A Brotherhood of Artists
Many artists from the Renaissance period onwards have been massively involved in the secret society networks, especially those connected to the state, church and guilds. Some artists not only worked with dignitaries, ambassadors at high levels of society, but they also had access to an underground stream of knowledge, which may well explain why their art reflected tribal mythology and tribal lore.
Hieronymous Bosch, who spearheaded the Flemish Renaissance movement was a member of The Brotherhood of Our Lady, which was connected the Royal House of Holland and Queen Beatrix, which still today is connected to the Order of the Garter. His work was about the inner-worlds within worlds, he opened up some sort of Pandora’s Box. The famous triptych of The Garden of Earthy Delights is a wonderful example – if you look at the section that is meant to be ‘paradise’, there are flying objects and other renditions relating to bird-people and other creatures. He was somehow getting access and information that was very much linked to African primeval stories of creation… this coming through a Flemish painter in 15th Century Belgium?! Bosch was obviously tapping into hidden knowledge. Many Images of St Jerome (above right) show him depectid with the skull, crucifix and garbed in red, all of which are symbols that speak of the order – the brotherhood. More on the skull later.
Alchemical illustrators and artists, such as Robert Fludd, Jakob Böhme and Henry Cornelius Agrippa, were also serious secret society members. Paracelsus, the alchemist, physician, and botanist was also very much part of this breed of alchemists emerging at the time who inspired many artists by saying, “The great truth of the Universe lies within the human imagination; it is the source, the sun and those who understand its powers are the lords of all created things.”
Symbols within Symbols
Scientifically, I’m not sure how you could explain it, but I’ve got an intuitive feeling that our sun is the ‘projector’ for this reality – much like when you go to the movies and the film is being projected behind you through a little hole in the wall. I think that the alchemists knew it, and Blake and along with several other visionary artists were tapping into this understanding. I think that’s why these priesthoods throughout history have worshipped the sun, the flame and the eye. The connection to such symbols along with the skull, the cross (crucifix) also tell of an ancient orders’ obsession with the ‘lord of time’ – Saturn. William Blake’s image titled The Ancient of Days (below) is one very telling image that suggests this understanding that the Sun (or a Sun) could be a projector, or a manifester, a creator of ‘worlds’. The symbolism runs much deeper than we realise.
Emmanuel Swedenborg was an alchemist who inspired a huge movement within 18th century Britain. He also inspired many artists, including William Blake who used to visit the church of Swedenborg in London (which was the size of a small town surrounded by fields back then). Swedenborg and Blake said a lot of similar things although they came from very different backgrounds. In The Everlasting Gospel Blake wrote,
‘The life dim windows of the soul distorts the heavens from pole to pole and leads you to believe a lie when you see with and not through the eye’.
Swedenborg said a similar thing when he wrote, ‘The eye so crude that it cannot see the small elements of nature except through a lens as everyone knows, so it is less able to see the things that are above the realm of nature like the things of the spiritual world’. One was a scientist, one was an artist, yet they were both coming from the same viewpoint and both shared similar principles in that period of British history. Eventually, Swedenborg was ostracized and marginalized, but he was also a freemason… as far as I know, Blake wasn’t; although he did believe in the coming of the ‘New Jerusalem’ which is something that I’ve looked at and touched upon in my own work. Blake’s image for Jerusalem below, hints at the Masonic influence over our world, and the worship of the Sun and Moon (time and space) in ancient times.
In my view, his New Jerusalem is not the New World Order – it isn’t a physical location either… it’s about people ‘becoming’ the New Jerusalem within their hearts. Although many artists generated imagery relating to religious symbolism and inner-worlds, Blake was trying to elevate Christianity to a higher level through the ‘true teachings’ that he felt were more important than the Church itself – he revered the teachings of Jesus and shunned the orthodox hierarchy within the Christian religion. He said that,
“If the doors of perception were cleansed, man would see everything as it is… infinite”.
In contrast, a lot of painters from the Renaissance period onwards were involved in what we call the ‘death cults’ – an obsession with the inevitable slow walk towards death… the fact that the body dies and everything has its time, which was basically an obsession with the three dimensional world that we engage in through the five senses, or the part of the world that decays. Many years ago, there was a documentary and book made by the British painter David Hockney called Hidden Knowledge. He revealed that, more often than not, many of the Renaissance paintings were created using lenses and cameras to get a prefect rendition of an image that was then reflected by a mirror onto a canvas or a wall, which was then re-painted (traced) to look beautifully photographic. The Italian Renaissance was almost a discovery of the self and of the world within 3D form through the understanding of linear perspective. The movement was spearheaded by the likes of Leonardo Da Vinci who was said to have been a grand master of the Priory of the Sun (Sion-Zion) in recent years. Others such as Titan were the brotherhood. In fact the Medici family provided Italy and the Renaissance with popes and artist/alchemists alike, see Cosimo the father.
Skulls and Crosses
There are so many paintings containing crosses and skulls. One painting called The Ambassadors (above) by Hans Holbein, who was a painter for the aristocracy of Europe in the 16th century. He was very connected to the Order of the Garter and the Order of St Michael along with the Royal bloodlines of the Holy Roman Empire and the Jesuits. Within this painting, there are all kinds of instruments relating to astrology and freemasonry, but the interesting factor in this painting is the distorted skull (above), which suggests that it could have been made through the use of lenses/camera obscuras. If you go and stand in front of it in the National Gallery in London, you’ll notice that you have to stand at a certain angle to be able to see it out of its amorphous state. If you stand and look at it from the front it’s distorted, but when you view the painting from a certain angle at the right hand side, you see the image for what it truly is. It’s distortion, quite possibly was due to the use of a mirror or a lens. The other interesting thing about that painting is that in the top left-hand corner there’s a very small crucifix hidden behind the curtain. These symbols are hallmarks of the cults that venerated the gods of ‘life and death’ and I find it interesting that the same symbolism can be found in Bronze Age petroglyphs made by the Hopi, which also depict the dual god of ‘death’ (Masu‘wu) and god of ‘life’ (Kokopelli) in one image. Often in rock art Masu‘wu rises out of the head of Kokopelli, just as Seth in Egypt is often depicted with Horus – connected at the head. The head/mind (the skull) is the location where the ‘battle for the mind’ takes place. Of course the image of the ‘crucified Jesus’ takes place on Golgotha – the place of the skull and in Norse myth, Odin also hangs form a tree (one eyed) flanked by two ravens, Huggin and Muggin (memory and thought), these are the two thieves supposedly crucified alongside Christ at the place of the Skull.
Other symbols in Holbein’s painting here relate to the 3 degrees of lower freemasonry, the two ambassadors are also symbols of the two towers, pillars known as the atrium, which can be seen in other ‘brotherhood’ architecture, not least the image of Solomon’s temple. On the left is Jean de Dinteville, aged 29, French ambassador to England in 1533. To the right stands his friend, Georges de Selve, aged 25, bishop of Lavaur, who acted on several occasions as ambassador to the Emperor, the Venetian Republic and the Holy See. The left pillar represents banking, wealth and commerce and the right hand pillar is that of the religious control – the Church of Rome. The objects on the upper shelf include a celestial globe, a portable sundial and various other instruments used for understanding the heavens and measuring ‘time’. All of which hint at the mystery schools ad their knowledge being ahead of the populace in every era. Among the objects on the lower shelf is a lute, a case of flutes, a hymn book, a book of arithmetic and a terrestrial globe. On the original the lute has a broken string symbolic of ‘discord’. Some researchers say that behind the distorted skull is a ‘star of David’, and the men were said to be standing on the floor of Greenwich Palace, near to the place where ‘time’ or GMT is marked.
Death Cults in Art
In Rennes-le-Château in France, you can also see the same iconography of the skull and the cross over the entrance to the church – it crops up all over the place. These brotherhoods knew that the truth about Rennes-le-Château is the true symbolism behind the Christian religion, well… all religion, really. The artists rendering those symbols knew the true meaning behind the ‘cult of the dead’ and its opposite, ‘the god of Life’. The imagery associated with the skull (including the Halloween pumpkin-head) is another symbol for the death cults that are still using archetypal imagery in many festivals, music, art forms and cinema to this day.
Even though many contemporary artists haven’t recognised the fact that they’re tapping into the ‘bigger picture’, what’s interesting is that the ‘Sensational art’ movement over the past twenty years also has an obsession with death cults. You can see it in a whole range of artist’s work, for example; Damien Hirst recently encrusted a skull with thousands of diamonds, entitled For the Love of God(below). He made diamonds look worthless, which they are, really. In recent years, the brothers Jake and Dinos Chapman were tapping-into subconscious worlds with their miniature sculptures showing hell and the underworld, but that’s no different to a paintings in monasteries all over medieval Europe (along with the Mexican art of the Aztecs) all depicting the Danse Macabre (Dance of the Dead). The Japanese portable art below is also an indicator of the hidden knowledge in Asia, and of course similar themes can be found on every continent. Gabriel Orozco’s ‘very masonic looking skull’ called Black Kites is an obvious use of ‘death symbolism’ within contemporary art. So there’s a correlation of archetypes going on, but it’s not necessarily recognised by the academic world.
I have spent many years making art and studying art, not least contemporary art. In London at the Frieze Art Fair recently I saw many examples of modern art from all over the world, that clearly offer a hint into the subconscious mind (minds’) of the ‘vibration’ we call this ‘reality’. Amongst the huge talent, skill and visionary abilities of these artists, I was seldom lifted above the base vibration (exactly as planned), instead I was immersed in neon porn signs, plastic dummies, toilet seats, corpses, Masonic symbolism (good on em), Sado-Doll’s houses and much more besides! I like giving my own titles to such pieces, and Scary Goat Boy feels a little Horse (below). Others are plainly hinting at the death cult symbolism, whether intentional or not.
The inner, hidden history of art, for me, is like a river that runs underneath the surface, like an underground stream full of symbols and codes and information that taps into the higher levels of human divine consciousness. As the artist and poet Cecil Collins wrote in his book The Vision of the Fool:
‘Images derive from the Fountain-head of human life, the heart, the solar center, ancient memories in the blood and the polarity of the fire of the spirit’.
The art of the visionary, or the art inspired by the ‘truth’ will always attempt to move us beyond the veil and lift our spirits to higher levels of knowledge and wisdom. Sadly much contemporary art has ‘fallen’ down the frequencies, into the realms of desolation and darkness, but then again this is the ‘image’, or the ‘projection’ that the orders of antiquity (exposed by the likes of David Icke in his books), want for the world. More death and debauchery. Imagery that speak of the ‘truth vibrations’ want to take us home and that’s the art I have always been interested in.