Throughout history, traditional ideals of the Christian God have been altered by other forms of worship, or disregarded for personal forms of worship and expression. These are unconventional gods. There is a long tradition of hidden pagan gods in Catholic tradition - look at All Saints Day or Easter, based on the worship of the goddess Eostre, who symbolized sun, spring, and rebirth (much like Jesus's Resurrection.) There is also a long tradition of individualism in religion; Socrates and Leonardo da Vinci were persecuted in their own times for being theists rather then believing in the dogma and specific ideas of the established religion. In this modern age of accessible documents and records, it is very easy for people to discover their own truths, to find their own path. However, for much of human history, defying dogma was a great leap of faith and courage. In medieval churches, in Peruvian cathedrals, in Unitarian Universalist congregations, and the great temples of Half Dome and Snake River Basin., there are expression of unique callings to God.

Medieval Expressions
Green Man carvings are hidden in churches across Europe. This is because medieval Europeans converted to Christianity, but still observed pagan rites, like Beltane, offerings for local Folk and spirits, and Samhain and Solstice vigils, while also still using many different kinds of banned amulets and herbwife remedies. Green man was often invoked for fertility, good harvest, and spring solstice festivals, but was also feared for his power, nature. Green Man can also be connected to the Eastern Kirtimukha and other carvings of foliate beasts. Christian leaders had taken a looser attitude towards images such as these until the Catholic Counter-Reformation and the iconoclastic movement, when many ‘false idols’ were banned or destroyed.

Green Man is found on stonework in Exeter Cathedral, Battenburg Cathedral, Winchester Cathedral (Hampshire), then north porch of the Chartres Cathedral, Chester Cathedral (Cheshire), and Bamberg Cathedral (Germany), as well as in many smaller parish chapels.

external image qWkQkqVNk58w-8ybaLoR1PwxD2OdD10rgRpXjx2LF9_czFl4e8Et_bIX9VJesVYgmWfSLCflvPBy-EVeWtiKVbyAAG7r9BKL6d7OapWIh1xXXomCV_u6dNyhe6mKIo_qbAuPAub6external image 80tKpWJW1GYuwYxMhLh2QNXjJvh4bS2Le2joBy095iKp8oC4tERyGE-BvkDs0YmM9skO6Xt4PXMnXJmiXIaYyAGyYXyHJlGPo1_jo580no9b2lZ3-xsfOP4_UkztFCVmAJR9okbgexternal image pKJwlCUNcveOcpHd6eo9W8c33zHiCI4LuDhW6KIZhzL2IFb2bXJBvBnePlUe0eJuTqgUMs2gMznjF1RXedaVEXU6m9WlcJSWrUF2yr1V8Qb8yVkgDMiNdS6XIV9O_vVt3u9w0AR3external image CfuUTtmFUfimoFTQL5Qav4aRvUc2gqT-uX6KqBDXSWcB44PvEqZUG-C-PfYFB8Ke-RDgzhvvSGCk1IUweQuhHCmdLtKAywuoY_74Il98CuAXuWb4AZmsGa-ss3_NRhmzxcdZfTq_
external image 1CDMAQVt924qlDPSSVVbFBVxWhSN-Qqqe5a7QmB4PDYA0LT3UyNctaUH2VIU5oRLVWcfi4FR0pa772gw28wtgCeI3lIeHI_aCN9GL3XIyC-OcRM31vF0q1Aj-cc9xMt8LS-NwIlR

Peruvian Syncretism

In the main cathedral of Cusco, Perú, there are several examples of syncretism and subversion. In a painting of the Last Supper in the right refectory, painted by an indigenous member of the Cusco School, every figure is fair-skinned, except Judas. He is copper-skinned, and was probably painted like that as a threat. While the white patrons saw his darker skin as a ‘lesser race’ knowing their place (as Judas, the unworthy), to the indigenous people the Judas was a symbol of revolution, and subversion of white gods.

Also in the Cusco Cathedral is a chariot used to carry a figure of the Virgin Mary in the Festival of Corpus Christi. While the chariot has traditional Catholic imagery, the use of silver and gold, and sun and moon imagery on the sides represent the Incan gods, and may be an intentional echo of the Festival of the Sun Chariot, also held in Cusco before it was banned by Catholic priests.

external image GFdiI93WtiEA2ozPGX7uivFW1rPOnw6WPbgcQv2oKYKi6_Z2nIOLCqSguI_fGPkMNV3maSijUcQIfWf9iTIeo88l1CeJOev1o2BkWXjAoKj87BNKILpaRfwf8fd0bZi3r3NrRyzo
external image pslO66re_6T5yif56y0H3L9nfdg7RDKPw65w20vjxudnXo7_JpD7T82EaD5e_IMsUYoFxYSgafFG_7fOqSGfrTK1s2DUc9TpUIZbdmCDtKt3pW6J7f4oQBw-9prjIHDzLRMOId_N

Ansel Adams

Ansel Adams is known for his majestic American landscapes, and the sense of reverence and wonder imbued in them. He photographed the ever changing natural world with awe, and saw the processes moving around him as an expression of the greatness of Creation. In 1937, while Adams was away in Wyoming, taking photographs, struggling with his feelings for his young assistant, he wrote to his friend Cedric Wright:

Dear Cedric,
A strange thing happened to me today. I saw a big thundercloud move down over Half Dome, and it was so big and clear and brilliant that it made me see many things that were drifting around inside of me; things that relate to those who are loved and those who are real friends.
For the first time I know what love is; what friends are; and what art should be.
Love is a seeking for a way of life; the way that cannot be followed alone; the resonance of all spiritual and physical things....
Friendship is another form of love -- more passive perhaps, but full of the transmitting and acceptances of things like thunderclouds and grass and the clean granite of reality.
Art is both love and friendship and understanding: the desire to give. It is not charity, which is the giving of things. It is more than kindness, which is the giving of self. It is both the taking and giving of beauty, the turning out to the light of the inner folds of the awareness of the spirit. It is a recreation on another plane of the realities of the world; the tragic and wonderful realities of earth and men, and of all the interrelations of these.

Adam’s phrasing, “The turning out to the light of the inner fold of the awareness of the spirit” is typical of Transcendental ideology at the time. They often used light as a metaphor to symbolize pureness of spirit and God in all things. While he was not raised in an organized religion, his parents passed on to him views of God in nature. His art is an archetypal example as wonder as a form of worship, and has clarified the religious views of many naturalists and hikers.

external image u6sGz6Mqq_JZ2uhYRpP9t6A-zLd-FMxGck3iaBTLkiY9zOerWmkcfHo17fNbuzx7cdlsLGcd5LJVQnv4SuVyQLNk6vGZHHSJywyUEcGahyGnhYkwwhhWc1EWslShwEAtBGXVYuK8
external image lT6fhzCZ8UOvb-ZxzrWRBRgMHki66Cr6tBxiimPi8s-skUU88LL7xLpr3kg6y1ux7AnkMe1YyW5beMv4JowZnfoPJfTAMfx2WiiZ_JMnVAlDwBaBSkDl8ThXcFP-47zKIIh_YB_q

Margaret Shepherd

Shepherd takes a more individual approach to congregational religion. In her congregation, the First and Second Church of Boston, she uses calligraphy and fabric to express the unique spirit of the congregation by decorated the worship space with the names of the congregants, memorials to famous UUS and dead congregants, and the creeds of the youth (declared in front of the congregation upon the completion of the Coming of Age program.) She follows the Unitarian Universalist principles of self-realization of faith, and of integration of that creed into everyday life. She also uses the displays to remind the congregants of the variety of interpretations of a higher power and moral life, and as examples of using the UU principles in everyday life.” ’Writing is really an extension of gesturing — a way to make a motion visible, memorable, and lasting,’ Shepherd writes in Learn Calligraphy, the new edition of her best-selling introduction to the art.“

Her work is displayed in congregations across the world, and is interesting because it contrasts the ancient use of calligraphic ink on silk with the constant change of a Unitarian Universalist religious journey. With the immediate relation of her works to modern life, she makes the art form modern. Through the individualism of ink, she wishes to express the individualism of UUs, and create a lasting expression of her congregation’s ideas. She also uses minimal brushstrokes to form portraits of people and natural life.

external image t0f4LVFoBNU2kT2D2nxC-Fn9rBb7YShNeggSX0lDIYL_J_hjyKUC_EoNsiFuWNamYeEIg77KsgU1ZI6mmRzf3b6gtbljvWHbHBNx64BtVIMJnfsYuop8nT3sc0whM0uG2u0Grg0d
external image ySV8verZHw1s3SbHnDhfv_wrwV35zEaYeiG2mhxbzk-Z93C1V8e3RXedhksCH59bY0VbAIs4VF_IqMFiTDrhpR-04qUUn3UUcrnUEcEWa_8k0Qeb0D1PRS0rE_aOxdEmImqguOWj

Works Cited

"Conversation with Juan Manuel Yanez." Personal interview. 27 Dec. 2016.

Negus, Tina. "Medieval Foliate Heads: A Photographic Study of Green Men and Green Beasts in Britain." Folklore 114.2 (2003): 247. ProQuest. Web. 11 May 2017.

"People & Events: Ansel Adams (1902-1984)." pbs.org. WGBH Public Education Foundation, n.d. Web. 5 May 2017.

Satchell, J. (1999). The green man in cumbria. Folklore, 110, 98-99. Retrieved from __https://search.proquest.com/docview/202703060?accountid=36740__

Walton, Christopher L. "Beautiful Words: Margaret Shepherd Transforms Words into Art."UU World Mar.-Apr. 2002: 42-46. UU World. Unitarian Universalist Association, Mar.-Apr. 2002. Web. 15 May 2017.

Photography is personal, from UUWorld, or Pinterest.