THE PANTHEIST JOHFRA
A glance at Johfra’s mature works reveals a deep fascination with Nature. He seems especially obsessed by the invisible powers which move through all things, and manifest themselves in the swirling dispersion of clouds, the rush and and splash of water, or the slow turning of leaves and branches towards the light.
His mentor, Da Vinci, initially inspired him in this direction, and Johfra’s Notebooks are filled with detailed observations from Life: here, an accurate rendering of wild plants and herbs, there, a study of the movement in clouds. Such a scientific devotion formed the foundation to his work, but he also moved beyond this.
At times, Johfra playfully depicted the invisible forces in Nature as gnomes, elves, and water sprites. Indeed, he delighted in portraying these mischievous creatures, who play hide-and-seek among the acorns and oak leaves. Such a view onto Nature harkens back to Folklore and Legend, where a more Pagan outlook prevails.
Most of all, his mature works pursue the darker forces that move through the Earth, the primordial powers summoned through Witchcraft and Pagan worship. In the last decades of his life, the artist rendered a series of Witches’ Portraits, returned to the theme of The Witches’ Sabbath several times, and worked intensely on a huge triptych called The Adoration of Pan.
His painterly obsession with the powers of Nature must be understood, ultimately, as a turn toward Pantheism. His earlier Hermetic works struggled with the dichotomy between ‘above and below’. An intense dualism prevailed between spirit and matter, soul and flesh. The Gnostic approach was to renounce earth and flesh, and transcend them through knowledge of all that is ‘higher’.
Pantheism, by contrast, recognizes that the gods are everywhere and present in all things. They are immanent, not transcendent. The Sacred manifests itself in the earth, in the flesh, and in all forms of growth. Such an outlook harkens back to earliest pre-history, and has manifest itself over time in archaic Fertility rites, ancient Greek Mysteries, and European Paganism.
By rendering all these ancient rites in paint, Johfra offers us once more the images of our forgotten beliefs. His rich symbolism evokes their mysteries, and enjoins us to experience the Earth once more as sacred and alive.
In the later Pantheist works, the invisible powers that flow through Nature still appear in spiralling vegetation or swirling clouds. But, more fascinating still, they now take form in human figures as well. Some of these are ancient deities, like the primodial Earth Mother with her cup, or the Horned God Pan, Pluto, and Cernunnos. Others are their acolytes, the priestesses and witches who celebrate the ancient rites. Most of all, we see swirling masses of naked figures rising and flying into the sky - who embody the invisible forces that flow through humanity as whole.
In such a vision, Nature is the greater power, emanating through man as she does through all living things, uniting them all in her greater cauldron of Life. Moving now through a selection of Johfra’s Pantheist works, Nature’s invisible forces will gradually appear before our eyes.
THE PRIMORDIAL MOTHER
Through a circular portal of clouds, we behold a vision of the Primordial Mother 2 (1985), her arms outstretched in an eternal gesture of offering. Her eyes are closed, her face serene. From above, a golden light descends and enters her, bathing her form with its radiance. Her robe and veils are green, the colour of abundance. Her bare feet and the folds of her robe spread out over the earth, infusing it with her life-creating powers. And in her womb, a spiralling cluster of stars bursts into life.
IMAGE: The Primordial Mother 2 (1985)(Chants des Toiles)
The most ancient works of art we possess - stone carvings and statuettes reaching back some fifteen thousand years - depict corpulent naked woman as the fertile source of all abundance. The Venus of Laussel, the Venus of Lespugue - all of these give form to the Paleolithic Mother Goddess, who would then re-appear throughout history under countless guises. First as Our Lady of the Beasts and Goddess of the Hunt. Then, in Neolithic times as Goddess of Planting and the Fields. Finally, she was named in the Near East as Inanna, Ishtar, and Astarte; in the Far East as Kali, Lakshmi, and Parvati; and in the West as Eve, Sophia, Maria and Magdalene.
Johfra’s image of the Primordial Mother must be seen in this tradition. She is all the goddesses just mentioned. For they all share the quality of investing this world with life. As Magna Mater, creatrice and genetrix, she is ‘the source,’ - and Life, her gift, spirals into creation from the matrix of her womb.
This is seen in the clouds and the stars that move in the heavens, for she is Queen of Heaven. It is also felt in the water that flows over the earth, for she too is Queen of the Sea. And for all forms of life that prosper on the Earth, she is their Mother. Her all-creative, life-giving power flows through them, and death is merely the redirection of this flow from one temperal form to another. The cycles of her manifestation are unending, and her fount of life is inexhaustable.
In his Vision of Hermes Trismegistos, Johfra has included this figure at the bottom of the painting. As Nature, she plays a significant but minor role in the Hermetic creation. Now, in the Pantheist works, she appears alone and in her full glory.
In the same year that Johfra’s Hermetic works were reaching their apex, he also executed a large painting of Hecate (1973). The importance of this work can only be fully appreciated when viewed in light of Johfra’s later artistic output. In fact, this painting is the first Pantheist work, and announces many of the themes that will become the main focus of larger canvases later on.
IMAGE: Hecate (1973)(J 279)
He has chosen for his subject a Goddess of ancient Greece. Rather than celebrating the love of Aphrodite or the wisdom of Athena, he has chosen instead the darker, primordial powers of life that are manifest in Hecate, Goddess of the Underworld.
She is crowned with the owl, a wise hunter who only takes flight at night. At her feet is Hecate’s emblem, the three-headed beast with the faces of a dog, a horse, and a lion (Johfra has substituted a human face for the lion’s).
In fact, in her most ancient form, Hecate was worshipped as a dog, a ‘whelping bitch’. An Ionian seal preserves this image of a dog with its female sex well-exposed while her young suckle at her breasts. The three-headed hound Cerebus who guards the gates of Hades, was, in fact, a substitute image for Hecate herself. Johfra preserves this more ancient image of Hecate through the three-headed beast at her feet.
The goddess’s role in Greek mythology was vague. She was clearly a very ancient goddess of fertility whose worship declined and was slowly forgotten. Still, Hesiod recalled her rulership over the heavens, earth, and the the seas. And he added that all abundance from these realms came from her, though she took away as well: “if she will, she increases from a few to many, or makes many to be less.” (Theogony l. 446). That is why even great Zeus, king of the gods, “honoured her above all” (Theogony l. 412)
An engraved gem from Roman times depicts Hecate as crowned, with three faces, and sitting between two coiled serpents. She has six arms, and in her six hands she holds two torches, two goads, and two knives. These motifs recur in Johfra’s painting. His Hecate holds a sceptre with a torch at the top, two crescent moons and two entwined serpents.
The crescent moons relate to the three faces of Hecate which also appear in this painting. Since time immemorial, the moon has offered us a very ancient image of woman: its three phases reflect the three stages in the life of woman. The crescent moon, when it is waxing, symbolizes the virgin, who appears below Hecate to the right, offering her a cup. When the moon is full, it symbolizes the mother, who appears as Hecate herself, the ancient source of abundance. And the crescent moon, when it is waning, symbolizes the crone, who appears below Hecate to the left, as an old woman piercing a baby with a needle. There is also a fourth phase, the dark moon, when the moon disappears from the heavens, and she is present in Johfra’s painting behind Hecate, as the shrouded old lady with depleated breasts.
As her worship declined, Hecate ‘went underground’ and was revered as Goddess of the Underworld. She was also feared as Queen of the Witches, whose rites were celebrated ‘at the crossroads’. In the background of this painting, Johfra depicts the witches’ sabbath for the first time in his works - a theme which will grow over the next decade.
The cauldron appears twice. On the right, three naked woman (and a fourth just visible, as in the phases of the moon above) kneel with hands raised as they gyrate sexually around the cauldron. On the left, three old women in cloaks (and a fourth just visible) draw from the cauldron a healing balm, which is applied to the nude bodies of four younger women.
The cauldron is a pagan image which recurs in the baptismal font, the chalice, the grail, and the alchemist’s retort. In it, all life is renewed. In their cauldron, these wise women are conjuring forth Nature’s life-giving forces, and applying them as a healing balm. Through their age-old recipes, remedies and spells, the witches have learned to release the secret elixers that are hidden in Nature.
In the far background, a horde of witches and warlocks take flight, riding upon the animal familiars that they’ve conjured. This last motif, a moving spectacle to behold, will erupt into life in his next Pantheist works.
THE WITCHES’ SABBATH I
Four years later, Johfra executed his first version of The Witches’ Sabbath (1977). In its dynamic composition, countless human figures appear. Some, in the extreme foreground, are asleep. In a wave towards the right, these gradually awaken, reach forth, and arise. Other figures on the ground join hands and dance - all naked women celebrating the midnight sabbath. Eventually, these celebrants turn towards the right and, with a leap, begin to levitate - then take flight.
IMAGE: The Witches’ Sabbath I (1977) (J 316)
Further back in the air, a white mass of swirling figures spiral higher into the heavens. These are joined by darker figures in the background - all mingle, mix, and unite into a gyre of human figures flying round the sole source of light in the darkness - the Horned God.
This lone figure is counterbalanced by the celebrants in the left foreground. Here, ten naked women kneel round a cauldron and with sensual rapture explode in ecstatic trance. Above them, the bearded hierophant, naked except for his cape and bishops’ mitre, enjoins them all to rise up to Baphomet.
A painting such as this seems a far cry from the Hermetic works - the Zodiac and Hermes Trismegistos - which Johfra had executed three years earlier. First of all, where all of these had a central composition and strong symmetry, this work is dynamic and contraposed. Where they were calm and stilled, this is moving and alive. Where they sought to direct the eye towards concentrated meditation; here the eye is invited to follow the spiralling dance, then fly up in ecstasy. Most of all, where the main figure of Hermes Trismegistos pointed with one hand upward and the other hand downward, here the Horned God dramatically gestures with both hands downward. It is only the celebrants who raise their hands in adoration of him.
The iconography Johfra used for this figure is worthy of further examination. The ram’s head, bat wings, and cloven hooves are elements associated with the Christian devil from the earliest times in Christianity. Indeed, they may be traced back even further into the Pre-Christian era. But the torch between his horns and the erect phallus with entwined serpents are motifs clearly derived from Eliphas Levi and his description of Baphoment. The occult image of the Horned God is re-inforced by a minor but important detail: the hierophant on the left has the inverted cross on his bishops’s mitre.
Levi was an Occult philosopher who lived in Paris from 1810 to 1875. He published an image of Baphomet which has since become the source of iconography for many Visionary artists, including H. R. Giger (and myself). Levi gives a long explanation of the iconography of Baphomet, saying:
“This is a pantheistic and magical portrayal of the Absolute... indicating the mystery of the universal procreation.”
(Give full text as hyper link)
This is a pantheistic and magical portrayal of the absolute. The torch between the horns represents the rectifying intelligence of the Trinity; the ram’s head is a synthesis of the features of a dog, bull, and donkey, and symbolizes the responsibility of matter alone and, through the bodies, the expiation of the sin’s of the body. The hands are human to show the sacredness of the work. They point upward and downward, making the esoteric adjuring the initiated to secrecy, and indicate two crescent moons, a white one above, a black one below, to clarify the relationship of good to evil and of mercy to justice. The lower part of the body is veiled, indicating the mystery of the universal procreation, which is hinted at only by the symbol of Hermes’ staff. The ram’s belly is scaly and must be seen as green; the semi-circle above must be blue; the feathers, reaching up to the breast, are variously coloured. The ram has woman’s breasts and thus the only signs of mankind it bears are those of maternity and work, i.e. the signs of redemption. On its brow, between the horns and below the torch, it bears the sign of the macrocosm or pentagram with its point facing upwards as symbol of human intelligence; by its position under the torch, and through the flames of the torch, this sign symbolizes the divine revelation.
The god Baphoment arose during the middle ages as the name for the idol which, according to the Inquisition, the Knights Templar brought back from the Holy Land and worshipped in secret. These charges were brought forth for political reasons, and it is doubtful whether such an idol ever existed. But ever since Levi called his occult image ‘Baphomet of Mendes, the Sabbatic Goat,’ it has been taken as an image for the Templar’s idol. In popular imagination, Baphomet has become an image of the Christian devil.
In this painting, Johfra uses Baphomet’s image to give us (in Levi’s words) ‘a pantheist and magical portrayal of the Absolute’. In particular, he is trying to express ‘the mystery of universal procreation’. The multitude of figures swirling around the Horned God are moved by Nature’s all-creative power, which expresses itself in humanity through desire, delight, and orgiastic revelling. The Horned God with his erect phallus becomes the focal point of their collective longing. But he must be seen as an image embodying procreation, and not the force itself. That force is manifest - invisibly - in the masses of figures and their collective movement towards mingling, merging, and uniting as a whole. They are a collective manifestation of Life.
WICCA AND THE WITCHES’ PORTRAITS
In 1979, Johfra began a series of Witches’ Portraits, which included Arachne, Mary Magdalene, and one called The Cry. Each of these women are dark, mysterious, and perhaps even deranged. He has chosen the genre of the portrait so that we, the viewer, may penetrate deeper into the personality of these women, and attempt to elevate their underlying mystery.
IMAGE: Witches’ Portrait: Arachne (1979) (J 335)
IMAGE: Witches’ Portrait: Mary Magdalene (1979) (J 335)
IMAGE: Witches’ Portrait: The Cry (1979) (J 333)
These are the wise women of old, whose legends preserve their fame. Arachne was born in ancient Greece, a simple woman, yet proud, and highly skilled in the art of weaving. The designs she wove were so perfect that not even Athene could outdo her. In anger, the goddess tore up the tapestries and Arachne, in sorrow, hung herself. Regretting her jealousy, Athene changed Arachne into a spider and her rope into a thread. To this day, Arachne the spider weaves her webs and tapestries in Nature.
In the Christian tradition, Mary Magdalene is the patron saint of Chemists and Apothecaries. This hints at the wise women’s more traditional recipes which released the natural healing properties from Nature. Magdalene was also a prostitute, which means she may have followed the more ancient ways of the hierodules or ‘sacred prostitutes’, for whom sex was a sacrament. When performed as a ritual, the sex act celebrated the fertile forces in Nature. At that moment, the Goddess’s procreative power flowed through the celebrants, blessing them with ecstasy.
The painting of The Cry reminds us that many of the women accused of witchcraft were, by today’s standards, psychologically disturbed. Lost in the labyrinth of their hallucinations, some borderline delusional, others insane, these poor women were tried by the inquisition, condemned, and burned. A painting such as this reminds us of the atrocities that were committed during ‘the burning times’
Johfra’s Witches’ Portraits and Sabbaths appeared at a time when there was a resurgence of interest in Wicca, Magick, and Neo-Paganism. The impetus for this resurgence began with Margaret Murray’s books The Witch Cult in Western Europe (1921) and The God of the Witches (1933) as well as Gerald Gardner’s novel, High Magic's Aid (1949). In the 1960’s, that interest exploded, and has since spread through Europe and North America as a serious spiritual practice. Much of the imagery in Johfra’s Pantheist works may be elucidated by Wicca.
In her pioneering studies, Murray examined the testimony given by the accused during the witch trials and concluded that, beyond the stock answers prompted by the Malleus Malificarum (the inquisitor’s manual) and extracted under torture, there lay a substratum of genuine beliefs which some women willingly put forth and defended to the death. These beliefs were typical of agrarian societies, and stemmed from ‘the old religion’ that had survived underground while Christianity triumphed.
This Pagan religion involved fertility rites timed by the seasons and the moon. Murray found no evidence of a Fertility Goddess, though women participated equally with men in the rites. Instead, she found much evidence for the worship of ‘the Horned God’, which the Inquisition naturally took to be the devil. “The God of the old religion becomes the Devil of the new," Murray quoted.
She went on to cite examples of Horned Gods in agrarian societies, going back as far as the Paleolithic era and the ‘Great Magician’ from the Caverne des Trois Frères in Ariege. She also mentions Pan of ancient Greece and Cernunnos of the Gauls (whose name means simply ‘The Horned One’). All of these gods appealed to farmers and landworkers because they manifest the fertile forces in Nature.
In A History of Religious Ideas (vol II, par 171), Mircea Eliade also notes the similarity between Cernunnos and the ‘Great Magician’ of Trois Freres, going on to compare them with a horned figure from the Gundestrup cauldron. All of these ‘horned gods’ (or their acolytes) possess the antlers of a stag. Eliade remarks that, “because of the periodical renewel of its antlers, the stag is one of the symbols of continual creation.”
Like the fields which stagnate in the Fall and regenerate in the Spring, the antlers of the Horned God manifest the fertile forces of Nature as they undergo death and regeneratiton. The continuous cycle of the moon also manifests this phenomena.
The witches’ sabbaths, according to modern Wicca, were a series of fertility festivals from the Old Religion. These were timed by the new moon or the full moon, and took place between sunset and sunrise. The four greater Sabbats are Beltaine on May 1; Samhain on October 31; Yule on December 21; and Eostre on April 21. (The famous Walpurgisnacht in Goethe’s Faust falls on Beltaine.)
The witches’ caudron had a practical purpose, as the vessel for cooking herbs and potions or burning incense. But, symbolically it must be seen as the womb of all creation, the Great Cup which, in many of Johfra’s works, the Primordial Mother holds in her lap. All that is plunged into the cauldron undergoes initiation, transformation, and rebirth, as this is the womb of the all-creative Nature.
Returning to Johfra’s painting of Witches’ Sabbath I, we may now see that Baphomet is a late version the Horned God from Pagan times. He is not the object of their worship, but a manifestation of the fertile forces in Nature. The witches’ sabbath is a more ancient festival celebrating the turn of the seasons and the resurgence of Nature’s life-giving power. The witches gathered round the cauldron are concentrating that power, while the celebrants as a whole give it release, swirling en masse in Nature’s greater spiral of growth.
THE HORNED GOD
Johfra reprised The Witches’ Sabbath in 1997, one year before his death. In the latter work, the composition is different, but the iconography much the same: the Horned God appears at the centre of the composition as Baphomet. In the time between these two versions, Johfra painted a series of larger works with the Horned God as their central focus. In The Lord of the World (1995), a satirical form of the Devil appears. In Homage to Lucas Cranach the Elder (1995), it is Priapus, the Roman form of the god Pan. In The Kingdom of Pluto (1997), it is Pluto, the Greek God of the Underworld. And in a large canvas with hundreds of figures called The Enchanting World of Cernunnos (1993), we meet with the Horned God of the Gauls exactly as he was depicted in the Gundestrup cauldron, with the stag’s antlers on his head, and holding a ram-headed snake in one hand and a necklace in the other.
IMAGE: Homage to Lucas Cranach the Elder (1995)(J 455)
IMAGE: The Enchanting World of Cernunnos (1993)(J 432)
But the Horned God makes his greatest appearance in a massive triptych which Johfra laboured upon day and night in 1979.
THE ADORATIONOF PAN
These three panels, measuring three metres across and almost two metres high, offer a stunning vision of the En to Pan - the One who is All. Taken as a whole, they constitute Johfra’s greatest expression of the Pan-theistic philosophy.
IMAGE: The Adoration of Pan (1979) (J 329)
The satyr-god Pan was venerated particularly by the shepherds of Arcadia. Half man, half ram (or goat), he had curling horns, cloven hooves, and carried the pan pipe. Lazy, mischievous, and lusty, he is remembered primarily for seducing nymphs, causing pan-ic, and inspiring general pan-demonium. Johfra dedicated a pastoral painting to this god, and he appears there calm and reposed.
IMAGE: Pan de bosgod (1980)(J 346)
The satyr-god Pan is clearly not the central focus of The Adoration of Pan. For this work, Johfra has returned to the iconography of Baphomet already seen in the Witches’ Sabbath. The Horned God in that painting was the focus of Nature’s all-creative power, and he plays the same symbolic role in this work. He is invoked as Pan, primarily because the Greek word ‘pan’ means ‘all’. This is particularly noticeable in the word Pan-theism, which means that the god or gods are present in all things. The title of the painting may be better understood as The Adoration of ‘the All’.
In this regard, it is interesting to compare this, the greatest of Johfra’s Pantheist works, with The Unio Mystica, the greatest of his Hermetic works. While the Pantheist triptych expresses The Adoration of ‘the All’, the Hermetic triptych expresses, by contrast, The Adoration of ‘the One’. This reflects a spiritual dilemma which seems to have obsessed Johfra at the time: is the Sacred to be found above, in the One, or here below, as the All?
A closer examination of the Pan triptych reveals an important structuring element. There are four principle streams of figures: one emerges from the fire on the far right, a second emerges from the water in the centre, and the third emerges from the earth on the left, while the fourth emerges from the air in the heavens - earth, air, fire, water! The painting is, primarily, the mixture of the four elements, which find their union in ‘the all’ in the centre.
What idea underlies this image of the four elements spiralling into union at their centre?
An important goal in Alchemy was to recognize the fundamental unity of the elements. It was Aristotle who gave this idea its clearest expression, though its roots go back to the earlier philosophy of Empedocles. In book II of On Generation and Corruption, Aristotle describes how all substances are composed of the four elements in different proportions. One substance can be transformed into another by altering the proportion of its elements through heating or cooling, washing or drying. This is because four distinct qualities underlie the four elements: the qualities of the hot and cold, moist and dry. As Aristotle explained in book II, pt. 3“Fire is hot and dry, whereas Air is hot and moist... and Water is cold and moist, while Earth is cold and dry.”
Later, the alchemists were able to visualize this arrangement in a diagram called ‘The Philosopher’s Wheel’. It allowed them to clearly see the element of Fire and its qualities of hot and dry, since they lay beneath it in the circle. Water, which is cold and moist, was opposite. And so on around the wheel.
IMAGE: The Philosopher’s Wheel
The importance of this image is that it revealed the funadamental unity of the elements. That primal unity can be imagined in the circle at the very centre. The mystery which unified the elements, Aristotle called ‘matter’, and so it has remained even unto our day. Meanwhile, earlier philosophers had named that mystery ‘the One’, but Aristotle thought they were confused. After claiming that the fundamental unity should be called matter, Aristotle cited Empedocles, saying, “There is another obscurity in the theory of Empedocles. Are we to regard the One as his original..? Or is it the Many?” (Gen. Bk II, pt 1)
Unfortunately, all that remains of Empedocles’ philosophy, and that of the other ‘Pre-Socratic Philosophers’, is a series of isolated fragments. But, for all the Pre-Socratic philosophers, the question of ‘the One’ or ‘the Many’ was, without doubt, the fundamental mystery that lay at the heart of Creation.
Most of them thought that all things came from ‘the One’, and for Thales, the One manifest itself first as water while, for Heraclitus, it was fire. Empedocles was the first to say it was four-in-one - earth, air, fire, and water all intermixed - but stressed that these were originally One which had become Many, and that the Many would become One again:
“I shall tell thee a two-fold tale. At one time it grew together to be One only out of Many; at another time it parted asunder so as to be Many instead of One: Fire and Water and Earth and the mighty height of Air.” (fragment 17).
This is the first time in history that the four elements are mentioned. Empedocles’ vision also implies a circular view of time, and he states clearly in another fragment that “they all prevail in turn as the circle comes round.” (fragment 26). But the entire cosmos for him was also, in the spacial dimension, a huge spiral or vortex (‘dine’) continually turning round. The Many were drawn to the One at the centre of the vortex, out of love. But the One disintegrated along the periphery into the Many, due to strife:
“When strife was fallen to the lowest depths of the vortex, and love had reached the centre of the whirl, in it do all things come together to be One only.” (fragment 35)
This is the more ancient view of the Creation which Aristotle found confusing. He could not accept that the four elements were, at one time, One and, at another time, Many. He substituted the idea of ‘matter’, saying it unified the four elements while preserving their diversity.
In Johfra’s Adoration of Pan, we have a magnificent vision of the ancient vortex where the four elements are manifest as both the Many and the One. On the periphery, we see ‘the Many’ as hundreds of minute figures taking flight from the earth, air, fire and water. In the centre of the whirl we behold the union of the four elements in ‘the One’ - the gigantic figure of Pan who, in name and in form, states that ‘I am the All’.
And yet, as we have learned from The Witches’ Sabbath, the invisible power that moves through these swarming figures is not simply ‘matter’ or even ‘the four elements’, but Life. This is Life’s universal striving for union, which passes through matter, through the four elements, and through all human beings. We are nothing more than Nature bursting into life.
It has been noted that the word ‘matter’ used by Aristotle relates to ‘materia’ and ‘Mater’ - it is ‘the Mother’ of elements. With this realization, we return full circle, to Johfra’s image of the Primordial Mother - she who bears the spiralling cosmos in the matrix of her womb. The ‘matter’ that makes up the entire universe is nourished and brought forth from the body of the Primordial Mother. (Returning to ancient Greek terminology, some scientists and philosophers have come to think of matter and the earth as Gaia once more.)
In Johfra’s triptych of the Unio Mystica, we have a magnificent vision of the One and the Many - how the many symbols of different traditions may all arise from the same transcendent source - the Hermetic ‘One’. The emphasis is decidedly in favour of unity: Unio or ‘the One’. In The Adoration of Pan triptych, this vision of the One and the Many is manifest once more, except now, greater emphasis is placed on the Many, as the four elements and their swirling mass of figures who seek their centre in Pan, ‘the All’.
We are reminded, finally, of a fragment from Heraclitus. In one of his more mysterious utterances, he has said, “When you have listened, not to me, but to my utterance, it is wise to agree that All things are One.” (fragment 50) The final words in Greek are ‘En panta’, and can mean either ‘All are one’ or ‘the One is all’. The question has been debated for centuries.
In Johfra’s Hermetic image of ‘the One’ in Unio Mystica and his Pantheist image of ‘the All’ in The Adoration of Pan, we have two conflicting but equally magnificent expressions of this eternal enigma.