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Psychanodia Ochema

L. Caruana 2014
70 x 100 cm, QuintEssential Medium on canvas



“All this kind of divination… is encompassed by one power which someone might call ‘evoking the light.’ This somehow illuminates the aether-like and luminous vehicle (aitherodes kai augoeides ochema) surrounding the soul with divine light, from which vehicle the divine appearances, set in motion by the gods’ will, take possession of the imaginative power in us.” – Iamblichus, On the Mysteries, III. 14

The initial drawing was begun as a collaboration with David Heskin when he and Aloria Weaver stayed at our Burgundian farmhouse as our guests in 2012. We were fascinated by the cube octahedron as a possible armature for the Divine Face, which we rendered (side by side) as a combination of a Byzantine Christ and Buddhist Bodhisattva.
For an evening of Live Painting & Chants during a solo exhibition at the Galerie d’Art Visionnaire de Paris, I transfered the drawing and began the underpainting. So, the painting was begun live.
The intense colour harmonies evolved as I worked on the painting side by side with Amanda Sage and Maura Holden during the 2012 Visions in the Mischtechnik Seminar in Italy. However, it was Kuba Ambrose’s masterwork The House of Many Mansionswhich inspired me to reach for new and higher intensities of light and colour.
After the opening of The Vienna Academy of Visionary Art in September of 2013 (where I co-taught with, among others, David Heskin and Kuba Ambrose), I worked on this painting regularly on Saturday nights from midnight till dawn – usually in an elevated state. It was part of my on-going attempts to paint while in this altered state of perception – something I don’t usually do, since the colour harmonies I see during those moments don’t often translate to our regular modes of perception. By glazing with transparent whites, I was able to tweak them afterward to more moderate crystalline hues.
Over the course of one night, I altered the luminous cube octahedron into a glowing icosahedron (the cube octahedron can still be seen within it), since this twenty-sided Platonic Solid suddenly appeared to me as the true shape of my ‘soul ascent vehicle’. Through my work with sacred plants and through my readings in Theurgy, I’d become increasingly familiar with certain geometric shapes that acted as ‘vehicles’ to protect my soul and transport it during full-on vision journeys into the spirit realm.
During the 2014 OZORA Festival in Hungary I gave a lecture presentation on The Vision Journey East and West where I described these vision journeys in detail, using the Gnostic rite of the Soul Ascent (see Chapter 11 of my novel The Hidden Passion) and Tantric meditation on Buddhist Mandalas as my main sources.
It was particularly through my reading of Iamblichus’ On the Mysteries and John F. Finamore’s Iamblichus and the Theory of the Vehicle of the Soul that I arrived at the title for this piece – Psychanodia Ochema, where Psychanodia is the Greek word for Soul Ascent, and Ochema is its Vehicle in the Neo-Platonic tradition.
The painting has since been exhibited at the year-end Inner Worlds Graduate Exhibition at The Vienna Academy of Visionary Art, the Dancing Shiva alternative café in Vienna, and the Boom Festivalin Portugal, among other venues.

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