Papa Legba, the Gatekeeper

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Papa Legba is the voodoo spirit of the crossroads.

He acts as the intermediary between the Loa (African spirits/deities) and humans. Papa Legba is always the first and last spirit to be invoked during any ceremony because he opens and closes the doors between worlds.

Papa Legba is known as a trickster deity and a master linguist.

He is said to speak every language on the planet. This allows him to translate messages from the human world to the deities of the divine world. There can be no communication with any of the other Loa’s without consulting him first.

He’s known by many names throughout the world.

In Santerian tradition he’s called Elegua and in Brazil he’s known as Exu. He’s often depicted wearing a straw hat and walks with a cane. He has dogs by his side as well as a black chicken. In this painting of him I wanted to portray him in his most traditional sense. Some newer versions of Papa show him with a top hat and skull-like makeup on his face. Although this is not his traditional portrayal.

In this painting of Papa Legba, he’s standing at a crossroads holding onto his skull-topped cane and smoking his pipe.

He has a straw hat upon his head and he’s holding a ring of keys. Since he’s also known as the gatekeeper, keys are also associated with him. His loyal dog companion is ever by his side while a black chicken scurries by in the background. Papa Legba has many similarities to the Greek Goddess Hekate and in my opinion can almost be seen as a male, voodoo version of her.

This original painting will be for sale and prints will be made very soon for those who are interested!

How do you view Papa Legba?

Inanna, Sumerian Queen of Heaven

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Inanna, Queen of Heaven

Inanna is the Sumerian Goddess of love and fertility.

She was known as the Queen of Heaven and Earth and she was also associated with the Underworld. Inanna was often depicted with the crown of Heaven upon her head and she was flanked by lions and owls. Her symbol is the 7 pointed star or the rosette which is the symbol of the planet Venus.

In this painting I wanted to give her a crown befitting a Goddess of Heaven and love.

Her crown has a starburst around the outer portion with dangling hoops and stars. The colors of the crown and of her necklace are the traditional Sumerian colors of blue, red, yellow and green. Very similar to the traditional ancient Egyptian colors. Her striking collar is made of bright stones such as lapis lazuli, red jasper, green malachite and gold.

There are many myths surrounding Inanna and one of the most famous is that of her descent into the Underworld to visit her sister, Ereshkigal.

Some scholars believe that Ereshkigal is a darker aspect of Inanna. One day Inanna dressed in her finest travels to the Underworld to visit her sister because her sisters husband had just died. Before she enters the Underworld, she tells her advisor how to come to her aid should she fail to return when expected. Upon her arrival she knocks on the gates to the Underworld and the gatekeeper asks who it is. She replies that it is Inanna, Queen of Heaven and Earth and she asks to be allowed to enter.

Ereshkigal, upon hearing that her sister has come to visit, tells the gatekeeper that Inanna is only allowed to enter one gate at a time.

She must go through the seven gates of the Underworld and she must take off a piece of her garments at each gate before she is allowed to enter. By the time Inanna enters the throne room of Ereshkigal she is naked. Standing before Ereshkigal, Inanna realizes that she has been tricked. The judges of the Underworld surround her to pass judgement upon her. Then Ereshkigal turns Inanna into a corpse.

Thankfully Inanna’s advisor notices that she has been absent for too long and devises a plan to rescue her.

Her advisor goes to Inanna’s father who gives him two demons to help rescue her. They fly to the Underworld where they find Inanna dead, naked and left exposed. At the orders of her father, they hang Inanna on a hook on the wall. They then give her the food and water of life and she rises from the dead.

This myth is very symbolic for our own descent into the dark places inside ourselves.

We enter there raw and unprotected and after we have experienced our pain we rise again refreshed and renewed.

This painting is one in my devotional art series which I am currently taking custom orders for.

If you’d like your very own custom devotional painting you can read more about it here.

La Santisima Muerte

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La Santisima Muerte

La Santisima Muerte also known as Santa Muerte or the Holy Death is a Mexican folk saint associated with death, protection and love.

Santa Muerte is a misunderstood saint like most deities associated with darkness and she is not recognized by the Catholic church. She called to me recently after I was introduced to her by a friend and I felt compelled to paint and image of Her.

Like all deities, Santa Muerte has a back story.

Some scholars say that she is derived from the Aztec Goddess of Death, Mictlantecuhtli. Although because she is technically a saint, there is another story about her as well. It is said that the saint of death was born in Santa Ana Chapitiro in the sixteenth century. She was born the size of an adult woman with a light complexion and brown hair. Her parents were afraid that the Spaniards would steal her because of her beauty so they kept her locked up in their hut.

One night she escaped and began wandering from village to village.

People who came across her were afraid thinking that she was some kind of spirit because she wore a white robe. Eventually rumors spread of a beautiful woman clad in white who was wandering the villages and she was arrested on charges of witchcraft. She was tied to a stake upon which she was to be burned alive.

As the flames engulfed her and then turned to ash the crowd gasped in amazement as her skeleton was still completely intact.

A friar named Juan Pablo told the crowd not to be scared but grateful that God allowed them to see the Most Holy Death. That’s how she was known from that point on. Supposedly her skeleton is hidden away somewhere in the town of Santa Ana Chapitiro.

In this painting I wanted to portray her in her sacred colors.

There are seven colors associated with her but the three main colors are white, red and black. The others are green, blue, purple and gold/yellow. She is usually depicted holding a scythe and carrying a crystal ball which is also portrayed in this image of her. Roses (which are also associated with her) frame the outside of the glowing light around her.

Have you ever worked with La Santisima Muerte?

She of the Oceans

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This painting was inspired by the beautifully colored water of the ocean.

The ocean is a forceful and unforgiving element. It’s as alluring as a sirens call. You stand upon its shores and you feel the pull of the waves. You feel the powerful sea breezes blowing against you. The smell of salt is in the air and your toes are snuggled deeply into the warm sand. The beach brings about many emotions.

We all seem to become playful like children while we’re at the beach.

People run up to the shore, dip in a toe and then run back laughing when the waves catch them. They play a game of catch me if you can. And then they finally relent and give into Mother Ocean. They jump in and float among the waves feeling Her healing waters upon their skin. They sneak a peek under the waves to see what kind of creatures join them in their reverie.

I live close to the ocean and try to go whenever I can.

One day while I was sitting upon the sand enjoying the breeze flowing through me, I noticed a group of orange clad monks playing in the water. They too would run up and dare the waves to catch them. They would laugh and cheer when She finally did. The ocean brings out the child in us. Even the most serious and holy among us. My hope with this painting is to inspire the child in you. And to serve as a reminder of the playfulness of the ocean.

She of the Sunrise

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She of the Sunrise

This painting was inspired by the euphoric feeling of watching a sunrise.

Witnessing the sun rising over the mountains has a primal and ancient feel to it. A feeling that brings us back to our roots and allows us to start the day refreshed and renewed. A chance to rethink our plans, goals and decisions and to look at things from a different perspective.

The sunrise brings with it the promise of a new day and a new beginning.

No matter what happened the day before, a new day equals a new start. We all feel refreshed after a good nights sleep. And when we rise in the morning, it’s almost as if everything that happened the day before is a faded and distant memory of years gone past. Today is the day we can make a difference. Today is the day we can choose to live our lives differently. Today we begin anew as the sun begins anew each day.

I wanted to portray the Goddess in this painting as Isis, the Egyptian winged-Goddess of the universe.

She is propping up the sun as it rises to its zenith in the sky. Her wings rise with the sun and reflect the same bright colors that hang on the skyline. Jewel tones such as red, pink and magenta and warm colors of yellow and orange adorn this sacred painting. The Goddess sits in a green field of brightly colored wildflowers with the mountains as her backdrop. My hope with this painting is to remind you that each new day is a chance for a new start. What we do today is what matters most.

Where are your favorite places to watch the sunrise?

She of the Mountains

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This painting was inspired by the beauty of the mountains.

The mountains call to me and beg me to come and sit upon their rocky cliffs. No matter how long I go in between each visit to the mountains, they still take my breath away and send me into a feeling of awe and appreciation. I don’t live anywhere near mountains. Quite the opposite as I live along the coast close to the raging ocean. Though I feel most at home in the mountains.

In this painting I wanted to portray a Goddess or woman who sits in the mountains surrounded by trees and she is connected to the earth by her roots.

She is also connected to the twinkling stars in the night sky above her. She is connected to All. Life flows through her and into the earth and continues through the moon-filled sky. She is one with everything. She helps us to realize that we are all connected. That we are all One.

Colors of deep purple, dark blues and forest greens adorn this sacred painting.

These colors all represent the deeper connections to the spirit and the earth. They also give off a calming energy with a slight sense of euphoria. These colors bring us back to our roots and help us to dream and wonder. We can imagine other worlds with a violet sky and indigo blue mountains. My hope with this painting is to remind people of the sacredness of nature and our connection with our Mother Earth.

What is your favorite way to connect with nature?