Here is an inside look at the Closet of Mysteries shop while I screen print my original occult shirts. Custom variations of Solve et Coagula shirt in gold on scarlet, Rod of Asclepius shirt in black on white, and the Ouroboros shirt in white on forrest green.
As the new year began, I felt the old pull to embark on some new art projects. I will post updates as I work on this set more. Here are my latest artwork in progress. Keep in mind some are just begun and will change drastically before they are finished. I thought it would be interesting to post them at this early stage to see how far they change…
Thank you for stopping by to check out my latest artworks in progress. I will be posting new pictures as the work develops. Check back in to watch evolution in progress.
Our little crew recently set out on an adventure to visit some family in the Inland Empire, CA. While we were visiting, we took the opportunity to do some poking around. Here are some of the wonders we beheld while exploring the Inland Empire – Riverside and Redlands, CA.
Our first outing was to Riverside. We were met with a drizzle which was a welcome event considering the endless summer we left behind in Arizona (yes, it’s still pretty warm in October and we are over it). Our first stop was Back to the Grind Coffee shop. It’s a wonderful shop full of art and great atmosphere.
Back out on the streets, public art and old architecture provide many treats for the eyeballs.
Our next outing was to the quaint city of Redlands. The downtown was fun to explore. One of the highlights for us was the comic store A Shop Called Quest which was loaded with interesting comics, books, toys, and art.
Walking outside also provided many visual treats.
The last stop in Redlands was Prospect Park for a burrito picnic and wandering.
I hope you enjoyed exploring Riverside and Redlands, CA with us. We love poking around new and old places and sharing them with you.
With Halloween approaching, I thought it would be fun to share some of these creepiest old Halloween pictures that I found around ye olde internet. Most of you probably know that the tradition of Halloween as we know it goes back quite a ways into our history. The Catholics adapted the Pagan traditions somewhere around 800 A.D. and ever since then, the europeans and their descendants have been adorning masks and coercing treats from their neighbors with threats of tricks. Compared to the costumes from generations past, today’s seem quite mild. If one of these showed up at the door today, most people would sit quietly behind their peep hole hoping to whatever power they subscribe to that the thing would go away and quickly…
For more on the History and origins of Halloween, check out my article on the topic here!
I think this guy is a side of beef…?
How could I not include a creepy gnome and a pair of amanita muscaria? Not the scariest, but certainly my favorite….
There you have it! Taking a DIY approach to Halloween costumes could prove far more effective in scaring off the evil spirits than buying some injection molded plastic outfit from the super stores… Happy hauntings!
Everywhere seems to be bursting with pumpkins, pumpkin spice lattes, skeletons, witches, and ghosts. Halloween is approaching. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and commotion of a holiday. After all, that is what a holiday is all about right? I like to look a little deeper to find out about where the traditions come from and what is at the core that our ancestors created the traditions to remind us of. Let’s take a look at the historic traditions and origins of Halloween.
Samhain origins of Halloween
Halloween is a modern version of a day of the dead celebration with is roots in the Samhain tradition from the old world. Samahain is opposite on the year wheel from Belatne (May 1). The two days mark the “hinge” points of the year. This is most easily understood if we imagine the year to be a single day where Beltane is the dawn and Samhain is sunset.
During these times of the year, the ancient Northern Europeans believed that the veil between the material plane and the beyond becomes thin allowing the energies to flow from one side to the other. This is why both holidays are thought to be important for spiritual work and rituals.
While Beltane is primarily focussed on new growth and the bounty of spring, Samhain leads the world (in the Northern Hemisphere) into the darkness of winter. Because of this, it is a day for the dead. This does not mean that the ancients were morbid. Rather, the ancients understood the cyclical nature of all things which includes death as a part of living.
One of the main beliefs which sets the stage for all of the modern Halloween practices is that the dead are released from the underworld to wander amongst the living. It was believed that those ghosts could seek revenge on anyone who had wronged them during life. This is the reason for costumes and masks which were intended to hide the living from such repercussions.
Trick or Treat
The tradition of trick or treat seems to go back a long way. It’s roots are most likely to be found in the ancient world. Offering were often placed outside of villages in order to placate angry or malevolent spirits unleashed during Samhain. Over time, it is theorized, people began to dress up like the evil spirits to claim such offerings for themselves. Depending on your point of view, this may not have been such a great idea but that is the theory none the less.
Traditions have obviously evolved over time and children set out in costumes going door to door. Perhaps to this day, we continue to anger the underworld by stealing their treats and gobbling them up ourselves…
Although we live in a modern world, it is good to remember where our traditions originate. Rather than simply dressing up our kids just to claim free treats, it may benefit us all to remember the natural cycles that the holidays represent. This time of year is significant in marking the decent into darkness that make life possible.
When I make a design, I like to research the symbolism to really understand it. Recently, I designed a Rod of Asclepius; an ancient symbol most easily recognized from its symbolic use by the medical profession. Often confused with the Rod of Hermes or Caduceus which has two snakes wrapping a staff, the Rod of Asclepius has a single snake. Where did this symbol originate and what does it really mean? Well, I wanted to know so I did some poking around to find answers.
Who is Asclepius and what’s up with his rod?
Asclepius is the ancient Greek god of medicine and healing. He was the son of Apollo (the sun) and father of another famous doctor Hippocrates. As with many archetypal characters, there are several versions of the story of his mother but none end well for her and Asclepius was raised by his father. Apollo taught the young demigod how to heal using plants. Asclepius was so skilled that it was said he could even raise the dead. The gods felt he would upset the balance and had him assassinated by Zeus.
The Rod of Asclepius symbol is made up of a snake wrapping around a staff. Scholars debate over the meanings of the snake and staff. The truth is, like with most symbols used by mystics, their meanings are many. The most popular meaning of the snake is that it represents rebirth since it sheds its skin. Since healers in the old days had to travel on foot, the staff was also associated with the medicine man.
The magical snake of Moses
The Rod of Asclepius symbol seems to make a cameo in the Bible also. The use of a magical serpent on a stick by Moses would give this symbol an older usage than ancient Greece. In Exodus, the Hebrew God tells Moses to make a fiery serpent and place it upon a pole. When he does this, anyone who is bitten by a snake is magically healed by looking at it. I would really like to learn that spell! Moses also performed a neat little trick turning a staff into a serpent.
The Rod of Asclepius archaic roots?
I believe that the origins of the use of the serpent and staff date back to the archaic times. The Rod of Asclepius was made out of symbols taken from shamanism and the archaic medicine man. Let me explain.
The Shaman snake
Use of serpent symbolism predates our known history. Many archaic shamanic cultures have beliefs involving serpent symbolism. Some Siberian shamans tell ancient stories about riding the serpent rainbow into the upper world. They also spoke of following snakes into tunnels that lead to the underworld. The encompassing symbolism can be summarized to the best of my ability: shamans viewed the snake to symbolize the solar energy and path through the sky. It’s energy is the source of all life and, therefore, healing.
The Shaman Pole
My understanding of the symbol of the pole is that it connects the worlds. The pole is a simplified world tree. The world tree varies from culture to culture but is a sacred tree. It connects this world to the underworld with its roots and to the heavens with its branches.
Many shamanic rituals involve climbing a sacred tree. The shaman goes into trance and climbs the branches. As he climbs, he enacts different adventures at each level of heaven the tree leads him to. Anyway, they would strip the tree of most of the branches not needed for the ritual. Over time, many cultures ditched the branches all together and it became a pole.
The Universal Healer
The serpent on the pole is a symbol of a healer. A person who can harness the power of life represented by the snake. They are also a person who can ascend and descent through the worlds by climbing up or down the world tree into the underworld or heavens. In those ancient times, they knew that sickness was a spiritual battle. The archaic shaman was a healer who dealt in all of the worlds and understood life energy.
…And so I drew my own adaptation!
Below, you can see some of the work in progress. I will explain some of the choices I made in my version.
I went with the winged disc at the top of the pole to reiterate the solar connection. This was meant to particularly reference Egypt.
The snake is loosely modeled after a python.
Inking was completed with a Micron pen. Actually, that’s not true. This drawing took up about five Micron pens…
Well, after digging through some history and some of my own hogwash, here I am in a very comfortable shirt. Sign up for my newsletter and get yours for 10% OFF!
Today I ran an experiment on a whim. I am not sure why I had never tried it before. I was already going to print off a few posters of the Solve et Coagula design. It popped into my mind while staring at the stack of blank, grey poster paper. Why not see what happens if I try something different? Today I also made a screen print poster of my Hand of Mysteries Design with discharge.
First, I printed my Solve et Coagula design. The test was short and I only made 3 of these posters. I think I will end up offering them as a limited edition shirt combo…
It seemed an obvious enough idea since paper is made from natural fiber which is dyed. As long as the dye in the paper is reactive type which makes up most all of them, it should (and did) discharge. Neat!
I only printed one of these posters since I was really just testing to see if it worked. There may be some other source that already had this information but it seemed more fun to try it out than to Google it.
Now that I have seen that the process works, it is time to think of designs that integrate the technique in some creative ways. I will need to make a screen print poster design with some discharge elements. It shall be an interesting experiment.
The alchemical dragon has been a symbol used by mystics for ages. The most iconic of these illustrations from the Theatrum chemicum Britannicum is the two headed dragon facing the sun and moon. It comes from page 212 at the end of the chapter called Liber Patris Sapientiae.
This Robert Vaughan illustration is one of many that were commissioned for the book. In it, we have a two headed dragon with its necks entangled but heading out in opposite directions. One head faces the sun while the other faces the moon. The dragon represents the process of alchemy. Symbolically, the dragon is action – making “it” happen. His drawing is masterfully executed earning it a place amongst the greatest alchemical illustrations.
This alchemical process is an action that is influenced by the opposing forces in nature. The Sun and the moon represent the opposing forces of heating and cooling. During the alchemical process, a substance is heated and cooled many times producing evaporation and condensation.
The sphere at the bottom is the elixir it stirs. It represents the cycle of transmutation in progress. The dragon sits atop it like a mother hen on an egg. This can also be seen as the world and the alchemical process transpiring within it.
I like to ponder the idea that the universe is an alchemical experiment. The intended outcome is pretty reliable. As parts of the experiment, we have a tendency to buy into the idea that the time we live in currently is the only one that matters and that we must be the culmination of the intentions of history. This could not be so based on the evidence of the culture around us. I find it helpful to think of the world as an alchemical process that is ever changing toward a positive outcome. The alchemical dragon serves as a reminder to me.
By the way, it also makes for a good t shirt: