Sacred Adornment-The Altar-ing of Self

Melissa Weiss Steele Painted Body series 2009

Melissa Weiss Steele Painted Body Photography series "reclaiming my queen" 2009

In my Painted Body photography series for The Oracle of Initiation deck, sacred adornment is a central part of the process.  The talismanic jewels and natural objects I decorate myself with are as altar-ing as the painting itself. The feathers, scarves, crystals & bones all carry an energy and power that radiates beyond their physical existence. In welcoming them into a ceremonial process, they reveal their true essence, offering a glimpse into the inner-glow that everything possesses but we rarely notice. We see that things we perceived as lifeless are actually filled with a sparkling grace.

In Norse mythology, Freya, the Goddess of beauty and love {Scandinavians version of Aphrodite & Oshun} wears a gleaming golden necklace named Brisingamen. It is said to be the most beautiful piece of jewelry in the world. To receive this treasure she spends a night of “love” with each of the four dwarves who crafted the necklace. One of the interpretations of the dwarves is as the four directions of Earth, Air, Fire and Water. I also view them as the richness available within the underworld; the darker inner-places where complexity and contradiction nurture great creativity and visions. Freya returned to her primal elemental connections to claim her true radiance.  I descend into tunnels and caves to see the glow of my own amber abundance.

Melissa Weiss Steele Painted Body photography series

I too decorate the temple of my body during the photographic process. I become naked & vulnerable, as well as bejeweled & majestic. This is the paradox of the work- getting muddy and becoming a Queen. Offering ones self to the dwarves for the most beautiful necklace in the world. What shadows in your life could be the contrast illuminating your most glorious gifts?

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