Alex Grey on Viriditas, Greening Power, Grace & Creativity

Alex Grey is a notable artist of our time with whom it has been my privilege to work on several occasions.   

Matthew Fox with Alex Grey at the Chapel of Sacred Mirrors. Published with permission.

He gave the teaching at one of our Cosmic Masses at Historic Sweets Ballroom in downtown Oakland when the theme for the Mass was “Creativity.”  Putting a chair and easel on the altar platform, he drew a painting while speaking about the juice of the creative process. 

It was, needless to say, magical to see a painting from Alex Grey come alive on the spot in the middle of Mass.  A homily to remember.

Alex and I taught a course together on “Creativity” at the University of Creation Spirituality in Oakland and we also dialoged on the meaning of the Sacred in his paintings in a theater in NYC.  I happily visited his studio there on several occasions, always bringing friends or students in tow.

Now he has moved his studio to a barn in upstate New York and I am thinking of him since we are meditating on Grace this New Year—and so much Grace comes our way from art and creativity.  As Hildegard of Bingen put it, “there is wisdom in all creative works.”

In an Instagram video, Alex Grey describes his latest work, “The Green Hand,” inspired by Hildegard of Bingen and her concept of Viriditas.

Alex offers us a new painting on Greening Power or Viriditas, in which  he brings alive this important concept named by Hildegard in the 12th century. 

Hands play an important role in the piece and our hands contribute so much to all manner of work that we humans engage in. 

Alex paints eyes within each hand.  Hildegard often paints pictures of beings with multiple eyes–this is one way that she speaks of Divinity, the “all-seeing One,” the eye as the “window to the soul.”  Meister Eckhart instructs us that “the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me.”

Thank you for still another inspiring painting, Alex, that celebrates our human capacity to bestow Grace on one another via our greening power and work and creativity!  Surely, Hildegard is pleased.  

To be continued.

* Alex Grey speaking on “The Green Hand”: 

See Matthew Fox, Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen.

And Fox, Hildegard of Bingen, a Saint For Our Times.

And Fox, Creativity: Where the Divine and the Human Meet.

Banner Image: “The Green Hand,” a painting by Alex Grey in homage to Hildegard’s concept of Viriditas. Published with permission.

Queries for Contemplation

What do you derive from this most recent painting on Viriditas and Greening Power from Alex Grey?  How does it feed a theme of a New Year of Grace?

Recommended Reading

Illuminations of Hildegard of Bingen

An introduction to the life and work of Hildegard of Bingen, Illuminations reveals the life and teachings of one of the greatest female artists and intellectuals of the Western Mystical Tradition.  At the age of 42, she began to have visions; these were captured as 36 illuminations–24 of which are recorded in this book along with her commentaries on them.
“If one person deserves credit for the great Hildegard renaissance in our time, it is Matthew Fox.”  – Dr Mary Ford-Grabowsky, author of Sacred Voices.

Hildegard of Bingen, A Saint for Our Times: Unleashing Her Power in the 21st Century

Matthew Fox writes in Hildegard of Bingen about this amazing woman and what we can learn from her.
In an era when women were marginalized, Hildegard was an outspoken, controversial figure. Yet so visionary was her insight that she was sought out by kings, popes, abbots, and bishops for advice.
“This book gives strong, sterling, and unvarnished evidence that everything – everything – we ourselves become will affect what women after us may also become….This is a truly marvelous, useful, profound, and creative book.” ~~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope: A Guide to Sacred Activism.

Creativity: Where the Divine and Human Meet

Because creativity is the key to both our genius and beauty as a species but also to our capacity for evil, we need to teach creativity and to teach ways of steering this God-like power in directions that promote love of life (biophilia) and not love of death (necrophilia). Pushing well beyond the bounds of conventional Christian doctrine, Fox’s focus on creativity attempts nothing less than to shape a new ethic.
“Matt Fox is a pilgrim who seeks a path into the church of tomorrow.  Countless numbers will be happy to follow his lead.” –Bishop John Shelby Spong, author, Rescuing the Bible from FundamentalismLiving in Sin

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6 thoughts on “Alex Grey on Viriditas, Greening Power, Grace & Creativity”

  1. Avatar

    The first thing I noticed in the painting is that all of the hands were the LEFT hand. This speaks to me of the Sacred Feminine, of shedding the scales and awakening to a new way of seeing and knowing through the processes of being receptive to one’s intuition. The green speaks to me of being open hearted to the movements of the Sacred Feminine through being introspective; with a willingness to explore this inner landscape and all that lies there. The blue color speaks to me of the movements of the living waters of truth, of seeing this not as a static absolute; but rather as something that is organically fluid that slowly unfolds, evolves and emerges through differing points of view; in imaginative and creative pathways. The whole image speaks to me of the transformative power of life changes and the potential growth which underlies all that we encounter and experience; sometimes causing us to shed and let go of what no longer fits… in order to embrace and done a new mantle of one’s soul/self.

  2. Avatar

    The ‘divine’ is the unlimited, boundless and expansive power in our hands if we could only see it. All have it. We only need our eye open or consciousness expanded to see it. — BB.

  3. Avatar

    Would it be possible to livestream your next Cosmic Mass? Your description of these gatherings speaks to the profound nature of the experience of the Divine Mystery in our midst.
    I also understand that live-streaming could detract from the Cosmic Mass.

  4. Avatar

    The painting “The Green Hand” does indeed symbolize hopefully Our New Year of Grace — God’s Spirit Alive within and among Us ETERNALLY LOVINGLY and CREATIVELY Seeing and Working through Our Human eyes and hands to Compassionately serve one another and Our Beautiful Sacred Mother Earth with All Her creatures and graceful abundance in LOVING DIVERSE ONENESS in the Sacredness of the ETERNAL PRESENT MOMENT….

  5. Avatar

    Alex’s painting expresses to me the experience of becoming the fruit from the seed….and becoming who is not afraid to fully see and receive the Truth, even when the Truth is hidden in the darkness or its revealing comes with pain. Alex’s stance is of joy, strength and rebirth.

  6. Avatar

    A verdant river of hands with clear vision, what a gorgeous image! Let us be carried along in grace to be the hands– and feet– of Christ in the world.

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