Posted in Books I love, Paintings in Progress

Camillo’s Memory Theatre-an artwork in progress

Francis Yates, in The Art of Memory, tells how Giulio Camillo reinvented memory art in accordance with the renewed interest in Neoplatonism.  Camillo’s conception was also inspired  by the recently rediscovered teachings of Hermetic philosophy which his friend, Marcilio Ficino had introduced into Renaissance Italy with his translation of the Corpus Hermeticism. 

Ficino inspired Camillo in the use of astral talismans to draw down celestial influences into memory images and infuse them with magic power.  This imaginative reinvention of memory art was meant to train the mind to receive celestial influences and  unify esoteric knowledge by holding an inner image that mirrored the celestial harmony.

The Corpus Hermeticum taught the essential divinity of man and that all phenomena have their origin in the realm of ideas (archetypes.)  Camillo’s theatre enabled the “viewer” to recall these first causes, and the essential relationship between man (microcosm,) and the world (macrocosm.)

The first level of manifestation was mediated by the 7 Governors.  These astral beings made up the 7 measures by which the interior man descends into creation, acquires a body whose parts fall subject to the dominion of the zodiac, before he reascends through the heavenly spheres.  It is through the Hermetic religious experience he regains his innate divinity.  The 7 governors have associations with the known planets, 7 days of creation, angelic hierarchy and the lower sephiroth.

Yates says that the greatness of Renaissance art  was largely due to perfect proportion that was in accord with celestial harmony.  Seen in this light, the grace and majesty of Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus is a result of her status as talisman.

Posted in Uncategorized

The Imagine Award


Thanks to Sue Vincent for nominating me for The Imagine Award.  Jenn Mulherin, who created this award, has a blog called My Fibrotastic Life,   The award was made to “recognize bloggers who express their passion and dedication towards their blogs through their creativity.”

Sue’s blog certainly qualifies in this regard.  I love her imaginative writing about the ancient, Celtic mystery schools, her evocation of the lovely British Isles as well as strength of her prose  (though I wonder how much credit should go to her dog.)  Sue is also an artist.  My favorites are her watercolors and encaustic paintings.

As part of the deal in accepting this honor, I nominate 5 bloggers who I think qualify for the honor.

The poetry of Wuji Seshat Nibada is a celebration of ethereal beauty.  And he seems to come out with another every day-that’s dedication.  For me, his work recalls the simple elegance of Japanese poetry.

In art, there’s Citta di Cartone, or Cardboard Towns.  His cityscapes are executed in a deft, graphic shorthand with a unerring eye for atmosphere and texture.

Whatever category James Fielden fits into (maybe none-he is unique,) I nominate him for his serenely beautiful meditations on light and love.  As a bonus, the recordings of his radiant prose come through loud and clear through the aural channel.

   The Runningfather Blog. Jim Aldrich’s blog is a revelation.  His poetry and prose conjures subtle spiritual states with concision and flair.  I am looking forward to he second installment of his chilling, dystopic vision: Bishop’s Burden.

Then there’s John Wreford, Photographer whose heart-wrenching work from the front lines shows and tells of the brave souls who live in Syria.  While John’s reportage may not be considered “imaginative,” I include it here because of his dedication, and because it rouses compassion for the suffering of our brothers and sisters in that war-torn region.  Maybe there is no greater work of imagination than that.

To accept the Imagination Award you need to:

1. Copy and paste the Imagine Award into your post.

2.  Thank the blogger who nominated you and link their blog page to your post.

3.  List 3-5 things about the nominator’s blog that you like (that you think are creative.)

4.  Nominate 5 other bloggers.

5. Notify your nominees.

6.  Display The Imagine Award to your blog’s award page.

Posted in Musings

Them Spambot Babes

The initial excitement of seeing that I’ve accumulated another 5 followers of my blog today is quickly dampened when I find their blogs mostly free of content. Some consist only of fashion photos.  Why they feel this subject is of interest to me is perplexing. My fashion sense has of late (and Lily might concur in this) suffered a tragic lapse into epic shabbiness and left my wardrobe in a woeful state of entropy. Perhaps news of my slovenly demeanor has reached beyond these shores, and even the fashionistas of foreign lands hope to rehabilitate my wretched wardrobe. I can only be touched by their concern for my well-being.

Others seem to advertise dentists and food processors from the exotic paradise of Jakarta. While I don’t doubt such devices may make my modest culinary efforts more palatable, I wonder if they really hope I may travel to that exotic Indonesian archipelago to purchase one directly-or that I may visit the eager dentist after cracking my teeth on the unground remnants of the latest labor-saving gizmo.

I am saddened to discover that their blogs seem unsullied by the corrupting influence of  humanity-that there appears no sign of actual human content at all.

Could these “followers” be the fabled spambots who infect the blogosphere with their vacuous sites in order to steal what meagre audience we real, earnest bloggers have?

Some seem tailored to my own interests. Others seem to feature computer generated poetry along with the earnest Gravatar of some attractive, female, aspiring writer seeking imaginary gain or some vaguely stated desire for my  attention. I ponder the possibilities of such relationships. But then again, Lily might object to my courting spambot babes, real or otherwise.

This state of affairs seems to pervade the blogging experience more and more. It leads me to wonder what the future of blogging may be like when computer generated sites completely take over the blogosphere and all  human error has been eliminated. They can then interact automatically with one another in binary code, multiplying endlessly, stealing each others automated audience without the need for such encumbrance as punctuation, grammar or spelling. All blogging could continue without making demands on our precious time and attention, free of obscure metaphor and existing in an unadulterated  state.  It would abide in the realm of Platonic ideas where everything is clear precise and soulless.

Posted in Musings

Soul Hydrography- The Elwha Dam and Seattle Seawall


Sediment released by removal of the Elwha River dam flows into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
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Drawing by Craig Spencer

Soul Hydrography is the study of how waterways, rivers and currents reflect the spiritual state of humanity.   Our psychic energy flows with the drainage’s along which we establish our precarious settlements, into mythologies of the parched landlubber, and hies with the stream of time back to the infinite.  I have no actual experience in this field, unless an adolescent kookdom in Surf City counts for training.

We are pulled into the undertow of mythic floods or swept into a sea of trouble . The  primal chaos that threatens to engulf us is the same prima materia from which our civilization arose.

The removal of the Elwha River Dam and the rebuilding of the Seattle Seawall are two projects that reveal something of the secret history of the Northwest and the contradictory impulses we share-namely, the primal drive to hold or release, to build and destroy, or open and close.  Like the breath, these complementary movements alternate through  cycles of history.

The Elwha dam nearly decimated one of the world’s largest salmon runs, destroying the livelihood of the Clallum tribe as well as the settlers who lived along the river.   While it generated electric power for Port Angeles, it deprived the area of another form of energy not measured by kilowatt-hours.  It created a major blockage of the communities’ vital force-its chi.

The deteriorating Seattle seawall is symptomatic not only of infrastructure divestment, but is also an example of soul hydrography.  In a heartbeat, the waters can engulf the high temples of power so serenely reflected on the surface of Elliot Bay.

William Blake called the 5 senses “the chief inlets of the soul in this age” (A happy turn of phrase for our theme.)  Today, few consider that there might be other inlets, and forget  lessons from former ages.  Though decay of the materialist bulwark against the soul’s depths causes unease, we seem ever more walled off from the possibility of accord with   unconscious dictates.  These energies lie a thousand fathoms deep right off Seattle’s doorstep.

Emanuel Swedenborg’s  reading of Genesis accounts the Ark as a vessel bearing remnants of the Ancient church. The waters Noah navigated drowned the remaining populace-the Nephilim- in materialism and greed.  In Swedenborg’s esoteric reading of scripture, Nephilim denotes those whose inherent goodness and charity became immersed in selfish desires.  Noah safeguarded secrets that held the key to gnosis, a mode of perception that maintained the spiritual life of man and, therefore, humanity itself.   Though Swedenborg’s biblical interpretation addressed an inner history,  involving preservation of an Arcana entirely different from chronological narrative, there are correspondences with the ecological disaster we face today.  See Henry Corbin’s fascinating book,  Swedenborg and Esoteric Islam.

Happily, the Elwha dam is gone and the construction of a new seawall is in the works.