Art: An Alchemical Transformation

Through their poems, paintings and symphonies, they often seek to broaden our vision of the world, to connect us to the highest values of the soul, to raise us to a field beyond the material sphere.

Art: An Alchemical Transformation

Through their poems, paintings and symphonies, they often seek to broaden our vision of the world, to connect us to the highest values of the soul, to raise us to a field beyond the material sphere.

Artists are the bearers of humanity’s ideals.  Through their poems, paintings, dance and music, they broaden our vision of the world and connect us to the inner, higher values of the soul.  They lift us beyond our day to day, physical and often mundane lives.  Yet, even if we admire their inspiration and mastery of the word, gesture or harmony, we can still be astonished as to why so few artists are drawn to follow a more spiritual or initiatory path; artists like Kandinsky, Gurdjieff, Rudyar or Mother (musician and singer) who have done exactly that.  Instead, many of these, often brilliant personalities, have remained focused solely on their work and circle of admirers, and not questioned the source or true meaning of their inspirations.  So why aren’t so many of these very sensative beings, who have opened themselves to the spheres of the more subtle and higher vibrations, been drawn to seek a deeper and more conscious connection to a spiritual and liberating life?

Let us try to discover the obscure or hidden reasons for this strange paradox: those who should, because of their very sensitivity, pass on to humanity the source and nature of their inspirations, so often appear to stop at the very threshold, and fail to step towards that greater dimension of universal knowledge and wisdom, as if this would threaten the integrity and development of their work.

It is the general view that inspiration comes to an artist suddenly and spontaneously; that an artistic creation arises from the imagination.  But it is not quite that simple.  Most of the time a work of art is the result of a long period of maturation, often involving an inner struggle and hard work.  Every original creation requires special conditions: a process in which intelligence is combined with vision, and above all, the presence of an ability and willingness to constantly question oneself.  Those who aspire to transcend the limitations of the world must firstly engage in surrender: they must, as it were, empty themselves, abandon personal pretense in order to convey a new vision, a new inspiration.  Only in this way can the artist raise their art to the level of the ideal, and come closer to the perfection they seek and wish to convey to the world.

We can identify two types of artists who break through the barrier between anonymity and fame.  There are those who manage to ‘disappear’ behind their work because their inner alchemy has detached them from the need to work as an ego.  We see their work blossoming, freed from the authors’ personality, and spreading over the world like a radiant, consoling vibration as an expression of pure beauty.  Think for example, of Johann Sebastian Bach, Leonardo da Vinci, and Goethe, or, closer to home, Hermann Hesse, Marguerite Yourcenar, Gustav Meyrink, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hilma af Klint, Alexander Scriabin, Giacinto Scelsi, and Jonathan Harvey, to name a few.

On the other hand, others have suffered so much from the sacrifices demanded by their artistic gestation, that their personalities seem to demand reparation, and they seek to maintain themselves in the foreground.  Such great artists with unquestionably unique talents and deeply inspired work, appear to seek fame as a recompense.  But in these situations, a dark shadow often hangs over their work and hinders the potential light of the deeper universal scope of their message.  Their personality is so desperate for recognition that it consumes all of the higher qualities of their work, and feeds on the personal compliments and accolades they receive.  Celebrity and fame then over-shadows the light of any potentially deeper spiritual message.

Poets, painters, musicians, all experience the same painful process of ‘surrender of the self’, which is the signature of a true masterpiece.  Some are lost in this, appearing to border on madness, while others find the inner wisdom to place their role into perspective, understanding how much they are but the vehicle for the spiritual impulses that have guided their thoughts, feelings, and hands into the creative process of their work.

Another consequence of this ‘personalization’ is that very few artists are open to a collective and collaborative approach.  Yet if there is a spiritual magic that can potentially develop and emerge from the art of the third millennium, it most certainly is this dimension of collaborative unity: the community of talents.  This is the higher path that the knowledge of spiritual laws can inspire in artists of our current times.

Finally, we wish to express that the spiritual mission of every seeker of truth obeys the same laws that inspire those of the artist:

  • A higher, pure impulse will trigger the process of inner transformation.
  • This inner workshop, this alchemical laboratory, is the place of transmutation, where each masterpiece is to be accomplished.
  • In the end, the fruit of this process is diffused impersonally.

Success is based on three factors:

  • Nothing is accomplished without an open heart.
  • Nothing is accomplished without an intelligent plan.
  • Nothing is accomplished alone.

Most artists are unconscious seekers of the absolute, and as seekers of the absolute, we are all artists.  It is in true self-forgetfulness therefore, that an alchemical transformation, triggered by a spiritual impulse, can project and transmit an artistic masterpiece to the world.


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Date: November 19, 2021
Author: Ludovic Merlin (France)
Photo: Martino Pietropoli on Unsplash CCO

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