Thursday, 14 March 2013

A Word on the Cover

The cover of Meeting the Masters depicts Beachy Head near Eastbourne on the Sussex coast, a place I know well as it was where Michael and I were living when he died. I would regularly walk along the downs between the village of Meads and Beachy Head, drawn by the atmosphere of the place which was peaceful despite the cliff’s slightly sinister reputation. The springy grasslands and flinty chalk spoke to me of ancient England while the view of the sea from high up on the downs had something almost prehistoric about it. I would look across the waters, occasionally blue but more often grey, and feel connected to a time long before history. But that’s not the reason for choosing this picture as the cover for the book.

Sometimes it’s best not to try to interpret a symbol but just let it speak to the intuition without undue analysis. That way it feeds the imagination rather than the mind which gives it greater meaning. However on this occasion I want to say a few words about why I consider this to be such a suitable cover for the book. It’s not just because it’s a pretty picture nor is it because of the personal relevance, though both of these factors did contribute to the choice of image. Symbolically it’s a very suitable description of what’s inside the book. This book you can judge by the cover.

One of the themes of the book is that there are three basic levels to reality, the physical, the psychic and the spiritual, and wisdom arises when we perceive this and can correctly discern between them. These three levels are shown here by the land, sea and sky, otherwise earth, water and air. When we come to the limits of the physical world we find a new world, a world where thought can take exterior form and form itself is malleable to the mind, but that is not the spiritual world though it may initially seem so to the unwary. The psychic plane, like the sea, teems with life of all descriptions. There is beauty and mystery. There are warm waters to bathe in and depths to explore but there are also sharks and even monsters. Like the sea, the psychic world is constantly moving, changing, reflecting images from above that disappear when you touch them, and, as with the sea, you have to learn to swim.

To find a more stable truth we need to go beyond the sea to the sky, beyond the psychic to the spiritual, but that requires an immense change in our behaviour. It’s relatively easy to go from land to sea and most of us can swim to some degree at least. It’s not so easy to get up into the sky, and even when we do learn to spread our wings and fly we still have to penetrate the clouds, clouds of illusion, clouds of darkness which can only be dispelled by the heat of the sun, that is to say by the divine fire.

So there are these three worlds of existence that are shown on the cover. There is also a lighthouse which it is not hard to see stands for guidance and illumination. It is a little bit of the sun come down to Earth. Normally a lighthouse warns ships to beware of rocks but this lighthouse, which we are seeing from the land rather than the sea, is fulfilling a different function. It is pointing up out of the sea into the sky and lighting the way clear to heaven. It is the beacon of the Masters that is there to provide bright, clear, absolutely reliable guidance.

The one thing you can't see in the picture is the sun, though without it you wouldn't be able to see anything. That also has a meaning.


Paul Hillman said...

Beautifully symbolic. My mind had , after the briefest of looks associated it with isolation. It follows through from your statement that you prefer natural symbols.if I am honest I had also associated the lighthouse with The Hermit , number 9, the completion of the first steps, where the Hermit or Master guides us with his lamp to the top of the mountain. Your completion of the picture in words says much more. thank you.

William Wildblood said...

That’s the wonderful thing about a symbol. It can have so many meanings and levels of meaning and none of them are necessarily truer than the others. I don’t mean anything goes but a symbol has breadth as well as depth. Your suggestion of The Hermit, which was always one of my favourite Tarot cards, is very appropriate. And isolation too. Spirituality needs isolation in order to grow. Sometimes outer but more importantly inner. Group spirituality is good at a certain level when we need the support of others to encourage and inspire but there inevitably comes a point when we must proceed alone if we are really to get anywhere.