Today was a very special service at Westwood! My Mom, Maureen Stefaniuk, was in town and did a service on the Feast of St. Nicholas, who is the patron Saint of Children in the Eastern Orthodox tradition. When I was between the ages of zero and three, her and my Dad, Michael Gaudet, would organize big, multicultural community celebrations in our little Village of Verigin, Saskatchewan. Having been influenced by both her Orthodox roots and the feminist movements of her day, my Mom was very intentional about integrating the feminine figures of divinity into the celebration. She did this by introducing the Ukrainian Goddess Lada into the mix, a Mother Goddess with roots dating back into Neolithic times. Lada is one of a polytheistic pantheon of Gods and Goddesses from Ancient Ukraine and can be compared with the Greek Goddess Demeter in regards to her role as Earth Mother mourning Her daughter, Melanka, causing the cold of Winter as She awaits Her Daughter’s return. One of the ways in which my Mom honoured this nearly-forgotten Goddess was to compose lyrics which told a part of Her story.
SO, for the service today, I decided to illustrate these lyrics! The song is sung to the familiar melody of Good King Wenceslas, which I did with a little help from my friends! I am very happy with how it turned out and felt honoured to be taking part in a celebration that traces my ancestral heritage and builds my community together in the present simultaneously. Here is the fully illustrated version of “Ode to Lada, Lady Winter”, written by Maureen Stefaniuk and Michael Gaudet in 1992 with art by yours truly! The illustrations are multi-media. Enjoy!