Recently I was helping a friend move house when I spotted a book on her floor. Immediately captivated by the cover, I picked it up.
It was "The Mother's Songs: Images of God the Mother" by Meinrad Craighead. In the introduction, Meinrad writes;
"I listened to the sound of the water inside, saw a woman's face, and understood: This is God. Because she was a force living within me, she was more real, more powerful than the remote 'Father' I was educated to have faith in. We hid together inside the structures of institutional Catholicism. Through half a lifetime of Catholic liturgies, during school years, in my professional work as an educator, for 14 years in a monastery, she lived at my inmost center, the groundsill of my spirituality."
After her 14 years in a monastery, Meinrad says that the presence of God the Mother in her life could no longer be quelled and "erupted"in her imagery, where the Mother God has continued to guide her hand in art. Since the early 80s she has explored the human-divine relationship, particularly the "brooding, watching, beckoning power she finds in the land around her"...that land being from Europe, cradled in the arms of the Black Madonna, to the American Southwest and its indigenous cultures, where she currently lives.
My friend let me borrow the book, and since bringing it home, I haven't been able to pry it out of my daughter's hands. I googled Meinrad and discovered some of her later work, most of which I share with you here. One painting in particular made me catch my breath. Called "When Artemis Hunts" it plucks the strings of my DNA, much as it did the first time I saw it.... I had a copy of this image by my altar for years, but I never knew the name of the artist.
Perhaps it's the Scorpio in me, but there is a dark element to her work that I really appreciate, and her work feels more honest to me because of it. The forces in nature and the spirits of land and animals often do feel "brooding" to me. Although at times these energies manifest as menace (as long-time readers know, this comes from personal experience!) mostly they are loving, sometimes benign, always powerful and ancient beyond human time and omnipotence. My relationships with animals and spirits of places are ones that I cherish, and they are also ones that I respect. Like having a three headed giant dog for a pet...you're pretty sure he's got your back, and you also never forget that he could bite your head off in an instant, just for kicks. So it is with these deep archetypes. Profound, yes. Nice and domesticated? Not really.
My reacquaintance with Meinrad's work has a sense of right timing. Moving back to a rural area has brought on a process of re-rooting, re-membering, and re-wilding, and with it I have felt humbled and awestruck. The darkness that frightened me at a younger age now unveils itself as truth and blessing . And so it is with honor that I pass the introduction on to you.