Saturday, April 30, 2011

A strong mother

Hagar and Ishmael by the English painter Frederick Goodall (1822-1904). Here the mother is still strong, totally concentrated on the long march in the desert. Ishmael is also carrying the vital water but above all he’s depending on his mother. She’s marching on.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Snake Goddess

Probably the most inconsistent and multifaceted icon of all bible women is the women with the snake. In her person are blending various myths and characters. At first there is Eve the first woman, the wife of Adam and the primordial mother of all mankind.

But Eve is already much more than this, she also seduces Adam and becomes therefore an ally of the serpent. So frequently she is painted with an apple as the symbol of temptation and the snake as the symbol of the devil. But in many cases these symbols are convertible. For example the apple alone is mostly already a symbol for Eve or the devil, as the snake can be a symbol for Eve and the seduction.

Probably this was from the beginning like this. Because the snake is made of various older mother and fertility goddesses like Ishtar or Astarte. The snake was a very old an powerful symbol of fertility and life, but also wisdom and medicine. The monotheistic and Jewish religion transformed these older female gods into lesser demons like Lilith, the legendary first wife of Adam.

Women with snakes are always seductive and at least a little evil. Maybe they are more orientated at Eve the mother, Eve the seductress or Lilith the demon.

Interesting is also that many modern interpretations, which pretend to be non or even anti Christian, are also depicting the snake women as demons. And because of that they reveal a much greater influence of the Old Testament than of that older oriental cults they pretend to renew. The ancient Snake Goddesses weren’t demons at all but chthonic, helpful deities.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Cruel Sacrifice

Jephthah's daughter a medieval illumination from the so called Maciejowski Bible of the 13th century.

In this cruel scene Jephtah is sacrificing his daughter how he has vowed to God and there’s no Angel of Salvation coming to stop him.
Cruel story by the way, I never understood it.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Femme Fatale

Judith and Holofernes (c.1927) by the German painter Franz von Stuck (1863-1928). Stuck painted here a self-confident strong woman who is ready to behead the helpless man to her feet. It’s easy to see how she enjoys the bloody work and the power.

So she’s less the personification of a biblical legend, but much more a modern femme fatale of the roaring twenties. To made that clear Stuck gave her the typical hairdo of that time.