|Ewa and the Green Lion by zoe blue|
18x24 acrylic on panel
One of the most striking aspects of the traditions surrounding the devotions to Erzulie is that they always end with her weeping. Erzulie is lovely, beautiful, and she has the adoration of all men, yet she does not strike hateful jealousy in the women, because of her child-like innocence. She induces wonder and care, she is like a child. And, though she begins all celebrations in her honor filled with giddiness and pleasure at the excess of beautiful and expensive things that are always lavished on her parties, she slowly grows sad, accusing the people of not honoring her enough, not giving her enough, not loving her enough. In Maya Deren's book The Divine Horsemen, she suggests that this is just another aspect of her child-like behavior (along with an "impatience with economies, with calculation, even with careful evaluation" 139), that you cannot give a child enough attention to satiate its need, and that those present at the devotions understand this and soothe her. I feel, however, that perhaps Erzulie is right. We do not devote enough of our attentions to child-like wonder, to endless and all-enveloping love--if we did, the world would be a much different place. In Candomblé Ketu, Ewá represents the water element, and is the goddess of enchantment, beauty, and harmony. Like Erzulie, in the related Voodoo pantheon, she is universally loved and loving and "represents all that is fragile and sensitive." According to Morwyn, in Magic from Brazil, "Euá was so beautiful that men would fight to the death to possess her. In order to stop the carnage she changed herself into a puddle of water that evaporated to the sky, condensed into a cloud, and fell as rain. Thus she is known as the deity of transformation."
Here, I am fusing the two water divinities, hoping for a major transformation such as the one Erzulie begs for, one in which I no longer need to mess with stupidities like balancing my checkbook, for example...
The story of Erzulie, the story of Ewá, also reminds me of the Chinese bodhisattva Guan Yin, who also caused a massive transformation, defeating violence: during an unjust and forced visit to the Underworld, she was so overwhelmed with compassion for the souls which suffered untold tortures there, her very love transformed that hell into a paradise. She changed, simply by being full of compassion, the very order of things (something to think about the next time someone calls you a naive utopian). She is, like Ewá and Erzulie, the patroness of mothers and of sailors, and she can be called upon to bring rain.
|detail of Ewa and the Green Lion|
Alchemists, the precursors to our modern chemists, also strove for major transformation. The endless writings on the steps necessary to transmute base metals into gold are thought by some to have been mere code for a higher transmutation, an internal transmutation, in which the base form of the self becomes light, reaches higher consciousness. Alchemists sought to create an elixir of healing and eternal life, and one of the code names for that ultimate elixir was "the remedy of the green lion."
Here, Erzulie-Ewa is caught in mid-transformation at the base of Legba's tree, her hair feathering out into bird's wings and her torso spilling to the ground. The green lion frolics in the water.