"Yemaya, Orisha Mother of the Oceans," is the third of my series of orisha portraits. While she was based on a photograph, as were Oshun and Oya, she turned out looking nothing like the woman in that image.
Yemaya rose slowly out of the depths of the background. It took many layers and iterations for her to emerge in the visible range. Her gaze in unwavering and knowing. She is not looking into the future like Oya, or over her shoulder at some out-of-frame admirer. She is looking straight at us, straight into our eyes and our hearts. We sink into her and find ourselves in our deepest selves. From those depths, she calls to us - La Siren, she is named by some. We can dive down to explore those mysterious dark parts of our psyches, knowing that Yemaya holds us.
I am thinking about my visit with her this spring when I took white rose petals and white wine to the ocean as gifts to her. I am remembering a few years back when I gave her waves a heart-shaped piece of red wax one evening, only to find it a quarter-mile down on the beach the next morning. I am feeling her lift me up and drag me down as I swam in her waters this weekend.
Indra is not a god I've ever worked with. I am not familiar with his stories or his worship. But when I get a vision in ritual accompanied by the impetus to translate it to paint on canvas, none of that matters.
In March I attended the Naga Ritual presented by Light Haven at the Between the Worlds conference. I have participated in ritual with the Light Haven folks before, so I knew this would be a doozy (and in the best possible way). These ritualists are masters at their craft and the naga (spirit serpents) energy pours in and flows over everyone for healing and necessary changes.
In the middle of the ritual, after getting a bit of a push from the ritual leader to loosen up, I was prompted by my spirits to lift up my hands and paint in the air in front of me. As I did so, I saw that my hands were tracing out beautiful visions and painting them on the astral. One of those visions was a beautiful blue man with lightning emanating from his eyes. He wore a high crown and his visage was peaceful, not vengeful. That is what I tried to capture in this painting.
How did I know it was Indra? At first I thought it might be a buddha or bodhisattva. I sat with that for a while in meditation, but it didn't feel quite right. The presence behind the image felt older, more guarded. And the image looked distinctly like the temple sculptures from India that I've seen in pictures and in museums. So, Internet research, here I come: lightning+Hindu+god gives me a list of links with the name Indra. As I read a bit, both online and from a couple books we have in our library, I got a definitely "hit" that Indra was right.
The second vision is still in the astral, waiting (patiently, I hope) to be translated to canvas. That is a much bigger naga mandala. I have a 48" x 48" canvas that could work nicely. And now, just writing those sentences, I can feel the nagas waking up and starting to move within me again. Oh!
Well, back to the studio it seems...
From a strong and open heart,
Artist, writer, ritualist, dreamer, wanderer, seeker, observer -- of the seen and unseen worlds.