Two paintings by Aboriginal artists, collected in Wally Caruana’s Aboriginal Art.

Paddy Jupurrurla Nelson, Paddy Japaljarri Sims, and Larry Jungarrayi Spencer, Yanjilypiri Jukurrpa (Star Dreaming), 1985 (f109).

“The Australian deserts appears empty and inhospitable to those who do not know them, but to the Aboriginal groups who inhabit these areas, the lands created by their ancestors and infused with their powers are places rich in spiritual meaning and physical sustenance.

“Geographically, the desert includes mountain ranges and spectacular rock-formations, grassy plains, strands and eucalypt and mulga trees, lakes, salt pans, sandhills, and stretches of stony country occasionally broken by seasonal watercourses and rivers and punctuated by rare permanent rockholes, springs, waterholes and soakages… Across this landscape spreads a web of ancestral paths travelled by the supernatural beings on their epic journeys of creation in the Jukurrpa or Dreaming, linking the topography firmly to the social order of the people” (p97).

“The basic elements of the pictorial art are limited in number but broad in meaning… Characteristic of the range of conventional designs and icons are those denoting place or site, and those indicating paths or movement. Concentric circles may denote a site, a camp, a waterhole or a fire. In ceremony, the concentric circle provides the means for the ancestral power which lies within the earth to surface and go back into the ground. Meandering and straight lines may indicate lightening or water courses, or they may describe the paths of ancestors and supernatural beings. Tracks of animals and humans are also part of the lexicon of desert imagery. U-shapes usually represent settled people or breasts, while arcs may be boomerangs or wind-breaks, and short straight lines or bars are often spears and digging sticks. Fields of dots can indicate sparks, fire, burnt ground, smoke, clouds, rain, and other phenomena.

“The interpretations of these designs are multiple and simultaneous, and depend on the viewer’s ritual knowledge of a site and the associated Dreaming. The meanings are elaborated and enhanced by the various combinations or juxtapositions of designs in the paintings, and also by the social and cultural contexts within which they operate — whether for ceremony or public domain, for instance. The combinations of designs allow for endless depth of meaning, and artists in decribing their work distinguish between those meanings that are indented for public revelations and those which are not, and provide the appropriate level of interpretation” (p98-99).

Mick Namarari Tjapaltjarri, Bandicoot Dreaming, 1991 (f98).

“It is by the acquisition of knowledge, not material possessions, that one attains status in Aboriginal culture. Art is an expression of knowledge, and hence a statement of authority. Through the use of ancestrally inherited designs, artists assert their identity, and their rights and responsibilities. They also define the relationships between individuals and groups, and affirm their connections to the land and the Dreaming” (p14-15).

“As a statement of authority, the aesthetic in art is often articulated in terms of ritual knowledge. Through art, individuals express their authority and knowledge of a subject, the land and the Dreaming, and artists will use their authority to introduce change and innovation” (p16).

“In ritual, paintings… are not intended to be static images requiring studied contemplation. Rather, since designs embody the power of supernatural beings, they are intended to be sensed more than viewed” (p59-60).

An illustration of a Pharaonic tableau by Lucie Lamy from R. A. Schwaller de Lubicz‘s Symbol and the Symbolic (also see previous posts).

Seth, Master of the South, and Horus, Master of the North, the perpetual antagonists. Both of their heads emerge from a single body that stands on two horizontal bows evoking the energy potential that can make manifest the two inverse forces through the stimulation of the passage of Re (fig3).

Writes Schwaller de Lubicz, “Every circle, as a circular movement, has a center. This center controls this continuous and regular curve, which is closed; it is attractive, just as the circumference is repellent (centrifugal). This center is an abstract power which rules the phenomenon of circular movement. Two centers make an elliptical (or assimilated) movement if the curve is closed. If the curve is not closed but is superimposed, the center beomes a line or figure, horizontal for a spiral, vertical for a helicoidal curve, etc.

“The center controls; it is the will of the figure. Three axes of equal length, intersecting at 90°, are the will of the cube. The form of movement and the form of the Euclidian volume are in the center and in its radiation.

“I say that the will of a rotating sphere is the magnetic axis, and its equator is the centrifugal electrical effect. On the other hand, every magnetic effect is contradicting will, which produces the dilating, equatorial electrical effect. Inversely, every circlular electrical current provokes the magnetic axial effect. Will is esoteric; effect is exoteric.

“But where, then, is the will of the ‘container,’ the non-Euclidean volume?

Its will is the seed, that is, the specification of the ‘contents,’ hence a genesis — that is, Time, for Time is none other than genesis. Genesis appears to us as Time.

“Now, all will of movement and of form is a specification of Energy. Will is thus identified with the seed, as the specifier, and, as genesis, appears as Time or duration.

“The seed ordains the volume, that is, Space; the genesis of this Space ordains Time. Will is what Lao-Tzu calls ‘the empty hub of the wheel.’

“The Absolute Will of the Origin includes all specifications.

“Everything that is naturally specified is a symbol and the expression of a will, hence of a specifying seed of non-objectifiable Energy: the Container, the non-polarized Sprit-substance. The specifying Will, the ‘Fire’ of the seed, was called the ‘odor’ by ancient Egyptians — the ‘odor’ of the Neter, (that is, in an esoteric sense, that which is emanated by the Neter like an ejaculated seed).

“The contained will must always be sought in the symbol, when the symbol is selected for an esoteric teaching. The character of this Will is that which will always compel Spirit — non-polarized Energy — to define itself in Time and Space, hence in the form of the symbol. This is the ‘magical’ meaning of the symbol. With regard to Spirit, this ‘magic’ operates like the Platonic Idea, just as rhythm acts on our will of movement; we obey despite and at odds with everything, even when we do not give in” (p69-70).