Art as Ritual – a Search for Meaning

This is attributed to Pablo Picasso – The purpose of art is washing the dust of daily life off our souls.  

Picasso was well aware of the importance of self-expression, as these words indicate. This one reminds me that the creation of a ritual, such as SisterCircle does, requires a release from the ordinary. I find that to be true, whether it’s a personal project or a turn of the Wheel of the Year.

I wonder, as I explore the many layers of circles that surround me, as I come into and out of my experiences, whether art is an expression of a journey, a ritual. And those among us who put something on paper, or create something to be seen, are we simply performing our own rituals. So, it seems when I create something, I am performing one. It takes me from the dust of everyday life.

Just as the purpose of a ritual for me varies with the time of the year, the purpose of my art varies. Sometimes I look for an interesting subject. Or maybe a story in the image. Or just play with colors. Actually, my visual expressions require many of the same qualities as a ritual done by SisterCircle, for example.

Here are the steps.

  • Gather materials and choose a site
  • Assign the contributors’ roles
  • Choose the medium – size, color, texture
  • Perform the creative activity
  • And, finally, Offer the results for viewing

SisterCircle has a tradition… and that tradition centers around the Wheel of the Year. We’ve been creating and participating in rituals for over 23 years. Together, we hatch a plan, do all of the preparation, and execute the design. Many times I have marveled at how it all comes together, even at times when some of us are ill, or too busy to come, or out of town. It just works.

Now, one of the differences in creative actions is the goal. Perhaps the goal is the experience of someone outside the creator. In a religious ritual, on the other hand, the goal is the involvement of a group, large or small.

In my art, does it matter? Is that how other artists look at their work? I don’t know. Imagination is personal. As are some rituals.

I found this, by one Sharon Devlin:

The purpose of ritual is to change the mind of the human being. It’s sacred drama in which you are the audience as well as the participant and the purpose of it is to activate parts of the mind that are not activated by everyday activity. . . As for why ritual, I think that human beings have a need for art and art is ritual. I think that when we became sapient, we became capable of artistic expression.

Rituals are mindfulness, generosity, self-reflection, meditation, above all, an expression of our connection to each other, to ourselves and to the world. Blessed Be.

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On the Christian Easter

My offering for today the day before Christian Easter –
First, I love the miracle of #MarytheMagdalene coming upon a man, the risen Jesus, in the garden and mistaking him for a gardener. But, I wonder at his realistic advice to not cling to the event as she becomes an apostle at that point. I also personally marvel at the concept of #bilocation, which means that Jesus was capable according to the stories, of being in two places at once. In these stories, he appears to a bunch of people, at the same time. I’m thinking that he is finishing up his earthly mission and yes, leaving us mere humans a little confused.
So, happy Easter! A wonderful time to celebrate the return of our own gardens, and the wonderful spirits as they join us faithfully and renew our faith in the goodness of the universe.

Holy Weak!

(c) Jo Grazide
Not a trinitarian, I.

I never had thought about these things. I was a Catholic, but I wasn’t a Catholic. I was born into a family that wanted to say they were Catholic and that is about it. Growing up, there was no mastery of the mystery, only the misery of the rules.

There were a lot of rules about being Catholic. Chief among them, as I recall, sans Wikipedia, were the sins. You could make big sins, or you could make little or venial sins. Big sins were called mortal sins. A lot of my early childhood religious education emphasized the various penalties for committing one of these varieties of transgressions. If you died with a mortal sin “on your soul,” though, you were in a heap of trouble. You would go straight to hell, and there would be no way you could break out of there. So an after-life sentence was guaranteed. If you died with a couple of venial sins there, you would simply be sent over to this place called Purgatory, where you would lament and whine but you had a hope of getting out, eventually.

Funny how we use time in a sense where there can’t be time, in the immortal afterlife. I do believe in something, if not a consciousness, so this makes me uneasy. What if they are right! But then reason prevails, and I carry on hoping that I can leave the world a better place. What more can I ask?

Forgiveness is what I can ask. It used to be enough that Easter was honoring the death of a person whose father sent him here fully knowing he would be executed by the ruling class, for being a radical. For challenging the old way. For eating with sinners. I don’t think they had figured out, by the way, what the sins actually were. Because how could it be a sin to have like 40 wives and then kill your neighbors if they stepped on your sandaled toes, and things like that. I guess those were the days.

But we celebrate the death of a man who lived over 2,000 years ago each Easter. And I, a Pagan Unitarian/Universalist, am stuck with the goods. Long ago, in my adulthood, I was able to shake loose the chokehold of the confusion that being Catholic caused. I was lucky to be able to replace that tradition with one that made sense to me. One that embraced the natural world as all there is, and one that gave me a chance to do good here and now. So what – I would never be able to meet the Virgin Mother of Heaven or St. Peter as he guarded the gates to Heaven, or even reside in a place prepared for me since the beginning of time.

I could simply be simple. Live and die, and in the meantime, practice the example shown by the man who was called down from Heaven to live among us for 33 years only to die a thief’s death on Golgotha. Be that as it may, I’m grateful for the reminder that to be a truly real person, forgiveness has to come from your heart, your spirit, not from the fires of Hell or the heights of the sky.

So Happy Easter – make it a good one!

Jo’s Not-so-Silent Night

Ever wonder what the difference is between Christian or Jewish or any other established religion’s traditions and legends are at this time of the year and mine, a Pagan, earth-centered tradition? It’s so easy.

I can prove my faith. I can prove that it gets darker around this time of the year, and that no crops are growing and that the fur on my animal companions is getting longer and thicker. I can prove that in a couple of weeks, as the moon waxes to full, there will be an impressive, noticeable lengthening of the daylight and a shortening of the nights. The nights right now are downright oppressive. We are hardly done with dinner, and it feels as if there are countless hours stretching ahead before we sleep.

So, I read, watch TV, play computer games and delete blurry photos from my archives.

It is not strange to admit that some things can be proven, and should be acknowledged amidst all the fascination with olden tales. What is strange is the plastic santa claus or animated snowman sidling up to the column of wise “men” on their way to the front yard mangers here in town. There seems to be a dichotomy. Many homes have one side of their display devoted to Disneyland icons or Charley Brown statues, and the other side mangered complete with almost life-sized donkeys and sheep, who were supposed to have kept the baby Jesus warm and safe. All this is fine. I am more than elated that Santa is still an honored guest at the birth of the Sun. For that is all it is. Any savior birth stories we know are but stories, put together and preserved at the whim of a Pope or writer, some 2,000 years ago.

We must remember that the physical, empirically proven event of the Sun actually being reborn on the Solstice is beyond time, and is the universal signal for rejoicing and renewal with our families, friends, and livestock.

Once I am geared up to celebrate the Solstice, the shortest day of the year, my spirit rejoices as well. I know that soon, I will be able to enjoy a later walk with Missy, despite the cold. I know that the cold will eventually give way to warm, and occasionally foggy mornings will be extra welcomed.

I know that once again, I can look forward to a new year and new experiences. Life goes on, and it is okay to wear my pentacle and talk about earthly tidings.

A Calm Before the Storm

Great discussion by Daniel Sherwood at UUCMC.
Hopefully successful resulting in some Christmas wishes come true for some dogs at Petco Middletown with the AHS-TF Outreach.
Requested Missy’s second level of adult training with my favorite trainer there.
Then the work. ShopRite which I am boycotting until like Thursday it was so crowded, then Ulta where all my coupons I had been saving were all useless anyway. The checkout line went fast but stretched out to the back of the store.
Then a walk with Missy and some wonderful spaghetti with pesto courtesy of Jim Grazide who was looking for me at one point.
And the week hasn’t even begun!