Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Walking with an archetype



Borrowing from famous paintings and found photographs... John Collier's "Lilith" in the top right. Central figure (repeating & altered) Edvard Munch's "Madonna. Bottom left, a statue of Kali.

I never know what I'm going for until I finish (which is like not knowing what I think until I write it down). Visual art is not an intellectual process for me. Other elements: the globe, a bare tree, a superimposed photograph of vines and tropical leaves. Blend well and add parts of a poem by the same title.

Only afterwards, do I think about the fact that the Munch's particular Madonna is the most Lilith-like image I could find - which makes sense when you consider patriarchial religions managed to restrain a powerful and sexual image of a female diety by converting it into the tamer and more manageable image of a virgin mother.

I associate the mythological Lilith with spirituality grounded and informed by the earth and natural cycles and she represents, also, the banishment of female power by the patriarchy. That banishment and subsequent disconnection, the ages-old rule of conquerers, is depleting both the human spirit and the earth we depend on for survival. It's a paradigm that has to change. And it is my personal feeling that the spirit represented by Lilith is awakening. Kali sits below on the left and Lilith, the most brightly lit figure, shines into the darkness.

And it was interesting to me to note that the two line quote in the entry below, "He said, he said"...and this piece both are indicators of what I listen to.

13 comments:

Teri said...

love this!

Darkmind said...

This is intriguing work. But I am confused. Kali the Demon, or Kali the goddess? I am sure you explained it, but your wording is confusing to me because given the meaning of your image, either one would work. To show Kali the Demon (who I'm sure you know is a conquerer and destroyer) is fading into the past(left), a more visible current madonna(center), and a shining lilith into the future(right). It would show this paradigm shift throughout time. However, if you meant Kali the goddess, it would be a triptych of feminine spiritual power blended into one image, implying a continuous presence over the earth despite patriarchal influence.

Darkmind said...

Oh, and I hope you don't think it chauvinist of me that I capitalized 'Demon' and not 'goddess' in my last comment. My bad! ;)

LJ said...

I've never thought of Kali's destructive aspect as demon-like but rather as one of her functions. The old goddesses tended to possess both light and dark aspects - which is more in line, I think, with the way the cycle of life works. (There is archealogical evidence, by the way, that the historic Lilith was a priestess and holy woman in the old religion. Patriarchal stories turned her into a demon when she would not be obedient or submit to Adam, it seems.)

I find it difficult not to view the Virgin as one-dimensional, "sanitized" version of the ancient Goddess.

The look of the globe behind and the bare, branchless tree is an image of not so "natural" disaster - the tree of life stripped bare as a result of forgetting how to respect and cooperate with natural cycles - as a result of losing the balance between intellect and our natural intuitive connection with life.

And Lilith (who lived in the tree of life, in myth)is a symbol of hope here, because she embodies a wisdom we once had about how to respect and cooperate with the natural world. Her symbols - the snake and the owl represent healing and wisdom.

Does that answer the question, D?

And no, I don't care what you capitalize. I'm more interested in the conversation than political correctness.

LJ said...

Teri. Thanks. Consider it a trade for the song?

PS-D...Continuous, I think. But with the one-dimensional, although central, fading.

jess said...

Gorgeous work, LJ, and interesting discussion...

LJ said...

Thanks Jesse and yeah. D. is a good discusser. (If it wasn't a word, I now deem it to be).

Darkmind said...

But there are two Kalis:

One is the female benevolent mother goddess in Hindu, who is said to be the originator of time, and will exist after the end of the universe, thus concepts like light, shadow, color, shape, good, evil, do not apply to her, thoughshe is often represented as black or dark purple. In your picture she appears to be black or purple. She has both creative and destructive powers and is worshiped positively despite her unparalleled destructive capabilities (the main reason I am a big fan of hers!). From your comment, she is obviously who you are refering to. And I guess I should have known, since I can see now that she is wearing a necklace made of heads. She is often depicted that way.

However, there is a male demon named Kali in the Hindu religion who is the negative personification of Vishnu and acts as the cause of destruction in this world. His children are Bhayanak(fear) and Mrityu(death), and his grandchildren are Naraka(hell) and Yatana(torture). He is supposed to be black or deep purple as well, which is why I was confused initially. And of course, thier names being the same didn't help either!

LJ said...

Learn something new every day, D. Yes, the first Kali, indeed. Which is, of course, why I didn't get the demon reference.

phlegmfatale said...

Wow, this is lovely, Lilith and Kali. The text AND the image.

LJ said...

Well you can't go wrong PF, if you throw enough goddesses in, I figure.

herhimnbryn said...

Oh lj, wisdom in words and image.

LJ said...

See H? Now don't go telling me that. I start thinking that and Clarity will show up at the door with coffee in a mug and put her damn feet all over my ego again.
I'm laughing. I'm glad you liked it the image. I can spend hours doing those.