In my last article, I put forth the notion that we humans have had the need to create art encoded into our DNA. Along with the need to create images, humans have had the need to “make special,” to “make sacred,” and art can fulfill this need. By bringing art into a space, humans make the space special. When the art reflects beliefs about the divine, the art that inhabits that space makes it sacred. I spoke at length about cave paintings in my last entry, and I believe that those paintings could in fact have been making ancient caves into sacred spaces.
As humans moved from a hunter gatherer existence into something more settled, areas where they settled often included sacred places where their relationships with the divine could unfold – temples. When I was in graduate school, I strove to understand what installations were and what “site specific” art, as installations are more commonly called these days, were and where they fit into art history. Temples themselves are “site specific,” created to meet the needs of a particular people in a particular place. In this article, I will look at some pre-historic peoples and their need for the creation of permanent sacred space.
One of the most important things you can know about my practice – and one of the few things about my personal practice that is not too out-there-in-woo-woo-territory to discuss publicly – is that I am a Maker. What this means in terms of my practice is making art, jewelry, and other things that have been enchanted with the presence of spirits, or to open doors into the Otherworld, or serve specific purposes (like protective or healing amulets, etc).
One of the reasons why I wound up on this path is that beauty is an important personal value. Most people like pretty things. There is this, and then there is needing to have beauty in your life. For me, beauty is not a luxury, but a necessity. I am one of those people who cries at beautiful things, and enthralled by beautiful people. I see beauty in other people, I cherish what is beautiful within them and try to encourage it. I find beauty in experiences, beautiful moments in every day life. I have a continual sense of wonder that has carried me through the worst times, kept me going when there was otherwise too much ugliness and pain.
On the weekend of Vancouver Pagan Pride, one of my tradition sisters offered to touch up my new sacred tattoo that I had received about six weeks prior. "It's really great for someone who was new, and her lines are excellent," she said, "but it's fading a little already and I want to dress it up a little, if that's okay with you."
My spirit-sister Jennica had done the tattoo - a triple moon with a blue pentagram in the center of the full one - in a cast circle as part of sacred ceremony. It was my first tattoo ever and that meant a lot to me. I had insisted upon this because I had been told the story of how my initiator Lord Redleaf had received the Green Man tattoo on his chest as part of ritual in a cast circle and it moved me. I told my trad sister Amity Loyce this and let her know that it was very important to me that it remain sacred, and still done in a cast circle and empowered. "Sure, that's fine," she said with a nod. "I don't have any problems doing that! I always wanted to tattoo in a cast circle . . ."
"Even though modern culture has done it's best to corrupt art into a celebrity production machine, simply another form of entertainment, designed specifically as an opiate to the downtrodden, gluttonous, and vapid, it fails because the artist knows better. Art is magic. Art is one of the rawest shamanistic forms of connection with the universal source of everything, but only if the artist is brave enough to give the audience what it needs rather than what it thinks, or has been told, it wants." --Peter Beckley
Imbolc is an introspective time of year. Many "I" words come to mind for me: introverted, inside, inquire. If you do not already opt for a solitary ritual on Brighid's special day and would like to mix things up a bit, I would keep the numbers small. An intimate gathering with a few close pals is in order.
While other paths require very little amounts of food (or none) when making offerings, Afro Latin traditions go completely overboard when it comes to feeding Deities, Spirits, and the incredibly wide range of beings that fill our altars. Usually, this is managed by a whole community so each time a Saint/Orisha/Spirit day comes, the altar rooms become loaded with plate after plate of delicacies, along with the foods that each tradition assigns to the specific Spirit.