Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Mexican Sugar Skulls, The 5 Elements, My Latest Painting and the Search for Truth

I made this blog in 2014 - It is updated with new information below.

I painted this new 12 inch by 12 inch canvas over the past few weeks. It was in response to a study of the Mexican day of the dead, sugar skulls and Mexican art work. 


Also I found the hidden mythology inherent in Mexican Christianity to be very interesting. Almost like they have managed to hide their own ancient religion into Christianity, focusing on the virgin Mary.

Celebration of the Lady Of Guadalupe

Anyway I was happy making this piece trying to use nice and tight line practice instead of my usual abstract messy approach. 

Also combined with this piece is my recent exploration of information regarding the 5 elements prevalent throughout most comparative spirituality. So in the back ground are the five elements represented by fire, air, water and earth, the skull itself representing consciousness. 

Photography Prints

Update 11/16/2016

I made the Sugar Skull painting 2 years ago, it really did trigger a whole new way of working. Since then I have made dozens of images trying to improve on this simple acrylic painting technique and investigating comparative religion, mythology, and symbolism as a subject matter. The study of the 5 elements really opened me up to a lot of meditative and visual experiences. 

I am currently working on an image of an ancient pagan cross that incorporates the 5 elements into it.

Here are the preliminary designs:- 

In hermetic alchemy the 5 elements are represented by 4 triangles and a circle:-

So in the cross I have used knots to make up the four triangles on the arms of the cross. I have arranged the triangles in the same order that the 5 elements are arranged in Buddhism. In Buddhism there are the 5 Dhyani Buddhas these symbolic beings represent many things, one of the things they represent are the 5 elements,  they are arranged in the following order:-

      Amoghasiddhi (north) AIR
Amitabha (west) FIREVairocana (center)SPACE Akshobhya (east)WATER 

Ratnasambhava (south) EARTH

So I used this arrangement on the cross, the earth triangle is on the bottom of the cross the air at the top and so on. In the center is the circle, in the circle itself I have also incorporated an 8 spoked wheel. This symbol is also used a lot in Buddhism mainly to represent the noble eight fold path.

But to me it also represents the law of octaves and the various teachings relating to them. I discussed these briefly in my blog about the 9 muses:- Apollo and the 9 Muses

The main thing it represents to me is the Buddhist concept of the 8 consciousnesses. The first 5 consciousnesses are the senses - the senses are linked to the 5 elements. 8 conciousnesses:- 

  • Five sense-consciousnesses, Each sense is linked to one of the elements, different schools allocate the sense to different elements - For me it's fire=sight, space=hearing, earth=touch, water=taste, Air=smell
  • Mind (perception), is the sixth consciousness which to me represents consciousness of internal processes like thinking, remebering and visualising.
  • Manas (self-consciousness) is the seventh consciousness and to me represents the moving mind - continuous selfish thinking and projecting, confusion and duality
  • ālāya-vijñāna, Storehouse-consciousness which to me represents a storgae unit for memory.

Another thing the number 8 represents, to me, are the teachings by Langri Tangpa:- The Eight Verses For Training The Mind

I wanted a symbol that is genetically, racialy and culturally ingrained in my brain - a symbol like The Cross - that could be made to represent many different levels of spiritual and philosophical truth in the same way the 5 Dhyani Buddhas do. I think maybe the cross - pre-Christian - did actually represent, amongst other things, the 5 elements.

Another symbol that I am interested is the symbol "A". This represents the mantra sound Ah, it is seen in different form in different schools of Buddhism. Each of the 5 elements has its own mantra sound and "syllable". 

Here are the Tibetan 5 syllables linked to the 5 elements:-

More information on these subjects:-

8 consciousnesses  
Fundamental Buddhism include 8 fold noble path. 
Dhyani Buddha Families
Dhyani Buddhas 
Click Here 

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