What they never told you about goddesses of death

sheep skull and spiring beautiesIt’s a bit of a shock to look down and see a skull, even if it does belong to a sheep. (At least, I think that’s what this one was.)

I painted this piece during a walk in the woods when we still lived in southwest Wisconsin. The way the vibrant vigorous little spring beauties blossomed up out of the old skull’s socket reminded me of a project I did in college.

I attended St. Olaf college in Northfield, MN (many years ago now.) I don’t know if they still do, but back then if you wanted to graduate you had to take three religion classes. I have to admit I was rather curmudgeonly about it at first, but they turned out to be some of the best classes I took there.

One of the classes was a course on the Goddess. We had to write a term paper, of course, and I chose as my topic to write about goddesses of death. (Typical morbid college student.) 🙂

Well, it wasn’t long before I discovered something wonderful. Almost without exception, regardless of culture or time frame, I found that nearly every goddess of death around the world was also associated with birth and new life.

Wow! The circle of life. It’s something curiously missing in our Western tradition, which insists on a one-way trip to one of just two destinations. But all you need to do to see it in action is look at the natural world around us.

It’s easy to feel that no good will come out of tough situations. But I believe that if you give it enough time and space, you will see how everything fits within a harmonious whole.

What do you think?

Did you enjoy this post? Christie

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Spring Beauty

Sheep's skull with Spring Beauty flowers
Spring Beauty, watercolor, 11 x 14"

After yesterday’s vulture post, this seems appropriate, as it’s also about death, resurrection and the cycle of life.

I did this painting about this time of year five years ago or so.  I guess you could call it a plein-aire still life.  Although I’m afraid landscape escapes me, I do love to paint outside, and back then I was doing a lot of it.  One day I was tramping around in the woods, despairing of ever finding a composition I could handle, when I came across this little jewel lying on the forest floor.

I’m really not sure what animal donated its skull for the occasion.  It didn’t seem quite like a deer skull – perhaps a sheep?  Anyway, I loved the way Life was just reaffirming its hold on the old bones in the form of delicate Spring Beauty blossoms lovingly embracing them.

I like to think of my find as Nature’s brilliant reply to the old concept of Vanitas.  Instead of a meditation on the transience of life and futility of pleasure, it’s a vibrant affirmation of  resiliency and the triumph of life even in the aftermath of inevitable death and decay.

Did you enjoy this post? Anne