Archive for art

Heritage, Spirituality and the Land

Posted in art, cerri lee, damh the bard, paganism, spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2012 by cerrilee

I am about to embark on two new pieces of art this month, one of which is for the Spirit of Albion film that will be coming out in May, which will be hopefully a groovy montage of God and Goddess faces (obviously the actors playing the said Gods and Goddesses in the film) along with appropriate symbolism. The other is  a little more complicated in idea as it is for the cover of a CD to be recorded in Australia by my partner Damh the Bard, specifically for a group of sponsor’s who have generously contributed to our next visit in May, all of this being organised by the amazing band members of  Spiral Dance.

The reason that the second piece will be more complicated is purely from my own point of view, it should in fact, be a simple piece considering it’s purpose (the majority of my friends will know that this is a pretty usual state of affairs with me though). Let me explain, the first time Damh and I went to Australia I was interested to see how Pagan people, with a relatively recent European heritage, worked with the land and how it shaped their spirituality. How different was the language of the land from Britain, Ireland or mainland Europe or any other continent who’s inhabitants moved there to find a different life for themselves? How did the Southern Hemisphere feel when working ritual? Seeing the Sun and Moon wax and wane across the sky in a mirrored fashion, from my point of view, was quite disconcerting and finding any sense of direction for me almost went away completely, generally I had quiet a good sense of direction.

One thing was very clear to me from that first and our subsequent visit was, that the land was undoubtedly in charge, without malice or agenda but definitely in charge. I know that seems an obvious thing to say, but coming from Britain where the land has practically no say in how it is dealt with, I felt the land in Australia has an enormous presence and it was both wonderful and awe inspiring. I wondered if that feeling could possibly have been a small inkling into how our ancient forebears felt about our lands before the ending of nomadic lives and the coming of farming in Europe.

So how then do you communicate with such an entity? The indigenous peoples have their bond by blood and bone, they are part of the land and it is part of them over many thousands of years, their stories, songs and artwork speak of their Dreamtime, their ancient and not so ancient ancestors, the shape of the land that sustained them and how it speaks to them.

But what of the Pagan people of European heritage I have met on the two journeys so far?  Those Pagan people (I can not speak about non-pagans as I didn’t really meet many) who were born there or have recently moved there feel passionate and connected with the land and all it is, they fight to protect its uniqueness from incoming plants and animals that upset the natural balance and they honour the indigenous peoples and their territories at every Pagan gathering. But they still have a wealth of heritage of their own blood and bone built over thousands of years that needs to be honoured also. How do you blend the two seemingly opposite lands, the stellar mirroring and cultures?

In truth they blend quiet successfully and in many diverse ways, for instance working with an ancient idea of tree lore such as the Ogham and finding the correlation within the local trees takes time but can be easily be done and is being done. The animals seem very alien at first and finding any similarity for a  newcomer like myself foxed me. But then I stopped and watch the kangaroos bouncing across the bush, shy and retiring if we got too close and they strongly reminded me of deer in the woodland. Finding a way to relate the European Pagan wheel of the year also can seem at odds with the Southern hemisphere, but again on closer inspection it seemed to me that the effects of  Summer in Australia are pretty similar to winter in Britain. The land, grasses and greens die down in the heat and become brown and crisp looking, whereas in the Winter everything picks up, it is the mirror effect again and maybe that is the root I have need to take with this piece of artwork. It is a case of learning to look in the mirror and see the true reflections.

The magic and wonder of a mirror image and the echos of history that are reflected back through the glass of time……

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A new cycle begins

Posted in art, pagan, paganism, spirituality with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2011 by cerrilee

So for the northern hemisphere the Sun has begun the waxing cycle and we have celebrated the event in Britain our amazingly multi cultural island, with the many and varied religious rituals and rites associated with this time of year, not to mention enough food and drink to make Bacchus blush. Now we move toward the calendrical new year with another long held tradition, the ritual writing of our “new years resolutions”. How many of us have made list of these over the years? Some we have kept and many broken, a thousand and one good intentions and commitments to ourselves both large and small.

As with many other people my mind has been working that way for the past few weeks, to compound this energetic there has been much build up toward the next Winter Solstice 2012 as a seminal point of change for the world, this is of course based on the ending of the Mayan calendar at that point. Though much of the hype around this event has been exaggerated and embellished with all kinds of dreadful omens and prophesies, it was/is, never the less considered a major point in our celestial cycle and possibly even our spiritual/emotional cycle also. With all that weighty stuff hanging in the air and ready to unfold throughout the year, it feels particularly poignant to think of life, love and spiritual reviews and what we might all do if this coming year really does turn out to be a year of immense import, are we prepared for anything?

For me the repeated resolutions have to be to a deeper commitment to my personal spiritual practise such as meditation, as it is one of the hardest things to commit to myself to on a daily basis, it is always easier to do the practical things first and things for others before making that commitment to oneself. So my “new years resolution” list is something like this….meditate more often, take time to read, keep a diary and do a piece of art every day, oh and of course keep an eye on the news for impending epic doom.

But seriously I do truly feel we could be poised on the crest of a powerful wave that has the potential to take us all on a fast ride into a brighter future. Consciousness is slowly but surely being raised on many levels with education and information available through so many of our media systems.  We have seen over this past year that big businesses, governments and other money driven enterprises have been harried and pushed to change the way they do things as people across the globe have started to jump down their throats and bring them to task. Technology has the power to work for the good of the environment and the people as it becomes more accessible to all, it is no longer a domain of a privileged elite. It is shrinking the world, breaking down barriers, misconceptions and bringing a global consciousness into being, as things like mobile phones become an eye into, and a communication out of, previously closed worlds.

In my idealistic vision of a brave new world we will find that no matter what colour, creed or religion we have more in common than we have differences, and if we can just let go of the outmoded idea that we should all follow one credo, then we can build something that brings people together without falling into the trap of needing everyone to be the same. The wave of energy beneath us requires us to keep our emotional, intellectual, spiritual balance, and focus in order to read the signs and make the best use of it. If we can and do this together we can ride this wave safely right onto the shores of a brave new world.

Idealistic I know, but it gets me up in the morning and with these grand visions in my head it may help me focus on the small things I can change everyday….like not having another chocolate out that box and having an apple instead, drawing it before I eat it and meditating on the good it is doing me!

Going back to source

Posted in art, cerri lee, clothing, damh the bard, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, pagan music, paganism, sculpture, shamanism, spirituality, Uncategorized, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 6, 2011 by cerrilee

Recently I have been pondering the magic of Art and it’s ancient mystical roots.

I have recently finished a piece of work called “Cernunnos” that for me speaks of the origins of the pagan Horned God and then, a couple of weeks ago, I watched a curious film called “The Cave of Dreams”  made in a recently discovered cave in France where cave paintings have been found, these paintings are believed to be the oldest found so far at around 35,000 years old.

I have been driven for a long time by the need to understand what Art is at it’s source and I have long wondered if it still can have the same mysticism and power in a culture that is swamped by banal and fatuous images.

Almost every culture has in some way or another over the millennia created animal-headed men that have come to represent Gods, they are very familiar to all whether you be Pagan, Christian or any other religion, and they seem to me to be both a natural and magical way to interact with those forces of nature. They are powerful images that conjure a primal response within us and for me that is the whole point of art, to illicit an emotional response. Even within modern Paganism today many find ourselves drawn to this primal image and connection.

In some of the earliest images it is hard to see whether it is a man wearing an animal mask or an animal behaving like a man, the boundary is blurred and I feel that was the point. In order to catch your pray you must first understand it, maybe even become it. So are the beautiful cave paintings art or magic or both?  Were the shamans of the tribes, as walkers between this world and the world of spirit, the ones who painted these images, or was every hunter a shaman/artist? Did each hunter believe that to capture the animal in the flesh he must first capture it’s spirit?  In the dark recesses of the ancient caves by flickering fire light and with the most basic of ingredients gleaned from the earth, did they sing, dance and drum to the spirits of the animals before the hunt? Did they bind the animals and hold their spirits to give any advantage to the hunters against the enormity of mammoth, lion or rhino. Maybe the shaman stayed in the cave until the hunt was done, holding that energy for the tribe doing battle with magical spear and arrow?

Then there are the many small sculptures of naked women with large breasts often called the “Venus” of where ever they were found, older still than the cave paintings in many cases, but one was found as a painting in the French cave with animals woven into the design to look like parts of her body. Did they call to a spirit of creation to aid them in the hunt also?

All of these dreams and notions keep me searching for ways to express the ineffable through art, inspired by the magic of the ancestors.

Finding “The Goddess”

Posted in art, cerri lee, damh the bard, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, paganism, sculpture, shamanism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 1, 2008 by cerrilee

webrock.jpgWhat a journey this life is!

Lately I have found myself on a journey of self discovery and healing that is moving me to my very foundations, the universe seems to be conspiring to clear all of the detritus that has built up in my Psyche over the years, and one of the most profound parts of that journey has been a recent visit to Cyprus, the Homeland of my biological Father.

To set the scene a little I feel I need to give a snip of history to put the story into how important this is for me. I first found out about my biological Father when I was seventeen, some six years after the man I had believed to be my Father had died in a car crash. Not to make too long a story of it, I was a little surprised, not to mention curious! However, my Mother made it clear from what little she said, I would never be able to meet or find my biological father and, the Gods forbid I should discuss this with anyone, the last bit I think you can tell, I flagrantly ignored!

What she neglected to tell me at that point (it took another thirteen years for this bit) was, that I also had another Sister, a full sister from the elusive Cypriot! She is two years younger than me and had been adopted at birth, she had tracked us down as soon as she could and spent a year trying to pursued Mother to let her meet the rest of the family. I am happy to say that when Mother finally relented and allowed us to meet, there was an instant connection, it was as if my Sister had always been part of my life, and we have continued to be close.

Anyhow now you have a bit of history to put things in context, back to the point of the blog!

There is a place on Cyprus called “Aphrodite’s Sanctuary” and on the second day of our trip Damh and I decided to visit this place. We had been told of a stone there that had an amazing energy, so on what turned out to be the only bright sunny day we had in the week we were there we set of to find it. Having hired a little 4×4 and bought a map we set off. It was easy to find, we pulled into what seemed at first to be a slightly ramshackle site at the back of someones yard. We got out of the car and walked in to the newer looking part of the site, paid the grumpy lady behind the counter the few euros and went in.

The air was full of perfume and bird song as we walked through onto the site, the wind blew up the hillside off of the sea a mile or so away. We walked around the upper area discovering mosaics, old pathways, pomegranate trees and bits of the buildings that had lain around for centuries. We were virtually the only visitors there and we took our time and some photos, just soaking up the atmosphere which was pure peace. We then spent ages looking at the information boards full with information not only about the site but also the cult of Aphrodite. In those few relatively short paragraphs I learned so much and it awoke something deep within me.

I really had no idea quite how little I knew about this Goddess, to say that she has been generally underestimated is an understatement of epic proportion. This Goddess was know simply as “The Deity” for a long time and the age of the site is least Bronze Age possibly earlier, being used and rebuilt over thousands of years. She was and is an Earth Mother, the energy of her Sanctuary is beauty, peace and joy, and we hadn’t even found the stone yet!

We moved on from the info boards and on through a gateway set with simple murals made from small stones, into a courtyard with four or five large, old and beautiful trees, all of the buildings were newly restored medieval buildings, clean and elegant. We began to explore the open doorways that beckoned. Damh went into one whilst I explored another, we met in the courtyard and as I looked at his face I knew something had affected him, he said, “I will give you a minute alone in there”. Ok! I thought and walked up the cobbled ramp to a large doorway.

As I walked through the doorway from bright sunlight into the relative gloom of the vaulted room, a wave of energy washed over me that was so powerful that it took my breath away. I stood just inside the room and caught my breath and as my eyes adjusted, I saw “The Stone” sitting on a plinth placed in the center of the Eastern wall. The presence of this black piece of rock that was about three feet tall, almost conical but slightly flattened on three sides, was incredible. Either side of the rock there was information about it and how it was housed and the kinds of offerings that had been made to the embodiment of the “Deity” long before any anthropomorphic image, she was the very Earth itself and there was nothing to tell you that you could not touch “The Deity”, and so I did. I touched her smooth blackness and felt an acceptance the like I have never felt before, like all those people in ages passed, my ancestors, I touched the Goddess and she touched me.

In that place I felt the fragmented parts of my heart and soul begin to find a healing, maybe for the first time in my life, it was hard to leave that place and I will go back again, but it was getting on in the day and we had to leave at some point, so we traveled down the road a little further to the place that it is said to be the birth place of the Goddess, again it was a rock, or rather a large group on a mystical shore. There is a tunnel built to take you safely onto the beach under the busy road, it is long, thin and dark and feels like a birthing canal, and as you emerge blinking into the light the Rock formations are right in front of you, again breath taking! And to our surprise on all of the bushes along the beach there were tied white rags, offerings to the Goddess, just as at many sites have over here in Britain!

The Goddess is alive and even though she now has a supermarket, golf course and other modern day fripperies named after her, her power is still with us undiminished!

Finally I have made my Immrama to Cyprus after more than half a life time of being curious about the culture of my Father and physical aspects of being multicultural, in the genetic sense (there is another whole other story about the Irish part of my heritage), add to that a great deal of spiritual work on “The Ancestors”, personal ancestry, and connection to “The Land” with all of its cycles, myths and legends.

Many people on a spiritual path make connections with various Gods and Goddesses and I am no different, and needless to say that however you think about those connections, either because I wished to or because She called to me, I have felt a strong calling from Aphrodite. Many aspects of my life I have related to this Goddess and yet always found difficulty in relating to her stories, and now I know why. I have started to live as a whole person in a way that could not have been done without this soul quest, and I thank “The Deity” for her gift with all my heart.

blessed be

Cerri 🙂

The Cauldron is Born!

Posted in art, cauldron born, cerri lee, damh the bard, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, pagan music, paganism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2008 by cerrilee

p67web.jpgI have been a bit busy over the past few weeks trying to do my partner Damh the Bard’s new album cover, the album is called The Cauldron Born. I always start with such big ideas about the concepts for the covers and find that my technical abilities just do not come up to par when putting them into a Photoshop environment, thank the Gods for having a creative teenage daughter who is much more able on these fronts!

The process is an interesting one as the album has to be practically finished to get a real sense of how it is going to sound before you can have any idea of how the artwork should complement the energy, and then everything very quickly becomes time pressured in order to get everything out to press.

The whole album takes months to work on whilst having to fit it in with working, and the whole house takes on a air of creative tension. Damh works all hours on writing and recording in the front bedroom of our small bungalow, every now and then he will come out of the room either utterly frustrated or bouncing with child like glee depending on what he has achieved in the past couple of hours, at which point I become a sound board as we then go through various versions of the track to listen to the levels of each instrument and it is adjusted, deleted or sometimes new things added.

At these points I have to give an “honest” opinion, but also be the epitome of tack and diplomacy, neither of these two qualities are natural parts of my nature, I tend to be very straight forward with my opinion if I like something I am comfortable to say so, but equally if something does not work for me I will not say anything just to please, I really think that that is unfair and I would not be happy if someone was not honest with me. For me all opinion is subjective and personal and therefore should be taken with grace (if it is given with grace), whilst being comfortable enough to say thank you for your opinion I will consider the points you make, but still have the confidence to do what you feel is right for you.

And so it goes on over the months whilst I try to keep the noise to a minimum in the rest of the house, with phones ringing, people knocking at the door and the dog barking her head off at any little noise, it takes over your life and no mistake. So when it comes to the last stage which is the cover, Damh is champing at the bit to get the package out the door and to press – no pressure there then! 🙂

All of the fabulous and grand ideas of working with photos and line drawing which I started with at the beginning of the process are binned! There simply are not enough hours in the day to take the photos and work out how to turn them into the images in my head, it would take weeks and more dry weather than we have had for ages to get out into the woods and take the basic shots. Then I would have to find someone to teach me everything I need to know about Photoshop to transform them, and then do the extra artwork to overlay, so I go for simplicity.

The album has a very clean and clear feel to it and a good number of the song lyrics have strong feelings to them, so I felt that simple line drawings white on black dotted through the booklet would keep with that theme. So having worked out a simple image that hopefully best illustrated the feel of each song I set to work on drawing the images. I have to say that I work best with pencil sketching or clay so these images made me work outside of my comfort zone and I struggled with the idea that less is more, but in the end I hope I managed something acceptable.

I only used one photograph in the end and that was of a cauldron from a website (with the permission of the website owners of course www.jelldragon.com), and I have to say that with the technical help of my daughter Rosalie I have learned so much from this process and will be much more confident with the next one!

Art and Magic

Posted in art, cerri lee, clothing, druid, druidism, druidry, pagan, paganism, sculpture, shamanism, spirituality, wicca, witchcraft with tags , , , , , , , on January 15, 2008 by cerrilee

It seems that the universe is working some kind of magic for me at the moment! So many things are coming into my awareness that are teaching me some very strong lessons about my art and the way I think about it. Not the least of which was a great discussion at the moot last night on Symbolism.
For so many years I have not valued my attempts to express myself and seen nothing but imperfection in the things I produced, always comparing myself to others and never matching up in my eyes. But with a fairly new perspective, I think that was because I was always trying to control the piece and never let it speak for itself.

Art, to me, is communication of ideas and feelings, so the fundamental drive of an artist from my point of view, is to convey that feeling or inspiration that often hits you from both inside and out. It hits your head, your heart and your gut all at once and you feel compelled to share that passion with anyone who will listen, you want them to feel the same fire in their heads. But every time you put pen/pencil to paper or model a lump of clay the language used can often feel limited, not up to the task of conveying all that verve and gusto. To me in the past it seemed in order to reach out and communicate the things that had moved me so strongly, I had to find a symbolic language that anyone could access.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that everyone has their own internal symbolic language built from their own natures and their cultural nurturing. So I spent my time thinking and thinking and thinking and rarely doing anything for fear that I would not be able to speak clearly enough or in a language that people would want to hear!

Blimey! I tell you that is not a fun place to be and all self inflicted! If I want to I can blame my insecurities on my unsupportive parent, who never even passed a comment on anything I did except possibly to point out a number of flaws, but I think that is too easy a get out. I have been a grown up for quite a long time now and had three great kids of my own, all of which have grown up as very creative individuals and I managed to encourage them, why couldn’t I do the same for myself?

I think that I have finally found my own plain and simple truth, my journey has been to find the courage to not control the reaction from others by trying to second guess what anyone might want to hear and manipulate the image to that end, but to put stuff from my heart out there and hope that something I produce may speak personally to another individual. In truth my ego hopes others will see the depth of feeling I have for my spirituality, the natural world and mythical realms through the mediums I choose.

For me the Magic of Art is in the doing of it. In the process of exploration and experimentation you learn your own inner language and the more you use it the greater your vocabulary becomes and so the more confident you are to speak it out loud.