|Eris/Discordia, 2021, 14.5" x 14.5", hand-stitched cotton thread on machine stitched dish towel remnant.|
"The most we can do is to dream the myth onwards and give it a modern dress"
- Carl Jung
With this piece, I'm contemporizing the Greek myth of the goddess Eris (Roman name Discordia). Inspired by contemporary Afghan War Rugs, the figure is referenced from an ancient Greek black-figure kylix ceramic painting. This Eris has no nationality or ethnicity or race or religion, and I see her as one of the personifications of humanity's collective shadow. She is, however, the goddess who calls in war and thus represents the asymmetry of overwhelming military might and state terrorism. Her hair becomes a blast ball, her tattooed arms hold an assault rifle, her wings have images of fighter jets, and the hem of her dress is decorated with dollar signs. She's surrounded by bombs, helicopters, grenades, bullets, blood drops, and tanks.
Here's a description of her from the website The Theoi Project, a site exploring Greek mythology and the gods in classical literature and art: "[Eris] delights in the tumult of war, increasing the moaning of men. She is insatiable in her desire for bloodshed, and after all the other gods have withdrawn from the battle-field, she still remains rejoicing over the havoc that has been made." She was the mother of the Kakodaimones (Cacodaemons), evil spirits which plagued mankind.
It's interesting that these qualities were connected to a Goddess. Usually, I think of the Feminine as being associated with nurture, compassion, and relationship, even though soldiers in many contemporary societies are also women. I came across a book called Lost Goddesses of Early Greece, by Charlene Spretnak, and learned a lot about the origins of classical mythology. Spretnak writes that "...for thousands of years before the classical myths took form and were written down by Hesiod and Homer in the seventh century B.C., a rich oral tradition of myth making had existed. Strains of the earlier traditions are evident in the later myths, which reflect the cultural amalgamation of three waves of barbarian invaders. These invaders brought with them a patriarchal social order and their thunderbolt God, Zeus." This idea seems very apt when thinking about Eris, even in a contemporary context. Perhaps the power of a true Feminine archetype is rising again, and war and war mongers will no longer be worshiped or valued in a world in dire need of healing.