Saturday 3 August 2019

Goddess or Witch?

   W hen I held a reception for my May 2019 art show at NAC, some young women artists came up to me and asked if I had any pictures of Goddesses because they were planning a group show of Goddesses and would like me to be in it. I said I had half a dozen, but then when I looked through my collection of my own work I found I had a whole  lot more. Getting quite carried away, I did several more and ended up with an entire show of my own. Not hearing any more about the projected group show, I decided to put mine on.

     I learned about the Greek and Roman divinities in high school and was quite moved by them, responding to them pretty much as if  I were an ancient Greek or Roman myself,  But we did not hear anything about any other religion or mythology  apart  from reading the Bible, which, according to British educational practice at the time, we read without any reference to denominational teaching ,  I do not have any Norse or Hindu divinities in my show. However, although it is very bad theology to call the Blessed Virgin Mary divine, I have included her because I think she is so important and I have such a strong attachment to her.  Taken altogether, my show is a tribute to many feminine aspects of the Divine. As the Kabbalah claims, all the different religions are attempts to reach the Divine, which, in itself, is beyond human comprehension.

     My Goddess show will be viewed in the Community Room of the Mahtay Cafe, September 1 to 15, with an opening reception in the same place in the afternoon  of Sunday, September 1, 2019, from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

      The Book Launch, which is part of the same event, is devoted to a second edition of "The Witch Poems", a book of humorous verse which I first wrote and published in 1995 to a fair degree of local success. In fact it sold out and people have been asking for more copies ever since, so I have set out to meet the demand. The Book Launch will take place in the Community Room of the Mahtay Cafe in the afternoon of Sunday, September 8, 2019,  from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m., together with a reception.

     For those who do not already know "The Witch Poems", I should explain that it is a book of poems that are both humorous and at the same time quite genuinely religious, written under the persona of a witch. In my original edition I made some attempt to explain this persona in a foreword in which I referred to certain feminists in Quebec who were calling themselves witches. In fact, a little later, W.I.T.C.H. became quite a popular acronym among feminists all over North America. But simply calling myself a feminist was not a complete explanation.

     Now that I am setting out to give the whole truth, I will say that I had actually been quite strongly influenced  by my friendship with a Gay male witch by the name of Basil Ivan Rakoczi. He is chiefly know for his work as an artist which after his death brought him quite a lot of fame. After running into him at an academic gathering through one of those coincidences which Carl Gustav Jung considers quite uncanny, I spent a great deal of time with him while on sabbatical in Paris many years ago. He took a friendly interest in my writing and painting and it is largely because of him that I have become so productive in retirement. In fact I might almost say that it is only now that, owing to his encouragement, I have embarked on my real career. Unfortunately we parted on bad terms shortly before his death because I was so shocked and frightened by some of his magical practices. I write about this relationship in the completely new foreword to my book.

     Another new feature consists of illustrations of charms and spells which I drew myself and which are much more personal than the otherwise good illustrations done by Lesley Bell for the first edition.

     I owe Basil, to whom I have become reconciled, a debt of gratitude for opening up to me a whole new area of creative independence. On this occasion I ask myself, am I good or bad, loving or hostile, creative or destructive, wise or psychotic, goddess or witch?  But I am really not too concerned about how I may be viewed  because basically I am happy and at peace with myself. I am constantly reminded of my Grandmother's state of depression in old age when she used to repeat "I'm an idle old woman, I might as well be dead." I am so much better off because I am not at all idle and I am glad to be alive, whatever anyone thinks. And so I ask my readers and viewers to accept both aspects of my show: the Goddess and the Witch, and not choose between them.


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