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Great Goddess

1981, incorporating a dream from 1970, oil on canvas, 48 x 72", by Jenny Badger Sultan

Acrylic painting of a dream, 'Great Goddess', by Jenny Badger Sultan. Click to enlarge

HISTORY

This painting came from several sources.

I had seen a Madonna from Lima, Peru, where the infant Jesus is just sprouting out of her shoulder. She is the Queen of Heaven with a magnificent robe and crown. I was overwhelmed by this image and began to paint it.

But soon I realized I wanted to paint the Great Goddess of the large area surrounding the Mediterranean, not with the baby springing out of her shoulder and no visible arms, but with raised arms more like the Cretan clay goddesses. I was also thinking of the cloak of Isis, and the idea that the cloak of the Goddess takes in the whole world. So I made this giant painting in that pose.

The painting also incorporates a very powerful dream from l970:

SACRIFICE

I am living with a group of women in cavelike dwellings near the sea. In a stone-floored outdoor ritual place, I become a priestess who is wearing a robe and is called upon to behead a man who offers himself to me as a sacrifice. I do this with an ornate short handled axe, not wanting to kill, but knowing it is my role to go through with this sacrifice. I reassure the man, meditate and chant "OM" so that I can do it cleanly and he won't suffer.

Note: years later, I dreamed (and painted) My Own Ritual Beheading.

When I made the painting, I recreated the ritual space and focused on the image of the Great Goddess and how her robe and her being encompass all of life--from birth to death. The image of the snake or Kundalini serpent came into this also, running from the bottom to the top of her robe.

For the inner part of the figure I used decalcomania and developed whatever images appeared to me in the paint. A large skull appeared, but I rejected it several times, not wanting it there.

Then John Lennon was murdered, and I accepted that the skull was appearing for good reason; death is present and real.

Detail of dream painting, 'Great Goddess', by Jenny Badger Sultan. Detail of dream painting, 'Great Goddess', by Jenny Badger Sultan
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