Genius Myth/Turning up to the studio

Genius is not something you are.

“In its earliest meaning in private cult, the genius of the Roman housefather and the iuno, or juno, of the housemother were worshiped. These certainly were not the souls of the married pair, as is clear both from their names and from the fact that in no early document is there mention of the genius or iuno of a dead person. The genius and iuno were probably the male and female forms of the family’s, or clan’s, power of continuing itself by reproduction, which were in the keeping of the heads of the family for the time being and passed at death to their successors. In this as in all forms of his cult, the genius was often conceived as appearing in the form of a snake, although he is also shown in art as a young man, generally engaged in sacrificing. At every wedding a bed, the lectus genialis, was made for the genius and iuno of the husband and wife, and its presence in the house was a sign of matrimony.

Owing to the rise of individualism and also to the prevalence of Greek ideas concerning a guardian spirit, or daimon, the genius lost its original meaning and came to be a sort of personification of the individual’s natural desires and appetites. Hence the phrases indulgere genio, genium defrudare, signifying, respectively, to lead a pleasurable life, and to lead a stingy life. The development, however, did not stop here. The genius came to be thought of as a sort of guardian angel, a higher self; and, as the Greek daimon was sometimes rationalized into the individual’s character or temper, so also the poet Horace half-seriously said that only the genius knows what makes one person so different from another, adding that he is a god who is born and dies with each one of us. This individual genius was worshipped by each individual, especially on his birthday. A few inscriptions even mention the genius of a dead person, as Christian epitaphs sometimes speak of his angel.

To show reverence for the genius of another or to swear by it was a mark of deep respect; hence, it is not unnatural that the genius of Augustus and of his successors formed objects of popular cult. Thus, to worship the genius Augusti avoided affronting the feeling against worshipping any living emperor, which remained fairly strong in Italy; for, of course, all genii were divine and might properly be worshipped.

As with the Greek daimones, there was a vast variety of genii, or guardian spirits—those of places, genius loci, including buildings (genius balneorum, etc.), and of corporations of all sorts, from the state (genius populi Romani) to small bodies of troops, guilds of tradesmen, and so forth. A very curious development is that one sometimes heard of the genius of a god, even of Jupiter, or of the iuno of a goddess.”

(https://www.britannica.com/topic/genius-Roman-religion)


Spiritual/artistic technique of First get to practice then be inspired. 

Trance dance is a ritual where shamans dance as women clap the rhythm and sing special medicine songs. The San believe that these medicine songs are full of a supernatural potency. This potency comes from god himself, but it is also in the stomachs of shamans (medicine people).

“The dance can take several forms. Women can sit around a fire and clap while shamans dance, or shamans can dance in the centre while the women stand around them. As the trance dance increases in intensity, the women’s clapping and singing combine with the men’s persistent dancing to cause the potency to ‘boil’ and to rise up the shamans spines. When it ‘explodes’ in their heads, they enter trance.

For the San, trance is the spirit world; it is here that they heal the sick, remonstrate with malevolent spirits, and go on out-of-body journeys. The now-extinct southern San also believed that shamans could make rain and guide antelope herds into the hunters’ ambush. Moreover, the San saw parallels between the behaviour of a dying antelope, especially an eland, and a shaman ‘dying’ (dying is used in a metaphorical sense, meaning to enter the spirit world) in trance.

In  parallels drawn from trance behaviour, shamans and  dying antelope tremble, sweat profusely, stagger, bleed from the nose (RSA WAR1 1R , RSA LOM1 26) lower their heads (RARI RSA GAM1 5R; RARI RSA GAM1 102) and eventually fall unconscious. The San also believed that hair grew in a man in trance, and this feature is also seen on antelopes and on shamans with hair standing on end (RARI RSA GAM1 5R, RARI RSA RSS1 2R, RSA HEL1 2), bleeding from the nose (RARI RSA FET3 5R, RSA WAR3 1R, RARI RSA CAP1 1R, RARI LEE RSA GEE1 16), staggering and lowering their heads. At times in the art, shamans are placed next to a dying eland (RARI RSA WID2 171) because an antelope is believed to release its potency when it dies.

The trance dance is the San’s most important religious ritual, and an understanding of its various features and purposes is an essential key to appreciate the art.”

(http://www.sarada.co.za/subject/trance_dance/)


Picasso

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