“The Sacred Mirrors are a journey through our physical, socio-political, and spiritual anatomy.” – Alex Grey
Arguably best known for his “X-ray” paintings, transcendental artist Alex Grey melds the anatomically correct with the visionary in the Sacred Mirrors Cards. The twenty-three cards in this boxed set are intended to lead viewers through the process of theosis. That is, we may draw closer to God by contemplating the iconic archetypes portrayed on the cards and by seeing others, the world and ourselves as reflections of the Divine.
Intending to remind us of the pure wonder that can accompany our Earth journey, Grey says, “My life is committed to making artwork that wakes people up to the miracle of Life”. From skeleton to viscera, nerves to auric fields, Spirit infuses the “mundane” mechanics of the body as surely as the magnificent emanation of love and community.
At 8 ¼ X 4 ¾ inches, the Sacred Mirrors Cards are quite large, depicting colorful imagery on one side and poetic meditations on the other. For example, on the back of the card depicting the lymphatic system, Grey writes:
Lymph, holy water of life,
Bathing every cell
With nutritional healing plasma.
Mysterious cleansing cousin
Of the cardiovascular.
Nodes that swell when inflamed,
Pick up the pieces of the circulatory system.
Take away and destroy invading predators.
Purify, recycle and regenerate white blood cells,
Lymphocytes, my defending militia.
Keep me safely healthy and whole,
My guardians of the realm.
On a micro-level border patrol
Thou are the decided of what is and is not me.
Six of the twenty-three cards show nude males and females from Caucasian, Asian, and African ancestry. The poetry is basically the same on all six, except towards the end where Grey offers a comment about the specific image.
My favorite image from the Sacred Mirrors Cards is of Sophia, where all seeing, all knowing eyes bejewel her pink etheric gown. The Earth lies where her heart would be, doubling as the “brain” for a gestating baby. A luminescent halo encircles futuristic glyphs, while her third eye is wide open in a penetrating stare. The only thing that mars this otherwise glorious painting (in my opinion), is the disturbing image of Kali copulating with a reclining male (soon to be dead by her knife?). On the other side is baby suckling at a woman’s breast, so I get the point of life and death being on the same continuum but… The Sacred Mirrors Cards are indeed unusual, and would likely be enjoyed by fans of both Alex Grey and Ken Wilber. However, I find some of the imagery a bit gruesome and Grey’s sentiments a bit “top heavy”—an analytical, rational approach to spirituality. This is, of course, a legitimate portrayal and path to Spirit, for All That Is does indeed lie within muscle, bone, and blood—the latter being our very (earthly) life force.
But, alas, contemplating organs and guts aren’t my particular cup of tea. And, to be fair, that doesn’t comprise all of the images in this set of cards. For example, the Spiritual Energy System is an arresting portrayal of the chakra system “sprouting jets of psycho gism”. A European-looking Jesus makes an appearance, as does a thousand armed, eleven-headed Buddhist deity.
“Is it just me?” I wondered. I appreciate that the human body is a magnificent machine—a vehicle for spirit to be appreciated—but I didn’t feel particularly inspired. So I asked my husband, who enjoys some of Grey’s art (especially Oversoul), to give me his impression of the Sacred Mirrors Cards. He expressed the same sentiments that I had felt, so it wasn’t “just me” after all. We both agreed, however, that some of the poetry conveyed brilliant insights into the human body and its connection to the Infinite.
So if you love Grey’s art and vision—and books like Transfigurations—then you’ll likely enjoy this unusual meditative offering.
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