Western North Carolina Woman


In ancient myth, Lilith was a fiery and passionate figure, the original Wild Woman who lived in the Tree of Life. She was called “Mistress of the Wild Beasts.” Temple did not know her identity as she painted, but understood the figure was bursting into flames of passion. Lilith’s message was: “I got jive, I got joy, I got the green growing thing going. Wake up and sing!... I’m alive, I’m alive, I’m alive!”


See more of Temple's work:
(click on the images to zoom in)

women of the hut:
For eons, women gathered in the women’s hut as their bodies’ cycles met & matched the cycles of the moon. In this painting, they have gathered during the season of birthing & nursing. The female bear shaman stands over the hut as protector of the sacred fertile space the women share. A poem accompanying the painting reads in part: “O sisters, let us remember the rhythms of our mother and our mother’s mother… Let us remember how to hold the spaces for each other—the rhythms of giving and taking—the rhythms of life.”

the fire of isis
The story of Isis is the quintessential story of death, loss, and transformation. Temple had never read the myth of Isis before she painted the picture, yet all the symbolism is present. The painting was the gateway for her awareness of the Feminine Divine.

white virgin
This painting became a journey to heal the separation between two parts of the artist: the dark goddess, earthy, primitive, fecund and sensual, and the virgin, pure, ethereal, and visionary aspects. Exploration of this separation revealed a further separation, one between the organ of inspiration (the heart) and the organs of procreation (the womb and vagina). In the painting, the Virgin and the Dark Goddess, the ethereal and the sensual, reunite in an embrace and become a unified whole. The last verse of a poem accompanying this painting reads: In my body the Whore and the Virgin are one/ In my heart the earth is rooted/ In my womb, heaven is born.

In mythology, Malatte is described as a milk goddess; her milk was believed to be the substance of creation. She is often associated with a serpent.

I discovered the goddess' identity many years after painting it.

“O sisters, let us remember the rhythms of our mother and our mother’s mother… Let us remember how to hold the spaces for each other—the rhythms of giving and taking—the rhythms of life.”

Sit yourself in front of Temple Cassara’s work and you enter a world of dreams where all is inside out and upside down and the artist is clearly on a voyage of self-discovery.

Temple's paintings are full of death and rebirth, of journeys to and through parallel universes. She journeys through dark nights of the soul and back out into the light in a dreamworld of vibrant color, imagery, and a tumultuous outpouring of feminine energy.

The conscious exploration of her nighttime dreams has been integral to Temple’s life for the past decades. In fact, it was through a remarkable precognitive dream she met an art therapist who would later become her mentor.

The great strength of her work is that she paints from a very spontaneous invention of image and color—a kind of immediate connection to psyche that pours a stream of consciousness of personal emotional images. In another artist, this might be called courageous, but there is no evidence of pre-concieved notion that would require courage; it is the release of inhibitions, a flagrant act of painting! It is the interior landscape, a kind of active dreaming which is the hallmark and strength of her work.
Temple Cassara began her life as an artist at a young age, following in the footsteps of her mother. She received her BA in art at UNC-A. By her thirties, however, she felt that the artist part of her, so rich in her early youth, was dying. By letting go of judgments of her own creative work and following an intuitive process, Temple found the tools to use her painting as a healing journey.

It wasn’t until 1990, when dealing with a challenging health issue, that the intuitive painting journey exploded into new and unexpected dimensions, and a series of powerful images of the feminine emerged. Images spoke to her of parts of herself that had been lost and almost forgotten, of anguish and anger that her womb felt but she had denied, of an inner fire buried by her father’s harshness, and of a deep grief felt by her womanhood, but denied by her mind. In the cave of her illness, barely able to crawl from her bed, she painted until slowly she found her own path to healing. The images that emerged from that time forward, fed her spirit, nourished her and often came with deep spiritual teachings, synchronistic evens, and subsequent life changes.

the night has red feet
In the fertile garden, the Mistress of the Night reveals her fertility through the rich red stream at her feet and the red rose, an ancient symbol of the feminine. Cat-like creatures curl around the Mistress to insure that her instinctual nature is intact. This painting is a blessing to all who work with their dreams.

After a painting emerged, chance readings or comments from friends identified for Temple the symbolism she’d unconsciously painted. Her images were goddesses, sometimes ones of which she’d never heard, each an archetype for an area of her own growth as a woman and artist. “Since that time,” Temple writes, “I have continued to paint intuitively, allowing images to arise in their own way, in their own time, leaving expectations and self-criticism behind. More and more, I live my life like I paint. My life is more about trust and less about planning, as I allow myself to be my ugly as well as my beautiful parts, trusting that something bigger than myself is in charge. My art has grown rich and is an intrinsic expression of my deep, soulful self. It continues to enrich and free my life, my womanhood, and my humanity.”

Now once again Temple is dancing with death and rebirth. She was diagnosed with lymphoma in December 2002, and is without health insurance like many other women, artists, and others whose employers limit their hours in order to avoid providing benefits. Her friends and family encourage you to support Temple by supporting her art. Prints of six of her paintings are being offered for sale by her son. These can be previewed now at centerpeace.net/temple and ordered online soon. Please share this information with friends as a great opportunity for women to support one another.


Western North Carolina Woman
is a publication of INFINITE CIRCLES, INC.

PO BOX 1332 • MARS HILL NC 28754 • 828-689-2988

Celebrating the Spirit of Place in Western North Carolina