Thursday, October 30, 2008

RandomBliss: Dressing Up For All Saints

Look closely at the platter -- eyeballs!

Listening to: This music might make you feel holy (tease!), but the art is pure eye candy! (Totally inspiring.)

Bliss: I am using my new weapons of mass creation today to get busy on that book I keep hinting at. Yay! Right to the computer and right to work. No hesitation allowed. Stop right there, stupid Hesitation, you can just take your schlumpy self elsewhere today!

If you really wanted to scare children, or anyone else for that matter, this Halloween, you should be dressing up like a Saint.

Take Saint Lucy at the top. A lovely girl -- if you can get over the fact that she wanders around carrying a platter of eyeballs! And then there's St. Sebastian -- a friend of mine said he was her favorite when she was younger because he was all beefcakey. But then you'd have to get over the blood-dripping arrows if you ever wanted to date him.

This weekend is a powerful time with a lot going on. There is Halloween or Samhein, and for many pagans, this is the true New Year. There is El Dia De Los Muertos, an amazing pagan/Catholic/Mexican tradition that I'll write about more tomorrow. And then over the weekend, All Saints and All Souls.

Three days of the veil thinning between this world and the others -- and all during a new and growing moon. Auspicious indeed. Magical and Mysterious.

All Saints and All Souls are probably the least understood of all the celebrations. And to tell you the truth, I'm still working on it myself, though lately, I have found I have an attraction to the kitschy nature of saint cards. But there must be something else going on besides a love of gaudy art, right? (I say that hopefully...)

When people ask me (and they do!) about the relevance of Saints, I tell them I believe that there is still a place for this in our lives. I explain to them my belief that there is something amazing about a man-made religious institution that has taken into account all the different personality types there are and all the different ways that people may need to utilize to come to some sort of relationship with divinity -- whatever that is for them.

Take all the art in a Catholic church, as an example. A lot of people see this as a sign of the church's decadence. I see it as one of those necessary ways. A long time ago, the church was dealing with an overwhelmingly illiterate laity. These works of art told the stories of the bible and got the theology across in a way that could be grasped without language, in a way that worked on an emotional level.

Looking at saints and martyrs, even nuns I have known see them simply as the church's misogyny. But again, I like to look at things in a positive, affirming, growth-enhancing way, and I think that taken as metaphors and maps these saint and martyr stories can be remarkable tools for winding our way through our own labyrinths of discontent.

The deities of other religions -- especially currently hip religions of the East (religions I happen to also love so I am making fun of myself first) -- the deities of these exotic lands are happily embraced by many seekers. Perhaps it's time to give ol' St. Sebastian a hug? (But watch out -- he's a bit prickly.)

I am sounding silly, yes, but there is a real point to be made...


carlikup said...

Great post. It's so true how everything is about how you interpret it!

epiphanygirl said...

Ok, deep breath... I just wrote a nice long comment and then it vanished. I will find the spiritual lesson in impermanence and try again.

I love that you wrote about religious art right now - so apropos as the novel I am working on involves a man having a crisis of faith as he is commissioned to paint murals in churches. It is so easy to think of those great cathedrals that were constructed when the workers themselves lived in abject poverty as a sign of unsavory decadence. At the same time, they can be perceived as signs of humanity's unquenchable urge to create. Those artists worked with ivory and gold, but how are they different from us as we post our paintings and offer our words in this virtual realm? Certainly this seems like a much more democratic space, but then you realize the enormous luxury represented by computers and high speed internet access. We are all just recording our flashes of divine inspiration, trying to share them with fellow seekers, be they medieval congregates or a blogging community. What an amazing connection to discover between the artists who gave us the iconic images of the saints and those of us moderns who are trying to bring a bit of our vision of heaven to this earth.