Androgyn from Aurora Consurgens

Androgyn from "Aurora Consurgens" (15th century). All rights reserved.
I had always considered myself a romantic. My long youth was supported in myths and ideals. One of them was the Androgyn myth of Plato’s Symposium. This myth talks about double beings that tried to enter in Olympus. Zeus was angry for this intrusion and threw a ray that divided these beings in two different parts and they were separated. So, each women has a perfect man who is the other half. One important question is that, for Plato, the Androgyn could be formed not only by a female and a male, but two males or two females. This idea suports homosexuality from the Greek age. But unfortunately this idea didn´t stand.

The myth survived in Middle Ages just because the Neo-Platonism that was the philosophy of ancient Greece more similar to christian ideas. One of the Church Fathers, Saint Thomas of Aquino,  was involved in the Plato’s philosophy. There is an Alchemy treatise called Aurora Consurgens from 15th century many times related with Thomas, but it´s not probable this relationship. Due to Trento Council this book was censored in his first part cause it used Biblical metaphors that were no permitted in non theological texts. The image presented in this blog comes from this treatise.

The image represents the moment in which the two halves, female and male, have found themselves and are involved in the process of unifying. This miracle is just because of the South Wind, as mention the texts of Aurora Consurgens. The South Wind is represented by this big and blue eagle that helps the halves to be the one.

The image is full of symbols: the Androgyn is over a hill of blue birds (maybe ravens), and both halves have animals in one hand: a bat and a rabbit. I thing they could be somekind of alchemist  ingredients for a potion needed to unite themselves. Furthermore, they could symbolise the triumph of the Androgyn over the rest of animal species.

The composition, the colours, make this image one of the most beautiful Androgyn representation. Just for my youth ideals, nowadays I keep on enjoying this fantastic myths. Maybe the myth is not a truth but I have realised that there is always someone that complements you, not so perfectly as Androgyn halves, but very approximately. So, if you are alone and looks for somebody, be patient, there is always one person very close to your half Androgyn.

Contemporary Medusa

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An interesting area of study is the Art behind the music albums artwork. It has been a very enriching experience for me to watch the covers and booklets and I can assure that it´s one of the points to deceide  me to study Art History. I met Pre-Raphaelism, Symbolism, Art Nouveu for the first time in artworks of gothic music. I found not only these 19th century styles but many contemporary artists that use the cover design to spread their art. So, in this post I want to talk about one of them: Daniel Faoro and his photography “Medusa”.

Unfortunately Daniel Faoro is not a very wellknown photographer, he has worked in underground musical scene participating in covers for bands like Play Dead or Elijah’s Mantle. He has also participated in some collective exhibitions in the gay scene.

The photo I present belongs to the cover of Elijah’s Mantle “Sorrows of Sphia” album (1995). This album is completely dedicated to female godesses from diverse religions and cults and it´s an enhancement of matriarchy as the first state of the humankind. Just “Medusa” it´s the most celebrated song of the album and just because of it this image appears in the cover.

Elijah’s Mantle is a project rooted in the french Symbolist movement of 19th century. The music is based in orchestral instrumentation that loops again and again, over whom appears the solemn voice of Mark Ellis that sings as he would be reciting poetry. No doubt Elijah’s Mantle is one of my favourite music projects. Unfortunately Ellis stopped making music some years ago.

The decadent halo of the music makes us to view a Medusa whose first attribute is beauty. But the Faoro’s beauty is androginous –it remembers me the faces of Fernand Khnopff-. I want to emphasize this point: Medusa is beauty. Though the artistic tradition has represented her sometimes terrifying, as a monster –I quote Caravaggio’s “Medusa”- the Ovid text Metamorphosis describes her as a divine being, of original supreme beauty, but a malediction transforms her in a monstruous gorgon with terrifying face and serpents as hair.

Faoro’s photography combine two aspects: the original beauty of Medusa and the serpents hair. It brings us to the moment in which Medusa’s look converts to anyone she watchs in stone, even when she is beheaded. To represent it, Faoro has chosen sepia colour, and this gives the photography a halo of eternity: Medisa is an archetype, she has no present, she stands forever. The election of the tone enhance the photo.

I have extracted this photo from its original context to give it the importante it deserves cause in my honest opinión this photo should be contemplated much more than a cover of a music album.