We have seen women portrayed throughout history in many different guises. We have been seen as goddesses, angels, life-givers, mothers, crones and whores. In these guises we have been elevated and loved, trashed and reviled.
Today I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of these myths and legends through the eyes of some of our fabulous artists, whilst at the same time reminding ourselves that we are who we are, real women, strong in spirit and determination, full of hope and still able to dream.
Part 1: Mythology and LegendHere in Madalena’s rich and haunting image we see woman portrayed as mother.
“My interpretation of the roman goddess Flora, divinity who was in charge of the flowers, especially those that bear fruit, the germination of seeds and with them the fields and agriculture and her function was to make the grain, vegetables and trees bloom so that autumn’s harvest would be good. She has elements of a Love-Goddess, with its attendant attributes of fertility, sex, and blossoming.The goddess of flowers and seeds was also considered the special protector of women and the goddess of love until it was replaced by Venus-Aphrodite” Madalena Lobao-Tello
Flora closer © by Madalena Lobao-Tello
Blodeuwedd, painted here so beautifully, is a naughty little minx, but her eyes tell us she is quite enjoying her notoriety.
“The Welsh goddess Blodeuwedd (pronounced blud-EYE-wedth), who was banished to the night as punishment for conspiring to kill her husband Lleu. In some traditions she is viewed as a part of a triad:
Arianrhod – The Virgin
Blodeuwedd – The Lover
Cerridwen – The Crone” Miriam Morgan
Blodeuwedd © by Miriam Morgan
Dakini, beautiful, alive and vibrant, and most definitely moving away from the images of virgins and mothers. I think it is significant that when we are portrayed as sexual beings we are also frequently seen as scary and mean.
“A dakini is a tantric deity described as a female embodiment of enlightened energy. In the Tibetan language, dakini is rendered khandroma which means ‘she who traverses the sky’ or ‘she who moves in space’. Sometimes the term is translated poetically as ‘sky dancer’ or ‘sky walker’.
A dakini comes in many forms and in some ways is related to angels or thought of as bird women of sorts. In many parts of Tibet vultures are considered physical representations of dakinis. Vultures have been revered by many ancient cultures as they are able to transmute negative energies and disease from the physical plane.
It is believed that all women are dakinis, but most do not ever realize this. I like that dakinis are not always pure and perfectly nice, sometimes they are scary and mean too. They are similar to the Valkyries of Norse myth.” moonspiral
Dakini © by MoonSpiral
I just love this portrayal of a chimera for its subtlety and its simultaneous power. She is certainly a force to be reckoned with.
“The term chimera has come to describe any mythical animal with parts taken from various animals and, more generally, an impossible or foolish fantasy.” Wikipedia
chimera, the sound of the thunder © by Elisabetta Trevisan
Cynthia’s sensitive portrayal of the three graces epitomises the virginal qualities so cherished in art and literature.
“Known in Greek mythology as The Three Graces, they were the goddesses of such things as charm, beauty, and creativity.” Wikipedia
The Three Graces © by Cynthia Lund Torroll
Tammera has created this strong image, depicting so well the threesome of virgin, mother and crone.
“Spanning many traditions found around the world is the concept of the Goddess as being threefold. These perceptions shared associations with the moon phases, with the growing seasons and with the phases of a woman’s life. Most frequently they are described as Maiden, Mother and Crone.” Tammera
MAID MOTHER CRONE © by Tammera
Part 2: Reality
In reality, we are not one part of a trinity, but real women trying to make sense of our world. The pathos evident in Nadya’s image evokes many emotions when I look at it.
“Hey, out there ~ what are you doing to my world?” Nadya Johnson
Broken Window © by Nadya Johnson
Rosy powerfully reminds us of those that are forgotten and unacknowledged.
“This is dedicated to all those unacknowledged and apparently forgotten whether -
because of war
unjust imprisonment (especially political imprisonment)
the many who were condemned to a life in a mental institution without cause
the cruelly tortured -
and that is such a partial list.
For every marker that cannot be erected to your memory may there be someone who holds your memory close and refuses to forget.”Rosy H
The Forgotten Ones © by Rosy H
I love this image from Sybille, who is railing against the concept of women as playthings.
“My inner freedom and my independence are both important treasures to me, which I’d defend to the death. Sounds utterly dramatic, but being manipulated and steered into a direction as it suits someone else is horrible, no matter how well meaning it might be. I’ve always strongly believed that we need to make our own mistakes. It’s one thing to share our experiences and help with advice and examples and another to manipulate someone supposedly for their own good. It never sat well with me.” Sybille Sterk
Not a Toy © by Sybille Sterk
Sometimes we feel redundant if we do not fit the stereotypes of what a woman should be. I yearn for this butterfly to spread her wings and fly.
“I have the life of a flightless butterfly,
perched upon a leaf.
Watching life circle around me,
waiting to emerge from grief.” unbeknown
Life Of A Flightless Butterfly © by unbeknown
Here, in ’Renewed Hope" Heather portrays a fully fledged woman who is a complete – and fills us with hope for ourselves and our futures.
Renewed Hope © by Heather King
We finish with a beautiful belief in ourselves.
“I believe that each day offers a new beginning
that miracles can happen
and that dreams can really come true”Renate Dartois
I believe….. © by Renate Dartois
Congratulations to you all and thank you for sharing your moving and powerful art with us.