Initiation Journeys
(inspired by the Villa of Mysteries)

scene VIII

"So it begins in the life of a woman who is wanting. She does not want for a man, nor for a child. She wants to be filled like a cornucopia past the point of overflow. The issue is emptiness of the sort that grows from the inside out regardless of one's productivity, like hunger when it is for love or creative work or some other soul food."                      -Nor Hall

The underpinnings of my work in the studio have always informed by the basic components of Jungian thought (synchronicity, the collective unconscious, archetypes, etc.) and particularly resonant with me is the concept of the cyclical nature of life. One important aspect of this principle is to trust in the possibilities that are inherent in rebirth; often symbolically depicted by the archetypal images of the egg, the serpent, (shedding its skin), and the waxing and waning of the moon. Another facet of the importance of cycles is in the endless re-interpretation of the basic questions of human existence as they have occurred through the ages. These explorations form a connectivity of both thought and spirituality throughout time and across cultures. With this in mind, the Jungian based analysis of the Villa of Mysteries frescoes becomes extremely potent source material for me.

the orphic egg*

The villa, which was buried in volcanic ash by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius that destroyed all of Pompeii, contains a series of murals that depict a woman's ritual initiation into the cult of Dionysus and these frescos can be viewed as a representation of Jung's process of individuation of the psyche. While for some time, it has been my intention to create a series of paintings based loosely on the frescos, that was not a conscious thought when I began Series I. But somewhere in the middle of making this work, I realized the course that I was on. While I plan to be involved with this material for some time and do intend to more faithfully follow the actual progression of the panels, I believe that with this first series, I have begun what I had set forth for myself in my original exploration of this subject: to use the symbols and archetypal imagery of my vocabulary as well as the emotive capacity of color, to create a template for modern woman’s quest for and experience of the numinous.

*The ancient symbol of the Orphic Mysteries (Dionysos is the principle Orphic diety) was the serpent-entwined egg which signified Cosmos as encircled by the fiery Creative Spirit. The egg also represents the soul of the philosopher; the serpent, the Mysteries. At the time of initiation the shell is broken and man emerges from the embryonic state of physical existence wherein he had remained through the fetal period of philosophic regeneration.