Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Yog Sothoth

Yog Sothoth by PJ Church
 Yog Sothoth, one of the entities  from the Lovecraft Cthulhu Mythos, one of the great "Old Ones."  Here's a lovely quote from the short Story The Dunwich Horror:

"Yog-Sothoth knows the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the gate. Yog-Sothoth is the key and guardian of the gate. Past, present, future, all are one in Yog-Sothoth. He knows where the Old Ones broke through of old, and where They shall break through again. He knows where They have trod earth’s fields, and where They still tread them, and why no one can behold Them as They tread."

Decades ago, back when I still had time to read fiction, I first encountered the mention of Yog Sothoth in Robert Anton Wilson and Robert Shay's epic Illuminatus! trilogy.  This book is a surreal blend of fact and fiction.  In the novel, Yog Sothoth is the creature imprisoned in the Pentagon in Washinton DC.  I'd never thought about the occult significance of the Pentagon's shape and design before, and one of the scenes in the book references an actual occurrence in 1967, in which anti-Vietnam War activists, including Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin circled the Pentagon and performed an exorcism on the Pentagon in an attempt to end the war.  Or to freak out the norms (muggles). 


Needle-felted Merino Wool
It was back in the 1980's when I encountered Illuminatus! and it was an influential book in shaping my worldview, mystical sensibilities, and sense of humor.  The book weaves together practically every major conspiracy from the pre-history of Atlantean civilization to the murder of JFK, written in a style influenced by William Burroughs, Orson Welles, and James Joyce. I've heard some literary folk describe it as a more challenging read than Ullysses

Long before the Pastafarians and the Flying Spaghetti Monster, there were a couple satirical, yet functionally useful, religions that I bumped into.  The Church of the Sub-genius, in which I become ordained, and Discordianism, in which I'm a pope. It's not hard.  If you wish to be a Discordian pope, you simply declare yourself so.  This speaks to something about the nature of religious bullshit: personal empowerment vs. mental slavery.  Contributing to Operation Mindfuck became a significant high school hobby for me. 

If you haven't explored the concepts of Discordianism and the goddess Eris, it's a fascinating story, full of synchronicity and weirdness, especially the fact that it's founding text, the Principia Discordia was first printed in 1963 on New Orlean's DA Jim Garrison's Xerox machine.  (Yes, THAT Jim Garrison, the guy who first investigated the "conspiracy" to kill JFK.) 





Created 5-23-17 thru 6-6-17
In the Illuminatus! trilogy, Shea and Wilson worked the Discordians in as a ragtag band of counter-culture rebels fighting against the Illuminati, a shadowy conspiracy founded by a Bavarian monk and Freemason Adam Weishaupt in 1776.  Who or what the Illuminati actually is or isn't, and even whether "they" are the "good guys" or the "bad guys" is an ever shifting target in the book, the point of which, in my opinion, is to subvert all paradigms and to facilitate in the reader stone-cold paranoia, or a freedom from that paranoia into a place of agnosticism and skepticism, a place from which you can begin to see that nothing is true, and that everything is a construct.  At the time, encountering a lot of folks who read this book, I noticed people came out the other side of this book sounding like nut-job conspiracy monger Alex Jones, or they came out fairly liberated from the sea of bullshit in which we swim.  If they were able to actually read it at all. 

Consider this excerpt from Illuminatus!, which is itself an excerpt from the Principia Discordia:

“Hang on for some metaphysics. The Aneristic Principle is that of order, the Eristic Principle is that of disorder. On the surface, the Universe seems (to the ignorant) to be ordered; this is the aneristic illusion. Actually, what order is “there” is imposed on primal chaos in the same sense that a person’s name is draped over his actual self. It is the job of the scientist, for example, to implement this principle in a practical manner and some are quite brilliant at it. But on closer examination, order dissolves into disorder, which is the ERISTIC ILLUSION. "

It didn't take long for this to lead to an encounter with Chaos Magic, a paradigm of DIY esotericism which first seemed to peak in the 80's, and which over the last couple years has experienced a huge resurgence in popularity for some reason.   Along with Discordianism, it's a whole other topic you might wish to peruse if any of this has been of interest to you.  Of the many precepts of Chaos Magic, one that often strikes a chord with people is the notion that you can just as easily work with fictional entities as the supposedly non-fictional ones.  Of course, if you actually explore, you will find that it is just as easy and effective to work with Shiva, Jesus, Odin and Zeus as it is with Cthulhu, Batman, the Easter Bunny and Sherlock Holmes.  Archetypes and constructs activated in the ritual space.

This particular soft, cuddly, merino-wool sculpture of Yog Sothoth was inspired by physicist and chaos author Peter J. Carroll's book "The Portal's of Chaos."  It's a wonderful collection of archetypes, drawing on everything from the Egyptian Pantheon to the classical planet archetypes of Venus and Mercury.  And of course, the "fictional" entities described by pulp novelist H.P. Lovecraft.


   





Excerpt from Portals of Chaos, by Peter J Carroll

THE KEY AND THE GUARDIAN OF THE GATE.  THE KNOWLEDGE OF THE GATES.
PAST, PRESENT, FUTURE ALL ARE ONE IN YOG SOTHOTH.
THE SPAWN OF THE BLANKNESS OF PRIMAL TIME AND SPACE
THE NETHERMOST OUTPOSTS OF TIME AND SPACE,
THE LURKER AT THE THRESHOLD OF OUTER SPACE
THE BREAKER APART OF THE IRIDESCENT GLOBES,
THE CONGERIES OF GLOWING SPHERES CONTERMINOUS WITH TIME AND SPACE
THE KEY TO THE OUTSIDE OF THE UNIVERSE WE INHABIT.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF WHERE THE OLD ONES BROKE THROUGH OF OLD
AND WHERE THEY SHALL BREAK THROUGH AGAIN.
THE MASTERY OF SPACE-TIME GEOMETRY OF THE UNIVERSE.
THE OMNISCIENCE ACROSS SPACETIME



Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Visions



This mixed media piece, wool, wood, barbed wire and pyrography, there a number of these in the series so far, and I thought I'd really keep rolling with it, but something about the process just kind of sent me into hiatus. 

It felt like a punctuation mark on my felting journey.  Not a complete stop, but the end of a paragraph.  There was so much passion, intensity, obsessive detail work in this when I finished it this earlier this year I just didn't even want to look at wool for awhile. 

It's interesting to note that in the interim, exploring water color painting, I've been able to adapt the same methods, processes and visual approach that are in this piece, but am able to do it in a matter of minutes, as opposed to the month it took to make this felted "vision" piece. 

I've NEVER been able to draw or paint, and have tried to acquire the skill many times in my life, but I think maybe all the years of staring at the three dimensional images I've worked with in needle felting have had an effect on my ability to "see" and translate that.  This piece pictured here is a conscious invocation of "inner vision" as hinted at by the rusted barbed wire in the eyes, but the lack of obstructions at the third eye.

I'll post a few watercolor paintings later that share the meandering "flows" and random patterns I like to create in my felting, but for now, a couple more pictures of this as yet "untitled" piece:
 




























Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Saddest Tear

Wow, I haven't updated this blog since January!  It's actually been a pretty productive year, creatively, an expanding roster of yoga and meditation classes and several larger felting projects completed or in process. 

It's interesting that before I discovered the magic of wool and soft sculpture I didn't believe I had any talent as a visual artist at all.  However, part of my process with the wool pieces has occasionally included rudimentary sketches of ideas, and lately, as I've continued working more with wet felting and mixed media sculptures, I've started using watercolors to create drafts of things I plan to felt, and in so doing, have actually fallen in love with watercolors, the process of working with them, the way the colors flow across the paper.  AND, for any of you who work with needle felting, you will understand when I say I LOVE that I can complete something beautiful in just a few minutes with watercolor, whereas even something cute and simple, like the Teardrop featured in this post, can take me several hours.  And the more elaborate pieces can take up to a month or more worth of free time.

In thinking about which new piece to share here first, I went with the teardrop because it speaks to something I've been experiencing this year.  While here and there in my life, as all people do, I've had brief periods where I felt down, these down-moods only ever lasted a few days, and certainly weren't something I considered "depression." 

And since this blog is a place where I overshare my personal emotional processes along with my work, I have to say, that what I'm experiencing doesn't feel like depression either.  Even though I'm not catholic, I recognize the emotional darkness I find myself in is essentially what St. John of the Cross describes as "The Dark Night of the Soul."  It is a place of despair, and a sense of everything in life being drained of meaning.  And it has gone on for months so far.

I am not going to lie.  Art doesn't really help that much, and feels as meaningless as everything else right now, but it has still provided a place to explore the experience, to be present with the emotion and learn what it has to teach..  It's my understanding that this "Dark Night" is part of a spiritual growth process, and I attempt to feel gratitude for "Pain as Teacher" but there are times, just like the characters in The Matrix, where I think "Why, oh why didn't I take the Blue Pill?"  I.E., why did I embark on this pursuit of authenticity rather than remain in my comfortable, slightly numb, superficial but relatively pleasant life?  I only hope that when or if I come through the other side of this it will be worth it.  Apparently, Mother Teresa, in all of her years in spiritual service to the world, remained in the "dark night" for over 50 years.  Ouch!

If by chance you are interested in the idea that what you feel as depression might actually be a process of deeper personal transformation and growth, I found the following article really helpful: 
"A Dark Night of the Soul and the Discovery of Meaning."

Friday, January 8, 2016

Sushumna

Most recent mixed media tapestry, initiated December 25, 2015. . .and finally got the snake vertebrae sewed on yesterday.   Merino wool, glass bead, snake vertebrae.











Saturday, September 12, 2015

'bOrt


'bOrt the unloved.  'bOrt the unwanted.  'bOrt the embryonic clown.  Would have been the son of Scooch.  'bOrt preserved for the sake of science, in a jar.  Dead tissue speaks in a scaly whisper, a mandala of meat under the microscope: does evil begin in the womb?  "Out damn'd spot." cries Lady Macbeth.  And Macduff, "I from my mother's womb wast untimely ripped!"  The modern mantras of affluent power. 

All matter has consciousness, all matter vibrates. Preserved for eternity, 'bOrt is the  knower and keeper of secrets.  Look at his eyes.  No mere dead clump of hair to be blithely flushed down the toilet, he is animated with the mirthful knowledge of everything you want to hide from the world. 



They generally always deviate from the sketch.

Excerpt from the 'bOrt video w/Merzbow soundtrack.

Freshly squeezed 'bOrt.

Profile

Fashion forward spine-revealing back-straps on jacket.


Soaked and sealed, arms open for the hug that will never come. 

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Scooch

Scooch:  If you don't shit your pants, he'll shit them for you.
In an ongoing theme, I can only say this year hasn't been about procrastinating the felting projects, it's just been a year filled with travel, and teaching and studying yoga.  It's taken nearly all my time.  And it's been SO VERY GOOD.

In the meantime, before I resume where I left off with the Rust, Wood, and Wool projects, I first have to get a couple crazy clowns out of my system. 

Meet Scooch.  People that know Scooch best say he's so scary . . . that,  "If you don't shit your pants, he'll shit them for you."

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Chakra Yantras: Collaborating With My Amazing Wife

Muladhara, Root Chakra

 I've just gotten back from an epic month studying yoga, culture, and history in Nepal, so the felting project has again been on hiatus.  In the meantime, I'd like to share a project my wife and I collaborated on prior to the Nepal trip.



Svadhisthana, Sacral Chakra

My wife, Annou Davi, over the last few years, has been painting some beautiful pieces of flowing, energetic patterns inspired by nebulas and other astronomical phenomenon, combined with sacred geometry.  And over the last few years, I have worked a lot with the tantric Chakra system as at first a student and then more recently as a yoga teacher and yoga therapist.  And so, it occurred to me to ask Annou to collaborate on a series of paintings for each of the chakra yantras.  (Each chakra has a specific geometric symbol associated with it.)


Manipura, Solar Plexus Chakra
The idea was to spend a week practicing specific types of asana, pranayama, mantra, meditation, visualization, etc, as well as studying the correspondences and psychological implications of each chakra, and then using that as the inspiration for the energetic flows in each piece.

To provide an example of chakra correspondences--without going exhaustively into all seven chakras--Muladhara, the root chakra, is associated with:  The color red, early childhood development, the element earth, the base of the spine, saturn, pentacles in tarot, the elephant, survival and grounding, cedar, and rubies. . .and that's just for starters.  It is also associated with a number of specific health ailments.



Anahata, Heart Chakra
These paintings were designed to be used as object-meditation pieces specifically for focusing the mind and balancing the chakras, and in the time I've spent meditating with each of these paintings, I've found them to be very effective.  And simply an aesthetic pleasure as well. 

Vishuddha, Throat Chakra





My input was teaching and guiding our yoga practices through the process, providing some conceptual framework and editing advice, but the paintings, vision, and hard work are ALL Annou.  I love these pieces, and it was really fun and romantic to work on a spiritual and artistic endeavor together.

Anja, the Third Eye


 These paintings are done on 12"x12" canvas with acrylic, and the yantras (symbols) are gold oil paint for that medium's dynamic, reflective quality. 


Sahasrara, the Crown Chakra


Girlfriend with Drill, very sexy!