In my practice as an artist, I often feel called to explore
the divine in its many manifestations, but I am most interested in the Feminine
Divine. This is a calling I have felt for many, many years, reaching back into
my early childhood when I wondered why many ancient cultures could see the
female in the divine, but Western beliefs had no room for the feminine. God was
a white bearded man sitting on a cloud somewhere, and he had a white, brown
bearded son, and an amorphous Holy Ghost who may or may not have been in
possession of a gender. When I was nine years old I asked our parish priest,
“Why can’t women be priests?” and his response was, “Tradition.” This is a
response that has haunted me for years since.
Although it has
been many years since I was that young girl sitting in a parochial school
classroom, and I discovered that my reply was one that earns your parents a
phone call from the concerned school officials, I have questioned Tradition
ever since. How could the spirituality I was being asked to practice not
embrace an entire portion of the human population? Although I did not know it
at the time, this was the truly the beginning of my shift away from
Shortly after this experience, I found wonderful books in
the school library on Greek and Norse mythology. They were full of incredible
stories and gorgeous illustrations of gods and goddesses who were worshipped in
many ages past. The authors and illustrators were a couple: Edgar and Ingri
D’Aulaire, and I was fascinated by the beautiful illustrations and completely
mesmerized by the stories. It never occurred to me to ask my parents to buy
these books for me, so I merely checked them out of the library again and
again. In particular, the drawings of the Norse goddesses stayed with me.
Meanwhile at home, my parents had a wonderful collection of
art books from their many world travels. My father had a copy of the 1962
Tutankhamen exhibition, and again, I marveled at the beauty of the depictions
of deities from a far away place. I was especially struck by the beautiful
golden statues of the Protectress Goddesses of the Nile: Isis, Nepthys, Neith,
and Serket, who surrounded the sarcophagus of King Tut with outstretched arms.
In spite of my curiosity, I still remained at least on the
outside, a good Catholic girl. However, the restlessness that led me to ask,
“Why can’t women be priests?” never left me. Fast forward to my years in
college where I dabbled back and forth between Catholicism, born again Christianity,
and witchcraft that I cobbled together with what little I could read and gather
from my friends. (This was before the internet, folks!) By my senior year, I
knew that I was never going to be able to embrace a religion that denied its
priesthood it’s sexuality, could not acknowledge the rights of women, and
especially could not embrace the idea that the feminine could be divine. I
found my way to feminism, and through feminism, I found the Goddess.
Once I found the Goddess, I began with a rather amorphous
idea of what that meant and what it meant to me. I began doing research, and
soon all the old memories of looking at those beautiful books in the library
and my father’s library began to come back to me. I especially always felt
myself drawn to Isis, perhaps from remembering those beautiful golden statues
in King Tutankhamen’s tomb. For many years now, I have had a tattoo of Isis on
my back, stretching her wings between my shoulder blades. I have always felt as
thought she “had my back,” so to speak, for whenever I have called upon her, I
have always felt that she answered.
Of late, I have also felt a connection to Isis’ sister
Nepthys, her identical twin who is sometimes overlooked, or underestimated.
Nepthys is as much a psychopomp as Isis, although she never achieved the
popularity of Isis in ancient Egypt, she was known as “The Lady of the Manor.”
My own psychic gifts are not always immediately seen by either myself and
sometimes others – like Nepthys, I tend to sneak up on people, as do my gifts.
It is my intent to complete a painting of Nepthys reflecting these qualities of
hers in the very near future. She is also great of magick, although it may not
be the magick you were expecting or thought would be useful to you.
Nepthys and Isis are a grand part of Egyptian tradition, although along the way I think Nepthys has been neglected. I feel now that moving away from how things are perceived traditionally is a very good thing, much as I did way back in fourth grade. I am looking forward to beginning new traditions and ideas around the Divine as I create my painting of Nepthys. It's only, I have painted Isis so many times.