The Matronae, A Print by Monica Sjoo
The Matronae were Sun, Moon and Mother Earth. They create the cosmic electromagnetic web that vibrates, dances and is ever changing. 8 1/4 x 11 1/2 in.
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Color Laser Prints on A4 or 8 ¼"x 11½" paper with a 1 to 3 inch border. Image size varies depending on the shape of the original painting.
Monica had these prints made before her passing in 2005. Most prints were signed by Monica, although it may be a photocopied signature. They are laser photocopies which Monica had printed for selling after her talks and art exhibitions. Her family is making them available now to those who hold Monica Sjoo's work in high regard around the world.
Monica here with her painting. Her words about The Matronae:
I was traveling in Germany and in Scandinavia in the early 80s with an exhibition called "Woman Magic, celebrating the Goddess within us". We were four women artists and it was shown, in amongst many other places, at the Frauenmuseurn in Bonn and the Women's cultural centre Rhiannan in Cologne in the Rheinland. Whilst there I was taken to visit the German/Roman museum next door to the cathedral. In there I saw a number of very impressive stone carved images of the seated Matronae/Dea Matris or Triple Mothers. They showed dignified, mature women wearing great lunar or afro headdresses, holding fruit and bread in their arms. I believe that they are most ancient and, like the Scandinavian Norns or Disir, belong to the Pre Indo-European peoples of old Europe.
The Romans feared the Matronae and called them "Sorceresses of early days". Under the Cologne cathedral there was a Roman temple dedicated to Dionysius with a large mosaic floor intact but at an even much older level there was a holy well venerated by the Celts. The Matronae, their oracular priestesses, presided over the sacred wells within great enclosures that were surrounded first by wooden groves and later built in stone. There were more than a thousand such enclosures in Gaul and Germany. Uppsala, the great Pagan centre in Sweden, was originally dedicated to the Disir or Norns, deified ancient Mothers of the Vanir people of the north. I believe that theirs were great mysteries now lost to us.
By c.500 AD the Christians set about demolishing their shrines and delighted in knocking off the heads of the Matronae, a symbolic form of Matricide. It was said that powerful rituals were performed where the Matronae presided, rituals involving music, dances, ecstatic sexuality and magic. Also men's societies met in the enclosures of the divine grandmothers and there they danced wearing crane masks imitating birds with arms outstretched, bells on their toes, gyrating hips and spiralling into a shell or vulva/labyrinth. Obviously most "unmanly". From the Matronae's German name "Die Beten" comes in all German languages the words for "to pray" as in Swedish "att bedja".
I found in German (non-feminist) texts that the Matronae were Sun, Moon and Mother Earth. The Norns, who are older and more powerful than all gods, keep the World tree alive and to them belong the life-giving, healing and wisdom-giving holy wells. They, like Spiderwoman of the Hopis, weave, maintain and cut the thread of life. They create the cosmic electromagnetic web that vibrates, dances and is ever changing.
Monica Sjöö was one of the most important feminist artists of her time and her message remains just as relevant today. She was dedicated to fighting for the rights of women, oppressed peoples, and the Earth. Her art makes visible these issues which she was so passionate about.
Monica was Swedish born, and began painting in the late 1950's producing raw bold images that sought to express her growing anger about the place of women in society. Later works speak of ancient matriarchal times drawing on goddess and female symbols of the past that are timeless and which reflect her life-long research into ancient woman-cultures.
A prolific painter, Monica produced over 250 large works in oil and numerous smaller mixed media images and drawings. She traveled and exhibited internationally. She was also an author, public speaker, and tireless activist for women's rights, social justice and the environment.
Monica's sign to the left inspired the GreenWomanStore logo. She marched with this sign in San Francisco in the l980s. Monica made this image into a stencil which she used for her "Women and the Earth" Goddess Grafitti art campaign in Bristol, UK.
All of Monica Sjöö's work is copyrighted. All rights reserved.
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