as above, so below

“As above, so below.” I see this phrase used a lot these days. I studied the philosophy, texts and writings of hermeticism and alchemy while getting my MFA, and I, like many people, resonated with this concept when I first read it. These days I see it used in a way that gets under my skin. How it is being used is to only tell half the story of what it actually means. 

The original quote comes from “The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus”, "That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracle of the One Thing.” This macro / micro idea related so much to my art at the time. And what bothers me about how people use it is exactly how I used to see it then, so I get it. But since then I have done lots of work on a personal level around the shadow, and because of this I have come to understand its full meaning.

These days I see this quote being used all the time to talk about the light, the beautiful, the wonder of the universe. The stars we see are the stars within us. Although it is a beautiful concept (and it truly is), if we are to look at it in relation to the universe then we must include the wholeness of the universe, for the universe also holds darkness equal to the light. 

This is not a concept to only hold up to things that become a reflection of our goodness, our virtues, or what we find magical and expansive. It isn’t a term to be used in one instance and not others. If we are to truly embody this idea then we also must apply it to what is dark, mostly what we judge and think we are not. Think about all the instances where you would not want to use this idea as a means of reflection of who you are. THOSE are the places you should be applying it most. 

Though you might not be a serial killer, at least I hope you aren’t, there is still darkness in you, ways your shadow controls you, disconnects you, cons you, uses you and maybe uses others. The shadow that is so apparent in the world right now is easy to spot, but we all have a shadow within us that requires a more discerning eye to see. What we see men doing to women most people do to their own internal female. It’s the shadow, internal and external. It’s the same. What is happening externally IS a reflection of what is happening internally. But it is the acceptance of the shadow, understanding of it, respect for it, and a mastery over it that allows us to transform it, it is what gives us our wholeness, and it is only then that we can truly embody the fullness of this idea. Only then do we fully become the “One Thing.”

Lee Ufan , Relatum – The Arch of Versailles, 2014

No comments:

Post a Comment