Many of us know that within the cannabis enthusiast culture, April 20th is a day to celebrate. But why?
I have found a lot of different reasons for 420 being associated with weed smoking but it seems that the truth is out there. The story apparently goes back to the early 1970’s to a group of high school students in Northern California (of course).
The group of 5, called the Waldos, would meet every afternoon at 4:20 to toke up and hunt for secret cannabis plants. One of the boy’s older brother was friends with Phil Lesh of the Grateful Dead. The band picked up on the Waldos’ tradition and passed it on to the hordes of Deadheads.
To celebrate, I am offering a sale on my Cannabis shirts in my shop from now through 4/20. Get yourself a freshly printed one today 🙂
To kick off the new year, I am making some changes to the Closet of Mysteries. The first of which is a new, ongoing Rewards and Giveaways program. Who doesn’t like getting free stuff? …at least free good stuff? For January, I am going to be giving away 4 screen printed posters!
I created a video to share why I think screen printed posters are an awesome way to reproduce artwork. Please check it out!
Beginning January 11, 2019, I will be drawing a winner every Friday at 6pm MST for four weeks ending Feb 1st. The winner will be able to select any one poster of their choice from my collection. Be sure to check out my growing collection of screen printed posters. New designs are always underway so be sure to check back often to see what’s new!
At so many of my art shows, I would talk to young people who loved the artwork but could not afford original artwork. Once an original was sold, other buyers could not get their hands on the work because reproductions were not available. Screen printed posters are a great solution to both problems! By making posters, I can offer reproductions at an affordable price making my art accessible to pretty much anyone.
I will be adding a few older videos of me making art over the next couple of weeks in order to consolidate my archives. The first added to my channel is this artwork time lapse of a piece called “an infinite number of events have come together to create this one moment”.
The artwork is a mixed media piece created by building up elements which results in awesome textures. Parts are collaged on while others are painted or drawn. Watch and enjoy seeing it all unfold before your very eyes in this nifty artwork time lapse.
In case you are curious, the soundtrack to this video is a song from a band I used to play bass for called Glamour Shot. At our peak, we got to open for the Legendary Pink Dots in Tempe, AZ.
Fall has arrived and brought rain to the low desert of Arizona. This is one of the rare times of the year when the fungi pop their heads above the soil. Although the mushrooms in my area are not edible (aside of the shaggy maine) they do provide the opportunity to learn more about mushrooms. I am going to explain how to make a spore print. This is a fun and simple mycology project for anyone interested in mushrooms.
These mushrooms popped up in the grassy areas near where I live. My daughter and I collected a few for our experiment.
How to make a spore print:
Mushrooms drop their spores at the end of their life cycle before they curl up and fade. In order to collect spores, the caps need to be open with the veil broken. With the stems removed, we placed the caps on a white piece of paper in a glass container.
The lid was then placed on but not sealed shut in order to allow for a slow air exchange. I have also done this with a single cap under an upside down mason jar. If you use a jar, place a penny under the lip for air exchange. This technique simulates the ideal condition in nature that triggers the fungi to release spores by slowly drying the open mushroom cap.
The container is left at room temperature for several hours. The spores slowly drop leaving an image on the paper of the space between the mushroom gills. Spore prints are often used to identify a species. For example, the green print left in our experiment is a sure sign that this mushroom is a Chlorophyllum Molybdites.
Now that you know how to make a spore print, I hope you find some mushrooms and experiment. Mycology is a really fascinating science and a great way to connect to the natural world.
I think spore prints are beautiful. In fact, I love them so much that I put them on some really awesome shirts in my shop.
Those looking into the mystery of the Ouroboros symbol meaning and history will certainly find themselves delving into the ancient past and secret knowledge. Humans have been using the symbol of a snake biting its own tail for more than 3000 years. Here, I will exploring some of the history of the symbol, what it means, and take you into my studio during the creation of my own ouroboros design.
Designing my own Ouroboros
As part of an ongoing series paying homage to old alchemical and gnostic illustrations, I did my own ouroboros symbol. I decided to base the design on the knotted patter from the very first memory I have of the symbol. It was the Auryn from the “Never Ending Story” where I first saw the ouroboros. It was one of those symbols I just understood by looking at it even as a child. In the following video, you can watch the inking process in awesome time lapse video with some questionable commentary.
History and use of the Ouroboros
The use of the Ouroboros symbol spans many cultures throughout history. Although the first image of a snake biting its tail comes from Egypt, we can find the symbol being used by a number of cultures all over the world. I have complied several historical cultural examples of the use of the symbol.
Ouroboros in Egypt
The Ouroboros symbol’s oldest appearance was found in Egypt in the tomb of King Tutankhamun from 1323 BCE. Within the bounty that was plundered from the tomb of King Tut was a gilded shrine. Upon the shrine is a unique type of book called an “Amduat” which means it deals with the Netherworld. This book is written mostly in code and is yet to be cracked so we can only know a small amount of what the text is all about.
Scholars have dubbed the book “The Enigmatic Book of the Netherworld” as it speaks of the journey of the sun through the underworld and the creation of a sun disc. The section including the ouroboros symbol involves a pair of them. In the center of a panel is a large figure (some say Osiris, some say Tutankhamun) with a snake biting its tail around his head and another around his feet. It is theorized that this was a way to depict Mehen, the serpent protector deity of the sun god Re.
The Papyrus of Dama Heroub from the 11th-10th centuries BCE has an illustration in which Horus the child god rides the sun disc surrounded by the ouroboros and riding on the backs of lions. Not only is he the crowned and conquering child, but Horus knows how to ride in style. Most likely, the ouroboros symbol used here is also meant to represent Mehen.
Next, we find the symbol used in a work coming from a 3rd century alchemical text known as the Crysopoea of Cleopatra. The ouroboros symbol is found surrounding the greek word “ἕν τὸ πᾶν”, (hen to pān) which means “one is the all”. The other illustrations from Cleopatra’s Crysopoea (which means “lead into gold,” by the way) are a set of cryptographs which appear to be about distillation and astrological dating, in my opinion. It is said that Cleopatra the Alchemist actually knew how to create the legendary Philosopher’s Stone.
The use of the serpent biting its tail as a symbolic image must have been in somewhat common use during the times before and after King Tut. If the first use was sealed into King Tut’s tomb, it would not have been seen by humans again until 1928 and therefore could not be copied from that source.
Ancient Greece and the Ouroboros
In the land in which we get the word “ouroboros” meaning “tail-devouring”, we find more of an allegorical ouroboros within the writings of none other than Plato. In his Timaeus, 33, Plato describes a universal animal that encompasses the concept of the ouroboros. He writes:
“Now of the four elements the construction of the Cosmos had taken up the whole of every one. For its Constructor had constructed it of all the fire and water and air and earth that existed, leaving over, outside it, no single particle or potency of any one of these elements.
And these were his intentions: [32d] first, that it might be, so far as possible, a Living Creature, perfect and whole, with all its parts perfect; and next, that it might be One, inasmuch as there was nothing left over out of which another like Creature might come into existence; and further, that it might be secure from age and ailment, since He perceived that when heat and cold, and all things which have violent potencies, surround a composite body from without and collide with it they dissolve it unduly and make it to waste away by bringing upon it ailments and age. Wherefore, because of this reasoning, He fashioned it to be One single Whole, compounded of all wholes, perfect and ageless and unailing. [33b] And he bestowed on it the shape which was befitting and akin.
Now for that Living Creature which is designed to embrace within itself all living creatures the fitting shape will be that which comprises within itself all the shapes there are; wherefore He wrought it into a round, in the shape of a sphere, equidistant in all directions from the center to the extremities, which of all shapes is the most perfect and the most self-similar, since He deemed that the similar is infinitely fairer than the dissimilar. And on the outside round about, it was all made smooth with great exactness, and that for many reasons. [33c] For of eyes it had no need, since outside of it there was nothing visible left over; nor yet of hearing, since neither was there anything audible; nor was there any air surrounding it which called for respiration; nor, again, did it need any organ whereby it might receive the food that entered and evacuate what remained undigested. For nothing went out from it or came into it from any side, since nothing existed; for it was so designed as to supply its own wastage as food for itself, [33d] and to experience by its own agency and within itself all actions and passions, since He that had constructed it deemed that it would be better if it were self-sufficing rather than in need of other things. Hands, too, He thought He ought not to attach unto it uselessly, seeing they were not required either for grasping or for repelling anyone; nor yet feet, nor any instruments of locomotion whatsoever. For movement He assigned unto it that which is proper to its body, namely, that one of the seven motions1 which specially belongs to reason and intelligence; wherefore He spun it round uniformly in the same spot and within itself and made it move revolving in a circle; and all the other six motions He took away and fashioned it free from their aberrations. And seeing that for this revolving motion it had no need of feet, He begat it legless and footless.”
Despite the greek origins of the etymology of the word ouroboros, I was unable to find any further example from ancient Greece. It seems that the concept survived through Greek culture to some extent to carry on to other cultures.
The Jörmungandr, a Norse ouroboros
In Norse mythology, the Ouroboros appears as the serpent Jörmungandr. The mighty beast was so large that it wrapped around the entire sphere of the Earth and bite its own tail. It seems that the tail biting serpent of the Norse ends it similarities to the other cultural uses of the ouroboros in form alone. The great and terrible beast was attributed with all sorts of maleficent deeds and was enemy to Thor. According to the Norse, when the Jörmungandr releases its tail, the Ragnarök will begin. The Ragnarök is a time in which the current world is submerged and a new one arises from the waters.
Ouroboros Symbol use by European Alchemists
Around the 8th Century AD, the arrival of Islam into Spain brought with it the ancient secret knowledge of alchemy and hermeticism. The knowledge of alchemy had been carried through all of the major ancient cultures since Egypt (and maybe before?). It was in Medieval Europe that the use of the ouroboros symbol really blew up. I would be hard pressed to even begin to scratch the surface of the numerous uses since its arrival into the West. Alchemy brought the rise in western secret societies who continue to use the ouroboros symbol to this day.
What does the Ouroboros symbol mean?
Lastly, I will discuss the mystery of the ouroboros symbol meaning. The fact that the symbol is sometimes called the infinity snake reveals part of the meaning to us. In short, we can say that the symbol means endless return or rejuvenation. There is more to it than just that.
In order to better understand the ouroboros, it is helpful to consider the hermetic principle of correspondence. The phrase “As above, so below” is most commonly associated with this idea. If we look at Plato’s description of the universe as a living animal that sustains itself, it provides an illustration of the concept very nicely. The same idea can then be applied to other studies.
In alchemy, the ouroboros is a symbol of the relationship between the science and the scientist. The purpose in creating the philosopher’s stone, other than to turn base metals into gold, is to make the elixir of life. The elixir is a distilled substance in which the alchemist extracts pure life energy. This elixir of life can supposedly be consumed to regenerate the body of the alchemist. The base material to create the elixir is made from the alchemist’s own body fluids. The ouroboros symbol is used to indicate the self generation and purification of alchemy.
The process of distillation itself used by alchemists also relates to the ouroboros symbol. For this reason, we see the increase in popularity of the dual snake or dragon ouroboros. The use of the two serpents better illustrates opposing forces. In the alchemical process, the elixir is distilled by heating and cooling to various degrees of intensity over a long period of time. The opposition of the forces of hot and cold drive the cycle central to the distillation process.
In later years, the ouroboros symbol is used by psychologist Carl Jung to illustrate the relationship of a person with their shadow.
“The Ouroboros is a dramatic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e. of the shadow. This ‘feed-back’ process is at the same time a symbol of immortality, since it is said of the Ouroboros that he slays himself and brings himself to life, fertilizes himself and gives birth to himself.”
– Carl Jung
That’s it yo.
With understanding, we can see how and why the ouroboros symbol has endured the ages. In many ways, it relates to all of us as modern people using our life energy to sustain ourselves. Just by living our lives, we emulate the universal model. On a personal note, I feel life becomes more perfect the closer we each get to true self sufficiency. The ouroboros is the perfect symbol for how humans should be living in the future.
I made a short video of the process of screen printing my 2 color Amanita Muscaria Mushroom Shaman reindeer t shirt design.
The design is based on an ink drawing I had done while studying Siberian Shamanism. The shamanic cultures of Siberia often herd reindeer and consider them sacred animals.
There are many interesting theories relating to the consumption and use of the Amanita Muscaria in relationship to the Yule celebration. One in particular, is that the idea of flying reindeer came from the shared experience of the reindeer eating the mushrooms and then people would also partake. Then when all of the beings were good and tripping, the deer would jump around and the humans would perceive them to be flying. Of course, that is just a theory but an interesting one no doubt 🙂
In this video, you can see my original artwork and then the two color process of me screen printing the reindeer t shirt with that design. Enjoy the wonder!
Amanita Muscaria Reindeer shirt is available in the Closet of Mysteries Shop.
I recently completed some new artwork for a Mushroom Shaman shirt design. It was a fun project that I made a nifty little time lapse video of some of the final stages. In this video, I introduce the use of a voice over. It is an amazing tool that can deliver a lot of very important information. One day, I hope to use the VO tool for that purpose.
I had been wanting to make a Mushroom Shaman shirt design for quite a while. When I sat down to finally put it together, this design sort of popped into my head. I began by sketching the different components of the design. From those, I created a pencil drawing of the entire composition. In order reproduce the image as a screen print, I finished the line art in acrylic ink.
This video includes a time lapse of the entire inking process along with my awesome aforementioned voiceover.
Once the inking process was complete, I scanned the work and cleaned it up for output onto film which will be used to make the screen print stencil.
Thank you for reading. Please subscribe to the Closet of Mysteries Newsletter to keep up with the latest happenings around the shop.
On the day of equinox, the sun passes over the Equator and the day and night are of equal length. This is a time when, in the northern hemisphere, the night becomes longer than the day and the seasons are dominated by the moon rather than the sun. Of course, the opposite is true for the southern hemisphere as their summer begins.
Throughout history, cultures around the world have celebrated this crossing through many traditions and holidays. It is curious to note that the cultural practices around the world bare striking similarities to one another. One most notable way should, which should not be overlooked, is the building of colossal stone structures that align to the sun marking this important date. Main stream historians dismiss the equinox aligned ancient sites as some sort of coincidence which, when considering the evidence, is truly absurd.
Equinox aligned Ancient Sites
On the equinoxes, if we could travel all around the world, we would be able to see this incredible feat of astrological engineering working its magic at numerous ancient stone sites. One of the most famous is, Angkor in Cambodia where the sun rises along side the main pyramid spire and gracefully sits atop the tower. Teotihuacan, In Mexico is another pyramid site at which the setting sun “touches” the top of the giant stone structure as it sets on the Equinox. A lesser known structure is in Connecticut in the US called Equinox Calendar Chamber at Gungywamp. This site is home to what is known as the American Stonehenge and on this day, the setting sun will create a beam of light through a tiny window of the ancient stone chamber and illuminate a calendar wall. Other equinox alligned sites include: Chichin Itza in Mexico, Loughcrew in Ireland, The Sphinx and Great Pyramid in Egypt, and Chaco Canyon in New Mexico. There are too many to list here but I encourage you to research these sites on your own.
It is clear that ancient people all over the globe found it greatly important to mark the changes of seasons. We would be a bit naive to think that this practice was due to the need to keep track of planting seasons since many of the structures predate agriculture. Rather, the ancients believed that there was a spiritual significance to the connection of humans to the celestial. The transition of the daytime dominated season which brings life and growth into the nighttime dominated one which brings about death and rest, marks the part of the cycle which makes life on this planet possible. It also represents the spiritual path of the soul. It is through the cycle of birth, growth, and death, that rebirth can bring our spirits closer to enlightenment.
I live in the low desert of Arizona which means the vernal equinox marks the start of a small time window to grow things before the blistering sun sterilizes the landscape. Here, the summer sun brings death to my plants and the heat of the endless summer keeps me hidden indoors. The autumnal equinox marks yet another growing season as the winters are mild enough for most plants to survive the duration.