Tongues of Flame

Tongues of Flame: custom pyrography & magic to discriminating musicians & magicians. Tattoo & Hoodoo for that Voudou that you do.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Prices vary according to size and complexity of the design, but are comparable to those of a reasonably priced tattoo of similar size and skill demand. If you have a budget, we can probably work around it. Contact me for details.

How It Works

You send me the instrument. It needs to be stripped of any paint or clear-coat, as these prevent the wood from taking the images which are burned into it. We talk by e-mail or phone. I ask strange questions. You tell me your ideas, what it feels like when the music is coming through you, what you want to capture or communicate in your music. Let me hear your work, or, if you don't have anything recorded, at least let me hear the music that moves you, that influences your sound. We'll talk about what you believe in, what you care about, what you dream of. Tell me about your favorite movies, books, ideas, painting, or comic-book characters. It's different for everybody, of course. That's the point, after all.

Then I do my thing: ceremony, divination, journeying. I listen for what your music is saying to me. I listen for what my allies have to tell me, or show me. I ask the instrument what it wants to be. I put the design together based on what I know, what I've learned from you, and what I'm shown along the way. I tell you what I get. You tell me if it works for you. I heat up the steel tips, call the spirits, and do the deed. You get a pimped ride for your internal landscape, along with a cd detailing the symbolism, influences, and meaning of the design.

The closest anology (in some ways) to what I do is probably tattooing. Prices for a design are comparable to those for tatoo work in a good shop (Actually, they're cheaper at the moment--take advantage of me while I'm still cheap and relatively unknown). Like a tattoo, the cost depends on the size, positioning and complexity of the design, and can range from one hundred to a few thousand dollars. Some people approach this process the way they would approach getting a tattoo, starting with a quarter panel (6"-8") and adding to it as time and experience dictate. If you have a budget, let me know and I'll work with you.

Time involved is also, of course, dependent on the size and complextity of the design. Expect at least 6-8 weeks for the completed piece (unless we're talking about something really small, or simple). Bigger pieces take longer, of course, but we'll agree on a mututally satisfying deadline before beginning. Each guitar is signed, titled, and numbered by the artist. See the portfolio of finished pieces for more detailed examples of how it all comes together.


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“String Theory” is the 4th installment in the “Tongues of Flame” series. This number has related connotations in the cosmologies and intellectual traditions of a variety of cultures across the globe. In indigenous American cultures, this is the number of the cardinal directions, the primary reference points of the consensus reality. In the European Hermetic tradition, four is associated with the fundamental aspects of the material world, the four classical elements: earth, air, fire and water. In the Tarot, four is the number of The Emperor, of the material world as the product and object of consciousness; analyzed, penetrated, manipulated by and reflected in Mind. In Hebrew tradition, four is the number of the Manifested Divine Will. In science, four is the number of the known dimensions: height, width, depth, and time, and the four known forces of nature. It seems appropriate, then, that this guitar’s imagery should be concerned with the material world, with science, with mind, and with time.

This particular instrument’s biography is also significant in the choice of imagery. This guitar was a first (electric) guitar, a gift to the musician from his grandmother. This individual, in addition to being a considerable musical talent, is a scholar and an alchemist who has gone on to develop dazzling ability as a producer and sound engineer. It seems appropriate, therefore, that the guitar’s symbolism deals with origins and development, application and theory, and the nature of sound.
Finally, this guitar is the first of the series to go out into the world to a new owner. It therefore follows that its subject matter should be general in nature, propounding universal themes and catholic imagery, as opposed to the personal mythologies that form the narrative focus of all other “Tongues of Flame” works to date.
The title of the guitar, “String Theory” is a reference to the current world-view of science, and to the idea of the guitar as a model and manifestation of the most basic forces that shape reality. In the beginning was not the Word, but the Note, and the voice of the guitar (and by extension, all stringed instruments), is in some sense an echo of Omkara, the Music That Sustains the Spheres.
The concept of string theory, radically simplified, is the idea that the fundamental structures of reality are a variety of “string”, the vibrations of which produce the patterns that we perceive as sub-atomic particles and energy. In the words of Daniel Green, a professor of physics and of mathematics at Columbia University and a leading string theorist;
“The fundamental particles of the universe that physicists have identified—electrons, neutrinos, quarks, and so on—are the "letters" of all matter. Just like their linguistic counterparts, they appear to have no further internal substructure. String theory proclaims otherwise. According to string theory, if we could examine these particles with even greater precision—a precision many orders of magnitude beyond our present technological capacity—we would find that each is not pointlike but instead consists of a tiny, one-dimensional loop. Like an infinitely thin rubber band, each particle contains a vibrating, oscillating, dancing filament that physicists have named a string.

Although it is by no means obvious, this simple replacement of point-particle material constituents with strings resolves the incompatibility between quantum mechanics and general relativity (which, as currently formulated, cannot both be right). String theory thereby unravels the central Gordian knot of contemporary theoretical physics. This is a tremendous achievement, but it is only part of the reason string theory has generated such excitement
String theory proclaims, for instance, that the observed particle properties—that is, the different masses and other properties of both the fundamental particles and the force particles associated with the four forces of nature (the strong and weak nuclear forces, electromagnetism, and gravity)—are a reflection of the various ways in which a string can vibrate. Just as the strings on a violin or on a piano have resonant frequencies at which they prefer to vibrate—patterns that our ears sense as various musical notes and their higher harmonics—the same holds true for the loops of string theory. But rather than producing musical notes, each of the preferred mass and force charges are determined by the string's oscillatory pattern. The electron is a string vibrating one way; the up-quark is a string vibrating another way, and so on.
Far from being a collection of chaotic experimental facts, particle properties in string theory are the manifestation of one and the same physical feature: the resonant patterns of vibration—the music, so to speak—of fundamental loops of string. The same idea applies to the forces of nature as well. Force particles are also associated with particular patterns of string vibration and hence everything, all matter and all forces, is unified under the same rubric of microscopic string oscillations—the "notes" that strings can play.”

The images on the back of the guitar all relate, in one way or another, to this theme of archetypal musical string, as it is exemplified in mythology, in metaphysics, in science, in history, and in the development and dissemination of stringed instruments, in particular. Like any good current model of reality, its effects are entirely relative. The story or associations evoked depend on the direction(s) in which the images are traversed by the eye.
Perhaps the simplest level to start with is the historical, which traces milestones in the development of the guitar through time. The stump filled with vibrating water at the base of the guitar serves (in this regard), as a reference to mythical or prehistoric time as a kind of chronological threshold for the story being told, an “In the beginning” from South American indigenous mythology. Dancing in ecstasy just above the surface hangs the “small sorcerer with a musical bow”, one of several composite creatures found in Les Trois-Frères Cave in the Ariège in southern France. The figure has both human and animal characteristics, and at 17,000 years old, is considered by many scholars to be the oldest representation of a stringed instrument in human history. He dances as a shaman among the Sons of Tate (to Whom we will return later), exemplifying the early use of stringed instruments as a means of contact and communication with the world of the Spirits, and an interface between the chronological narrative and the spiritual that we will explore later.
The figures of Anubis & Thoth play an Egyptian bow harp, and a Mesopotamian lyre, respectively. Both instruments date to ca. 2,500 b.c. That Thoth, who is the Greek's Hermes, is handing a turtle shell lyre to Apollo is a reference to Greek myth, wherein Hermes makes the 1st lyre out of a turtle shell as a gift to Apollo, the God of music. Significantly, the kissar is an ancient north African stringed instrument actually made of tortoise-shell, and may represent the ancestor of all modern guitars.
The second symbolic theme, the development of models of reality, is constructed from the center of the back of the guitar outward, represented by three concentric rings of tile work.

The first circle of tile work consists of the plates of the turtle’s shell. This image represents the mythical or archetypal view of reality, embraced by most indigenous cultures as well as by the root civilizations of Western European tradition, in which the structures and patterns of the material world were seen as expressing an underlying spiritual and ethical aesthetic, something essentially deeper and larger than the merely human, in which man participates, and can appreciate, but is ultimately not the master or the maker of.

`The second circle consists of a tile work pattern devised by 16th century German mathematician Johannes Kepler. The tile work is periodic, meaning that it is possible to predict from any portion of the pattern what the remainder will look like, and that the pattern repeats itself across space at regular intervals. The imagery of this pattern, with uniform stars nestled in an endlessly repeating network of rational shapes, is a lovely metaphor for the emergence of the rational, or scientific, world view. It is this perception of a clockwork universe, the product of linear, predictable processes, which forms the heart of the scientific model of reality, as it emerged from the minds of Kepler and his peers; men like Newton, Galileo, Brahe and Copernicus. Their universe was rational, comprehensible if not completely comprehended, with uniform laws that resulted in endlessly repeated patterns across the scale of objects and phenomena. It was this model of reality which gave rise to the technological civilization of Europe, which would dominate human thought for half a millennium

`The outermost circle is formed of Penrose tiles. These tiles are named after their inventor or discoverer, Sir Roger Penrose, a leading quantum theorist and mathematician. Penrose tiles are aperiodic, meaning that the pattern is repeated randomly, if at all, across infinite space, and that it is not possible to predict, on the basis of any portion of the pattern, what the remainder will look like. This image is a perfect metaphor for the emergence of the post-rational view of reality predicated by modern physics, a model of reality embracing the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, Einsteinian Relativity, and Chaos Theory. In this model of reality, the greatest precision science can achieve in its description of the world around us is a prediction of probabilities, a fuzzy universe forever being defined by the act of observation, a universe in which reality has proven not only to be stranger than we have imagined, but possibly even stranger than we can imagine.

A third layer of symbolic imagery occupies the central column of the guitar back. This symbolism revolves around the cord or string which links the body to the soul, and the soul to its source and its destination. The roots of this imagery run deep in the mythology of cultures the world over, on every inhabited continent. It is expressed here in the images of the Sons of Tate, the Four Sacred Directions, from Lakota mythology, William Blake’s Urizen, the God of Boundaries and Limits, the Fates from Greek mythology, and Maui, from Polynesian myth.

The Four Directions are depicted as sun-dancers, the cords which tether them to the ceremonial tree are transformed into the strings of the kissar, in this instance an emblem of the living earth. The tension of these cords, experienced by the conscious mind as pain or resistance, determines the tonal range of the instrument, just as the experience of pain tethers us to the world, and determines the possibilities of our expression in it. The dancers represent the possibilities of will and self-determination, the movement of the Spiritual Cord from its lower, or immanent tether point. The Dancers are also a reference to a Lakota prophecy, endorsed by Grandfather Archie Fire Lame Deer, that there will come a prophet, also known as Tate, who will teach mankind how to heal with sound.

Above them kneels Urizen, a figure Blake saw as a fundamental principle of reality, the Law of Limitation. He is posed as in Blake’s original print “Urizen Measuring the Void”, only now the points of his calipers serve to determine the degree of tension on the sun-dancer’s cords. He is Divine Necessity, the movement of the Spiritual Cord from its upper or transcendent end. He kneels in the midst of a sphere of eyes, representing the transcendent seat of Consciousness, the place “Where What Is Willed Is Done”. (The single eye in the turtle shell represents the possibility of Immanence in the material world, while the eyeless surface of the water pooled below represents the initial phase of manifestation, as yet unaware and untempered by incarnation. The juxtaposition of the cieba-stump water and the troubled sea in which Maui fishes above locate the subject of the mural as that of the consensus reality and its components, between the waters below and the waters above).
Emerging from the Primum Mobile behind Urizen stand the Three Fates: Clotho, Atropos, and Lachesis, the Spinner, the Measurer, and the Cutter of the thread of life. Their position behind the abstract Principle of Limitations implies a doctrine of individual fate as potentially transcendent of the universal forces which compel this reality, notwithstanding the very real limitations imposed on the individual lifetime by its context in the material world.
The final figure on the guitar back is that of Maui, depicted at the seminal moment in Polynesian myth when, with a fishing line woven of his own hair, and the hei-ma-tau, a magical fish-hook fashioned from his grandmother’s jawbone, he fishes the island named after him up from the depths of the primordial ocean. In this context he represents the motive and mechanism of evolution, “The Great Work” of universal redemption, toward which all creation continually strives.

Finally, the front of the guitar contains an image of the artist in the act of producing Pneuma, fanning the spark of the Ohm into the substance of the stars. This image is itself a prayer, a blessing, a magical act; a recapitulation of the act of offering up this artwork into the material world in the intention of creating a lasting and enlightening contribution to the Great Work.

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

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The Triquetra is the third guitar in the Tongues of Flame line. Designed as a birthday gift for the guitarist (Garret Thorne of Minus The Star), it came with a few specific parameters. Those commissioning it (his wife and friends) wanted the Chinese characters that are painted on the musician’s guitar case (peace, beauty, health, and prosperity) reproduced on the back of the guitar. They wanted the names of his two sons on the back as well, and “something Celtic” on the front, as a quarter panel.

I set the Chinese characters in a column, descending the back of the guitar.

They are cradled in the smoke rising from the “Pearl of Happiness”, the traditional object of desire for dragons (Cameron) and phoenixes (Collin) in Chinese art, just as the qualities that the characters represent arise from self-knowledge. The boys’ names emerge from this column as branches from the central trunk that represents their father.

As a stylistic bridge between the Chinese calligraphy on the back and the “something Celtic” on the front, I have spelled out the boys’ names in anthropo- and zoomorphic letters in the tradition of the Book of Kells, one of the most celebrated examples of illuminated writing from the medieval Celtic tradition of literary art, completed in 800 A.D. by the monks of St. Colm Cille on Iona.

The symbolism of the letters, individually and collectively, relates to the boys’ natures and their destinies.

Cameron is the first born, and first named. The name “Cameron” is of Gaelic derivation, and means “Bent Nose”. There is an entity by this name among the stories of the Hadenausee, the Long House People. They call this powerful spirit “Elder Brother”, and explain that he existed prior to the creation of the world, so that when The Mystery made the cosmos, Elder Brother was shoved aside—hence his eternally crooked nose.

This Power is a great healer, and teacher; One who has the power to speak against death, and to drive away sickness, and His visage is framed in the capital “C” of “Cameron”.
The Allies say that this child is the latest incarnation of an ancestor soul, one that has almost completed its journey around the wheel of existence. They say that this soul has put on flesh to wrap up unfinished business, to attend to matters arising prior to this incarnation. Thus, like Bent Nose, this one existed “before the creation”. Like Bent Nose, this one will be a healer and a teacher. Like Bent Nose, this one may find himself a little cramped by the confines of a physical existence. There is more soul here than there is room for in the flesh. This will be both his strength and his challenge in the world.

The “a” of his name is partially formed by the juxtaposition of an arm and hand holding a bishop’s crosier, and a cloven hoof. This contrast represents what will be one of the central lessons of Cameron’s life, reconciling the nobility of his nature with the drives and impulses of his flesh. This child will hold himself and others to very high standards, and may be bitterly disappointed when those standards are not met. He has too generous a heart to judge others too harshly, once he has matured, but he may prove a fierce critic of what he sees as his own shortcomings.
The cranial arches of a Janus-face, a traditional theme in Celtic artwork, form the “m”. Here again the Allies speak of the child’s spiritual and physical natures, but this time in terms of their potential for integration. At those moments in his life when Cameron has managed to reconcile his ambitions with his condition, he will be capable of achieving something greater than either. There is a potential here for the development of remarkable skills, if not genius.

The central shaft of the “e” consists of a hand outlined in flame. There is a dual reference here, both to the “Shining Hand” of Celtic mythology and to the “burning hands” of a healer. The Allies are clear that this child will work as a healer among men, whether as a physician of souls, minds, or bodies (or any combination thereof). They say that there is a purifying flame in this one, a fire that will burn away suffering, and give light to those who wander in shadow.

The “r” is formed by the curves of a skull and jawbone. In both Celtic and African mythology, the head is viewed as the seat of the soul, a symbol of the identity’s survival of death. Cameron will not often be strongly influenced by other people. He has a solid sense of his own identity, and will always be an “older” child than those around him. He is internally directed, and his instincts will prove sound. They will direct him toward his purpose in life, and he will never lose his way for long, as long as he is capable of listening to his own deepest voice.
The “o” consists of a solar wheel, an emblem of the Light that does not fade. Cameron will always retain within himself a sense of what he has come here to accomplish, a place within himself where the Light in which he was created continues to shine. Heaven has an investment here, one that It will labor to bring to fruition. Cameron has only ever to look up, to rediscover his origins and his direction.

A peacock roosts in the arch of the final “n”. In Celtic art, the peacock is an emblem of both the starry night sky and the resurrection. Both reflect the persistence of light through time. It is this that Cameron embodies and that he has come here to learn about himself. The world will be a warmer, kinder place while he is in it.
The letters are set against a background of clouds and vapors above an unfurled wing. The Allies say that this child is a son of Oxala, the Power of the Heavens. They say he will always be reaching for stars. There will be moments when the clouds obscure the lights of heaven. The sky is not lost, even when it is not seen. Clouds pass, but stars remain. And do not be too surprised to one day find that he has collected handfuls of them.
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Collin is the younger of the two boys, and their birth order is a reflection of their natures. His name, derived from the Greek, can be translated as “conquering child”. In Gaelic, it means “of the hazel”. Both themes are interwoven in the symbolism of the letters of his name.

The background against which the name is framed is the Pool of Wisdom of Druidic tradition, in which the oldest of all living things, the Salmon of Knowledge, feeds perpetually on the fruits which fall into the well from the sacred hazel tree, the source of all understanding. Five streams emerge from the pool, which are the five senses of the human body. This eldest of all creatures, dwelling in the continually upwelling (hence constantly “newborn”) waters, forms the capital “C” of “Collin”. This theme, of wisdom in innocence, is one that will prove paramount in Collin’s life.

The “o” and first “l” continue the Celtic motif, depicting the fruit, bough and leaf of the hazel tree. Characteristics associated with the hazel tree in human nature are mental and verbal acuity, communication and eloquence, perception, knowledge, and (sometimes sarcastic) humor. Collin will not be easily deceived or misled (by anyone other than himself). He will be charming and socially gifted, charismatic and smooth- (if sometimes sharp-) tongued. He will delight in interactions of all kinds, and in the acquisition of knowledge. His is a playful, sometimes mischievous nature, his inheritance as the spiritual offspring of Eshu Elegba, the Youngest Child of Heaven, and Master of the Crossroads.
The second “l” is formed by the arm of a shadowed warrior who holds a blazing torch in one hand, while a sword held aloft in the other is the letter “i”. This is a reference to the “conquering child” of Greek etymology, whose victory brings light into darkness and casts out fear. On the blade of the extended sword is engraved the ogham letter “coll”, (hazel), from which “Collin” is derived. Ogham is an alphabet or syllabary of sorts used to write very old Irish, from the 3rd to the 6th century in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Finally, the swaddled infant resting in the crook of the “n” is Taliesin, the Star-Brow, a great wizard of Celtic mythology. In the myth, he steals the knowledge of magic that the Goddess/sorceress Ceridwen had intended for her own hideous son, “Affagdu” (Utter Darkness). The Goddess pursues him, and the two take on a number of forms in the course of the chase, until the young wizard shape-shifts into a grain of wheat. Ceridwen becomes a red hen, which swallows the grain. Nine months later, Ceridwen (Who is also the Great Mother of Celtic tradition) gives birth to a beautiful boy, whose brow shines like starlight. Even though she recognizes her former enemy, she finds that she loves the child and cannot bring herself to harm him. Posted by PicasaIn this myth, the Allies refer to Collin’s nature as an infant trickster, his charm and the grace that shines through him, as well as to a soul who has found its way to the womb of this woman of power, herself a daughter of Ceridwen. There is considerable magic in this child, which is both his strength and his challenge in the world. It will take time for him to grow into his gifts.
For all Collin’s intelligence, there will always be something of the “little brother” about him, a perpetual childlike playfulness that is his essential nature, and which cannot be confined too closely without damage to his spirit. The Lakota call this energy “Okanga Ska”, the eye of innocence, which sees clearly. For all his perceptiveness, however, he will always be something of a mystery to himself, and his sparkling wit and intellectual ability can also serve to distance himself from emotional risk, and to conceal a profoundly sensitive emotional nature. His delicate antennae provide him with the ability to love with rare skill, as well as the temptation to use his rare sensitivity as a means of avoiding intimacy. He will have finely tuned nerves, and may suffer from nervous tension and headaches. He will require help to develop the discipline maintain his exquisitely sensitive mind and body in balance. Otherwise, he could develop a tendency toward indulgence and excess that will be difficult to overcome later in life. His challenge in life will be to preserve his innocence and joy in the face of all the knowledge he will so voraciously acquire about the world. The world will be a brighter, more joyful place while he is in it.
The motif of the front panel is known as “The Beard Pullers”, and is taken from Pre-Christian Celtic stone monuments. In this instance, it represents the bond of shared destinies and karma that unite the musician with his sons, bonds that cannot be broken by life, or by one’s own actions. Through their struggles with their own attachments and with one another, a circular, rhythmic perfection is born. Likewise, this family will find its spiritual depths in the relationships of its members. They are teachers to one another, and the bonds between them will suffer no lasting disruption, and will prove a continual source of guidance and balance.
Nothing male exists in and of itself. The Beard-Pullers are surrounded by three Triquetras, the central image of the guitar. Like the Beard-Pullers, the Triquetra is an example of Celtic triple-knot work, a common theme in Gaelic art and mythology. Initially, the Triquetra represented the Triune Goddess of the ancient Celts in her forms of Maiden, Mother and Crone. After the adoption of Christianity, it came to be seen as a symbol for the Trinity. Here it is used in its older, matriarchal context. It is an emblem of the source and ultimate goal of the Beard-Pullers, a triune balance of perfect, organic equanimity. It is She who is Mother, Wife, and Guide, the Wheel on which these three fates are balanced. It is to Her, in Her aspect as Fata Morgana, Our Lady of Destiny; and to all the Powers referenced in the work, that the voice of the guitar rises in continual prayer. The Allies have said that it will not pray in vain.
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TONGUES OF FLAME#2-TWAIN(coming soon to a blog near you)

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The front of the instrument is covered by the scene of St. Michael leading the Archangels in overthrowing the hosts of Hell. Gabriel stands above him, with drawn sword, Uriel to his right, holding a lance, and Raphael to his lower right, also wielding a sword. In style, the scene is a tribute to Carravaggio. The symbol inscribed on Michael’s breastplate is his name in Angelic script, a standard feature of Medieval European ceremonial magic, in which the invocation of Angels was fairly common practice.

The triumphant Archangel is pictured with his foot planted on the breast of the fallen Satan, as in conventional church iconography.

In Hebrew, the word Satan means simply “Accuser”, and he/it is referred to consistently in Hebrew theology as “the Accuser of the brethren”, the prosecuting attorney forever presenting God with the evidence of man’s wickedness.

In this usage, he represents the predators, those voices within ourselves which seek to belittle and enfeeble our spirits, which deny us any right to the Divine Presence, and drive us to seek to hide from the Face of God.

To the right of the figure of Raphael, being stuck down by the Angel of Healing, is Yamamaia, a Demon whose function is to enforce belief in the illusions of material existence. He is the experience of matter without energy, of form without substance, of flesh without spirit. He is blind faith in the evidence of the senses, at the expense of the soul. He is the superficiality of life without purpose, clawing with heavy fingers at the wing of his conqueror.

The upper or left panel of the guitar consists of four entities, falling back under the onslaught of the Heavenly Host. The furthest of these, as the furthest from the possibility of enlightenment, is Lucifer, pictured here as the embodiment of ego. He has a serpent or dragon’s tail, signifying his origin in the experience of desire, and of force. He has three horns on his head. Two of these are ram’s horns, placed where ears would ordinarily be found, symbolizing that his capacity for reception, for listening, has been supplanted by his will to enforce his power on the world around him. The third horn, emerging from his tangled mane, is the “Little Horn” of the prophet Daniel’s vision, which “spake great blasphemies”. It is depicted here as an attribute of ego, which blasphemes continually against its source by insisting on the reality of its own separate existence. Lucifer’s face in enfolded by his own apelike hand, and his eyelids are sewn shut, signifying his refusal to acknowledge any reality not of his own making. His remaining arm is held outward, holding up the mask that forms the face of Sin.

Sin is depicted here as she appears in Milton’s “Paradise Lost”, as the consort of Satan and the mother of Death. Her illusory voluptuousness in the epic poem distracts from her essential monstrousness. Here, I have chosen to depict her as a mask, held up by the Ego, which I believe is a more accurate reflection of the state of affairs, while Death beside her is a helmeted shadow.

The Angel Uriel, who delivers the soul from the body, represents the reality of death on the guitar. It is not Death that haunts the dreams of men, but the Fear of Death, whose mother is indeed Sin, the act of distancing the soul from its Source, so that the moment of return becomes a sinister thought.
The final character on the front of the guitar is from Native American mythologies. He is Double-Eyes, a spirit who steals the ears of the people, so that they no longer hear one another’s voices, or those of the ancestors and spirits. Here, he represents spiritual deafness, the inability of the soul to respond to the power of the music.

Thus, the scene on the front of the guitar is the triumph of the angels over shame, illusion, ego, sin, the fear of death, and spiritual deafness, and is an allegory of the music, and its effects.

Where the body and neck of the guitar are joined is burned, out of sight, a female pentacle (on the body), and a male on the neck. Each pentacle has a pair of parted lips at its center, so that the two kiss when the instrument is joined. Also placed within the join is a Himmels-brief, a charm from the Pennsylvania Dutch Powwow tradition against theft, fire, flood, and lightning.

On the headstock of the guitar in addition to the logo is a putto, a creature from Renaissance art consisting of a cherubic face supported by two wings. Many art historians consider these references to the Cupids of antiquity, others to the Cherub traditions of Judeo/Christian/Islamic scripture. They have been adopted by the Yoruba traditions as emblems of “les lutins”, ghosts of unbaptized infants. Chuck lost a son at birth, and this spirit has since become one of his guardians and advisors. The spirit wore a crown when it appeared to me for this work, and I was told that the crown represented a promise to be reborn into the Hestand family line, a line which is one day destined to bring forth a great teacher, or leader of men. In this way, past and future are woven together on the guitar, and summoned to use it as an instrument (literally) of destiny.

Finally, a note concerning the voice of the guitar. My greatest teacher informed me that when a prayer or ritual has been recorded, either symbolically or electronically, any subsequent sequencing of those symbols or images becomes a re-enactment of the ritual, with the potential to transcend the time stream by connecting with the original ceremonial act, and reproducing its power and effect in the world. It is for this reason that ancient rituals and places of power convey so much energy, because they are drawing on patterns which men and women of power have utilized for generations. In the same way, the images on this guitar represent specific prayers, encounters, and acts of ceremony. Each time that this instrument is plugged in, each time that a note ripples through the fabric of the wood, each time that passion and intention are invested in its use, the prayers and visitations in which it was born are re-enacted, and the powers depicted are invoked for the purposes portrayed. In this way, it becomes an active tool, an ongoing prayer, a consecrated avenue for the miraculous in the world around it. Amen.

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