One day, during a holiday at the home of Italian friends in the province of Lazio, some forty-five minutes by train from the centre of Rome, I experienced a powerful impression of the Sacred Feminine. She came to me in the Vatican of all places, centuries old male stronghold, and power centre of the Roman Catholic Church.
Even more surprisingly, her presence was more prominent in the Sistine Chapel, the Pope’s own place of prayer, where Cardinals sit in all male conclave. But there she was, shining through the restored colour on that famous ceiling through the brushstrokes of Michelangelo. I was picking up loud echoes immortalised for centuries through his art, tuning into the soul of the artist, seeing his inspiration in terms of angels speaking in colour and light. But then he was called after an Archangel whose name means Who is like God. God is creative, He created heaven and earth according to the scriptures, but now it was looking like She might have created it with him. Somehow over the years in Christianity, the real Sacred Feminine has been hidden away, negated, turned into a virginal statue with little visible life energy from earth.
In St. Peter’s, after my walk around the museum, I stood before La Pieta a masterpiece sculpted by the same artist, which moved me so deeply I became tearful. It matters not whether you are religious. Beauty such as Michelangelo created has exquisite qualities, which can inspire, connect, and even raise the awareness of those who care to take their time viewing it. It is how the artist could see a vision of life encased in a block of marble and then chisel away until that soul was released, to be born shining into the world of form. The compassion on the Madonna’s face as she cradles the dead Christ, the lifeless body of the son to whom she once gave birth. The marble appears fluid, moving, expressing both the beauty of Christ’s life and the pain of his cruel death in every muscle, bone, and sinew. The sculpture evoked a powerful image of that Divine Feminine. I had begun tuning into, a starry compassionate Mother Goddess who cradles us at birth, then through our lives with all their joys and challenges, until the transition of death.
Although maligned and marginalized by centuries of delusional fears that have prompted witch hunts, inquisitions, torture, and abuse, the Goddess has never deserted her children. She still appears for me energetic, wise, and nurturing, dancing in equal partnership to form a much-needed balance of power with my vision of a loving, creative masculine God. Together they bring harmony and balance to the Universe. Together they are creative wisdom.
We can find her shining through the elements, in the light of sun, moon, and stars, as well as in every act of kindness and compassion towards each other on our beautiful blue planet. Ensouling our human art, she gives birth to the life enhancing projects we are inspired to create, reflecting our possibility like an image of the moon on water.
My Italian friends live in a town where there is a sacred well close to the church. Water sources in nature also connect us to the Sacred Feminine through the landscape. The Goddess was giving me a day of art and soul – human creativity, and nature. And so it was, sitting on a convenient bench in that Latina landscape with its acres of kiwi fruits, well-tended gardens abundant with ripe lemons, and the mountains in the background, I felt the natural world and images of sacred art from my day in the Eternal City, mingling in the golden rays of late afternoon sunshine. It reminded me of the unbroken curves of Celtic knotwork, patterns in my imagination, flowing with my stream of Awen to inspire a poem called The Language of Angels. This language of colour, wisdom and light has inspired much greater artists than me down the centuries. But on that afternoon, it was mine as a poet since it inspires talents great or small.
That poem was the first step towards a book written and published by O-Books in the spirit of Awen, the stream of inspiration, or Holy Spirit flowing through all life. I found my creative heart path when I slowed my pace and retired to Wales. It came to me through a vision of an angel or being of light connected to the full moon’s silver path on the sea outside my apartment in Wales. It was as though the Moon Goddess, using the wisdom of this brightness I called an angel, finally birthed TO SING WITH BARDS AND ANGELS – A Journey into the Creative Heart – first conceived in Italy, in the link I found between Michelangelo’s art and nature.
In the magic of dawn and twilight, the spaces between day and night or night and day, the veil begins to lift, as the Otherworld weaves its delicate ethereal threads into the fabric of fertile imagination. At such times, I have often experienced a strange feeling that I am standing in a painting. Since I am a spiritually motivated writer, I am taking responsibility for creating my own life and that is why I consider the development of love to be so important. The angel realm appears in my internal landscape as a domain of exquisite colour and light where words arise as notes from a celestial ocean, breaking in waves of sound and a flurry of bright wings upon the shores of human consciousness. We are a poem, a story, a tiny legend recorded in the vast book of humanity, a single note in the Great Song. With our love we can create a better world together, illuminate the unique song of each soul, singing with bards and angels.
To purchase To Sing with Bards and Angels click here.
To Sing with Bards and Angels was reviewed on FAR. To read, click here.
BIO: Iona Jenkins author, writer and poet exploring growth and change through creativity.
4 thoughts on “ART AND SOUL by Iona Jenkins”
I loved this essay… while reading it I remembered my response to the Pieta was much the same as yours – and the most powerful ongoing spiritual experience of my life – it lasted 6 days – occurred while I was in Assisi Italy at a Jungian Conference – literally opening the door to merging nature soul and spirit – once and for all. That was it for me: Nature was holy and one couldn’t separate the pieces, just see and experience them as part of the whole . At the same time I had extraordinary experiences with Mary, as mother of god, and Mary Magdalene too as well as Clare – all this in a patriarchal country!!!! What’s our salient point here? That these experiences unite us with ourselves and the whole of nature – changing us from the inside out and opening the door..for each this will occur in a different way.
Hello Sarah, so glad you enjoyed this article and that it brought back such unforgettable memories for you. I too have visited Assisi. It is one of those thin places where soul and spirit meet. The hot Italian sun felt soft like sunflowers to me. San Damiano spoke to my heart and later in the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, in the main square Goddesses past and present came together for me. It’s easy to understand how St. Francis and Clare were so inspired
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Thanks for sharing your experience. It’s a great reminder of the power that art has to affect and change our consciousness and that the power of love and beauty inherent in Goddess has never deserted us.
We were painting on cave walls in the dawning of our consciousness, so perhaps we were painting our way into being. Opening our senses and blending the songs of our souls I hope we may harmonize enough to write a new story that re-instates the Goddess in an equal role.