I have always loved a good story, fable, legend or myth. This exhibition delves into the stuff of dream, of inspiration . . . and explores the commonality of the stories that emerge in all cultures, showing that perhaps we do have a shared consciousness. It is a personal journey or ‘visual tour through my imagination’ as I share my interpretations of the collective mythologies that have inspired me through the years.
From the legends, fables, and lore, to exploring the nature of that little movement you catch, out of the corner of your eye, I observe and document my findings through illustrations, paint, sculpture and more.
The works presented for Myriad-Myth Conceptions will be the distilled elements of this process
. . . and my way to share the creative journey.
MARICI, GODDESS OF THE HEAVENS
Few cultures manage to not break their mythological archetypes over the centuries, turning them into stereotypes. It seems to go with being an Empire, in that their mythology devolved as their star faded. Even those cultures with an oral tradition ran into issues, as each story-teller would make subtle, unconscious changes to the script, by adding nuances that were unique to them. Mythology also suffered as science flourished. The more knowledge was acquired, the more the old belief systems were relegated to the growing pile of cast off superstitions. To keep these tales in the consciousness, the storytellers had to adapt them, and make them either relevant, musical or entertaining fiction . . .
I’ve found that the mythologies, or archetypes that have survived with the least amount of damage are the ones that fall into the category of aether, or soul. They are the ones that transcend the mortal condition, or inspire others to seek enlightenment through personal action. They remain in the consciousness as a higher ideal, and often as part of a Religion. Eastern philosophies are a good source of examples of this phenomena. The goddess I’ve chosen, Marici begins as a protector, a patron of warriors, and through the ages manages to embody correctly placed Yin – serving to inspire the Yang (expressive) through passion. She inspired those that followed her to seek their greater selves, and embodied a higher, yet achievable ideal. Even in the latter years she maintained her receptivity, and was viewed as a goddess of wealth and prosperity.
Traditionally, she is portrayed as:
As a beautiful woman on an open lotus, the lotus itself sometimes perched on the back of seven sows.
As a ferocious wrathful deity perched on the back of a boar.
Riding a fiery chariot pulled by seven savage boars or sows.
As a multi-armed woman with a different weapon in each hand standing or sitting on the back of a boar.
She has been depicted with one, three, five or six faces and two, six, eight, ten or twelve arms; three eyes; in her many-faced manifestations one of her faces is that of a sow.
“Marici is an important deity in the Shingon and Tendai schools, Marici was adopted by the Bujin or Samurai in the 8th century CE as a protector and patron. While devotions to Marici predate Zen, they appear to be geared towards a similar meditative mode in order to enable the warrior to achieve a more heightened spiritual level. He lost interest in the issues of victory or defeat (or life and death), thus transcending to level where he became so empowered that he was freed from his own grasp on mortality. The end result was that he became a better warrior. The worship of Marici was to provide a way to achieve selflessness and compassion through Buddhist training by incorporating a passion for the mastery of the self. Samurai would invoke Marici at sunrise to achieve victory. Since Marici means “light” or mirage, she was invoked to escape the notice of one’s enemies.
She was also later worshipped in the Edo period as a goddess of wealth and prosperity by the merchant class, alongside Daikoku-ten (大黒天) and Benzaiten (弁財天) as part of a trio of “three deities” (santen 三天).” ~ Thank you Wiki.
There are many male archetypes to be found in mythology; the warriors, magicians, leaders, all-fathers, young, and the old are all represented in abundance. It was a tough choice, but I went with the Cernunnos / Pan / the Green Man in the end. Much like my choice of goddess, his mythology has progressed to modern times, with the core of who he was, intact.
“Cernunnos is a horned god found in Celtic mythology. He is connected with male animals, particularly the stag in rut, and this has led him to be associated with fertility and vegetation. Depictions of Cernunnos are found in many parts of the British Isles and Western Europe. He is often portrayed with a beard and wild, shaggy hair — he is, after all, the lord of the forest.
With his mighty antlers, Cernunnos is a protector of the forest and master of the hunt. He is a god of vegetation and trees in his aspect as the Green Man, and a god of lust and fertility when connected with Pan, the Greek satyr. In some traditions, he is seen as a god of death and dying, and takes time to comfort the dead by singing to them on their way to the spirit world.” ~ paganwiccan.about.com
Traditionally, all three are depicted with horns or antlers, but this fellow said ‘no’ as I was painting him.
The amount of lore about faeries is overwhelming. When you look into it, it’s evident that there are fey creatures in every mythology on the planet. They’re a universal element that unites everyone’s stories, and a way of sharing tales with those who are new to us. They’re a common link even when they have different names, we recognize them on a primal level. From the creatures that live under your bed as a child, to those that sour milk, or steal scissors when you need them, they still haunt the periphery of our reality . . . taunting us, seeing if we’ll pay attention. The settings change, but the mischief remains the same. Faerie mythology has remained constant. They universally like to tease, though some are vengeful if you choose to respond in kind. Some are depicted as dangerous, while some are helpful and benevolent. Even when they appear similar to us in size and shape, they carry with them that intangible quality that prevents them from being human.
Pixie Moons, Wood Nymph, Faerie Etiquette, Tree of Wishes, Elven Love Letter and the Faerie Stone are all pieces that were inspired from Western European folklore and my imagination. Like Stone Dragon Hatchling, Wood Nymph is an older piece, and not for sale. I’ve been working on her in bits and pieces since the 90s, and she’s still not complete. She’s representing the dryads, nymphs, sylphs, and mermaids in this show.
The Faerie Stone requires an explanation, as it’s not a commonly known piece of lore. If you look through a natural hole in a rock (water worn), it is believed that any illusion or deception will become obvious, and that hidden will become seen. The centre hole is actually big enough to look through, I’ve tested it myself.
The Talking Stick is something that appears in both African and West Coast Aboriginal lore.
“The talking stick, also called a speaker’s staff, is an instrument of aboriginal democracy used by many tribes, especially those of indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast of North America. The talking stick may be passed around a group or used only by leaders as a symbol of their authority and right to speak in public.
In a tribal council circle, a talking stick is passed around from member to member allowing only the person holding the stick to speak. This enables all those present at a council meeting to be heard, especially those who may be shy; consensus can force the stick to move along to assure that the “long winded” don’t dominate the discussion; and the person holding the stick may allow others to interject. Talking sticks have high ceremonial and spiritual value, and have proved to be exceedingly useful during current implementations.” ~ Wiki
The piece I have included here was carved by nature herself, and had a seeming ‘magical’ quality to it.
ON MYTHOLOGICAL CREATURES
Unicorns, Wyverns, Pegasus, Hydra, Kirin, and the Eastern and Western Dragons are just a few of the creatures that find themselves in our consciousness, through epic stories from the past and present. Given that dragons are my favourite mythological creature, my show seems to under represent this love. I’m not sure how it happened, but I managed to not produce a single dragon piece for this event. With that said, I have many in my personal collection, and I’ve chosen the oldest of them to represent its kind. Stone Dragon Hatchling is not for sale, it was created while I was still in high school, and has survived every move I’ve made . . . for the most part. The tips of its ears, and the remnants of its wings are at home, in a dish, waiting for me to glue to them back on. Phoenix – From the Ashes, is a stylized firebird. The death-rebirth cycle is a common story in many mythologies, including the modern Harry Potter stories. It is another myth that has not changed form in the telling.
To make up for this oversight, and by way of apologizing to dragon-kind, I will insure I create some appropriate dragonish works, and list them for sale on my website.
ELEMENTALS & THEIR PLACE IN MYTHOLOGY
We’re a curious species, forever seeking the meaning of what we encounter. The art of story-telling has existed as long as there has been a means to communicate, someone to listen, and of course something to explain. The concept of the elements or elemental beings, is woven throughout our collective mythologies. Our stories were a way to explain the unknown, demonstrate concepts, teach history and lore, as well as a way of uniting the tribe by a ritual sharing of consciousness.
The Greeks were the ones that proposed the existence of five basic forms. Of these, four were physical ~ fire, air, water and earth ~ Based on this theory, the entire world was composed of these elements. Alchemists eventually devised four triangular symbols to represent these elements. The fifth element, which goes by a variety of names, is more intangible than the four physical elements. Some simply call it Spirit, but it has also been referred to as ‘Aether’. In Latin, ‘Quintessence’ means fifth element. There were multiple stories of creatures, weapons, enchanted items, mystic locations and heroes that were said to embody these qualities, but I’ve always found it interesting that no one actually assigned the term ‘elemental’ to any of them. That didn’t happen until the 16th century.
“An elemental is a mythic being in the alchemical works of Paracelsus. . . There are four elemental categories: gnomes, undines, sylphs, and salamanders. These correspond to the Classical elements of antiquity: earth, water, air and fire. Aether (quintessence) was not assigned an elemental.” ~ Wiki
Myths and legends about magical, or supernatural beings and creatures that embody elemental qualities are universal. Through our shared dreams, the natural world merges with the unknown. A magical host of ‘Others’, cross over from the great mystery to find form in our imagery, and voice in our words. Every culture has their pantheon, their creatures, and often if you watch and listen closely, you can detect the similarities.
In Western occult theory, the elements are hierarchical, beginning with spirit, fire, air, water and ending with earth – with the first elements being more spiritual and perfect and the last elements being more material and base. This order exists in our human world, in nature, and translates into mythology as well. The Gods of old, be they Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Chinese, Japanese or Aboriginal, were all ordered by rank. In every case, it begins with a leader, a perceived alpha. The others are organized under that, according to their relationship to the alpha, their talents, or ability to ingratiate themselves with those in charge . . . or anger those around them. Without fail, it runs from the rarified to the base. This ranking system covers the physical elements, but what of the fifth? The intangible quintessence. . .
Every mythology has a ‘Trickster’. Loki from the Norse mythos, as well as the Raven from our own Pacific Northwest First Nations tales, are both well-known examples of this archetype. In this exhibit, I cast the tricksters in the elemental role of Aether, or Spirit, as they are the instigators of change
. . . and all meaningful transformations begin from within.
There were a total of nineteen pieces in this show.