Painter of the mystical, otherworldly, sensual, and whimsical.

I'm a painter living and working in the beautiful finger-lakes region of Western New York State. I am also an avid gardener and nature lover, so the lush green rolling hills, gentle streams, and majestic lakes that surround my home in this world often appear in the fantasy worlds of my paintings.

Many of the pieces draw inspiration from folk tales, myths and legends. These "teaching tales" were what drew us together around our hearth-fires for centuries, and I believe those stories still carry power.

I enjoy looking at these ancient tales, through my eyes, and painting what I see, no matter if it's beautiful or disturbing. But what's more fun is when others can see those same paintings and find something within of value that speaks to their soul directly. I do not plan for this, but am honored when it happens, and, oh, yes, do love hearing about it every time that it happens. It reminds me that maybe we are not so different after all.

Glad to meet you, and please enjoy the paintings!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Mabon Traditions

Above:  "Snow White," c. Portia St. Luke

Mabon, also called the Autumnal or Fall Equinox, was also known throughout Pre-Christian Europe by names such as the Second Harvest, Festival of Dionysus, Wine Harvest, Alban Elfed and Cornucopia. With its browns and oranges, violet, maroon, russet and deep gold, this was the festival for grapes and wine, vines and garlands and gourds, with beautiful images of the Horn of Plenty spilling forth its tasty bounty of the fruits of "Second Harvest." In the New World, Indian corn, rattles, and sun wheels were added to the symbolic elements of this turning of the seasons.  It is also a holiday for recognizing ageing and the end of the natural lifespan of the Sun God, born the previous Yule.  It was known to the indigenous people of Europe that, as every year, he would die his natural death on Samhein, at the mid-point between this Equinox and the Winter Solstice.  After His death, November and much of December pass before the new God-as-Sacred-Child returns to the world, bright and shining, when the light returns after the darkest night of the year.  

But, for now, he is aged, and that age is to be honored.  In this festival, gods and goddesses associated with ageing took their place alongside the more boisterous gods of wine. Wine making and adorning graves both had their place in Mabon custom. The indigenous people of the British Isles often tended to their ancient burial cairns in reverence to this "Autumn of Our Days."  To pass a burial sites and not honor the dead was a terrible taboo.

Dogs, wolves and birds of prey came to be associated with Mabon, as did the stones Amethyst and Yellow Topaz. In addition to the ubiquitous grapes, any vines, and especially ivy, were part of Mabon. Hazel and Cedar trees, hops and tobacco added to celebrating the second harvest.  Traditional herbalists were known to recommend attunement teas with elements (individually or blended) of berries, grape, heather, hops, and sassafras. (Sassafras has been found to have serious health risks, however... I would not recommend it.)

A slightly safer method of honoring the deities can be with ritual oils.  I find the scent of ritual oil or incense perfuming a room can transform that space as easily as good music. Apple blossom, hay/straw, black pepper and patchouly go hand-in-hand with the traditions of Mabon.

Speaking of honoring the Deities, there are plenty to choose from throughout Pre-Christian cultures across the world. All grape and berry goddesses and fruit-vegetable deities seem to play a part in Second Harvest.  Specific Goddesses included: Akibimi (Japanese), Anapurna (Indian), Cessair (Welsh), Epona (Celtic-Gaulish), Harmonica (Greek), Lilitu (Semitic), Mama Allpa (Peruvian), Modron (Welsh), Morgan (Welsh-Cornish), The Muses (Greek), Nikkal (Canaanite), Ningal (Sumerian), Ninkasi (Sumerian), Pamona (Roman), Rennutet (Egyptian), Sin (Irish), Snake Women (Aboriginal), Sophia (Greco-Hebriac), Sura (Indian).

Likewise, with the gods, all wine gods and non-grain harvest gods, as well as gods of fruits, ageing, and abandonment, came to be part of this day.  Dionysus (Roman), Bacchus (Greek), Haurun (Canaanite), Hermes (Greek), The Great Horned God (European), Hotei (Japanese), Iacchus (Greco-Tuscan), Mabon (Welsh), Orcus (Roman) and Thoth (Egyptian) were honored.

A traditional practice is to walk in wild places and forests, gathering seed pods and dried plants. Some of these can be used to decorate the home; others saved for future herbal magick.  (Personally, I try to save them to plant next year, but I'm a gardener as well as an armchair cultural anthropologist.) Feasts tend to revolve around grains, fruits and vegetables, especially corn. Cornbread is traditional fair, as are beans and baked squash.  

To celebrate the fortune of a good harvest while also honoring the dead strikes me as being an amazing combination for this day which, above all else, is about balance:  the balance between light and dark, since, tomorrow, the nights will be longer than the days, and we must begin to brace for the oncoming cold.  Gather friends and family close and celebrate what you have, for, tomorrow, it may not be there. 


  1. Sassafras is not dangerous, I have seen some ogf the studies and they are NOT very clear or valid from what I have read. I love sassafras and think it is just silly that people think it is dangerous! Also, did I miss it or did you not mention Samhain (Cletic New Year) in this log list?

    1. Yes, I did mention Samhein. As for the Sassafras, I referenced Web MD, but if you have drank the stuff and survived, that's fantastic. Maybe the warnings are not as dire as they sound?

    2. I grew up drinking sassafras tea made from fresh sassafras side affects of any kind. Web MD clearly has no idea what it is talking about, people have drank sassafras for hundreds of years and have had no ill effects. They discovered some strange substance in it and decided it was bad and dangerous! Little to no proof of any kind.