My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
In 1981, Brian Eno and David Byrne released an album titled “My Life in the Bush of Ghosts.” The title was taken from a magical realist novel of the same name by Nigerian author Amos Tutuola. Byrne and Eno created a musical feast of African and Middle Eastern rhythms mixed with electronic beats and the sampled voices of Evangelical preachers, radio talk shows, Qua’ran chants, an exorcism, and other strange, disembodied vocalizations. The sum of these parts is a collection of hypnotic and transcendent music that takes us on a journey to places where the laws of Earth and Logic no longer apply.
. . . .
The center point between the four cardinal directions, like the 5 dots on dice, is called a “Quincunx.” This formation is also a symbol for “Axis Mundi,” the central pillar of the universe. This five-point design is used in sacred architecture all over the world from pyramids to cathedrals to hogans, signifying the connection between the spirit (heavenly) and material (earthly) worlds. In alchemy the four elements, Earth, Air, Fire and Water are bound by a fifth, the Quinta Essencia, or “Aether,” a celestial element found outside the terrestrial sphere in unmapped territory, neither here nor there.
In these border lands where opposites converge, Life meets Death through the thinnest of veils. Buddhist philosophy calls this place “Bardo,” an in-between place where our departed souls wait for their next transition. But we don’t have to die find ourselves in this twilight place. We can get there through dreams, meditation, drugs or, as some have found, by standing at a Crossroad.
Crossroads are Quincunx and Axis Mundi, the Aether that connects the four directions and elements. They are the cosmic frontier between Heaven and Earth.
When you find yourself at a Crossroad at night, because night is when these things happen, you are likely to meet a man (or woman) waiting there as if they knew you were coming. This being, adopting the guise of a person, is a powerful manifestation you can only find where the rising and setting sun come together inside the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. Here, and only here, can communication between the mortal and spirit worlds occur.
Through the fog an otherworldly figure emerges from the gloaming, holding a key. Their dog, neither of this world or the next, hovers nearby, its barks echoing in the distance. Whether saint, or spirit, they hold a crossed staff pointing to a churchyard gate. Nearby you may find more clues to this numen’s identity: an elderberry branch, a tobacco plant, a pipe, a pile of bones… In this moonlit verge you are surrounded by ghosts.
What do you want to ask?
“My Life in the Bush of Ghosts”
30” x 24” oil on canvas
The 8” x 8” study for this painting is also available.
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