Hildegard of Bingen
1098 – 1179
Hildegard of Bingen c. 1098 – 17 September 1179 lived as the Abbess of a Benedictine Monastery. She was a mystic and visionary. Monks and nuns put into paintings her visions. These paintings have survived to this day.
SCIVIAS (Know the Ways) is in book format and is the story of the journey of humanity. In the painting above humanity is in modern terminology symbolised by yellow/gold stars surrounded by a red outline. These gold stars/humans are situated in the firmament and simultaneously in the womb of Eve.
This vision in the eyes of Hildegard offers each soul its existence concurrently in the womb and in the heavens. This is a beautiful example of her vision of each of us as having an immanent and transcendent aspect to our being, a vision similar to nondual philosophies throughout history.
Hildegard was canonized as a saint in 2010.
She received visions and used those visions to inspire her musical compositions.
In her own words she recounts her visionary nature:-
From my early childhood, before my bones, nerves, and veins were fully strengthened, I have always seen this vision in my soul, even to the present time when I am more than seventy years old. In this vision my soul, as God would have it, rises up high into the vault of heaven and into the changing sky and spreads itself out among different peoples, although they are far away from me in distant lands and places. And because I see them this way in my soul, I observe them in accord with the shifting of clouds and other created things. I do not hear them with my outward ears, nor do I perceive them by the thoughts of my own heart or by any combination of my five senses, but in my soul alone, while my outward eyes are open. So I have never fallen prey to ecstasy in the visions, but I see them wide awake, day and night.”
From a modern viewpoint we might describe this vision as astral travel and it is typical during these flights as with many non-local experiences that the ordinary five senses are not in play. The visionary consciousness is a further sense – the sixth sense.
1445 – 1510
Mystic Nativity, oil on canvas, 1500-01
c. 1445 – May 17, 1510
Sandro Botticelli was an Italian artist who in his time became ‘unpopular’ due to his associations with the feared and hated visionary preacher, Dominican friar Girolamo Savonarola.
In this painting Botticelli recreates in paint one of Savonarola’s visions.
In one of Savonarola’s sermons, he preached a vision that had come to him in which he saw an extraordinary heavenly crown. At its base were twelve hearts with twelve ribbons wrapped around them and written on these in Latin were the unique mystical qualities or privileges of the Virgin Mary – she is ‘mother of her father’, ‘daughter of her son’, ‘bride of God’. Botticelli included this vision in his Mystic Nativity.
This painting looks to the casual observer like a religious painting of The Virgin birth. The writing on the ribbons held by the dancing angels is now invisible to the naked eye but through infrared reflectography it has been shown that the original words on the angels ribbons corresponded exactly to Savonarola’s 12 privileges of the Virgin. This painting is described as follows, in the words of Dr. Jennifer Sliwka:
“In his Mystic Nativity, Botticelli translated aspects of both the Apocalypse and of Savonarola’s visionary sermon into paint, connecting the glory of Mary with the imminent coming (or Second Coming) of Christ on Earth. The inscribed scrolls held by the three embracing angels at the foot of the composition which proclaim, in Latin, “peace on earth to men of goodwill” also reinforce this reading. The inscriptions, together with the embracing gestures, the prevalence of olive branches and the fleeing devils, some of whom have been impaled by their own weapons, all suggest a coming together of the celestial and the earthly and the era of peace expected to follow Christ’s return to Earth. The scattering and impalement of the devils however remind us that this vision of joy and love has been achieved through suffering and death, suggesting that this nativity might also be understood as a kind of “Mystic Rebirth.” Speaking to things yet-to-be-seen, Botticelli’s work was an attempt at envisioning the spiritual hopes of his contemporaries in concrete visual terms.” (Dr Jennifer Sliwka https://brooklynrail.org/2021/07/criticspage/The-Painter-The-Preacher-Botticellis-Mystic-Nativity-and-Savonarolas-Sermons)
From a consciousness studies point of view, this is a painting of someone else’s vision. A vision of unification in the realm of consciousness and spirit. This painting shows profound levels of love and light, happiness with people rejoicing, hugging each other and flow. The people look like they are in a wind, a gentle curving of people into each other but there is destruction coming – a warning within the ribbons of the angelic forces.
Leonardo da Vinci
1452 – 1519
Da Vinci is known as a polymath. He is known for being an engineer in many respects and investigating the material world in what we now call empiricism. Da Vinci opened up the body and investigated, as we now do with medicine, the workings of the body. He was also fascinated with movement and created schematics of machinery long before the actual creation of such machines was possible.
Within the post-materialist convention it is Da Vinci’s exploration of esoteric Christianity which is of interest. In the drawing above, Da Vinci does not in fact show two women as the work is titled; the Virgin and St Anne but in fact one woman with a ghostly trace of a person to her rear. We can see this in the odd shaping of the legs and arms. Given the tremendous discipline of Da Vinci these are not just mere mistakes. These are highly intended tropes designed to give the knowledgable viewer information about consciousness itself.
The finger pointing up alludes to Jupiter. This astrological link ties Christ to the solar Christ, that is, a solar deity, and his relationship with the celestial and the celestial forces created by planetary strengths and their profound but subtle influence on our lives here on earth.
The casual viewer might ask why the painting is titled to mislead and clearly there is another child almost putti/cherub in the painting. Why are they included? The persecution towards esoteric Christian notions was severe in the days of Da Vinci. He played a subtle, dangerous and courageous game with his art, bringing his thoughts through the centuries.
The Christ child touches this celestial reference with the peace sign of two fingers held.
There is another viewpoint on this painting and that is of the idea that there were two Christ children born. If you read The New Testament carefully there are major inconsistencies related to the birth of Jesus.
All these notions brought together show Da Vinci to be a very brave man in bringing these contradictions and his beliefs to the fore.
The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and Saint John the Baptist, Leonardo da Vinci
1475 – 1518
Michelangelo’s art explores the question of the nature of God and Man. Michelangelo was in his time a radical artist. The Sistine Chapel was not loved by the Papal hierarchy in his day largely due to the nudity. Sacred symbolism is scattered throughout this painting including notions of Venus and planetary motions. At the time astronomy and the influence of the planets was considered not only heretical information but entirely secret. Science is just discovering how protons from deep space effect our environment on earth.
In the Creation of Adam, Michelangelo places the hand of Adam (as the first man) not quite touching the hand of God. This has been described as the Creator’s index finger appearing to be ready to give the spark of life to Adam’s hand, which seems weak as if ready to receive this energy from the Creator. This brings up many questions concerning our spirit nature in one of the greatest religious chapels in the world.
1757 – 1827
William Blake saw the greatest consciousness. The traditional narrative for Blake is one of being a visionary however specifically he was a medium for past lives. In the series of drawings with chalk, Visionary Heads, Blake was visited by many spirits of people from the remote past.
This remote past viewing questions notions of residual energies from past lives, traced in the present (see Deleuze) with notions of hauntology (Mark Fischer) in the arts and in the sciences, with Dean Radin investigating this field.
The Ghost of a Flea which is part of the Visionary Head series is an extraordinary idea. Blake was ‘seeing’ these energies. The Ghost of the Flea is an incredible creature rather than a miniature and irrelevant, nuisance creature. Does this thinking, the love of all creatures, potentially assist in environmental debates today? If all creatures can be seen to hold an exquisite and never dying energy how would our cultural zeitgeist change?
1814 – 1844
Georgiana Houghton, born approximately 1814-1844 was a visionary painter. Houghton attended her first séance in 1859. In 1861 aged 47 she did her first drawing. She was guided by a spirit called Lenny. Lenny had guided other great painters.
Houghton’s first drawings were worked with a planchette, where the spirit guides the hand of the artist. Her later drawings were created with brushes and pencils by hand.
Houghton worked in series, with subjects including friends, flowers and plants and famous people. Houghton’s work also included a series of sacred drawings which she said were created under the guidance of 70 archangels. These drawings further reflect her Christian faith.
By the late 1860s, Houghton’s abstractions did not depict objects of the natural world but what she described as a spiritual experience.
“The Spiritual Crown of Annie Mary Howitt Watts (1867) is made of rhythmically layered curls of white, cranberry, and orange. Houghton’s aim, as she wrote in her 1881 autobiography, was “to show. . . the Light now poured upon mankind by the restored power of communion with the unseen.” Madeline Weisburg. “GEORGIANA HOUGHTON”. La Biennale di Venezia.
Houghton had a table of what her colours meant which is available on the geogianahougton.com websitehttps://georgianahoughton.com/drawings/
George Frederic Watts
1817 – 1904
George Frederic Watts was a British painter associated with the symbolist movement. He said, “I paint ideas, not things,” His ideas were powerfully associated with a spiritual life.
In his lifetime Watts set up a museum to show his paintings, alongside of which he built a chapel which his wife and Watts called The Watts Mortuary Chapel.
Hope (shown below) has been described as allegorical. However, the allegory is very much eclipsed by Watt’s intention to form an epic symbolic cycle called the House of Life, in which the emotions and aspirations of life would all be represented in a universal symbolic language.
This universal symbolic language reminds me of the striving for linguists who believe in pan-psychism to invigorate language with a type of life force; to animate, make vibrant, our language so our human experience, sensations, emotions and extraordinary phenomena can be described more accurately.
1826 – 1898
The Apparition 1876
The mystery of the scene is enhanced by elements of the formal composition, particularly the curious posture of the anti-heroine, which at once suggests her mid-dance and in a position of priestly stasis. The rest of the scene is populated by grave, static figures, which, in combination with the diverse cultural sources for the setting, adds to that mysterious sense so often conveyed by Moreau’s painting, that the scene depicted lies outside narrative history and linear time. The choice of watercolour was idiosyncratic but revelatory, allowing Moreau to portray features such as the dripping blood with mimetic accuracy.
Moreau is considered to be a symbolist artist involved in myth, dream and an ‘exotic’ stylisation, reframing historical Greco-Roman and Biblical stories only. However, the extent of his visionary subject matter, 15,000 paintings left at his death, suggests he had a far greater interest in the visionary than is recorded in his history and the study of the conscious mind in relation to dream and imagination.
‘Moreau set about capturing the products of his imagination on canvas with photographic accuracy. He believed that by so doing, he was allowing divine vision to speak through his brush. Moreau’s paintings, normally depicting moments from biblical or mythic narratives, are populated with ambiguous visual symbols – which he took to represent certain desires and emotions in abstract forms’
These notions that certain desires and emotions can be represented in abstract form arrives at a similar time to the period of Andre Breton with surrealism and his interest in voodoo and automatism in painting and writing as well of the highly influential Madame Blavatsky and the arrival of theosophical thinking.
Moreau was considered to be a magnificent professor who taught Matisse and Rouault. Rouault went on to visit spiritualist churches which were essentially founded from theosophist ideals.
1840 – 1916
“Nothing in Art is achieved by will alone. It is achieved by docilely submitting to the subconscious.” Redon
This statement from Redon refers to the methodology he used, of intuition and meditation, with which to create his work. Caroline Wiseman refers to this state as creative intelligence, CQ. The individual releases the concept to their ‘subconscious’, the inner mind to do the hard work of creativity. The mind then releases this information to the central conscious state.
Redon took his inspiration from this meditative state. Some of his titles refer overtly to his visionary nature.
Redon is known as a symbolist artist although this distinction in the visionary genre acknowledges the dissociated true intent of the psychic consciousness which is described in terms such as imagination and symbol.
His paintings reference dreams, Buddhism, Christianity, floral subjects, and Greco/Roman mythology. His works are also described as fantasy and imagination, thereby denying the true potency of his post-materialist scientific experience. He is associated with movements such as Nabis, Japonnaise and surrealism, which within the visionary genre all misrepresent the artist’s true visionary intent.
An early work Guardian Spirit of the Waters, 1878, shows an eye protruding within a large head with a wing. The head somehow floats above the tranquil sea. The eye/head gazes powerfully towards a sailboat. The horizon stretches across the world whilst birds, potentially seagulls, bring an element of daylight and real-time to the image. A delicate halo surrounds the head, giving the winged head a type of sympathetic and potentially divine aura.
This imagery within contemporary art is described as dream-like. From a post-materialist science perspective this work seems a powerful representation of astral projection, out of body experience. Astral projection suggests existence of a subtle body through which consciousness can function separately from the physical body and travel throughout the astral plane. The aura in this painting in some way represents this subtle body.
The Guardian Spirit of the Waters also may refer to Redon’s longing to have been born at sea ‘”a place without a country on an abyss,” which he perhaps felt would have better corresponded to the origins of his visionary sensibility.’ https://www.theartstory.org/artist/redon-odilon/#:~:text=Redon%20is%20one%20of%20the,powers%20of%20the%20color%20black.
This work could thus be seen as representing a kind of alternative birth for Redon, signifying his awakening artistic consciousness.
1866 – 1944
The Lady in Moscow, oil on canvas, 1912
Kandinsky is well known for his connection to the spiritual through his seminal book The Spiritual in Art which discusses his synaesthesia and his connection to his abundant spiritual life.
Synaesthesia is a well-known medical condition and is entirely distinct from extraordinary experiences. Synaesthesia is predictable to the person experiencing it. The extraordinary is unpredictable and is always hugely surprising. Kandinsky was aware of this difference. Some of his most famous quotes highlight his visionary knowledge.
“Everything that is dead quivers” (Kandinsky)
This is a reference to the aura of ‘everything’. That consciousness/the aura is in all.
The painting above is an unusual representation by Kandinsky. There is the potential for the representation of a near death experience, the possibility of a body represented by a black coffin like shape on the right-hand side being taken to another landscape. The figure in the foreground known as The Lady in the title has part of her arm missing and clearly chopped off, blood and soreness is represented here.
This is a rare painting which discusses astral vision and out of body experiences.
DEGARD – Painter of Auras 1975 –
Degard is a pioneering British ‘Painter of Auras’: a visionary artist, doctoral student, founder of the genre Contemporary Visionary and owner of The Visionary Brit Museum www.visionarybritmuseum.co.uk and an involved member of AAPS.
The Visionary Brit Museum is a red telephone box outside of the British Museum which hosts Visionary art exhibitions exclusively.
DEGARD’s paintings are a visual description of consciousness. Degard sees a consciousness around people and things; she calls this energy a conscious Aura and many of her paintings are titled as Aura Conscious. Degard has what she calls ‘extraordinary experiences’ almost daily which she brings to her painting.
The Aura of Beyonce, oil on canvas and wood, gold leaf, 2016, Degard
The paintings are achieved by requesting of The Record (Akashic Record/God/Angelic forces/Higher power) for the information on a specific person, who she refers to as ‘that person.’ Typically the information on that person is available to her, and Degard can create the painting. For Degard’s doctoral studies she is identifying the intricate patterns she has painted and analysing how these patterns describe the personality, life experience, health, career and more of that person.
Degard has exhibited extensively with recent exhibitions including Aura II at Brook Street Gallery opposite Claridge’s, London, Quintessence of Consciousness at The Royal College of Art, solo show at Museum Al Zubair, Oman and Saatchi Art. She has hosted and arranged talks, titled ‘Art with…’, at the Royal Society of Art, where she is a Fellow. Degard works alongside Anxiety UK to bring Art into mental health. Degard has recently published a paper with The Astropolitics Institute ‘Space and Art’. Degard regularly exhibits in The Visionary Brit Museum.
Degard has written four books, is a committee member of The Colour Group and a fellow of The Galileo Commission for the Scientific and Medical Network. She is also a member of European Society for the Study of Esotericism. Degard is working on her doctorate ‘An Exploration of the Visionary in Art’ in Fine Art in London supervised by Professor Fae Brauer.
Degard’s Art joins a long history of artistic study of consciousness, perception, and cognition studies interwoven with visionary experience; as exemplified by visionary artists, Susan Hiller to Kandinsky, Hilma af Klint to William Blake. Degard’s Art brings this visionary and mystical genre, into a contemporary, socio-political context.
Molly Hackney, writer of The Medium’s Medium (written for an exhibition at Frieze, London 2019) says of Degard’s latest exhibition, The Power of Things, Drip: Still Lifes
‘The canvases at Drip enchant the viewer with this glimpse into spirit connection. It is her choice of objects that give this exhibition such magnetism.’
Degard graduated from The Royal College of Art in 2019. She has further received awards from the Alan Davie Foundation.
Janet Saad Cook
“Limits exist only in the souls of those who do not dream” Philippe Petit
Janet Saad-Cook’s art lies at the intersection of light and space and time. Honored as a pioneer in the field of multidisciplinary art, she invented new ways to create art by fusing sunlight, time, reflection and motion. Working with pure wavelengths of light coming from the sun, Saad-Cook combines ancient sun marking techniques with 21st century technology to create Sun Drawings, solar sculptures that attune viewers to the cosmos, revealing glimpses of the grand order of the universe and creating a link with all humanity.
This glimpse of consciousness connects humanity to both our origins and human identity as well as to our global and cosmic identity. This connecting in time/space/light and memory has led to notions of the Akashic record, where all energy is considered to be knowledge stored in the ether; it also suggests humanity’s origin story. David Worrall in Aura II wrote “The auras and visions seen in this gallery because they derive from the same neurobiologies may be our only true link between today’s consumer hardened urban landscape of cars, undergrounds railways and flying aeroplanes and the bison, elands and birds populating the material environment of our neurologically identical forbears.”
Saad-Cook continually explores connections between light and time, something she first became aware of in the early 1980’s, while doing independent site work at prehistoric sun marking sites. Her studies of the sites revealed simple techniques earliest humans used in order to live in harmony with the natural world. She believes that using these ancient ways of sky watching in combination with modern technologies evokes powerful symbols that acknowledge our place in the Universe while connecting us to the continuum of Time.
Her art is distinguished by decades of collaboration with scientists, engineers and architects, along with independent research in the field of Archaeoastronomy. She has presented papers about her work at scientific institutions such as MIT, The Royal Institution of Great Britain, and the International Astronomical Union (IAU), among others, and lectures extensively in the US and abroad. Her art is in permanent collections of major public institutions as well as in private collections.
Dr Lila Moore
Powerful connection to Spirit
Dr Lila Moore is the founder of The Cybernetics Futures Institute, an independent academy for the exploration of technoetic arts with an emphasis on the spiritual-mystical and occult in art, film, screen-dance and networked-digital-interactive forms of performance and narrative. She is an artist film-maker, screen choreographer, technoetic ritualist and visionary theorist.
It is Moore’s technoetic ritualism which she brings to her work, which can bring the viewer to a state of mesmerism and a type of trance which is so engaging. This process of bringing the viewer into a spiritual-mystical state is a fascinating quality within the art. Artists hold the distinctive ability to engage with a more expanded consciousness using specific and directed attention. Artists train closely to engage the viewer in their world view. Moore draws on the mysticism of Goddesses and powers, bringing these powers out so to speak, so they feel palpable to the viewer.
Dr Moore holds a practice-based Ph.D. degree in Dance on Screen from Middlesex University (2001) and is a lecturer at the BA programme in Mysticism and Spirituality, Zefat Academic College. Her writings include articles published in peer-reviewed academic journals. She regularly presents papers in international academic conferences and her artwork and films have been shown in juried and curated exhibitions as well as displayed in archives and collections of contemporary art and film.
Questioning humanity and sacredness
Dreaming the Museum Back to Life: The Inner Life of Objects, 2017, Fundació Antoni Tàpies, Barcelona.
Grace Ndiritu is a British-Kenyan artist whose artworks are concerned with the transformation of our contemporary world. Her dedication to changing museum policy is a significant part of her practice; she achieves this through recognising the vibrational impact of a place. The recent change in 2022 by The International Council of Museums in their definition of what a museum is, was influenced by her presentation The Museum of The Future at their annual ICOM International Committee for Collecting conference in 2021, in which she outlined what museums need to do if an organisation wants to positively influence the social field around them and practice a lack of self-interest.
Her unique vision reveals her dedication to change museums both practically and energetically as an artist. As Ndiritu firmly believes ‘healing’ is a type of institutional critique. In the first of her two-part artist text written in 2016, Ndiritu shared the foundational impetus of her Healing, The Museum methodology, which is based on the idea of using performance as a peace-building tool to deal with issues of global conflict.
“Man is a social being. Factors such as political conflict, social tension and economic stress affect his mental health. Such factors are at least as important as biological factors. Frantz Fanon paid particular attention to these social problems and his brand of political psychiatry is as relevant today as it was during his time. Alienation and oppression still exist. Unemployment is widespread and tyrannical rulers still oppress their people. Mental illness cannot be solved by drugs but by changes in the political and social order.” (1)
In 2012, I began creating a new body of works under the title Healing The Museum. It came out of a deep need to re-introduce non-rational methodologies such as shamanism in order to reactivate the “sacredness” of art spaces. I believed that most modern art institutions were out of sync with their audiences’ everyday experiences and the widespread socio-economical and political changes that have taken place globally in the recent decades. Museums are dying. And I see shamanism as a way to re-activate the dying art space as a space for sharing, participation and ethics. From prehistoric to modern times the shaman was not only the group healer and facilitator of peace but also the creative – the artist.
Questioning humanity and sacredness
Mitchell is an artist who works with many disciplines; from painting to video and sculpture or what she calls objects. She uses these many disciplines to create ‘experiments’ which question our social and philosophical ethics – who are we, what do we value and how do we exist? Mitchell is interested in the many responses and outcomes which come from this questioning.
In her current practice Mitchell focuses on the social use of ‘magical thinking,’ for example,in her exhibit, All Auras Touch, 2020.
All Auras Touch is a snapshot of contemporary Australia revealed through the process of photographing human energy fields, otherwise known as auras. Taking the main occupation list from the Australian Census as the starting point, artist Kate Mitchell aims to photograph the aura of one person for each of the 1,023 recognised occupations.
Using electromagnetic field imaging equipment, participants of All Auras Touch will have their aura portrait taken by the artist. Each aura portrait will then form part of an expansive installation. All Auras Touch reminds us that we are all energetic beings made up of the same matter.
The post-materialist scientific position for Mitchell is pan-psychic. However, in Mitchell’s other work she questions how we ‘work’ with this universal knowledge in society. She looks at the use of tarot cards, astrology, and predictions – as part of a questioning of how society uses, in its most basis ways, this universal knowledge.