Erzulie is the Haitian Goddess of Love whose roots go back to West Africa. She is beauty, sweetness, love and sensuality personified and is renowned for her generosity. The arts, especially dance, are her domain. Rivers, streams, lakes and waterfalls are hers and she can cure womb-related problems with her cool waters. The fan that she is holding is from Osogbo, Nigeria and belongs to a priestess of Oshun who is the mediator between the divine or natural world and the world of people, the cross in the circle indicating the meeting of the two worlds.
|29"x24" copyright 1997 oil on linen|
Eve's title, "Mother of All Living", was a translation of "Jaganmata", Kali Ma's (Goddess of decay, death and rejuvenation) title in India. Originally it was believed that Eve created all beings out of clay, some believing that she had the help of her serpent. The flying malachite kingfisher symbolizes the halcyon days of the Goddess before patriarchy. Bird-headed snake Goddess from pre-dynastic Egypt, 4000 BCE.
|35"x20" copyright 1996 oil on linen|
Flora was the Roman Goddess of flowers and all plants. She symbolized the flowering of nature and was celebrated during the Floralia, which started on April 27th and lasted six days, by women honoring their bodies in their natural state. She was considered the clandestine patron of Rome since, without her, the city would not grow and thrive. She is wearing an earring from Pompeii, 1st century BCE-1st century CE; a Roman ring from the 3rd century CE; and a Roman bracelet from the 1st-2nd century CE. In the background is a Roman statue of an earth Goddess.
|34"x20" copyright 1998 oil on linen|
According to Hesiod, Gaia was born from Chaos and gave birth to all aspects of Nature. As the Earth herself, Gaia was regarded by the ancients as the mother of all and, as such, was the first "Pythia" or Oracle at Delphi. Her daughter Themis was known as the Queen of the Oracles and thus began the long line of priestesses, or Pythias, at Delphi, lasting more than 1000 years. The priestess, Oracle of Earth, was called Pythia after Pytho, the serpent who guarded the sacred divinatory Castalian Spring. It was said that she sat on a tripod in the cave, inhaling fumes from a fissure in the earth, or from burning laurel leaves and, falling into a trance, delivered her oracle. The serpent or dragon symbolized the chthonic energy of the earth, hence the term "dragon lines" denoting the lay lines or earth currents between places of high sacred energy, Delphi being the geographical center, omphalos or navel of Earth. The omphalos is said to be the tomb of Pytho who was slain by Apollo. The symbolism in the myths of Apollo slaying Pytho, or St. George slaying the dragon, reflects patriarchal attempts to conquer the energies of Earth. Image of Gaia emerging from the fissure from the Pergamon Altar, Greek, 165-156 BCE, found in present day Bergama, Turkey; round image on the right from an Ancient Greek vase painting of a consultation with a Pythia; necklace with beechnut pendants, Thessaloniki, 300 BCE.
The crone aspect of the triple Goddess (maiden, mother, crone), Hecate was worshipped during the dark phase of the moon where 3 roads crossed. As the Greek Goddess of death and regeneration, her powerful magic was widely respected. Her worship could have originated in Egypt as Heqit and possibly further back to Nubia and northern Sudan. She possessed knowledge of the Heka - the magical power of words. The frog (as a symbol of transformation) and the dog were her totems. Behind her, left, is part of a frieze from the Pergamon Altar: Hecate in her triple aspect in the battle between the Olympian gods and the Titans, 165-156 BCE, Greek, found in present day Bergama, Turkey; triple Goddess statue is Roman, 1st century; earrings from Madytos, Greece, 4th century BCE; necklace from Kourion, Greece, 4th century BCE.
|29"x23" copyright 1998 oil on linen|
Originally the chief divinity in pre-patriarchal Greece, she ruled the earth and all beings, was worshipped as a triple Goddess (youth, mother, crone), and was highly celebrated in the Heraea, which were games that pre-dated the Olympics. Since Hera's worship was so well established that she could not be overthrown, when the patriarchal tribes invaded Greece, their sky god Zeus became her philandering husband. The legendary rapes Zeus committed against many Goddesses are a reflection of the acts of the invading tribes against the Goddess worshipping women of Greece. It was believed that Hera scattered the "eyes" on the tail of the peacock, symbolizing the starry firmament. The image on top of the staff is from a Syrian relief found at the Sanctuary of Hera at Samos, pre-5th century BCE; relief on the throne from a Cycladic relief of Hera as the Great Goddess, 680-70 BCE, Thebes; statue of Hera from Tarentum, Italy, 460 BCE.
|30"x24" copyright 1997 oil on linen|
Ancient Babylonian Goddess of love, fertility and (later) war who was widely worshipped in the Mesopotamian region under various names (Inanna in Sumer) for over 5000 years. Her many titles included Queen of Heaven and Queen of Earth. Her crown, tiers of lunar horns encircling a cone, symbolized the sacred mountain and her ties to earth, heaven and the underworld. Among her many symbols were the crescent moon and the 8-pointed star (Venus). When her consort, Tammuz, was taken into the underworld, she retrieved him, leaving a garment or piece of jewelry at each of the seven gates (waning moon). When she brought him back, the cycle of life was renewed (waxing moon). She is standing in front of the Gates of Ishtar, Babylonian, 6th century BCE; round image in her right hand is of Ishtar on a lion, 9th - 7th century BCE; statue of Ishtar in her left hand, 1000 BCE; bracelet and earrings, 4th century BCE; Babylonian necklace, 15th century BCE.
|29"x24" copyright 1998 oil on linen|
Ancient Egyptian Goddess of healing and magic. She lived with her brother/husband Osiris until he was killed by his brother Set. Isis found his body in Phoenicia in a tamarisk tree and returned it to Egypt for a proper burial. After Set's second attempt to dispose of the body, Isis brought Osiris back to life and later conceived a child with him, Horus. Isis created a snake that bit Ra, highest of the gods. He asked her to heal him but she claimed that she could not until he whispered his secret name to her; he did and, in curing him, she gained eternal power over him. She is holding a naos sistrum which, when rattled, enabled Isis to give out divine blessings, for the Goddess resides in the sound. She is wearing a sun disk between cow horns, which represent the moon and its cycles, thereby uniting the permanent and the transient. Relief from the Temple at Abydos, c. 13th century BCE..
|26"x26" copyright 1996 oil on linen|
Mayan Goddess of the moon, healing , childbirth and weaving. The sun was her lover but became jealous of the morning star, who was his brother, accusing them of being lovers. He threw Ixchel out of the heavens and she took refuge with the vulture divinity. The sun followed her and lured her back home once more, only to become jealous again. Ixchel, tired of the sun's actions, left him and wandered through the heavens as she wished, becoming invisible if the sun came near her. The rabbit, according to Mayan legend, is a scribe who keeps the lunar calendar. The image in the moon is from a figurine from Jaina Island off the Yucatan, 800 CE.
|36" diameter copyright 1995 oil on linen|
Chinese Goddess of Compassion whose name means "she who hears the weeping world". Kuan-Yin was willing to keep her human form even after reaching enlightenment because of her deep concern for human life. She never turned away from anyone's cries, no matter how often she was asked for mercy and wisdom. The lotus sceptre in her right hand contains the nectar of wisdom. The figure behind her is from Asia, 11th - early 12th century CE. Kuan-Yin is shown with the panda, an endangered species close to extinction unless the Goddess of Compassion intervenes.
|26"x26" copyright 1996 oil on linen|
| KUAN-YIN: GODDESS OF COMPASSION|
Kuan-Yin was the Chinese Goddess of compassion, also known as "She who hears the weeping world". After attaining enlightenment, she decided to remain in her human form until all earth's inhabitants gained enlightenment as well. Her followers exercised compassion toward all beings, never eating the flesh of any creature, and lived completely non-violent lives. She was often portrayed holding a willow branch accompanied by Lung, the celestial dragon. Lung is a beneficent creature, bringing rain for the crops in the spring. Some say that the reason the moon changes phases is because Lung slowly swallows the moon and then slowly releases it. It is a Buddhist belief that water sprinkled with a willow branch can bring purifying energy. Kuan-Yin is holding a Kuang, which is a ritual wine vessel, from China, Shang Dynasty (Anyang Period), c. 13th-11th century BCE. The statue of Kuan-Yin on the branch is from early 8th century China, T'ang Dynasty. The dragon design on her necklace is from a Chinese disk, E. Zhou Dynasty, 4th-3rd century BCE.
|30"x24" copyright 1999 oil on linen|
Hindu Goddess from India who brings fame, prosperity, abundance and good fortune to her worshipers. She is associated with the lotus, which symbolizes fruitfulness, purity and attainment of higher spiritual levels (Padma-Lakshmi). She is often portrayed accompanied by elephants showering her with water (Gaja Lakshmi), referring to the belief that elephants are related to the clouds who are their cousins. It was said that the first elephants had wings and could fly among the clouds. When referred to as Sri-Lakshmi, her numerous capabilities, power, beauty, and glory are emphasized. The image of Padma-Lakshmi carved in the stone tablet is from the north gate of the Great Stupa at Sanchi, India, c. 100 CE. She wears 3 necklaces from Mohenjo-daro, c. 2600-1900 BCE; her earring is from Harappa, c. 2600-1900 BCE; she holds a terracotta stone jar from Chanhudaro, c. 2600-2000 BCE, Pakistan.
|30"x24" copyright 1999 oil on linen|
| LILIT H|
Originally the Sumero-Babylonian Goddess Belit-Ili, Lilith was Adam's first wife who refused to be submissive to him, according to ancient Hebrew myth. She stole power from Yahweh, grew wings and flew to the Red Sea where she remained. This myth reflects the attempts of the patriarchal nomadic invaders to subjugate the agricultural people of the Great Goddess religions. She sits in front of the Burney Plaque, an ancient representation of herself from Sumer, 2000 BCE.
|40" diameter copyright 1994 oil on linen|