The Awakening collection of works were all completed in the UK and for a year didn’t feel impelled to begin another, I had a series of simple licensed artworks to complete in that time and it was an Irish company I was designing for that persuaded me to come to Ireland to live.
The impetus for moving into the larger works is very different from the usual art, its kind of like the longing you get in your heart when you are missing a loved one and can be very tearful experience as well. So, its not a matter of choice whether to start or not it’s the only course to relieve the pressure.
I felt the initial purpose for the painting was to use it as a freeing agent from a past relationship and resolve the sadness that it hadn't worked out, little did I know the new work was going to be an even bigger challenge to the heart than I imagined.
My normal practice of preparation before I start on a new piece is to firstly dedicate myself to the work, I put a some drops of Aurasoma Christ oil onto my finger then run my finger over my third eye, I then dip my finger in some ash that was given to me by Mother Amma and run that over the oil and pledge to take whatever the Universe throws at me to energise the art. This action certainly triggers a deep connection and for a while its effect has me wandering around aimlessly in a heightened state until the energy balances out. It also brings disruption of anything electrical with it.
There is never any inkling of the new work in my head or heart and often the first drawings are a poor guide to what the actual painting will eventually turn out to be. The initial Tara roughs certainly gave no clue and the usual conflict rose up as the impetus for connection and release didn’t match the first sketches. I am often asked about the inspiration for the work and although I worked with the energy I accepted as Merlin, since the awakening experience I don’t try to categorise anymore and accept the energetic impression as a facet of a Universal whole. So, for each new art there’s an energetic marrying process that I need to go through, slowly the gradual immersion of the Beloved into the pen, brush and this humble vessel connect as one.
The first sketches flickered into life and with that, so the drawing grew beyond what I had originally imagined. So now I reach the next stage after I get past the first couple of roughed out ideas, I often move into a fear and overpowering love comes up at this stage as the enormity of the work ahead shows its head. At this stage I often lay down and sleep for a short time and this seems to offer time for quietude, further alignment and to embrace the inspirational process.
From the beginning I felt that the Green Tara was going to be the centrepiece of the work, she was a massive influence and devotion for my ex girlfriend, so sketching her out really pulled at my emotions and tears turned into release. I remember that I posted the initial roughs of the Green Tara on my Facebook page and a few people commented on the picture and wrote about symbols that were attributed to her and other deities. One of these mentioned the symbols of the raven and hare that were connected to Tara, and that those same symbols were also linked Brigid, Kali, Quan Yin and the North American Indian Sky Woman. Though unsure of the validity of the discovery, it did trigger a surge in energy and whatever the truth of my discovery the rough drawing quickly started to take shape. The push to stay at the drawing was intense and worked pretty much continuously for two days to complete the sketch, while completing one section the next section was already forming in my head, there was a real sense of urgency. When the flow is in full intensity I would create a small shrine on the artwork each evening with candles, incense and offerings, to anchor the potency and in recognition of the sacredness of the work in progress. This wasn't Courtney opening his heart but the creation of a portal, a gift from the Beloved that the observer can both move into and embrace to the heart.
The drawing completed, I then went to a wood yard to get a sheet of MDF board cut to the size of the image, this then leads to one of two stages that always bring concern. The first is the pasting of the cartridge paper onto the board, its often a period that turns into blind panic as the cartridge paper gets wet, bubbles appear and when trying to repair the paper it sometimes tears and distorts out of shape. The stretching of course throws out any straight and circular designs and at some point will require careful attention as the painting reaches these areas. Although in one way it's a headache, there is a quite satisfaction in working on the damaged areas and working them through with great care, so the imperfection becomes hardly noticeable. These times always seem to be an immense healing for the painting and myself, these moments can often be some of the special times working on the art.
When creating my art I am very conscious of my breathing pattern, this gathers my attention to the present moment and steadies the movement and the guiding of the brush and pen. Our idea of stillness is static, but being totally connected to the fluidity of my breathing, both in and around my breath, within the movement and without any resistance whatsoever, that movement has the quality of stillness.
Now the Universe, the Beloved, has a habit of pulling the rug from under you when you are least expecting and unbeknown to me, my rug was beginning to shift now.
As I have said at the beginning, my original focus for the art was to use the practice to release the remnants of a past relationship and as it progressed I was feeling confident that it was helping to free the endless reviewing of its past, going into a 360 degree viewing of the relationship I became aware of how much Courtney was wishfully creating a one sided scenario and then being disappointed that the outcome wasn’t like I imagined. At the time I had just lost my entire business and was living in my car and I was looking for a partner to share and enjoy some comfort, I realised later that no matter how I longed for this to occur, it was never going to come from this person. The more I contemplated the story, its truth and wishful thinking, so gradually the connection healed and was allowed its freedom.
After a couple of weeks of very intense work, the inspirational flow suddenly switched off, on these occasions there is quite a shock to the system when this powerful driving force suddenly abates, it becomes impossible to continue and any amount of meditation, mindfulness or physically pushing from my side to restart are a waste of time . At these times you can only accept and put the picture to one side. Interestingly in the 40 odd years of working with the Merlin Energy I always began and completed each and every work I started, nothing was ever discarded as unusable, I only had one occasion when he stepped away and another energy took his place for a time, the inspirational flow never stopped.
I live a very secluded life normally, so it was nice change to be offered the opportunity to exhibit my art at a spiritual event in Dublin and with it the chance meet new people.The exhibition was a costly disaster and my spirit was pretty low. The Beloved though had a bit of mischief up its sleeve and I suddenly caught a glimpse of a female studying the display of my art, she seemed very familiar and I felt a strong connection. A voice in my head seemed to tell me to take notice and not to let her leave without finding out who she was. We did connect later and we chatted for a time on Facebook and got to know each other. I knew for many reasons this was never going to develop into a relationship, so I had two options, I could either run away from the situation or could stay and see how this connection was to develop. Both avenues were going to be very hard either way and I felt I needed to express what was happening so she was clear of the situation, thankfully she was happy to accept our obvious connection and to see where it carried us.
How often when someone is trying to open up to us, do we half listen because we are busy working on our own response and we only pick up the sound bites we want to hear. With the past relationship I was trying to discard, I was always picking up the bits I wanted to hear or feel, bits that my mind could conjure and distort the messages so that they would strengthen the fantasy relationship building my head. I decided to keep working at my association with this new lady. The positive aspect is that I started dropping my guard to my heart and for me a more powerful kindred connection arose between us. This new kinship taught me so much and reprogrammed the way I could share my life in a deeper way yet not complicated by romance, the realisation how much thought intercedes and manipulates what we hear and see, feeding us the results in miss information that often holds no vestige of truth. could and being a good listener. It’s about loving someone freely enough that you want the best outcome that will make them happy, sharing in the moments together with openness, rather than with thought planning some unknowable future. We now have a deep affection for each other, more than I could have hoped and can both talk safely in each others company, listening from the heart without fear and from a place of true friendship and I am ever grateful that she allowed this journey to develop with the crazy person. This experience changed my life and I realised that as the friendship grew so I was sharing that same opening of the heart to all I connected with.
When I was invited to exhibit my art on Tara in the July so the painting reignited, was completed and sold, its proceeds were invested in the Tara Open Studio. The painting affirmed to me that firstly its prioritising what I can do for the Universe instead of continually asking for what it can do for me. .
Secondly it was allowing the Beloved to be more playful and not wanting to desperately reach the conclusion to a solution of a perceived problem before fully experiencing and working through its lesson. Enjoying the playfulness of the ride getting there, often highlights imperfections along the way we may have overlooked and no matter how small still need our attention.
The Raven is sacred in many cultures throughout the world and is a symbol of protection, wisdom, and magic, and bringing back the sun. Raven legends were prevalent through many Native Americans tales and the Raven is associated with the Sky Woman myths. This large bird feeding as it does on carrion with its black plumage and disturbing deep hoarse croak is often viewed with some foreboding for it can be seen as an omen of death. It can also be associated as a source of power, straddling as it does the worlds of the living and the dead therefore often depicted as messenger between the two.
The raven appears in various myths as a trickster appearing as dark and violent in the stories of the Hindu Goddess Kali and the Celtic Goddess the Morrigan, the shape-shifting Goddess of War, Fate and Death. She also presided over rivers, lakes and fresh water, in addition to being the patroness of revenge, night, magic, prophecy, priestesses and witches. The Morrigan and Kali are also seen as a benevolent mother goddess. The raven is considered to be one of the oldest and wisest of all animals and the favorite bird of the Celtic god Lludd, the Celtic god of artists and artisans.
In Greek mythology, ravens are associated with Apollo, the god of prophecy and are said to be a symbol of good luck, and were the god's messengers in the mortal world.
In Viking myth two ravens sit on his (Odin’s) shoulders and whisper all the news which they see and hear into his ear; they are called Huginn and Muninn. He sends them out in the morning to fly around the whole world, and by breakfast they are back again. Thus, he finds out many new things and this is why he is called ‘raven-god’ In Cornwall, it is considered very unlucky to kill a raven as its believed that the Legendary King Arthur lives on in the form of a raven.
Brigid appears in Irish mythology as a member of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the daughter of the Dagda and wife of Bres, with whom she had a son named Ruadán. She was, and continues to be, known by many names. Referred to as Bride, Bridey, Brighid, Brigit, Briggidda, Brigantia, one of her most ancient names is Breo-saighead meaning fiery arrow, and within that name is the attribute of punishment and divine justice. She is the traditional patroness of healing, poetry and smithcraft, divination and prophecy which are all practical and inspired wisdom. As a solar deity Her attributes are light, inspiration and all skills associated with fire. Smithcraft is connected to stories concerning the creation of the world, utilizing all of the Elements to create and fuse a new shape. The role of the smith in any tribe was seen as a sacred trust and was associated with magical powers since it involved mastering the primal element of Fire, moulding the metal (from Earth) through skill, knowledge and strength.
As the Goddess of springtime and new growth her festival is held on Feb 1st, a Cross-Quarter of the Celtic Year called Imbolc. This celebration, involves itself with the lighting of fires, purification with well water and the ushering in of the new year (Spring) by a maiden known as the Queen of the Heavens.
She is also the Goddess of the Well and the Waters for they are the doorway to the Underworld and the womb of our Mother, the source of all life and she increases fertility of land, livestock, and women.
She is famed for Her green mantle (ie, cloak), which protects all who shelter beneath it.
Brigid is the Mother Bear archetype also known as a Warrior Goddess who is fierce and ruthless in the protection of women and children. She is said to be present at every birth, blesses midwives in their work, and protects all children, especially infants.
As a Celtic Goddess of flame, Brigid is a Sun Goddess, Goddess of the Dawn. (To the Celts, the Sun was feminine, and Light was masculine.) She is represented by the hearth fire and associated with the emotional warmth of the family home.
The Brigid Cross is associated with St. Brigid of Kildare and usually woven from rushes and typically has four arms tied at the ends and a woven square in the middle. Historically, there were also three-armed version and has pre-Christian origins is related to the sun cross. The crosses are traditionally made in Ireland on St Brigid's feast day, 1 February. Traditionally they were set over doorways and windows to protect the home from any kind of harm.
Priestesses used to gather on the hill of Kildare to tend their sacred ritual fires in pre-Christian times while invoking a goddess named Brigid to protect their herds and to provide a fruitful harvest.
When St. Brigid built her monastery and church in Kildare she continued the custom of keeping the fire alight. For her and her nuns the fire represented the new light of Christianity, which reached the Irish shores early in the fifth century.
Elen Of The Ways, This female pagan deity is unique in that she is the only horned goddess, wearing the antlers of the female reindeer, in turn the only deer whose females are antlered. Elen is the guardian of the leys, the ancient track ways and this is where "the Ways” part of her name comes from. Her earliest tracks were the migratory paths of the reindeer, some of which are now under the sea, like the trails of Doggerland, and here is the close association with them. Another link to the trackways is her mantle as Star Goddess. Perhaps she's an early incarnation of Arianrhod. If you lay upon the ground the whole of a clear night, you would see that the stars and constellations move across the sky. Due to the turning of the earth, the stars follow a circular path, centred on the North Star. Here, at the centre of the circum-polar stars, is Caer Arianrhod, the heavenly Otherworld castle and abode of the dead.
She is seen by many as a female equivalent of the Green man and Cernunnos, or a consort to Herne the hunter. She is Goddess of both fauna and flora. She has links to the shamanic peoples of Scandinavia, the territories of modern day reindeer. She also appears in the Mabinogion, a collection of Welsh myths, the daughter of a king. Elen Llwyddog, or Empress Helen, has been thought to be responsible for building the roads across Wales that connected the strongholds in order to protect the country.
As Lady Sovereignty, she is concerned with the balance of the energies of the land, via the ruler, facilitating the sacred marriage. She is the Grail bearer, holding within her the sacred cup from which the royal line continues, along with the secret, sexual magic that activates the energies of the land, bringing fertility and plenty.
There are many similarities between the Irish Cailleach and Elen who are both indelibly linked to the land, both Ladies of the Beasts, though one Light and one Dark, perfectly balanced.
Kuan Yin in Sanskrit means “she who hears the cries of the people”, she the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, is a manifestation of the Divine Mother and serves mankind in much the same way as Mother Mary. Many thinks of her as the Buddhist Madonna and Saviouress of the East. Her names are as numerous as those of Mother Mary and her title and office as a Goddess denotes her level of attainment as a Cosmic Being.
To the people of Japan, she is known as Kannon and in China her name is Guanyin and also Miao Shan, a legendary Chinese Princess known for her great compassion or by her popular Tibetan and Mongolian name of Tara.
Kuan Yin is a bodhisattva, a being of wisdom destined to become a Buddha. She has taken the vow of a bodhisattva to save all beings from suffering by forgoing the final state of Buddhahood. She comes as the Mother to dispel all maya (illusion) and is called the Goddess of Mercy because she embodies the flame of mercy and compassion. She shows us through the flame of forgiveness how to free ourselves from all hardness of heart and teaches us to have compassion for all.
There are many legends surrounding this celestial bodhisattva, one legend says Kuan Yin paused on the threshold of heaven as she was about to enter when she heard the anguished cries of the world. Out of compassion for the suffering of others, she turned and vowed to remain and help those in need for however long this may take. The bodhisattva vow is a sacred and holy vow and not one to be taken lightly. Kuan Yin is a nurturing Mother and the love and compassion she has for all is truly great. It is said that Guan Yin can take any form to help others. Thus, she can be represented in both a male or female body (although the female is more common).
The symbols that are associated with and sacred to Quan Yin include a lotus, black tea, rice, sweet cakes and rainbows. Being a fertility Goddess she is associated with birth and protects young children. Crystals and Minerals associated with Quan Yin are Rose Quartz, Amethyst, Malachite, Rhodocrosite, Aventurine, Rose Calcite, Nirvana Quartz, Kunzite and Green Tourmaline. All of which resonate primarily with the Heart Chakra energy center for healing and self-love.
Sky Woman, tribal affiliation: Iroquois, Huron. Also known as: Mother Goddess, Sky Spirit, First Woman Grandmother Moon, the Woman who Fell from the Sky
Sky Woman is the Iroquois mother goddess, who descended to earth by falling through a hole in the sky. She was a celestial being who was cast out of the heavens either for violating a taboo or through her jealous husband's treachery; waterbirds carried her down to the sea and set her on the back of a turtle, which became her home (Turtle Island.) Sky Woman is either the grandmother or the mother (depending on the version) of the twin culture heroes Sky-Holder and Flint, sometimes known as Good Spirit and Bad Spirit.
In some Iroquois myths Sky Woman is a minor character who dies in childbirth immediately upon reaching the earth, while in others, she is the central character of the entire creation saga. In some myths Sky Woman is the mother of the twins, but more commonly she is the mother of a daughter, Tekawerahkwa or Breath of the Wind, who in turn gives birth to the twins. In some Iroquois traditions, the twins represent good and evil, while in others, neither twin is evil, but Flint represents destruction, death, night, and winter to Sky-Holder's creation, life, day, and summer. Sky Woman is associated with the moon by many Iroquois people and in some traditions, Sky Woman turned into the moon; in others, Sky-Holder turned her body into the sun, moon, and stars after her death; and in still others, it was Sky Woman herself who created the sun, moon, and stars.
Goddess Tara is probably the oldest goddess who is still worshipped extensively in modern times. According to the Hindu Mythology she originated as the Great Goddess Tara, she is the Mother Creator, representing the eternal life force that fuels all life, the Feminine Goddess who manages the Earth and Heavens, birth, love and war, death and regeneration, the seasons, the entire creature that lives and grows in Moon cycles, whose favorite animals are the sow, mare, owl and raven.
Tara is the Sanskrit word which means "star", Tara is seen as Mahatara, the supreme creator and mother of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. She is only one goddess who is common in Buddhism, Jainism, and particularly, Tibetan Lamaism as well. She manifests asceticism, mysticism, & a protector of humanity. There are many embodiments of Tara, but the best known are the White Tara who gently protects and brings long life and peace and the Green Tara is the "Mother Earth", and a fierce goddess who overcomes obstacles, and saves us from physical and spiritual danger. She was also called She Who Brings Forth Life
Tara originated as a Hindu goddess, a Great Goddess -- the Mother Creator, representing the eternal life force that fuels all life. Reference to the goddess Tara, perhaps, is found in an ancient saga of Finland thought to be 5 thousand years old. The saga speaks of a group known as Tar, the Women of Wisdom. A version of the Goddess Tara exists in virtually every culture. Indeed, it is said that the Goddess Tara will assume as many forms on earth as there are needs for by the people.
The Celts called their Great Goddess Tara. Her name is thought to be the root of the word Tor, which is a mound of earth or hillock imbued with spiritual energy or connection to the other worlds. We also hear the echo of her name in the Latin word for earth, Terra, a connection between Tara and the concept of "Mother Earth".
The Goddess Tara is also associated with Kuan Yin, the great Chinese goddess of compassion. In South America she was known as the ancient mother goddess Tarahumara. The Cheyenne people revere the Star Woman who fell from the heavens and whose body became the earth that provided them with food.
The ancient Egyptian Goddess Ishtar who, in her myths, came to earth from the heavens and instructed her people to co-mingle and intermarry with the earthlings to give them the benefits of their learning and wisdom was yet another incarnation of the Goddess Tara.
In the legends of Tibet where the worship of the Goddess Tara is still practiced in the Buddhist tradition, it is told that the goddess Tara is the feminine counterpart of the Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva who is reincarnated as the Dalai Lama. Bodhisattvas are beings who have reached enlightenment and are 'eligible' for Budda-hood but have postponed their own nirvana, choosing instead to be remain in the cycle of birth and rebirth in order to serve humanity and assist every being on Earth in achieving nirvana themselves. It is told that Tara first appeared rising from a lotus blossom in the lake that had formed from Avalokitesvara's tears of compassion, tears that fell when he first beheld the scope of suffering in the world.
In Celtic tradition, the hare is sacred to the Goddess and is the totem animal of lunar goddesses such as Hecate, Freyja and Holda - the hare is a symbol for the moon. The Goddess most closely associated with the Hare is Eostre, or Ostara. The date of the Christian Easter is determined by the phase of the moon. Buddhists have a saying about the "shadow of the hare in the moon" instead of the man in the moon. They see the hare as a resurrection symbol. The moon is perhaps the most manifest symbol of this universal becoming, birth, growth, reproduction, death and rebirth. The moon disappears, dies and is born again, and this underlies most primitive initiation rites, that a being must die before he can be born again on a higher spiritual level - thus the Hare is a symbol of immortality. The gestation period of a Hare is 28 days, the same time as the moon.
It is also a major symbol for fertility and abundance as the hare can conceive while pregnant. Over the centuries the symbol of the Hare at Ostara has become the Easter Bunny who brings eggs to children on Easter morning, the Christian day of rebirth and resurrection. Hare hunting was taboo but because the date of Easter is determined by the Moon together with the Hare's strong lunar associations, hare-hunting was a common Easter activity in England (and also at Beltane). There are many examples in Celtic mythology, and storytellers still relate tales of women who can shape-change into hares and many witches were reported to have hares as their familiars.
The hare was sacred to the White Goddess, the Earth Mother, and as such was considered to be a royal animal. Boudicca was said to have released a hare as a good omen before each battle and to divine the outcome of battle by the hare's movements. She took a hare into battle with her to ensure victory and it was said to have screamed like a woman from beneath her cloak.
Mad as a March Hare: Spring equinox is a time for fertility and sowing seeds, and so nature's fertility goes a little crazy. In medieval societies in Europe, the March hare was viewed as a major fertility symbol -- this is a species of rabbit that is nocturnal most of the year, but in
Hares don’t live in warrens or have maternity nests and the young Hares are born so well-developed that they can fend for themselves within a few hours of their birth.