Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dolls are Key to my Heart

Dolls unlock a part of my heart that I cannot explain.  When I pick up a doll, I see her story and I feel this tug in my heart to share her tale with the world.  I have decided that they are a key to a magical garden in my own inner world :  a world where the mind is not allowed to enter;  no criticism thank you, no matter how constructive;  no reality here!  Only the beautiful, magical and wondrous!

This little Victorian Ice Skater I found on Etsy a while ago.  When I saw her I could see the frozen lake and I could hear the music!  The vintage gramophone I found whilst antique hunting during my recent trip to the South of France.  I was going to enter her for the Icy challenge on Inspiration Avenue, but she was not ready yet. The fact that she is skating with her tiny white bird in its cage, is part of the magic of her tale!

You see, she was turned into a swan by an evil magician, long long ago.  And now she can only turn into a beautiful girl again when you touch the magic key!

Till then, she is the swan, dreaming of the music floating on the crisp air;  feeling the swish of her dress against her legs;  hearing the scraping sounds of the skates on the ice!

How do you touch the magic key?  By looking at her with love and warmth.  The warmth of your heart and thoughts will melt the spell, and she will transform into the princess that she is.

Some more dolls and keys :  their stories I have written previously on this blogspot.

You cannot see it clearly in these pictures, but the spanish dancers have vintage keys dangling from black velvet ribbons (on the right hand side of the box)

Monday, September 19, 2011

This weeks challenge on Inspiration Avenue

I am hosting this week's challenge on Inspiration Avenue.  Have a look and join in!

KEYS Art Challenge - 19 September

King of Keys -

This week's challenge is to use a key or keys or the metaphor of a key in your creations.  A key can mean and represent so many things. Once you start playing with the word key, you will see what I mean!  I am very excited about hosting this weeks' challenge, my first (Hettienne from Her Grace).  Each week's entries are always so inspiring and innovative - I am looking forward to visiting all your blogs this week.  I hope that these ideas inspire you and stretch your mind, and above all, to find another key to yourself and your journey!

The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance - and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning. - Oprah Winfrey

Key to Success
Key to Success -
Fantasy Key by Kristin Mills

Statue of Keys

A piece of art made from keys on exhibit in Prague -

Keeper of the Keys
Keeper of the Keys by Desiresinspired on

Spelling out the word KEYS.  

Key to my Heart

AND ......

I hope you will have lots of fun with this one!

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Patterns - Creative challenge by Inspiration Avenue!

What can I say that this picture is not already saying?

Patterns everywhere - patterns in the paper lace

Patterns in the sheet music

Patterns created by the mix of shapes of paper

A challenge with infinite possibilities.  It teaches the eye that there need be no restriction on the number of patterns that you can mix, or the type of patterns.

Thank you Inspiration Avenue for this great challenge!

Saturday, September 10, 2011


I am joining in the Gypsy Party!  You are invited to become part of the caravan here.

In May this year I attended the Gypsy Festival in Saintes Maries de la Mer in Southern France.  Travel with me to this amazing festival where East and West meet;  where 20 000 gypsies gather every year for a full week of celebration and festivities;  witness the tradition of carrying Sante Sarah, the Gypsy Patron Saint, to the sea and more!  Step into a magical world of legend, myth, faith and miracles!  

This festival has been taking place for the past fifty years and attracts 20 000 roma (gypsies).
Gypsy wagon parked in main road Saintes Maries de la Mer

Legends are rife about the origins of the dark skinned Sainte Sarah - both the Rom and the Christian version.  The Roma speak their own language, they have a very distinctive culture and are wanderers and travellers, with a strong focus on music, dance and passion.  It is said that the Roma originally came from India and found their spiritual mother Kali Ma, in the black saint Sarah.  

Kali Ma is the fierce goddess in the Hindu tradition.  She is the Mother of Kundalini and the bringer of change.  She is often feared as change does not honour resistance nor reluctance, but calls for surrender to that which we have no control over.  She is known as the black or dark mother, 'Kali'.

Hindu Goddess Kali Maa

  And here, in the South of France, in a small Catholic Church and as Queen of the Rom (Gypsies), reigns the saint Sara la Kali - a fusion of the dark mother and one who serves Mother Mary.

Statue of Sante Sarah in crypt

The festival always takes place on Sante Sara's sacred day 25 May. The week before the caravans stream into the small sea side village.  As we travelled many motorhomes passed us.  The gypsies live in these modern motorhomes and many have enormous trailers behind.  They travel from fair to fair across France and Europe and sell their wares, such as hand made knives.
A wonderful exotic and festive market is on for the entire week before the religious festival days and the mesmerising sounds of the flamenco guitar can be heard far and wide.

Children and adults dress up in traditional gitane clothing
 Outside the church of Saintes Maries de la Mer you will find flamenco playing gypsies, dancing girls, small girls handing out images of Lakshmi and older women selling the holy medals of Sante Sarah, indicating that you have arrived at the destination of your pilgrimage!  What magic!!

Lakshmi, Goddess of Wealth and Abundance
  Saintes Maries de la Mer is a quaint village known for its white horses from the Camargue, the black bulls and the three Saints : Sara, Marie Salome and Marie Jacobe.  Legend has it that they arrived here on the beach with Mary Magdalene.

On the first feast day Sara is lowered into her crypt and dressed in layer upon layer of cloak representing all the prayers.  The crypt is underneath the church and the heat from the thousands of burning votives makes it almost unbearable.  For the Rom this is a homecoming.  They travel here once a year if they can, but those living further away in other parts of Europe sometimes only make it every few years.  They catch up with family and tears are flowing.  During her festival, those who seek her healing and blessings come to touch her skirts, put scarves around her neck, offer flowers, light candles, and give thanks for miracles and prayers answered in the preceding years. She is paid homage to in the Gypsy Prayer, a copy of which sits framed to the right of her feet. Combined with the intense sounds of the gypsey crooners outside the church, the smell of burning incense and one's own heart, this makes for an intense experience - and all of this before the actual celebrations have even started.

In the crypt of Sainte Sarah
On the feast day a mass in celebration of Sainte Sarah is held early in the morning.  The church is packed full and every bit of standing space is taken.  The overflow of people stand outside in the courtyard and loudspeakers bring the service outside.  The chanting of 'Sante Sarah' at times completely overpower the voice of the priest and there is not a person who does not sing along!  What an experience of intense passion!  The statue of Sainte Sarah is then carried along the main road of the village and down to the sea.  There is a strict hierarchy to the procession.  It is led by the town elders on their white horses, then followed by representative of the various Gypsey tribes and families, then the priest in a motor vehicle and then the various parishes from across Europe who bring their colours and emblems to be blessed.  And then those taking part in the procession.  The procession took four hours to reach the sea - this walk would normally have taken 15 minutes.

The horses are decorated with paint spots
After the statue had been immersed in the sea water, everyone enters the water as it is now sanctified.  As in Hindu traditions, it is an act of purification and sanctification to be washed by the waters of the mother (la mer).
Sante Sarah on her way to the sea

Sara, toi la sainte patronne des voyageurs et gitans du monde entier,
tu as vécu en ce lieu des Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer.
Tu es venue d'un lointain pays au-delà des mers.
J'aime venir te retrouver ici, te dire tout ce que j'ai dans le Cœur,
te confier mes peines et mes joies.
Je te prie pour tous les membres de ma famille et tous mes amis.
Sara, veille sur moi!

(Sara, patron saint of travelers and gypsies the world over, you who lived in this region of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer. You came from a far-away country from across the seas. I love to come and find you here, to tell you all that I have in my heart and in you confide my sorrows and joys. I pray to you for everyone in my family and all my friends. Sara, come to me!)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Her Grace

Since I have come back from my stay at Lourdes, I have been working on a new series of Mary.  

The philosopher Thomas Moore, in his wonderful works on Soul, really defines it for me.  Everyone has a Soul and thus a religion of the Soul, and that may be found in the enchantment of everyday living, in art as a sacred undertaking, or it may be found in the practise and application of a holy book and its teachings.

I had no exposure to Divine Mary other than in the Christmas pageants at school, where she really played a rather minor role.  I grew up raised in a Calvinistic religion and culture - a very austere philosophy, as you may know.  But from a young age I had a tendency to withdraw into my own inner world, away from voices telling what to do and how to feel.

  And in my dreams a beautiful woman used to come to me - I called her 'Beauty".  She was usually dressed in blue and had a linen type headdress. She reminded me of a burning candle.  Difficult to describe, but it was as though she is in a shimmering radiant light that pulled me up.  I once described her to my best friend and she said, 'but that is Mother Mary!".

And then my life started to change drastically.  At first, I read as much as I could and studied various sources and books to learn about Mary.  

Then I went through a stage of throwing all that learning out.  I had realised that the books give the writer's interpretation and also, the living Mary, became buried under a heap of jargon and definitions.

I visited many sacred places (you can read more about these on my blog 

and eventually I ended at Lourdes.

What I experienced at Lourdes, words cannot capture.  She is the Rosary and the Prayers and the faith of those who believe, but, She is so much more.

She is not bound by dogna, not even faith.  She does not need you to pray to Her.  She is always with you.

She is the Love that is within us all.  She is the human capacity for kindness, caring and compassion.  She is the mirror reflecting the Light within each and every soul.  She is life itself.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Beach Treasures : Inspiration Avenue Challenge

There be none of Beauty's daughters with a magic like thee;
And like music on the waters
is thy sweet voice to me.

When, as if its sound were causing
The charmed ocean's pausing,
The waves lie still and gleaming:

And the hill'd winds seem dreaming.
And the midnight moon is weaving
Her bright chain o'er the deep;
Whose breast is gently heaving,
As an infant's asleep:

So the spirit bows before thee
With a full but soft emotion,
Like the swell of summer's ocean. - Lord Byron