“Rolled in the midst of never-ceasing currents flowing without rest forever onward.” Rig Veda1,32,10.
Halloween is coming, and with it, Samhain, the ancient, pagan holiday from which it is derived. Samhain is the Celtics holiday which marks the coming of winter and the death of the deciduous plant life for the year. By extention, it also memorializes all the life that has past that year. This passing from the life of Spring and Summer to the death of Fall and Winter is where the idea of Ghosts and Otherworld creatures roaming our world comes from.
The Goddess of the ancient Celts is called Danu. You will be told that this Goddess is specific to the Irish Celts, but the river Danube which runs through Germany is named for her as well. There is another water Goddess even farther from Ireland named Danu. In India. While researching Danu, for a painting this Halloween I found mention of her, and the belief by some that they are the same Goddess. I found that the Indian version of Danu, which is in the Rig Veda, has been demonized just as the European one has. In India she is the mother of Vitra the dragon, who is defeated by indra. Finding out she’s a dragon only makes me like her even more. Here is an abstract painting of her, rendered in ink in honor of Inktober.
It’s 2016 and like many people, I have decided to use this landmark to focus my efforts personally and professionally. To this end, I have decided to concentrate more on meditation and trusting in God this year. Professionally, this translates into focusing more on sacred calligraphy. While I have been doing this for years, I feel that I reached a turning point last year, in making the calligraphy more of a personal expression. This has always been my goal, but at first, I was so worried about getting the letter forms correct, that what I was doing could be better described as hand lettering.
My training for this is particularly unique. Many people study calligraphy, many people study typography, and many people study sacred languages. (Actually, in all three cases, many is a relative term; these are rather specialized fields of study) While there is no doubt some crossover in these three areas, the Venn diagram (imaginary in this case, as I am too lazy to actually research the numbers to make my point) is smallest in area where all three fields of study converge.
In this blog, I will talk in detail about the meditative quality of various methods of sacred calligraphy, the difference between how I approach different styles and different languages, as well as what makes for a good word or phrase. People have been doing this for thousands of years in every culture known, so there’s lots of room to study past masters. Be sure and let me know what your interested in, and if you do sacred calligraphy what your approaches are.
I focus mostly on Sanskrit for my calligraphy. I’m basically learning Sanskrit one sacred word at a time. Sanskrit was developed specifically to record the Vedas, the sacred scriptures of India. There is also Tibetan Sanskrit, which is related, but not the same as the Vedic Sanskrit I focus on. The letterforms of the language are known collectively as Devanagari. There are plenty of Sanskrit scholars who know more than me and Vedic scholars as well. I do not claim to be the foremost authority on these subjects. I do not claim to be the best calligrapher in the world. I think you will find my approach fairly unique, although I don’t think I’m the only one in the world doing what I’m doing. I also am learning Zen calligraphy, which I freely adapt to the various languages as a style while also learning the more straight forward methods of kanji calligraphy. I have also done Hebrew calligraphy. I have done all of these professionally, and am going to expand my repertoire this year. Perhaps I will learn Tibetan Sanskrit and maybe some Arabic. I can only promise it will be an adventure.
Today’s offering in Sanskrit calligraphy is Krishna. The star of the Bhagivad Gita, and the most popular god in the Hindu pantheon, this avatar of Visnu is seen as the supreme personality of the godhead by worshippers around the world.
This rendition is executed in the zen style of brushwork, meant to infuse the piece with energy.$30 plus shipping
This primordial goddess of creation is spoken of in the holy Vedas. She the boundless infinite from which sprang all that is. She is the source, the Mother of all. Here she lays on a a celestial bed surrounded by the universe she brought into existence.
This is a digital reproduction of an original watercolor. Print is 8×10 on rives bfk printmaking paper.