The nature of the painting "The Taking of Excalibur" by the symbolist artist John Duncan expresses great spiritual truths of our individual alchemical process. Many alchemical paintings follow a "formula" of expression rooted in the theater of our individual attainment. "The Taking of Excalibur" is one of the clearest of these examples, and with a little knowledge of Kabbalah and the nature of our spiritual process, we may decipher the meaning of this painting.
In alchemical paintings every object, color, action and environment is symbolic of the divine, inner mystery of the transmutation of our spiritual self, the fertile landscape of our spiritual transformation. "The Taking of Excalibur" expresses the nature and process of gaining access to our Higher Self.
In this painting, the two persons looking at the audience shows us where to place the focus of our attention, where the action is happening; the Initiator rowing the boat and the woman, symbolizing the Higher Self of the Initiate, standing upon the waters of Consciousness behind him.
In Kabbalah, the sephira of Geburah, Severity or Power, upon the Tree Of Life is represented by the color red. Geburah is equated with the element of fire, Mars and willpower and to the Arthurian feminine, Guinivere .
The sephira Chesed, Mercy, loving Kindness or Compassion, is represented by the color blue. Chesed is equated with the element of water, our Innermost, Jupiter and our inner King Arthur.
The sephirot of Geburah and Chesed are polarities of each other and thus balance each other upon our own inner Tree of life. The initiator is the catalyst of the initiate and his ensuing process of spiritual transformation into the greater depths of his spiritual reality.
Like the three Marys of Jesus, these three women represent the three aspects of the initiates Higher Self; the Inner Child, Inner Self and Higher Self. Two of the three women wear garments lightly colored in blue and red, signifying harmony of polarities. The white garment signifies purity. Upon their garments are the symbols of three leaves, the Sacred Heart of Christ, and a pentacle representative of Spirit or perfected man. In culmination, the single figure of the woman looking at us represents these three women, the combined attributes of our Higher Self.
Further introspection of this marvelous painting shows us the action taking place upon the waters of the consciousness of the Initiate. The Lady of the Lake is in possession of Excalibur, the Sword of Truth and Righteousness, a symbol of sovereignty, divine dominion and intuition. The serpents upon the waters are the Initiates own thresholds of the tests and circumstances which must be overcome and transmuted in order to obtain his individual Excalibur, gnosis and spiritual intuition.
The Master, the Initiator, is in control of the spiritual processes, forces of alchemy, and rows the Initiates vehicle of transformation. Notice how the Master rows the vehicle of the Initiates head-on into the catalyst of the spiritual confrontation? and yet, upon the bow of the boat is a dove, symbol of Spirit and peace alight upon a winged serpent, symbolic of the kundalini. The symbol of our Oneness, Unity and Attainment, is represented by the gold ring or circle attached to the winged serpent.
The Initiate, shown as the young man with a golden helmet, is passive to the forces of spiritual transmutation. He has entrusted the Master to be his spiritual guide, to steer his spiritual vehicle upon the waters of Consciousness. The passiveness of the Initiate demonstrates perfect Trust and Faith in the accomplished Master that has navigated these turbulent processes before.
"I believe that helping humanity reconnect to the Light activates the process of self-healing and transformation in order to create a life of authenticity and purpose."
~ Antonia Blue Star
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