Grave Moss & Stars

Archive for the ‘Sacred Creativity’ Category

a gift of scorpion

Guys, I can’t tell you how pleased with and proud of this one I am. This is pretty much the best painting I have done to date. The black, gold (around the pincers), and bronze (around the stinger) are all metallic; the red and white are matte. It is gorgeous in person.

It is a gift for Meket, a daughter of Serqet and a spiritual sibling in the Kemetic Orthodoxy. She has seen it and loves it, so I’ll be shipping it off to her very soon. =3

To my friends and my kindred spirits, if you ever want any art from me, know that I absolutely love doing this and that you should never hesitate to ask. ♥

Bonus PBP: C is for Creating With God

Disclaimer #1: Where I say “God”, substitute your preferred term. God, Goddess, the Divine, the Great Spirit, Netjer, an individual deity’s name, etc. This is shorthand, not exclusion. :)

Disclaimer #2: This post will make me sound pretty crazy. That’s okay. Creation is a weird, intense thing.

If you’ve seen this blog’s past entries at all, you know I like to create things. I’ve made paintings for my four primary Egyptian gods (and one more is planned for the Red Lady), a sculpey pendant for one of those four (and planning another as a gift, plus a sculpey-ture), and several songs or mini-songs for all of the above. I’ve also been writing a re-imagined Egyptian fairytale, combining the myth of the Destruction of Mankind with the myth of the Distant Goddess.

And, since I keep inundating this journal will the results of such creativity, I figured now is not a bad time to talk about the process of creation, especially when there’s one or more gods involved.

When I write “regular” fiction, my characters drive the story. I may have the vaguest seed of an idea or a well-planned plot and setting, but once I start writing, the characters take the wheel, and I wind up being a side-seat driver or, at best, a navigator. “No, no, turn left up here, trust me.” It’s an incredibly enjoyable process, but it’s not exactly an exercise of logic and intellect for me. I’m just along for the ride, taking notes as I go.

Working on a project for or with God is even weirder more out of my hands. I’m not imagining the end result and working towards it; I’m stating my intention to create X for/with Y and then listening. It’s a full-body listen, like my mind cracks open and stretches out, no longer a self-contained sphere. I’m receptive and open and subconsciously, intuitively aware.

Writing a song, I’m not analyzing the words or carefully structuring a rhyming pattern. (I’m bad at rhymes, anyways.) I’m relaying a story that’s slowly coalescing in my head. I’m asking the song what chords or notes it wants, what tempo, what texture of voice. I’m asking God, “is this okay? is this part right?” and I can always feel, quite strongly, if it’s right or not. There may be a point in the song where any of three chords will work musically, but there’s always one right chord and two wrong ones. I have editorial license – I can rearrange verses or choose synonyms or use a capo sometimes – but the core always comes from outside of me when I’m making spiritual music.

Same with paintings. I’ll have a vague idea of the overall layout of objects/figures in the painting, but God picks the colors. I have argued, on two different paintings, about the colors God has chosen, but I used the preferred colors, and God was proven right both times. (I have since stopped arguing, although I still express my incredulousness sometimes.) By the time the painting is done, I may be exhausted and not very impressed with my limited skills, but by gum, the painting feels right. The god I’ve made it for likes it, because that god had a hand in the whole creation process.

In the end, when I’m creating something for God, it’s always co-creation. I always have the god in question leaning in, a presence in the space around me, giving me wordless nudges towards this color or this chord. And that’s magic, right there. That’s my interactive prayer. The times when I am co-creating with my gods are when I am the closest I get to Them, and as challenging as it can be, I love it and appreciate it immensely.

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.

a song for Ma’ahes

Cripes I wrote a war song.

So, I’m still pretty new to this whole song-writing business, right, and since I’m participating in FAWM, with the challenge to write 14.5 brand new songs in the month of February, I’m a little intimidated. It feels like it did before my first NaNoWriMo – exhilarating and terrifying. I think the month will give me a heap of experience in songwriting, music-playing, and being creative consistently and frequently, but that makes it no less daunting to leap in head-first!

I was listening to the FAWM Jukebox all day at work yesterday. I was getting really excited and impatient to get home and start trying to make music. And when I got home, I had dinner, then started brainstorming. Too many ideas, none of them rooted enough to start playing with. I picked up my classical guitar, then traded her for a scandalous affair with J’s electric guitar (and got lost for a little bit in the fun of amp effects). I got a simplistic chord progression and a crappy first verse for… something that just wasn’t clicking. I put the electric back.

I hit that unfortunate-yet-common spot in the creative cycle where my brain says ALL I DO SUCKS AAAGH and got sad. I kept trying, wanting to push through; I hit that low point when I was doing Nebt-het’s painting, too, but that came out alright! I can do this! …but eventually, tired and whiny, I stopped.

See, I did not realize that Ma’ahes wanted a song.

My sister clued me in when we briefly chatted and I begged her for musical help. I started writing a couple lines for Him, got distracted by other things, and it fell by the wayside. After I got tired enough to quit, my stubborn side reared its bulldog-like head and sent me into the (quiet, distraction-free) bedroom to write down the lines and see if I could, at least, make a little more progress on them. Anything to make this evening not be a musical wasteland. Some better note (pun intended) to end on, before I slept.

Some short time later, I had a song for Ma’ahes. It did not merely flow as I wrote it down; it poured out like water over a broken dam. And it is not like anything I’ve done or attempted to do before. It’s rough, of course, but that’s the idea of FAWM: to create, not to spend endless hours polishing and perfecting. And I think I really do like it.

If you’d like, you can listen to it and read the lyrics right here.

Dua Ma’ahes!

a painting for Nebt-het and jewelry for Hethert-Nut

I like doing art for my gods; I like being creative and listening until I can feel Their input. This weekend was particularly productive in terms of offerings for my Mothers.

For Nebt-het, I did a painting – this makes a complete set of paintings for the gods of my RPD! (Sekhmet is next, though I don’t yet have the skill to do what She wants done.) It’s a simple painting, and as usual, photographing metallics is a terrible idea; the colors and especially the backgrounds are much more subtle and dark in person, but this is the best I can do. I do like how it came out. (There’s a shinier version here if you’re curious!)

The symbols belong to Her other aspects; the red is Nit’s symbol, and the yellow is Seshat’s. Once I’ve gotten some face time with both of those deities, I’d like to do another painting with Them more fully present, but I need to know Them before I can paint them, so this will suffice for now. :)

For Hethert-Nut, I wanted something wearable. I love having jewelry that reminds me of my gods – I have a lion ring for Ma’ahes, a silver pendant for Sekhmet, and Serqet’s scorpion necklace. But I don’t have anything for Hethert-Nut or Nebt-het. With the help of my partner, who is both talented and experienced with making jewelry, I’m going to turn a rosary I got for Nebt-het into a wearable necklace, but that still leaves me lacking something for Hethert-Nut.

So, having no idea what I was getting into, I decided to create a pendant out of sculpey. Long story short, my partner helped me with the wire “skeleton” and was entirely responsible for weaving the cord and doing the beadwork (though I did pick out which beads to use with Hethert-Nut’s guidance). And I created and painted the pendant. It’s considerably larger than I expected, so it’ll only get ritual wear, not daily wear. And since I never quit while ahead, I’m already planning a much smaller pendant for daily wear that can be traded out on the necklace.

I love how this came out. I am, quite frankly, awed at how well the paint colors (chosen by Hethert-Nut in the store weeks ago) and the beads (picked from our existing stock) go together. They exemplify Her.

Dua Nebt-het! Dua Hethert-Nut!

a song for Hethert-Nut

I started writing this on December 11th or thereabouts, when I was sick and had lost my voice. I had invited Hethert-Nut to lend Her touch to my music-making efforts, and She gave me three words as a song-seed, which became the title of this song. I did a very weak recording to let my sister hear it, then proceeded to let my poor vocal cords recover.

And now that I can play the chord progression fairly confidently, I made a stronger recording to share with you all. =3

Click here to listen (or right-click to download the mp3)!

I’m very happy with this. It is a devotional song, a prayer-song, and it serves its purpose perfectly.

Dua Hethert-Nut!

Mother May I

Mother, may I come in
and join You in the skies
my feet are stained with dirt
from walking all these miles
and as much as I enjoy the grass
I like the feel of stardust, too
Mother, may I come in
and stay with You a while

Hethert-Nut, lady of the night sky

Mother, may I breathe here
in the vastness of Your arms
the sun’s tired out my eyes
and night’s coaxed them closed
and as much as I love the light
I like the soft, snug shadows, too
Mother, may I breathe here
and drift on solar winds

Hethert-Nut, lady of the night sky

Mother, may I borrow
some of Your boundless love
my heart is prone to aching
and it needs a tender touch
and as much as I want to care
I need someone to care for me, too
Mother, may I borrow
Your compassion and Your grace

Hethert-Nut, lady of the night sky

Mother, may I love You
without hesitation or doubt
all I want is to praise You,
to give You music and my joy
and as much as I am wary
of offering perfect trust
Mother, I want to love You
and dance within Your smile

Hethert-Nut, lady of the night sky

the Celestial Cow

I am still sick, but I am also impatient, and while my coughing up a lung means I’m not exactly in a state of physical purity fit for ritual, I can still paint. Right? Right.

So I painted this for Hethert-Nut:

I swear to you, the stars on Her body are silver, but the camera turned them golden. I don’t know why. This is the best color-correcting I can do, and it’s still a lot more subtle and blendy in person. Nekhtet and huzzah! Thanks to Tornir’s brilliance, I got a shot with the colors far more accurate. Yay! You can see the original photo here.

It’s not the purple I associate with Her presence; I mixed the painting-purples myself, but I just didn’t have supplies to do the kind of rich, deep royal purple that I’d prefer. I may go buy a bottle of the right color and do another painting of/for Her later – we’ll see.

That said, however, I do like how this turned out. =3

Dua Hethert-Nut!

art! artartart

So, a while ago, I did a painting for Ma’ahes. It is extremely colorful. And yes, I am silver with a blue mohawk. What.

The story is thus: One of the first times I met Him at sunset, I invited Him in by… um… essentially turning my local (inner and energetic) space to ocean and stormy skies. In response, He met me with vivid orange sand, a setting sun, and a bright sky. While I was painting this, I was trying to encapsulate that first meeting of two very different people and our respective worlds. It was Ma’ahes’ idea to have us both with one foot in each side. :)

And then tonight! Tonight I painted a scorpion, and it actually looks like a scorpion! (I had a childhood where no one knew what I was drawing, so being able to create something recognizable is amazing to me. To be fair, most of my drawings were my own inventions, but I got tired of the endless conversations that went like this: “Is it… a dog?” “No.” “A horse?” “No.” “A… dragon?” “Closer.” “What is it?” “It’s a [name of species I had invented].” “…oh. What’s that?” “It’s this.” *points at sketch*)

This is, as you may have guessed, in honor of Serqet. She chose the color of the scorpion and the pale yellow aura surrounding it, as well as the striking background; I was surprised and pleased when the colors went together as well as they did.

Dua Ma’ahes! Dua Serqet!

so about them thar sphinxes

I have been wanting a $100+ book about Twtw (Tutu/Tithoes) for about a year now, give or take. I have been lusting after it. It is the book on Twtw, an entity I find endlessly fascinating and compelling.

And with his first paycheck, J performed a book tithe and gifted me this book. It arrived today.

And then I arted. Fourth painting, and you know? It came out how I intended. I’m happy. Click through to see a larger version!

Okay so I’m actually giddy and hyper-excited about the book+painting+squee, so uh, “happy” might be an understatement.

(And if you were wondering, yes, that picture was taken with everything resting on a djembe. Also, the background is way more subtle in person, and the outline is in silver, not white.)

artliness

I tried painting, this weekend. I have never before painted on a canvas, and I was using my decade-old acrylics from back when I used to paint ceramics. I bought little 4×6″ canvas boards (and a couple 3×3″ black stretched canvas…es) and a small handful of new metallic paints. (When it comes to paints, I am a magpie. Shiny things attract me.) I had plenty of canvas boards, so I didn’t have to worry about making the first few good – I just wanted to see how paints acted on canvas.

I think some part of me must have gotten its hopes up that my first thing would be totally awesome, because I was disappointed when it wasn’t. But I learned something nifty I could do with texture, which made it quite useful. My second painting (which I will show you in a minute) also did not come out quite as intended, but I like it better than the first, though they’re so different as to be incomparable. When my sister saw the second, she liked it enough that I painted her a customized similar thing, which is by far the best of the three, but is hers to share if she so wishes, as it is personal to her.

I will show you the second painting now, with the preface that I am learning and you’re not allowed to critique it. :D I like the style, though I am still practicing how to do finer line-weights with a brush, and may do others of a better nature soon. Anyways, click to see a larger version:

In Egyptian mythology, the sky (Nut) and earth (Geb) loved each other so much that they refused to part, so their father, the god of air (Shu) had to stand between them and hold the sky up, so that life could exist on earth. Below them, in the underworld, you see Wesir on His throne and Nebt-het behind Him, though Nebt-het is not canonically supposed to be there. >_>;; Also you have Ap-p, the chaos serpent, and the Eye of Ra lioness goddess with Her seven arrows (plague, generally) fighting it off. Again, not totally canon, as normally Ap-p attacks Ra in His sun barque when it’s underground during the night, but hey, I was playing around.

Still kinda want to do a more true-to-mythology version, though…

a song for Nebt-het

My sister is doing some amazing work with writing songs for Netjeru, and thus inspired, I took the little thing I wrote for Nebt-het and a candle and my beloved classical guitar to the bedroom. (J was in the living room, alternately rocking out on his electric guitar or coffee-painting.)

Let me preface this: I am not a confidant guitarist. I am learning. I know a few chords, and I haven’t played regularly since before the move, so I am rusty in the muscles. I am blessed to occasionally be able to write songs in terms of vocal melody + words, but putting chords to it is still a massive challenge to me, and one I have not attempted more than once or twice, ever. Hell, I can’t even get a strum pattern down beyond a simple 1-2-3-4.

So, I lit the candle, pulled up the words, and sang through it a few times, then started fumbling with chords. I didn’t set up formal ritual and invite Nebt-het in, but I made it abundantly clear that She was welcome to sit with me and/or help with the music for Her minisong. Due to several recent silences in response to my invitations, my expectations were low, but to my cautious delight, I got a sense of Her presence fairly quickly.

Nebt-het, to me, is very tall and very slender, with long slim hands that are cool to the touch. Her color is a velvety purple-tinted medium-light grey. She was constantly behind me, slightly to the left, just as She had been when I lit a candle for Her on Her birthday and wrote the minisong in the first place. After working on it for a while, I figured out all the chords and could, stutteringly, play and sing at the same time.

I offered Her more blackberry-grape water when She wanted some; it was what I had given Her on the first night. (The color of that drink, too, became Her color.) The candle burned low and blue as I kept going. Despite the struggle of doing something hard and new, I was gleeful. I was putting music to words and I was the one who wrote the words and I could sing and play and I even had a strum pattern. Holy crap.

I ran out of energy, and my callus-less fingertips were raw; the candle extinguished itself when She said goodnight to me. I told Her I would do better, keep practicing and make it sound better, and She told me that what I had done was enough. Not in the sense of “no, stop here,” but in the sense that what I had done was perfectly sufficient, completely worthy. I tried to wrap my head around that idea when She thanked me for the music, and I thanked Her (about fifty bajillion times) for sitting in with me.

I am going to try to get smooth enough with the chords and strumming to record a version so you can hear, but for now, I wanted to record this experience. Whatever comes of it, I am grateful and happy and blessed.

me and Ptah

I just had a weird moment where I thought about Ptah creating the world with his voice, with words, and how I might identify with that, with Him, in writing with words to create my own worlds.

Uh.

happy birthday, Nebt-het

Nebt-het seems a sad story to me. Always playing second to Her sister, Aset; married to Set, but living with Aset and Wesir, and possibly for this incongruency, She was called “an imitation woman with no vagina” in one of the Pyramid Texts; had a child by Wesir, upsetting Aset, but was never Wesir’s chosen wife, though She mourned faithfully along with Aset when He died. She is guide to the newly deceased and comfort to the surviving relatives, perhaps because She lost Wesir– perhaps because She knows how it hurts and thus how to comfort, and perhaps because She wanted to guide Wesir safely through the Duat but could not, so She instead guides the human dead.

I lit a candle, prayed, and shared my blackberry-grape water with Her.

lady of darkness
sweep away shadows
bring the fallen one into light
help those left upon this earth
move on and brave a precious rebirth

lady of darkness
draw close the shadows
hide the new child safely
help your lord’s son grow into strength
so he may one day take your lord’s place

Uh, that last line is referring to Heru-sa-Aset, who Nebt-het helped protect and hide during His vulnerable childhood, becoming king in His father Wesir’s stead.

Also, that totally has a tune to it. Sweet. Click here to listen! (An interesting note… the tune is derived from my sister’s song to Set. I looked to Nebt-het when it popped into my head and asked if it was okay, and got the distinct impression that She has no problem with using a melody similar to Her husband’s song.)

happy birthday, Set

I couldn’t possibly do more honor to Set than my sister’s already done Him, so instead, I will point to the song she wrote for Him. Listen to it a thousand times over; it is beautiful.

Set wisdom of the day: Isfet is a terrible and grievous thing and must be extinguished, but people are not isfet. People do isfet; they themselves are merely lost.

Dua Set!