For Hypatia

I am in the habit of leaving offerings of various kinds in various places for a variety of reasons. Recently I had been obsessed with leaving a found art offering in honor of Hypatia, the female Greek astronomer/mathematician/philosopher who was the head (around 400 AD) of the NeoPlatonic school at the great Library of Alexandria in Egypt. Hypatia was purported to have been murdered by a Christian mob who, amongst other things, cut her flesh from her bones with oyster shells. Hypatia was a somewhat unusual figure in that she was a teacher, and head of a prestigious school, in a society almost totally dominated by men. Her untraditional life, her fine mind, her murder by religious extremists, and her connection with the Library of Alexandria, once the repository of an amazing collection of ancient knowledge before its destruction, has made her a figure of importance to me, and to others. Since it is seems that she was murdered around this time of year, I made an effort to get a little piece of artwork dedicated to her done by Easter. I was bolstered by the lunar eclipse, and the beautiful full moon, and finished the work the night before.


It did not turn out anything like what I had envisioned—but sometimes you just roll with Muses, so to speak. I used an oyster shell I found on a personally sacred beach, adorned it with cut-out pictures from an old French dictionary, put a couple of faux pearls representing wisdom in the bottom and wrote her name on it. Then I took a walk to the public library, to leave it in the Astronomy section. As I walked, the sky turned dark and there was thunder and a little lightning. I left her shell in the stacks, checked out some books, and then proceeded to a nearby watering hole for a celebratory cider. I often wonder what happens to the found art things I leave places. Though the main purpose is often as an offering, I do hope that others will find them and be inspired in whatever way is right for them. In this case, perhaps someone will be inspired to look up exactly who or what “Hypatia” is—and in that act, so she is honored and remembered.


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