As part of an ongoing but essentially lazy quest to wrap my psyche around alchemy, I had recently been drawn towards Paracelsus: the wonder-working itinerant sixteenth-century healer who is sometimes cast as the Copernicus of medicine. Rejecting the leech-loving, bass-ackwards, and literally by-the-book healing practices of most medieval doctors, Paracelsus instead made room for a medicine based on plants, material causality, and self-healing powers of the body.
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Powerful entheogenic substances were clearly utilized by the shamans and skywatchers working in the ancient Mayan city of Izapa. The profound integration of celestial, psychological, ritual, and mythopoeic elements found at Izapa bespeaks the psychedelic influence. Could the use of hallucinogens explain how the ancient skywatchers became aware of the Galactic Center? And what mysteries does the Galactic Center contain?
Michel Andre is one of the world's great experts on the acoustics of the sperm whale. For years he was vexed about how to tell the clicking of individual whales apart when analyzing recordings made by groups of these Moby Dick-type whales foraging under water. Then he invited a Senegalese drummer, Arona N'Diaye Rose, to listen to his recording of a four-member unit of vocalizing sperm whales. Things started to "click" once he brought a drummer into the mix.
The Green Language that enables communication and interaction with the living intelligence of the planet is experiencing a verdant resurgence. Long relegated to the "occult," this expressive grammar has been kept alive through the ages by poets, alchemists, mystics, and wise women. At the first annual Conference on Green Hermeticism, brainchild of independent scholar Peter Lamborn Wilson, an inspired group of colleagues offered an astonishing array of facts, assertions, and speculations about our ability to connect to the planet.
If there is any real prospect of recovering and reviving Gnosis today, it will require looking closely at problems endemic to the Piscean Age, which the telestai were unable to solve, or denied the opportunity to solve. Deep ecology may well find the spiritual and mythic dimension it lacks in the Sophianic vision of the Mysteries. I cannot predict how this will happen, or even if it will happen, but I can offer a rough sketch of the conditions required for it to happen.
When I think of Kehinde Wiley's paintings, a couple of affiliated effects come to mind. In his work we look at history juxtaposed with a really unstable relationship to realism. But I don't want to start an essay with quotations from history – after all, that's what Kehinde Wiley's paintings are already doing. The essential issue at hand is to give some context to portraiture, hip hop visuality, sampling, collage, and quotation. I want to unpack some of the issues that Wiley engages in his work.