While painting the mythopoetic images coming through me over the past four months, I journaled associations that came through me:
We are born of the earth, from the earth, through a mother who walks on the earth;
Being born of the earth is represented by the succulent. Succulents survive in desert climates with little rain because their thick leaves can store life-sustaining water. For this reason, succulents symbolize tenacity, endurance, persistence, which mirror the qualities needed during childbirth as a rite of passage and the child’s future heroic journey.
After painting the succulent, I had a vivid dream showing me the archetypal Succulent growing on the green grassy hill of Newgrange, whose circumference covers an acre. I woke up and went to my easel and painted beneath the succulent a felt image of Newgrange from the memory of my unforgettable visit.
Newgrange is a magnificent passage tomb built by ancient Neolithic peoples in the Boyne Valley in Ireland, 5,200 years ago (3,200 B.C.E.). It’s older than Stonehenge and the Pyramid of Giza. Behind the center kerbstone is the doorway opening to the passageway leading to a womb-like space used for burials by the Neolithic people. At daybreak on Winter Solstice, morning light travels through the window (over the doorway), makes its way down the passage, stopping to illuminate the center of the pitch-black room before slowly retreating down the passage again.
The 97 kerbstones encircling Newgrange represent the boundary between the living and dead. Each kerbstone weighs a ton and measures 14.4 feet (4.4 meters) in length. The ancient people engraved some of the stones with megalithic art: spirals, tri-spirals, circles, and triangles. For example, the triple-spiral symbolizes the patterns of three representing phases in life: birth, life, and death; spring, summer, and winter; the time before, the now, and that yet to come.1 With impasto oil paint and a carving tool, I engraved spirals into the kerbstones.
The Baby born-from-the-earth ever one with the earth. When studying a photo of the Entrance kerbstone, I noticed that four lines form a vulva-like arch aligned with the doorway and just above the ground. So, I painted the umbilical cord to (appear to) pass through the “vulva” in the center kerbstone. The children born now and future generations must have a symbiotic relationship with Mother Earth and no longer believe we have dominion over her.
We are born in Innocence, represented by the Lamb. Ideally, life’s trials and mercies will guide us to mature so that we may grow into a Lion, symbolizing strength, ferocity, and the capacity to stalk the terrain of our mind.
A small black door on the right wanted to be there, so I painted it: I don’t know what it means.
As the painting seemed to be nearing completion, I had another vivid dream in which I saw a. Maiden in the nightly Procession in the Grail Castle carrying a Lapis Grail above the Baby’s head. From the Holy Grail radiated a brilliant light; like a falling star, one ray trailed down and illuminated the Child. Behold the newborn Child, born in Innocence, trust, and with a “sacred agreement,” a destiny. Plato and others taught that some retain a glimpse of their purpose, and when the paths of fate and destiny cross, we may be reminded. The Baby is pointing in the direction of its inevitable and elusive future search for the Holy Grail.
Focusing only on the Grail is to know half the myth, and you only harness half the power.John Adox2
Days ago, I thought the painting was finished when something began to stir in me. The Innocent Child does not, would not need to seek the Holy Grail! Although the wounded-Innocent Fool can—and does. The Call to seek the Holy Grail, e.g., our purpose in life or a transformation that will heal and illuminate us, arises after our inevitable sacred wounding, profoundly conveyed in the Arthurian myths. (Read The Fisher King by Robert Johnson).
So, I painted a Maiden carrying the Sword (Excalibur) in its sheath, radiating gold light, with four drops of blood to symbolize the inevitable wounding; one drop of blood falls on the Baby’s finger. First the sacred wounding, which becomes the Call to seek wholeness.
Think of the Grail and Sword as one, unified archetypal symbol. The Sword of Power cuts, wounds, and heals; it is a symbol for taking healing beyond the mind and into the world, to heal the world we live in. 3 The hero doesn’t make the journey for themselves but to bring back the Treasure for future generations.
“The feminine Grail comes from a masculine source, the Fisher King in Grail Castle, while the Sword is a masculine symbol (but in Arthurian legends), it comes from a goddess, the Lady of the Lake.”4
This Untitled painting is part of a series of paintings in a collection called: Landscapes of Birth. It will be featured in a birth art show by the same name. It will be for sale. Fine Art Prints of this painting in two sizes will be available in February, 2022.
- Retrieved from: https://www.celticartstudio.com/symbol/f/symbols/80
- John Adox (2016, June 16). “The Sword and the Grail: Restoring the Forgotten Archetype in Arthurian Myth.” Retrieved from: https://johnadcox.wordpress.com/category/the-holy-grail/