|Still Life with a Salamander - digital - 2005, 2016|
"Eye of newt, and toe of frog,
Wool of bat, and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork, and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg, and howlet's wing,--
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble."
"The occult world is the hidden world. But what is it hidden from? Well, the occultists themselves usually insist that the world with which they themselves are familiar is hidden from ordinary vision. Most occultists will say that, while it is quite possible for anyone to see this hidden realm, special preparation is usually needed. The majority of people are quite content to pass their lives immersed in the ordinary world of time and space, oblivious to the fact that it is a world interpenetrated by other worlds in which there is a different time and a different space.
The whole range of occult symbols which have come down to us from the remote past is concerned with giving us information about the nature of this different time and space which is hidden from ordinary sight. How is it possible for a hidden world, or an invisible realm, to be represented in ordinary pictures? Imagine, for example, something we have already mentioned, such as the flames which are used to denote the spiritual realm. When an ordinary person looks at a fire, he sees flames leaping upwards. He probably knows that the flames are fed by oxygen from the air, and that what he is seeing is an incandescent gas. Now, when an occultist or an initiate looks with especially sensitised eyes towards the flames of a fire, he does not see only incandescent gases. He sees a sort of life force which is directly linked with the power of the Sun; he also sees that the fire is animated (like all earthly things) by a special soul-being. Such a soul-being is called by modern occultists a ‘salamander’."
- Quote by Fred Gettings from his Secret Symbolism in Occult Art (1987), found in the online article Salamander as soul-being and hieroglyph of fire.
That being said, when it comes to striking a balance between the four modes of existence, some of us are more flawed than others. In a less complicated world, of course - the superficial world we find on television... glued together by artifice, hype, rhetoric, and generated by meaningless surveys, erroneous statistics, branding and the "common denominator" - any physical or emotional flaw can be fixed by a good diet, a physician, the right variety of potion or powder, or a good pair of running shoes. And, if all of that fails, there's always a dependable life insurance plan. But, in the real world, keeping heart, mind, body and soul functioning together in any sort of optimal way is another story and it rarely ends happily. And, for the artist, the "occultist," the solitary outsider, the unhappy ending scenario is a palpable thing looming cloud-like over the horizon every single day. Poverty is the most imminent threat, but the fear of madness is never far behind...