"Nothingness is the sister of possibility. It makes an urgent space for that which is new, surprising, and unexpected. When you feel nothingness and emptiness gnawing at your life, there is no need to despair. This is a call from your soul, awakening your life to new possibilities." John O'Donohue in Anam Cara
"And looking up, they saw that the stone was rolled back—it was very large." Mark 16:4
"The concept of an empty grave, however, seems to point further. It could be a question here of something so concealed and invisible that it is as if it had never existed at all, something which did not merely need to be uncovered but which to some extent had to come into existence first. This then would be that other life…not the natural, bound-to-nature life of the body but the life of the inner man, transcending nature, that encompassing personality which Jung has called the Self. In the dreams and fantasy pictures of modern man this hidden, invisible something is occasionally depicted as a meaningful and numinous void." The Grail Legend pp132-133
Just before waking on January 12, 1987, I dreamt of a golden cup for which I achingly reached. It shown very brightly. I woke to the light of the sun shining through the window. Two days later, I sketched this picture of my dream. It was the first time I tried to capture a dream in a drawing, and the first time as an adult that I remembered and recorded a dream of something circular. When I started creating circular drawings in 1995, the twelfth was a depiction of this grail dream. In this picture, however, the golden cup was shown within reach—a pair of hands encompass it, but without touching it. This dream was also the first of a series of dreams in which cups or bowls figure prominently.
I came across various descriptions and pictures of this bowl during the summer of 2017. Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz mention it in The Grail Legend which led me in turn to Hans Leisegang's article "The Mystery of the Serpent" in The Mysteries edited by Joseph Campbell and to R. Delbrueck and W. Vollgraff's "An Orphic Bowl" in Volume LIV of The Journal of Hellenic Studies. The bowl struck me as mandalic with it's sixteen human figures arranged in a circle around the center of the bowl.
I eventually discovered that the outside of the bowl was decorated with columns, and in seeing this I felt a profound association with my mandala drawings that included columns. Here was a mandala in the shape of a bowl, a container. And I began to see the design of some of my mandalas as a container—a grail.
One of these is the Aurora Consurgens Mandala below, drawn on September 22, 2007.
On July 18, 2017 I completed the drawing below which I entitled The Grail Mandala. I had come full circle to the design of The Quatrefoil Mandala, to my original dream of the grail as a container (cup), and to the theme of the void and nothingness.
If you would like to read some more about the path that led to The Grail Mandala, start here.
I was struck by Emma Jung and Marie-Louise von Franz words, "A nothingness, a void, is therefore the inescapable condition for the emergence of the Self," in The Grail Legend.
My friend Carol wrote, "As this amazing Orphic bowl was an inspiration, it occurs to me that you have been inspired by the Grail of the Poets. The circle of figures in the bowl was the 'grievous circle' which we endeavor to leave. Your mandala seems to give an answer—through the void."
I made a few notes in my journal concerning the elements of the mandala:
The four rainbows: cauda pavonis
The green doors and wall: benedicta viriditas (blessed greenness)
The quatrefoil: four shapes the numinous void
The rays: the acausal stochastic emanations of the Self (synchronicity, the four pearls of wisdom)
Each of the double doors (marriages) seems to form a gestalt with the two flanking columns. The columns I associate with eight men and eight women—this comes somewhat from the orphic bowl with its sixteen figures (although in that case nine young women, four older men, three younger men 9-4-3). The doors in the cardinal directions I associate with the circles converging from the four directions, the doors in the ordinal directions I associate with the emanating rays. But I imagine the doors as hinged so they swing both inwards and outwards. Couples enter side by side. Here the exterior arcade and the interior figures of the bowl are combined in the colonnade and doors.
The gold ring represents my dream image of the refining crucible which produced pure gold (October 6, 1995).
The covered way around the plaza of Pantapolis (the city that has everything one needs) divided into four quarters in the alchemical colors, nigredo, albedo, rubedo, citrinitas.