Oshun’s Justice Shield 1998

Making Art for the Spirit

Oshun’s Justice Shield


__

optz_oshunjustice2016_25percent804x5_8bit-nobkkgrnd-copy

__

Oshun’s Justice Shield

This artwork is protection medicine assigned by the Ifa oracle. I think of it as an “Ebo artwork”—that is, art assigned in divination for a specific purpose as a gift offered to recieve medicine or protection from a particular Orisha or ancestor.
__
Ifa required that a mirror be attached to the shield. Mirrors are a common protection tool in Ifa. The attached hanging pouch containing medicine prescribed by the oracle was also required. The creative decisions regarding materials and decorations were mine. The figure holding the mirror is a representation of a Neolithic clay sculpture that archaeologists have identified as a female deity with a bird’s head, or a female bird/snake deity. Numerous examples have been found along the Nile River and dated circa 4000 BCE.(1) She is the “Nile River Goddess” to me, 6000 years old.

Mixed Media: leather, found stick (attached to back), palm twigs, paint, circular mirror, pencil, cord, African goddess charm, African brass ring beads; 7″ X 10″, © 1998
________

The following texts accompany the Oshun’s Justice Shield artwork in Making Art for the Spirit:

desire is the fire of justice

Oshun is the Orisha of sweet water, love, sensuality, beauty. She is also a courageous female warrior. Oshun fights for women. Leopard is one of her animals, Vulture is another. Robert Farris Thompson wrote: “Children of Oshun have valiant hearts, [a] home for the leopard’s ashe.”(2)

Oshun’s justice arises from her female powers of contraction, allure, desire and motivation. She has “an attractive moral force”(3). This is the kind of attraction that draws us when we see something beautiful. Stemming from desire, this attraction motivates.

Oshun as represented by Vulture is the only Orisha who can take prayers directly to of Olorun (the inhabitants of heaven)— Oshun’s ashe carries the power for altering one’s destiny. As goddess of sexuality, creativity, fertility and abundance Oshun can motivate individuals, communities and nations to strive for the impossible, to rise above limitations [heritage, environment, physical ability]. She is the potential for working miracles. (4)

The practice of putting honey on the eyes for clearer vision and power is mentioned in songs about Oshun: ” ‘owner of the waters” who ‘frees a relative’ refers to the freeing of slaves in Cuba and the diaspora. . . songs collected by Mason show recall of the medicated water [honeyed water] that allows her followers to see again: ‘World comes to this owner of the waters to free a relative. . .’ “(5).
________
__
Abundance and the Queen of Justice was written in 1998 for an ebo received from Ifa divination.

Abundance & the Queen of Justice

Abundance. Oshun. River Goddess lives close and connected to her sister Earth. Walking, dancing, raging, flowing her to her, she is always moving, awakening passion, power, love and desire. Oshun’s sweet water feeds our living plants, animals, humans. Sweetness is what we need.

Oshun’s veve is an expanding heart, heart is the vessel of life. From heart blood flows nourishing my body bringing oxygen, nutrients and antibodies (warriors of health and healing) to my whole being. Oshun’s heart sustains life on Ile Aiye, Earth.

The biosystems of our planet are mutually interdependent. Many Orishas, who are the forces of nature are involved in the process of sustaining sweet water: Esu travels the paths of connection; Yemoja/Olokun, Shango, Oya, make weather for bringing Oshun’s waters pouring from the sky; traveling down the mountains, across the ground, into the waterfalls, lakes streams. Seasonal rains fill rivers overflowing, as Earth softens and expands, seeds awaken. Sunlight calls them out, roots dig in, green shoots rise, stems and leaves grow, flowers bloom, making oxygen, making food, making love, making life.

Nothing stops the river. Even when she has to go underground, or into the cave, she reemerges. Warmed by the heat of Earth’s fiery core she brings healing hot springs.

Abundance is seeing, knowing and inhabiting our beings and bodies. I need to remember dependence to know abundance. There are many rivers. Oshun celebrates the myriad diversity of beings present in the Earth community. Celebrate dependence, celebrates interdependence, the variety of relationship in creation, marketplace of life, community of being. Desire, relationship, and the outcome of desire, Oshun’s dance is passionate, creative, playful; the energy exchange that makes relationship grow and thrive.

Vodou means spirit, and contains the giving, receiving, and recognition of the mutuality of our relationship to spirit. Respect, honesty, conviction, generosity, acceptance, and gratitude work the juju of abundance. Trust is born of surrender, just as love, passion, creativity, and courage.

Capitalism rules global consciousness arising from fear and denial of a living, loving, generous universe. This is a fear of passion, Oshun’s allure, the truth of experience, and women’s power, especially the powers of blood, birthing, and cronehood. It feeds on lies of scarcity, is enforced by violence and the practice of making some beings expendable to satisfy the greed of others. Fear brings illness, greed, injustice, hatred, violence, death.

Praising Oshun brings healing. Singing and dancing for Oshun reconnects us to desire and passion, the energies that sustain and nurture the life force.

Conscious awareness of abundance creates true safety. Sustaining abundance requires faith and development of good character. Abundance takes courage–speaking and acting in spite of fear. Acting the victim denies abundance, a blindness resulting from repressed anger, or missplaced blame. Grieving draws upon the healing power of tears placing us in the lap of the Mother of Creation, original abundance Yemoja/Olokun. As a daughter of Oshun I must make this journey often. Depression is the drought of an empty cup–hopelessness does not recognize possibility.

Abundance comes when I can see myself clearly; with this even if I am afraid, I find the courage to act. We need each other to see ourselves, this is Oshun’s mirror. Within family and community we grow in abundance. I did not learn this growing up, but I have re-membered it, slowly, painfully. We need each other to know our true selves, to witness our power and beauty, understand mistakes and character flaws. Knowing who we are and what our purpose is is abundance that grows in the garden of beloved community. Oshun gave me the gift of creativity. By wholeheartedly accepting her gift I have been shown the way to my healing, and my lifework.

There is abundance, there is plenty for every being on this planet. When the abundance of Earth is not enjoyed by all it is injustice, imbalance, illness. It is a cry for healing and a call for radical change.

Oshun, Queen of Abundance dictates that we are responsible to create and ensure sustainable plenty for all beings on Earth. She insists on nothing less, and will surely hold us to it.
_____
__
Making Art for the Spirit, The Intersections of Feminist, Sacred & Creative Practice, Part V — Down the Waterfall Through the Fire: desire is the fire of justice © 2001, 2016
__
NOTES & SOURCES:
desire is the fire of justice
1. Images of the Nile River Goddess sculpture can be seen in Erich Neumann’s book, The Great Mother, originally published 1955.
—Humans in the Nile River Valley began developing centralized, settled agricultural economies around 8000 BCE. By 5000 BCE they had developed ceramic technologies (clay making, forming, firing) for making pottery and small sculpture. As the Sahara desert expanded, human settlement along the Nile increased dramatically (4000 BCE). The Old Kingdom Egyptian dynasties began circa 2700-2500 BCE. (from Wikipedia, and other internet sources).
2. Thompson, 1993, p. 211.
3. Thompson, 1993, p. 210.
4. Awo Falokun Fatunmbi, 1991, p. 128.
5. Thompson, 1993, p. 211.
__
Fatunmbi, Awo Falokun (David G. Wilson). Iwa-pele, Ifa Quest: The Search for the Source of Santeria and Lucumi. Bronx, New York: Original Publications, 1991.
__
Thompson, Robert, Farris. Face of the Gods: Art and Altars of Africa and the African Americas. New York: Museum of African Art, 1993.
__
Abundance & the Queen of Justice
Making Art for the Spirit, p. 261-262