I was brought up in a household where attitudes to God and church were quite negative. My Nanna, however, was deeply religious, and I can still remember sitting in her dining room as a very young child staring up in awe at a painting of ‘The Last Supper.’ I was completely mesmerised, there was something haunting about that painting that left a lifelong impression. Art became a passion very early on in life, and whenever I came into contact with images of a religious nature emotions stirred. I was spellbound by divine mystery. The most profound feelings were engendered when I met with images of Mother Mary and the infant Jesus.Continue reading “From the Archives: Miracles Of The Great Mother by Jassy Watson”
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Pachamama – August 1st – A day to Honour the Great Mother Goddess
In Andean traditions the entire month of August is devoted to Pachamama.
Pachamama is the Supreme Goddess honored by the indigenous people of the Andes including Peru, Argentina and Bolivia. She is referred to as both the physical planet Earth as well as the universal Feminine Energy in time and space. Her name literally translates as Pacha – meaning world, land, earth, universe; and Mama, meaning Mother. She is the Mother of the World.
In Incan mythology Pachamama is also celebrated as a fertility Goddess who oversees planting and harvesting. She is responsible for the well-being of plants and animals and is often depicted as a Dragon or serpent representative of the Andean Mountains. When Pachamama feels disrespected it is thought that she causes earthquakes. Andean people believe that recent earthquakes in the region are a result of humanity’s destruction, disregard and disrespect for the planet. Continue reading “Pachamama – August 1st – A day to Honour the Great Mother Goddess”
Spirit of Bali by Jassy Watson
Over the past year I have travelled to Bali on a number of occasions for both pleasure and work, and with each visit a little more of my heart and soul stays behind on this green tropical island paradise waiting for my next return. I was never really that keen to travel to Bali in the past; my pre-conceived ideas had been largely influenced by the negative media attention this “hot destination” often receives in Australia. Whether it be a volcano erupting, scooter accident, terrorist attack. or young Australian party-goers getting up to mischief while on holiday, the shadow side of Bali tourism remains the focus for hype-hungry media – with consequences often detrimental to the tourism industry that the island has become so reliant on.
Yet for many years pilgrims from all over the world have been flocking to Bali to experience the spirit and culture. I was curious and decided it was finally time I went to see firsthand what all the hype was about. After seeking an inexpensive and close overseas getaway to recharge our parenting batteries, my husband and I decided to join the flock and fly to the island paradise. From the moment my feet hit the ground I was engulfed with the chaos & humidity that is Bali – and I was captivated. Continue reading “Spirit of Bali by Jassy Watson”
Art for the Earth by Jassy Watson
I often feel the ecological crises the world is currently faced with are too big and expansive for me to really do anything about. How can one person make a difference? Where can I turn when feelings of ecological despair, overwhelm, anger and frustration at how unjust the world is arise? How can I align my core values with a world that dictates and forces me to actively participate in a materialistic and capitalist way of life that I am opposed too?
Some days it all seems too much I want to throw my arms up and run away to live in a cabin somewhere deep and remote in the forest. Some days I am at peace with knowing that the little things I do do, all contribute, while other days the warrior woman in me wants to be out on the Greenpeace boat fighting whalers in the Pacific, or tied to a tree in Tasmania’s old growth forest protecting them from man’s destruction. Continue reading “Art for the Earth by Jassy Watson”
Painting for the Earth by Jassy Watson
I have spoken about the Social Responsibility of the Artist on numerous occasions. This blog approaches similar subject matter, but in relation to using art as a potent tool for change and as a platform for raising awareness of important environmental and ecological issues that all of humanity is currently faced with.
All forms of art have the potential to be tools for healing. I believe that through the creative process the relationship with self and the environment can be transformed. Why? Because when creative work is approached from a place of passion and purpose and art is brought to life with intention, great shifts can occur. Not only for the artist, but also for the viewer. I believe wholeheartedly that I can approach the canvas and paint intentionally to heal the earth and deepen my connection to it, and in doing so inspire others to deepen and honour a connection to the earth creatively.
There are many contemporary artists who are agents of environmental change and who are using their creative gifts and talents to build awareness and provoke thought through their work and process. Many artists, such as myself are working with transformative approaches and processes towards a new vision that is ecological and participates with the living cycles of nature. Many topics are approached such as oceans, climate change, water quality, recycling, water purification, natural disasters, de-forestation, endangered species and more.
Artists today are finding all sorts of inventive ways to call attention to the problems facing our environment, as corporate greed and profit impose destruction on our planet. While each artist works very differently and explores diverse territories, they share awareness about the critical loss of natural resources and a desire to save the planet from human destruction.
Take the words of Nigerian painter Jerry Buhari:
“Today the talk of the world is about an endangered Earth. One often wonders how much of the talk is backed with genuine concern and the will to take positive steps. But it should not surprise the world that artists are in the forefront of the discussion on the environment.”
Eco-feminist artist Ann T. Rosenthal and activist artist Steffi Domike have been collaborating on environmental installations for years. Their wall installation, Watermark: Wood, Coal, Oil, Gas (2011) consists of four panels that illustrate an evolutionary timeline of energy resources—wood, coal, oil and natural gas.
Dominique Mazeau is a poet and artist from Santa Fe, New Mexico. She has made an exquisite journal of poems and drawings of cleaning up the Rio Grande River over many years. She has made sculptures from the trash and she teaches school children about the river with her poems and her art.
There are many more Eco-feminist and Environmentalist/Activist artists such as Charla Puryear and Helene Aylon using their art to raise awareness of ecological issues. These few examples alone demonstrate that art, in its myriad of forms, has the capacity to effect positive change on the earth and its environments.
Artists are catalysts for change, and this “change” takes place when we feel deeply for a precious cause. I feel deeply for the state of the earth and feel that it is largely humanity’s spiritual disconnection from the earth and from the earth as sentient that has contributed to the current state of not only the health of the earth body, but also the health of our bodies.
Coming up in October I will be presenting an exhibition ‘Voices for the Earth’ in Bundaberg, QLD Australia. This exhibition will feature the works of select regional artists who are using their art to speak for the earth. It is held in conjunction with RONA-16 an Earth Arts Festival as part of the The Rights of Nature Tribunal that is taking place the same month. Artists of all genres from around Australia are participating in creative activities to raise awareness of the urgency required to make the necessary changes so that ways can be found to make the health of our planet an absolute priority.
I know that more has to be done, and some might see ‘art’ as a hedonist, self absorbed way to attempt to bring about change – but the power of image should NEVER be underestimated.
I am Painting for the eARTh.
This Earth is my sister
I love her daily grace
Her silent daring
And how loved I am.
How we admire this strength in each other
All that we have lost
All that we have found
We are stunned by this beauty,
And I do not forget
What She is to me
And what I am to Her.
(from Susan Griffin, Woman and Nature – The Roaring Inside Her, p.219, caps added).
Jassy Watson, who lives on the sub-tropical coast of Queensland Australia, is a Mother of four, passionate organic gardener, Intuitive/Visionary & Community Artist, Teacher, Intentional Creativity Coach and a student of Ancient History and Religion at Macquarie University, Sydney. She is the Creatress of Earth Circle Studios; a school for the Sacred Creative Arts. Jassy teaches regular painting workshops in person, nationally and internationally, and online based around themes that explore myth, history and our connection to the earth.
Max Dashu: Feminist Scholar, Author, Historian, Artist by Jassy Watson
I had the honour of hosting Max Dashu, Feminist Scholar, Historian and Artist here at Goddesses Studio this weekend past. Max is currently on her second Australian tour and we were blessed for her to come on quite the journey to present to an intimate group of Wide bay Goddesses, “Rebel Woman Shamans: Women Confront Empire” and “Deasophy: Goddess Wisdom” with a little “Female Iconography” thrown in.
Max’s knowledge and gift of story-telling is inspirational. “Rebel Woman Shamans: Woman Confront Empire” looked at holy women and female prophets who led many rebellions to resist conquest, slavery, and colonization. These women visionaries, priestesses, diviners and medicine women challenged systems of domination on multiple levels and drew on their cultural traditions to resist empire. It was their direct access to transformative power that these women had, that makes the spiritual political, as they act to lead, defend, and protect their peoples. Continue reading “Max Dashu: Feminist Scholar, Author, Historian, Artist by Jassy Watson”
Gaia by Jassy Watson
We have come to a point in the history of our civilisation where our relationship to nature seems to be more of one of destruction than of nurturance and respect. Humankind has steadily distanced itself from nature, our homes are filled with dead things, plastics, metals and chemicals. Everything around us is synthetic and manufactured in factories. Some people live their lives never touching nature – the soil, the plants, the grass. I have even met people who have a deep fear of being in nature. This distancing from nature is a reflection of distancing from our Divine Earth mother, not just as the outside world, but also as the energy of the archetypal Earth Mother within our own psyche.
Many cultures and traditions herald a Great mother, Mother Earth or Mother Nature but our connection to her, especially recently in the Western world, has been severed. In the Greek mysteries, Gaia or Gaea, the Divine Mother, was one of the primal elements who first emerged from cosmic chaos at the dawn of creation. All the later Pantheon of Gods and Goddesses are said to have descended from her initial union with Ouranos (the sky) and Pontos (the sea). Her geneology and her presence in Greek myth is full of complexities, conflicts and contrasts. Her worship in Ancient Greece did in fact decline, for her role was supplanted by the Gods of Olympus. Some scholars such as Harris and Platzner (Greek Mythology: Images & Insights, 2011), maintain that the decline in her worship and the demonizing and slaying of the snake or serpent – one of Gaia’s primordial symbols and a symbol of archetypal feminine energy, represents the death of the sacred feminine brought about by the insidious reign of a patriarchal pantheon of male gods.
Gaia is not only a figure in Greek myth however. In the 1960s, James Lovelock (2000) formulated the Gaia hypothesis. Lovelock states that all life, and all living things on this planet, are part of a single, all-encompassing global self-regulating system (he avoided the word consciousness) which he named Gaia. It is this global system of interconnection that makes our planet capable of supporting life. Further, he believes, if you live in balance with Mother Nature, health and healing are yours; violate Her laws and tip the balance, you pay the price in suffering and disease. Thus Gaia does not only represent the Ancient Greek Mother Earth and the physical planet, she also represents the forces of nature: laws and intelligences that function on every level of the cosmos. She is the very fabric of existence. Glenys Livingstone says it beautifully: “She is the eternal pulse, in which each one of us flows. Gaia is Earth, is Universe, is Ultimate Mystery, is you, is me – She is multivalent.” (from her Essay ‘Gaia as a Cosmic Name‘, 2014)
I recently taught two workshops for women ‘Painting Gaia – Exploring our Connection to the Earth’ based in my belief that disconnection and distancing from nature is an issue that needs attention. We need more than ever, at this time in history to re-connect deeply with the earth and with the feminine – regardless of faith of tradition. This re-connection that will aid in deep ways in the healing of the planet and of the self. If we are not connected, how can we care about the plight of the planet and all sentient beings? And if we are not caring, how can we take action to make a difference?
I am dedicated to taking action, raising awareness and making a difference in the ways that I know how. The intention for these workshops is to connect to Gaia through the process of visioning, painting and inquiry. Our Gaias were birthed from the cosmos and as we brought her into being we deepened our connection to Her, within and without. We also strengthened our commitment to healing the earth in a capacity that is manageable. Some, including myself, expressed feelings of being overwhelmed by all the atrocities we are flooded with on the news and in social media forums. In this context, our goal was to become more mindful of our actions and choices. The workshop also called us to a deep, primal remembering of Her eternal presence, from the cosmos to the core.
It was apparent in our discussions is that Gaia represents paradox – life/death, chaos/order, creation/destruction, beauty/ugliness, peace/fury. Connecting deeply with Gaia is ultimately about living in paradox; we must accept both life and death to truly know her nature. Marion Woodman (Dancing in the Flames, 1996) states that “paradox is the core of wisdom and the core of the goddess”. The balance of both must be held.
In Greek art Gaia was often represented “tamed,” presented as a beautiful voluptuous woman, half risen from the Earth as can be seen here:
Following are two of my recent paintings of Gaia in all her elemental power. I hope you feel and appreciate the difference!
Continue reading “Gaia by Jassy Watson”
What is the Nature of the Hope that Can Trump Despair in the New Year? by Carol P. Christ
“All hope abandon, ye who enter here.” These words posted on the gates of hell in Dante’s Inferno have an eerie resonance in our time.
Marie Cartier recently posted a blog on children and hunger with facts so devastating I could not finish reading it. Earlier in the month Jassy Watson wrote about her deep feelings of grief on hearing Luisah Teish’s “Prayer for Disappearing Species.” Grief, despair, and sadness about the injustices in our world can be overwhelming.
A friend of mine has recently fallen into a deep depression. When I try to talk her out of it, she repeats that they are threatening to cut down the last remaining old growth forest in her home state of Oregon and that she can no longer eat fish because radioactivity released in the Fukishima nuclear plant disaster is reaching the seacoast of Oregon.
When I tell my friend she should not dwell only on these things and that she must remember that the world is still a beautiful place, she responds, “I do not want to give up my feelings. I know I must find a way to acknowledge my sadness and make a place for joy, but I don’t know how to do it.”
I have been in the grip of deep grief about the planet myself, not once but many times. But this happens less frequently than it used to. When I think about the differences between how I once felt and how I feel now, I think the difference is that I have come to terms with and accepted the likelihood that “the world as we know it” is “going to hell in a handbasket”—as I put it.
I believe that the most likely conclusion of the choices human beings are making on planet earth today is massive environmental destruction leading to great suffering and probable extinction for human and many other species on planet earth. This is what I believe, but I also remind myself that I cannot know for sure. The earth and its species including human beings may have resources of resistance and survival, transformation and adaptation,that I do not know about and cannot imagine.
When I began to accept that the world I know and love (where spring follows winter, where birds sing, and where there is hope that injustice can be rectified) may not exist in the very near future, I had an astonishing insight. The death of the world I know and love will not mean the death of our planet or the end of the evolution of the universe.
Thinking about the disappearance of species and the death of human beings from starvation often feels too much to bear. None of this should be happening. Still, it can be strangely comforting to remind myself that the world I love is not the only possible world. There have been other worlds on this very planet—the time when the first cells were formed, the time of the dinosaurs, and many others. Evolution will continue on planet earth for several billion more years, and when our sun burns out, other suns will most likely still be shining in the universe.
This insight was followed by another. The reason for hope is not the conviction that we will be able to save the world we love. The reason for hope—and the reason to keep trying to save our world—is the deep knowing that it is right to try. Even if we cannot save the world we love for all time, we can savor the gift of life, and we can continue to try to create a world in which the gift of life is shared widely today and tomorrow.
I have written many times that we must learn to love a life that ends in death. I was speaking about accepting that each one of us will surely die. I do not fear death. Overcoming this fear has opened me to a greater and more clear-sighted love for life.
Can we learn to love life while accepting that the world we love may be dying? Can we continue to work to improve the conditions of life for individuals and species knowing that the world as we love it may not survive? Do we have any other choice?
For me the hope that can trump despair in our time begins in gratitude for a life that has been given to us, a life that has come down to us through the generations, and through billions of years of the evolutionary process on our planet.
Let us bless the Source of Life.
Let us bless the Source of Life, and the cycles of birth, death, and regeneration.
Let us turn back from despair.
Let us embrace the gift of life and share it with as many others as possible in the new year.
Carol P. Christ learned to be grateful for the gift of life in Crete on the Goddess Pilgrimage to Crete she leads through Ariadne Institute. It is not too early to sign up for the spring or fall pilgrimages for 2014. Carol can be heard on a WATER Teleconference. Carol’s books include She Who Changes and Rebirth of the Goddess and the widely-used anthologies Womanspirit Rising and Weaving the Visions. She wishes you great joy in the new year.
What Is Love? by Jassy Watson
I asked this question at the family dinner table, on facebook, and by e-mail. Many heartfelt responses were offered, all insightful. Some spoke of romantic love, sexual love (eros), self-love, spiritual love, the love a parent has for a child, unconditional love (agape), primal love, authentic love, universal love, divine love, the source of love, friendship (philia), love of nature, and love of a pet, while others considered the destructive nature of love. What was demonstrated by these conversations was that not only are the possibilities of love’s expressions endless, but there can ultimately be no right or wrong answer when it comes to the meaning of love. Our cultural, familial, religious and spiritual backgrounds all play a part in the way we think and feel about love.
I was raised in a secular, middle-class, two parent, two children, cat, and sometimes a dog kind of family. Despite the usual ups and downs, our family life was full of love. I remember having feelings of love as a child that were so incredibly overwhelming I would be brought to tears. I loved everything and everybody. Mum still reminds me that if I could have, I would have brought every elderly person along with every stray animal home to look after. After reading about the process view in Carol Christ’s book She Who Changes: Re-Imagining the Divine in the World, I see now that this love I felt was born out of feelings of deep sympathy.
Because we did not have a religious or spiritual background, I had no idea what divine love meant. My idea of the divine was the male, Christian, biblical God that our family rejected. It is said that Christian love is selfless and is best seen in actions such as compassion and kindness. This may be so. But selflessness, compassion and kindness are not limited to Christian values. They are human values. In his book The Art of Happiness, the Dalai Lama says that “love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive”. All religious, spiritual and philosophical traditions speak of the values of love. They say that love encompass compassion, kindness, selflessness, acceptance, gratitude, sympathy, sharing, grace, justice, charity, and liberation. They also speak of tension, wrath, discomfort, unkindness, loss, and judgement. For me, love is all these things and more.
Ancient myths address these values of love through tales of passion and devotion. Diane Wolkstein celebrates some of these myths in her book The First Love Stories. Each story expresses a distinct aspect of love. For instance: the tale of Isis and Osiris represents love that is stronger than the forces of nature, Innana and Dumuzi expresses the cyclical quality of love; Shiva and Sati reveals the eruption of passion and the taming of the mind; the Song of Songs celebrates love’s yearning; the story of Psyche and Eros portrays the forging of the self. All of these stories emphasize the sacred nature of love.
For me, having children awakened a love so very deep within. When I gazed into the eyes of my first born son at the tender age of 18, I was so overwhelmed by love I thought my heart would burst. I now have four children a husband and a loving extended family and friends who all teach me much about the true nature of love. They teach me above all else that love is patient, non-judgmental, and unconditional. It is through the growing awareness of my spiritual being and my journey with the Goddess that love has become something deeper than I ever thought possible. Love, for me has become a union with something higher than my individual self. My love extends beyond the family to include every living being on this planet and beyond. It is not just all about giving and receiving, but rather it is a state of being. It is personal yet universal and comes from deep within my sub-conscious. Love for me, not unlike the tales woven in ancient myth, is profoundly sacred.
Embodied with love I set out to create my next painting. Out of this portal of love:
Aphrodite, Goddess of love, pleasure and relationships, in all her glory was born. Continue reading “What Is Love? by Jassy Watson”
Miracles Of The Great Mother by Jassy Watson
I was brought up in a household where attitudes to God and church were quite negative. My Nanna, however, was deeply religious, and I can still remember sitting in her dining room as a very young child staring up in awe at a painting of ‘The Last Supper.’ I was completely mesmerised, there was something haunting about that painting that left a lifelong impression. Art became a passion very early on in life, and whenever I came into contact with images of a religious nature emotions stirred. I was spellbound by divine mystery. The most profound feelings were engendered when I met with images of Mother Mary and the infant Jesus. Continue reading “Miracles Of The Great Mother by Jassy Watson”
Inspiration by Jassy Watson
This “Mountain Mother” painting is an ode to women’s earth wisdom and is my prayer for reclaiming of that wisdom to heal the earth and all her beings.
When I am inspired to paint I can think of nothing else, the desire to put brush to canvas takes over every ounce of my being, and it is difficult to be present in everyday life. There are other times where I’ve wanted to create but inspiration was lacking: I would start a painting and have no desire to finish it. I would often get quite frustrated at myself. It’s only recently that I’ve had the realisation that down time is just as significant as the up time. Rather than get anxious about not creating a masterpiece, I have learnt to go with the flow, take pleasure in the time of rest, because I know it’s all part of the cycle. My inspiration always returns with abundance. Presently I am bursting at the seams with creativity, and I can’t find enough hours in the day to let all this inspired energy out. I am overcome with a sense of urgency I can’t explain. I am committed to paint and write with the intention that my personal message becomes part of the global message for change as our sacred feminine wisdom is being called forth. I am determined and full of courage to be part of the movement that brings about a shift in all aspects of life.
My present state of inspiration can be attributed to my recent Goddess pilgrimage to Crete with Carol Christ. I am sure that anybody who has attended such pilgrimages will attest that these experiences are life-changing. Travel alone is profound, but to share the experience in a circle of twenty amazing women is even more so. We sang, danced, trekked through the Cretan countryside, delved deep into caves; the womb of our great mother, climbed mountains and cleansed in the sea. We prayed and communed with the goddess daily, participating in rituals that were meaningful, un-contrived and safe. While I have always known that the goddess is everywhere, within and without–encountering her ancient past in a present day context is a feeling I’m not sure I can adequately describe with words, hence my desire to express some of these feelings through my art.