"Once upon a time, there was said to be a text. Not an ordinary text however. It was a text containing the secrets of nature, the cosmos, and reality itself. A text orated and divinely penned, but beyond the reading of mere mortal man. Humans were not considered ready for such revelations, so the texts were hidden deep in water and guarded by snakes, with one great serpent as the text’s main protector.
This myth echoes in various tales of wisdom and knowledge from around the world. In ancient Egypt, there was the Book of Thoth... from Koptos, upper Egypt, hails the tale of the insatiably curious, mighty magician and scribe Neferkaptah ... who used magic to secure the sacred knowledge in this book from the great serpent who fiercely protected the boxed texts hidden deep in the river...
And then there are the Prajnaparamita texts of Mahayana Buddhism. Texts based upon Buddha’s Second Turning of the Wheel of Dharma, that were guarded by the Naga in their watery realm until a time that humanity was deemed ready to receive them. They were eventually given to the great philosopher and teacher Nagarjuna [ca 2nd century] who, to those who would listen, he taught the Perfection of Wisdom Sutra in One Hundred Thousand Lines. In this body of scriptures, the most well known to us are the Diamond Sutra (Vajracchedikā Prajñāpāramitā) and the Heart Sutra (Prajñāpāramitāhṛdaya). This wisdom also promises liberation, but the earthly liberation from the suffering of samsara and attachment. And the curse? Well, it could be said that great wisdom can, paradoxically, feel like a heavy curse when so many seem to choose to stay in Plato’s cave...." Excerpts from my latest article in buddhistdoor global. A Hong Kong based Buddhist magazine. .www.buddhistdoor.net/features/the-iconography-of-the-nagas-part-five-the-burden-of-wisdom-
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Since time immemorial, mankind seems to have looked to the stars, the patterns of which have seeped into our consciousness and our mythologies. The most evident of these is the eternal embrace of our Milky Way, wrapping itself around our world and offering us a wealth of etiological myth and the resulting aitions..
My wide swing in this series of articles that examines the expansive history of the naga, and serpent veneration in general, may seem to have digressed far from our Buddhist roots at times. While I have no wish to rehash familiar stories, I have noticed elements beyond local and religious narratives that point to something possibly more temporal and felt it worthy of investigation. Is there a reason the serpent has appeared so frequently in creation mythology and imagery since the beginning of recorded history? And might it behoove us all to heed its message?
Pt 4 of my continuing ophiolatry voyage. Please fclick the image to be taken to the main article where you can also find the earlier chapters. .... Pt 5 next month
To my fantastic NY collector who has honored me with approximately 15 of my pieces, with more Gratitude than I can express. Thank you so much M. <3
The large Green Tara commission hanging is approx 1m tall. (to give scale)
It's the 2nd of February which makes it st Bridget's day in the Celtic tradition, the beginning of spring and with it the promise of warmer days and fresh new life. According to tradition, if the weather is good on this day, the ensuing weather is likely to suck for a while... well today has been very mixed, but quite sunny, and according to forecasts, the temperature is going to plummet. Great. Regardless...
Happy Imbolc to one and all. May we all be fed, watered and kept toe curlingly warm.
So, I thought it fitting to share an old silk painting of mine in homage.
Once upon a time, long before Marvel and Disney got married...
A glowing Rune of complexity emanating from the timeless Ash tree, the Great Yggdrasil, the Axis Mundi connecting the nine realms
The first level
Asgard, world of the Aesir
Vanaheim, land of the Vanir
Alfheim, land of the light elves.
The second level
Midgard, Land of humans (middle world/garden)
Nidavellir, Land of the dwarfs
Jotunheim, Land of the giants (Jotuns)
Svartalfheim, Land of the dark elves.
The third level
Hel, Realm of the dead
Niflheim, World of the dead.
The complex runes glowing here start with the
Hagal, (Armanen system) the mother of all runes, A multi layered, ancient and profound rune. The Origin. Harmony. It symbolizes or stimulates the birth of consciousness within. Though also known as Hail and in the Anglo-Saxon system, the Serpent, in some respects, I'd say it still represents the same thing - the storm of creation and the endless cycle of death and rebirth. Our heritage encoded in our DNA.
Here seen as a subtle double helix rising up the tree.
Added to the complexity beyond Hagal can be found many other embedded runes,
Sowelu, Dagaz, Gebo, Eihwaz, Ansuz, Algiz, Wunjo, Raid.
Wrapped at the base of the tree is Jormungand, the mighty Midgard serpent encompassing the oceans surrounding middle earth, that is, until Ragnarok when He and Thor destroy each other. Here I have him eating his tail, in the same vein as the alchemical symbol, Ouroboros, representing the infinite and regenesis.
(Yet another curious potential reference to a great cosmic cataclysm and the resulting ophiolatry? Please do check out my articles on Buddhistdoor for some of my thoughts)
Click on the image to open up the article on Buddhistdoor Global. This is a continuation of my journey into Ophiolatry and the Naga. I have not delved too deeply into many of the traditions found around the world, rather, I am focusing on a few significant possible root similarities and dating the myth as far back as possible and suggesting some interesting, but maybe unanticipated things to contemplate. It is a journey into some unexpected terrain. I recommend reading the first two parts prior to this essay (here) which, in itself, is a prelude to the next installment, so please do bear that in mind as you read. ~T
A photo from the 1870's of members from a Naga tribe (photo source Wikipedia)
Here's an updated White Tara, now all mounted on silk and gold leaf matting and set into a deep frame. She is painted on ahimsa silk, with 24ct gold aura and other highlights, with some silk fray left on display, it is wrapped on to a gilded canvas which shimmers through the silk, all of which changes hue as the light changes.
We call upon White Tara as a protectrice and bringer of long healthy life. She is a Tantric meditation, Buddhist deity of long life often thanks to the healing she brings, beit physical or emotional. She is compassion, healing and wish fulfilling. She can help stabilize life force.
Her mantra is
Oṃ Tāre Tuttāre Ture Mama Ayuḥ Punya Jñānā Puṣtiṃ Kuru Svāhā
overall frame size 21"x 21" with a canvas size of 12"x 12"
Prints are available
Here's a little silk of these sacred Buddhist symbols, highlighted with pure 24ct gold. I've stretched the silk over a gilded canvas which, like many of my other silks, then shimmer with changing light and angle. The edges are left slightly freyed, but the entire piece is fixed down with artist glue.
12" x 9.5 " canvas but may set it on a hard mount.
This is a silk piece depicting eight of symbols held in high esteem within Tibetan Buddhism.
They are the
Precious Umbrella – protection & royalty, including wisdom and compassion.
the Conch – the far reaching sound of the Dharma teachings
the Victory Banner – seen as the Buddha’s enlightenment and our own victory over obstacles and harmful negative forces
the Golden Fish – happiness and freedom through the waters of emotion
the Dharma Wheel – the wheel of teachings and the spiritual Universe
the Endless Knot drawing – the endless wisdom of unity & harmony through the meditative mind
the Lotus Flower – purity and spiritual unfolding
the Vase Treasure – long and prosperous life, spiritual fulfillment and the end of our cyclic existence
When folks are kind enough to share my art on their wall, original or print, it never fails to send tingles and makes my heart happy. Thank you so much to those who do share these photos with us.
This is of my silk of Prajnaparamita with Metatron's cube shared a couple of years ago now.
The "as is" semi organised (actually, for me, this is very organised!- thanks to a recent big clear out) storage side of my art space and beloved old planners chest. I have a love affair with things grimoire and apothecary in nature, not least the magical aesthetic. Here is my humble, arty repository and creating chamber.
A detail of a Brittany/Savoie food themed sign I was commissioned to do for a store - LE SAVOIE'R BRETON. This is the Brittany part, with the Triskele, cider (traditionally served in earthenware bowls), galette, dairy and baguette. It's done in a limited "sepia-esque" palette of black, white, burned orange and aubergine.