I CREATED THE OIL PAINTING ABOVE IN August 2009, in the wake of an exceptionally vivid lucid “dream” within which I came upon a gigantic suspended cocoon-form grasped by several human-sized mantis-like insects. As I tend to do within these hyper-realistic “dreams”, my dream-self procured a camera with the intention of photographing what I was encountering. As I inched closer, several of the giant insects gradually faded into peacocks. I did not advance my approach anymore, as this increased the liminal fluidity of what I was seeing, making it more difficult to capture on camera. Obviously I awoke to find no such photographs on my camera roll.
Later on in the “waking” realm, I was moved to paint the encounter by the sheer vividness and hyper-reality of the experience. Via the dark room of inner vision and the formless substance of paint, I “developed” the dream photographs into this physical realm. At the time I knew about the nature of “hand-painted dream photographs” as termed by Surrealist Salvador Dali (moma.org) in the 1930s, but I had no conscious or waking knowledge of the existence of this:
The Fontana Della Pigna (Fountain of the Pine cone) is a statue located in the Cortile della Pigna (Court of the Pine cone) in the Vatican City. According to vatican.com, the near 4-meter-high bronze statue was cast in the 1st or 2nd century by the sculptor Publius Cincius Salvius. According to wikipedia, the statue originally stood at the Pantheon in the Temple of Isis, and was moved to its current location in 1608. The bronze peacocks are actually replicas of the originals which flanked the tomb of the 2nd century Roman emperor Hadrian.
So why does the Vatican of all institutions have on prominent display a larger-than-life 11-foot-tall pine cone guarded by peacocks? This question is as puzzling at first glance as was my “dream” of a larger-than-life 11-foot-tall cocoon covered in liminal mantis-peacocks. However, even some basic surface research can uncover broad and deep truth which is stranger than dreams.
Although the Holy See won’t willingly spill the pine nuts (maintaining their keys to the kingdom, so to speak), the prominent display of an oversized conifer cone (how absurd!) in the Vatican City is not merely of decorative purport (though it does look nice). Stretching many time periods and contracting seemingly diverse cultures, the pine cone flourishes buried symbolic significance, with double-spiraling DNA-reminiscent scales, crisscrossing biology, neuroscience, religion, and the occult.
In the world of natural history, the existence of the Pinaceae family of trees dates back at least to the time of the dinosaurs. The oldest found pine tree fossil specimen to date is around 140 million years old (bbc.com). This essentially means that the pine forest this fossil came from in Nova Scotia, Canada, has been growing continually for at least that amount of time. The pine cone is the reproductive organ of the tree: male cones produce pollen; females, seeds (wikipedia). It is the biological form-mechanism by which an individual tree can continue its existence beyond itself (via offspring). In animal species, the pine cone form-mechanism appears not as a reproductive organ but as an endocrine gland. The word pineal (as in pineal gland) essentially means “like a pine cone” (etymonline.com). This is simply because the pineal gland (supposedly) looks like a tiny pine cone.
Before we look into the secrets of the modern-day pineal gland, let’s bring it back to the dinosaurs. Many reptiles have an “extra” eye called the parietal eye–or pineal eye–which is a photo-sensory (light-sensitive) organ located on the head, between the eyes, aiding the reptile in circadian rhythm regulation and thermoregulation (as they are cold-blooded) (the-lizard-lounge.com). It is a “highly organized photoreceptive structure, with a well-defined lens, cornea, and retina” directly connected to the pineal gland in the brain (tandfoline.com). Fossilized reptiles skulls exhibit a hole at the top where a physical parietal eye was located (evolutionforskeptics.wordpress.com). Though this “eye” cannot see defined images so to speak, it perceives changes of light and dark in the environment. In the realm of the “occult” (what is hidden from the plain sight of physical eyes), being able discern light from dark is part of the survival game. In short: reptiles with a parietal eye essentially have a rudimentary third eye on their forehead–in addition to the pineal gland (the traditional “third eye”) within the brain. Without at this juncture getting into the notion of Reptilians: Are reptiles really less evolved than humans?
As for this “like a pine cone” eye:
Though the pineal gland (part of the endocrine system) rests deep within the center of the brain, small as a raisin and shrouded in darkness by both hemispheres, it has photo-receptor cells and is responsive to light. This photo-sensitivity aids in syncing up an organism’s sleep/wake cycle with the environment’s dark/light cycle. In addition to this, it appears that the pineal gland, like the inner ear, possesses piezoelectric calcite mirco-crystals (christmichael.wordpress.com). As defined by explainthatstuff.com, “Piezoelectricity (also called the piezoelectric effect) is the appearance of an electrical potential (a voltage, in other words) across the sides of a crystal when you subject it to mechanical stress (by squeezing it)”. According to wikipedia, “Piezoelectricity is the electric charge that accumulates in certain solid materials (such as crystals, certain ceramics, and biological matter such as bone, DNA and various proteins) in response to applied mechanical stress”. Since the pineal gland is essentially made of crystals, we can understand that it has “electrical potential”–as apparently does DNA. “The Calcite Micro-crystals are said to have their own Piezoelectric effect that is responsive to electromagnetic energies outside the physical body, and can also produce it’s own electromagnetic energy” (neomeditations.com).
Not only does the pineal gland receive electromagnetic energy, it can produce and transmit it. Is the pineal gland a biological free energy system/generator? Can an individual organism send electromagnetic information to another individual via the pineal gland? Which would–in theory–mean we can communicate with each other via our pineal glands (and remember, it is not just humans who have a pineal body–nearly all vertebrates do (wikipedia)). In addition, these “Piezoelectric microcrystals may be transmitting photons that can be picked up by the retina-like tissue in the pineal gland—where they are then sent to the brain and descrambled into visual images” (wakingtimes.com).
(I’d like to have some descrambled visual images for breakfast, after having too much too dream last night…)
In addition: Does this mean the pineal gland allows us to see sound?! “The pineal gland has been associated with bioluminescence by scientists such as Frank Barr, and in addition, with the properties of sono-luminescence (the ability of converting sound energy to light). Thus, resonating the pineal gland with sound has the potential of creating light—something that numerous mystics have alluded to in many different sacred texts and teachings” (healingsounds.com). Holy See, the pineal gland truly is used to see!
Since sound and light are energy frequencies, why wouldn’t we have a system/structure in the brain which translates and unifies sound/light energy/information?
Perhaps this is what Jesus meant when we said: “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves”—Matthew 10:16 (KJV)
PLUS: that staff looks a little bit like…
Put all this together and I guess this means that…the pine cone at the Vatican is a giant pineal gland. That’s cool I guess…
…and the Pope wears an elaborate pine cone on his head sometimes…
E. A. Wallis Budge has noted that in some of the [Egyptian] papyri illustrating the entrance of the souls of the dead into the judgment hall of Osiris the deceased person has a pine cone attached to the crown of his head. The Greek mystics also carried a symbolic staff, the upper end being in the form of a pine cone, which was called the Thyrsus of Bacchus. In the human brain there is a tiny gland called the pineal body, which is the sacred eye of the ancients, and corresponds to the third eye of the Cyclops. Little is known concerning the function of the pineal body, which Descartes suggested (more wisely than he knew) might be the abode of the spirit of man (Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of All Ages pg. 242).
In terms of piezoelectricity:
“A crystal is the scientific name for any solid whose atoms or molecules are arranged in a very orderly way based on endless repetitions of the same basic atomic building block (called the unit cell)” (explainthatstuff.com).
With this definition, the pine cone–with its orderly repetition of scales (As on a reptile? Or as in musical scales?), spiraling in a fractal crisscross pattern (like DNA or the caduceus snakes)–is in morphological form a crystal.
It’s not too impossible to imagine that light/sound when condensed/slowed (lowered in frequency/temperature) would become crystallized into form. Water, a basis for life, does this automatically when subjected to temperature below 33 degrees F:
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.—Genesis 1:2-3 (KJV)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. —John 1:1 (KJV)
And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us…
In addition, it could be interpreted that:
The keys to the kingdom of eternal life are the ancient reptilian serpents of sound/light frequencies which activate/integrate the sonoluminescent/bioluminescent crystalline powers of the pineal body/third eye, resulting in personal transformation/illumination.
“The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light” –Matthew 6:22 (KJV)
“The Life of the body is the “I“…When your “I” is single, your body will be full of life and no part of it will know disease or death” (The Starseed Transmissions p.71)
Let thine eye be single…
…you are a peacock:
See all those EYES!!!!!!!!
Like the pine cone, the peacock struts its stuff across the time of history and the space of cultures. And like the many eyes of its tail, the significance and symbolism of the peacock unfolds manifold in meaning. In Hinduism, the peacock and its feathers are often depicted accompanying various incarnations of Vishnu, and also as a mount (ride) for various deities. Hindu deities are often depicted wearing a golden, crystal-encrusted cone-shaped hat or crown topped with a single (sometimes multiple) peacock feather(s). The peacock feather is the visualizing faculty of the third eye of the crown, seeing via the second sight/6th sense of enlightened awareness above and beyond the physical world.
We mustn’t forget that the pine cone at the Vatican is technically a fountain (Fontana Della Pigna). Though the statue hasn’t operated as a fountain in recent times (perhaps it is frozen as a crystal?), we can deduce that the water flowed out the top, like this:
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.–Revelation 22:1 (KJV)
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.–Revelation 22:17 (KJV)
In Christianity, the iconography of the fountain appears as The Fountain of Life and also The Fountain of Youth (offspring of a wellspring!). Both are representatives of ritual renewal, rebirth, and eternal life. With this in mind (and everything else that has been mentioned in this article thus far) the fact that the pine cone at the Vatican is a fountain is one more clue that the pineal gland has something to do with renewal, rebirth, and eternal life. The peacocks guarding the cone make this even more obvious, as they are also a representatives of immortality:
Catholics adopted the symbol of the peacock to represent resurrection, renewal and immortality. This came from the ancient legend that the flesh of the peacock did not decay. Thus we find paintings and mosaics with the peacock as early as the 3rd century on the walls of the catacombs of Rome, a symbol of the exchanging of the mortal earthly body for the glorified body and eternal life of the glorified soul in Heaven.
Because of this belief that the peacock’s flesh did not decay after death, the peacock became a symbol of Christ, and, as such, early Christian paintings and mosaics use peacock imagery. When the peacock displays its tail, it looks like hundreds of eyes are watching us. Because of this, the peacock has been associated with the all-seeing eye of God who sees all actions and all people, meaning that nothing escapes the universal Justice. The peacock also came to symbolize the all-seeing Catholic Church, who watches over her children continually, day and night (www.traditioninaction.org).
Outside of the Church (though certainly under the Inquisitional eye), the peacock can be found in the manuscripts of medieval alchemy. Exoterically, alchemy appears to be a superstitious mad science of magically mixing together base elements and chemical ingredients in flasks with the ultimate aim of cooking up the “philosopher’s stone” and/or “elixir of life“, a substance which would grant the user immortality (or at least turn base metals into gold). However, this mechanical, materialistic, and physical-based fixation is not actually the root, heart, or harvest of true alchemy. The esoteric reality of alchemy involves the Magnum Opus, or The Great Work, a process which moves the alchemist deeper and deeper through layers of personal, inner transformation and reconciliation. This transmutation could be termed awakening–or the opening of the third eye which sees beyond the physical into the infinite, a gateway to immortality. Alchemy precipitates “the unfoldment of consciousness whereby one realizes one’s self to be infinite – also known as self-realization. Most esoteric symbolism and myth reflects the process of alchemical transformation in both its inner and outer aspects” (ascensionnow.co.uk). In this current post-2012 era, the art of alchemy has been transmuted into the process of Ascension.
As a premonitory side “note”: The emerald pyramid on the back of the United States dollar, with its Freemasonic origins, could be symbolic of the steps to take to open the third eye. This singular illumination yields a vision which sees the totality of all things. Rather than turning base materials into gold, however, it seems the American monetary system (Federal Reserve) which adopted this symbol has concocted a sort of reverse/perverse alchemy in which gold has been removed from the formula altogether. By turning gold into paper, is the creation of money a reversion of the alchemical process?
Though base elements, chemicals, plants, and other substances were undoubtedly utilized to attempt to create a vehicle for the Magnum Opus, this was in conjunction with images and symbols, which–as can also be seen in the imagery of Freemasonry (i.e. the Eye of Providence)–visualize the multi-layered (many-eyed) processes of transmutation. In Freemasonry there are either 3 or 33 (depending upon which rabbit hole you go down) degrees/steps/stages; in the alchemical Magnum Opus, the number of stages varies from manuscript to manuscript. “The Emerald Formula” (from the Emerald Tablet of Hermes, who, of note, wields a caduceus staff) denotes seven stages, each presenting chemical, psychological, and physiological relations: Calcination, Dissolution, Separation, Conjunction, Fermentation, Distillation, and Coagulation (spiritofra.com). Other Western Hermetic traditions maintained four stages, each represented by a color: nigredo (blackness), albedo (whiteness), citrinitas (yellowing) and rubedo (redness) (scribd.com). Each stage was illustrated as a bird: nigredo (crow), albedo (swan), citrinitas (pelican) and rubedo (phoenix). The peacock, being a multicolored bird, occupies a special intermediate phase as the “Peacock’s Tail” or Peacock stage. An article published in Hermetic Journal No. 5 by Adam McLean eloquently elaborates:
With the Peacock stage, the alchemist has entered into the inner experience of the astral world, which initially appears as ever shifting patterns of colour. This experience is often symbolized in alchemy by the appropriate image of the peacock’s tail with its splendid iridescence of colour. In terms of this series of five stages, the turning point is reached with the Peacock. Up until this point the alchemist has experienced aspects of his being which he was formerly unconscious of – the etheric forces and the astral body. Essentially these experiences have happened to him, although he had to make himself open to the experiences through entering into the initial Black Crow state, however, in order to progress he must begin to work upon his inner being (alchemywebsite.com).
The Peacock stage is the turning point when the alchemist becomes conscious of formerly unconscious processes. In the dream space, this is when the dreamer becomes conscious of dreaming and enters into the lucid dream space, wherein he/she can command the dream experience. One’s physical eyes may be closed, but the inner eye is open to the other-worldly realms of experience. The physical body may be immobile (suspended in animation), but the inner body is animated in/as the dreamscape. This is the threshold realm bridging the darkness of unconscious experience with the lightness of conscious awareness, transforming the previously dark and uncontrolled inner world experience into multi-colored illumination, allowing for individual agency and co-creation in non-physical space.
The Peacock’s Tail stage – the conscious experience of the astral body – stands alone in this picturing of the process, though it was sometimes split into two facets, in the writings of some alchemists – an initial winged dragon phase which resolved into the Peacock’s Tail. In the initial encounter with the astral body, the negative distorted aspects of one’s being can dominate, and these can be pictured as the winged dragon, but through soul purification, ultimately the full beauty and splendour of the astral body are revealed in the Peacock’s Tail (alchemywebsite.com).
Just as there are stages to the alchemical awakening process, our nightly sojourn into the unconscious realms of sleep occurs in stages. Via scientific studies it has been concluded that there are five stages to sleep, each characterized by variations in brain wave activity. The final stage–REM, or rapid eye movement–is when we “dream” (i.e. descramble information into visual images?). However, from my personal experience (I know I am not alone in this), this “dream stage” is more than just a dream. Rather, it is as a theater stage, upon which one’s non-physical being can play a part (play a play), interacting in time/space with other actor/entities–whether these be other aspects of self (i.e. the unconscious mind), or extraterrestrials (i.e. mantis beings). The “dream stage” is a rainbow threshold of potentiality unbinding the limitations of the physical. Not only can the dreamer act out one’s unconscious contents upon this stage, it is also a meeting ground for other consciousnesses to interact. Going beyond the “collective unconscious“, one can access, play out/with, and stage the greater collective conscious which informs this physical world. In short, this “dream stage” is as real–if not more real–than what is perceived to be the “waking” realm. It reflects, informs, and brings into being this waking, physical space/time. When one awakens within the dream, the veil is removed, the separation between “waking” and “sleeping” (knowing/not knowing; self/not self) is severed, and unconsciousness (darkness) ceases to exist. Within this infinite time/space one can access all of creation from beginning to end, and back again. This is the vision of the all-seeing eye.
At the time of dreaming/painting in 2009, I was blissfully unconscious of the existence of mantis beings as depicted in this M.C. Escher etching from 1935:
Contact with other worldly entities and/or “aliens”–often insect-like ones–have been reported by people under the influence of the chemical DMT, which is *speculated* to exist naturally in the pineal gland, opening the curtain to the dream stage (world-of-lucid-dreaming.com). DMT exists in many (mainly tropical) plants, and is the main psychoactive chemical constituent of the sacramental and shamanic South American botanical brew Ayahuasca. As it exists in living form in the natural world, does this mean these plants are always dreaming? Contrary to appearances, I personally have never consumed DMT or any plant/substance that contains it. I suppose I’ve been too busy exploring the many-eyed realms while asleep and dreaming while awake with an eye open to the natural world to perceive any extra impetus to go down that particular rabbit hole. After all, the Fall already happened.
It’s interesting even from my subjective dreampoint and lack of DMT usage to find out that the Mimosa tenuiflora (syn. Mimosa hostilis) contains DMT. This is curious from an objective standpoint because the landscape in the dream of Woocoomb features a houseplant I was growing at the time: the Mimosa Pudica aka the “sensitive plant”, named after its instinct to fold closed its leaves when touched, much like a Venus fly trap. Though it does not seem to be a reliable source of DMT, it contains other (toxic) alkaloids. An extraction of its roots yields a solution which inhibits the toxicity of monocled cobra venom (wikipedia). I wonder what kind of effect this would have on the serpents who guard the pine cone?
As for peacocks and mantises:
At the time of dreaming I was not aware of the existence of the Peacock mantis shrimp (aka painted mantis shrimp), who live in the Indo-Pacific region of planet Earth’s ocean. Besides being a psychedelic creature in morphological form, to date they possess the animal kingdom’s most complex eyes, boasting 12 (some studies say 16) color-receptive cones. We large-brained humans only have 3 types of light-detecting cells sensitive to red, green, and blue light. This means that this little shrimp (who is actually a small type of lobster) might be seeing 5x more of the light spectrum than humans, including variations of ultra violet light (aqua.org). Based on their eye anatomy, they would perceive more variations of color wavelengths present in light–color that is already there, but invisible to our human eye(s). However, they may not actually be processing differences in gradations of color; it seems rather that “the shrimp can “see” colors directly without referencing them in its brain” (isciencetimes.com). Perhaps their 500-million year long lineage has allowed them to evolve such advanced eye sight without a significant advancement in brain. Its all in the (all-seeing) eyes!
Peacock mantis shrimp are also the only known animals able to see circularly polarized light, which occurs when the wave component of light rotates in a circular motion (phys.org). In the quantum view, it occurs when photons rotate in a spiraling motion/form either left or right (as half a DNA spiral?). In nature this type of light manifests in a few known places, including water, starlight, the bio-luminescence of fire flies, and the mantis shrimp itself, as light is reflects off its rainbow form (wikipedia). Being able to see circularly polarized light might “lend the mantis shrimp a secret mode of communication” (phys.org) (Kind of like how our bio-luminescent pineal gland can communicate electromagnetic energy?). Considering that we humans can’t even see generic polarized light (except with special sunglasses), we many never “know” (let alone see) exactly what this lobster sees–or even why it sees what it sees. Who would have thought that a lobster, of all creatures, sees the world as a psychedelic wonderland?
I named the painting Woocoomb as a portmanteau of womb and cocoon. Both are essentially permutations of the same vehicle. The cocoon is a tomb for the caterpillar, but a womb for the moth. The cocoon is not unlike a pine cone or an alchemical flask. An etheric cord suspends its form just above the surface as an umbilical fountain which supplies eternal nourishment within. The peacock-mantises are liminal manifestations of the rainbowprint of immortality. The imagistic and sonic realms are the twining undercurrents of the electromagnetic energies which course through all of physical creation. The realms of dreams, nature, and images directly reflect, inform, and create one another as a growing crystal web of collection consciousness. This multi-dimensionality of experience is accessed through a unified vision seeing all-as-one-as-many. It is neither dream nor waking realm that is unreal: it is the veil itself which is illusion.