Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My painting "Deus Arcanum" (Mysterious Deity) explained, sort of.

Deus Arcanum, 18" x 24", acrylic on canvas panel
© Rick Jacobi 2014

First, a few words about the process: This piece started as a little "mindless*" doodle about two inches high. I don't even remember when or where I did it, but I was smart enough to cut it out and save it. It sat on my desk for some time, and then I decided to see what I could do with it. I did a larger, more developed black and white sketch in Photoshop, drawing with a Wacom tablet & stylus. That sketch was further developed and then colored. The color sketch was then used as a reference for the painting. (*Note: that so-called mindless state is often where some of the best ideas seem to come from!)
Other than art, one of the things I'm most interested in is that BIG QUESTION: who are we, and where do we come from? To try to get some clues as to the answer to this question, we can look to a number of different sources: the history of world religions and spiritual traditions, the history of esoteric and occult traditions, ancient history in general, and ancient PRE-history-- known and unknown. We can also sometimes get some information through personal spiritual or metaphysical experiences brought on through meditation or by various other means, including the use of mind-altering substances.

In my reading and general research into these topics, I have also become very interested in symbols, particularly the many ancient archetypal symbols that appear again and again throughout history. Oftentimes we see the same or similar symbols in different cultures at different times all throughout the world. Some of these symbols are extremely ancient, and many of them go back to Paleolithic times. Even that long ago, humans sought answers to the "big question". I often like to make use of some of these symbols in my art. Some might argue that this is "cultural appropriation". (Nobody has ever accused me of that, although one person described Deus Arcanum as "Luciferian trash". I had to LOL on that one!) I reject the notion of cultural appropriation, at least in my art. I use these symbols as ways of getting the viewer to connect with deeper meanings and concepts that they may or may not consciously be aware of-- to open a portal to deeper understanding, so to speak.

In this painting, I have used a number of symbols. First, and most dominant, is the eye in the triangle, known as the "all-seeing-eye". For many people today, this is a symbol of the Illuminati, that elusive secret organization of the global power elite. Whether there is actually a specific group called the Illuminati or not is a moot point-- the symbol represents that power elite in whatever form they take. The all-seeing-eye is also known as the "Eye of Providence", as seen at the top of the pyramid on the back of the American one dollar bill (ooh, Illuminati!). The Eye of Providence is basically a symbol for God, and may have as its origin the ancient Egyptian Eye of Horus.

Another symbol in this painting can be found on the gold disc in the breast area-- the headdress of the Egyptian goddess Hathor, comprised of a sun disc set between cow horns (although in this case, the disc perhaps is more symbolic of the moon, in that it is painted blue). The headdress sits on top of a skull, symbolizing death. Below that is a lizard perched over a stylized vaginal opening. Don't ask me what it means, because I really don't know. All I can say is that lizards and other small creatures sometimes find have found their way into my paintings. (Some people say that humans are the result of genetic experiments carried out by "reptilian" aliens, so I suppose you could read that into it, but that was not my intent.)

We also see in this painting a mouth with a protruding tongue, perhaps reminiscent of the Hindu goddess Kali. At the crown of the deity is another disc symbol; in this case it is the Seal of Shamash, the symbol of the Mesopotamian sun god. Additionally, there are two serpents that are eating each other. This is similar to the Ouroboros, the circular self-eating snake or dragon that is seen in many cultures throughout history and in many esoteric/occult traditions.

What about the red-orange eel-like creatures that are emanating upwards from the hands, and floating around the upper part of the image? These symbolize elemental, primordial life forms, out of which all other life evolves. What are the red spheres emerging from the gold necklace, floating toward the viewer? Perhaps it is life force being spread throughout the cosmos?

Now let's take a look at the four glyphs located in the blue triangles. In my original color sketch, these triangles had water drops on them. It looked good, but it didn't say anything. I felt the need for something significant here. What could it be? I was already thinking of this creature as some sort of mysterious deity. I pondered this for a while.

In the Judeo/Christian tradition, most people believe that there is one all-powerful God, known to many as Jehovah, and also sometimes known as Yaweh, represented in Hebrew by the tetragrammaton ("four letters") Yod Heh Vav Heh, which was transliterated into Roman script as Y H W H.

Something that is probably not known to most Christians and even Jews is that Jehovah or Yaweh was not always the one exclusive God of the Israelites. There is a complex history of polytheistic worship in that part of the ancient world, too much to go into in this brief essay. In short (very much simplified), Yaweh was one of many regional gods, and the one that ultimately "won out", according to the Bible.

Y H W H... four triangles... maybe this was the answer. However, I did not want it to be overly obvious, so I decided to write it in code. After some research, I decided to use something known as Enochian script. Enochian script comes to us from 16th century mathematician/scientist/occultist John Dee, who was an adviser to Queen Elizabeth I of England. Dee worked together with his colleague Edward Kelley, who was a spirit medium; they claimed that this language was revealed to them by "Enochian angels". Please note that this mysterious deity is NOT specifically intended to represent Yaweh or Jehovah. This is only one aspect of what it is about.

Now, to go even deeper, let's jump down into the rabbit hole for a moment. There are some who say that Yaweh is actually Satan. Certainly Yaweh, the God of the Old Testament, was extremely bloodthirsty. If you don't believe this, read the first five books of the bible. Was Yaweh actually Satan? To most, this would seem highly unlikely if not totally ridiculous. Than again, is any of this stuff even real, or is it all just a collection of myths created by primitive peoples in the distant past?

So, who or what is "God"? If we are talking about the One God, the Creator of all that is, this is a question that defies answer. Any entity or force that is responsible for creating the universe (perhaps even a multi-verse, potentially even unlimited "parallel universes") is by its nature going to be totally incomprehensible to mortal minds, a mystery. This painting, by presenting a mysterious deity comprised of aspects of several different gods and goddesses, asks us to contemplate the existence and nature of God.

 A few final words on the way this painting (and many of my other drawings and paintings) came to be, and how I work in general: while much of my work is done very deliberately-- often going through a series of sketches before painting-- I try to work as intuitively as possible, and just let ideas and images come to me. This is done in various ways, and really, is a whole other topic, but suffice it to say that basically I try to allow the work to come from a place of mystery. That place may be from my subconscious mind, or other even more mysterious sources. This is what keeps me interested in painting-- creating work that I myself do not always fully understand.

Last and FINAL note about this painting: Deus Arcanum was in large part painted during a "visionary painting intensive" seminar in the studio of the great visionary artists Alex and Allyson Grey, located in their home on the grounds of their spiritual art center, the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, a.k.a. CoSM, in Wappingers Falls, New York, in the summer of 2014. Deus Arcanum will be featured in the upcoming CoSM Journal, to be published in late 2015 or early 2016.

Posters of Deus Arcanum are available on my website: