La Virgen de Guadalupe: New Feminist Portrayals by Jose Duran

Jose DuranShe appeared on a hill on December 9, 1531. She spoke to Juan Diego in his native tongue of Nahuatl; the language of the Aztecas. She asked for a church to be built at that very site in honor of her, the Virgin Mary. Juan Diego took the request to the local priest, but his story was not believed. On December 12, following further instructions from La Virgen, Juan Diego was able to find and pick roses not native to Mexico. He rolled them up in his tilma and returned to the priest. When he unrolled his tilma to present the roses, there on the tilma was the image of La Virgen de Guadalupe; she was as dark as the natives themselves.

Natives across Mexico and throughout the Americas endured the brutal realities of conquest, and experienced the relegation to second class citizens during the colonial period in Mexico. In particular, native women experienced oppression two-fold. This is evident in the fact that native men had privileges and opportunities within the public sphere of society which were denied to women, such as holding particular types of public service positions.

So how is it that millions of natives across the continent converted to Catholicism, the religion used by their oppressors to justify the horrors and atrocities inflicted upon them? The appearance of La Virgen to Juan Diego. She is seen as the blending of the Indigenous and European cultures. A Huffington Post article, Everything You Need to Know About la-virgen-de-guadalupe-tilma-de-juan-diegoLa Virgen de Guadalupe, explains, “Her image has been used throughout Mexican history, not only as a religious icon but also as a sign of patriotism.” Indeed, she has appeared as a symbol even in the most pivotal of moments, such as the fight for Mexican independence and the Mexican Revolution. The authors of the study The Evolving Genre of ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’: A Feminist Analysis, also note that she has become “. . .the ideal model for womanhood and motherhood.”  Continue reading “La Virgen de Guadalupe: New Feminist Portrayals by Jose Duran”

Painting Our Own Realities in the New Year by Xochitl Alvizo

Incarnation, Goddess spirituality, Xochitl Alvizo, god became fleshA friend of mine once commented that my feminism is evident from the moment you step into my house. In reference to all the female images around my house, she noted that my space reflected a different way of being in the world. I had never thought of it actually, it was not a specifically conscious choice I made to be woman-centered in the books and artwork I displayed, I simply put up what I loved. But once she pointed that out to me, I appreciated the point it raised about what we surround ourselves with and what it reflects about the world we want to live in and help create. What do our spaces evoke for us? for others? Do they help spark the imagination, and if so, what toward?

While I have always been very conscious about how I create my home space, it has not been in the way my friend noted. I am hyper-organized at home. I am one of those people who love the expression “a place for everything and everything in its place.” It can be a difficult characteristic to live with let me tell you, as I tend not to be able to feel at home until things are all “in their place,” which I admit has made for a hard transition in these last few months! I always thought that organization was the most important part of what made a ‘home’ for me – that and having a guest room ready for welcoming visitors. But this last week, as I got a little time to organize my house a bit more, the importance of my artwork came front and center in a new way. Continue reading “Painting Our Own Realities in the New Year by Xochitl Alvizo”

Art – A Bridge Between the Physical and Spiritual Worlds by Judith Shaw

judith shaw photoBrushing yellow gold on top of deep crimson, I sense the paints coming alive, even as I feel myself moving outside of ego, outside of time, and inside to my deepest source.

At least forty thousand years ago the human family began to make art; drawing, painting, sculpting and playing music. For much of human history, art has served a dual purpose. Some art has been purely decorative, while much art has expressed a spiritual understanding of our physical existence.

During the Paleolithic period, c.15–18,000 B.C. on the walls of a sacred cave, Lascaux, in southern France, our ancestors created beautiful paintings, often interpreted as a ritual that invoked sympathetic hunting magic. They are a reminder of the bond between the spirit world and the human world. This was a magical time in which humans lived immersed in the connection between the physical and spiritual worlds. Art was a means to both express and facilitate that connection.

Neolithic Goddess Figure

The seasons turned and the art and mythical imagery of the Paleolithic era was transmitted to the Neolithic era in Old Europe. Worship of the Goddess, as giver of all life, continued as did the art which honored Her and our connection to Her. The artists from these ancient days expressed their communal worship through the creation of cult idols and objects, shrines, painted pottery, and religious ceremonialism. The artists, though anonymous, were the hands and eyes of the creator, deepening and transforming the consciousness of their community.

As the human community in the western world developed and grew, art remained firmly grounded in the spiritual. From the megalithic stones of the Celtic era, to the illuminated manuscripts, mosaics and fresco paintings in the churches of the Middle Ages, right up to the work of painters like Van Gogh, Kandinsky, Malevich and Mondrian in the more modern era of late 19th and early 20th century – art expressed our human connection to the divine.

Continue reading “Art – A Bridge Between the Physical and Spiritual Worlds by Judith Shaw”

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