Monday, May 25, 2015
Monday, May 11, 2015
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
Friday, May 1, 2015
Beltane or Beltain is the Gaelic May Day festival. Most commonly it is held on May 1st, or about halfway between the spring equinox and the summer solstice. Historically, it was widely observed throughout Ireland, Scotland and the Isle of Man. In Irish it is Bealtaine, in Scottish Gaelic Bealltainn and in Manx Gaelic Boaltinn or Boaldyn. It is one of the four Gaelic seasonal festivals—along with Samhain, Imbolc and Lughnasadh—and is similar to the Welsh Calan Mai.
Beltane is mentioned in some of the earliest Irish literature and it is associated with important events in Irish mythology. It marked the beginning of summer and was when cattle were driven out to the summer pastures. Rituals were performed to protect the cattle, crops and people, and to encourage growth. Special bonfires were kindled, and their flames, smoke and ashes were deemed to have protective powers. The people and their cattle would walk around the bonfire, or between two bonfires, and sometimes leap over the flames or embers. All household fires would be doused and then re-lit from the Beltane bonfire. These gatherings would be accompanied by a feast, and some of the food and drink would be offered to the aos sí. Doors, windows, byres and the cattle themselves would be decorated with yellow May flowers, perhaps because they evoked fire. In parts of Ireland, people would make a May Bush; a thorn bush decorated with flowers, ribbons and bright shells. Holy wells were also visited, while Beltane dew was thought to bring beauty and maintain youthfulness. Many of these customs were part of May Day or Midsummer festivals in other parts of Great Britain and Europe.
See also the previous posts:
• "Hail to the Seasonal Prince"
• "I Have Become Your Brother . . . One of Your Kin"
Image 1: "Godling Prince" by Mikel Marton (with Jade as the faerie).
Image 2: "The Beltane Hare" (artist unknown).
Image 3: "Beltane Windowsill" by Jude.
Tuesday, April 14, 2015
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
Saturday, April 4, 2015
The following was first published at The Holiday Spot.
The bountiful Easter bunnies have become the most favorite Easter symbol. It's universal and secular in its appeal. And, most important of all, it relates to Easter historically.
However, one fact has got to be made clear. It is the hare, and not the rabbit, that should be treated as the true symbol of Easter. Though both of them (along with Pikas), belong to the Lagomorpha family and have most of things in common, there are some differences.
If you go by the history, since the ancient times the hare has been a symbol for the moon. Not the rabbit. And, the legend says, the hare never closes its eyes, not even for a single blink! The reason for having such a belief may be rooted in the fact that hares, not rabbits, are born with eyes open.
The ancient Egyptians related hares to the moon. Egyptian name for hare was un, meaning 'open.' And they were beloved to be watching the full moon opened eyes throughout the night.
Also the hare and eggs have to the Anglo-Saxon spring goddess Eostre. Possibly, this is because both of them were regarded to be emblems of fertility.
And this fertility factor may hold the key in making rabbit more familiar as Easter symbol in America, as against the traditional hare. Rabbits beat hares by being more prolific.
The German immigrants, who brought in most of the Teutonic Easter traditions here, made rabbits so popular among the non-German kids. The German children used to have rabbit's nests filled with decorated eggs. They also used to build nests. They looked so attractive that even the non-German kids demanded such gifts on the Easter.
See also the previous posts:
• Eostre: Goddess of New Life Beginnings
• The Goddess Ostara
• Remembering Eostre
• Celebrating Eostre
• The Easter Hare
• Symbol of Enlightenment
• Body and Soul
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Monday, March 2, 2015
Notes the website of artist Jane Keay: "Her work reflects [the] constant changes in nature, showing an energy and spiritualism, captured in a deeply emotional response, producing works both distinctive and individual in style."
Image: "In the Sixties" (watercolor) by Jane Keay. For more of Keay's hare artwork, click here.
Saturday, February 14, 2015
Andrea R. Jain's Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture is a comparative study of modern postural yoga, its popularization, and its intersections with consumer culture. According to Jain, the key message of her book is that "yoga has been perpetually context-sensitive, so there is no 'legitimate,' 'authentic,' 'orthodox,' or 'original' tradition, only contextualized ideas and practices organized around the term yoga."
Following is an excerpt from a January 29, 2015 Religion Dispatches interview with Jain. In this particular excerpt, Jain discusses some of the biggest misconceptions about postural yoga. This excerpt is accompanied by images from the following Tumblr sites: Dudes Doing Yoga, Yoga for Men, and Yoga Folies.
Given that we see yoga practically everywhere, from strip-mall studios to advertisements for The Gap, one frequent misconception is that there is a blanket acceptance of yoga as an acceptable consumer choice. Yet, Selling Yoga illuminates a number of growing movements that oppose popularized yoga and even sometimes court fear of it.
Some Christians, including Albert Mohler (President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary), Pat Robertson (television evangelist and founder of the Christian Coalition of America), and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Roman Catholic Church, warn about the dangers of yoga given the perceived incompatibility between what they believe is its Hindu essence and Christianity. I call their position the Christian yogaphobic position.
Some well-known Americans, such as Mohler, add that yoga’s popularization threatens the Christian essence of American culture. Hindu protesters, most notably the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), criticize yoga insiders for failing to recognize yoga’s so-called Hindu origins and illegitimately co-opting yoga for the sake of profit. I call this the Hindu origins position.
The two are strikingly similar, most significantly insofar as they lean on the misconception that yoga is definitively Hindu. This idea is based on revisionist histories that essentialize yoga’s identity, ignoring its historical and lived heterogeneity. By the end of the first millennium C.E., yoga systems were widespread in South Asia as Hindus, Buddhists, Jains, and others prescribed them. Throughout its pre-modern history, yoga was culturally South Asian but did not belong to any single religious tradition.
The history of modern postural yoga also problematizes the identification of yoga as Hindu. That history is a paragon of cultural encounters in the process of constructing something new in response to transnational ideas and movements, including military calisthenics, modern medicine, and the Western European and North American physical culture of gymnasts, bodybuilders, martial experts, and contortionists. Yoga proponents constructed new postural yoga systems in the twentieth century, and nothing like them appeared in the historical record up to that time.
Another unfortunate but common misconception is that yoga is a mere commodity of global market capitalism or, at best, “spiritual, not religious.” On the one hand, many outsiders to popularized yoga profoundly trivialize it by reducing it to mere commodities and impotent borrowings from or “rebrandings” of traditional, authentic religious products. On the other hand, many insiders frequently avoid categorizing yoga as religion, preferring to call it spiritual or to invoke other non-explicitly religious terms to describe it.
If one closely evaluates examples from popularized yoga, it becomes apparent that it can have robust religious qualities. Pop culture yoga can serve as a body of religious practice in the sense of a set of behaviors that are treated as sacred, as set apart from the ordinary or mundane dimensions of everyday life; that are grounded in a shared ontology or worldview; that are grounded in a shared axiology or set of values or goals concerned with resolving weakness, suffering, or death; and that are reinforced through myth and ritual.
In the postural yoga context, for example, when Iyengar’s students repeat their teacher’s famous mantra—“The body is my temple, [postures] are my prayers”—or read in one of his monographs—“Health is religious. Ill-health is irreligious” (Iyengar 1988: 10)—they testify to experiencing the mundane flesh, bones, and physical movements and even yoga accessories as sacred.
– Andrea R. Jain
Excerpted from "Fake, Evil, Spiritual, Commodified;
What’s the Truth About Popular Yoga?
January 29, 2015
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Jeremy James is a sculptor and printmaker based in Derbyshire in the United Kingdom. His scuptures, such as the one pictured above, are produced in a variety of materials, predominantly fired ceramic. His work ranges from animals, such as hares (see here, here, here, and here), cockerels, otters, crows and ravens, and meerkats, to human figures.
Thursday, February 5, 2015
John MacConnell is a New York City-based artist, illustrator and graphic designer who describes himself as "a multi-disciplinary artist working in everything from pencil to point-and-click."
MacConnell views his fine art as the "foundation of everything," and says that "[my] drawings and paintings represent my thoughts, process, practice, and interests."
To view more of John MacConnell's artwork
and/or to purchase prints, click here.
and/or to purchase prints, click here.
See also the previous posts:
• The Art of Leo Rydell Jost
• The Art of Jim Ferringer
• The Art of Juliusz Lewandowski
• The Art of Felix d'Eon
• The Art of Herbert List
• The Art of Joe Ziolkowski