Archive for magic

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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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.

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.