A Birthday Gift that Keeps On Giving
My girlfriend Arielle bought me tickets to go to the Vernal Equinox celebration at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. As a big fan of the work of Alex Grey, I was beyond excited. Here is a description of CoSM from their website:
“The mission of CoSM, Chapel of Sacred Mirrors is to build an enduring sanctuary of visionary art to inspire and evolve the creative spirit… CoSM is a church, a context for a community that honors and practices art as a spiritual path. CoSM offers a visionary cultural nexus to empower a global community. To further the spiritual practice of art, CoSM offers workshops and cultural programs.”
In addition to that, the grounds house some of Alex’s most iconic work such as the Cosmic Christ:
The Vernal Equinox Celebration at COSM
Since attending Alex Grey and his wife Allyson’s Vernal Equinox celebration this past weekend, there remains an earthy after glow that lingers all around me. Alex and his wife lectured about the significance of the Vernal Equinox and how this is a time of rebirth – the tipping point where there becomes more light than darkness and new growth commences. Alex talked about how our bodies contain the same designs that are found in nature, mentioning for instance the bronchial tree in the lungs, and then Alyson urged us to focus on regrowth in our own lives at this time of year. It felt like New Years Eve all over again. I truly appreciate being given this deeper sense of a new beginning because I’m definitely behind with getting things started in 2016. Just look at the date of my first blog post! After the lecture, there was live artwork being made by Alex, Alyson and some other artists, electronic music and dancing, a giant outdoor fire with flame artists, a makeshift tent dome with experimental sound designers and strange visuals being projected onto the ceiling, and an all around great time.
Meeting Alex Grey and Receiving a Blessing
While there, I had the great fortune of meeting Alex and having him sign my copy of his book “Art Psalms”. His message was “To Gary, With Love and Blessings on your Creative Path! Alex Grey.” He also left me with some original art work! He drew a left hand with a flame in the palm of it and an all seeing eye pyramid with wings! I am still wondering if he observed that I was a lefty when I handed him the book. He seemed to struggle for a moment drawing the left hand when maybe he is accustomed to drawing the right, and he apologized for it being a little messy (such a humble guy). When he was done, he blew on his work to make sure the pen ink was dry before closing the book. His genuine warmth and graciousness and his kind inscription has left me with a stronger resolve than ever to walk straight ahead on this creative path. He handed me a bottle of inspiration that will sustain me for some time. I see the flame and the eye in the hand as a declaration of the power of self-directed creativity – to have a vision and make it a reality. Receiving these guiding symbols and encouraging words from a man who has championed visionary art and dedicated years of effort and continual refinement to bringing inner glimpses of spiritual and energetic truth into the outer physical world by way of his hands, means a lot. It is more than a physical gift. It truly is a blessing.
The Community at COSM
The Vernal Equinox lecture started at 7PM, but we arrived at the COSM grounds around 5. If you ever go to an event and want some time to view Alex’s work and the CoSM grounds, it is worth going early, where you are practically alone to view, reflect, and ponder. When we got there, the only people among us were the volunteers setting up for the event. I could tell though that they were all members of a special kind of community. As I walked toward the gift shop I saw that the volunteers were all eating in a back room before the festivities were to begin. As other volunteers arrived, hugs were shared and genuine words of kindness exchanged. It was someone’s birthday. It was also my birthday, and it was a gift from my girlfriend to be taken to the event, so I was there celebrating life. I told this kind lady across the room that we shared this special day and she came over and gave me a hug! I wanted to know more about the positive vibes among these people. I asked the sparkling blue eyed and long haired young man making my coffee at the CoSM Mushroom Cafe how long he has been volunteering. He told me about two years and I asked him what it was like. He said it was awesome and in addition to working the events, adults get to have a lot of childlike fun and do things like play laser tag in the woods after hours! They also get to stay in the volunteer dorms! Some of the jobs of the volunteers included setting up chairs and furniture, moving Alex’s artwork, working at the cafe, the gift shop, working the admission table, etc. Another volunteer, Eli, explained to me the process for applying to volunteer – you just fill out some forms on the CoSM website. This women was nice, friendly, but brought an element of strong leadership to this business operation that, as the night rolled on, was much needed. There were long lines for drinks and sandwiches, packed quarters, and she kept things in control. When I posted on Facebook where I was a friend told me that her friend Eli is there volunteering all the time and this was not the only connection I had here! I also ran into a volunteer named Tem that I had played on a couple of gigs with in NYC! Ironically, those gigs were put on by the brother of the friend who knew Eli, and both were unaware that their respective friends worked together!
Besides the volunteers, there were also the artists and entertainers. There were two painters amazingly talented painters in the room where Alex’s Cosmic Christ is housed and one was painting a striking coyote who was tangled in multi colored yarn. In another room their was an artist making a Mandala out of died sand and two other painters. In the back room where the dancing was taking place was another artist painting a baby in some sort of otherworldly cave filled with shards of gems. And then there was Alex painting a self portrait and Alyson painting symbols of some unknown language. Both of them kindly welcomed visitors to chat with while they worked (that is how I was able to meet Alex as well).
Trust and Openess
The amount of trust, acceptance and compassion that Alex and his Wife have for all the people that come to their home is staggering. Besides having a couple of security guards, anyone that buys a ticket can come in without having their bags or jackets checked, and roam freely throughout the first floor of the house. There are personal keepsakes on many of the shelves, books, a guitar and other instruments, along with the artwork on the walls. Many of the attendees might also be in frames of mind that could potentially lead to poor decision making. However, “drunk” is not one them, which is probably the state of mind that leads to the most crime. No alcohol is sold at COSM. Some people were definitely intoxicated, but seemingly on substances that do not typically lead to violence or crime – Marijuana, Psychedelics, MDMA. However, boundaries can becomes blurry in these states. When Alyson got up from the painting that she was working on, a girl say down on her chair just inches from the painting examining it thoroughly. I was afraid that she might touch it. People came up to here asking if she was the artist! Ultimately, I got the sense that Allyson and Alex are in acceptance of anything that might happen. In our modern civilized society, fear is hardly ever useful yet it most often rules our lives. I found it very telling that I was more afraid for Alex and Allyson’s possessions than they were.