VISIONARY REVUE

JOHFRA'S NEO-PLATONISM

      The Neo-Platonic tradition emerged during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, re-interpreting Plato's writings and orienting them more towards transcendence and revelation The greatest of these thinkers included Plotinus, Porphyry, Boethius, Pseudo-Dionysus, and Macrobius.
      It has strong links with Hermeticism and Gnosticism, though Plotinus continually denied those similarities. For him, these were Mystery religions which invoked enlightenment through initiatory images. Meanwhile, philosophy and meditation were the only means, he thought, to transcendence. As Plotinus expressed it, the contemplative soul must “press onward to the innermost sanctuary, leaving behind him the statues in the outer temple.”
      Johfra himself summarized the Neo-Platonic philosophy as follows:
      "The emergence of all things from the unchanging, absolute, and divine One is the essence of Neo-Platonic teachings. All things emanated from this One, appearing in their multiplicity in the lower levels of emanation. First the One brought the Logos into being, the Word or universal Intelligence, through which the world of divine Ideas comes to be. These are the perfect Images, after which Nature is formed.
      "The things of nature are thus imperfect and incomplete. But each does have within it the slumbering remembrance of the original archetype after which it was created. And through the beauty of its form, a thing reflects this perfect form. The aspiration in each created thing is to rise to a higher level. This is manifest in the attempt to release itself from space and time, and so, enclose its original essence within the safe shelter of that divine One from which it first emanated."
(Zodiac p. 4)



 
 
 


PARIS - SPRING 2003


UNIO
MYSTICA
(DETAIL)

      In his Unio Mystica, have we not already seen Johfra's attempt to offer us images by which we, in our meditations, may rise up, remember, and ultimately enclose ourselves in the divine One? All of these disparate images are, in fact, images of the One. We have seen, for example, the logos he mentions, the Word, in the form of the Hebrew letters YHWH and the Christian tetramorph of the four evangelists, not to mention the Buddhist Wheel of the Dharma.

And, we have seen Nature holding her cup at the root of the world tree.
      These images evoke the archetypes which, by their beauty, raise us up into a remembrance of our origins. Through the Babylonian tetramorph, the Zodiac Tree, and the Hindu Wheel of Becoming, we are reminded of space and time, of death and rebirth, which are the framework and cycle that we hope to escape.
      In images of awakening - among them, the lotus, the serpent, and the fire - we are reminded of the way to their transcendence. And finally, in images of the sun, YHWH, Horus, Christ, the tao and more, we find so many symbols which point beyond themselves to their transcendent Unity.
      Through its complexity and unity, this painting may ultimately be seen as a monus hieroglyphica – a sacred sign or ‘hieroglyph of the One’. To express this interior Unity, Johfra had recourse to Christian, Buddhist, Egyptian, Taoist, even Norse iconographies. Though viewed separately, like so many vignettes in stained glass, these different cultural symbols may also coalesce into one image, and then be entered through to the single Light shining behind them.




 
 
 


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