by Eric Whollem
acrylic with earth pigments in vinyl emulsion on panel
Collection of the artist.
3' x 4'
Copyright by the artist.
Crystallomancy and the Mystery of the Beryl Stone
INQUIRIES INTO PRERAPHAELITES
Rosebone, one of my early works, is a blend: medieval
fantasy with a surrealistic touch.
"Rosebone" conceptually blends the contraries, life and death.
She holds a red orb, which could be said to symbolize the life
force or vitality, as red relates to the colors of the muladhara,
or base chakra. Another way to see the orb is as a crystal ball
into which Rosebone gazes.
In a folksong that I wrote in 1973, entitled, Rosebone, I wrote
of how Rosebone is decked in beryl stone. Beryl is a stone
that is usually blue or green in color, but may be found in red
or yellow. Beryl is related to the stone called aquamarine. In
my painting, I fancied that Rosebone's body was made of beryl
conglomerate. It is not impossible to see the orb in my painting
as a sphere of red beryl.
AND ROSE MARY
Rossetti, the famous Preraphaelite, wrote cycle of
poems entitled, The Beryl-Song, in which he describes
crystallomancy through the use of a beryl that lies at the
bottom of the sea.
In Rose Mary the poet writes concerning the beryl sphere:
"A thousand years it lay in the sea
With a treasure wrecked from Thessaly;
Deep it lay 'mid the coiled sea-wrack.
But the ocean spirits found the track:
A soul was lost to win it back."
In my song of Rosebone I style her as a mermaid, whose
only clothing is "sand and seaweed."
Roseben is a medieval figure that appears in the art of
William Bell Scott, and was adapted by Dante Gabriel
Rossetti in his poem, Rose Mary. The poem begins
with the lines: "Of her two fights with the beryl-stone."
Several other beryl poems complete the cycle.
In my song of Rosebone she is said to have been "dead
these five hundred years, but still manages a whisper of
wooing." Thus I certainly conceived of Rosebone as
dwelling in ages past.
I was not familiar with the details of the history of the
Preraphaelites back in 1972, except knowing that the
Art Nouveau movement, which so influenced the art
of the Counterculture, grew out of Preraphaelite and
Symbolist art of the 19th century. Thus the beryl story
was of great interest to me, when I discovered it a
few years back, after reading Douhgty's biography of
Rossetti's Beryl-Song begins with the lines: "We
whose home is the Beryl/ Fire Spirits of dread
desire. . ."
The beryl is described as a sphere that was brought
originally from Palestine. This gives yet another take
on the interpretation of the red sphere in my painting
of 1972. "Fire spirits of dread desire" seems an apt
description of the emanations of the muladhara chakra,
well known by students of Kundalini Yoga.
These synchronicities between my own modern works
and those of Rossetti may be of interest to students of
art history and mysticism.
AND THE TWIN SOUL IDEA
Actually Dante Gabriel Rossetti's father was an
alchemist and an Orientalist, so that the Rossetti
household was familiar with Hindu scriptures back
as early as the 1840's, not that these studies colored
symbolism in Rose Mary or the Beryl-Stone. The
Rossetti's were Italians, but not Catholics, being of
the Freemasonic persuasion and originally migrated
to Britain to escape political difficulties in Italy.
Rossetti was the originator of the "Twin Flame" idea,
reflected in his adoration of his muse, Elizatbeth Siddal.
His poetry has numerous hints of glimpses of past lives,
and notions of reincarnation.
Rossetti's poem, "The Birth-bond" relates:
"Even so, when I first saw you, seemed it. love,
That among souls allied to mine was yet
One nearer kindred than life hinted of,
O born with me somewhere that men forget,
And though in years of sight and sound unmet,
Known for my soul's birth partner well enough."
And in "Lovesight" he writes:
". . .my soul only sees thy soul it's own."
Dante also wrote:
"I have been here before,
But when or how I cannot tell;
I know the grass beyond the door,
the sweet, keen smell
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore.
"You have been mine before--
How long ago I may not know:
But just when at the swallow's soar
Your neck turned so
Some veil did fall--I knew it all of yore."
This latter verse gives a rather clear description of the
idea of reincarnation.
The subject of Soul Mates and the subject of the
Twin Flame are differing concepts. A soul mate is
anyone with whom one has had close interaction: either
in the present time or a past life. It could be a friend, a
son or daughter, a parent, as well as a husband or wife.
The Twin Flames
The Twin Flame is a soul who is so close to oneself
as to be part of the very essence of one's own soul,
split off as a petal from a flower in Heaven. They are
not the same a Soul Mates, which one can find more
It is rare that Twin Flames ever encounter one
another on the earthly plane. Their meeting is extremely
intense; it is said that their conjoining is an Initiation of
Dante Gabriel Rossetti never utilized the exact phrase,
"Twin Flame," but conceptually he was the first to
theorize along these lines. This was one of his major
intellectual contributions to the Romantic Movement
and the idea is alive today among metaphysical people.
Readers may want to view my posts on The Muse on this link:
Other Early Acrylic Paintings can be found here:
A sampling of my own Poetry is on this link:
A FIGURATIVE ABSTRACTION.