Curriculum

This is a broad summary to the curriculum. More detail can be found on specific workshops, seminars and courses.

In the transmission of craft and the stimulation of symbolic intelligence, we can propose that two wings are required for flight – the study of the primordial forms transmitted through tradition – and the vital and creative capacity that works with spontaneity and expression.

Techne & Psyche

The curriculum attempts to balance Techne and Psyche. Techne refers to our tools, craft, techniques, the quantifiable aspect of our study. And Psyche refers to the study of symbolism, the Mundus Imaginalis (3), or ‘world of imaging’.  The study therefore involves understanding physical material and methods such as ‘old master techniques’, along with developing ‘artistic intellect’ – symbolism, inspiration, imagination, and diverse ways of seeing and channelling creative energy.

Composition – Harmony & Proportion

The harmonious relationship of parts within the whole, and to the whole, symbolises the relationship of ourselves to the Universe. To be concerned with harmonious creation, be it architectural, artistic, musical, or even agricultural, is a natural consequence of awareness of our harmonious relationship with metaphysical reality or God.

Sacred Geometry

Sacred geometry ascribes symbolic and sacred meanings to certain geometric shapes and certain geometric proportions. It is associated with the belief that a god is the geometer of the world. Sacred geometry has been used in the design and construction of religious structures such as churches, temples, mosques, religious monuments, altars, and tabernacles since time immemorial.

Corbels, domes and pillars, honeycomb architecture that interplays form and space
Persian corbels

The concepts of harmonious sacred geometry also apply to sacred groves, village greens, and holy wells, and the creation of religious art.

“The fairest of bonds is the that which effects the closest unity between itself and to that which it is combining; and this is best done by a continued geometrical proportion”

(Timeus,4 Plato)

Armature & Yantra

Armature refers to the wire framework upon which clay may be sculpted – like the skeleton of a body, it is covered but vital to structure. It is also the term given to geometric organisational layouts underpinning painted compositions.

Within the 2D rectangle, the most common space in which painting occurs, an armature may be harmoniously composed via the Harmonic Rectangle and other systems of ratio. The harmony attributed to the balance of compositional elements in Western traditional art relates it somewhat to the Indian systems of Yantra, sacred diagrams mainly from the Tantric traditions. They are used to imbue harmony in temples or at home; as an aid in meditation.

Shri Yantra

Disegno

The Prime of Styles

An important lineage holder of contemporary sacred art, the Viennese artist Ernst Fuchs, speaks elusively of “a secret art whose traces I have discovered with almost all people and cultures, but also in nature itself, there where the primeval world appears.” The nucleus of this secret art is a shared grammar, ‘ein verschollener Stil’, which both distinguishes the sacred artist from their contemporaries and betrays their ancestry. In the book ‘Architectural Caelestis’, Fuchs traces the sacred grammar through modern history, finding its image in painting, architecture, sculpture.

Ernst Fuchs the Triumph of Christ
Ernst Fuchs

This primordial style rings a fundamental tone, through all the treasures, temples, sanctums and icons that have been wrought from the hands of man. Throughout such a diversity, such a wide array of varying cultures and cosmologies, we find the ‘hidden prime’, a secret grammar expressing itself through the icons of the divine, through the houses we have built for the divine, the geometries through which we have represented the divine.


Symbolism

The Mundus Imaginalis

“This world of Imagination is the World of Eternity it is the Divine bosom into which we shall all go after the death of the Vegetated body This World is Infinite & Eternal whereas the world of Generation or Vegetation is Finite & [for a small moment] Temporal There Exist in that Eternal World the Permanent Realities of Every Thing which we see are reflected in this Vegetable Glass of Nature”

William Blake

A ‘work of art’ can express something of the soul of the artist and thus becomes an vessel for a deeper order of reality.

In conscious symbolism, images are worked with to connect directly with intuitive understanding. The idea of sympathetic resonance as a way of uniting like with like is an ancient one, and takes us deep into the heart of metaphysics.

Sacred art occupies a inbetween zone where the Sophia Transcendis, the purely spiritual or transcendent wisdom (which we can in no ordinary way contain in ordinary quantitative rationality) represents or veils itself through the things of the natural or sensory world. Thus art can hone our attention toward the Source.

William Blake

Visionary art, on its deeper level is a depiction of wisdoms and understandings – it is a means to synthesise the aspects of our world into meaningful gestalts or integrated wholenesses, and ultimately to see deeper into the world, beyond appearance. The distinction between perception and understanding is dissolved in the state of the ‘seer’.

Sacred art is made as a vehicle for spiritual presences, it is made at one and the same time for God, for angels and for man; profane art on the other hand exists only for man and by that very fact betrays him.”

Frithjof Schuon

The scholar of religion and myth, Henri Corbin, coined the term ‘Imaginal’ to distinguish the merely imaginary from the higher faculty of inner vision (vision also understood in terms of ‘understanding and wisdom). He wrote that for many mystical cultures, the Imaginal, the mundus imaginalis 1, is a world of symbol, an ‘alam i-malakut’, a world of vision, a world of forms and images… a world presenting all the richness and diversity of the sensible world but in a spiritual state. It is “the celestial Earth, present to the secret nostalgia in men’s hearts” and insinuated in various forms in the worlds great myths and stories.

The mundus imaginalis correlates to principalities and idealist forms that exist completely beyond the world of appearances.

The visible world was made to correspond to the world invisible and there is nothing in this world but is a symbol of something in that other world.”

Al Ghazzali

This is the tibetan buddhist ‘bardo’, or the “intermediate world” in the neoplatonic cosmos of emanation from spirit to matter, where spirit is given a perceptible form through an image, and matter loses the density of embodiment and is “seen through” to its immaterial essence. This is the place revealed through symbolic images and perceived by the active imagination.

“It is a world whose ontological level is above the world of the senses and below the pure intelligible world; it is more immaterial than the former and less immaterial than the latter.  Upon it (the Mundus Imaginalis) depends both the validity of visionary accounts that perceive and relate “events in Heaven” and the validity of dreams, symbolic rituals, the reality of places formed by intense meditation, the reality of inspired imaginative visions, cosmogonies and theogonies, and thus, in the first place, the truth of the spiritual sense perceived in the imaginative data of prophetic revelations. “

Henri Corbin

Footnotes

1.
hieratic
hi·er·at·ic (hī′ə-răt′ĭk, hī-răt′-) adj.
1. Of or associated with sacred persons or offices; sacerdotal.
2. Constituting or relating to a simplified cursive style of Egyptian hieroglyphics, used in both sacred and secular writings.
3. Extremely formal or stylized, as in a work of art.
[From hieros, holy; see eis- in Indo-European roots.]

1 Mundus imaginalis
Designates the psychic space in which the “super-sensible” reality of dreams, theophanies and spiritual beings are manifested, in a visionary sense, to the individual.