Madonna/Black Madonna

June 8, 2019

Venus as Morning/Madonna & Black Madonna/Evening Star

#hieroshiva

About the one-eye sign

About the Hieros Gamos

About the Black Madonna

Black Madonna: The Great Work

Exhibition Catalog Essay

By

Lisa Paul Streitfeld

The “fallen woman” is a common occurrence in western religious tradition, yet the descending female figure has barely been examined throughout the history of art.  The uproar Frida Kahlo caused in the 20th century with her erotically charged The Suicide of Dorothy Hale revealed the complex dynamism surrounding this archetype that keeps it out of mainstream dialectic —whether in art or our corporate controlled celebrity obsessed culture.

Black Madonna seeks to remedy this imbalance by holding the tension of the long repressed polarity of Venus – as personified in the Sumerian goddess Inanna, the self-declared Queen of Heaven and Earth.  The pentagram has long been associated with the love planet due to its perfectly symmetrical orbit, and this exhibition remakes the symbol from the Christian projection of the devil (lust) to the more ancient figure of Lucifer, the light bearer.  This holistic consciousness illuminates the hundred works in this exhibition expressing what is newly emerging in art: the authentic face of the feminine denied by western religion yet embodied in matter through the Great Work of alchemists.

In the legend of the Black Madonna, the Holy Grail (Sangraal) is Mary Magdalene, who carried the     bloodline of Jesus to southern France through her womb.  The original Grail story of Perceval was written in the Court of Champagne, a cousin and sponsor of Hugues de Payens, co-founder and original Grand Master of the Knights Templars who was related to St. Bernard de Clairvaux, who translated the “sacred geometry of King Solomon’s masons and wrote the Oath of the Knights Templar which venerated Mary Magdalene. (1) While this religious/military order was protecting the pilgrims to the Holy Land and retrieving the treasures hidden within the temple mount, the underground mystery stream bubbled to the surface through the sacred practice of the Cathars in the Languedoc, where Mary Magdalene is traditionally honored as la Dompna del Aquae (“Mistress of the Waters”). (2) Within the confines of secretly held ceremonies, the songs of the troubadours transmitted the collective desire to unite with the Lost Bride through daily acts of chivalry.

If it had been recognized, a messianic lineage carried by the Black Madonna would have subverted the Church doctrine of a celibate Jesus.  The Grail mythology was associated with the Merovingian dynasty.  Yet had it prevailed, this holy bloodline would have become a direct threat to the Vatican’s imposed tradition in which the subjugation of women was enshrined. Yet, the knowledge of sacred geometry and symbols believed to have been extracted by the Templars from the Ark of the Covenant was imbedded in the very foundation of the gothic cathedrals by guilds of masons such as the “Children of Solomon.” (3)

This is how the tradition of “holy intercourse” took root in the cathedral of Chartres, built on the sacred site where the Druids worshipped the Mother Goddess. In the crypt of this structure is the icon of the Black Virgin about to give birth. This was a symbol of renewal exposed by the Merovingian bloodline that sought to restore the Lost Bride to Christianity. (4)  Yet, hopes were dashed when the Cathars were exterminated in 1209.    The bloodline fled to protection in Scotland, where the Grail secrets remain guarded in the Rosslyn Chapel awaiting the unveiling for the Age of Aquarius. (5)

Mark Wiener’s singular work, Still Life in Red (2009), encapsulates a quarter century of collective upwelling of the divine feminine in the face of continued subjugation.  The red X was the secret esoteric symbol of the heretical church.  (6)  Today, it represents the erotic repression — academia, on one hand, and the corporate media, on the other.   As an early Christian symbol, the X stood for the integration of chalice and blade through the merging of the upper (masculine) and lower (feminine) triangles making up the Seal of Solomon.  Black Madonna seeks to transform the X symbol from its current association with repression to the pleasure of “holy intercourse” which entered the gospels as the Song of Songs, which were originally derived from the rites of the Sacred Marriage (hieros gamos) in ancient Sumer.  (7)

The artist began The Black Madonna Series with a series of nude photographs in 1982, just as the ancient mystery tradition bubbled to the surface in the renaissance known as the New Age movement. Paradoxically, the rise of feminists in the academy choked the authentic pursuit of pleasure expressed in early feminist art.  The void was filled by the manufactured idols of the celebrity entertainment culture.  It was as if American institutions conspired to repress the emerging underground stream – and the authentic erotic dynamism between masculine and feminine in its wake!

….for the remainder of the essay go here.

BLACK MADONNA curated by Lisa Paul Streitfeld and H.P. Garcia

April 17, 2014

Black Madonna Multimedia Exhibition

BLACK MADONNA REVIEW BY ED RUBIN: “A POSITIVE VIEW OF THE FUTURE OF SEX”

January 1, 2010

BLACK MADONNA
580 Eighth Avenue
New York, NY

Black Madonna has as its signature image Mark Wiener’s 1982 Still Life in Red, a photograph of the nude pop star Madonna painted with a red X. There is a lot of nudity in this wonderful exhibit, a raw intensity not typically on view in Chelsea, which is why the near Times Square location of HP Garcia Gallery is particularly appropriate. The nudity isn’t only in the flesh once indigenous to this neighborhood, but the stripped down focus of the curators, Lisa Paul Streitfeld and H.P. Garcia.

This multimedia exhibition of 40 artists brings in a bold new discussion of feminism (neo or post or whatever) into the 21st century – this time with men. The tight focus weaves together the unknown with the famous – Carolee Schneemann, Kate Millet, Mike Bidlo, Rick Prol, Martha Wilson and Richard Move — and newly risen stars such as Richard Humann and Heide Hatry, who both had outstanding solo shows at Elga Wimmer this year. All are dedicated to inner explorations of the feminine — a rare preoccupation both in the postmodernism era and the hyperactive art market that followed.

If this exhibition is saying it is time for a change, then it is also showing the way to a new gender dialogue. These strong images of the female honor the awakened serpent that Schneemann made so famous in feminist art through her Eye Body, a focal point of the show, along with the large wall mural of a pentagram bordered by Wiener’s Madonna images. A major delight is the “Origin of the World” pairing of Sophie Matisse – the great granddaughter of the modernist pioneer – with provocateur Mike Bidlo, who painted his way through modernism to the de Kooning erasures before arriving at this shared vacant space in the female womb. These two works (was it a planned collaboration or just happy accident?) launch a whole new discussion about the masculine-feminine energy exchange. Can it be conscious? This exhibition says yes, and therefore delivers a very positive view of the future of sex.

The art world has been in the doldrums since the crash of the market. We needed an exhibition like this to give us a necessary jolt. Black Madonna not only leads us to the abyss, but gives us something to talk about as we fall in. As we climb out, we are rewarded with a positive view of the future – a long-awaited gender equality.

Edward Rubin, NY Arts Magazine

Our Lady of Dublin

November 16, 2009

November 2, 2009

I began my exploration of Dublin with an impromptu meeting with a Druid at the train station.  He assured me that there is no obvious “pagan movement’ in Ireland, as those who emerge with their gifts are quickly “corrupted!”  Same problem the world over.  Secrecy has its purpose.

druid Liam O’Birn

Half Scot and half Irish, he was soooo intense, utterly magikal and a gentleman to boot!  A descendent of the Aquarian Robert Burns, pioneer of the Romantic movement and Scotland’s national poet, he walked me to the Writer’s Museum, right around the corner from my hotel, and posed for my camera in an apt spot, considering his poetic heritage, before the doors of the Hugh Lane Gallery, advertising the opening of a new Francis Bacon exhibit!

A terrible beauty he was…

And my final encounter in Dublin, was another terrible beauty, the Black Madonna known as Our Lady of Dublin

Ladyfull The Shrine of Our Lady of Dublin      Whitefriar Street Church

The statue of Our Lady of Dublin with the Christ child is of sixteenth century origin and, after the sacking of the Abbey in 1539, was hidden and preserved. It was found by Fr John Spratt in 1824 and brought to Whitefriar Street Church. The history of its survival is indicative of a persevering faith in the people and the statue is dear to Dubliners and others alike. The feastday of Our Lady of Dublin is celebrated on September 8 which is also the date of the Birthday of Our Lady. For full text, click here.

LadyCU Our Lady of Dublin

And this full circle brings me to another closed circle, this blog cycle which began under Venus conjunct the New Moon in Taurus, and ends with Venus conjunct the New Moon in Scorpio.

At the New Moon, I deliver a new birth, my book Kundalini’s Daughter accompanied by a new blog with the same name.  You can tune in at http//kundalinisdaughter.wordpress.com

Thank you to all my readers for engaging in this rite of uniting Heaven and Earth.  Our gallery exhibition has reverberated through cyberspace during the six months of this experiment and our goal has been nothing less than bringing real change to the culture.  In time we shall see what impact, if any, we have had.

Blessed be!


Hill of the Witch

November 16, 2009

November 1, 2009.

We departed from the Newgrange hotel after breakfast and passed through innumerable shades of green…

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…to arrive at the place where the Spring Equinox was celebrated!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loughcrew, the Hill of the Witch. Silabh Na Cailli.  Caelli would seem to be derived from Kali, the Hindu name for the Dark Goddess!

The story is this: She jumped three hills to get to the fourth, then fell and was buried on Patricktown Hll.  Sounds like the story of the feminine being sacrificed to the patriarchy!

We walked up one of the four hills of Longhcrew, home to 40 tombs.

I came upon the mushrooms which could have well provided the hallucinagins for the ritual making.

mushroom

Magic mushroon? I didn't find out.

Our intrepid guide had the key, so we could enter this magical place, as if we arrived for the first time, in illo tempore…

UNLOCKINGGATE

Opening the gate

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rock carvings inside the mound

The sacred geometry inside was a cross and this opening was east to capture the light of the Spring Equinox as it passed through the entrance which was illuminated by quartz crystal and provided  the hexagonal shaped light representing the moment of awakening in Spring!

CORNER

corner depicting the precise sacred geometry of the mound interior

Newgrange

November 15, 2009

October 31, 2009.

Our intrepid guide, Ciarian Bennett, president of the Irish chapter of AICA, led us inside (a rare treat) the sacred sites of Ireland commemorating the New Year (Winter Solstice) and Rebirth (Spring Equinox)  http://www.knowth.com/dowth.htm

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Newgrange model, Visitor's Center

NEWGRANGE

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Standing Stone before Newgrange entrance, most likely used for astronomical marking

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Entrance to Newgrange

These stones were most likely placed for astronomical markings.

On the moment of the Winter Solstice, the sunlight passes through the entrance to reach the end of the passage.

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Rear Stone marking where the Sun passes to illuminate the interior on the Winter Solstice, Newgrange

The interior is a magnificent feat of construction.  We gained access but were not permitted to take photo-graphs.

It was in the shape of a cross with a ceiling as an inverted ziggaret.  I counted seven levels with sacred geometry of the hexagon, pentagram and square.  This gave me a real jolt, entirely unexpected.  Turning off the interior lights, we were in complete darkness.  The guide demonstrated how the sunlight would enter during the Solstice to hit the rear of the interior space where there was a wall relief of three spirals.

Taking in the sacred geometry, I was convinced that this “tomb” was used for ritual ceremony, the death and rebirth of the god experienced precisely at the Return of the Light during the Winter Solstice.  In this way, the human psyche could feel at one with the gods, by experiencing the cosmological initiation of  of death and rebirth at the New Year!  This moment of suspension between the two conditions of opposites — death and birth — was the experience of the Sacred Marriage.  What the ancients did through rituals, we contemporary secular humans are attempting to perform through sex!

TARA ON ALL HALLOWS EVE

November 14, 2009

October 31, 2009.  All Hallows Eve in Meath, Ireland.

Taradirections

"Crossroad" entrance to Tara

We entered Tara, the site worshipping the Death Goddess, and encountered a living goddess…

BELINDA

Belinda Quirke, director of the Solstice Centre in Navan

And there was Tara, whose very name evokes the Dark Goddess!

Tara

Tara, the elevated womb

Taraentrance

Tara's entrance

And her Consort

Greatphallus

Her Consort...

And here we had the Sacred Marriage Rite on the very day of the “lifting of the veils” between the worlds of the material and the spirit!

CHANNELINGTARA

Channeling the Spirits on top of Tara

And this was my personal bid to enter the universal rite of the Sacred Marriage.  The spirits gathered around as I renewed the ancient ritual of God and Goddess celebrated on All Hallows Eve as the lifting of the veil between worlds…the crossover point between the Fall Equinox when Persephone makes her descent and Winter Solstice when she begins her return…

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Tara grave site

Until the Return at the Winter Solstice…

SOLSTICECENTER

Solstice Centre in Navan

What a divine experience, to connect with All Hallows Eve at its source!

During the evening festivities, the Goddess was in full bloom!

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All Hallows Eve at New Grange Hotel

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Complete with a touch of irony…DSCN5208DSCN5219DSCN5204

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SUSANNA

Susana, the Argentine critic from France

 

 

SECRETS OF ROSSLYN CHAPEL

November 12, 2009

October 24, 2009

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Rosslyn Chapel, Scotland

On this day, I took the bus to the village of Roslin and combed Rosslyn Chapel inside and out, seeking the “sacred in the material” that would connect this magnificent creation of William St. Clair to H.P.’s Knights Templar legacy.

On the exterior wall is a carving of an initiation, linking the Masonic builders of the chapel builder (foreground) with the Knights Templar (in characteristic attire with the cross on the front).

Carving of a Templar initiating a Mason on the external wall of Rosslyn Chapel

Through my research into HP’s geneology, I already discovered the connection between the  two families.  The first William St. Clair (Sinclair) was a friend of Hughes de Payans, who not only accompanied him on a Crusade but married his daughter!

H.P.’s earlier ancestor was a priest in the Temple of Solomon. This explains the impetus for  Hughes de Payans to found the Knights Templar and launch the Crusades to retrieve the Holy Lands.  Moreover, the order was unique in that members were both warriors (body) and monks (spirit), and therefore were living icons of the Sacred Marriage of Heaven and Earth at a time that the official Church hierarchy denied sacred in matter, along with the divine feminine.

The ancient rites of the Sacred Marriage were embedded into the Holy of the Holies of Solomon’s Temple, where the Templars resided during the Crusades.  In their book The Second Messiah (Barnes and Noble Books 2000) Christopher Knight and Richard Lomas theorize that the Rosslyn Chapel was never meant to be the apse of a cathedral but actually a replica of Solomon’s Temple, complete with the still standing but crumbing front exterior wall.

chapelwall

Rosslyn Chapel exterior front wall

The chapel’s tormented history includes: Cromwell using the chapel as a stable for his horses (!); destruction of original statues by English invaders; and misguided attempt at preservation by painting concrete over the original sandstone interior.  Despite these assaults on its beauty, I still managed to locate key symbols within the architecture which were resurrected for the historic Black Madonna exhibition at HP Garcia gallery in New York City.

Primarily, there is the prominent X, which I wrote about in the catalog essay (https://blackmadonna2009.wordpress.com/black-madonna-the-great-work/) as the early Christian symbol of the Sacred Marriage, the unity of Chalice/feminine (downward pointing triangle) and blade (upward pointing triangle):

ChapelX

X in the window of Rosslyn Chapel

Mark Wiener and I had no knowledge of this symbol when we created the signature image Still Life in Red for the exhibition.

STILLIFEINRED

Mark Wiener, "Still Life in Red" mixed media, 2009

Then, there was the Templar Cross, which was already established in the design of HP Garcia Gallery.

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Templar Cross above the front entrance of Rosslyn Chapel

But what was unexpected was the appearance of the Yod embedded within the sacred geometry of the original structure.  The Yod, which is the last letter of the Hebrew alphabet, is known as the Finger of God, which bestows bounty from heaven to those who are able to complete the alchemical transfusion of spirit into matter!!

chapelyod

Yod embedded in the center of the chapel window

The Yod represents the divine hand of destiny, marking a convergence in which all possibilities can be realized as a multidimensional unfolding of spirit into matter.

I have been working consciously with the astrological Yod for the dozen years of my avant-garde experiment of applying the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to the matter of an emerging 21st century archetype.  This was the topic of the paper I delivered for the 2009 AICA International Congress (the paper will be posted at  http://www.aica.ie/?

YODEROSCONSC

Eros Consciousness diagram from Lisa Paul Streitfeldl's "Applying the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle to 21st Century Art"

This holistic integration of Sacred and Matter (X) and Manifestation Process (Yod) is contained in the chapel’s Keystone (below).

Keystone

Rosslyn Chapel Keystone

An interesting bit of contemporary lore I picked up during the tour:  the makers of The Da Vinci Code film were so intent on having the Seal of Solomon symbol of the Sacred Marriage in their film that they stuck one on the wall above the entrance to the crypt where they filmed the final scene of the movie.  It left a mark!

In their quest to uncover this symbolic link between Rosslyn Chapel and the past, Knight and Lomas claim that the Seal of Solomon is embedded in the  construction by way of the column placement, but that leaves position for the downward pointing triangle in the center of the floor.  I asked the guides if there could be something on the floor marking the spot and they told me that the rugs were just picked up: no mark of any kind was found. Debunkers of this theory point out that a hexagon could be marked within any square space!

Having a Seal of Solomon inside the Chapel would have been far too obvious of a signal to its true orientation and would have been long ago destroyed by invaders. The makers were far too brilliant for that.  Instead, they combined the X and the Y (Yod) to create a more esoteric symbol of the Sacred Marriage, readily available for a pioneering art critic to discover.  Within the proper timing, clearly!

And my personal Yods which drove my process of discovery was triggered in two places by transits of the Sun, Mercury and Saturn on the day of my visit.

LisaYODPROG

Two Yods (natal and progressed chart) triggered by Saturn, Mercury and the Sun

EXALTATION: EDINBURGH

November 11, 2009
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High Street scene, Edinburgh

“For the secret power of the Mysteries is within the signs.  Any person attaining to natural or supernatural states by the process of development, if his heart be untuned and his mind withdrawn from the Divine or human within him, that power becomes a power of evil instead of a power of good.  An unfaithful initiate, in the degree of Mysteries he has attained, is capable, by virtue of his antecedent preparations and processes, of diverting the power to unholy, demoniacal, astral or dangerous uses…” [H.E. Sampson quoted in David V. Barrett, Secret Societies, p. 303, Carroll & Graf Publishers (NY, NY) 2007.]

Edinburgh, October 24-25.  I was quite unprepared for the spell that this city cast upon me during my aptly timed first visit.  In the days leading up to All Hallows Eve (Halloween), the energy was in exaltation, with ghoulish tales and imagery seeking through the cracks of the  old town where I passed my weekend.

Medieval edifices on High Street seemingly intact from their ages ago construction wrapped me in a mysterious lure.  It was like being on a movie set.  Deep, mysterious and enthralling.  As I  have always viewed my adventures as a “film in the making,” how could I have NOT been captured by the spell of this city!?  Every High Street pub, it seemed, had a plaque relating an idiosyncratic  history something like: “this was the last stop on the way to the gallows.”

Who needs a ghost tour when you can encounter any number of assorted spirits in the antiquated yet exceedingly well preserved pubs dotting High Street!

Yet, this gated city was also a seat of the Enlightenment that managed to fight off both British invaders and the hegemony of the Church.  For I had come to make a pilgrimage to Roslyn Chapel and therefore was prepared to confront the guardians of the Secret Societies to uncode their Mysteries for myself.  It promised to be a significant close to my Black Madonna adventure. guided as it was by my investigation into H.P. Garcia’s family lineage.  The ultimate discovery, I sought in doing the physical footwork to complete this two decade   Sojourn of Truth, was guiding me towards the moment where I would toss my bid, as a critic of the avant-garde fortified by the underground stream, to finally go Mainstream!

This was rolled out before me during my impromptu meeting with Alan Muir. The sharp Glasgow humor of this retired solicitor and political commentator burst the bubble of my burgeoning fantasy of penetrating into the heart of the Secret Societies that, at least for me, best characterize this illustrious city, where I might add, I had the better time pub crawling and groovin’ to the local music than any other city I have visited!

We met in an outdoor cafe on the Saturday morning I was on the way to Rosslyn Chapel.  He cheerfully noted, by the way, that I kept referring to my destination as a temple. And so I had to confess that was making the unconscious association with Solomon’s Temple and was on my way to investigating claims that it was built by Masons to replicate the interior design of the Holy of the Holies.  Would would this mean but bringing  a relic of the Sacred Marriage Rites into the Modern Age!

More on that later.  But first, Alan jumped right into the stream of the Black Madonna lore, proving that it is NOT underground in these parts.  He insisted that I immediately go out and purchase The Prime of Miss  Jean Brodie and then told me the short story that its author, Muriel Spark, wrote with the improbable title — Black Madonna!  In this manner, Alan lifted the veil that his adopted city dangles before tourists, scoffing at Secret Societies with a playful glint in his eye as ‘schoolboy antics!”  Could there be any other association but location for the Scottish invention of golf, which means, I just learned the night before: “Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden!”  A redundant title if there ever was one!

But Alan is best in his own words.  He handed me an essay that was so apt for BlackMadonna2009, that I asked him if I could publish it.  We need no better invitation to cross the illustrious yet somehow wicked gates of Edinburgh!

And it is, introduced by Alan himself:

Sugar and Spice?  One of each thanks.  The pendulum has swung from Lady to Ladette (and kept going) AND it ain’t just handbags at dawn!  Solicitor-Advocate and legal commentator, Alan Muir, risks the slings and arrows, or should that be slingbacks and GHD straighteners (?), to consider a worrying, and growing, trend.

When Rudyard Kipling penned, “The female of the species is more deadly than the male,” he was not revealing some long hidden secret nor submitting an application for the Misogynist League.

Before I go any further, please read this caveat:

I, as many know, cannot back New Labour “touchy feely” PC favoured by the “weave in your braid” brigade.  That said, I detest hypocrisy and any forms of abuse, violent or otherwise.

I have written on behalf of, and continue to support, Zero Tolerance and similar organizations, BUT, it is surely time to address one of the darker realities of modern society.  One is the misuse of “sexual equality” on a pick but don’t mix basis.

Society’s do-gooders cannot continue to proffer the argument that equality is all progress and willfully ignore the obvious.  Rates of pay advances, greater opportunity tremendous, BUT, the bad came with the good.  It was just conveniently ignored and grew like a societal cancer.

The concept of “the violent femme” is, as I have written here before, nothing new.  The days that the knife, or more recently, gun, was “only in my handbag for my boyfriend” are long gone.  Boudicca, the Amazons, etc. made way for those like Jessie Mougan (the 19th century Stockbridge baby farmer), Veverley Allett, Karen Matthews, and more recently, the two, possibly three, female sexual abusers of children, the very children left in their care.  Society, as so often, has been slow to recognize an inconvenient truth.  Those of us at the sharp end sit back bemused by the shock/horror press coverage. Frankly folks, “I was ever thus!”

Even as I write this morning, Colorado “mother” Mayumi Heene, has been shown to have been an integral part of the second form of abuse of her son.  The “baloon hoax family” have been burst, deflated and popped by a six year old child’s honesty, or by his failure to stick to the script.  Second — you cry?? Any parent who names a wean Falcon has set in motion a path to County lockup, frequent visits to A&E or childhood celebrity — i.e. the room in “we’ll sort it out for you (at a price!) Rehab and Retreat is already reserved!

A good friend of mine prosecuted a murder in Aberdeen some years ago and it took days, much cajoling from those of us who had attended “normal schools” and many replays of a self-incriminatory prison “phone call tape,” for him to accept that, actually, the female accused had tortured and killed another teen female all by herself, no man involved, (then had no problem spending the poor lassie’s savings).  Evil is, my friends, to use a P.C. tern, “non-gender specific.”

Female crime and violence, often drink fueled will, as with most problems, only be made worse by those looking for a dominant male to blame or the creation of socio-friendly excuses.  Get real people, equality, even by definition, means in all things.  There are higher rates of female alcholoism these days — hardly a shock, of aggression in town centres, of girl gangs happy to inflict horrendous injuries on a poor lassie accused by the mob(ette) of “trying to steal my boyfriend.”  The two worst cases of sustained kidnap and torture of a girl I saw professionally involved that backdrop.

It is time to stop looking for excuses and to investigate, then address, the reasons.  Between 1998 and 2007, there was an 81% increase in reported female violent crime in England and Wales.  How bad does it have to get before we, as a society, wake up?

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High Street scene in Edinbugh

RE-CREATION: BELFAST

November 8, 2009
Inside the Belfast MuseumFLYBUTTERFLY

Belfast bus stop poster

BELFAST: OCT 22-23, 2009

My visit coincided with the grand opening of the new Ulster Museum after a two year renovation.  The transformation of the 80 year old building includes a a ground floor exhibition chronicling “the troubles,” a highly significant unveiling in that it placed Northern Ireland’s polarization into a historical context in the wake of a renewed optimism for a lasting reconciliation sparked by HIllary Clinton’s recent visit.  In its breath and range of exhibitions, and successful marriage of tradition and innovation along with art/history/science, the museum is just the symbol of integration the city needs for its resurrection.

BALOONS

October 22, 2009: Grand Opening of the Ulster Museum

Coincidentally, the majestic Victorian City Hall had just opened a new cafe and exhibition space devoted to a photographic history of Northern Ireland and a video installation dedicated to both celebrating luminaries and chronicling the history of the “the Troubles.”

STAROFDAVID

Star of David, Universal sign of Unity, embedded in the floor of Belfast City Hall

The intention was to resurrect the city by bringing its peoples together.

CITYHALLZOD

Zodiac inside the rotunda of the Belfast City Hall

After my tour of the City Hall, it was dusk but I was intent to enter into West Belfast after stumbling on this mural when walking from the hostel earlier in the day.

SANDYROW

Sandy Row, Belfast

I walked through a security checkpoint and discovered a new complex with a cafe.  I was told that HBO was shooting a series there!  Here was the convergence between past and present, Belfast’s transformation.

At dusk, I wandered over the expressway bridge into West Belfast.  What a shift of energy!  The atmosphere of the forlorn in decayed storefronts and empty streets…

WBELFASTSTREET

West Belfast street

…the twinge of fear in knowing I was a stranger who didn’t belong there.

A group of boys playing ball and asking: “What are you doing here?”

The creepy feeling of being of being watched so close to All Hallows Eve!

SECURITY

Security cameras are everywhere in West Belfast, accompanied by ominous signs

MURALWBELF

West Belfast mural across from surveillance camera

Is there an environment more watched by Big Brother than West Belftast?

I doubt it.

But I was intent on seeing the wall murals which were the silent voice of the people…

After I located this one (left), just off a well traveled street, I asked a man on the street where to find more murals and he directed me to Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden.

So, I walked through empty lanes with the attached brick houses so identified with Western Belfast, the houses of the oppressed workers who built the city…

PHEONIXGATE

Gate at Clonard Martyrs Memorial Garden, Western Belfast

There was a very solemn feeling, yet entering the phoenix gate of the site whose wings were separated by the opening, infused the visitor with the hope of fusion upon closing.

I sat and stared at the plaque (below)…

CLONARDPLAQUE

CLONADMONUMENT

and monument (right) commemorating the freedom fighters.

…for a long while as dusk became night.

I returned across the bridge under the rising Crescent Moon, I came upon the symbol of Justice, also the Libra symbol of balance and peace.  How fabulous to encounter Lady Justice with a branch (the yod) just at the shift of Saturn entering the sign of Libra, in which it is exalted.

JUSTICEMURAL

Justice mural on street adjacent to the entrance of Western Belfast

A very hopeful sign for the future!!