As the crow flies

Here’s the beginning of the next project. It’s a six by eight foot panel with a gold leafed  canvas laid down onto it. 



If you’ve been watching the blog for any length of time you’ll know that I’ve been getting a bit fanatical about crows and ravens. Here’s the panel that I’m going to start with, watch the birds appearing in the next few days. I need to get this ready for the show at Channel Islands: a week and a half to go!

In alchemy the crow is symbolic of the beginning of an alchemist’s spiritual journey. Here’s a passage from Adam McLean’s article about the birds found in alchemical symbolism:

“The Black Crow, sometimes also the Raven, is the beginning of the great work of soul alchemy. This indicates the initial stages of the alchemist’s encounter with his inner space, through withdrawing from the outer world of the senses in meditation, and entering what is initially the dark inner world of the soul. Thus this stage is also described in alchemical texts as the blackening, the nigredo experience, and it is often pictured as a death process, as in the caput mortuum, the deaths head, or as some alchemical illustrations show, the alchemist dying within a flask. Thus in the symbol of the Black Crow we have the stepping out in consciousness from the world of the physical senses the restrictions that bind us to the physical body.” 

(McLean, Adam. 1979. “The Birds in Alchemy” in The Hermetic Journal Issue 5.) 

About pearce

Michael Pearce is an artist, writer, and professor of art. He is the author of "Art in the Age of Emergence."
This entry was posted in Alchemical work, Black birds, Making work. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to As the crow flies

  1. pearce says:

    You’ll also be aware that Odin lost an eye (check out Deadalus in the “Aviator’s Dream” painting).

  2. Bret Bays says:

    Interestingly enough, I saw 2 crows by the studio on Thursday and I thought to myself, “Michael had been hunting these guys and with little luck in T.O….yet I just saw 2”.

    I’ve also been reading a lot of Norse Mythology and am wanting to do a piece on Odin who happens to have two ravens with him Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory). We’ll see how that works out. I might need some of your reference pictures.

  3. Rich Brimer says:

    So the fun begins. This lone panel has been waiting to take flight for many moons. This golden ocean is your oyster to search the pearl of the Raven. One week!?! Fly man, Fly!!!

  4. Kim says:

    this panel is quite striking already – can’t wait to see how it evolves!

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