A look at Haitian New York-based photographer Ed Maximus’ stunning ongoing series For Colored Girls. Juxtaposing vibrant hues with the depth of black skin, he turns each of his subjects into works of art, highlighting his adoration of our melanin goddesses.
Most of the text is from 45 Master Characters: Mythic Models for Creating Original Characters by Victoria Lynn Schmidt.
Hera the powerful goddess of marriage and fertility spills forth the stars of the Milky Way seeding the earth. Heracles’ (Hercules) name means “glory of Hera,” a testament to her immense power. When Zeus took a liking to her she was able to resist him until he promised to marry her. He later betrayed her causing her to become vengeful. Marriage vows are sacred to her, and she would not leave Zeus or give up on their partnership. She now uses her power to hold the family of the gods together, dispensing justice and advice.
Wandering the cold winter streets at night, Demeter searches for her abducted daughter Persephone. Ceasing to eat, drink and sleep, she is consumed by the empty space next to her where her daughter walked at her side. Her tears of depression cast a chill over the fields of grain. Nothing grows across the land she walks on. Winter takes over with her every step until her beloved daughter is returned to her. Only then will grain grow and spring come to the land. She cares not for herself but only for her child.
High up on the mountain, Zeus surveys his land and castle. He looks down on those around him, making sure everything is in quiet order. Everywhere one turns, his watchful gaze can be felt; his power lingers long after he has left the area. He fills the sky with his image and demands respect. Beautiful women have no chance to tell him “no” as he is a forceful and sneaky lover, often disguising his true self to them. He can be your best friend one minute and your worst enemy the next. His wife Hera is the only one who can force him into things, often because she has the power to make his home life a living hell.
From the depths of the ocean, the realm of emotions, Aphrodite emerges a perfect image of beauty. She covers herself with an implied modesty but does not crouch or hide from your gaze. She charms you with an innocent smile all the while knowing the hold she has on you. She steps from the sea, her hair flowing in the breeze. The sea creatures give up their lives just to follow her onto land and gaze at her for one moment longer. She takes in the sights and smells of her surroundings as if she’s a child in a strange land. Everything is fascinating and beautiful to her. Desire and love follow her, turning wise men into fools.
Under the glimmer of the moonlight among towering forest trees, walks the goddess Artemis. Close to her side she carries with her a silver bow and arrows. She glides through the night watching over innocent young women and seeking out a challenger to polish her skill as an expert archer. She is chief hunter to the gods, goddesses and wild animals. As she walks beneath the moon in her wilderness, her ears are ever open for the sound of a young female, human or animal, who may need her help in childbirth or need her protection from rape. With a quick temper she punished those who offend her. She is a goddess who chooses to live without a mate, self-sufficient. With great precision and concentration, she sets her mind’s eye on a goal and pursues it until the end.
Dancing through the fields, Persephone picks flowers as the sun sets. Without a care in the world, she stops to watch butterflies flutter around her feet. In the distance she sees a magnificent narcissus flower and runs toward it. Picking the flower, her mind so absorbed in the moment, she doesn’t see Hades rising up from the Earth to kidnap her as his bride, the flower his bait. The harsh reality of life has taken her by surprise and awakened her from her blissful stupor. She learns to use her suffering to help others by guiding their souls of the dead to their final resting places. Her mother’s grief at her absence allows her to return above ground in the spring when the flowers bloom.
High on the hill overlooking the battlefield, all of the gods watch the war taking place below except for ares. In full armor, he delightfully joins in the fight. He fights to satiate his lust for blood rather than to win a noble cause. Everything physical is joyous to him, and his passion leaves all in his wake breathless. He is known as the protector of the community and of families, but any reason to join in a brawl is a good enough reason for him.
Underneath the full moon, Dionysus dances with the women from town. As the only man present, he joins with his own feminine nature and holds the attention of all the women present. He serves them wine, intoxicating and loosening them up. Even the old and quiet women find themselves rejoicing around him, shedding their harsh self-images for more positive and fun ones. He brings out the best in them and shows them the best in himself. Together they experience moments of ecstasy and joyous madness.
Prometheus was the Titan god of forethought and crafty counsel who was entrusted with the task of moulding mankind out of clay. His attempts to better the lives of his creation brought him into direct conflict with Zeus. Firstly he tricked the gods out of the best portion of the sacrificial feast, acquiring the meat for the feasting of man. Then, when Zeus withheld fire, he stole it from heaven and delivered it to mortal kind hidden inside a fennel-stalk. As punishment for these rebellious acts, Zeus ordered the creation of Pandora (the first woman) as a means to deliver misfortune into the house of man, or as a way to cheat mankind of the company of the good spirits. Prometheus meanwhile, was arrested and bound to a stake on Mount Kaukasos where an eagle was set to feed upon his ever-regenerating liver (or, some say, heart). Generations later the great hero Herakles came along and released the old Titan from his torture.*
Behind the flickering light of the hearth fire, Hestia blesses a home with feminine compassion and family unity. Her spirit brings joy, peace and happiness to all those in her presence. In the quiet of the night she meditates near an open window, sharing in the joys of the nighttime creatures that wander the woods as everyone else lays sleeping. She sits for hours reflecting on the inner journey of her mind, forever at peace no matter what the world brings to her doorstep.
In the depths of the sea, Poseidon forever sets the course of fate on waters of emotion, raging waves one moment and calm tides the next. He is unpredictable, dangerous and intriguing all at the same time. His eyes hide a mystery no one can quite touch. Once you think you know him he changes. Once you think you have helped him through an emotion another one surfaces more intensely than the last. He can give abundance from the sea’s riches or take your life for venturing across his waters.
During the war against Olympians, Cronus made Atlas their leader mostly because of his war skills, extreme orientation and durability. As it turned out, he was quite a leader and it looked like for a long time that they were going to win the war. However, they were outnumbered in the end, because Cronus made too many enemies during his ruleage. Atlas was, unlike his relatives, condemned to a special punishment by Zeus himself. He made him as an eternal caretaker of the axis between heavens and earth which were controlled by his predecessors in the past. Because of his endurance, Zeus believed he was just going to be able to control them and do nothing else in the meantime. He was right, Atlas was, according to Aeschylus and Ovid, barely supporting the enormous weight of heavens on his shoulders. However, there is an alternative description of the titan by Valerius Flaccus and Virgil who are describing him as enormous giant standing in the ocean with his feet and his head reaching above the clouds while with ease holding the heavens apart from earth.**
Underneath the brilliant shining Sun, strides the god Apollo along the beach. He surveys the ocean, preferring to look at the horizon instead of examining what lies beneath the waves. His mind is always set on events in the far distance. He carries with him a bow and arrows, which allow him to attack from a comforting distance. He glides through the night watching over innocent young children and seeking out a challenger to polish his skill as an expert archer. His logical mind makes him the dispenser of justice, and his strong willpower allows him to accomplish any goal he sets for himself.
Dwelling in the dark underworld, unable to find light, Hades lives inside his head. He has no need for friends or acquaintances but instead prefers to linger alone. His life is full of the richness of the imagination as he goes about his daily activities. His mind is always somewhere else. He never realized what he was missing in his life until he came upon the beautiful goddess Persephone. Seeing her he knew he needed some companionship to get through his life, but unschooled in the ways of love he kidnaps her and drags her into his underworld life. He steals her innocence and realizes how unfeeling he has become. As his love grows he decides to sacrifice part of his time with her so that she may visit her mother in the Spring. She has taught him compassion and self-awareness.
Dancing through life, the fool lives without a care in the world. He exists between the world of adults and the world of children. All of life is simple, light and amusing to him. He wanders from place to place looking for a new playmate- whether it be a person, a dog or a game doesn’t matter to him. His heart is full of love and laughter. He is the most playful of all the gods and often acts as a messenger between humans and the gods as he loves adventures and travels.
As mysterious as an owl in the dark night air, the goddess Athena hovers proudly over the great library and the victorious battlefield. She will not dirty her hands in battle but will remain at the side of her chosen heroic soldier, helping him to win the war. She offers him strength, power and knowledge as well as her undying loyalty. She carries a shield of armor in one hand and an image of the goddess Nike in the other for Nike is the symbol of victory. Born from her father’s head, she has no mother and no room for female companions of any kind. She is smart and takes full control of her emotions.
“The Morrígan is probably the most powerful yet mysterious figure amongst the Celtic Gods. The popular image of the Morrígan is as the Goddess of Battle and Sex, a perception that only scratches the surface of this complex and manifold Goddess. From Bestower of Sovereignty to Earth Goddess, from Lady of the Beasts to Faery Queen, from Lover to Witch Goddess, the Morrígan stands out as one of the pre-eminent Celtic Goddesses. More than any other Celtic deity the Morrígan embodies the resurgence of the divine feminine, appearing in a wide variety of guises to express the full spectrum of feminine power. The strength and control the Morrígan displays, as well as her ferocity and tenacity, and her ability to control events to ensure the desired result are all displayed repeatedly in the myths. As a Liminal Goddess the Morrígan connects not only the different realms of earth, sky, sea and otherworld, but also the myths of the British Isles through her different guises.”
- Sorita d'Este & David Rankine The Guises of the Morrigan - The Irish Goddess of Sex & Battle http://amzn.to/1GhnreA