Many of my dreams from this period had a recurring theme: I came across a child that had been beaten then abandoned. But this dream was unique, insofar as it lacked plot and characters, merely presenting me with an extraordinary vision.
I dreamt that I saw a painting. It was in the Gothic style, and depicted Christ standing before the altar with his hands raised and turned outwards in a curious manner. Although he stood before the altar, performing the mass, there was also a sense that this was the resurrection. Christ stood within the tomb, and dawn was breaking behind him. His stance, the gestures all were reminiscent of Gothic paintings that depict Christ rising from the tomb.
But in this composition, he wore a long robe with a cowl, like that of a monk. And indeed, there was a monastary behind him, reminiscent of the Byzantine monastaries Id last seen in Moldavia and Kiev, with their peculiar onion domes. The entire atmostphere of the painting was pervaded by a curious blue glow.
Yet, strangest of all, there was a chalice on the altar a chalice that was topped with a glass vessel, like the vas hermeticum of alchemy. And within this vas-like chalice, a child was being born in a cloud of luminous vapours. This was both a child and a little man such as one sees in alchemical images of the homunculus or Byzantine renderings of the Christ-child. And finally, at the top of the painting, I noticed the words ALCHEMIST CHRIST. The painting had a strong feeling of transformation, transfiguration, and transsubstantiation.
Although I had no idea what it meant, I immediately set about drawing this image onto a prepared wooden panel. From the alchemical arrangement of images given to me in the dream, I started drawing more and more, freely associating as I went along.