Visionary Artists

  • Thread starter Sciborg_S_Patel
  • Start date


(Revisiting) The Syntax of Sorcery: An Interview with Tom Robbins

Most of this apocalyptic noise appears to be just wishful thinking on the part of people who find life too messy and uncertain for comfort, let alone for serenity and mirth. The truth, from my perspective, is that the world, indeed, is ending -- and is also being reborn. It’s been doing that all day, every day, forever. Each time we exhale, the world ends; when we inhale, there can be, if we allow it, rebirth and spiritual renewal. It all transpires inside of us. In our consciousness, in our hearts. All the time.

Otherwise, ours is an old, old story with an interesting new wrinkle. Throughout most of our history, nothing -- not flood, famine, plague, or new weapons -- has endangered humanity one-tenth as much as the narcissistic ego, with its self-aggrandizing presumptions and its hell-hound spawn of fear and greed. The new wrinkle is that escalating advances in technology are nourishing the narcissistic ego the way chicken manure nourishes a rose bush, while exploding worldwide population is allowing its effects to multiply geometrically. Here’s an idea: let’s get over ourselves, reduce our carbon footprint, adopt an animal from a shelter, go buy a cherry pie, and fall in love with life.


From gobbled up thread:

TEDx - How Art Evolves Consciousness - Alex Grey

"Cosmic Creativity - Art is an echo of the creative force that births the galaxies. Creativity is the way that the Cosmos evolves and communicates with Itself. The great uplifting of humanity beyond its self-destruction is the redemptive mission of art."

The whole "Cosmos evolves and communicates with Itself" may seem like some New Age or Eastern belief divorced from science, but the esteemed physicist Wheeler did think about this idea as having real merit, as have scientists Lothar Schäfer & Amit Goswami, physicist & Bohm biographer F.David Peat, and Nobel Prize Winner Brian Josephson.

eta: My linebreaks didn't go through for some reason..
Last edited by a moderator:


Cave Paintings and Shamanism

David Lewis-Williams in his book The Mind and the Cave has interpreted these strange images and patterns as a sign of shamanism and altered states of consciousness.

Lewis-Williams claims that the “geometric” images found in these cave paintings are similar to the patterns that subjects reported under the influence of mescaline in experiments conducted by the neurologist Heinrich Kluver. The images are interpreted as journeys into the spirit world. Similar patterns have been found in caves in the American Southwest, used by Native Americans for ceremonial purposes. The patterns in these caves could be due to peyote use, a plant which has been used by Native Americans for religious practices for the past 2,000 years. Graham Hancock is one supporter of Lewis-Williams' ideas and says in his book Supernatural that the “transformed beings” in some cave art, where humans are combined with animals, is evidence of altered states of consciousness.
Some ancient cave art also features mushrooms, which some say is a sign of early hallucinogenic mushroom use. The Selva Pascuala cave has 6,000 year old paintings of a row of mushrooms. Brian Akers and Gaston Guzman believe the mushrooms are Psilocybe hispanica, a species of halluciogenic mushrooms native to the area. Different cave art has been discovered showing feminine figures with mushroom heads – the mushrooms are spotted which means they are probably Amanita muscaria, those red mushrooms with white spots, known to have psychedelic properties. A rock face in Tassili, Algeria dating to 5,000 years ago shows something even weirder. On the track face is some sort of shaman with the head of a bee and his body covered in mushrooms and grid-like patterns. The most obvious explanation is that this painting came from an altered state of consciousness.


What is Visionary Art?

The visionary realm embraces the entire spectrum of imaginal spaces; from heaven to hell, from the infinitude of forms to formless voids. The psychologist James Hillman calls it the imaginal realm. Poet William Blake called it the divine imagination. The aborigines call it the dreamtime; and Sufis call it alam al-mithal. To Plato, this was the realm of the ideal archetypes. The Tibetans call it the sambhogakaya; the dimension of inner richness. Theosophists refer to the astral, mental, and nirvanic planes of consciousness. Carl Jung knew this realm as the collective symbolic unconscious. Whatever we choose to call it, the visionary realm is the space we visit during dreams and altered or heightened states of consciousness.
William Blake, the nineteenth-century mystic artist and poet, conversed with angels and received painting instructions from discarnate entities. Blake published his own books of art and poetry, which revealed an idiosyncratic mysticism arising from his inner perception of religious subjects. He resisted conventional religious dogma, proclaiming that “all religions are one.” The characters in Blake’s paintings and engravings seem akin to those of Renaissance masters Michelangelo, Raphael, and Durer, yet are softened with a peculiar magic. His artwork exalts an ideal realm of inspiration that he termed the “divine imagination.” Blake’s work laid the foundations for the nineteenth-century Symbolist movement that included such artists as Gustav Moreau, Odilon Redon, Jean Delville, and Frantisek Kupka.


From In The Night Garden by Cathrynne M. Valente:

"They called me Knife. When I was young and my strength was taut as a bow string, I was the best rider of all the young girls. I had many necklaces of jasper and wolf-tooth, three fine hunting knives, a strong bow that I could draw into the shape of the full moon, a quiver full of arrows fletched in hawk feathers, and a wildcat hide from my first kill. All around me were the wild, honey-colored steppes, the fat deer we hunted, and the sleek, brown, fragrant horses I loved. They ran like ripples in a mountain lake. I ran alongside them, and rode astride them, and I slept against their flanks.

I was happy, the sun was high. I had enough."


"It was black, and vast, and all the other things you might expect a sky with nothing floating around in it to be. But the sky was only a sky if you looked at it slantwise—if you looked at it straight, which of course, no one could, because there wasn’t anyone to look any way, it was the long, slippery flank of a Mare.

The Mare was black, and vast, and all the other things you would expect a horse the size of everything to be."


"But after the Stars hid themselves away, the things they touched were still where they had left them, full of light, the light which was blood, and they
glowed with the silver and white of it. And these things were special, flea-bed mine—where they were stones or plants they passed their light into
deeper stones and into their seeds, and where they were people, they passed the light to their children, which diminished just as it had when the
Stars first touched the world and the blood went out of them. It was not long before no one could tell what had been touched in the first days and
what had not. The light was buried and secret.

But it was not gone. In many things and many people it is still glowing, deep down in their guts, and this, my scraggly, milk-bellied kid, is what magic


The Path of the Numinous-Living and Working with the Creative Muse

What is the Muse?

The word “muse,” used in this context, may for some people have the ring of an over blown figure of speech with a slightly antique ring to it. Muse comes from Greek mythology, and the concise Oxford dictionary defines the word: “One of the nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who inspire poetry, music, drama, etc” An alternate term is “daimon.” A daimon is a spirit, not necessarily evil, and I am particularly referring to the sense in which Socrates used the word, which was to refer to his divine inner voice. The American Heritage Dictionary gives a secondary definition of daimon: “An attendant spirit; a genius” Some people refer to the demanding creative spirit in a gifted person as their “genius.” This spirit or voice is sometimes seen as an actual autonomous entity that sends a transmission to the recipient, who then channels the voice, message or vision received. Others may perceive the muse, daimon, genius as “the higher self,” the personal or collective unconscious, or as some other internal psychic function separate from the ego. The deeper one goes into psyche, the more inner and outer becomes blurred. So it is to be expected that some will experience inspiration as an external transmission, one they humbly receive, and others will experience it as a welling up from their own unconscious or as a gift from their higher self.


Why Visionary Art Matters

...Mystic visionary artists distill the multi-dimensional, entheogenic journey into externally crystallized theophanies, icons embedded with evolutionary world views. Since mystic visionary artists paint the transcendental realms from observation, their work offers a growing body of evidence substantiating the divine imaginal realms and by extension, Spirit itself...

...For pilgrims to the sacred inner dimensions, visionary art provides validation for their own glimpses, and proves the universal nature of the imaginal realms. Reflecting the luminous richness of higher spiritual worlds, visionary art activates our light body, empowers our creative soul, and stirs our deepest potential for positive, transformative action in the world...

...Mystic Visionary Art is a product of the Primary Religious Experience. The word religion comes from the Greek meaning “to tie back.” The Primary Religious Experience is a personal connection with Source that “ties us back” to our own divinity...
Last edited by a moderator:


For Ken Wilber – An Artist’s Spiritual Friend

I first encountered Ken Wilber’s phenomenal philosophical genius while reading ReVision Journal some seventeen years ago. I marveled at how he modeled and brilliantly articulated the evolution of consciousness from slime to Godhead in writings on the Spectrum of Consciousness, the Atman Project and Up from Eden. The range and depth of his thinking, the clarity and originality of his insights, definately put Ken in another league. Maybe a league of one, the world’s greatest philosopher. Perhaps selfishly, I wondered what special insights he could bring to contemporary artists. Could he help us circumnavigate through bullshit art criticism and give us the swords of critical thinking that could slay the Jabberwocky of “flatland Modernism” and the Hydra of Post-Modernity, and could his philosophy help put Art on the track to real Spirit?

Around this time, back in 1981, my wife Allyson answered the telephone one day and said, “It’s Ken Wilber! He wants to talk to you.” A rush of excitement and a big gulp, “Uh hello?” I said, and Ken replied, “Hi, I really like your work and would love to see some more of it.” So we invited him to our loft studio in downtown Boston...

A: Ken, I’ve been talking with some artist friends who consider their art as their spiritual practice. I’ve been wondering to what degree we could consider art as a legitimate spiritual practice?

K: There are developmental stages to what I call the spectrum of consciousness — art can come from any of these stages. Piaget did psychological experiments with children and determined that there is a sequence to the unfolding of higher values. He showed that compassion and “fairness” is a quality not so present in a four year old child because they cannot project themselves into the role of the other–at around age seven the brain/mind has the capacity to exchange self for other. The human mind can potentially develop through emotional, rational, psychic and spiritual modes of awareness. The higher spiritual stages are also progressive and unfold with spiritual practice.

So art can express any of these stages or levels of awareness, from sensorimotor reflections of the world of matter, to the feelings and ideas of the ego-self, to the sociocentric or worldcentric self. But this is still not transformative spiritual art. A spiritual art must transform the artist and the viewer. In order for art to be transformative, it has to undo you.
Last edited by a moderator:


Beauty Will Save the World

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn once took up Fyodor Dostoevsky’s prediction, from the novel The Idiot, that “beauty will save the world.” Though they lived a century apart, both of these writers uttered this phrase after having endured tremendous suffering as political prisoners in Siberian labor camps. One might expect men who have suffered so much to put little stock in such a flimsy thing as beauty. The fact that they both found their experience to be the source of their belief therefore gives us something to ponder.

Art is neither a system for transmitting information nor a mode of self-expression. It does these things no better than any number of activities. Art is the seizure of a vision that exceeds language. It captures a slice of the Real and preserves it in an artifact. The work of art is fractal and open—an inexhaustible well of meaning and image overflowing the limits of the communicable. It is a way to the wilderness of the unconscious, the land of spirits and the dead. If great works of art are prophetic, it is because they disclose the forces that seethe behind the easy façade of ordinary time. I am not just thinking of the plays of Shakespeare and Sophocles here, but also of the poems of Emily Dickinson, the songs of Bob Dylan, the choreographies of Pina Bausch, the films of David Lynch. All of them are oracles.

The shaman enters the priestly society of the ancient world and is called a prophet. She enters modern industrial society and is called an artist. From the shape-shifting sorcerer painted on the cavern wall to Mr. Tambourine Man jangling in the junk-sick morning, a single tradition flows—backwards, like an undertow beneath the tidal thrust of history. This tradition tears us out of the system of codified language and returns us to the dreaming depths where language first rose as the idiot stammerings of poetry. The shaman, the prophet, the artist: each knows the way lies not in the dry processes of logic but in the snaking courses of the heart. If art makes use of ideas, concepts, and opinions, it is only to subsume them in the realm of the senses, to push them to the knife-edge of lunacy where the primal chaos shows through the skin of objects, where all judgments are silenced and beauty, naked and terrible, is revealed.



You, God, Who live next door—
If at times, through the long night, I trouble you
with my urgent knocking—
this is why: I hear you breathe so seldom.
I know you’re all alone in that room.
If you should be thirsty, there’s no one
to get you a glass of water.
I wait listening, always. Just give me a sign!
I’m right here.

As it happens, the wall between us
is very thin. Why wouldn’t a cry
from one of us
break it down? It would crumble

it would barely make a sound.


His vision, from the constantly passing bars,
has grown so weary that it cannot hold
anything else. It seems to him there are
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,
the movement of his powerful soft strides
is like a ritual dance around a center
in which a mighty will stands paralyzed.

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils
lifts, quietly--. An image enters in,
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,
plunges into the heart and is gone.


Do you remember still the falling stars
that like swift horses through the heavens raced
and suddenly leaped across the hurdles
of our wishes--do you recall? And we
did make so many! For there were countless numbers
of stars: each time we looked above we were
astounded by the swiftness of their daring play,
while in our hearts we felt safe and secure
watching these brilliant bodies disintegrate,
knowing somehow we had survived their fall.



The Inspiration Behind Entheon

What does the term "visionary art" mean to you?

Alex: Visionary art is art created in a visionary state, art that refers back to an experience of consciousness, sometimes considered an altered state of consciousness. That image is later recalled by the artist. In my own work, I have a vision. I make multiple sketches of how I perceived it's appearance in a multidimensional experience, and flatten it on a two-dimensional plane. Allyson and I have glimpsed the visionary experience and expressed that in painting. But visionary art is made in every medium especially including film, computer graphics, any media that can portray inner dimensions of awareness embodying universal or archetypal forms.

For example, visionary art depicts human/animal hybrids called theriomorphs. We are familiar with Egyptian deities like Horus, Sekmet, Thoth, and Ba, who sport animal heads and human bodies, or human heads and animal bodies. In the cave art of Trois-Frères the art depicts a stag element and a human element. In the ancient world, visionary art and representational art existed side-by-side. Perhaps cave art bison appeared to the artists because of his/her heightened state of awareness. The torches flickering against the cave wall revealed a stampede of buffalo. The term visionary art points to the imagination being used to access another realm.

Allyson: Visionary art is associated with the psychedelic experience. There are extraordinary abstract visionary artists emerging today. For forty years my work has expressed an essentialized world view characterized in three symbol systems I call Chaos, Order and Secret Writing. In a series of altered states, I have seen secret writing washing over surfaces, over my body, in and through the invisible air. Others have told me they've seen fields of unidentifiable symbols washing over and through. The symbols I created over forty years ago have no interpretable meaning. They represent the symbol maker that is every artist in every medium.


Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

These are fantastical, beguiling places, where things are never as they seem. There's Hypatia, a city of beautiful blue lagoons but where "crabs were biting the eyes of the suicides, stones tied around their necks"; Laudomia, the city of the unborn, whose inhabitants have constructed a parallel city for those yet to come; Octavia, the spider-web city, whose residents live suspended over an abyss, supported by a net they know won't last long; and Argia, a city with earth instead of air.

At some point, you realize that Calvino is not talking about cities at all, not in the way we normally think of the word. Calvino's cities — like all cities, really — are constructed not of steel and concrete but of ideas. Each city represents a thought experiment, or, as Polo tells Khan at one point, "You take delight not in a city's seven or seventy wonders but in the answer it gives to a question of yours."
Some quotes:

“The inferno of the living is not something that will be; if there is one, it is what is already here, the inferno where we live every day, that we form by being together. There are two ways to escape suffering it. The first is easy for many: accept the inferno and become such a part of it that you can no longer see it. The second is risky and demands constant vigilance and apprehension: seek and learn to recognize who and what, in the midst of inferno, are not inferno, then make them endure, give them space.”


'In Raissa, life is not happy. People wring their hands as they walk in the streets, curse the crying children, lean on the railings over the river and press their fists to the temples. In the morning you wake from one bad dream and another begins. At the workbenches where, every moment, you hit your finger with a hammer or prick it with a needle, or over the columns of figures all awry in the ledgers of merchants and bankers, or at the rows of empty glasses on the zinc counters of the wineshops, the bent heads at least conceal the general grim gaze. Inside the houses it is worse, and you do not have to enter to learn this: in the summer the windows resound with quarrels and broken dishes.

And yet, in Raissa, at every moment there is a child in a window who laughs seeing a dog that has jumped on a shed to bite into a piece of polenta dropped by a stonemason who has shouted from the top of the scaffolding, "Darling, let me dip into it," to a young serving maid who holds up a dish of ragout under the pergola, happy to serve it to the umbrella-maker who is celebrating a successful transaction, a white lace parasol bought to display at the races by a great lady in love with an officer who has smiled at her taking the last jump, happy man, and still happier his horse, flying over the obstacles, seeing a francolin flying in the sky, happy bird freed from its cage by a painter happy at having painted it feather by feather, speckled with red and yellow in the illumination of that page in the volume where the philosopher says:

"Also in Raissa, city of sadness, there runs an invisible thread that binds one living being to another for a moment, then unravels, then is stretched again between moving points as it draws new and rapid patterns so that at every second the unhappy city contains a happy city unaware of its own existence." '
Not sure if this counts as visionary art, but it seems like a good place to post it

Whitman, Song of Myself, Part 48:

I have said that the soul is not more than the body,
And I have said that the body is not more than the soul,
And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one's self is,
And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy walks to his own funeral drest in his shroud,
And I or you pocketless of a dime may purchase the pick of the earth,
And to glance with an eye or show a bean in its pod confounds the learning of all times,
And there is no trade or employment but the young man following it may become a hero,
And there is no object so soft but it makes a hub for the wheel'd universe,
And I say to any man or woman, Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.

And I say to mankind, Be not curious about God,
For I who am curious about each am not curious about God,
(No array of terms can say how much I am at peace about God and
about death.)

I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.

Why should I wish to see God better than this day?
I see something of God each hour of the twenty-four, and each moment then,
In the faces of men and women I see God, and in my own face in the glass,
I find letters from God dropt in the street, and every one is sign'd by God's name,
And I leave them where they are, for I know that wheresoe'er I go,
Others will punctually come for ever and ever.