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This card is a re-interpretation of the "Lovers" card that appears in popular Tarot decks. To me, this card represents the ancient idea of they chemycal wedding, or the coming together of opposites. This coming together is not without apprehension though. Regarding the letters, The writing in the golden square and the blue square as well as the clouds with what appears to be three separate beings hands coming out of it represent the triple nature of the god source in mystical, pre-Abrahamic and post Abrahamic religions. The clouds subs in for "Annvs Ventorum" or "The year of the winds" while "Annvs Solaris" reads in Latin "The year of the Sun" and "Annvs Stellatus" reads "The Year of the Stars." These texts are inspired by one of my favorite watercolor copies of an 16th century engraving, "The Grand Rosicrucian Alchemical Formula" by Augustus J. Knapp. The sun (golden and yellow) represents the male force and the Stars (blue and bellow) represent the female force; so the figures are shown in between these forces engaged in a ceremony in which the woman rests her knees on the golden lily pad (male force) and the male puts his finger on the only silver lily pad (the female force). She blows flowers and stars over him as the left "constellation hand" from the clouds above drops stars, runic symbols, and alchemical symbols on to her. The blowing of the flowers represents the action of love and the "Year of Winds"... so they are at harmony with and a symbolic metaphor for the universe and its parts becoming whole, i.e., The chemycal wedding or the coming together of opposites to form a whole (marriage or love). The male represents the sun and holds a staff pointing upward and a finger pointing downward toward the silver lilly pad (the female force). This juxtaposition is an old Hermetic trope that mirrors "as above so below," which is a veiled way of saying that "as in heaven so it will be on earth" which echoes the idea of the coming together of the mundane and spiritual worlds or the "Chemycal Wedding.
"Three Muses" (Nature, Art, Philosophy)
This piece depicts my three favorite muses, nature, art, and philosophy. The figure on the left represents nature. She wears a crown of various flowers and holds a staff (material plane) that is entwined with a gold rod (spirit), at the top is the earth with a ring of silver around it representing the moon. The Nature muse blows flowers and stars throughout the composition, representing the spreading of life across the cosmos as well as the spreading of spirit throughout as well (the stars.) She also points down to the river below that represents the great cosmos.
The figure in the center represents the Art muse. She holds a basket over her whom with a harvest of plants and flowers. This represents the expression of life in its flowering stage. Art is meant to be nature expressing itself through beauty, the highest form of natures gift in all disciplines.
The figure on the right represents the Philosophy muse. This figure holds one hand over her heart and one hand out. She holds her head high, on which sets a crown of roses, in a kingly manner with a forceful show of will towards the other figures. This represents the influence of human will and thought on the natural world. She has one constellation hand that drops stars down into the cosmic river below. This represents the seeds of will in the form of philosophical concepts required to create beauty. Without solid philosophy and will there is no chance for beauty to come to flower.
Above the heads of the three figures is a scroll. At the center of this scroll is another sphere with a dark blue ring around it, representing the earth and moon. This sphere is encircled by another ring, representing the plane of the sun in relation to the orbit of the earth and moon. The prop I used in an actual model of the moons orbit around the earth, the earth's tilt on its axis, and the earth's orbit around the sun. On this ring, which is representative of the sun, is 26 color blocks, a color cypher for the English language. From this alchemical wedding of the sun, earth, and moon object encircled by the color cypher cypher a stem grows, on this stem is small dots of color. These can be decoded to read " So that nature is forever, fragility is now, sincerity is relative, and you are prescient of the risk." This statement is an echo of the relation of these three muses to humanity. Nature will be forever barring any great snap of the fabric of the universe, or great contraction towards a singularity. Fragility is now and sincerity is relative are concepts that I apply to art. Beauty is always relative to cultures and time- and both are fragile. Being prescient, or having foreknowledge, or anticipation of the course of events is a quality of philosophy. Philosophy can be seen as a structure with which to view the world, though when one puts faith into only one form of philosophy one can risk losing the mystery of culture and time, of spirituality and it's beautiful quality. So, the last statement and muse can be seen as both a path and a warning of taking that path.
"The Three Fates"
This piece is a depiction of the ancient Greek fates or "Moirai." From left to right they are the Spinner (Clotho), the Allotter (Lachesis), and the Unternable (Atropos.) These fates control the thread of ones life. In my interpretation I changed the thread to a plant. The figure on the left represents the spinner, she holds what is at the base a large spindle, though this quickly transforms into a plant. She has three hands, one being a constellation form. This constellation hand holds small seeds in it, representing the beginning of life. The spinner stairs directly at the figure on the far right, the Unternable, in defiance and seriousness. This gaze represents the constant realization that with life inevitably comes suffering and death.
The figure in the center is the Allotter, or Lachesis. This figure is originally meant to measure the thread of ones life, ones allotment in life. In my depiction she represents many things. First she represents the growth of life, this concept is echoed in two ways. First the largest part of the plant is shown behind her, this is the bulk of life. Second she creates a triangle over her belly, representing the upward movement of life from the whom toward crystallization of form to purpose. This is a birth motif. This figure looks directly at the viewer as this is part of life that we are constantly faced with- the living of life and the feeling of growth both externally and internally towards a final destination. On her sash is a color cypher for the english alphabet.
The last figure is the Unternable, or Atropos. This figure was originally represented as the cutter of the thread of life, she chose the manner of each persons death. When their time came she cut the thread. My interpretation is very similar. Atropos cuts the stem of life, represented by the plant, with a pair of pruning shears. In my interpretation she is not peacefully ending this life, she is scared of letting go or stopping this growth of form.
All of these concepts are echoed by a saying that I made a long time ago- "So that the beginning is to the end as the end is to the beginning and that to the distance between there is neither." This is shown above the figures heads in the form of stars that are filled with color. This color code can be deciphered with the use of the 26 color cypher on the central figures sash. When philosophically broken down this statement basically states that one experiences life in a constant state of present tense. One cannot remember the beginning of ones life and will not remember the end, time is at a singularity at the points. The distance between these points experiences neither the end or the beginning, that is why the distance between is "neither."
"The Three Fates" (Second Interpretation) (Dyptich)
This piece is similar to the other piece entitled "Three Fates." The figures from left to right encompass three of the Moirai as such: Clotho the spinner, Lachesis the Alloter and Atropos the Unternable which is symbolic of cutting the thread of life. In this interpretation, much like the other piece, Clotho is the spinner of life but she is shown in reference to plants and seeds. She is shown holding a basket of flowers, dropping seeds into the composition. The next figure is Lachesis the Alloter. In this piece I chose to show her holding a piece of wood as a measuring device, in the original version she utilizes a measuring "rod." She uses this stick to track the tree growth or Allotment of time which it was given, this is a reference to the seeds that Clotho drops to start the growth of life. She is also shown with a sea shell by her, indicating the ocean, unconscious, and the amount of water that is given to the tree to allow it to grow. The final figure on the right is Atropos the Unternable. She cuts the thread of life so I chose to represent her with black wings, as an angel of death. She does not have shears as is traditional but instead pours out water and points up the sky in reference to the spirit transiting up towards an afterlife in the heavens. This figure also has other constellation hands that show a defiance towards the other figures in the composition. This defiance is a different emotion than shown in the previous "Three Fates" as the previous Atropos was scared and apprehensive about ending life. This Atropos is shown in defiance and control, she represents the actual angel of death embodied. This defiance of the life cycle is referenced in the decoded cypher above. The life cycle itself is represented by the circle of white leaves and periwinkle like flowers that encircle the nest of hatching snake eggs. The hatching snake eggs is a motif that is equivalent to the Greek idea of the "Orphic Egg." This concept was a description of the primordial hermaphroditic deity (very alchemical) that in turn created the other gods. This deity was considered the seeds of God and Men. So I chose to put this at the center of the life cycle, the periwinkles surround it symbolizing the life cycle of man. This deity is sometimes referred to as "Lucifer" or "The Light Bringer." This is a positive sense of bringing for the the animation of life through the material construction of man and gods.
Above the figures and across the top of the composition is a string of stars and a sphere with two rings around it. This represents a scale model of the earth, its roughly 23 degree tilt on its axis, the orbit of the moon, and the earths orbital plane around the sun. The green sphere represents iron or the earth. The ring hugging the sphere represents the moons orbit and the ring around both of these objects is the path they travel around the sun. The moon ring has 26 colors on it that translate as a cypher for the English language. The stars above are also colored and when decoded with the color cypher, the stars read "So that the paths diverge beyond allotment, faulted by none." This statement conveys the concept that the thread of life can be left uncut and one can live on through taking different paths. Beyond allotment deals with this idea, the idea that one can live on beyond their allotted time by tricking Atropos. The concept of "Faulted by none" refers to the idea that this tricking of the thread of life will have no consequences if one figures out how to live on, to become immortal.
"Three Muses" (Calliope, Clio, Erato)
This piece is an interpretation of three of the classic nine greek muses.
The left figure, Calliope, is traditionally the eloquent muse who presides over epic poetry. She is often seen with a roll of paper or a book. I chose to give her both, she reads from a scroll and also rests her foot on a stack of books. She specifically rests her foot on "The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception" by Max Heindel. This is a Christian Mysticism strain of Rosicrucianism. She holds a staff in her left hand that shows the mix of nature and spirit as represented by the wooden staff with a golden ring creeping up around the staff life the structure of DNA. Clio also wears a pouch on which is a gold leafed symbol of a five sided star. The star in alchemical lore often symbolizes the human with its five extremities. I chose to put this symbol on Calliope because she rests her foot on the stack of books representing an array of human spiritual knowledge.
The central figure, Clio, is traditionally considered the muse of history. Instead of using another scroll or books I decided to represent history in the form of a tree. The tree of history grows from behind the figure and spreads to both of the other figures. She holds a bundle of sticks in her hands, which represents the branches of a family tree. Clio is also shown with a golden robe on which is placed a representation of the six sided star. This symbol is Judaic as well as alchemical. in alchemy this symbol represents the male and female alchemical wedding, the mixing of fire (an upward pointing triangle) and water (a downward pointing triangle), as well as the mixing of conscious and subconscious, or moon and sun. I chose to place this symbol on Clio because I believe that the knowledge of the alchemical wedding is necessary to understand ones self and history. It's use in Judaism actually begins with Christianity as the Jewish diaspora utilized the symbol as a representation of the seal of solomon, which is very important in Freemasonry and western esoteric traditions, to have a symbol to organize men. There are many tales that relate to this symbol, many can be seen as a metaphor journeying into the unconscious, darkness or abyss and returning bringing back knowledge to the conscious, returning to "light", and surfacing again in the self with priceless knowledge. I chose to use Clio, or history to represent this journey into the self.
The figure to the right is Erato. This muse is translated as meaning "desired" or "lovely" as suggested by Greek authors. She often accompanied with doves as well as a torch. In my interpretation, Erato is shown with a burning staff, or torch, who's smoke turns into a phoenix bird. She is shown with a robe covered in made up symbols similar to crosses with the exception of one symbol, which is the ankh. The ankh has various meanings in Egyptian symbolism, often it is meant to represent conception, strength, health, etc. I chose to use it as a symbol for conception as it relates more to Erato. I chose to place the ankh between the breasts and over the heart because in some of the oldest examples of greek culture, the Minoan civilization, their snake goddess figurines show a woman with this same symbol between her breasts. The ankh is also associated with the planet Venus- the morning star, which is also associated with beauty. The ankh also takes the place of the traditional Christian cross in Coptic Christianity.
Throughout the whole composition can be seen a series of birds. On the bottom half to mid range of the composition can be seen the five birds of alchemy. The crow, owl, goose, peacock and finally the Phoenix, which is represented as a constellation image that is created from the smoke of Erato's torch. As the birds enter the top part of the composition they change to owls. To my knowledge the owl is the main symbol for the Bohemian Grove and it represents knowledge so I chose to place these birds flying through the backgrounds around the heads of the figures.
The tree in the center is a representation of the Datura species. This plant creates seeds and flowers that allow a psychedelic experience, sometimes unpleasant, that creates an inability to distinguish reality from fantasy. These plants are often used by indigenous cultures in Africa, North America, India, etc. for spiritual purposes. These plants are also ornamental in Florida though they are often a related species with the same alkaloids named Brugmansia.
The central figure, Clio, has a color cypher at her feet. There is a string of stars above the heads of all the figures that read like a piece of music. When decoded this string reads "so that the beginning is to the end as the end is to the beginning and that to the distance between there is neither." I often hide this phrase in paintings to indicate the nature of time.
Freyja is the old norse goddess associated with sex, beauty, fertility, gold, war, death and love. In the norse pagan belief when one dies in battle he/she would either go to Odin's realm(Valhalla) or Freyja's realm(Flokvangr.) The word "Friday" also comes from Freyja. In this depiction she has a hammer and axe in her hand, kind of like a plow share. She was one of the Valkyries, so she was at one time a great warrior. On the left end of her axe a golden snake is climbing up the twig, this represents the male force, and there are 72 grapes that represent the 72 minor constellations. The large stone to the lower right is bright red and represents the philosopher's stone of alchemy. So this piece is a depiction of a Norse goddess with hints of Christian alchemical symbolism and exoteric Christianity in the form similar to the Tau Cross used in a lot of older Christian depictions where it often includes a snake that has wrapped around the top.
"The Traveler" (Aquarius)
Aquarius is generally represented by a water-bearer. The traditional esoteric symbolism of water is that it represented the subconscious or universal consciousness. The water bearer was usually seen pouring the water(subconscious) out onto the ground or into a cup which usually represented the brain. All this symbolism taken as a whole represents an archetypal task of going into the spirit realm or subconscious to bring back knowledge(traditionally symbolized by water).
In my piece the journey into the spirit realm is shown by a man who is entering the spirit world himself. His eyes are looking up into an aura like region of the painting, he is shown breaking through the gold leaf line and white arc, which represents the edge of the physical universe. Small white stars can be seen throughout the painting, the only region they can not be seen is in the part the man is looking up in to- these stars represent the physical world and literal edge of the universe. The candle represents the mans connection to the spirit realm, he holds it over his heart(similar to the symbolism of the sacred heart). His foot is burning representing the destruction and leaving of the physical world while he is on his journey into the spirit realm. He will return back with knowledge from his journey.
"Divination of Thought"
This piece depicts the transfer of thoughts from a man in a meditative state up to a woman controlling the event in a ritualistic manner, adding to, capturing and finally recording the thoughts into the book she holds in her hand. The "constellation" hand that comes out of her (her right hand) is dropping magic onto the male figure, releasing the thoughts in the form of constellation birds. This piece depicts a ritual where the male is in a position of subservience and the female magi has control and is extracting thoughts and ideas relevant to her agenda- which is encoded in the book.