every subtle attempt to show you like someone ever
The artist is a receptacle for emotions that come from all over the place: from the sky, from the earth, from a scrap of paper, from a passing shape – Pablo Picasso
Part Two in the Biblical Goddesses series
But we will do everything that we have vowed, make offerings to the queen of heaven and pour out drink offerings to her, as we did, both we and our fathers, our kings and our officials, in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem. For then we had plenty of food, and prospered, and saw no disaster – Jeremiah 44:17
Do you remember the furor over Dan Brown’s depiction of Jesus in his book “The Da Vinci Code?” Fundamentalists were up in arms over the idea that perhaps God had a wife…but in ancient times, the Judeo-Christian god Yahweh did indeed have a female counterpart — and among some circles she was worshipped exclusively! Her name is Asherah, Lady of the Sea.
Asherah is a Semitic “mother goddess” who appears in several ancient sources. She was loved by the Jews, Akkadians, Hittites, Canaanites, Sumerians, and possibly the Ancient Egyptians. Due to syncretism, she absorbed the traits of the Goddess Athirat. Her titles are similarly many and include Queen of Heaven, Creator of the Gods, Lady of the Sea, and Holiness.
Contrary to what you may believe, Jews were not always monotheistic: the worship of many deities was at one time a common and acceptable practice. Monotheism came late to Israel’s history. During this early time period, some scholars believe, the Goddess Asherah was worshipped alongside Yahweh, the god of the Bible. We can find evidence of this in the “Good Book” itself: in 2 Kings 21:7, Manasseh builds a statue of Asherah, and Solomon builds temples to many deities. Goddess figurines, along with numerous references to “Yahweh and his Asherah,” have also been unearthed in Israel. Furthermore, biblical verses that describes God as mother [Deut 32:18; Num 11:12-13; Isa 45:9-10, 49:15; 66:13] were probably absorbed from Asherah.
We also see Asherah linked to knowledge, serpents, and sacred trees. We see these symbols in the Genesis creation myth. It makes me wonder about Asherah’s connection to it. Could the serpent in the Garden of Eden be one of her sacred symbols? And what about the trees themselves – is this Asherah imagery?
So-called “asherah poles” are mentioned many times in the Bible. Described as a pole or stylized tree, they are usually written off as phallic symbols and evidence of the pagans’ barbaric attitudes toward spirituality [as though sexuality is barbaric]. To further erase their connection to the goddess, the word asherah is sometimes translated as “grove” or “wood.” Asherah is connected to sacred groves and trees, and by extension fertility; therefore, the “asherah poles” are symbols of how the goddess brings fertility, prosperity, and abundance to the land and the people who dwell there.
Creating poles for the Goddess Asherah was common among the Jews particularly during the tribal period and beyond, even though Deuteronomy 16:21 forbids the practice. The ancient people of Israel seemed to think that honoring Asherah was appropriate within the religion of Yahweh. They built her poles beside his altars and within his temples. In 1 Kings 16:33 and 2 Kings 13:6 we see King Jehu leave one of Asherah’s poles standing, even though he tried hard to destroy the worship of other deities.
Archaeological findings also point to the idea that some ancient Israelites thought of Yahweh and Asherah as a pair, and worshipped as such. The goddess was obviously important to ancient people, and her worship was difficult to stamp out. As Raphael Patai, author of “The Hebrew Goddess,” says: “… it would be strange if the Hebrew-Jewish religion, which flourished for centuries in a region of intensive goddess cults, had remained immune to them.”
But her cult was never eliminated. To this day, people still honor the goddess. Whether you identify as a Goddess Christian, a practioner of Jewitchery, Natib Qadish, or something else, tell us your experiences with the Goddess Asherah.
My partner and I are fostering several kittens for our local animal shelter. Two of them are sick with Coccidia and an eye infection. So we brought them to the shelter a few days ago to receive check-ups and medication.
That was when we spotted a man bring in a black Shar Pei. I thought he was bringing it in to surrender it, in the hopes that the dog would find a better life with a different family.
But when we drew nearer, I saw that this wasn’t the case. The dog was covered with bloody wounds and yellowing scabs. Its skin was dry and crusty. Its fur fell out in chunks, and its neck was completely bare – a telltale sign that it wore a too-tight collar for many years.
I overheard the man say, “I want to put it down. My father doesn’t know how to take care of animals.”
I watched the shelter workers take the Shar Pei to the back. The dog was, amazingly, still friendly after its ordeal. Who knows how long it languished on a short leash with no protection from the elements? Though the dog was in rough shape, it certainly wasn’t so bad off that it had to be euthanized.
Many people in my area take on puppies and kittens, failing to realize that these animals are a 10 – 30 year commitment. They are not toys or tools – they have a rich emotional life and can suffer just like humans can. Because of this, they deserve humane treatment.
If you want a dog to guard your property, invest in an alarm system instead. If you want a fluffy cat to look good on your sofa, get a pillow instead. If you want a companion for years to come, get an animal.
On top of all this are the words a veterinarian working for the shelter told my partner and me. They run out of equipment before the end of each fiscal year. They are over-worked and under-staffed – and they are on salary, so no overtime. Every day, each vet is required to do 20 spay and neuter surgeries. But she admitted that if that was all they did they’d be overwhelmed and fall behind – so she herself has to perform at least 45 surgeries every day.
She said, “We’re fighting a losing battle.”
The shelter is inundated with unwanted animals; there are so many that the youngest often are euthanized just for lack of space if no foster home comes forward. [And this at a no-kill shelter!] The youngest ones have no immunity against diseases that infiltrate the shelter, so they must be put down.
People come from distant counties to our shelter, because apparently ours is one of the few that perform free spay and neuter surgeries. While I am grateful and glad that these pet keepers are doing the responsible thing, I’m appalled that their cities don’t have programs like my city does.
However, many people never take responsibility for the animals they take on. They leave the defenseless creatures to languish and suffer, or they fail to get the animal “fixed,” or they never invest time and effort into socialization or training, and then when the creature is too big or too inconvenient, they dispose of it at the animal shelter. The shelter exists to provide a humane alternative to just letting animals run rampant around neighborhoods. But with the sheer volume of animals that the shelter takes in – this shelter even takes farm animals – it veers into cruel and cramped conditions, which simply can’t be helped with their miniscule budget and even tinier facility.
For these reasons and many more, I just don’t know if it’s moral to breed animals strictly to be companions. Some people want purebred dogs and cats because they want an animal that has a predictable temperament and adult size or appearance. I understand the desire to avoid nasty surprises. But the fact is shelters take in tons of purebred animals. Just today I saw many purebred dogs: a trembling Yorkie, a beautiful Irish Setter puppy, a Mastiff, Bloodhound, and several more. Someone also dropped off a neurotic parrot. I wonder how long till that poor beast is adopted?
And I’m not just thinking about purebred animals. What of accidental litters? With the number of irresponsible pet owners out there and the volumes of unwanted animals, is it right to continue breeding pets? The longer I’m a foster parent for my shelter, the more my opinion changes to a resounding NO.
After less than one month of travail, I am proud to say I finished my novel! I’ve decided to call it “Strange Spark.” I’ll post an excerpt here soon, after some editing.
I also wanted to apologize for the scarce posts this month. Thank you everyone for following my blog, and I hope your Thanksgiving was fantastic!
Redscale is a technique much-loved by toy camera enthusiasts for its unique look and somewhat erratic nature. It involves shooting through the “wrong” side of the film! It is likely that it was discovered on accident by large format photographers long ago: they loaded their film backwards into the camera and didn’t realize it until after the film was developed. Talk about a shock!
But when planned for, redscale can create stunning and beautiful images that range in color from deep, hellish crimson to sunny and subtle golden shades. Expect vignetting, especially if you aim for a deeper red. It also seems to be grainier than normal film.
Redscale film can be bought or created at home. To create it yourself, go to a darkroom or use a changing bag. Bring a roll of film, an empty film canister [make sure it still has a small tab of film still sticking out!], and some tape. Next, tape the tab and the film together, but with opposite sides facing up. Finally, wind the film into the new canister. This last part can take some time. Stop when you feel resistance. Load it into your camera as you normally would.
Shooting Your Redscale Film
Exposing redscale film can be tricky. In my experience, it’s virtually impossible to overexpose it. Now underexposing – that’s all too easy! Shoot your film at least two stops over what the film was originally rated at. What I mean is, if you are using 400 ISO film, shoot it as if it were 100 – and don’t be afraid to shoot it at 50 or even lower! Remember, redscale film is extremely difficult to overexpose. The trick is in avoiding underexposure. I’ve found this rule holds even when using purpose-bought redscale film.
Substantial differences between images should be expected even on the same roll of film. Because of this, redscale lends itself to experimentation. Try soaking it in alcohol before taking pictures. Another idea is to shoot both sides of the film – once in redscale, the other as ‘normal’ film – to create a series of unique and abstract double exposures. Use different filters [blue will cancel the redscale effect]. Long exposure with redscale film is an unusual technique that is not seen very often.
Go take some pictures and remember to have fun!
A few days ago, I had an excess of cashews and several cans of green beans in my pantry, so I decided to make green bean casserole! The result was creamy and dreamy; unfortunately I didn’t take a picture. I really wish I had because this turned out great. I didn’t really measure anything out — it’s a “toss it together” kind of recipe: minimum work, maximum delicious.
Axe is said to be one of the most obscure bands of the 1960s, but their musical gems can still be found on the internet. This is one of my favorite songs by them. It transports you to a magical, innocent world like the realms of fantasy fiction. I find listening to music like this, the kind that takes you to different land, really helps my writing productivity. And with a novel due at the end of this month, I need all the help I can get!
What tools do you use to help with your writing?
I’ve never been much of a novelist – the dinky manuscript I churned out in middle school notwithstanding! Short stories have always been my comfort zone. I have a collection of stories I write for fun, all set in the same science-fiction/fantasy conworld called Kireles. Could one of my ideas – usually saved for the realm of short stories – be transformed into a novel? Over the course of the next month, the answer will be revealed!
Though I have lots of half-baked ideas, I’ve decided to work on a currently unnamed story set in my conworld, in a country called Fal-Kirnosa. [I'm editing a map to upload.] It follows the adventures of 4 creatures – a dog, frog, hen, and cat – after they’ve been exposed to an object that’s beyond their ken. The animals develop strange new abilities. They use their abilities to solve the mysteries that have been plaguing their small village, Dumra Talea.
Though the animals don’t know it, the technology they were exposed to fell out of their planet’s orbit. It belonged to the mysterious Bombarai, an ancient, rock-like race of beings that nearly exterminated themselves in a war that changed the structure of the planet. Some of the mysterious events in their village – and in the world at large – are due to Bombarai interference and that of their archnemeses, the Katred.
I’ve always enjoyed stories where the main characters were animals: the Redwall series, Animal Farm, Wind in the Willows, The Sight, Beasts of Burden. This will be my first attempt at such a thing, however.
I’m nervous because I got a late start; 30 days is already a tight deadline! But it’s the QUANTITY of the words that matter at this stage – not the quality! Besides, as the proverb goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Are any of you writing a novel this month?
An online nest for the all-feminine races of Otherkin
Goddesses of the Ancient World
adventures of a non-binary trans*person in a binary world
2 out of 3 psychologists say I have the attention span of Kim Kardashian's marriage.
Because "exact science is not always exact science."
Gathering a Community of Worldbuilders
A journey through film photography
The Art and Craft of Blogging
The latest news on WordPress.com and the WordPress community.