“Rulers of the World” is a description of an automatic drawing made by the artist Pamela Colman Smith in 1907. It depicts three solemn-looking women sitting on a cliff in a rocky landscape. The women are dressed in flowing robes in earthy hues and wearing pink S-shaped headdresses. A tower is visible on another cliff in the distance. The artist attributed the women: “Rulers of the World” and wrote: “And they sit in far off silent places, and thoughts grow up like towers out of the earth.” The women seem to be made out of the same earth on which they appear.
Who thought them into being? Who sculpted and tinted their figures? Or, were they born as earthly entities out of their own will by mixing air, water and earth under the fire of the sun? Who rules the world?
Who rules your world? The drawing reminds one of a placeless place, an imaginal zone devoted to contemplation of thoughts made of the quintessential elements of creation. Thoughts made of the drops of rain that fell long ago on the burning and forming earth, held by earth’s gravity, and given the breath of life by the dancing air. Thoughts of the primordial artists and scientists who designed the planet, ensuring that we glimpse the spiral shape of a galaxy in the shell of a tiny snail.
Pamela Colman Smith (1878- 1951) is best known for illustrating the Rider–Waite tarot deck. She belongs to a lineage of visionary artists and self-described herself as a visionary, claiming that her art was drawn from the “subconscious energies” of her mind, which were liberated under the influence of music. Prof. Kathleen Pyne described her as a sorceress and prophetess who sought to find the cosmic and heroic voice in nature.
The drawing of the three-female -figure as the rulers of the world reflects the proto-feminist worldview of Pamela Colman Smith and the strong -minded women of the Order of the Golden Dawn in which she was involved. The image gives shape to the idea that women can alter and manifest their own reality and influence matters in the physical world through the creative power and agency of their thoughts.
Pamela Colman Smith envisioned a world ruled by the wisdom of women and the feminine. The pink hue of the S- shaped headdresses of the figures in her drawing may denote the frequencies which guide their thoughts as they engage in world-visioning and world-building. Interestingly, the colour pink was reclaimed by Fourth Wave feminist activists, celebrities and artists, e.g., The Women’s March in 2017 in New York. Moreover, in recent years, pink has become the colour that symbolises political disruption and change to many people all over the world.
Contemporary Visionary Art
Following the lineage and context of modern visionary art, Spirituality and the Arts, SASIG, of the International Network for the Study of Spirituality is delighted to present a Provocation by the pioneering British ‘Painter of Auras’ Degard. Her provocation is entitled:
The Visionary Genre in Art, Magikal Hearings, Signs from Heaven.
Degard is the owner and curator of The Visionary Brit Museum which hosts Visionary art exhibitions exclusively.The Brit Museum is a red telephone box outside of the British Museum. It’s the smallest gallery in London.
Degard will talk about her doctoral research and art practice in the field of visionary art and her current research which focuses on the notion of a Temple in general and the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. She will also draw on the influences in her work of other visionary artists, in particular, Hilma af Klint and her notion of The Temple.
Creativity, Spirituality and Healing
The SASIG event will also include a couple of Provocations by leading experts.
Nick Shore, the co-founder of the practice of Creative Presencing will talk about Creative Presencing.
Prof. Paul Dieppe, Professor of Health and Wellbeing at Exeter University will discuss:
Using artistic expression to access metaphors for spirituality and healing.
The SASIG event will take place on May 11th at 18:00 BST. To register for the event see link below.
If you wish to present your art, practice or research in our event you are welcome to send a proposal to the SASIG team: email@example.com
Link to Info & Registration: SPIRITUALITY AND THE ARTS SIG: PROVOCATIONS 2
Thanks for introducing me to this painting Lila!
For me, I guess it represents the Nornir, the three fates, Urdr, Verdandi, and Skuld, from Norse mythology who determine the destiny of humankind. They sit by the World Tree Yggdrasil rather than a tower and are sometimes said to represent the past, the present, and the future.
There is currently a small exhibition of visionary art in Sheffield, Not Without My Ghosts: The Artist as Medium, which is well worth a visit, for more info see https://www.museums-sheffield.org.uk/museums/millennium-gallery/exhibitions/not-without-my-ghosts-the-artist-as-medium