Updated: Nov 17, 2019
I had a "THING" about crowns when I was about this age. I had a brown glass pill bottle that I kept secreted in my nightstand drawer. I collected all kinds of tiny jeweled crowns from decorative buttons to costume jewelry, brooches, earrings, everything crowns. I felt it was imperative that I had these on hand. They gave me great joy and filled me with awe, wonder and mystery. (If I had had a crown like the one pictured above, I would have swooned in rapture)
I grew up and some 35+ years later, in 2000, when I arrived in Berkeley, California to the Transformative Arts & Consciousness program, I had been studying for some years this question, "What is Evil?" This undertaking, led naturally to "What is Good?" That question led to many others, but then this question "What happens when the physical body becomes enlightened?" became a watershed question that changed my life and artistic focus.
Anyone who loves research, will understand how a question can lead one on a long convoluted journey opening many doors that lead hither and yon. All over the world, people who have goodness all the way in to the bone, so to speak, have come to be known by many names such as the: Saints, Righteous, Virtuous, Angelic, Pure, Devout, Innocent, Sinless, Good, Spiritual, Religious, Pious and many more. Saints many times are depicted with halos, symbols of their spiritual purity. Kings and queens and other lordly folk wore crowns as symbols of power and authority. Priests wear sheaths that cover the body, and in ancient days these were embedded with jewels and stones that helps raise the vibration of the officiant when in ritual regalia to spiritual heights.
Czech: Crown of Saint Wenceslas - 1347. Unlike many other European Royal treasures, the St. Wenceslas Crown is not displayed publicly, only a replica is shown. Along with the other Bohemian Crown jewels, it is kept in a chamber within St. Vitus Cathedral
Holy Roman Empire Crown - Perhaps style that Henry the 8th wore. Back in the day, what we now call "Costume Design," was daily wear. The more wealth and status you had the more this was reflected in your garments. But let's suppose that there is a lingering knowledge of gems, minerals and their properties of protection, amplifications, connections and resonance with higher realities, or other states of consciousness. This is a working hypothesis I have had for years, and the more I learn about cross cultural modalities and sacred arts, the more it seems to be apparent that this was the way it was in the beginnings.
For instance let's take another look at the crown above; crown with images of Christ and Fishes, embellished with sapphires (?), pearls, emeralds and amethysts encrusted in gold, gold and more gold. It has an arch that connects the crown, so if we use the hypothesis then this crown setting around one's head will help "lift" the wearer into the realm where Christ dwells. This would be of great benefit when having to make deep decisions, supporting one in "not I, but Christ in me" resolutions. Now many of us have heard of the "crown" chakra. So wearing a circle of rare jewels around one's head could activate higher vibrations or resonance of consciousness.
Take a look at the apparel of William and Mary 1689 co-regents of England. In her gown almost everything is embellished with gems, diamonds, pearls, fur, (real!) gold threaded embroidery, hand-made lace and he has the Globe and the Staff. He as the "King" regal and with utmost authority is rigged out in pure sumptuous gold on green field to match "Her" majesty. He has a mantle of ermine fur, large embossed tassels of gold, and mantle is woven gold velvet. They were walking amplifiers.
Cate Blanchett in copy of Queen Elizabeth Gown, Ruff and Crown Photo: Vogue
Now not to get too far off track, but if you spend anytime looking at the worlds Crown Jewels, and the drenched in gold Art through the ages, you might just get bit by the gold and jewel bug as I did. You might be asking, where is she going with this? Yes...dear reader, let me get back on topic. It became apparent over the many years studying with indigenous shamans, and the mystery traditions, that regalia, color, pattern, fabrics, weaves, gems and jewels, gold and silver, copper and iron the earth's treasures were used to create "pictures" of power or imaginations of the folk soul. Rudolf Steiner states that folk costumes were trying to show through the use of color, shape and size the area in the astral devachanic world where that folk soul dwelled. Like a topography map, fabric, color, jewels, pattern and symbols could be described as maps of higher regions. This is something that all indigenous cultures know as it's inherent in the culture. Amazing yes?
A Mexican man wearing a pre-hispanic ceremonial regalia performs in Quintana Roo State, Mexico, during preparations for the celebration of the end of the Mayan “long count” calendar and the beginning of a new era. Photo: AFP
Tibetan Folk Soul Ceremonial Wear Photo: Flicker
Mongolian Shaman Ceremonial Wear
In researching this question of, "What is Good" I read many books in cross-cultural traditions on people who have been enlightened and what it does to the physical body. Many people who attain enlightenment, when they die, their bodies are "incorruptible" and there is no deterioration, and the body can smell of attar of roses! What is happening here? This defies the law of science and physics, it challenges the catholic church over the centuries. Those who were "heretics" were burned at the stake, one way of avoiding a body smelling of roses after decapitation, right?
After being drenched in gold and jewels during this research, I wanted to create something with my own two hands about "Goodness." Bodies of Goodness. But I was in art school and had very little money. So I turned to fabrics and the worlds Crown Jewels. I learned how to print small crowns, orbs, hands and feet on canvas and I made Altar Icons, soft cloth dolls made with prayers, bundles of cleansed and prayed over crystals inside the bodies. I was in heaven in my studio. Just like designing a dress, I would cut the shapes (like bowling pins) and start cutting fabrics, sheers, lace, over-lays, and pin them to the base, then pin them up on the wall to view. Sometimes I had 7-10 designs in various stages, some just a key note others fully rendered. Then redesign if necessary and sew them together. I sold almost everything I made. This was before I had a digital camera or knew the social media importance of "documenting" everything. So the images below are some that I kept for my personal collection.
I hope you can take some time to drop into "Seeing" these beauties and ride along with these brief notes on creativity of goodness. The last two 3D Altar Icons were dolls that were thrown away and found at thrift store/garage sales. Staying with the same focus, the dolls went through a re-birth and "upcycled" as artist's now call it.
Nonetheless, I had to work in Gold! So I invested in a small drill with many tiny drill bits. Thrifting in Berkeley is a treat! I bought anything metal and gold. If it wasn't gold, I bought gold non-toxic spray paint; lamps, crosses, costume jewelry, incense burners, candles, lanterns, boxes, rods, parts of stuff until I had a collection I could work with.Of course studying what happens to the human body via goodness, led to studying the Christ mystery and various Stigmata presentations led to more questions. What happened to the physical body of the Christ from the baptism to Golgotha? What happened during the journey to Hell in the center of earth? What kind of supersensible body was the resurrected Body of Christ? How was it transfigured? And as an artist when I am trying to enter into study and research about something, I pick up tools, paints pencils and drills and make art with intention. The end result is not the point, it's the Making, the Journey, the transubstantiation of my soul that is the wrought work. But when a piece is completed, if I have done my job correctly, then the piece is an anchor, an echo, a point of power, a resonance chamber carrying that content.
Monstrance of Sophia Beeswax Figure, Christ off a cross, incense burner containers, candle stick holders, light fixture, paper roses, metal wings, pearls set in gold bands.
Mary Altar Jewelry Box, Lamp, Gold Figurine
Michael Icon Gold Metal bas-relief with Gems!! (beads), gold frame has 4 handmade rondels with Mary & Christ & MIchael.
Christ Riding on winged Bird on Lampost (post not shown)
Sophia Orb made from pieces of lamp, crystals, glass and ox bone face in pilgrims shell and gold cross
After creating the Altar Icons, I was going back through a Dream Journal and discovered a precognitive dream about making them I had about seven months before. In the dream I am viewing beautiful colorful forms, they are filled with devotion, ardor and purity. They are so vibrant with joy that they scintillate etherically. I am in deep wonder and awe at viewing these sculptural forms. When I wake I am filled with delight. Even now, in retrospect, these material altar icons that I made, may be beautiful but not as beautiful as the vision of what I saw in the dream space, what I believe are their essence... Love. I loved every single minute. James Hillman, the noted Jungian author, believed one of the greatest of the mysteries is the question of character and destiny. In his bestseller The Soul's Code, he proposed that our calling in life is inborn and that it's our mission in life to realize its imperatives. He called it the "acorn theory" — the idea that our lives are formed by a particular image, just as the oak's destiny is contained in the tiny acorn. And in the book he gives biographies of individuals and how that picture of their destiny shows up in childhood.
At no time writing that dream snippet down, did I suspect that I would be the author of those designs! I had forgotten the etheric-vision premonition or future dream or prescience or far-seeing event. Rudolf Steiner tells us over and over that Etheric Vision -the two streams of time -the future and Past meet in the Now - that we call a precognitive event, Steiner calls "Karma Arising." So as it turns out these images that were to be so important for my life, appeared in my youth as an imperative to collect jewels and crowns. I would be needing them!