MYSTICISM, MYTHOLOGY AND MAGIC IN THE ART WORLD
In spite of religion being the ruling subject matter of art for many centuries, magic and mysticism have long been interwoven in a dark curtain that hangs over a large segment of the art world. The whole world is alive and filled with soul, whether light or dark. “Each material form may be thought of as attracting an appropriate soul, as firewood treated with sulphur draws flame.” While there is no historical or scientific evidence for the legitimacy of séances, magic or communication with the deceased, in D.H. Rawcliffe’s book Occult and Supernatural Phenomena, he reminds us of the importance of hallucinations and other fantastical experiences of the subconscious. These often provide strange and impressive experiences, interpreted as supernatural in origin. As we study art, we can only begin to wonder what spirits might have visited the great masters, any hallucinations they might have experienced, and how their paintings were influenced by the dark corridors of their subconscious.
Using Communication with Spirits to Communicate with the Masses
The term occult means ‘knowledge of the hidden’, as opposed to knowledge of what is measurable, or scientific. These beliefs of magic, astrology, alchemy and other supernatural studies have been in practice as far as recorded human history goes. Primitives believed external manifestations of fearful and capricious spirits must be supplicated, and so a caveman would record his belief system on his walls as a daily reminder of his dependence upon these unseen forces. His superstitions and expectations led him to illusory interpretations of natural events. Thus as his mental and artistic developments advanced, his spirits became gods, then...
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... in witchcraft, this revisits the medieval and unfounded views on witches perpetuated by the Spanish Inquisition that we see in his earlier works.
It is almost hard to deny the existence and presence of spirits, good or evil, when studying art and literary theory. Do these spirits stand as an independent force completely separate from our imagination, or is ‘evil spirit’ simply a pseudonym given to the darker layers of the subconscious that some artists are not afraid to utilize in order to create shocking, however powerful images and statements? These images and ideas may be at times disquieting, yet they are still relatable since we as humans all have those dreary, somber places within ourselves. The reason that these might make us as the viewer feel uncomfortable is because not everyone is prepared to go down those dark and ominous hallways of our minds.
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