Vinifera the Maenad

Vitis Vinifera: The Maenad

I came out of a pinot noir induced fever dream and a wild night in the land of the vine and had this epiphany to sculpt the priestess I saw in that otherworldly party who was singing in a pool of wine on the sandy dry ground as the night fires burned and the dancers twirled madly in skins and wreaths.  I adore the grape.  By itself, it isn't a mind altering herb like the rest in my series so far, but, under the right conditions she becomes something feral, smooth, addictive.  I found myself singing along to her wino song and when I woke up, I got to work.

In Wine, There is Truth.
"Red red wine you make me feel so fine, you keep me rocking all of the time."  Vitis Vinifera, shes is among the eldest,  and is a wild Maenad, a lush and a sacred harlot who dances across countries and continents, giving herself freely.   In a simple form, the grape is just tasty and sweet.  I prefer her in the form of wine, the great libation of the wild gods, of Dionysus, of humanity.  She has a wild temper and a touch of madness, but is good for you in small doses or in her simple form.  Oh she and I are in a perfect open relationship; as a food and as a drink she usually enjoys being shared and passed around between my friends and lovers.  I love her cool temper as a food and her wild nature as a drink, even though she sometimes gives me headaches and robs me of restful sleep... those deeply stained lips and her smooth taste is almost unbearably lush, everyone seems to fall in love with her.  I like that our nations all seem to compete for the best reputation with her... there's something wonderfully global about grape culture.

In her raw state, she's an innocent bite, but give her time in the dark, you'll find she goes from sweet to sauce in a few short months.  In the winter she is ever so sweet. A hedonist who worships only the vine gods will know her scent the second she enters the room, we're all addicts for her company.  She'll never be faithful; just like her older sister Mary Jane, she is polyamorous, pansexual and deliciously opportunistic (though she likes to promise otherwise).  She doesn't have expensive tastes; preferring to revel in the skins of sharp-toothed beasts, wear crowns of ivy and will happily take her offerings in any vessel as long as it doesn't leak.  She is birthed in good soil and will take on the attributes of the world around her like a chameleon, or spy.  When she transforms, she tastes of experience and knowledge and upbringing.  Her color is sapphire blue, her planet is Jupiter, her occupation is prostitute.

In her raw form she is a harmless, tasty and passive lady who decorates the garden with class.  Once she's been brewed... oh she is sloppy and delirious, hedonistic and avoidant, often sleepy, often violent, always crooked. She can make a man braver than a lion before reducing him to a puddle of piss and tears in an ally.   On the vine, she adores to give sweetness.  In the glass, a lifetime of her will wear you down and ruin your body and mind, like all her fermented cousins are prone to do. She craves all of your love and wealth and will happily beautify your garden or ruin your wallet... she is forever hungry for affection and needs feeding.

You, Me & The Priestess of the Bee

I'm not a bee shaman or priestess.  I'm not a sacred mellisae or honey covered dancer of Oshun.  I'm just a a humble animist who talks to the bees.  I talk to them when they're crawling over the California lilacs, I talk to them when they bounce from sunflower to sunflower.  I keep close to the bees because they keep my flowers happy.  They balance my world and deliver messages.

I use fresh raw honeycombs and bee pollen a lot in my confectionery work, and I keep a lot of bee fetishes around, but it's usually secondary to a deity who rules bee hives or to different floral spirits. It used to be very simple and disconnected, a content respect for a spirit I'd rather not keep constant company with.  Then, like with so many things in life, I had an ah-ha moment, an epiphany in the world of dreams that caused a great change in my perception of the Bee Priestess archetype.  I wont go into details because silence is magic, but what I can say for sure is I felt compelled beyond reason to do a thanks giving ritual which led to a very intense trance which led to spending a day sinking my inspiration into clay on the new moon.

The Honey Summoner

Inside this lovely lady is a heart made from a sunflower seed grown in my partner's family garden, baked by the sun and blessed by the bees.  In her head, where her mind rests, is a small chunk of amber covered in beeswax.  The paint I used for this one had some floral matter mixed in, and she was blessed by the sun on a bed of powdered honey and dandelion heads.  Her duties are to summon the sacred honey from the hive, to pay praises to the bees and the harvester through song and prayer and offerings.  In her hands she carries a bottle of rose-infused honey from a local apiary, or, she can hold a jar of poppy seeds from my family house, or a jar of powdered honey and goldenrod. She is the earthly aspect while her sister is the heavenly one.  The Summoner is a vessel for the spirit of honey collectors, floral landscapers and bee keepers who keep hives for production of consumables; keep her on the altar to personify honey's magic and the power of workers and drones.

Now that this series is complete (until next summer), I can focus on my Sisterhood of the Traveling Mind Series.  So far, I've completed Camellia, Sativa, Salvia and Theobroma.  In the current work to completion: Vinifera, Nicotiana, Coffea, Amanita and Papaver.  I also hope and my Indigenous Mother Series later in the year when my personification series winds down.  I don't think I'll be taking commissions yet, but I do think I'll sell off the series once the Gallery reception they will be featured in passes.

So, here's to following your dreams, creating something from nothing and honoring the messengers who brought you down your path.  

The Divine Sage

Diviner's Sage: Salvia Divinorum
   Clearly, I date around.  After tasting the tea of Camellia, I meant to meet Coffea for a date, but opportunity rose with the new moon and I went out with a former friend (with benefits).   We met in high school... it was a short lived relationship that resulted in my rolling under a car screaming, "The way out is through!"  We didn't speak again until recently, this time it was a far more productive and respectful relationship.

The animal ally of Salvia is an ouroboros, this one rests around her and her sacred basket.  
She's serious, in turns both giddy and confusing, a relationship with her isn't in the cards for me, but dancing in her garden, I saw a vision and from it came the work of the clay.  I saw a dark wooden house in the side of a mountain.  Beneath a deep blue sky, a waxing crescent moon bobbed along the night, and the mountain side glowed green and silver with sage.  This sage bore purple flowers, much like trumpets, and in the leaves danced questions and answers.  When I reached the cabin and pushed open the door, a lovely dark skinned woman sat chewing on dark leaves in the shadows, with only moonlight to light her solemn, lovely face.  I sat before her in her lavender skirts and cobalt shawl and reached into her basket for the leaves.  She smiled as I chewed and shook her head.   Then we flew, together, ascending over mountain and under moonlight, reading the patterns of birds.  This plant shaman practices augury and speaks the wisdom of their flight.  We flew until quite suddenly, I crashed and landed in the dark, in the cabin.  I was alone and she was wild in the sky.  That's when I reached for the clay and got to work.

Three turquoise skulls are embedded in her skirts and a tourmaline stone sits in the heart of her along with seeds from the divinorum plant.  I chose her colors based on the plant as well as her Pendell correspondences. 
     Salvia is a priestess of nighttime mysteries; sister to owls and shamans who travel by darkness and silence.  That's the thing about this sister; unlike her sisters Sativa and Nicotiana, Salvia is intense, unpredictable and fearless.  Those who visit with her best do it at night time, with calming music and good feelings- she is an empath of the worst variety and will pick up and exasperate any emotion brought before her.  She's hard to date, preferring short and turbulent relationships.  Diviner's Sage, also known as Salvia Divinorum or Brown Lizard Sage is a powerful fortune teller, her significator is the Moon of the tarot and her gift lies in visions of birds and of moon.  Eat with her or smoke with her, either way she'll overpower you long enough to leave a lasting impression, good or bad.  In Pendell's Pharmako trilogy, her animal is the ouroboros, her mineral is turquoise, her color is cobalt blue, her planet is the moon and her occupation is soothsayer.   Just as Cacao naturally lead me to Sativa, so Salvia has led me to Vinifera, and I hope to introduce her this Saturday.  I adore my vices, all of them... Because I see vice and indulgence as a normal and celebrated act and I see plants as spiritual guides between worlds.  Together, they create an experience that changes the mind, body and spirit of the seeker.  Just... be careful who you seek for guidance.

Making Tea with Camellia


Camellia sinensisis the tea plant, from it, our traditional teas come from. Refined in nature, traditional in virtues and deeply nurturing, Camellia- better known as "Tea" is the calmest, softest, most gentle and personable of all the Sisterhood.  Her mind is one of stimulating conversation, creativity and calm, her reputation being that of a healer.  Her elements are earth and water and she delights in the ritual of ceremony and in the formality of tradition.  She is just as powerful as her sister Coffea, but Camellia tends to know how to water down her personality, which can be a tad overwhelming if not properly diluted.  She acclimates well to the seasons, being best when sweet and dark in the summer, or rich and red during winter, or moon jade pale.  When I think tea, which is typically traditional black or green, I feel a deep grounding, like my body is growing still and focused.   Camellia is loved all over the world, finding herself to be an honored part of cultures all across the planet, a testament to her enduring, endearing nature.

Tea house and tea parlor culture are one of my favorite aspects of my childhood.  My grandmother regularly took me to fancy tea houses here and in Canada for high tea and beautiful courses in botanical gardens and on islands.  I admit, my favorite part was the lemon tarts and I only ever drank peppermint tea as a rule in public.  The tradition of it is a warm memory for me.  I still do tea parties, but I miss the tarts...

Just like brewing a good tea blend, brewing up the inspiration comes from a combination of creativity and tradition.  Usually when I start my statues, it starts with dreams, then becomes (admittedly awful) sketches of basic concepts.  The end results are never quite like the original plans, they wind up far different and usually a lot better.  In this case, I was satisfied with the evolution.  I was especially tickled over her tabi-sock inspired socks.  The pearl earrings were sourced from an old pair of earrings my grandpa gave me a few years before he died.   He really liked my statuettes and encouraged me to use the beads and jewelry he left me in my work.  

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