Posts

Three…Two…One…

The past month has been a whirlwind of activity – since making the decision to run a crowdfunding campaign to fund the publication of my book, preparing for the campaign, and continuing my work schedule on the book, have demanded almost all my time. Here’s what I’ve been up to…

Illumination

As a way to create something beautiful for backer rewards for the campaign, I’ve been working on a new devotional artwork. In the illuminated manuscript style of the Book of Kells, a detailed ink painting of the Morrígan and Her “Peace to the Sky” prophecy poem, on authentic calfskin vellum. Followers of my social media feeds have been seeing process photos as I go along through the design, sketching, layout, and inking phases of the piece. It remains in progress and I’ll continue posting updates as I complete it. Here’s the current progress:

illuminated vellum 9 square

From this artwork, prints, cards, and downloadable versions will be made for backers of the crowdfunding campaign. I’m also going to do a one-color t-shirt with the image of the Queen from this artwork.

It’s been and continues to be a joy to work on. Something I’ve discovered is that working on vellum is amazing. As a friend put it, it’s sexy. The vellum is warm to the touch and has a silken texture, like – well, like skin. It shifts and stretches in response to the warmth of the hand and the moisture of the ink. It’s translucent, letting light softly through, highlighting ghostly tiny veins that appear and disappear. Colors sink in to its layered surface and seem to glow with life.

I hope to have the opportunity to show this piece to at least a few of you in person before it goes – it really must be seen with the eyes as the photos do not do it justice.

The Campaign

We launch June 10th – next Tuesday night. The campaign will run 36 days, closing on July 15th. And there’s a launch party you can join in on – either in person in Oakland, or remotely via the internet.

A preview of the campaign is up at BookoftheGreatQueen.com – and I want you to take a look and give me your feedback on the campaign before we go live!

Bearing in mind that this is a draft page and still may change, what do you think? Like the backer rewards? Which is your favorite or the one you’re most likely to choose? Have suggestions about rewards I should consider adding or changing?

And YES, there will be a video! My dear friend, Coru co-priestess, marketing empress, and Wild Hunt writer Rynn Fox is finishing editing on the video now, so we will have that up on the campaign page within a few more days and certainly before launch.

Book Progress

While all this is going on, I’ve continued to keep my time commitment to working on the book. I recently got access to some excellent UC Berkeley library materials and have been delightedly chewing through them: a tantalizing compendium on ancient Celtic cursing practices; analytical materials on Irish poetic forms including the poems of the Morrígan; a treatise on Indo-European heroic frenzy and the Hero’s Light… and SO. MUCH. MORE. I really could disappear for weeks into these books.

The book itself is taking shape, and I feel a stronger than ever sense of momentum with it. I’m looking forward to the time soon when, post-fundraising campaign, I’ll hopefully be able to cut back on my third job and devote that time to writing, writing, writing.

I can’t wait to share all this with you. In Her glorious name!

News & Notes from Morpheus & Banshee Arts

It was recently pointed out to me by friends that readers of the Shieldmaiden Blog may not be seeing the rest of the work that I do in addition to writing this blog. I’m an artist, performer and ritualist much more than a writer. So to better share those aspects of my work with you all, I’ll be adding an occasional post with updates and reflections about what I’m doing in my arts work, and news about performances and events. These will be posted under the category “Banshee Arts Blog”, in case anyone prefers to manage them separately in your feed readers.

Today I have several upcoming events to announce, and I’ll share some production photos of the latest design work too.

RAW Artists Showcase – October 23

RAWflyer

I will be a featured performer and artist at this arts showcase. Dozens of fine artists, musicians, aerial trapeze dancers, costume designers, stage performers, photographers, and film creators. Full bar. You, in costume or cocktail attire, maybe with a date. Me, performing my latest ritual dance piece and exhibiting my artwork.

Your ticket purchases DIRECTLY support this artist, but in order to support me, you must purchase your tickets in advance and identify me as the artist you’re supporting. This is the first RAW event I’ve been invited to exhibit at, and a good showing from my supporters will make a big difference for me.  And it’s only $15 for an amazing evening of arts and creativity.

TICKETS: http://www.rawartists.org/morpheusravenna

WHEN: October 23rd, 2013 – 7:00PM to 12:00AM

WHERE: 1015 Folsom St., San Francisco

FB Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1419093631637213/

Coru Cathubodua Priesthood presents

Feast of the Mighty: Waking the Dead – November 2

I’ll be joining my fellow priests in the Coru Cathubodua Morrigan Priesthood to present our annual Samhain Feast.

Celebrate Samhain with a CELEBRATORY WAKE. Let ritual reintroduce you to the POWER OF THE DEAD. Nosh on a CELTIC-STYLE FEAST. Honor your Beloved Dead and SHARE TREASURED FAMILY RECIPES in an ancestral potluck.* Learn to CEILIDH DANCE to a proper Irish fiddle. Dance again with your lost Loved Ones. Remember the THRILL OF BEING ALIVE! Seating is limited and we expect tickets to sell out, so you may want to grab yours soon.

TICKETS: http://wakingthedead.brownpapertickets.com/

WHEN: November 2, 2013 – 6:00 to 11:00 PM (Doors open 6 PM; Doors close 6:45 PM; Ritual start — 7 PM)

WHERE: Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists – 1924 Cedar at Bonita Ave, Berkeley, CA

FB Event Page: https://www.facebook.com/events/186145894898646/

Book of Jane Film Premiere – November 21

1094530_10202149910897656_1437366830_o

Written and directed by independent filmmaker Antero Alli, “The Book of Jane” is a story of three women bound together by fate to advance the values of an ancient culture but at a deep cost no one expected. In the film, the Morrigan makes appearances as an Otherworldly visitor, and I was filmed in Her role, dancing the dance of Death.

“Drowned in your waters, swept away by your storms, laid bare on your rocky shores — my corpse ravaged by a murder of crows. I am yours to do with as you will. Phantom Queen, Great Queen…where will you take me today? – JANE

WHEN: November 21 – 7:30 PM

WHERE:  Berkeley Arts Festival – 2133 University Ave, Berkeley, CA

FB Page: https://www.facebook.com/groups/134599656733880/

Film Info: http://www.verticalpool.com/beyondthegods.html

Artist Updates

Morrigan Great Queen, 2" size - front

Morrigan Great Queen, 2″ size – front

If you follow me on Facebook you may have seen my branching out into metalwork this year. I’ve been busily at work creating a line of etched copper and bronze talismans and medallions with Celtic, totemic, and mythopoetic themes and images. I put a good amount of research time into many of these, basing my designs on artifacts, images and poetic texts from historic sources. They give me pleasure to create, as I love bringing new life and a new eye to artistic motifs from the ancient world. They also give me pleasure to share with people. I believe in authenticity, so I don’t just call them talismans, I make sure that they actually are magically alive before I send them out to people. I pray over them and make offerings, and then give them some time charging on my home altar before I am ready to package them up. Because of my hand-production process and the time I take doing this magical work on them, I can only make these talismans in small batches, but I like it that way – each one gets a personal touch. So far I’ve released two totemic animal designs (Wolf and Boar), a Spear and a Sword, two protective Shield charms, a Wealth and Success bindrune, a Dagda/Cauldron medallion, and two designs for aspects of the Morrigan: Battle Goddess and Sovereignty Goddess.

What am I working on now? Finishing touches on a third Morrigan design, to complete the trinity: Macha, the Horse Queen. This design took some time to create, because there are actually several women in Irish mythology and historical legend who were named Macha, and each of them has a compelling story that could have yielded images for this medallion. I knew that I wanted to give pride of place to the horse as Her icon, so I focused on the Macha of the famous curse of Ulster, who was forced by Her husband to race the king’s horses while pregnant, and who gave birth to Her twins on the finish line, cursing the men of Ulster with Her dying breath to suffer the pangs of childbirth whenever their land was most in need of them. Her story, of course, is much more detailed than this, and scholars see in it reflections of ancient sovereignty rituals involving the land Goddess, the sacred marriage, pregnancy and childbirth, and horse-racing. Since we have no native images of Macha from Iron Age Ireland, I incorporate images of Epona (continental/British Celtic Horse Goddess), horse iconography from Celtic coins, Celtiberian battle standards, and decorative metalwork from Macha’s home fortress of Emain Macha. Her own words will be emblazoned on the medallion.

Iss ed mo ainmse ol si bias arin oenuchsa co bráth.

Telcid tra na neochu frim thoeb!

(“My name will forever cleave to the place of this assembly.

Release the horses beside me!”)

2013-10-02 12.48.44

Don’t Let Go: A personal reflection about art, destiny, and sovereignty

Yesterday, I spent all day at work making art. Then I came home and went straight to my desk, on fire to make more art. When I looked up, it was nearly midnight. I still wasn’t tired.

I always knew that art is what I was meant for. I was avidly drawing as soon as I could hold a pencil. It was a defining characteristic of my childhood. Long before I had any other ideas about identity – before it had even remotely occurred to me that I was a Witch and a Pagan – I knew what I was. I was an artist.

But here’s the thing. It took me until my late thirties to find the guts and the strength to make this my vocation. In my teen years, art was pretty much all I did. And then I reached that age where people start asking you what your plan is in life, and no one wanted to hear me say “artist”. I was told (by the person closest to me) you can’t succeed; no one makes a living just doing art; you’ll be broke and miserable. Art is a hobby. It’s frivolous. It’s a luxury. You can’t expect to just do that. You need to choose something more adult, and just do art in your spare time for fun.

So I did. I let myself be persuaded to set aside what I had always known I was meant for, and pick another career. I changed my major in college, and I did another six years of schooling and got my degree. Went to work in a government office. I continued to think of myself as an artist, but art was squeezed in as a hobby, in my side moments between working full-time, commuting, and everything else. Art became the periphery of my life, and the office was its center.

I did that for ten more years. Until I didn’t.

The job evaporated and I was at a crossroads. I let it all go and ran full tilt toward what should have been my center of gravity all along: Art. Was it scary at first? Hell yes. But pretty soon I started to realize that there are all sorts of ways that art careers can be made, besides selling paintings in the fine-art world. Animators, art teachers, designers, illustrators, tattoo artists, CGI artists, concept artists, comic book artists… I started to realize that I’d been sold on a narrowing of imagination. I had allowed myself to be diminished, not just by giving up a part of myself, but by internalizing a shrunken image of the whole world I live in.

Why did I do that? How did I let that happen to me for so long?

Many reasons. I was young and naive. I had poor emotional boundaries. I was easily influenced by people close to me. I was in a relationship with an imbalanced power dynamic. I let myself be told, instead of listening and then weighing the decision for myself. A host of reasons that really boil down to one thing: I was too young to know what sovereignty was, or to notice that I’d given mine away. It wasn’t until my mid-thirties that I began to understand what had happened to me as an issue of sovereignty.

Now that I’ve seen it, I can’t un-see it. It now seems to me that personal sovereignty is what our lives are made of. That it’s really all we have. Fate, or chance, or whatever you like to call it, will cast us into all kinds of circumstances over which we have no control at all. What is ours is that right to exert agency for ourselves, to choose our way forward through whatever faces us, to choose for ourselves how to respond. To live by our own lights. Ancient cultures often framed this in terms of a heroic ethos, in which it was understood that even if fate took all other options from you, you could always exercise the choice to die well, and that to do so was to exercise the ultimate sovereignty. People in circumstances like mine are privileged to not have to frame this in life-and-death terms, but I think the ethos of free will and sovereignty still has merit and applies.

I’m now speaking from a place in which I’m doing the work I have always known I was born to do. I am building a career in art, through a combination of tattooing, fine art and crafts. I am thriving in a way I never have before. The way has opened to me. I think it was always open. I just didn’t dare take it before.

What’s my point? How is this relevant to you? Are you wondering if this is leading into vapid inspirational platitudes like “If you can dream it, you can do it”? No, it’s not. I can’t say that all paths are open to you to succeed at whatever you want. I’m not telling you that you can make your dreams come true no matter what they are.

photo courtesy of Patrick Mackie, via Wikimedia Commons

What I am telling you is: Don’t let go of your soul because someone told you that you couldn’t or shouldn’t be that. Don’t let go without at least trying for yourself, without getting your feet dusty attempting to climb the path. Don’t give your sovereignty away. Don’t let go of your soul.

Don’t let go of who you are. I’ve said before, everyone has a destiny, and your truest sovereignty is to hold to that, to fight for it.

I’m speaking this urging with compassion; I don’t sit in judgement of anyone. Any one of us can wake up realizing we’ve given away our sovereignty in little profound ways. Any one of us can wake up realizing we’ve let other people choose our destiny for us without a fight. I let that happen to me for a decade and a half. If this is you, don’t judge yourself, either. Just start now. Reclaim yourself. It is never too late. It is never too late.

Because this isn’t just about doing what feeds you personally. The world we live in desperately needs people to fight injustice and oppression, to fight destruction and degradation, to speak the truth, to stand up for what’s right. Where does that start?

Who will fight for you if you can’t fight for yourself? Who will you fight for, if not yourself? Who will right the world if the world is filled with people who have given all their power away, who are trudging exhausted down a path that isn’t their own? How will you be of service to the world if you’re drained from doing the wrong work?

This is how you can be of service: Find out who you are and what your destiny is, and then give it all your heart.

 

Events

Nothing Found

Sorry, no posts matched your criteria