On a recent visit to France, I visited one of the last prehistoric caves sites open to the public where one can see authentic paintings from the paleolithic era. The Niaux Grotto is located in the northern foothills of the Pyrenees, just south of the French town of Foix. I made us a reservation months in advance for 1:30 in the afternoon – enough time, I thought, to drive from the small village of Sauve. We booked a rental car and set off – GPS said 3 1/2 hours to get there. It took 4 hours and we barely made our tour! Driving in a foreign country, sometimes on small windy roads, not knowing where we were going or if we would make it on time, added to a slightly stressful adventure.
But we did make it (at 1:15) and it was worth the stress! Like my traveling companion said, this was a once in a lifetime experience. (Actually, this was my third cave visit (See my blogs), but equally exciting. Ofcourse, no photography was allowed and veryone was given a flashlight to maneuver the unlit cave.
Once inside the cathedral like space, I felt a serenity and a connection to the ancients who walked this space 15,000years before us. On the left, a figure of a woman (not a painting- a spirit) greeted me. (This is not in the guide books, folks!) She was there to the left outlined in the gold and white granite rock. I pointed her out to my friend and she saw her as well. This sign of the sacred feminine spoke to me and let her presence known. Perhaps she created some of these drawings and wanted me to know it. Thats my story and Im sticking to it!
As we moved further into the cave, our guide pointed out the beautiful drawings made with black carbon – horses, bison, mountain goat, ibis etc. There was often a layering of images – implying motion and one could tell many hands created these images over time. One never knows what will inspire the artist – in my case it was something even more mysterious and ethereal than the ancient cave drawings themselves. It was the spirit of the cave and perhaps a whisper in my ear…
“Retablo for the Sacred Feminine”, oil on canvas with gold leaf & wood, 25.5″ x 18″
I’m honored to be participating in The CrossingBorders exhibition in Ghent, Belgium, August 31 thru September 15, a group exhibition of artists from the Global Art Project (GAP). We were invited to create an artwork that reflects a border or boundary and what it means to cross it – (political issues, globalisation, (im)migration, climate change, gender, race, culture, religious racism, terrorism, genocide, war, misogynist behavior, feelings of fear or superiority etc.)
I chose to use a retablo format and focus on how women have been marginalized, tortured, terrorized, and abused for thousands of years in the name of religion. Through time, matriarchy was erased from memory as myths were appropriated and symbols were stolen. With this votive, a prayer is lifted for women to break through patriarchal boundaries around the world and share the bounty of the planet equally and peacefully with men.
Traditionally, retablos were a votive offering in the form of a religious painting with a solemn request or a show of gratitude for a miracle. They were specifically important in Mexican folk religion in the 19th century where workshops would paint a favored scenario on a piece of tin or wood and write a request to God at the bottom of the image.
Using this retablo format as the basis for my piece, I chose to focus on Mary as she represents the divine feminine in the Catholic Church. For many indigenous cultures who were forced into the religion of the Opressor, Mary is a symbol for their goddess from ancient times.
In “Retablo for the Sacred Feminine,” Mary is crowned in all her glory with a golden halo and a hint of angels wings behind her. She is truly Divine. Her breasts are bared, challenging the status quo and breaking through the shame that the Church imposed on her body. One hand open signifies her love and caring for all humanity and the other, a tight fist, represents her anger for the suppression of women and her readiness for their defense. Incorporating the spiral and the lozenge design at the top, symbols of renewal and fertility from the Neolithic goddess culture, signifies her role as life-giver.
The CrossingBorders exhibition will take place at the Sint-Amanduskapel – Campo-Santo – Visitatiestraat 2 – 9040 Sint-Amandsberg – Ghent – Belgium. It is organized for Global Art Project GAP by 10dence and curated by Ron Weijers and Carl Heyward.
You will want to savor your time with this gorgeous volume created with love and wisdom by very talented printmaker, painter and sculptor, Glen Rogers. The book is filled with Glen’s beautiful artwork expertly laid out and printed in rich colors, accompanied by short text and guided meditation.
Glen’s work has long been grounded in archetypal imagery—metaphysical symbols from the collective unconscious. As a young feminist artist, Marija Gimbutas’ insights in The Language of the Goddessspurred Glen to walk in the footsteps of early goddess cultures. Over the next several decades Glen made spiritual and artistic pilgrimages to sacred sites around the world. On these journeys and in her art and life in between, Glen discovered and nurtured an internal resonance with sacred archetypal symbols, which then became a focus of her work. When she began authoring this latest volume, she set out to write a book about two of her favorite symbols: the bird and the lotus. Once she began, however, she quickly realized there were eight key symbols that appear again and again throughout her body of work.
In Symbols of the Spirit Glen writes a two-page essay on each of these eight symbols that have imbued such meaning and beauty into her art and daily life: the bird, circle, lotus, moon, seed, spiral, vessel and vesica piscis. She covers the symbols’ historic use and meaning as well as how they came to speak to her personally. Glen includes a short meditation or experiential activity inviting the reader to connect with the energetic properties of each of the symbols: to “experience it with your heart and allow the images to become part of your visual and spiritual vocabulary.” Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.
The effect is one of pure joy and thoughtful contemplation. If you are looking for reading that nurtures the spirit, the heart, one’s creativity and authenticity, you will find it here. Merely touching the rich pages deepens and calms one’s breath. Keeping this book near you in your home or work space provides a quick escape from the harried world we live in.
Most Mazatlán residents have much to thank Glen for, including the First Friday Art Walks in Centro Histórico and the OMA Gallery at the airport. She owned Luna Art Gallery in Mazatlán, and currently splits her time between our city on the bay and San Miguel de Allende. Born in Mississippi, Glen holds an MFA from San Jose State University and has a long and esteemed art career. For decades she worked in public art and as a community leader. Glen has had solo exhibitions throughout the USA and Mexico plus several in Peru, and group exhibits on four continents.
Glen feels that these eight archetypal symbols offer a promise of healing and transformation, a spiritual and artistic anchor to the Sacred Feminine. She views the creation of art as meditation—a communing with a higher power. Working with ancient symbols provides a bridge to our ancestors and a heart connection to the past. Glen’s experience tells us that these symbols provide healing on a subconscious level, and that once we’ve healed ourselves we can heal the world, because archetypes allow us to go deeper inside to find new truths to the dilemmas we face individually and collectively. Do we really need reasons more powerful than these to invest our time and talent?
Glen’s record of giving back to the community and trying new things is evident in this book. Making such personal works available to everyone—artist and non-artist alike—allows us a peek into what pushes someone as amazingly talented as Glen, and in doing so inspires us to look inward as well. Meditating with Glen via these precious pages is a truly therapeutic endeavor. Contact Glen to start enjoying your copy.
“The man who speaks with primordial images speaks with a thousand tongues.” —Carl Jung
The vessel, a simple utilitarian object, is layeredwith metaphorical meaning. At its essence, the vessel is a symbol for the human body – specifically the female body, which carries and nurtures the child within. Mimicking a pregnant woman, the vessel bulges out at the center into a curvilinear shape. In pagan societies, the cauldron was a symbol for the womb of the Great Goddess and offered the power of rebirth.
The famous Chalice, some scholars believe, was actually Mary Magdalene, the sacred vessel that held the Christ child. According to Barbara G. Walker in her book, The Crone: Woman of Age, Wisdom, and Power, the vessel was the source of life, wisdom and inspiration in pagan religions. At its most primal level, it is a sacred container that will forever be connected with magic and the act of creation.
Even the simplest hand-made pot can transcend the ordinary and reflect the spirit of those who came before us. I gather these images around me and draw from them in the studio. The shape emerges and becomes the focal point of a painting or print often filled with a liquid golden light signifying its sacred nature.
Excerpts from my upcoming book, Symbols of the Spirit, A Meditative Journey Through Art.