This summer, while travelling in Spain, I attended a course in permaculture and activism. The course took place at the foot of a sacred mountain in the Basque countryside. Taught by Pagan spiritual leader Starhawk, a co-founder of the Reclaiming tradition, the course also included rituals and other opportunities for spiritual expression. There were about 20 attendees from throughout Europe and the United States. One of our classmates, a local Basque man, told us about Mari, the ancient goddess who lived within the nearby mountain. He taught us an old Basque folk song about her and we sang it to her during our rituals.
A maternal figure, Mari is the goddess of mothers, the Earth, and the full moon. She is said to conjure storms, bringing wind, rain, thunder, and lightning with her wherever she goes. Mari lives in deep caves and on high mountaintops. She is often described as a pregnant woman with pale skin and black hair, dressed all in red. A powerful matriarch, she is associated with witches and midwives. While some people fear her power, many others recognize her as a healer and protector of women, children, and travellers.
This painting is inspired by a particular experience I had during the course: our full moon ritual, led by Starhawk. Under the full moon, we held hands and danced in a circle, singing and raising healing energy for ourselves and for the world. During the ritual, Mari blessed us with light rainfall and lightning while we sang to her and danced at the foot of her mountain. The light from the full moon peeked from behind the rainclouds. It was such a beautiful and powerful experience, I will never forget.