Monday, January 27, 2014

Painting the Feminine - Mary

The other morning, Connie talked to us about paintings that energetically attract us and how sometimes people really want to lay hands on those pieces. This really stuck with me throughout the day. As I got in the shower I was thinking about how often I got in to trouble at the Metropolitan Museum of Art when I was stilling living in NJ and visited frequently... because I'm an incredibly tactile person. When something touches me energetically, I HAVE to run my fingers over it. HAVE to. No ifs and or buts about it.

The prompt for our painting that day was to build a relationship with one of our previous works; to see which one energetically touched us in the same way as we spoke about that morning. To spend time with that painting, not fixing it, but working with it to further deepen our connection. And as I flipped through my journal and spent time with each page trying to determine who wanted to have a relationship with me, someone who I used to get in trouble for touching ALL the time kept nudging me... Mary. Whenever I went to the Met, I'd get caught up in the big Medieval galleries (one of my favorite periods) gazing at the tapestries and paintings... but I'd ALWAYS get caught up under the watchful gazes of the carvings of Mary holding her child that surrounded the big room. (Since rearranged, so I've been told) I could spend hours in there looking at each one, I must have a gazillion pictures of them all from different angles and I got in trouble frequently for touching them. I'm surprised they didn't have my photo hanging up outside the gallery saying "This girl's a handsy one! Don't let her near Mary, or she'll touch her."

But it didn't end there, because when they had the beautiful Byzantine art exhibit, I was drawn to her there too. I didn't touch those ones though; too many guards in traveling exhibitions. ;-)

Having had no Christian upbringing, I have always found this connection to Mary to be a bit bizarre, but I've gone with it. She's been appearing to me and I've been drawn to her since I was a little girl. Whenever she shows up in my life, I pay attention and always feel comforted by her presence. I enjoy her in all of her iconography and names; The Virgin Mother, Queen of Heaven, Guadalupe... but the one image of her that I've always been especially drawn to is Mary with the snake. In most icons, she's stepping on the snake which I've always felt a little weird about even knowing what the serpent represents in her mythos.

So, when she kept nudging me the other day, it was she who ended up in the pages of my journal... with one very obvious difference, the snake was carried by her rather than trampled upon. That Queen of Heaven; lady of comfort and nurture and hope working along with the ancient snake; herald of transformation, healing and rebirth.

When I finished I had a real lightbulb moment there in my heart in the story of my relationship with this particular goddess (because that's how I see her); When this Divine Mother Goddess is paired with the Snake it throws back to ancient goddesses, who were often depicted holding or wearing snakes, It brings the entire concept of Divine Feminine energy back home and full circle to me and makes my relationship with Mary seem less bizarre to me, the pagan. And though when I was younger I didn't have a name for my faith (or lack thereof), I felt drawn to and comforted by Mary - the only friendly face or form in many of the churches I visited; with her arms outstretched and her robes beckoning us in to the folds of soft safety and love.

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