Ein Sof (or Ayn Sof) into Malkuth: The Endless One, No End, Unending, Becoming, 2014 Pen and ink Gregory B. Stewart
Originally created as the major frontispiece for The Apprentice, the following is a short selection of the descriptive text that accompanied it. It reads:
Upon the frontispiece of this short work is an illustration depicting the transformative journey from chaos to order – from Ein Sof into the sphere of Malkuth.
Those looking upon this image for the conventions of Masonic initiation will not see them and become quickly lost in its relevant symbolism and devices. While this board purports to hold secret symbolism, its allegorical lesson is not in its many parts, but in its overall message of transformation. What it represents is initiation and transformation, from chaos to order (ordo ab chao), presenting the initiate the opportunity to ascend higher into the limbs of the majestic Kabbalistic Tree of Life, itself a metaphor of transformation in understanding our evolution to the divine.
The chaos from which we come is like a network of roots warped and entwined, choking and starving for nourishment that comes from the light above. Its network striking deep into the foundations of the Prima Materia, the primal earth, never knowing or understanding that their nourishment and growth comes from above.
The Allegorical Tree, 2015
Pen and ink
Gregory B. Stewart
This work was devised as the small frontispiece image for the work, The Apprentice, and used as the cover image for the book.
Originally appearing barely larger than a postage stamp, the symbolism at work in this image resonates much more deeply when observed at a larger scale. In it, the tree represents a literal tree of life, emulating the movement and nuance of the imagined tree of the Kabbalistic tradition.
The Lighthouse. 2015 Pen and ink Gregory B. Stewart
Created as an illustrative frontispiece to the work Fellow of the Craft, The Lighthouse is a visual representation of the allegorical climb into the middle chamber of King Solomon’s temple.
While obviously not Solomon’s temple the visual here takes it cue from the great lighthouse of Alexandria and the many tiers necessary to ascend to reach the bright illuminated top. In this representation, the lighthouse is symbolic of the light acquired in the climb between the degrees.
The decision to use this image as opposed one more familiar to other representations was a risk in the conceptualization of the book. Rather than a waterford and sheafs of wheat, the underlying symbolism of the second degree of Freemasonry is the elevation towards the light of wisdom through he middle chamber of the temple. With that in mind, this image is the essence of that metaphorical journey in a house of light.
Created as the cover image for the book, this rendering evolved out of what started as a meditative sketching session resulting in a rough, but finished, study of the esoteric tree.
The context and symbolism in the work is vast, from the three pillars towering over the all-seeing eye of the great architect but connected to the trees anchored to the firmament below.
The symbolism here-in is that of the three pillars in the construct of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. Known individually as Strength, Wisdom and Beauty, these iconic emblems are the subtext to the becoming of a Master Mason in the tradition.
A Sad Object of Death. 2017 Pen and ink, Gregory B. Stewart Illustration from the book, The Master Mason.
This work appears in the interior of the book, The Master Mason.
The text it accompanies reads:
“Finding the fellow of the craft free of complicity in the death of Hiram, the master of the lodge turns the candidate to the East, presenting for his view a ‘sad object’ of death—a small skull—whose meaning is said to say ‘I have been, and I am no more,’ and whose further allegorical teaching is to suggest ‘all of the evils which oppress mankind.’”
As overt as the symbolism is in this work, its meaning is just as overt in the contemplation of any memento mori. The skull, quite obviously and composed as such, represents the contemplation of death and the afterlife.
This work, Anima Mundi, is an amalgam of the various traditions at work in a Hermetic understanding at work within Freemasonry.
In its summation, the illustration brings together elements of the first and second degrees by means of an armillary sphere at the bottom (from the Apprentice degree) and the multi-storied tower or ziggurat structure (from the Fellow of the Craft degree) crowned now by the full moon in eclipse by the both living and dead tree of life. These elements bringing the viewer through a visual representation of the first two steps of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life: First through the Sepheriot of Malkuth, the foundation; then up upon the path of Tav — our pathway from the firmament into the heavens.
At last, the observer being made to approach the final leg of the journey on their way to the symbolic lodge. The goal of this journey to become a master and gaze out into the universe for what comes next.
The work is highly symbolic and serves to educate as much as entertain the viewer with its symbolism.