Water Lions


I had a little bit of backward motion last night.  I sat down to work and realized I really didn’t like the straight mane.  I had originally pictured it very curly and lush but then decided to do it more like a real mane to contrast with the 8 of Disks in which the lions have a lot of curls and spirals.  I didn’t like it at all though, and I had a symmetry problem and I didn’t think it would contrast well enough with the rest of the skin, so off it went and I started over.

I know some lions have some waves but not outright curls, that is more a work of fantasy, reminiscent of Wizard of Oz and other illustrated works of fiction.  Maybe it makes them seem more human – I don’t know.  Even ancient depictions have great sworls, and leaves, and patterns – there is something special and oherworldly about a lion’s mane. 

Have you ever noticed that a male lion’s head, including mane, seems huge compared to its body? 

As I worked on it last night I was thinking that sometime in the future it would be nice to do a painting of a ‘water lion’ a lion sitting in water with the water running around him and through his mane and fish in his mane – I realized then that this IS a water lion, a lion on the 8 of Cups!  What a contradiction!  Fire and Water, but they seem so harmonious to me.  Maybe other depictions of the 8 of Cups don’t seem harmonious, but the feeling I get from it is, very powerful and gentle, quiet but immense.  And the twain shall never meet.  But they do.

It came to mind then that all over the world, as far back as you can go, people have used lion’s heads as the spouts on fountains.  Why?  Why would you use a lion?  Why is a lion a guardian of Water?   In a way this image looks like a lion head spout except instead of water flowing out there is another analogous watery gentle thing, an innocent child. 

Something I read in Blake keeps coming to mind….let me see if I can go find it….

This is from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (a name which I also find meaningful for this card).  I will post the whole story at the end of this post so you can read it if you like:


The man  who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds
       reptiles of the mind.

This is how Blake describes Angels, who have no free will, they are, in a sense, breeding evil because their lack of will, freedom of thought and understanding, creates a rotting, putrid experience.    And running water would remain fresh and clean, then, wouldn’t it?

As I was copying that over I had this thought, “From the mouth of Flames comes Great Beauty”  I think this is the name of this card.  Gosh, I get those for most cards, I will need to compile them all.

The marriage of Heaven and Hell, the Marriage of Water and Fire – a loving marriage, a freely flowing, fresh and pure marriage, not an ugly disharmonious one.  That makes perfect sense after the 7, where opposing…..aspects……are fully developed – here they are wed, perfectly and beautifully, like the lemniscate, like the scales of lady justice, like the yin and the yang, like the woman or child and the lion, like the flame and running water, like the lion and running water.  Is it just me or do you all see how Strength and Justice has become so intertwined? 

I think Blake’s work, and perhaps the man himself from what I know of him, was a living example of all of this.  I think his work, both his art and his writing, are both childlike in their clarity and honesty, un-hardened by life, you know what  I Mean?  Where you subscribe, over time, to a certain way of looking at things, where a child sees them as they really are – so too did Blake.  But unlike a child he had life experience and there is an unusual maturity and wisdom to it as well. 

I have read that people think he was possibly schizophrenic.  I don’t know all of the evidence they base that on, but witnessing schizophrenia , my sister in law was schizophrenic until her death recently, I have a hard time imagining that he could be schizophrenic and not only write and paint so well, but also print it and sell it like he did.  That just seems so organized for someone with a disorder that makes one unorganized.  Is it a matter of degree?  Can one be mildly schizophrenic?  High functioning?  I don’t know, it would be an interesting conversation to have with someone educated in mental disorders.    Do visions alone qualify one as being schizophrenic?  I don’t think so, I really don’t.

Also from all Michael has told me, who grew up with it, schizophrenia does not equal enlightenment.  If you want to get Michael all riled up tell him that schizophrenics are seeing God or some heavenly alternate universe. 

I’m fascinated by all of this but don’t know much about it.

I do know, unfortunately from experience, that mental….errrrr…..dents and dings, can lead to, perhaps, dents and dings in the positive way for artistic inspiration and talent.  All part of the wheel, as one part becomes weak so too does one become stronger!    But maybe that is one of the beautiful things that comes from hell or flames – artistic inspiration.  Perhaps the muses are forged in water and fire equally.   Born from the wedded, fully potentialized entities of innocence and experience.

There is no stagnant water in the 8 of Cups!


Something else I remembered as I worked on this last night and thought about the lion headed spouts –  (a strange aside, notice that ‘spouts’ is an anagram for POTUS, aka, president of the united states – make of it what you will)

is from when I was a kid – we lived near a park that had a water fountain made of a giant cement lion.  You had to stand on one of its paws and reach your head deep into its mouth, usually holding onto one of its dull lower canine teeth, to get a drink.  I can remember clear as day all of the sensations, the warmth and humidity, the sounds of kids playing and standing in line behind me, the water pooled around it in the mouth and on the ground with sand on the bottom.  I loved that lion.  His cement was cool and faded and I appreciated his old and wise countenance.  I took Sophie to that park when she was little and the lion was gone.  They had been going around California and replacing most of the old park structures with new, safe, standardized playgrounds.  I wonder where he went?

One last thing – when I awoke today the world was blanketed in beautiful snow.  It doesn’t snow much or often here so it was a big treat.  It’s still snowing as I type this!    We tried to build a snowman but Haiku kept eating it! lol. 



  A Memorable Fancy

      An Angel came to me and said. O pitiable foolish young man!
        O horrible! O dreadful state! consider the hot burning dungeon
      thou art preparing for thyself to all eternity, to which thou art
      going in such career.
    I said. perhaps you will be willing to shew me my eternal
    lot & we will contemplate together upon it and see whether your
      lot or mine is most desirable
      So he took me thro’ a stable & thro’ a church & down into
       the church vault at the end of which was a mill: thro’ the mill
      we went, and came to a cave. down the winding cavern we groped
        our tedious way till a void boundless as a nether sky appeard
       beneath us & we held by the roots of trees and hung over this
       immensity; but I said, if you please we will commit ourselves
      to this void and see whether providence is here also, if you
        will not I will? but he answerd. do not presume O young-man but
       as we here remain behold thy lot which will soon appear when the
       darkness passes away
     So I remaind with him sitting in the twisted [Marriage of Heaven and Hell PL 18] root of
      an oak. he was suspended in a fungus which hung with the head
       downward into the deep:
       By degrees we beheld the infinite Abyss, fiery as the smoke
      of a burning city; beneath us at an immense distance was the sun,
    black but shining[;] round it were fiery tracks on which revolv’d
       vast spiders, crawling after their prey; which flew or rather
       swum in the infinite deep, in the most terrific shapes of animals
      sprung from corruption. & the air was full of them, & seemd
     composed of them; these are Devils. and are called Powers of the
       air, I now asked my companion which was my eternal lot? he said,
     between the black & white spiders
      But now, from between the black & white spiders a cloud and
     fire burst and rolled thro the deep blackning all beneath, so
     that the nether deep grew black as a sea & rolled with a terrible
     noise: beneath us was nothing now to be seen but a black tempest,
       till looking east between the clouds & the waves, we saw a
       cataract of blood mixed with fire and not many stones throw from
     us appeard and sunk again the scaly fold of a monstrous serpent.
      at last to the east, distant about three degrees appeard a fiery
     crest above the waves slowly it reared like a ridge of golden
     rocks till we discoverd two globes of crimson fire. from which
     the sea fled away in clouds of smoke, and now we saw, it was the
        head of Leviathan. his forehead was divided into streaks of green
     & purple like those on a tygers forehead: soon we saw his mouth &
    red gills hang just above the raging foam tinging the black deep
      with beams of bood, advancing toward [Marriage of Heaven and Hell PL 19] us with all the
      fury of a spiritual existence.
     My friend the Angel climb’d up from his station into the mill;
    I remain’d alone, & then this appearance was no more, but I found 

 myself sitting on a pleasant bank beside a river by moon light
       hearing a harper who sung to the harp. & his theme was, The man
       who never alters his opinion is like standing water, & breeds
       reptiles of the mind.
    But I arose, and sought for the mill, & there I found my
       Angel, who surprised asked me, how I escaped?
     I answerd. All that we saw was owing to your metaphysics: for
     when you ran away, I found myself on a bank by moonlight hearing
        a harper, But now we have seen my eternal lot, shall I shew you
      yours? he laughd at my proposal: but I by force suddenly caught
      him in my arms, & flew westerly thro’ the night, till we were
     elevated above the earths shadow: then I flung myself with him
     directly into the body of the sun, here I clothed myself in
       white, & taking in my hand Swedenborgs volumes sunk from the
       glorious clime, and passed all the planets till we came to
      saturn, here I staid to rest & then leap’d into the void, between
       saturn & the fixed stars.
       Here said I! is your lot, in this space, if space it may be
       calld, Soon we saw the stable and the church, & I took him to the
      altar and open’d the Bible, and lo! it was a deep pit, into which
       I descended driving the Angel before me, soon we saw seven houses
       of brick, one we enterd; in it were a
       [Marriage of Heaven and Hell PL 20] number of monkeys,
      baboons, & all of that species chaind by the middle, grinning and
       snatching at one another, but witheld by the shortness of their
      chains: however I saw that they sometimes grew numerous, and then
      the weak were caught by the strong and with a grinning aspect,
       first coupled with & then devourd, by plucking off first one limb
        and then another till the body was left a helpless trunk. this
      after grinning & kissing it with seeming fondness they devourd
       too; and here & there I saw one savourily picking the flesh off
        of his own tail; as the stench terribly annoyd us both we went
      into the mill, & I in my hand brought the skeleton of a body,
       which in the mill was Aristotles Analytics.
      So the Angel said: thy phantasy has imposed upon me & thou
       oughtest to be ashamed.
     I answerd: we impose on one another, & it is but lost time
       to converse with you whose works are only Analytics.

         Opposition is true Friendship.

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1 Response to Water Lions

  1. I have just recently become interested in Blake and I am of the mind that he was an excellent observer, not caught up in the ‘wheel’, seeing things for what they were…
    I am so excited for the time a full copy of this deck is in my hands!

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