Friday, 24 February 2012

Goddess Statue 1

So, following on from my earlier post about making things I have finally started my Goddess statue. I wanted to try and make my own, partly to impart more meaning and partly to see if I could.

I bought some air drying clay as I don't have access to a kiln. This has taken some getting used to and I have had to build it up patiently as it tends to crack and crumble. My plan is to case-harden the statue in the oven with some hardener stuff I also bought.

To start off with I made a rough wooden base and a wire framework.


I wanted a pose with the Goddess stepping forward with her hands in the "Goddess Pose". This framework turned out to be flawed - the wire was too flexible and couldn't hold the weight of clay on the upper body. Also, it flexed under the clay and cracked it at the limbs.

I ditched this approach for a simpler frame made of coat-hanger wire.













The fine wire still had its uses in framing detail like the hands.


I tried to relax and let the figure come to me. It occurred to me that I had no idea what she should look like so I asked the goddess to show me. I ended up with a pleasant, joyful face, framed with copious hair and quite youthful. Fitting given the approach of spring.


As I have gone along the body and pose have developed. I wanted her to be curvaceous, and a curve to her belly - hinting at the fertile promise of spring.





Something told me she wanted lots of hair.

As I have gone on, the pose has come out. So too has the base. I have included a standing stone behind her. This is a favourite beach find. In front of her I have made a cup or hollow. The idea is to place a charcoal brick and insense in the hollow and let the smoke billow up and around her. Or I could put a small candle there, or a container of water or some stones to represent particular elements - not sure yet.

There is still some sanding and trimming to do to the figure as it stands and I will have to air dry it for around four days now. So it's far from finished. I will post again when I case-harden the figure and start to paint it.

It's been fun so far and I am looking forward to making a Horned God to go with her. I might even make other Goddesses, perhaps in different aspects-as mother or crone.



Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Reflection

Having started the blog with a burst of activity I find myself in a period of quiet reflection. This is partly forced by yet another head cold and lethargy, but its good taking time out to just think. I got into a work state of mind last week thinking: "it's been ages since my last post, I must do one." Must!....its funny how we start to tie ourselves up in imagined obligations, something I do too much. I'm working on judging myself less harshly though...

Anyway, this quiet period has meant time to read. Following on from my thoughts about Anglo Saxon paganism and Freya I have just finished "The Secrets of East Anglian Magic" by Nigel Pennick. It was a fascinating look into native English magic as practiced in past and present and there were lots of Saxon survivals in the belief system, but I liked how he stressed that it is a living system, still open to change and improvement. Next up is "The Real Middle Earth" by Brian Bates.

Also of inteterest lately, the archaeologist Francis Prior presented his theory on the introduction of Saxon culture to England in his TV programme Britain AD. I think he is on to something when he says it was not through invasion but through interaction that fashions and culture changed. And now there is growing evidence that pagan Romano-Brits lived alongside Saxons and that they shared many beliefs. They also lived alongside Celtic Christians. If this is true then the so-called dark ages were a time of tolerance, change and creativity.

I will carry on reading in this direction and see where it takes me. At the same time I need to return to my first intention- an exploration of the male mysteries.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Freyja

About 16 months ago I suffered from a bout of depression. It is still with me but things are very much brighter now.

I was off work for 13 weeks, and in that time I did alot of thinking about my life and spirituality. I got a great deal of comfort visiting the local country park where there are woods and a lake. One fine day in early September 2010 I came upon a quiet clearing of oak trees where the Rose Bay Willow Herb grew high enough to obscure me from the path. I did a bit of drawing (a green man) and sat and closed my eyes for a while. In the same clearing was an old oak tree. It was a V-shape: one large branch was leaning away from the clearing and another had at one time leant towards where I stood. It looked like it had splintered and fallen, so the rangers had lopped off the remainder. In the stump was a hollow containing a small pool of water. I determined that this would be a small shrine and that I would make an offering. I made a small request to the goddess for help and deposited some small change.

A few days later I went with my partner for a walk by the sea. The tide went out and out and we followed it. We picked up shells and driftwood and explored the pools. The sun was shining and the air was bright and clear. When we got to the water I had an overwhelming urge to jump in - despite the cold. This was strange for me because I had not swam for years, a paranoia brought about by bullying and body image. My partner watched dumbfounded as I took of all my clothes and ran naked into the water waving my underwear over my head and whooping. The water was shallow but I managed to swim a little. I got out, put my sagging underwear back on and donned my clothes. I felt great.

As we walked back we scanned the sands for more treasures, perhaps a shell or a piece of driftwood to take home (I love driftwood). Then I saw it. Something I had always wanted to find on a beach.....a piece of Amber. We were not sure at first but when I felt its texture and we held it up to the sun we were sure. Fresh from the sea it was strangely sticky and smelled intensely of pine resin. We were smelling a forest from 40 million years ago! Now, its not unusual to find amber on a British beach if you are on the east coast. There it is often found, around East Anglia in particular. But we were in the North West, hundreds of miles away. Perhaps there is a small deposit in the Irish Sea, or maybe it was carried over land to coast by ice age melt waters. Perhaps a ship lies off the coast, sunk with a cargo of Amber still aboard. It had travelled some way because it was worn round. A very, very rare find and a good size too. Here is a picture taken on the day.





The Amber has now dried out, shrunk a little, lost its smell and developed a surface patina. I gave it to my partner, she loves Amber, but we both treasure it.

Now to the present time. I have been thinking about pagan spirituality and reading about the different paths followed by others. Thinking about the God and Goddess and what kind of path I might follow. From the start I have felt firmly British. When I think about this I guess I don't feel particularly Celtic. I have some Scottish forebears but this doesn't mean Celtic (especially in the Viking-raided Western Isles). So I feel more English. I have always loved the Norse myths but feel more Anglo Saxon in character - again more English. So I have always been interested in Anglo Saxon spirituality. To this end I have been looking into Anglo Saxon magic.

Yesterday I was reading and came across reference to Freya being venerated in East Anglia. I then read about how she wept for her lost husband and where her tears fell on land they turned to gold and over water - Amber! And her father was Njord, god of the sea. And she has an amber necklace, Brisingamen that shines like the sun (we live near Alderley Edge where Alan Garner set his classic book "The Weird Stone of Brisingamen"). And Freya as a primal goddess appeals to me, and her twin brother Frey as her male counterbalance. Even references to them as Lord and Lady (the balance I am looking for between male and female principles).

I am a big sceptic, and coincidences can happen, but could this be the Goddess contacting me as Freya?

What do you think...........?

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Re-awakening

Not much blogging this week and couldn't find the time to do much at Imbolc. I am not too worried about this, as I have said I am starting over and re-exploring pagan spirituality. But it does bring home the realisation that a deeper engagement with this in the future would mean that I would not have to find time, but make time to mark and celebrate the quarter and cross-quarter festivals. This is something I would like to do, not just to celebrate or venerate, but to mark out the year and bring more structure to my busy life. I will eventually have to make a greater commitment, but right now these thoughts, feelings and concepts are only just re-awakening in me.

So I guess a parallel could be drawn between my present condition and this time of year. This struck me on a woodland walk last weekend. At first it was frosty and it seemed that we were still in the grip of winter.

And there were remnants of last year.









The copper beech hanging on to its leaves.


But the sun was shining and on the ascendant and there were signs of new life stirring everywhere. In places the ground was breaking with the first shoots of new growth. All around, life was forcing its way back into the woodland. And taking time to stop and close your eyes, you could hear and smell it too. The faint smell of wild garlic already, the birdsong. You could sense the approach of spring and the promise of renewed life.

And I suppose this is how I feel about my path at the moment: renewal, growing potential, but still early stirrings.

I don't have an altar or know any spells, but maybe on this walk I celebrated the spirit of Imbolc without realizing it.














Here are some more pictures (the fungi are dedicated to Moma Fauna)




Thursday, 2 February 2012

Imbolc

I haven't had much time to blog recently, but Happy Imbolc to all.