vas Hermetis: 1, 2 3 each 4'x6" encaustic on panel ©2009 Janice Mason Steeves
I've named this series, vas Hermetis, after the Alchemical term for the symbolic Grail, a universal vessel of transformation. I'm reading two books at the same time right now. One is The Grail Legend by Emma Jung and Marie Louise Von Franz. They say that, "in nearly all mythologies there is a miraculous vessel. Sometimes it dispenses youth and life, at other times it possesses thee power of healing, and occasionally, as with the mead cauldron of the Nordic Ymir, inspiring strength and wisdom are to be found in it. Often, especially as a cooking pot, it effects transformations; by this attribute it achieved exceptional renown as the vas Hermetis of alchemy." From the Jungian school of psychology, these two women present this legend as a living myth that is profoundly relevant to modern life.
The other book I'm reading is The Demon and the Angel, Searching for the Source of Artistic Inspiration by Edward Hirsch. Hirsch writes about the concept of duende, "that mysterious, highly potent power of creativity that results in a work of art"....and describes writers that 'wrestle with darkness" such as Federico Garcia Lorca, Yeats, Emerson, Blake, T.S.Eliot and painters like Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko and Robert Motherwell, among others.
"Yeats", says Hirsh, "was powerfully attracted to the notion that, as he expressed it when writing about Shakespeare, the Greeks 'considered that myths are the activities of the Daimons, and that the Daimons shape our characters and our lives.' He fancied the idea that for each of us there existed one archetypal story, a single explanatory myth, which, if we but only understood it, would clarify all that we said and did and thought."
These paintings will be available at Linda Lando Fine Art in Vancouver at the end of November.