“Secular-Sacred” seems best to describe my basic life-orientation, which has manifested in me with total congruency in relation to the social-ecology of Annamalai Hillock – the single most significant influence in the lives of many many persons, including myself; this despite the fact that almost all humans profoundly influenced by Annamalai are theists of one form or another. I don’t find the difference between us is at all important.. Yesterday in Australia I had a very interesting conversation with a man who described himself as an Omni-theist. That’s encouraging.
Here is an image of Annamalai Hillock from the south. This is the Sleeping Siva form, the peak indicates the heart; the hill itself is taken to be the indicator of an invisible column of Light said to pierce the globe:
The Hill is the Heart and the Heart is the Hill! The heart referred to is the Heart Chakra.
Most of the images that follow are known as Seeds of Being cartoons. An account of the origins of these cartoons is added at the end of this Secular-Sacred Page.
This page will be much occupied with images. Here is the Menu for Secular-Sacred, from last to first:
- A Deck of Cards
- Images from little books
- Black and White Cartoons
- Water-colour paintings
- Silk Banners
- Framed Silk Banners on walls
- Photographed framed Silk Banners
- Seeds of Being Cartoons – beginnings –
- A DECK OF CARDS:
The Deck of cards is wrapped in silk cloth and sipped into a silk pouch. Very slick.
This is the User’s Manual:
Here is the Cast of Characters: a composite image containing all . . . or almost all, the characters . . Maybe some are missing here, but not many:
Here are the names of the characters corresponding to the Character Cast Card:
By playing with these silent cards your mind will give them meaning. Here are a few to encourage you:
The decks that are made in India have sharp corners like these and they will be come to you wrapped in beautiful silk cloth and slipped into a silk pouch. There are enough cards in a deck to give you sufficient variety of images and meanings to play with.
2. IMAGES FROM LITTLE BOOKS:
The images from these little books can be purchased in digital form so that you can do with them what you will. These first images are from Seed Concertina, previously printed in Australia by Dynamo House, now out of print. If you would like me to send you any of the digital images please email me and I will do so:
Another group of images for younger persons are from Myself by Seed which is available in English and Italian as a small hard-cover booklet as you will also find under BOOKS:
3. BLACK AND WHITE CARTOONS:
These black and white strip or single cartoons are available either mounted ready for framing or made into little hand-made concertina folders:
I will type the hand-written text from each concertina below like this:
When the ones change they become the others . . when these shift again . . they become these.
These fruits of mine belong to earth and sky.
The primordial spirit is right before out eyes . . . we do not see it . . too busy jabbering.
This one below is mounted ready to frame:
Thank you so much for all those crafty little meaningful coincidences!
To me this is the most important one because over the years I notice that my gratitude for this marvellous world is my most prized possession.
I prefer the black and white cartoons for niftiness but water-colour is also rewarding:
4. WATER-COLOUR PAINTINGS:
Most of the water-colour original images are framed under glass, and some of them tend towards groupings of two or four or five or six, some are single; dimensions: 10 x 08 cms, or 09, or 16 x 13 or 15 x 12 and so on. Here are a few as examples:
These two images are framed separately
The one below here is one page in a double-sided concertina book that represents the Sun on one side and the Moon on the reverse. This is a page from the Luna side:
Yes. What pushes upwards does not come back. And now:
5. SILK BANNERS:
Here are some banners that were photographed before stretching under glass frames:
[This is autobiographical: my daughter and myself when we first came to Australia.]
As you can see the silk is recalcitrant but when stretched under glass it is forced to settle down; however the image under glass contains reflections so recently I bought an Anti-reflection-lens for my camera and all that’s needed now is an assistant to help me photograph all the ones under glass around the walls here in Coburg:
6. FRAMED SILK BANNERS ON WALLS:
These are some amidst the chaos of puppets that don’t belong at all alongside the portentous Seeds of Being Cartoons. But this confusion will soon be remedied.
Here is the end of the Secular Sacred Section. Now as a PS here is the story of the beginnings
SEEDS OF BEING CARTOON BEGINNINGS
After being in the Kalash Valleys in North-West Frontier province for some months in the early-seventies, my travelling companions and I were prevented from flying out of Chitral by an unusually cold winter that froze the runway for months. The snow was very thick that year and particularly beautiful in this town in the mountains with few vehicles and no electricity to speak of; the main street of the market was a joy in the mornings and evenings when lamp lights glowed on hooded, bearded faces behind icicles hanging from the thatched roofs of small shops. Sharing a cup of hot tea here was more convivial than anything I had ever known.
We were fortunate to be invited by an extended family as their guests until such time as the runway cleared. The families of four brothers lived in one large compound with ample spaces connected by large courtyards, sufficient for some four wives and children for each brother, plus several elderly respected grandmothers, mothers or aunts. Two brothers spoke good English as also did some sons although none of the women or daughters did. We grew to love this prodigious family. The compound was near to the Masjid and no doubt the brothers were true believers but they were also open-minded men who were excellent hosts. The small stream that ran down beside the outer wall of the compound outside the gate of the visitors quarters where we spent some delightful weeks waiting for the thaw, became frozen over little water-falls, and times spent with the family – especially with the wives and children in the kitchen, vibrated with warmth and human kindness: beauty surrounded us unsurpassed.
As usual I sketched quite a lot, many street scenes – since we were free to explore the picturesque village and of course household scenes. This was entertaining for the family, particularly the women and children, but the person most inspired was a young manservant named ShahrikiKhan.
ShahrikiKhan was dwarfed and roughened by a very hard life, but he glowed with inner light and loved life. His parents and all his family had died in an earthquake that cleared his home village in the mountains to the north-east, he was about nine years when he and one baby sister alone survived; he raised his sister from a bottle and goats milk. Years later both of them had the good fortune to be adopted by the kind brothers from Chitral; they had lived ever since as servants in the large extended household.
Excitedly ShahrikiKhan showed me the drawings he had made – also of household scenes. He used what we call stick figures with balloon-bodies: arms and legs were sticks, as were fingers and toes. His figures were quite animated and could be truly funny and he was very pleased with them.
Sophisticated and urbane as were the brothers, they persisted in telling him that sketches I made were preferable to his figures, but their advice fell on deaf ears; meanwhile I began to articulate my own version of the figures which turned out to be very versatile for telling stories and making jokes; ShahrikiKhan and I began to have silly conversations using them when he had time to spend away from heavy household chores. When the icey runway finally melted, we foreigners prepared to leave. However in the final moments it turned out there was no space in the jeep for ShahrikiKhan to come to farewell us.
So you know what he did!? He ran all the way to the airport – he didn’t take much longer than the jeep it seemed, he was there when we walked up the stairs to the cabin, waving furiously with both arms.
I began drawing strip cartoon messages as I journeyed down to TamilNadu – all the way back to Peshawar, then all through Pakistan and into India. By the time we reached Arunachala in South India these cartoons were ready for an extended strip session that spanned many months and turned into a comic book which i do hope that ShahrikiKhan received.
Gradually as I settled into a contemplative life by the Holy Hill, the cartoons came to attempt to express the inexpressible, symbols formed themselves and year by year the simple funny figures inspired by a simple funny man became more sophisticated as they acclimatised themselves to mixtures of profound and profane initially, tending towards more profound-only as time went by.
A central heroine defined herself within my chosen sanctuary where the teaching associated with Arunachala Mountain has become famously Advaita – ‘non-dualism’ as described in English; Not-two-and-not-one. The Heroine’s name is Seed: I am a Seed I am.
A series of children’s books told Seed’s story in early childhood, younger and then older editions, only one of which has been printed so far: My Amazing Green [Food Factory by Seed] which is for older children and adults. Seed’s very succinct life-story was printed by Dynamo House: Seed Concertina – the only remaining copy that i know of is photographed here. Then Myself by Seed was printed in English and Italian for an exhibition of the Seeds of Being images on silk held in Sienna many years ago.
Seed also makes an appearance in another perspective: The Rats are Out which is also presented on the BOOK page; these Rat stories beginning with The Rats in the Box [found inside the front cover of The Rats are Out], perhaps give more congruent evidence of the relationship between all this artwork and my enduring sentiments for the local Tamil culture surrounding Arunachala, which provided the inspiration and psychic energy for the making of these images and publications.
These are only a few of many books that were made during the late seventies and eighties; eighteen books were counted at some time, all picture books except for a few scripts such as The Rats on the Road that is folded into the back cover pocket of The Rats are Out.
The motivation to make such books came from the reforestation initiative I had embarked upon, which resulted in the aspiration to create an Environmental Education school – huge aspirations seemed possible at that time. However when the Arunachala Afforestation Group became a Registered Society: The Annamalai Reforestation Society, the incoming Trustees – all bramana gentlemen, could not envisage any operations whatsoever concerned with women or children. And that was the end of that and the begining of my waking up to the realities of India.
Consequently most of those books were given to friends in or managing orphanages or ashrams, and those that survived the transition to Australia are awaiting publication if ever the time is right. Now although Arunachala Mountain is taken to be nothing other than The Embodiment of Lord Siva Himself – a fact that certainly seems inviting to any cartoonist, for me the anthropomorphic deities didn’t make any entrances into my own somehow energetic/ecological domain; however what did make emphatic entrances, dance duets and interact both nobly and otherwise with the other animated sprites were the elemental deities – those divinities who were usurped millennia ago by the Gods and Goddesses. These are lines from an old poem:
Beyond the horizon
Oh what a shock!
I saw two divinities
sitting on a rock.
The image that accompanied this poem was of a Drop and a Flame sitting on a Rock, representatives of Water and Fire. I need to refine a squeak for pedants here: the fact that Air is represented by clouds and Space by the Celestial Banner. And then there’s ‘ether’. What is ether?! Brahman? Higgs Boson perhaps? It’s all nonsense. What more can we do?!
So where – you may ask – is the spelling out of the famous teaching of ArunachalaSiva [otherwise known as Advaita – not two and not one] – amongst all this nonsense? Well, I think the answer might be extracted from the sum total of images and particularly from the black and white cartoons. And as a PS I am motivated to be cheeky and include this from the Deck of Cards:
There’s not much to say, you know, however we certainly can say this: I have nothing. I know nothing. I am nothing. This was a favourite reminder from Nisagadatta Maharaj. I was quite happy for him to be ‘My Guru’ but he told me my guru is my own sense of I am. For me the black and white cartoons are better in this domain than anything else.
On the main Menu of the hinge-pin site under BOOKS, there are two spiral-bound Work-Books called “My Amazing Green” and “The Rats are Out”; these are also most pertinent to the Secular-Sacred. As it happens all my visual work turns out to be propaganda for The Botanical Kingdom with the exception of the raunchy PERSONAL PUPPETS.
To add to this variety there is a collection of stories published by Partridge; you can investigate this by going to the website: http://www.toothgoddess.com. The name of the book is this: “Tales Told to the Tooth Goddess”, under my pen name: Abhithakuchalambal.
All mixed up, mixed up mixed up, All mixed up with . . . . . a little nothing from the sky.