Hell

HEL

21x32; acrylics, embossed metal, embroidery

Hel is one of the most misunderstood and misinterpreted Goddess aspects in history.

She has been greatly perverted throughout the years of patriarchal domination and ultimately used by the Christian church as a scare tactic to frighten the masses into “righteous” acts.

Hel was not considered to be an evil deity until Norse beliefs began to be influenced by Christianity.

She met the dead souls who came to her with courtesy and they seemed to dwell peacefully in Hel, but by the Viking Age emphasis was placed on Hels subjects as criminals, thieves, murderers etc. who had not died in battle and thus had not been carried off to Valhalla in great honour.

The battle warriors regarded her with trepidation as none of them wanted to die in bed and rot in Hel for all eternity, when one could die gloriously in battle and be swept off to Valhalla by the Valkyries.

Hel is a true winter deity who can teach the inherent duality of life and death. She is the power of water to wear down the earth and of frost to cleave rock.
She is a destroyer but she destroys things only in their time and as such can be viewed as a deity of Time.

Hel simply required acceptance... things end. Things fall apart, they rot and that's the way it's supposed to work. She exists as a shadowy Goddess only because we push endings into the background.

Her realm served as a gathering place and shelter for souls to be reincarnated, she watched over those who died peacefully in old age or illness. She cared for children and women who died in childbirth.

Her hall was not punishment, but a new plateau of existence.

Close

baba BABA YAGA

28x55; acrylics, papers, glazes, silk

Baba Yaga was originally a fertility harvest deity, she was present in the last sheaf of wheat to be bundled by the women in the fall, and the woman who got the last sheaf would very likely get pregnant...

Over time, she has morphed into the frightening Russian witch Baba Yaga Boney-legs. She evidently has a ferocious appetite but is as thin as a skeleton.

She travels through the Russian forests in a mortar and sweeps away all traces of her passage with a broom made of silver birch...

Her hut is deep in the dark forest and has its own strange personality, it walks about on chicken legs and usually presents itself to a visitor (should one dare to enter Baba Yagas domain) with its back to the overbold person. The hut is sometimes surrounded by a fence of human bones and there are skulls atop the fence whose blazing eye sockets illuminate the darkness.

If a visitor should enter her hut, Baba Yaga will ask if they came of their own free will or were they sent. One answer is the right one. She has no power over the pure of heart, or those protected by the power of love, virtue or a mother's blessing.

Baba Yaga rules over the elements, and her three faithful servants are the White Horseman, the Red Horseman and the Black Horseman... Bright Dawn, Red Sun and dark Midnight. She also has three bodiless pairs of hands which appear out of thin air to do her bidding, she calls them her "soul friends".

She is portrayed as a terrifying old hag, but her alter-ego is the helper and wise-woman, the Earth Mother. Like all forces of nature, she is often wild and merciless but also kind and giving. She gives advice and magical gifts to heroes and the pure of heart. She is all-knowing, all-seeing and all-revealing to those who would dare to ask.

Baba Yaga is the Arch-Crone, the Goddess of Wisdom and Death, the Bone Mother. She is a wild and untameable nature spirit bringing wisdom and death of ego, and through death, rebirth.

Close

demeter DEMETER

28x33; acrylics, silk, papers, embroidery, glazes

Demeter is usually excluded from the list of Olympian Gods as she chose to live on Earth. She was the only Greek deity who could empathize with the human condition of suffering and grief, having experienced it fully herself with the loss of her daughter Persephone.

Persephone was abducted by Hades, God of the Dead for his bride. Demeter didn't know where her daughter had gone and she wandered the Earth mourning for her. While she mourned she refused to allow crops to grow and mankind suffered, eventually the Gods intervened and arranged for Persephone to return to Demeter. But as Persephone had eaten some seeds of a pomegranate while she was with Hades she had to return to him every year for the winter, 4 months a year. Thus we have winter as Demeter mourns her absence.

Most ancient cultures relied upon agriculture for their sustenance, and so Demeter played an essential role in ancient Greek life. Her association with grain translated into a close tie with fertility, another crucial part of continuing survival.

Demeter was the first deity to inspire mankind to have an interest in property and ownership of land, and a belief in law and order. She was worshipped in fireless sacrifices, demanding all offerings to be in their natural state, honeycombs, grapes, unspun wool and uncooked grain were laid on her altars.

The highest mystical truths regarding time, suffering and spiritual regeneration were embodied by Demeter's religion, the Eleusinian Mysteries. It was widely influential on the Roman Empire, but much of its symbolism was subsumed by Christianity.

Her following was well established at Mycenae in the 13th century B.C. and continued throughout Greece well into the Christian era, a length of time almost equal to the lifespan of Christianity itself.

close

japanese BENZAITEN

28x33; acrylics, silk, papers, embroidery, glazes

The sole female of the 7 Lucky Gods of Japan, and a member of the Tenbu... a group of Celestial beings.Benzaiten is a deity of the sea, music, eloquence, poetry, learning, the arts and a protector of children. She is a beautiful woman who can change into a snake or a dragon, and she is in ownership of a pearl that grants desires.

To this day it is said that putting a piece of snakeskin in your wallet brings prosperity. Many of the myths surrounding Benzaiten have been forgotten, but the Japanese believe that seeing a white snake brings good luck, they just don't remember why.

She married a great dragon to put an end to his slaughter of children, evidently her goodness tamed him and he saw the error of his ways.

Dancers, Geishas and musicians are her followers...

She is often shown with 8 arms, holding objects such as a bow and arrow, a wheel, a sword, a key... showing her origins from India.

She is the Goddess of everything that flows: speech, words, (and knowledge by extension) music, water...eloquence.

close

lilth LILITH

21x 28 1/2; fabrics, acrylics, embroidery

The first woman.

Lilith isn't classified as a deity as such; she's a succubus, the mother of all succubi. Succubi are demon women who hunt men, seduce them and drain their lives away. The Harlot of Babylon and Queen of Demons are but 2 of her 100 names, her history goes back to Sumerian times when she was a fertility/agriculture deity.

There is a version of Lilith in every religion known; she is perhaps the most identifiable incarnation of historical feminism and men's fear of feminist ideology.

Lilith refused to lie underneath Adam as she considered herself his equal and when he persisted she spoke the ineffable name of God, sprouted wings and flew off into the desert.

Adam complained to God that the woman he had given him had gone away, so 3 angels were sent after her to bring her back. She refused and the angels told her they would slay 100 of her demon children a day. In revenge she's said to rob children of life and is responsible for crib death and stillborn babies.

I am not making this up...

What I want to know is how did Lilith know the secret name of God? That would seem to be very similar to the Isis and Ra story in ancient Egypt.

Lilith became more and more demonic as time passed and patriarchal values gained dominance. Eve seems to have been made almost as an afterthought, a second solution after the first one had failed. And for the last 2000 years Eve has represented the fundamental character and identity of all women.

The prevalent belief in the West is that women are by nature disobedient, guileless, weak-willed, prone to temptation and evil, disloyal, untrustworthy, deceitful, seductive and motivated in their thoughts and behaviour purely by self-interest.

What a mouthful!

close

mask KUMARI



Legend into Flesh...

There are 11 living Goddesses in Nepal known as Kumari or virgin. The most important one is the Royal Kumari in Kathmandu. These young girls are regarded as embodiments of the fierce female deity Durga, the Universal Mother.

They are chosen at 4 or 5 years of age from the Shakya clan, the gold and silversmith clan to which Buddha belonged. The girl must pass 32 strict physical requirements, ranging from eye colour and shape of teeth to the sound of their voices, their bodies must have no scars or marks.

They are subjected to many rigorous tests. Being surrounded by terrifying noises in a dark room, men dancing around them in horrific masks and sleeping amongst severed, bloody buffalo heads.

Once selected, the girl/goddess never walks, she is always carried. She has no name and leaves her family to live in semi-isolation. She is dressed only in red and gold and wears the 3rd eye or Tika on her forehead.

She commands more power among her people than almost any living person, and yet at the loss of a tooth, or begins to menstruate she immediately reverts to mortality. She blesses the King annually, an event considered essential for his successful reign. There are a few legends about the origins of the Kumari, one of which is this:

A king was playing a dice game with his companion, the Goddess Telaju, and was filled with desire for her as she was extremely beautiful. However Telaju can read his amorous thoughts, and the game ends abruptly. She rises from the board and condemns the king to the humiliations of his own flesh.
From now on, she says, if he sees or speaks to her, it will never again be in her form as Goddess.
Instead, he must leave the palace and worship her in the body of a virgin girl of low caste.

Few Kumari marry after their Goddess life is over, as it's considered bad luck to marry an ex-Goddess.
The girls are believed to retain some of their divine power, and the idea of a girl in whom the demon-slaying, blood-drinking Durga once dwelt is daunting to a prospective husband. Usually the girls have to rely on their families to survive as they are very unprepared for real life

close

   

calypso
CALYPSO
21 x 32; Mixed media- acrylics, silk and silk fibres

close

 SHELLEY 

 

Home

Gallery

Bio

Contact

 HAKONSON
Sacred and Profane The Old Dames
(clcik on image to see enlargement)


Hel


Baba Yaga


Demeter


Benzaiten


Lilth


Kumari


Calypso

 

This series is based on the old girls…

Before male dominated monotheistic religion became the norm, there were hundreds of strong, empowered, independent and fierce female deities whom the people’s of the earth were devoted to.

They were divine, sacred and also very human, often far from perfect.

They had moments of doubt and confusion, and could be moody and difficult, also vulnerable and loving.

Such human qualities in these deities made it easy to feel a sense of kinship with them and the people developed relationships with them, praying, talking to them, giving homage to them daily.

Women had these deities to look up to, to commune with and gather into their often difficult lives, they gave them a sense of belonging and love.

The ancient Goddess figures were a very real facet of their life experience.

Much like Jesus, Buddha and Allah are revered today...

I believe strong role models for young girls today have all but disappeared.

In the patriarchal religions of now, there are very few examples of empowered women. Mary, mother of Jesus is an unlikely figure to emulate, virgin birth and all... she’s an unrealistic figure for the girls of this era.

Every bit as silly as the Hollywood celebrity icons that are all the rage... a false reality.

The Sacred and Profane is an ongoing series. New works will be added as they are completed.