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Devotion

Often when we engage in spiritual or religious conversations, some varient of the word “Devotion” is part of it. We art devoted to our path, devotees of our diety, and we measure our success by the amount of devotion we commit to our cause. When I met my first spiritual teacher, we talked about the life long commitment I would be undertaking. I don’t spend every minute of every day contemplating my relationship with the Source, but I do spend time everday, even spare time, not just, “ok, I have to spend a half hour meditating”, but throughout the day, because it is what I am most interested in, I come back to it over and over again.

What I am proposing is rather than creating a difficult regimen to stick to, instead think about just how important your devotion is to you. I like things to not be too structured so that my life can happen organically and I can still make time for what’s important to me. I was lucky that at some point on my journey, I heard a priest being interviewed for the radio, NPR’s “On Being” which is a fascinating look at how various people approach the divine. In anycase, the priest said that he liked to think of God as someone to have over for dinner, in an informal setting. His point was that rather than make every interaction with God formal, you make time for God in your everyday life, wearing your everyday clothes. Yes, there’s time for formal ritual, but I’m a believer that every moment of every day is worship, whether we mean for it to be or not, so how we act when we’re not “at church” is more important than the show we attend once a week.

Much of my work is devoted to the spiritual, but not all of it is specifically focused on that. I figure what I devote to God because I want to will have a better quality than doing it because I feel obligated to do it. There are many ways to devote yourself to God: all the way from simple prayer to becoming a monk or priest. How we treat each other is of primary importance.

I’m trying to keep this vague because whatever path you’re on, I want that to work for you. My understanding of the Deity evolves over time, which I think is healthy because if you have a perfect idea of the deity to start with, and no further understanding is needed then your education on this plane is complete, and you would no longer be confined to it. It may be useful as we go along for me to be specific about my beliefs, which I will do for the sake of getting from point A to point B. If the details of my beliefs don’t mesh exactly with yours, feel free to substitute your specifics for mine, if you find that to be helpful. It can be useful to bring us closer to our Higher Power to have details fill in blank areas that aren’t really turning points in spiritual advancement. For instance; I was raised Catholic, and Catholics believe that Mary was a Virgin when she conceived Jesus. This story helps some people realize the divine nature of Jesus, but to me, my faith in the divinity of Jesus doesn’t hinge on this detail. In some ways this is a story that brings the culture of the ancient world to us so we can enjoy being part of something ancient. On the other hand, it seems to say that even sex between to holy reverent people is somehow bad and Mary conceived Jesus without sex. (The idea that sex was involved, just not w/Joseph, since he was technically not Jesus’ father smacks of a kind of Zuesian tale, which it may in fact have been. My point is all this is a distraction from the teachings of Jesus, which are the focus of the religion.) I know it opens a can of worms to bring up this particular story, but that’s kind of the point. It’s a huge distraction from what important about Christianity. Just one point further on this argument: one often hears that God does this to show that all things are possible through God. Well, then why isn’t it possible for God to do it the conventional way? Of course, God is trying to make a point by doing it uncovnetionally, but I don’t think the point is that all things are possible, it’s that Jesus is more divine that human conception can yield (but if all things were possible to God, human conception could yield a divinity like Jesus; it’s that God is making a point, not that God is constrained.

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Merry Christmas Madonna Icon Card

mary xmas

This painting is reminiscent of icons from medieval times. It evokes the  symbolism used to convey information to a largely illiterate world. In those days, gold coins were beaten with hammers until they were paper thin and then glued to the surface as gold leaf. Gold immediately conveyed the importance of the subject and was used for halos of saints. The only thing more valuable than gold in these times was lapis lazuli, a stone that was a beautiful deep, rich blue in color. This stone was ground into powder and made into paint to clothe the Queen of Heaven; the mother of God: the Virgin Mary.

This holiday season, celebrate in style with a card made from this original painting.

card is 4×6 folded. blank inside. envelope included.

$5 each or 10 for $30 plus shipping

please fill out the form below with your name, email address, shipping address, and number of cards you would like.

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tàijítú Yin Yang Tao Calligraphy symbols

The tàijítú is the name of the symbol commonly known as “yin/yang.” It is a symbol for the complementary nature of opposites; night defines day, shadow defines light; an inhale isn’t complete without an exhale… All existence can be seen to utilize this seeming duality to for a unified whole.

These pieces are rendered using a zen technique that infuses them with chi (the “ji” in “tàijítú”). They are aproxamately 8×10 in size. They are rendered with gold, purple and sumi ink with a sumi brush on lokta paper; a paper made in the Himalayas from materials indigenous to that region.

each piece is $30 plus shipping.

In the form below, enter your name, email address and which style you want and I will execute one especially for you. Please note: as you can see, each piece is individual to itself. The technique used creates a unique piece with each execution. Your piece will not look exactly like any of these but will be the tàijítú (yin yang symbol) rendered on the paper and ink you specify. Your choices of paper are Natural or Red (you can request yellow or blue or purple though they are not shown). Your choices of ink are black (sumi) purple or gold (blue and purple are available but not shown) Note that Contrasting colors such as gold on red will show better than gold on natural.

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Sumi Tao Symbols

Continue reading Sumi Tao Symbols

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Meditation part 1

madonna blueMeditation is an important part of my life. My pursuit of authentic meditation has fueled my spiritual path. When I was a teenager, I was curious to learn about spiritual paths other than the Catholic faith I was born into. A child of divorce, and of a parent who had been previously married, I felt that the rules I had been taught about my family and my soul were not that of a loving and understanding God.
It wasn’t until College that I really became pro active in researching spirituality. Until that point, my thinking was still centered on what had  been drilled into my head since I was born. So I worried that other religions might lead to damnation. Yet I became more and more certain that the people who had been building and guiding the Church were not as divinely guided themselves as they claimed. I was still building a case against my indoctrination into a religion that I had accepted and loved growing up.
I finally came to the conclusion that God showed Himself to different people in different ways. I was certain that God didn’t love Europeans more than Indians or Asains. Why would He expose some people to certain religions and others to other ones if being born in India was a sure ticket to Hell. I also concluded that God would want us to use our brains and our hearts to figure out for ourselves what religion was best for us. Just automatically accepting what I was born into as the only right way to worship seemed arrogant and lazy to me.
I began reading and taking classes that taught comparative religion. I am part Native American, so I went to sweat lodges. I learned about Wicca, which predated Christianity in Europe. Some will take offence at calling it that because it is a modern term. It’s just the term I learned about the worshipers of the Earth Mother Danu. Their way was almost completely wiped out and Danu’s Consort, the horned god, became the image of the Christian devil. Leave it to a Patriarchal society to completely miss that the main deity is a woman.samhain 001

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Sanctuary of the Beloved

devi

I recently had an experience that made me realize that I need to rededicate my life to what I’m passionate about. I have been concentrating on writing and illustrating children’s books, which is one of my life’s deepest passions. However, this is a long, arduous process, even when I’m self publishing and eliminating the middleman of trying to find a publisher. In the meantime, I need a creative outlet and focus to keep me centered in the moment. This has always been mainly spiritual work for me. I do sacred calligraphy, spiritual paintings, poetry and things of this nature. I have always just sort of worked on calligraphy until I feel like I need to work on children’s books and then I want to paint a landscape and then a painting of Mary, and back to calligraphy, and then I make a painting of the Goddess. And then they just sort of get piled on to my website in their various spots.

madonna blue

There’s nothing wrong with this per se; but I had the inspiration to create a space dedicated to my spiritual work, thus giving it a more cohesive feel.

 

The things I create can provide inspiration and solace. We are all given ways to help each other, and I don’t have to be the leader, I can be an artisan that creates little talismans that help people to focus on their spiritual goals, mantras, inspirational motifs.

The space I want to create for these things; for people to come to is the Sanctuary of the Beloved.

The Beloved is the Source. Some may refer to this Source as God, or Goddess; Buddha, Devi, Jesus, Allah; to me all rivers spring from the same Source, and they all lead to the Ocean. The Beloved is how I refer to Her. To me She is Love itself.aditiwc

I once had to evaluate the qualities I would look for in God. Who could I dedicate my soul to? Who could I rely on for steadfast guidance in all things at any time? Was is the God I was raised to worship? The patriarchal figure that gets angry at the slightest provocation? The one who condemns to hell people who aren’t born into the correct religion and perform the functions and rituals just so? The one to whom we ascribe all suffering to being a test? The punisher with a long list of what’s acceptable and what is not?Untitled5

I realized that I was also told that God is love. literally. Not metaphorically. This made sense to me. Here was a God I could do business with. Also, I thought that in all likelihood, the patriarchal idea of God was created by men, human men, to keep women in line. In ancient times some societies were not patriarchal, they were matrilinear; that is men and women were equal, but lineage or birth lines were traced through the mother, not the father. This makes sense because you always know who the mother is. Patriarchal societies had to have strict rules about sex to insure that the king passed his kingdom on to his son and not some other guy’s son. The best way to insure that everyone knew men were in charge was to say that God was a man, and He said men were in charge. We’ve been dealing with this for five thousand or more years. So to counteract that deep subconcsious embedding that God is a man, I celebrate the Goddess, from whom we are all born, who nurtures us and protects us. Who deserves respect and is every bit as wise and powerful as any male deity. A God who was truly Love wouldn’t care what religion someone was. Monotheist religions are meant to control people, not help them to grow spiritually. Besides, Male and female are not complete without each other. If God is a single source, than God is neither male nor female, but God.

Goddess

God as Love is someone I can dedicate my life to; dedicate my soul to. In any situation, you can choose love; You can stop and say, what is the loving thing to do? All the other rules either hold up to this or they don’t. Everything becomes much clearer, much easier. I’m not perfect, but I don’t have to be. because God is Love.

I may go into more detail about my personal beliefs another time. Here, I just want to lay the ground work for the Sanctuary of the Beloved.

The Sanctuary is the heart.

Visit the Sanctuary here

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#AlwaysChooseLove

the faerie TreeI am a scatterbrain. Maybe I have a condition: ADD or ADHD. I don’t know. I flit from subject to subject. Lately I have been concentrating on Faeries. I am in the process of writing and illustrating a children’s book about faeries. It will be written in part if not wholly in some form of verse. I could conceivably write it in verse and prose and claim the whole thing was “free verse” which in part took a prose like form. I’ve read some modern poetry which seems to me to be prose. Incidental reminiscing of mundane events, beautifully rendered and proffered as poetry in the latest poetry journals which I leave on the shelf unbought because I don’t identify with it. It doesn’t touch me or move me. So, whose going to identify with faerie poetry written in some archaic style that people don’t even read anymore? I will I guess.

I’ve eluded to my process before; it’s rather backwards. I’m sketching faeries, writing whimsical verse with a fountain pen in a beautifully bound sketchbook. I’m approaching my subject elliptically, sneaking up on it, as it were. My son has nightmares, so I’ve decided that I am going to have the faeries chase out the nightmares. That’s basically the plot as of now.faerie Knight

I’ve also discovered that the faeries wear armor and live kind of like gypsies; in fancy wagons and stuff. So, it’s slowly taking shape in the fog. The nightmares themselves may be creatures of the otherworld too. My hope is reading this book, children will go to bed, feeling they have the power to drive away nightmares. Psychologically, if one feels they need not fear nightmares, then that is precisely the case. It’s all very FDRian.

So, now I have to come up with the dark creatures, which shouldn’t be a problem, given the genre; there’s probably more scary creatures in the otherworld than friendly ones. I’ll probably have a child for the fae to protect, and maybe Danu herself will make an appearance. That’s why I started this post with the bit about being scatterbrained. I wanted to abandon the faeries and court the Goddess for a time; but in the space of a few paragraphs I see the two aren’t mutually exclusive. The Goddess by the way is Love. whether she is Danu, Devi, Gaia, Demeter or Isis. Or Jesus, or Krishna for that matter. Whatever name you worship: #alwayschooselove.wiccan-grail-001

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Om is Where the Heart Is

omtibet 001 (2)In the beginning was the word and the word was OM. Chanting OM is like a tuning fork for your soul. The ancient sacred sound permeates the Cosmos; creating it and sustaining it.

In the 1950s Bell industries aka the phone company was experiencing static on their lines. They assigned 2 physicists to find the source of the static; Peebles and Dick. What they found was a vibration that emited from everywhere simultaneously. At a frequency that matched exactly what scientists postulated the remnant of the big bang would vibrate at. The universe was created by a sound, and is sustained by it. omEPSON007At Azul BlueDragon, we offer ancient, sacred Sanskrit words and phrases, rendered in the expressive Shodo style of Calligraphy,which utilizes a meditative technique to harness the spirit of Creation, imbuing the very ink on the page with energy.

For a limited time, we are offering a free digital download of the sacred Om, to keep. You can print it out and use it to decorate your home or office. It’s our gift to you. (via Free Download! Om Sanskrit Calligraphy!)

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Free Download! Om Sanskrit Calligraphy!

Download your free digital copy of this hand rendered “Om” Sanskrit Calligraphy! Print it out on your home computer and hang it up to decorate your yoga studio, your meditation space, or for inspiration in your home or office.

Om is the Sanskrit word that represents the sound of the universe; the vibration of this sacred sound creates, and sustains everything around us. When we chant this ancient word, we align ourselves with the universe, spiritually and physically.655697b3-95a6-47d2-886b-5fe73554cc55In order to download this file, click on the image, when the image shows full screen, right click on it and select “save image.”  If you appreciate your free “Om” download, please let me know in the comments. Enjoy!

Note: Only images specified for free download are eligible. All images on this website are the property of rodhillen.com. Any unauthorized downloads constitute theft.

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Sufi Madonna Print

sufi madonna

I painted this during the “Ground Zero Mosque” scandal. I won’t dignify the petty and cowardly story by telling it here. However, the gist was to make people fear Muslims. It occurred to me that the Christian Virgin Mary and the nuns who imitate her dress wear similar clothes to the traditional female Islamic dress. Indeed, it is a sign of our shared culture. So, I studied various versions of the Abaya and Hijab, and came up with the Sufi Madonna. I also wrote a prayer that she would say on our behalf:

Blessed Creator, I pray for your children of the world. That we may be brought together in friendship; I pray you guide us to forgo our petty rivalries, Forget our differences, forgive our mistakes & Forge a new bond under the unity of our commonality. By your grace, yur love & your divine wisdom, amen.

There is a print available of this image with the prayer below here.

 

“We are all God’s children” attests the Sufi Madonna. She is a symbol of all religion as she prays on behalf of mankind.
This is a digital print of an original watercolor painting. print is 5×7 on 8×10 acid free rives BFK printmaking paper.

$30 plus shipping