China Goddesses?

The other night, a friend was showing me various “Goddess pictures” he’s collected over the last few years. As I was sitting there, looking at them, I began to notice a pattern in all of them. All of the pictures, while drawn with exquisite talent and an eye for detail, seemed unreal to me. They all had this almost ephemeral look to them.

I began to notice that every picture of every goddess seemed to picture a slim, almost ghostly woman in a flowing gown of some short. And in each picture, it gave the deity pictured an appearance that was so idealized and stylized that she didn’t seem…well, human. And not in a good way.

It seems to me that I’ve found this characteristic in a lot of “Goddess” artwork in the last five years. It’s as if many artist try to create a lofty picture, but in effect creates a picture of an unreal, untouchable being. (Indeed, they almost look as if they’d be sullied or even broken if we touched them, much like a china doll.) Where is the artwork of real goddesses? Where are the pictures of Artemis walking through the forest in huntress clothes? Where are the pictures of Aphrodite, exuding enough sex appeal to make your average male pop a boner just looking at her? Where’s the picture of the Mother Goddesses who actually look like they’ve held a child and had said child spit up on her?

We Pagans talk about how our gods are close to us. We talk about how they are readily available and even imminent. And yet, then we turn around and create artwork which almost seems to contradict this. I find myself wondering how much we believe our own words.

Not that I’m guiltless of this. I’ve had my times where I’ve pictured my own “china doll Goddess,” too. I’ve pictured the gods as untouchable and unrealistically idealized. But I’ve also come to find more “realistic” images. I try to picture Freyja in a down-to-earth outfit that both exudes sex appeal and strength. I’ve tried to see her in the kind of garb as worn by the spakona. I’ve tried to see her as more real.

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