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Spirits hover in most of these mosaics. They are called Nats, Burmese animistic forces who exist side by side with Buddhism. Most of the 37 Nats are former human beings who have met violent deaths.
Nats exist to protect living people, but expect adoration and placation. Worshipers appease them with fear because they tend to punish rather than reward. That does not keep worshipers from praying to them for fortune.
They build shrines and make offerings. For Nat worship, it is customary to hang a green coconut in a small basket in a corner of the living room.
Here’s how the magic works: If someone is ill, for example, and the stem of the coconut is found to be dry, it is assumed that the spirit is angry because the coconut has not been replaced by a fresh one earlier.
An example of a petition: among those who perform, it is the custom to offer bananas, coconuts and tobacco leaves to the spirit of the arts before each appearance.
Bad luck can even force non-animists to please the Nats to change the course. Or they can ask for good luck. Performers frequently petition the spirit of the arts before appearing on stage.
These spirits are pretty much omnipresent.
The Book of Id
I am a resident of Id City. Poems come from my inner dictionary. Some derive from childhood, some from travel. I write about the tools I use, the studio where I make art and the process of making art. Several refer to actual artworks. Then I consider reactions. I invite you to continue their creation by using your own poetic imagination. Mark my words, they will keep evolving.
To purchase a copy, please contact Linda via the email Contact Form.
Linda Hirsh, a native Philadelphian, went to Syracuse University School of Art and got her Master of Fine Arts degree at Tulane University. She fled Connecticut, a place where she lived for 33 years for the much friendlier Pacific Northwest. These poems in a large part come from her experience in oil painting, also from mosaics, a medium she began to explore 15 years ago.
Please contact Linda via the email Contact Form.