VISIONARY REVUE


THREE-HEADED HECATE
from a Roman gem

      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



 
 
 


PARIS - SPRING 2003


HECATE (1973)
(Click to enlarge)


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.




 
 
 


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