11/27/10

The Angels Part III A Personal Story, Additional Images, etc.



The Angels Part III   
A Personal Story, Additional Images, etc.
Photographs Inspired by the Art of Paul Klee &
The Writings of Henry Corbin and Tom Cheetham


   Fig. 1  The Angels Part III   The "Fall Upwards," A Personal Story      


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The angelic function of beings is to make possible the individuation and the incarnation
 of each of us.  To be able to perceive the iconic face of all creatures, to see their 
angelic countenance, requires an opening that simultaneously brings us 
closer to the Angel, to other people, and to ourselves.  [Corbin   
challenges us] to see with eyes of fire, to exercise 
 the lumen, the gaze of love, in an act of
perception at once human and 
angelic that reveals
 iconic flesh 
 as the the threshold between the human and the divine.  
Tom Cheetham:  After Prophesy



A Personal Visionary Story
The "Fall Upwards"


Introduction
My visionary story takes place in Vermont, near Brattleboro.  My wife Gloria and I had traveled there from Canandaigua, NY for a three day family gathering in mid August, 2014.  We stopped at the Albany airport on the way to pick up our daughter Jessica and our 14 month old grandson, River, who had flown in from Milwaukee, Wi. for the "Baby Fest."  ~  Several families with young children had planned this meeting in Vermont, at Phyllis and Jim's house, so that the young children could spend some time together.  ~  Phyllis, Gloria's sister, and her husband Jim own a house across the road from a beautiful, large, flowing mountain stream named Broad Brook.  Gloria & I, and Jessica & River were staying in a house on the brook directly across their house.  ~  Vesa, her husband and their young daughter had come for the gathering as well.  Vesa is a professional massage therapist.  She was offered a professional massage table, as a gift, which Phyllis and Jim no longer needed.  She was to take it home with her after the gathering.   ~   There were several other family members with children who had come for the gathering (and several dogs as well), but since they do not figure directly into this particular story I will not introduce them here. 


About the Visionary Recital
Henry Corbin devoted an entire book -- Avicenna and the Visionary Recital -- to what he says "is not a fiction, and not an objective retelling of some historical fact; rather it's the personal story of a subjective experience, a psychic event which is part of the soul's inward journey of return [ta'wil] to the Orient, its place of Originits Celestial Twin, its Guardian or Guiding Angel . . . that is to say, one's divine Self."

Corbin says the scenes and actions of a recital are in "neither the sensible nor the intelligible worlds, but in the intermediate world," the world of symbols and archetypal images; the Imaginal World "in which spirits are corporealized and bodies spiritualized." Because recitals are personal stories of the soul's own journey, Corbin says they can only be told in the first person.


Some Additional Context
It's important to mention here that before traveling to Vermont I had begun working on a new photography project that was to become entitled The Angels: Photographs Inspired by the Art of Paul Klee and the Writings of Henry Corbin and Tom Cheetham.  I got the idea for the project after I revisited the work of the great Swiss-German artist Paul Klee (1879-1940) while working on an earlier project.  I wanted to make a series of photographs in homage to, and inspired by Klee's work; after contemplating for some time how I might do that, I found myself attracted especially to his paintings and drawings of angels. 

Klee's Angels interested me, I think, especially because of my earlier encounters with the writings of Henry Corbin and Tom Cheetham -- which I had read while working on the 2011 project "An Imaginary Book".   Much of their writing is about the angel and angelology, but at that time (2011-12) I cringed a little whenever they mentioned the word "angel" and I avoided those parts of their writings in order to get directly to what really interested me at the time, Corbin's ideas about the Creative Imagination.  
  
For whatever reasons beyond my interest in Klee's angels, I now felt ready to deal the the angelic realms of Corbin's Iranian Sufism, and so I began to re-visit all the books I had read earlier by Corbin and Cheetham and I particularly sought out those sections which I avoided earlier about the Angels.  The more I read, the more I found myself becoming fascinated by Corbin's angelic world.  I then decided that Angels, along with my love of Klee's art, would be the focus of my new photography project.

 Part IV of this project consists of text excerpts I have taken from the writings of Corbin and Cheetham that relate to my project, and I have included some of the excerpts here as well for the light they shed on the story I am about to tell.  I also invite you to visit my Epilogue for "An Imaginary Book" which consists of a collection of 24 personal stories - or visionary recitals - I have written based on real experiences and inspired by Corbin's book Avicenna and the visionary Recital.  The story I am about to tell is included in the Epilogue as story #24.


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Textual Prelude
Tom Cheetham: After Prophecy

   When we encounter the mystery and depth of another person, whose Angel are we seeing?  In Manichean legend, when, after death, on the Bridge to the other world, the soul meets its Angel in the figure of a beautiful woman, she says, "I am thyself."  
     The Angel Holy Spirit is, as we know, in each case unique.  Henry Corbin's Sufi mystic [Ibn 'Arabi, b.1165] "knows that he is the eye with which God contemplates himself; that he himself, in his being, is the witness by which God witnesses himself, the revelation by which the Hidden Treasure reveals itself to itself." 
     The person of the Angel is infinite and iconic--that is, the succession of transcendences never stops . . .  The true self opens upwards, and forever.  
     The power of the creative imagination, the gift of Gabriel, the Angel Holy Spirit, enables each of us, if we consent, to give birth to the Angel, whose grace allows us to see all the world as an icon.  For we give birth not only to God, but the world itself, transfigured in the light of a personal vision.  


*

The Story  "The Fall Upwards"
We had just arrived in Vermont after stoping in Albany to pick up our daughter Jessica and our 14 month old grandson, River, at the airport.  Gloria had asked me to come upstairs and get River.  I was to take him downstairs so that she and Jessica could finish unpacking and arranging their room for the three-day visit in Vermont.  Gloria handed River to me over the baby-gate at the top of the stairs, and I proceeded down the stairs with River backwards--
like we had done several times before at his home in Milwaukee.  As we descended, counting off the hardwood steps one-by-one, all of a sudden I stepped into empty space  . . .  

*

I remember landing awkwardly at the bottom of the stairs and then falling over and hitting my head on something very hard.  The right side of my head was hurting and bleeding profusely: I had rammed into an antique wooden sculpture (see image below) that had been placed at the foot of the stairs.    

Click on the image to enlarge

Though I didn't go unconscious, I was stunned by the impact.  Gloria had seen the entire event from above and came running down the stairs after me, terrified, and all the more so when she saw the blood pouring out of my head.  Jessica had come down to get River; when I looked up and saw her holding River, Jessica quickly assured me that River was crying because he had been frightened by the fall, but that he was not hurt.  I had protected River during the fall by holding him close to me.  

Vesa was downstairs when the accident happened and she went immediately to the refrigerator to look for ice cubes in the freezer.  She found a cold pack which I held against my head while Gloria's sister Phyllis drove me and Gloria to the Brattleboro Hospital Emergency Room.

I was clearly shaken by the impact to my head, and perhaps from the loss of some blood, but the Nurse Practitioner in charge decided I didn't need an MRI.  I had a mild concussion, and after an hour or so of observation in the hospital I was sent home with seven stainless steel staples in my head to seal the wound, a large dose of ibuprophen to ease the pain, and orders to get lots of rest and quiet over the next few days.

*

I was exhausted by the time Phyllis had gotten us back to her house.  I had something to eat and went straight to bed in our room across the road next to the brook.  The brook was making a soothing humming sound that helped me relax and fall to sleep.  The humming sound reminded me, later, of something Corbin had written - about the sound of Gabriel's wings: in Iranian mysticism there is a tradition that says all the things of the world were brought into existence by the sound of the Archangel's wings.  

I awoke a few hours later and I probably never slept deeply again until the light of dawn began to emerge and I could hear the birds singing above the sound of the humming brook.  

Most of the night was spent in something like a gentle rapture, or bliss.  I was curled up in bed next to Gloria, listening to the brook, and feeling embraced by a palpable, loving presence.  Though I could feel the aches and pains in my head and other parts of my body that had been hurt by the fall, the focus of my attention was on a mysterious, sacred presence I felt surrounding and holding me.  I was inside a sacred space, something like a womb perhaps, and I imagined Corbin's angelic beings of light enveloping me, protecting me, healing me.  I felt safe, comfortable, cared for, loved . . .  

Maybe this experience was due to the concussion, or the sounds of the brook, or the care everyone in our extended family and at the hospital had shown me after I had fallen and cracked my head open.  Maybe my Siddha Yoga Gurus--Baba Muktananda, Bagawan Nityananda, and Gurmayi--were with me.  Henry Cobin perhaps would have said that the fall had helped to open my heart which then allowed me entrance into the Intermediate World of the Angels where I encountered my Guardian Angels, or my Celestial Twin, or some psychic aspect of myself "in a form absolutely unique to me."  (see quotes 29 & 37)

*

Corbin writes:  "The personal God is . . . encountered at the end of a Quest (as of that for the Holy Grail)."  The endpoint of this search is not an idol, not a thing at all, and therefore not an end but a beginning . . .   the Emptiness, the Unknown, and the Unknowable into which one falls upward in an unending series of theophanies.  (see quote 4) 

And, again, Cheetham writes:  The person of the Angel is infinite and iconic--that is, the succession of transcendences never stops. . .  The true self opens upwards, and forever.  ~  The power of the creative imagination, the gift of Gabriel, the Angel Holy Spirit, enables each of us, if we consent, to give birth to the Angel, whose grace allows us to see all the world as an icon.  For we give birth not only to God, but the world itself, transfigured in the light of a personal vision.  (see quote 29) 


*

Recently I saw a sonogram image of a baby fetus curled up in the mother's womb.  It reminded me of the subtle images and feelings I had experienced that night in Vermont as I lay in bed following my fall.  Being curled up in a fetal-like position was indeed the most comfortable body position for me at the time.  Had the combination of the concussion and my body positioning initiated a psychic regression back to my time in the womb?  ~  I could theorize and guess many things, but my experience throughout that night yielded a palpable kind of inner knowing that I was safe, protected and loved; that I was being cared for and enveloped by a deep and profound sacred healing presence. 

*

The next day I was feeling very tired, achey and spacey.  My entire being felt discombobulated.  There were lots of little children playing together, screaming, having fun, crying; dogs were barking; the adults were talking . . . and I just wanted to hide away and be quiet.  Vesa could see this and offered to do a CranioSacral treatment with me.  At first I was shy about the idea of receiving a massage from my niece, but after she briefly explained the process she used, I finally agreed to accept her loving offer.  After all, here I was in Vermont, in my sister and brother-in-law's house, with seven staples in my scalp, a concussion, a loving offer by a professional massage therapist, and a professional massage table to boot!  What synchronistically good fortune!  

*

As I lay on the table, Vesa was touching me very lightly in various places associated with my aches and pains, and along my central nervous system-–the membranes and fluid that surround, protect and nourish the brain and spinal cord.  As she worked I could feel energy being moved in my body.  At one point I even felt some of the staples in my head vibrating.  

Vesa asked me to focus on my breathing.  As she passed her hands lightly over and under me I could feel my body go into a deep mode of relaxation, something like a very conscious meditative state.   At some point near the end of the process Vesa very gently and slowly picked up my arm and carefully bent it at the elbow; then very deliberately she moved my arm up and away from the side of my body.  This upward movement initiated a remarkable, unforgettable psychic event which Corbin would call a "rupture" or opening into the Imaginal World.

As she consciously lifted my arm ever so slowly upwards I could feel a huge space inside my being open wider and wider.  The vastness of the space was filled with a dark light, a living presence, a sacred fullness of being.  Then, spontaneously my arm began transmuting into a bird's . . . or angel's wing.   My entire being continued to open, ever wider and wider, into a vastness of space unsayable . . . unimaginable. 


In Corbin's study of visionary recitals he writes about the great Sufi named Suhrawardi (b. 1191) who speaks of the need for the mystic traveler to pass beyond the cosmos and reach the archangelic pleroma which he calls "Nonwhere" -- the pure spiritual space beyond the "Ninth Sphere."  (see quote 57)   

In retrospect, I would have to say that sounds very much like what I experienced; but there is another way to speak of such mysterious things: that is, I had entered into the space of the heart, which the Sufis and Hindu Yogis say holds within it the entire universe--all of God's Creation.  Indeed, the space of the heart is the infinite space in which God and one's own Self are experienced as inseparable, united, One.  

At the heart of existence, there is a dark unfathomable union of our own innermost substance with the elemental forces of nature.  Earth, air, fire, and water are powerful symbols of our deepest being.   
Tom Cheetham: After Prophecy

[To avoid] a fall into nihilism . . . the-will-to-power . . . requires a profound humility and the ability to open to the influence of the Angel who alone can provide the balance that keeps the world in harmony. . .  The image of the Angel Holy Spirit completes and perfects the human soul with the form of the Celestial Twin and keeps the world from being thrown out of balance.  It is knowledge of the heart that holds the worlds together.  Tom Cheetham: All the World An Icon

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A few weeks after I experienced this amazing "opening of the heart" I came across the following related passages in two of Corbin's books that speak of infinite space in relation to the experience of the Archangel of Revelations.  The text sheds "angelic light" on an important photograph I made for this project which can be seen directly below.  But first Corbin's words:

Gabriel, the Angel of the Annunciation and the Revelations, is the Angel of the theophanies that were given to the prophet Mohammed.  The Koran verses (53:3-4; 81:18-29) preserve the memory of the first grandiose visions when the Prophet, emerging from his tent, contemplated the majesty of the Angel whose outspread wings covered the whole horizon.  (see the entire quote 54)

This is why the pre-eminence of the color green, heralding the highest mystical station [of the Sufis], is supported by an allusion to the rafraf, the green drapery seen by the Prophet, covering the horizon of the Heavens at the moment of his first vision of the Angel.  (see quote 53)





  Photograph from The Angels project Part II:  Earth Angels and Fallen Angels  


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After the CranioSacral session I felt remarkably still and refreshed; the physical and psychic energies that had before been running disorientedly throughout my mind and body had become quieted and somehow placed back into alignment.  

The next day I was able to take a walk along the brook. I wanted to try to make some photographs that perhaps would visually embody and invoke the Angelic presence I had experienced earlier in the night of the fall and then during the massage session with Vesa.  Corbin says the Angels are everywhere and in everything; I wanted to hold on to that awareness, that feeling of the sacred love and protection that had enveloped me, the vastness of space I had opened into; I would try to hold onto this awareness through the creative act of making symbolic photographs.  

I was still feeling very tired;  I was operating on nothing but the feelings of love, longing and intuition, but images were indeed made.  I have provided below a selection of the photographs below, all taken of or near the Vermont brook.  


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We took Jessica and River back to the Albany Airport so they could return to Milwaukee, and we returned home to Canandaigua, NY.  I was full of enthusiasm to resume work on the Angel project.  I spent the next several weeks making photographs, studying Klee's art work, re-reading Corbin and Cheetham, and contemplating and trying to write about my remarkable experiences during our Vermont visit.  

I decided to offer Vesa and her husband an "Angel" photograph as an expression of my love and gratitude for all the help they had given me in Vermont.  I gave them the option to choose a photograph from the many I had available at the time, or they could simply ask me to choose an image for them.  

Interestingly, they selected the image, above, from Part II of the project, Earth Angels and Fallen Angels which is for me personally one of the most important photographs in the Angel Series because of how it relates so directly to the "opening" I experienced during the CranioSacral treatment with Vesa.  That they chose this particular image constitutes for me yet another example of synchronicity.  

The source photograph for the symmetrical image consists of the meadow, pond and sky that lies just beyond our back yard in Canandaiga, NY; and if you look closely (you can click on the image to enlarge it) you will see in the sky, repeated four times, birds flying in a V Formation.  The image as a whole is for me symbolic of the infinite vastness of the angelic presence which Corbin says pervades the entire world.  In fact he says the Earth itself is an Angel; and that every soul has it's angelic, celestial counterpart.  In these terms then, I like to think of the birds flying in a V Formation as a symbol of the angelic presence, and that Vesa, as a healer, was performing an angelic function for me.   I like to think of my fall as a Fall Upwards into grace, into the infinite sacred space of the heart.  And, perhaps, I may have been functioning as a Guardian Angel for River when I instinctually drew him close to me to protect him from the fall.  

I have no sense that my fall down the stairs was a mistake, or an act of negligence.  Things and events of deep significance in my life are what Corbin terms angelic functions, or in other words forms of synchronicity--physical manifestations of internal psychic events that must be experienced, integrated, understood, as "part of the soul's inward journey of return [ta'wil] to the Orient, its place of Origin . . . that is to say, one's divine Self."  On the other hand, when I go down a flight of stairs now, I do so with more conscious deliberateness, with more careful awareness, and with the blessings of the memory of that amazing experience of the angels.


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Gratitude

I feel deeply grateful to all the people who were part of my experience: especially River, Gloria, Phyllis, Vesa and her husband, the nurses at the hospital . . . and everyone in the family who expressed their sincere caring to me after my fall.  I was filled with gratitude after my encounters with the angelic world, and those experiences have made me mindful of all the many other extraordinary experiences which have graced my life.  

Writing and photographing, contemplation and meditation have helped me to more consciously engage the angelic imaginal world, the world of grace, the space of the heart.  Writing personal stories, like this one, have helped me to go deeper into my experiences and get in touch with the love and gratitude they unfolded within me.  And writing has helped me to remember those very special experiences of grace.  In a certain way, remembrance is a matter of life or death.

Gurumayi Chidvilasananda, my meditation teacher, says that grace is raining upon us every minute of our lives.  In a talk she once gave on the subject of Gratitude and Remembrance which I have just recently read and will share briefly with you below, I was fascinated by how her words synchronistically reminded me of the photograph I gave Vesa and her husband, and how they echo the passage by Corbin I presented earlier in association with that image.  Corbin was citing the Koran verses 53:3-4 and 81:18-29, and noting how they ". . . preserve the memory of the first grandiose visions when the Prophet, emerging from his tent, contemplated the majesty of the Angel whose outspread wings covered the whole horizon."  For me, the photograph is not just about vast space, but also about how angelic presence or grace spreads across the horizon through eternity, as Gurumayi states below.

In conclusion, then, here are the words of Gurumayi:  
     It is natural to express gratitude, and people constantly say to one another, "Thank you, thank you.  Thank you so much."  "Thanks a million."  "From the bottom of my heart, thank you."  Gracias."  "Merci."  Nonetheless, the true experience of gratitude is profound.  It is infinite.  You cannot even see the horizon of gratitude.  It spreads across the sky through eternity.
     Remembrance is what allows you to experience gratitude all the time.  When you begin to forget the gentle hand of God and the many great services people have performed for you, it is not just a passive oversight.  In some quiet, invisible way, forgetfulness is causing you to dig your own grave.   
from  the book Enthusiasm by Gurumayi Chidvilasananda


This Personal Story is #24 in a collection of Visionary Recitals
which constitute the Epilogue to my photography project 
"An Imaginary Book"   I invite you to read more of 
my Personal Stories by visiting the
 Epilogue.



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The Vermont 
Angel Photographs
Made  in August 2014 following 
my "Fall Upwards" 

                                            
Angelic Presence ~ Angelic Function
Henry Corbin's conviction that the Earth is an Angel affirms my own sense that all the things of this world, not just people, are forms of living consciousness, each with its own celestial or archetypal counterpart.  Much of my photography over the past thirty years has been dedicated to giving visual form to this basic truth.  My idea of the symbolic photograph was first established in the early 1970s based on the idea that a photographic image can become both a container of grace and a vehicle of grace when the image succeeds in conjoining (uniting) external appearances in the world with their archetypal-psychic (interior or "heavenly-celestial") counterparts.  Symbols, which unveil the "hidden treasure" within the things of the world, are the antidote to what Corbin and Cheetham term idolatry-- seeing only the outer surfaces of things.   (see quotes #6 and #49)

Shortly after my fall, then my "night of rapture" and my CrainoSacral experiences, I found myself in Vermont, under the "spell" -- the palpable influence -- of not only my concussion but also the intimate encounters I experienced of the angelic presence.  I wanted to see if I could make some photographs that would give visual form to the feeling or aura of what I had experienced then and the angelic presence I was experiencing all around me days afterward.  I'll let Tom Cheetham say in his most articulate way what I was trying to get at photographically in regards to angelic function:

In order to prevent God and creation both from closing off, solidifying into idols, in order to keep the sympathy alive and ensure the perpetual angelic function of beings, tashbih must be balanced by tanzih.  Nearness and distance both are essential attributes of God: together they make up tawhid, the declaration of Unity.  We can now understand the full import of the Hidden things and just what it is of God that lies within. . .  The Outward and Manifest is the Nearness of God; the Inward and the Hidden is the Oneness, the incomparability, the no-thing-ness of the Divinity.  The manifest tends to descend into idolatry; the hidden opens onto the Infinite.  God's Nearness is external.  It is His Distance that lies within.  It is through the no-thing-ness of the divinity that the essential infinitude of a person, or a presence, is determined.  And so, by turning the world inside out, by giving birth in the world to that interiority which is characteristic of the things of the soul, by winning each Battle for the Anima Mundi, we return the hidden dimension to the manifest and uncover the depths that lie just under the surface of the world.    
Tom Cheetham:  The World Turned Inside Out


The angelic function of beings is to make possible the individuation and the incarnation of each of us.  To be able to perceive the iconic face of all creatures, to see their angelic countenance, requires an opening that simultaneously brings us closer to the Angel, to other people, and to ourselves.  
Tom Cheetham:  After Prophesy


The language of imagination is the bridge between the worlds.  The divine and the ordinary are fused into one reality in which the immanent and the transcendent are part of a continuous whole.  . . . It is imagination, actualized by a person in any imaginal act of personification, that can stand against the imageless act that threatens the existence of Things.  The essence of speech, and the witness that exalts the imagination and reveals the angelic function of the things of the world, is praise:  [Rilke writes:]  "Praise this world to the angel . . . / . . . Tell him of Things.  He will stand astonished . . ."  
Tom Cheetham:  After Prophesy


The Angel whose Face we hope to see, and by seeing, also to be, is less an object than a relation, more a process than a thing.  In truth the Angel is the personification of feeling--concentrated manifestation of the attention the soul pays to the world.  Corbin tells us that feelings induce knowledge of entities proper to them.  The Angel is the active subject of such creative knowledge.  
Tom Cheetham:  After Prophesy



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The photographs below are the visual fruits of my brief photographic outing along or near the Vermont brook and its humming presence following my experiences of the fall and my angelic encounters.  I was very low on energy at the time; I was in something like a daze, and so I could photograph for only an hour or so; and yet I could feel the angelic sacredness of things around me, and I was sensing the photographic potential in what I was seeing and feeling.  The photographs below succeed in varying degrees, and sometimes only dimly, in unveiling the angelic presence and its function that I was feeling and seeing at the time, but I am happy to have these images as a remembrance of my experience, of my longing, of my attempt to hold on to that state of grace in which I was immersed through the creation of images.


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The collection of ten photographs below include seven "straight" or un-manipulated photographs, and three symmetrical photographs from Part II of the project, Earth Angels and Fallen Angels.  The symmetrical photographs were constructed from single images I had made in Vermont during that one, brief walk.  
  Regarding Image #8, I remember very clearly seeing the dark rock amidst the white foam of the falling brook water as if it were an eye or perhaps a wing, and I spontaneously imagined constructing a symmetrical image that ended up looked very much like what you will see below.  (You can click on the images to enlarge them for a more detailed viewing.)  

Following the collection of Vermont photographs you will find two other brief collections of images which were originally made for other, earlier photography projects.  I feel the selected images relate at least peripherally to The Angels project and should be seen in the context of the Vermont photographs and the photographs included in Part I and Part II of this project. 



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The Vermont Angel Photographs    Image #1   
Leaning Rose Trellis & the Space between two buildings 





The Vermont Angel Photographs    Image #2   
Red Flower Box and Hanging Vines 



Commentary:  The red color of the flower box has a special significance within this series of photographs: it references for me the (red) "Midnight Sun" which is discussed further below (see the Angelic Garages) and in Parts I and IV.  The little wing-like leaves seem to me to be falling as if in a "rain" of angelic grace over multiple horizons of cyclic earthly time. 




The Vermont Angel Photographs    Image #3   
Delicate green plants growing beside a wooden shed 






The Vermont Angel Photographs    Image #4   
Water Falls ~ looking down into the gorge 





The Vermont Angel Photographs    Image #5   
Rocks under the water





The Vermont Angel Photographs    Image #6   
Round shadow-light forms on an earthen road






The Vermont Angel Photographs    Image #7   
Luminous Wing-like display of green leaves






The Vermont Angel Photographs    Image #8   
Symmetrical Photograph from Part II ~ Earth Angels
Transformed view of the Brook's  small waterfall and rocks




Commentary:  The symmetrical image above is a visual example of the "Terrifying Angels"  that Rilke had written about in his Elegies.  The image below (#9) is more playful, more friendly, perhaps like an innocent insect one might find flying about playfully near the Vermont Brook.  But it nonetheless invokes for me a  powerful presence: it functions for me as an icon, or living symbol; it unveils the angelic function of the brook, its water, stones and light.  In other words, below the surface of appearances one senses --deep in one's own heart-- the numinous secret of the sacred or the angelic presence in things.  The symbolic photograph is graced with the power to unveil the hidden treasure within earthly appearances; at the same time, it is empowered to transform the viewer through its transmission of grace. 





The Vermont Angel Photographs    Image #9   
Symmetrical Photograph from Part II ~ Earth Angels
Transformed view of the Brook ~  rocks and light on water





The Vermont Angel Photographs    Image #10   
Symmetrical Photograph from Part II ~ Earth Angels
Transformed view of the Brook ~  plants, rocks and light on water



Finally, the symmetrical image above, #10, gives a "face" not only to the brooks water and stones, but to the plant life next to the brook, as well.  The large stones remind me of wings . . . but they could be eyes.  Indeed, eyes are everywhere and most noticeably in the water and in the plant mandala which seems to leap up toward me from the ground below.  This image reminded me of two poems: one by Gerald De Nerval (1854) in which he says:  

Often a Holy Thing is living hidden in a dark creature;
and like an eye which is born covered by its lids,
a pure spirit is growing strong under the bark of stones!

And Rilke said in his famous poem Archaic Torso Of Apollo:  


. . . there is no place at all
that isn’t looking at you.  You must change your life.




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More "Angel" Photographs
~ selections from my archive of photographs
made for previous projects ~ 



Boy Angel in the "Luminous Night"    Image #11






Boy Angel in the "Luminous Night"    Image #12
Man climbing suspended ladder






Visual Poem:  Figure Falling Off A Ladder, Birds Circling, Suspended Ladder, Starry Sky (Luminous Night)   Image #13




Commentary: The photograph above is a "Visual Poem" consisting of four images suspended in black space: a blurred figure falling off a ladder; three birds flying in a circle; a ladder suspended in space from a rope; and a starry sky.  (click on the image to better see the stars)   The image, though constructed perhaps 10 years ago, tells in visual narrative form the story of my recent fall upwards--into grace, into the "Nonwhere," the pure and infinite space of the heart.  The black space in my photographs have a special symbolic significance in regards to Sufism and the idea of the Luminous Night.  See Part I and Part IV of this project for a more detailed explanation of the symbolic meaning of black in my photographs. 


 


"Crying Angel"  (Stone on Picnic Table)   Image #14



This limitless cosmos is full of Presences,  full of Persons -- full of angels. 
We have to discard all our trivialized and anthropocentric conceptions  
 of the nature of such beings.  They are personified metaphysical 
 presences, the movers of the worlds, and they provide 
the connection between ourselves and divinity.   
There is no question of anthropomorphism.  
The personality of these beings 
is not derived from ours; 
ours is only a dim 
reflection of 
theirs.
Tom Cheetham: The World Turned Inside Out  

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 The Angel cannot be understood in anthropomorphic terms alone.  
The Heavenly Twin is the personification of a process of 
perception and a way of feeling.  The cosmic function  
of angelophanies is to open our senses to the 
fullness of being beyond the confines 
  of the material world of secular 
 history. 

In the Islamic tradition, the Names of God fall into two grand categories, 
the Names of Majesty and the Names of Beauty.  The cosmic Face of the 
 Angel is the Face of Majesty.  It is not inhuman, as is the demonic, 
 but it is trans-human, and far beyond the scope  of our 
 understanding.  The other Face of the Angel is more   
       anthropomorphic: the Face of Beauty.   
    But it is not the figure of the Angel  
 that   is   the   object   of 
anthropomorphosis
--
it is us.
Tom Cheetham: After Prophecy


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"Garage Angels"

Garage Angel #1   (Snow, Tree, Midnight Sun)



Commentary:  The four "Garage Angels" I am presenting here are from an earlier project entitled "The Garage Series"  (1999-2001 / 2006)   Each has a red "Midnight Sun" over its roof.  These "suns of the heart" announce the presence of the Angel-Logos, or of one of the Angelic Intelligences:

   
Angelophany is associated with the symbol of the  
 "midnight sun," of luminous Night, because the 
 first Intelligence, the Angel-Logos, is the   
 initial and primordial theophany 
 of the Deus absconditus.
 Henry Corbin: The Man of Light 


*

Click on image to enlarge


Commentary (continued): You will find these "suns of the heart" in many of Paul Klee's paintings.  Sometimes, in his Angel paintings, they represent the point of origin of the angel.  In the above painting of 1932, entitled "Ad Parnassum," Klee pays homage to the loftiest part of a mountain range in Central Greece, a few miles north of Delphi and home of inspiring dieties of the arts.  Klee passionately loved Greece and it's myths.     

The "Ad Parnassum" painting was an inspiration for my black&white garage photographs.  The addition of color to these revised garage images presented here, and in particular the addition of the red sun, provide me a way to pay homage not only to Klee but also to Corbin, his Angels and his Sufi mystics. 

Each garage photograph, like many of Klee's Angel paintings and drawings, has its own unique anthropomorphic characteristics and personality.  You may also notice that, like much of Klee's work, the images are commenting--oftentimes ironically and humorously--on the human condition.

I will be writing more about Klee's work in Part V of this project.


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Garage Angel #2   (Skeletal garage, Two Green windows, Midnight Sun)





Garage Angel #3   (Spider garage, White Moon, Red Midnight Sun)





Garage Angel #4   (Toothless garage,  Midnight Sun)






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This Part III of my Angels project was first posted ithe
 "Latest Addition" section of my Photography website's 
"Welcome Page" on October 2, 2014  



      

     





Welcome Page  to The Departing Landscape website which includes the complete hyperlinked listing of my online photography projects dating back to the 1960's, my resume, contact information, and more.






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