm glad to say I've learned a bit more discernment as to what's worth keeping.  And perhaps I learned a bit of how far I have to go still.  Nah, I still have a blind spot there.

 A first altered slab tray creation...

And then a year later, another shape happens...

A first vase with altered slabs applied to a thrown vase...

 With variations in shape and colors...
 That has led me to this shape and color, which I think is where I still am today.

I've actually  made another slightly like this one, but with the great kiln variations that happen.  I still love this glaze. 

Now I'm going to make another posting with some of the sculptural pieces, mainly goddesses of various kinds.  What can I say...the very most important one in the last couple of years was this one.
The small figure of a female is 35,000 years old...found in Germany in the last year.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Women's Spirituality Group

We met last night to build a creative object for our altars to represent our own sense of spirituality.  Joni Stone led a brief meditation, Linda Metzner led some singing os Autumnal songs...and we created beautiful and diverse objects.

We even had our "bizness meeting" to make a few decisions.  Majority of people who were there made clear decisions, which I'll pass on to the other folks at the UU Church in Black Mountain, which sponsors us.

I announced I'm doing Alchemy of Clay blog, and that I've named myself crone.potter.
I decided to leave Hecate out of the name...after all she's a goddess already.

I tried to make some cards to put my pendants on, which say something about myself.  It was easier to say something about the "Venus of Laussel" which is 25,000 years old...and not even made of clay, but carved in stone.
But I couldn't copy the picture on the stiff paper, and jammed the machine.  So I'll go to the local copy store and make something up for to display my work.  And now I know kind of what I want them to look like.  I may have to skip putting this Laussel maiden/crone on them.  After all, she's not even clay!  And I've surely got a picture of one of my goddesses I could use!  OK, OK, I get the message.  I'm avoiding making my own artist's statement.  Yikes.  Well, better get to work on that.

Then to work on a certain piggy bank at the studio!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cold already

Everyone is complaining.  Two weeks ago I swear, it was complaining about the heat.  Now it's the cold.  Have we got a collective amnesia about the weather?  Well, it sure does seem to change more drastically, and we wish to have more of the soft transition days.  Spring kind of jumped right into summer and triggered this same bout of complaining.

I keep looking to the mountains to see if the leaves have started to turn.  Our dogwoods around town are kind of drab red this year...nothing like the garish color they were last year when there was drought.  Guess even having plenty of rain in the summer may not give bright colors.  Nah, I'll be patient.  They're coming.  Maybe next week. 

In the meantime, I'll post a picture.  Can't have these musings without some illustration. After identifying myself as Crone, the wise one who can give directions to keep you on your true path, I'd best do something to exhibit my talents.  Often using GPS or someone else's map, takes you to the point of your destination, but you miss that the path along the way is the most important experience of right now.  There's my wisdom for today.

 One of my tree-goddesses...this one with a dervish style to her.

My friend, Rosie, received this tree goddess which harbors a titmouse and her nest, a white squirrel, a rabbit and a tree frog.

Pisgah Covered Bridge
 I've been selling my pottery Sat. mornings at the Tail Gate market, which means lots of packing and toting of boxes of pots back and forth to car to tables etc.  I won't be doing that again for a while.  It's been good to me.  Our little co-op of potters take turns being there, and whoever is there that Sat. shows more of her own things.  We also display a few pieces of the other potters' works.  We are the MudBuddies, 5 of us, and the experience has been mostly positive.  Whoever is in charge each week pays the fee for the space, and we put up tables and a tent, though we've only had rain a couple of times.  Most of the summer it was a relief to have the shade of the tent by noon when the market was over.  It will close by the end of Oct, but have one more sale after Thanksgiving.  I'll probably be involved in it.

Dynamite coffee cups at Tail Gate market

OK, as a Crone, I have some limitations.  One is breathing (a.k.a. COPD or Chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease, or emphysema or bronchitis) that keeps me from being able to haul those boxes, tables and tents without getting out of breath.  I use my inhaler, but still am frustrated that any physical exertion knocks me on my keester.  So I'm trying to go for walks every day or hopefully keep some level of endurance.   The COPD nomenclature is cumbersome, not only in folks understanding it, but just to try to explain it.  Basically, my lungs don't function at 100% any more.  But if that were the only thing that's gotten old, I wouldn't have much to work on.  I am like most folks in their elder years, lots of the parts have become worn out!

Monday, October 4, 2010

beginnings come from endings

There are so many beginnings, endings, changes.  Almost everything in the following pictures has been sold.  I'm no longer going to be working in the community studio I've been in for 2-1/2 years after this week.

Alchemy of blog.  Celebration of the elemental nature of clay sculptures and pots.  Knowing a possible joyful suprise can come out of the kiln, or a grotesque mistake that I couldn't possibly have created.  Both are possible.  When I studied ceramics in the 80's, I learned to expect anything.  I made things with reverence, thinking "everything is holy" and then released them, thinking "nothing is holy."

I'm dealing with knowing I'm the Crone.  Hecate, the guide, the wise one who can give directions when asked by others.  Unfortunately most everyone doesn't ask.  Most everyone is in a rush, using GPS, or just wishing slow old me would get out of their way.  Some even say "excuse me" as they run around me to ...whatever.

I had a croning ceremony several years ago.  But this is the year when I'm feeling that I've become related to the hag, the elder who should have respect, who knows answers.
I need to remind myself a lot of the time as well.

Today I gently confronted someone who discounted my feelings and hurt me.  Perhaps it was unintentional.  I begin to wonder each time this kind of thing happens as very possibly intentional, from a person who likes to control rather than be direct.  It causes me to examine things closer, to see what made me feel that way, as opposed to feeling joy or just sorrow.  The dispair, the hurt feelings, all arise suddenly and seem to to me to mean I'm not important enough for someone to have communicated honestly with me.  Not that I think I'm unimportant...but somehow a lot of folks in the world do.  At least that's the feeling that comes up.

So I will enjoy being invisible for a while.  There are lots of advantages...