an experiential rundown of Goddess art

The day spins threads of light in birdsong. It beckons.

Before I go hiking, I’ve been inspired to share some of the Goddess art I love. My aesthetic tends to be of the more detailed sort; no modernist globs of color for me! In the age of the photograph, detail is probably passe, but I admire the skill that goes into it.

Deity images are funny things. I am reminded of the ancient Celt who laughed at the Greek depiction of deities, in all their anthropomorphic realism: “how can we know what the Gods look like?” Brighid herself is the water of the healing well, the lick of flame in the hearth, the blacksmith’s arm, the clever fingers of the musician.

It’s hubris to say that the Gods are merely deified humans in appearance. I believe it was Herodotus who noted that horses would see the Gods as horses.

However, human images of the divine offer a glimpse of beauty — what’s accepted as beauty, and its social construct. They also grant legitimacy: who can be regarded as the image of the divine? In a monotheistic, patriarchal culture, it’s the typical Sky God (old, white male with a beard and an unsmiling face) or his tortured son — or the Virgin with her demure manner and her veil.

Pagan art shatters that paradigm — or rather, it can, when you discount the “babe on the broomstick” and muscle-rippling sun god on the cover of Silver Ravenwolf’s books, for example. It has the potential to envision the divine in new ways. Sadly, this is most often expressed solely in terms of the female — there are very few modern God-images out there. It’s understandable in that women are frequently attracted to Paganism for the female divine, although I hope that male images catch up.

(Amusing side note: Shoshen was trying to order Celtic god statuary from Imagicka as a gift for me. Aonghus Og, the Dagda, Nuada — no one makes any! He settled for Lugh, who now proudly sits on my altar. We both wish there was more out there, though.)

    Here’s some image-makers I particularly enjoy:

  • Sandra M. Stanton, I love her work because she depicts some lesser-known Goddesses such as Scythian Tabiti, but also because her Goddesses aren’t traditionally beautiful. They have older faces and bodies, appearing more as crones than as maidens. She also depicts more full-figured Goddesses, such as Rhea.
  • Hrana Janto, my all-time favorite. Her art is detailed and beautiful; I have her Goddess deck and some of her prints on my wall. Some of my favorites are Arianrhod (for the motion in it), Rhiannon, which has beautiful depictions of birds and horses, and the Lady of Beasts, a touching depiction of pregnancy across the mammalian world.
  • Thalia Took — completely different from the “realism” track I have taken. Her art is comic-book style, awash in color. I love her depiction of Epona (note how the Goddess and the horses mirror one another) and the triple goddess of Arabia, who is not often depicted in Goddess art. She also does an incredible image of the Mayan Goddess Ix Chel — incredible because Mayan art is often ugly to Western eyes, and she paints this in beauty while maintaining the traditional style. Her simple image of Brighid, part of her attractive Goddess Oracle deck, is also a favorite of mine. Unlike other artists, she other does God art, including a great image of Manannan.
  • Another beautiful image of Manannan is from Miranda Grey in the book Celtic Gods, Celtic Goddesses. The book is worth it for the art alone; other beautiful images include Blodeuwedd and Morrigan. Alas, there’s no simple Web site to send you to, so buy the book!
  • While it’s a tarot deck rather than a Goddess deck, i’m a big fan of Joanna Powell Colbert, whose lovers card I linked to. I plan on buying the deck as soon as it comes out — beautiful work!
  • Sculpture-wise, i’m a fan of Paul Borda, whose Brighid, Morrigan and Lugh statues i have. I also love Maxine Miller, although I don’t own any of her work; her Goddess art is incredibly detailed and fine.

What’s your favorite Goddess/God art? Please share! 

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About whitecatgrove

The musings of a Druid priestess, singer, poet and musician in Upstate New York.
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