XXIX: Murals, etc.

To those who may be receiving one of these post-notifications for the first time: This is not a blog; it’s actually part of a book, and will make little sense to you without knowledge of what has come before—which you can easily obtain, along with a goodly amount of satirical theatre as matters progress, by simply entering ttgftyri.org into your web browser, opening the menu, and starting at page one. J.J.

Scene 3

And while all that is getting underway, Gaim summons his Official Painter and directs him, “Now then, every ten paces along the Temple’s west wing, on both sides, beginning at the Temple’s main entrance and proceeding toward the courtyard, I want you to create a wall-painting or mural celebrating the Great Mother’s various aspects as progressively revealed to people down the Religious Ages.

“That is, those who would enter these sacred precincts seeking an audience with the Divine One or me as her humblest priest should first expect to pay their respects to Old Grandmother—now actually ‘shown’ in her personal realm down under the Tree, at the very bottom of the cavern, accompanied by her fabled Elephant, guarded by her faithful Panther, and so on; while now they might also be allowed to gaze—oh yea, as with their very own eyes—her famous Appearance Before the First Priest, when she explained about natural death; her subsequently Leading of the First Worthy Man to Paradise; and her Ultimate Banishment of the Unworthy. I mean, let people actually witness these things!

“After which, they should come upon her famous daughter the Earth-mother; witness her Presentation of the Red Stone to her own young hero; probably do a couple of pictures separately confirming her annual Regeneration of the Crops and Herds; followed by a five-part series attesting to her seasonal changing from Virgin to Mother to Hag and finally, fearless traveller through the World of Death, before ultimately being rejuvenated in the spring and all that.

“While toward the end, just as the visitor is about to enter the courtyard, they should similarly observe her important sister the Sea-mother, along with her own unique Isle, vigilant Shark, and other marine aides.”

* * *

“And then turning left into the north wing, they should come upon Our Lady of the River: she of the glorious Serpent winding down the Mountain, wonderful Fount, and always busy Stork—don’t forget to include those.

“And then Our Ladies of the Rain, Wind, Lightning, and Thunder; duly accompanied by the Bird, with all its own proud Nest and Egg.

“And then Our Ladies of the Stars, Moon, Sun, and Sky—and of course, the Great Wheel.”

* * *

“While the south wing should focus on the Divine One’s cultural aspects: Our Lady of Agriculture and her own noteworthy daughters of the Corn, Cabbage and Melon, of Cows, Goats and Sheep; on Our Ladies of Commerce, Industry, the Mines; and so forth.”

“And finally,” he directs the other, “the east wing should be devoted to the Divine One’s noblest son, the Lord of Light: to his original instruction of people and indeed ongoing illumination of their world; to his eternal conflict with his older brother and periodic banishment of him to the nether regions; and of course, to his modern inspiring of the Holy Gamopolite Empire—ultimately leading the visitor to this high, vaulted apse containing an important new image of the Great Mother herself.”

Scene 4

And then sending for his Official Stone Carver, Gaim tells him that squarely within that dark, cavernous terminus there should stand a new, giant statue of the Great Mother gazing down in all her glory upon this infant specifically representing her newborn empire —save that both should remain faceless, in the traditional way of such art.

“Let her loom five times the height of an ordinary woman,” he further instructed the man. “And then, portray her in a red gown—if only because that’s been her color all the way back to the beginning of these things—but since she’s still most commonly associated with the earth, you might cover it with a blue cape, like the sky.

“Moreover, she should stand before a field of stars—with her outstretched hands bearing the waxing and waning lunar crescents and her head framed against the radiant solar disc—while a bird perched on her shoulder should inform her of all that it has seen on its last flight.

“Oh, and make sure that you include this serpent—say, a giant python—which should be shown as poised protectively at her side.

“Nor should you fail to include such up-and-coming Animal-aspects as the Cow, Nanny, and Ewe; who should seem most accepting of the Child now lying ever so nakedly before them—represesenting as it will not only her newfangled civilization, but their own Calf, Kid, and Lamb as important forerunners and now hopefully strong supporters of all that!”

So far, we haven’t associated any of this with the Judeo-Christian tradition; but here would seem the place to start, since the latter half of that duo has never been shy about rendering its own religious figures, stories, and legends in graven images and/or paintings.

We might begin with some stories from the Old Testament’, as commissioned by the Roman Catholic Church or some of its wealthier laity back during Renaissance times.


1. Creation of Adam, by Michelangelo, ca. 1510
Sistine Chapel, Rome

Not to be confused with some historical ‘photograph’, of course; but it does have a way of reinforcing one’s teaching that something like that really happened—you know?

While as for what the Creator and Adam might have actually looked like, at this point—with one eye ahead on the paintings that we’re going to be confronting at the end of all this—we must focus clearly on the fact that such details necessarily had to be left to the artist’s imagination. Just sayin’.

2. Temptation of Eve, by Michelangelo, ca. 1510
Sistine Chapel, Rome

Note the human-headed serpent. Despite what we said about some figures having to be created from whole cloth by the artist, Michelangelo didn’t exactly invent that motif; he only carried it forward, since by his day painters all over Europe had been depicting the serpent like that for more than two hundred years.

It had long been an ‘artistic convention’, then —more or less adhered to by everyone who might ever have been commissioned to depict that scene, and of course approved by those who’d actually commissioned, or hired them.

Artistic convention. No concept will be of more importance to us going forward.

A few more examples:

3. Temptation of Eve, by Titian, ca. 1550
Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid
4. The Fall of Man, by Hugo van der Goes, late 15th century
Kunsthistorisch Museum, Vienna
5. Adam and Eve, by Raphael, ca. 1510
Ceiling panel, Palazzo Apostolico, Rome
6. Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Eden, by Masaccio, ca. 1425
Brancacci Chapel, Florence

And of course in our own tale, it had come to pass that Gaim had wanted a mural in his Temple depicting his namesake receiving the Red Stone from the Earth-mother—if only because it would help confirm the belief of many who came upon it afterward that this had been a real, historic event!

Maybe as in . . .

7. Moses Receiving the Tablets, by Lorenzo Ghiberti, 1425
Baptistry of St. John. Florence

Or . . .

8. Moses Parting the Red Sea
Modern Bible illustration

No further comment at this point.


Photo Credits

1: History https://www.history.com/news/7-things-you-may-not-know-about-the-sistine-chapel

2: Atlas Obscura https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/michelangelos-sistine-chapel-figs

3: Museum Nacional del Prado https://www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/adam-and-eve/e0ca4331-fb89-47a7-9ba0-be0ece23426b

4: Wikipedia https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vienna_Diptych

5: Raphael http://www.raphael-sanzio.com/adam-and-eve/

6: The Museums of Florence http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/Brancacci_chapel.html

7: Digital-images http://www.digital-images.net/Gallery/Scenic/Florence/Duomo/Baptistry/baptistry.html

8: Bible Study Tools https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-stories/crossing-the-red-sea-bible-story.html

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