Those are pearls that were his eyes

T.S Eliot, The Waste Land


In the Homeric Hymn we are told that Dionysus’ hair is blue, and that his eyes are blue, and this is the truth, though it is not factual.[i] To understand that Dionysus sees with the blue eye our vision must also be tainted with kyaneos.[ii] For blue is the colour of the imagination, the colour of metaphor; it is ocean and sky, and is therefore the colour of our highest and deepest understanding.

Blue moves between black and white as an intermediary, a hued psychopomp. In this it bears relation to silver, which contains within it the secrets of blue. “Silver may easily be converted into the colour of the lazulite,” notes Thomas Norton in his Ordinal of Alchemy, “because silver, produced by air, has a tendency to become assimilated to the colour of the sky.”[iii] Blue is found to be in secret connivance with silver in the process of whitening, and though modern chemists may reject any material foundation to the alchemical art, we may nevertheless accept this insight as a pearl polished by the logic of the imagination.

Blue contains its shadow within itself. In the blue of bruises, in sobriety, blue misery, and in blues music and slow jazz, blue is brooding and adumbral. Yet its etymology traces through the Proto-Indo-European bhlāw, from bhel: to shine, be light or bright. Blue is height and depth in a single instance, just as the Greek (βαθύς) and the Latin (altus) connote both high and deep with the same word. No other colour is so readily infused with light. No other colour is so at home in the abyss. This is the enantiodromia of blue (enantios, opposite; dromos, running course) the ancient principle of natural equilibrium.[iv] Just as night is drawn from day, and heat from cold, so blue evokes its opposite. But blue is self-contained, hermetically sealed,[v] and this means that its opposite is not produced externally, but within. The above in the below: the direction of blue is vertical.[vi]

In the ascent, blue is found in the hierarchy of nobility, in blue ribbons, blazonry and blue blood,[vii] and in the realm of the blue gods: blue-hooded Odin, the Tantric Adi-Buddha, Krishna and Vishnu, Jupiter and Juno, Christ and the Madonna.[viii] “Blue is not an image to indicate the sense of the holy,” writes Martin Heidegger. “Blueness itself is the holy, in virtue of its gathering depth which shines forth only as it veils itself.”[ix] Mapped within the stars, blue displays a cosmological identity. Here is the lazuli stone[x] and sapphire throne[xi] of the mystics, the azure heaven. This is the blue sky into which the mythic imagination opens.

Yet even as it rises towards the light, “blue still brings a principle of darkness with it,” as Goethe notes.[xii] “As a hue it is powerful, but it is on the negative side, and in its highest purity is, as it were, a stimulating negation.” Blue’s gravitation skyward is inherently vulnerable, for blue also belongs to the depths. The robe of the Madonna may be a place of refuge for the faithful, but it is not without its shadow.[xiii] In blue movies, blue language, blue ruin, Bluebeard, and blue murder,[xiv] we find that black clings to blue, sticky like tar, and casts upon it the shadow of despair. Then blue becomes an icy darkness, cold death within a cyanide body, blue bones beneath the game of skin. “I have your disease in me now…” sings Dorothy Vallens in David Lynch’s nightmare, “And I still can see Blue Velvet through my tears.” Echoing through the chambers of hell, cries from the icy Cocytus of Dante’s ninth circle.[xv]

The Greeks imagined the gates of hell to be guarded by a dog. Kyaneos, blue; kynos, dog. The dog is a blue animal. The sexual insinuations of dirty dog, doggy fashion, and rabid as a dog, find there place in blue movie theatres. This is the dog with its nose in the muck, burying its bones in the underworld, guardian of the threshold of hell. But the dog is also guardian of faith, keeper of the dogged fidelity of blue. Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky, is known as the Dog Star. This is the home of the alchemical blue dog; the dog of “celestial hue,” of “heavenly origin from the great luminaries.”[xvi] The dog is the familiar spirit of the alchemist; Mephistopheles, who emerges to initiate Faust into the opus, first appears as a dog-spirit.[xvii] The blue dog is necessary for the work. Of all creatures, only the dog has the emotional depth to accompany the alchemist as he descends into the underworld, and there, amidst the shades, to faithfully hound him with whispers of his celestial home.

The blue dog is also the blue flame. A candle burns with a composite fire: a white light, steady and ascendant, sitting atop a darkness that is destructive and consuming, and blue arises at the point of intersection. With fork-tongue flickering, blue is the mediator, the agent of transmutation. Through blue the darkness and the light co-exist within the same flame. Although blue is mournful in descent from the stars, lamenting and lachrymose, the darkness it takes on is a necessary darkness, for in blue the darkness is made visible. In association with blue the darkness ceases to be merely consuming; memories, dreams and intuitions rise from these mysterious depths, bolts from the blue.

“The very first thing I remember in my childhood is a flame, a blue flame jumping off a gas stove,” recounts jazz pioneer Miles Davis, “I remember being shocked… by the suddenness of it… that stove flame is as clear as music in my mind. Everything I believe in started with that moment.”[xviii] Blue is the spark of artistic inspiration, gleaming in the hollow of night. Here is the glint of the imagination that may carry us off into the wild blue yonder. Blue sinks like a stone into the darkness, plumbs its own depths, and resurfaces as creative potential.

To plumb: to explore the depths of. The azure heaven darkened.

Plumb is derived from the Latin plumbum, meaning lead. Lead is blue’s metal. Blei, the German for lead, is rooted in the same etymology as blue.[xix] Astrologically, lead belongs to Saturn (whose nature is to plumb) and it is therefore under the weight of his cold fist that blue acquires the ‘leaden downcast eyes’ of melancholy. Eighteenth century gemmologist Giacento Gimma found the deep melancholy of blue mirrored in Venus, “while the Goat, the Saturnian emblem of Capricorn, is blue’s animal.”[xx] In Venus, blue’s sorrow is embalmed and infused with Eros, and returned as nostalgia, while Capricorn is found exhibiting the immense range and immense patience that belong to blue, in deep doubts carried to high principles. The Goat also reflects blue’s duality of direction (in altus, βαθύς) in the “Capricorn woman [who] is born old and wise and becomes younger with time.”[xxi]

While the duality of Capricorn blue is distinctly Saturnine, it is neither contradictory, nor duplicitous. Saturn’s onerous gifts are illuminated in the tenth century Arabic astro-magical text Picatrix,[xxii] which reads:  “O Master Saturn: Thou, the Cold, the Sterile, the Mournful, the Pernicious… Thou the Sage and Solitary, the Impenetrable; Thou, whose promises are kept; Thou who art weak and weary; Thou, the old and cunning, master of all artifice, deceitful, wise, and judicious…I conjure Thee.”[xxiii] Chronic. Leaden. Slow. As master of burden and contradiction, Saturn weighs heavily on blue, but he does not dominate it. Blue is also shot through with Mercurius (in secret connivance); grasping his silver-quick wings, and with Hermitic light-footedness, blue attains a capacity for renewal that means it is ever rising from the threshold of Saturn’s pit.

These are blue words, and our perception of them must be through the eye of blue vision that belongs to Neptune, the blue planet. Ruler of poets and mystics, misfits and madmen, artists and visionaries, Neptune governs the nervous system, the spinal column, thalamus and pineal gland. In blue physiology we find a ladder (borrowed of Jacob) reaching from the base of the spine into the bridal chamber, a serpent uncoiling, and there, enfolded between hemispheric sheets in chemical copulation, a subtle window opening unto the blue dawn.[xxiv] 

The Neptunium psyche is poetic; the imagination transfused into language, and flowering upon the sixteen-petalled vishuddha, the fifth primary chakra, located in the throat, whose colour is smoky-purple-blue.[xxv] Hindu yogic teaching associates the blue chakra with symbolic communication, and with the transformation of negative energy into creative potential. The vishuddha unbinds words and thoughts from their literal grounding, shedding them of their husk and unloosing them in the air. Redemption in imagination: vishuddha means ‘purification.’

The mind under the sway of vishuddha is blue, and thus illuminated with a poetic consciousness in which “words… are worlds themselves and do not need to gain authenticity through reference. Words sound their own depths of reflection – allusions, alliterations, etymologies, puns, the guises of rhetoric.” This is the mind “sounding itself, sounding its depths, hearing its essential nature as a choir of voices, discordant, antiphonic, responsive, the dead souls in us speaking, ghosts swaying on the family tree, the unborn clustered on the moon, all sounding.”[xxvi] This is the lunatic song sung upon the blue tongue of Neptune.

The writer who works through the vishuddha finds themselves “eating words and listening to them rumbling in the gut,” a process, explains Jeanette Winterson, both physical and intellectual. “The writer has to… feel language, to know it sweat and dry. The writer finds words that are visceral, and when she can eat them, wear them, and enter them like tunnels she discovers the alleged separation between word and meaning between writer and word is theoretical.”[xxvii] Forged in the bowels and spoken in smoke: blue words upon the wind.

Kandinsky equated blue with the sounds of the flute, cello, double bass and organ.[xxviii] For Cezanne, who based his painting technique on “shadow paths and con­tours,” blue held special position within the composition, as it granted entry to “a deeper level of existence.” Cezanne’s painting began in “the visionary shadow,”[xxix] and rose from these intuited contours to the discovery of real objects. He considered blue to be the “deepest shadow colour… the one which supports the composition and is most appropriate for shadows.”[xxx] In Cezanne’s later works the whole composition is awash; there are blue-barked trees and people with blue flesh, all rising from the ever-present shadow. “Blue gives other colours their vibration,” he explains, “so one must bring a certain amount of blue into a painting.”[xxxi] This is a statement of great significance; Cezanne understood the animation of the spectrum and the process of artistic composition to be founded upon a common source: blue are the eyes that open to the polychromatic peacock’s tail.

In their search for the philosopher’s stone, the alchemists evolved a parallel understanding. They named their discovery the caelum, which means “celestial heaven.” The caelum is the “blue tincture,”[xxxii] the “sky-blue fluid of the subtlest consistency.”[xxxiii] Produced by heating a pre-prepared lye in a centrifuge, this is the celestial substance that is the colour of “ciel” or “colour of air.”[xxxiv] Attaining the caelum was a prerequisite to unlocking the opus: just as blue is the agent of animation in Cezanne’s spectrum, so the caelum represents the stage of the alchemical process immediately preceding cauda pavonis, the sudden explosion of polychrome that heralds the emergence of the gold tincture and white light of the stone.[xxxv] Goethe affirms this insight, stating, “The blue of the sky reveals to us the basic law of colour.”[xxxvi] No longer lachrymose, in the caelum blue’s lamenting sigh is transformed into the great breath of Kandinsky’s organ.

True to blue however, caelum has a duel meaning. From it we derive not only celestial (also ceiling, and the French ciel), but also scissor, and incisive. Caelum also means chisel. There is a constellation named ‘the sculptors chisel’ (Cæla Sculptoris) faintly visible in the skies of the southern hemisphere. Discovered by French astronomer Nicolas Louis de Lacaille, he described the constellation as a pair of crossed chisels connected by a ribbon, and introduced it under the name Caelum on his map of the southern stars in 1763.[xxxvii]

The chisel must therefore be a blue tool, and Winterson bears this out. “The gift of a vision and a voice is a more difficult gift than magic beans that grow into magic beanstalks,” she writes. To attain a truly poetic engagement with language, a writer “will have to take the daytime and the night-time to make a chisel of her style… The chisel must be capable of shaping any material however unlikely. It has to leave runnels of great strength and infinite delicacy. In her own hands, the chisel will come to feel light and assured… as she works with it and upon it, it will become the most precise instrument she knows.”[xxxviii]

The writer who grasps the caelum is the alchemist who recognises the imagination as both means and end to the opus. The purpose is the process. The chisel is re-formed at each turn. The writer’s gut then becomes the laboratory of the alchemist. The word is the prima materia, the base metal to be transmutated, as lead into gold. The writer makes himself hermetically sealed, as the alchemical vessel, and turns the heat of mind to the raw material, to soften the word, to dry it of mundane association, and then moisten it in the waters of emotion and imagination. Gradually the work begins, chisel in hand, and is complete only when rising in the gut are “words that are visceral,” words to “enter like tunnels.”

Words like blue.

Blue engaged in a study of its own reflection. In allusion, alliteration, etymology, the petals of the vishuddha open and receptive, and swaying upon the breeze. And on the breeze voices: anima, geist, pneuma, prana; the breath of spirit in the imagination of air. “As the ‘images of all creatures’ are contained in the creative spirit, so all things are imagined or ‘pictured’ in air.”[xxxix] This is the self-expression of the caelum, a method of texture and pattern, of images and poetry, a gathering depth of insight that shines forth only as it veils itself. And the detail of the pattern is movement. Turning in silent dance amidst the smoky-blue petals of the vishuddha is Sadashiva, a composite deity of Shiva and Shakti, depicted in Hindu sacred painting clutching a serpent, a trident, and a chisel.[xl]  

The alchemists’ aim too was poetic, a raid on the inarticulate. As the material was cooked to excessive heat and blackened in the putrefactio, and calcinated and whitened in the albedo, and then excited and yellowed in the cintranitas, so the alchemist began to perceive himself mirroring the transmutations of the metal: in black despair, in lunar reflection, and in sulphurous desire. Only upon attaining the caelum could the significance of this be understood, or could the opus be unlocked. The blue tincture was necessary: “For before the sapphire existed there was no arcanum,” explains Paracelsus.[xli] To attain the caelum was to unbind the mind from literal reference, allowing a purified perception of the stone through the blue lens of the imagination. Only then could the alchemist realise that the alleged separation between physical process and mental perception, between metal and psyche, was theoretical.

This insight moves into focus and the understanding grapples for a foothold, for firm earth in which to ground itself, but to no avail. We are in the air. The caelum is a space of image, the sky of the mythopoeic imagination. Here in the blue firmament the husk of literal reference is rent from the image. This is the abode of the gods, the celestial canvas, mapped with astrological geometry.[xlii] Purified in the caelum, the many inflections of blue – cobalt, zaffre, beryl, sapphire, cyan, azurite, lapis – are chiselled free of Saturn’s plumbing fist, and rise as tributaries to flood the heavens. Blue now lambent, now ethereal. The blue aurora.

Yet never fully loosed of its heritage; never fully whitened. For although the caelum is characterised by the lightness of air and the eternity of the heavens, blue’s inheritance is ever in deep “affinity with black.”[xliii] Blue’s origin is in the chthonic depths, swathed in umbilical shadow, deep in the pit of Tartarus.[xliv] The alchemist Gerhardt Dorn stresses this, stating that the celestial caelum is not formed in the heavens, but is concocted “from an underworld experience,” that, tellingly, is also called “wine.”[xlv]

Amidst the shades of Hades, Dionysus weeps. Tears roll down his cheeks and soak his beard, dripping into the darkness below to form pools that gather at his feet. And his wife Ariadne, who bathes in his waters, comforts him. She sings to him, soothing him, whispering in his ear, and as the god is lulled to slumber she steals a lock of his hair, which she takes into his waters and spins between her fingers to weave a subtle thread.

The thread that may lead us out.

For it is here that we begin: not upon the peaks, but in the vales; not in vision but in bafflement. We begin in cavernous depths, clawing our way along the damp walls, lost in a mist that seeps from cracks in the cool earth. We are born into darkness. 

The darkness is leaden, it shrouds and perplexes. But stumbling amidst the shadows we fall upon a thread, a thin thread whose touch is known to us only in rare moments (perhaps just once in a blue moon) yet whose sense is overwhelming familiarity. The thread is woven through the darkness and of the darkness.[xlvi] Navigating the labyrinthine pit, it leads to the mouth of the cave, to the threshold, and beyond.

Following the thread our eyes grow sharp, and we discover shapes in the darkness, totems marking the way. We dimly recognise a path trodden unnumbered times before; our footprints fall into well-worn grooves, and each footfall is the echo of an echo. Upon the threshold and the heavens dome above us in a fathomless tapestry, veiling, retreating, drawing us after. And beneath us, behind us, within us, Dionysus awakes. Gazing into the pool of his own tears, his eye falls from him and is drawn to the shadowy depths, and as grit is taken into an oyster, secreted and worked upon, it is returned to the surface as a pearl. He smiles. And then we catch glimpse of it: a flower with petals of smoke uncurling. A thread, woven in the underworld, spun in the pit, yet climbing towards the light. A thread unfolding, skyward-bound in subtle spirals, pining towards the imaginal fire ablaze beyond the horizons of reason. Blue is the colour of the soul.



Caelum notes

[i] The Hymns depict a number of the gods as being blue-eyed, particularly Athena. Blue haired gods are an altogether rarer breed, but include the Japanese goddess Amaterasu and the ancient Egyptian deities Amun and Anubis. The description of Dionysus is found in Hymn VII.

[ii] Homer’s peculiar use of colour words (the colour of the sea, sheep, and wine are all given by the same word, for example) has led some scholars to speculate that the ancient Greeks were collectively incapable of perceiving the whole colour spectrum, and suffered from a form of racial colour-blindness (See: Maxwell-Stuart, Studies in Greek Colour Terminology, 1981). The more refined use of certain terms however, including kyaneos, which means ‘dark blue’ (and from which ‘cyan’ is derived) indicates that this is unlikely. Homer was likely using colour words for their symbolic resonance, as much as for their descriptive accuracy.

[iii] Thomas Norton, Ordinal of Alchemy, 1477 (reprinted 1929), II:45. The English word sky is derived from the Old Norse word, sky, which means cloud.

[iv] This principle derives through Plato (“opposites from their opposites” (Phaedo, 71a)) back to Heraclitus. The term was revived by Carl Jung to describe the emergence of unconscious opposites that build up in counterposition to conscious attitudes. See: Carl Jung, Aspects of the Masculine, 1989.

[v] That is to say, sealed with the sign of Hermes, the caduceus, and perhaps inscribed with the Hermitic mantra: “As above, so below.” This phrase has its origins in the ancient Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, which became the foundation text of Hermitic alchemy during the Renaissance. One of the earliest translations into English was completed by Isaac Newton circa 1720. T.S. Eliot echoes the mantra in the epigraph for The Four Quartets, citing Heraclitus’ 60th Fragment: “The way upward and the way downward are the same.” In the third stanza of The Dry Salvages, he (appropriately) has the blue deity Krishna echo the epigraph.

[vi] Cf. Arthur Miller, Deciphering the Cosmic Number: The strange friendship of Wolfgang Pauli and Carl Jung, 2009. In analysing quantum physicist Wolfgang Pauli’s vision of a ‘World Clock,’ Carl Jung affirmed the direction of blue as vertical, his insight being based on interpretation of the blue colour of the vertical disc. According to Jung, “The pulse of the blue circle starts the entire process” (see: Miller, p152).

[vii] Cordon Bleu (French for blue ribbon) is a knight of the ancient order of the St. Esprit (Holy Ghost); so called because of the decoration of a blue ribbon. Blue blood is a direct translation of the Spanish sangre azul, attributed to the nobility of Castile, who claimed never to have intermarried with Moors, Jews, or other races. “Blazonrysignifies chastity, loyalty, fidelity, and a spotless reputation.” See: E. Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898.

[viii] The Adi-Buddha of Vajrayana is the ‘Primordial Buddha.’ The term refers to the self-emanating, self-originating Buddha, present before everything else. He is depicted dark blue in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The Sanskrit word krsna, from which the deity Krishna derives his name, simply means ‘dark-blue.’ Twelfth century mystic Hildegard of Bingen had visions of Christ as a blue figure, recorded in her Scivias as ‘The Man in Sapphire Blue.’

[ix] M. Heidegger, On the Way to Language, 1971, 199. For more see: William H Gass, On Being Blue: A Philosophical Inquiry, 1990.

[x] Archaeologists have unearthed lapis lazuli beads from Neolithic burial-sites dating as far back as 9000 BC, making it one of the oldest known precious stones. It was highly prized in ancient Egyptian society (Cleopatra wore it as eye-shadow), as well as in Babylonian and Assyrian cultures. The Egyptians used it to carve scarabs, representing Khepri, god of rebirth. Similar associations are found in shamanism, though quartz is a more popular crystal. Eliade describes the shamans in Borneo as having blue “light stones” that “reflect whatever happens to the patient’s soul and so reveal where it has strayed.” These stones also “bestow the power to fly” (Mircea Eliade, Shamanism, 1951). The Blue Buddha, particularly prominent in Tibet, is coloured after the lazuli. “The Tibetans valued [the lazuli] above all others, even ahead of gold… those highlanders saw in it the image of the azure sky, and said that hair of their goddess had its colour” ( E.H Schafer. See: A lapis lazuli stone worn around the neck is said to resonate with the throat chakra in a curative fashion: cooling the mind, and heightening both communication skills and visionary aptitudes.

[xi] Cf. Ezekial 10:1 “Then I looked, and, behold, in the firmament that was above the head of the cherubims there appeared over them as it were a sapphire stone, as the appearance of the likeness of a throne.”

[xii] Rupprecht Matthei and Herb Aach, Goethe’s Colour Theory, 1971.

[xiii] Harlots as well as Madonnas are known to be adorned with blue robes: “A blue gown was a dress of ignominy for a harlot in the House of Correction” (E. Cobham Brewe, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. 1898. (See: Mary Magdalene, who suffered the misfortune in 591 of being branded a whore by Pope Gregory the Great (an assertion without Biblical foundation) is often depicted in a blue robe similar to that of Mary, mother of Jesus. In Holy Blood, Holy Grail, Baigent, Leigh, and Lincoln tacitly suggest that a number of perplexing references to ‘blue apples’ (pommes bleues) in connection with the grail legend are coded references to Mary Magdalene as mother of Jesus’ bloodline. The French profanity Sacrebleu also refers to the colour of Mary (mother of Jesus’) robe.

[xiv] Blue ruin is gin, named blue from its tint, and ruin from its effects. Bluebeard was said to possess a key stained with blood. When the stain of the key was rubbed out on one side, it appeared on the opposite side: thus extravagance being overcome will appear in the form of meanness; and friends, over-fond, will become enemies. Blue murder appears to be a play on the French exclamation morbleu, a corruption of Mort de Dieu.

[xv] Contrary to the popular image of Hell as fiery, in Dante’s ninth circle, the inhabitants (who include both Judas and Satan) are frozen in a lake of ice known as Cocytus, with each group encased in ice to progressively greater depths.

[xvi] Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, 1963. 177.

[xvii] Ibid.

[xviii] Miles Davis, Miles: The Autobiography, 1990, 11. Davis’ 1959 Kind of Blue album is cited by many music writers as the best-selling jazz record of all time.

[xix] E. Cobham Brewer, Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1898. For a more detailed etymology of blue, see: Michel Partoureau, Blue: The History of a Color, 2001.

[xx] From G.F. Kunz, The Curious Lore of Precious Stones, 1913, quoted in James Hillman, Alchemical Blue and the Unio Mentalis, 2010. Hillman’s account is the authoritative text expounding the phenemology of blue in relation to alchemy, although he fails to explore the significance of the caelum as chisel.

[xxi] Quote from: A Capricorn Lady,

[xxii] For everything on Saturn, including this quote, Raymond Klibansky, Erwin Panofsky, Fritz Saxl, Saturn and Melancholy, 1964, served as the primary source text. This is the authoritative investigation of Saturn’s onerous characteristics, exhibited with relentless persistence (perhaps until he is blue in the face). The text also expands of lead as the “seed of Saturn.”

[xxiii] Saturn has little patience for light-winged speculation; his leaden fist is inclined rather to drag everything it touches back to the heavy earth, to the literal. Perhaps then it should have come as little surprise, when, midway through typing the excerpt from the Picatrix, my computer suffered a sudden and terminal ‘system error,’ known to computer programmers as the ‘Blue Screen of Death’

(see: and crashed without hope of recovery. Pernicious, indeed.

[xxiv] Thalamus is Latin for ‘inner chamber’ or ‘bridal chamber;’ anatomically it is held within the cerebral cortex, a symmetrical structure that regulates sleep, dreaming and consciousness, and enfolds the pineal at its heart. The pineal gland is commonly called ‘the gateway of consciousness;’ in Treatise of Man (1662) Descartes called it “the seat of the soul.” (Cf. “Blue as out new second Sun.” (Tool, Third Eye, on Ænima, 1996)). For the sleeping serpent, see: Pandit Krishna, Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man, 1967. “Kundalini represents the cosmic vital energy lying dormant in the human body which is coiled round the base of the spine, a little below the sexual organ, like a serpent, fast asleep and closing with her mouth around the aperture of the Sushamna, the hair-like duct rising through the spinal cord to the conscious centre at the top of the head.” The physiology of Neptune is derived from: Liz Greene, The Astrological Neptune, 2000.

[xxv] See: Agehananda Bharati, The Tantric Tradition, 1975.

[xxvi] Hillman’s description of the vishuddha is found in Silver and the White Earth, 2010. Cf. “Metaphor is the dreamwork of language.” Donald Davidson, On Metaphor, 1979.

[xxvii] Jeanette Winterson, A Work of my Own, in Art Objects, 1995. Cf. T.S. Eliot discussing Kubla Khan (an opium-inspired fragment written by Coleridge) in relation to the genesis of the poetic image; quoting The Tempest, he says: “The imagery of that fragment, certainly whatever its origins in Coleridge’s reading, sank to the depths of Coleridge’s feeling, was saturated, transformed there – ‘those are pearls that were his eyes’ – and brought up into daylight again.” (Studies in the Relation of Criticism to Poetry in England, 1933; quoted in J. Hillis Miller, Poets of Reality, 1966).

[xxviii] See: Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art, 1977.

[xxix] James Hillman, Alchemical Blue and the Unio Mentalis, 2010.

[xxx] Kurt Badt, The Art of Cezanne, University of California Press, 1965.

[xxxi] Ibid.

[xxxii] Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, 1963. 703.

[xxxiv] Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, 1963. 478; 691.

[xxxv] Cf. Terrence McKenna, True Hallucinations, 1994, p. 142: “The diffraction of light that occurs in natural phenomena such as rainbows, peacock feathers, certain insects, and the colours that appear on the surfaces of some metals during heating are persistent motifs within a particular stage of the alchemical opus. The cauda pavonis (the peacock’s tail) is the brief stage that heralds the final whitening.” The blue-skinned Krishna is often depicted wearing a peacock-feather crown.

[xxxvi] Goethe, Performing Theory: Wittgenstein and the Trouble with Shakespeare, in Comparative Criticism, 1810. 14. Cf. Irish poet George William Russell (commonly known simply as Æ) recounting a memory of the multi flores from his early childhood: lying on his back in the grass, he remembered a story of a magic sword with a hilt of silver and blade of blue steel. “The word “magic” stirred me, though I knew not what it meant… It lay in memory… until a dozen years later its transcendental significance emerged as a glittering dragon-fly might come out of a dull chrysalis. The harmony of blue and silver at once bewitched me. I murmured to myself “blue and silver! Blue and silver!” And then, the love of colour awakened… one colour after another entered the imagination… This love of colour seemed instinctive to outer nature.” (George William Russell, Song and its Foundations, 1991; quoted in: James Hillman, Alchemical Blue and the Unio Mentalis, 2010).

[xxxviii] Jeanette Winterson, A Work of my Own, in Art Objects, 1995. Cf. David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas, 2004. “As if Art is the What, not the How!”

[xxxix] Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, 1963. 397.

[xl] The serpent here echoes the serpent-entwined caduceus of Hermes, the trident is Neptune’s choice of weapon, while the chisel brings to mind the caelum of the alchemists.

For more on Sadashiva, see:

[xli] Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, 1963. 641.

[xlii] Cf. Stephen M. Barney, The Etymologies of Isidore of Seville, 2006. “The sky (caelum) is so named because, like an engraved (caelatum) vessel, it has the lights of the stars pressed into it, just like engraved figures; for a vessel which glitters with figures that stand out is called caelatus.”

[xliii] Goethe, quoted in Matthei and Aach, Goethe’s Colour Theory, 1971.

[xliv] Cf. H.P. Lovecraft, The Call of Cthulhu, 1928. “There is a sense of spectral whirling through liquid gulfs of infinity, of dizzying rides through reeling universes on a comet’s tail, and of hysterical plunges from the pit to the moon and from the moon back again to the pit, all livened by the cachinnating chorus of the distorted, hilarious elder gods and the green, bat-winged mocking imps of Tartarus.”

[xlv] The caelum was concocted from the “red or white wine of Tartarus,” which was distilled and sublimated until free of all “phlegm,” i.e. from all liquid. The residue was reduced to ashes, and hot water added, to produce “very sharp lye,” which was then poured off the ashes by tilting the vessel. The lye was filtered and evaporated in a glass vessel, leaving a salt that could be dissolved in tartaric water in a centrifuge (the pure separated from the impure) in order to leave a liquid “the colour of the air” floating at the top, this was the caelum. See: Carl Jung, Mysterium Coniunctionis, 1963. 691.

[xlvi] “Hades and Dionysus are the same,” states Heraclitus in the 127th Fragment.



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