10. THE FIRST SOUL-PICTURE OF ANTHONY ON THE RIGHT INNER WING, THE FAUST-MOTIF
On looking at the first soul-picture of Anthony the old Faust motif can be recognised. (Fig. 65, and Plate E.) A naked, ape-like human soul-form lies fainting on its back, raises a glass in its right hand, and waits for the luciferic she-devil to pour him a drink out of the phial that is held ready. Anthony can see here the impotence of his own soul, which has whispered to him: all your trouble is in vain, you cannot improve the world, or attack what is evil or compel the good; drink but of Lethe's draught of oblivion out of the phial, and you will be rid of all the misery.Fig. 65. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: The right inner wing. The Temptations if St. Anthony (see Plate E and Plate F).
↓Thought-millFig. 66. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: Head of the tree-man and the thought-grinding mill in the purgatorium (detail from The Garden of Heavenly Delights). Madrid, Prado Museum.
Goethe, in Faust I, following an ancient tradition, causes the sound of the Easter bells of the resurrection to dispel this unchristian mood of soul; evidently Bosch was drawing upon the same tradition.
In Goethe's Faust I  the choir of angels sings:
Christ is raised up,
Death has no sting
Love's blessed King
Trials that bring
Goethe then ends the scene with the lines:
Begin once more, oh sweet celestial strain
Tears dim my eyes: earth's child I am again.
That Anthony also overcomes this temptation, and that this is very salutary for his soul is clearly shown by the event that is painted above his head, to which we will return in Section 16. This portion of the picture is dominated by the mocking bird that is sitting above on the withered twig. If this symbol of mockery, this becoming aware of one's own folly after the event, is not recognised, much will remain obscure. We shall show that this motif of the mocking bird occurs in several parts of the right inner wing.11. THE MOTIF OF SELF-MOCKERY
On the left, facing the picture of Anthony, a curtain is being drawn aside. The naked woman, who now appears within a dead rotted tree, is often regarded as the "temptation of St. Anthony". If this figure were to represent a temptation, she would need to be painted as a young seductive beauty. In that case she would certainly stand in a different posture, and within different surroundings. (See Fig. 67 and Plate E).Fig. 67. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: The Faust Motif (see Plate E) (detail, The Temptations of St. Anthony).
We can find this woman in all the stages of Anthony's life. We believe we recognise her in the little house, that the young Anthony was trying to guard when he was still bowed down under the burden of his lands. She is painted kneeling beside Anthony on the middle panel of the altar-piece, and also appears in mid air riding on the fish, on the right inner wing. If we take all these aspects of the woman together, her meaning for Anthony becomes obvious as "the woman in his life". Whether this woman did in reality enter his life or not is not the most important thing. For a painter like Bosch the important factor is the nature of femininity. As has already been said, the soul always presents itself to the imaginative vision in female guise, while the ego of the human being with its active aspect, always appears as masculine. To this extent every person bears the two polarities of the male and the female within himself. If the soul-battles of a St. Anthony are to be depicted therefore) this feminine aspect must also appear. We must again mention however that it is perfectly possible that a real woman was also present in his life. Here too Bosch lifts outer events into the inner picture.
Here he experiences the woman as his sexual opposite. This is shown by the toad which is sitting beneath her figure, at the edge of the water. (See Note 9.) As the Saint (also Bosch himself) recognises the human body as withered through the fall, it is not surprising that the painter represents it as a dead tree. Above all the picture of the mocking bird in the tree is important. Anthony regards this whole aspect of life self-mockingly. For this reason the bird is sitting above the woman. It shows that Anthony is mocking the impotence of his own soul.12. THE FISH HIT BY THE ARROW OF SATAN
In the Golden Legend there occurs the following:
Someone asked Anthony: what rules must I keep to please God? Anthony answered: Wherever you go, have God before your eyes, find support for your deeds in the witness of Holy Writ; when you have settled in a place, do not leave it too soon. Keep to these three things and you will be saved. An abbot asked Anthony: What shall I do? Anthony answered him: do not trust to your own justice, deny your belly and your tongue, and you will not have cause to repent any thing that has happened. Then he added: As the fish die if they have been too long where it is dry, so also with monks, who remain outside their cells and have dealings with worldly people. They soon forget the vow of seclusion.
The dying fish, hit by the arrow of a Luciferic demon, belongs to this mood; it lies to the right below the curtain, a symbol that would say how soon the new life in the spirit dies if one falls into the temptation of mourning one's old worldly life.13. THE MURDERED POT-BELLY AND THE HOOD
The saying quoted above, "deny your belly" has also found expression in the picture in connection with wrath and mockery (see Plate F and Fig. 65). In the true Christian sense mockery is only justified when it is directed against one's own impulses. The pot-belly on legs still lived within the soul of Anthony, but he has himself murdered it by his own hand. Below on the right we see an imaginative representation of the potbelly, impaled on the dagger of righteous wrath. Anthony still has the monk's hood. He knows himself that he cannot place too much reliance upon his own righteousness, that beneath his own "head" the evil forces still cause mischief. Anthony has thrown this second hood behind him; a small dark ball that is attached behind it shows that it belongs to his past. The form of the hood resembles a lizard which again indicates that not everything in his past was particularly beautiful (see Plate E).14. THE SECOND IMAGE MOCKING ANTHONY: THE FISH IN THE AIR
The upper lefthand picture has also grown from his self-mockery and is connected with these ideas. (See Fig. 68.) The couple on the fish are complementary to the old man in the baby-walker, for both deal with the idea of what might possibly have become of Anthony had he not left house and home and changed the tenor of his thinking, but had led instead a bourgeois kind of life. Then he would probably have become a philistine like the little man shaped like a money-bag riding on the fish, who is painted in mid-air above the mill and the burning light-house, and who bears a marked resemblance to the money-bag demon on the mill-stone in the purgatorium . He would have become similar to many others who believe that one needs only to sit on the fish of church-Christianity, in order to go straight to heaven together with one's dear wife, or one's own precious soul. However, this is not so. If we allow ourselves to be carried quite passively by that institution, without even transforming our potbelly, even the dark ball of the causal body becomes changed. It is turned into a belching torch of pitch. This travesty of a shining little causal body is also a play upon the fact that we carry something demoniacal in our banner if we fancy that we are entitled to journey to heaven in such an unpurified state. Today, as in the time of Bosch, the devil is called in Dutch "Joosje Peck" (pitch). The torch of pitch is to be regarded as a flag of the devil.Fig. 68. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: The fish in mid-air (detail, The Temptations of St. Anthony).15. THE BABY-WALKER
Another picture of his soul appears to Anthony "behind his back". (See Fig. 65 and Plate E.)
Now he can make sport of what previously caused him anxiety, while he faced the decision whether to change his ways in real truth and to leave everything that he possessed. He had also asked himself, while he still lacked the courage for such a decision, what would become of him if he were to become old and frail, poor in wealth and feebleminded.
Now he sees his former horrifying picture of himself in his imagination: himself, become childish, in a baby-walker, as used for small children who cannot yet stand upright. In the time of Bosch children were placed in such rectangular structures in order that they might learn to walk. (See Fig. 69, detail of a picture which is reproduced in its entirety in Fig. 80).Fig. 69· Babywalker to teach infants to walk, detail from a Cebes table. Kassel, Landes museum. (See Fig. 80.)
He is holding a child's windmill on a stick in his hand. This self-spinning wheel is a secret symbol of the sun which Bosch has also placed in the hand of the boy in his picture known as The Playing Boy, in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna (see Fig. 89). We are convinced that this picture is intended to represent the Jesus child of the Gospel of St. Matthew.
At one time children's toys were based on, and indicated, archetypal symbols; this sun symbol here reveals what dwelled in the innermost heart of Anthony although, on the other hand his want of trust in God was still hindering him. Now he knows quite certainly within himself that he no longer has to fear anything of this sort, certainly not mental impairment. The next section will show clearly why we can be sure of this.
If one contemplates this vision of Anthony as he had been in his past, and recognises the humour with which he now sees himself, one is reminded of The Prodigal Son, and of the creator of these two paintings, who must have felt all this in his soul to be able to paint it like this.16. THE SYMBOL OF THE HEDGEHOG OR THE PORCUPINE, THE ANIMAL SKELETON AND BONES
Above the head of Anthony, between the she-devil pouring the drink of Lethe, and the horrific picture of the possibility of becoming childish in old age, we can discern two quite small symbols which turn out to be most important once one has learned to understand the painter's language. [?!] On the left there is a porcupine, and on the right the skeleton of an animal and some bones. (See Plate E.)
The hedgehog is to be found in Europe, the porcupine, among other places, in Africa. Both are armoured, but neither is imprisoned like a tortoise within his armour, their coat of barbs is merely for protection against attackers, they can put them up or lay them flat as they please. They can roll themselves into a ball and are then protected against attack, but unroll again when they are no longer under threat. It is worth noting that Bosch chose to use the porcupine for this symbol; he is sometimes inclined to use the African fauna although he had never seen the animals himself, and had to rely upon descriptions. We connect this with the journey that Christian Rosenkreutz made via Damascus, Damcar and Fez through North Africa to the south of Spain, as is told in the Fama Fraternitatis , . In Europe the hedgehog was usually taken as the symbol to denote the same thing. Its "signature" [vi] can be found in the Apocalypse of St. John 3/7: "And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These things saith he that is holy, he that is true, he that hath the key of David, he that openeth and no man shutteth; and shutteth, and no man openeth.
I know thy works: Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it: for thou hast a little strength, and hast kept my word, and hast not denied my name." The word little is not intended here as derogatory. By it is meant the little strength of the ego into which man is compressed into one point. He who has found himself as an ego -- who is no longer dependent on blood or kindred, or the circumstances of a people or a race, he has an open door before him, he can follow the Christ. ("I am the door", says the Christ.) Then the ego becomes unselfishly loving, and in this state it can open itself for all men and for the whole world in love. However it can also shut itself off entirely from its surroundings, as Anthony was now also able to do.
Bosch has painted this symbol of the porcupine beside Aegidius on his Altarpiece of the Hermits (see Fig. 70) and in the Zodiac (see Fig. 71), and the Paradise scene, both in the Hortus Deliciarum [vii]. These examples again show that Bosch was consistent in his pictorial language. From another example, portraying the European porcupine, the hedgehog, we may assume that others were also familiar with this symbol. An unknown sculptor has used a hedgehog in a stone group on the outside of the cathedral of Amiens. (See Fig. 72.) Fig. 70. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: Right wing of the altar of the Hermits (Aegidius) Venice, Palace of the Doge. The porcupine is arrowed.Fig.71. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: Detail from The Garden of Heavenly Delights, Madrid, Prado museum. Fig. 72. Relief from Amiens Cathedral.
Here the hedgehog is accompanied by the sign of the TAO, which Anthony also always wears; it is surrounded by a church, and above it there is a dove, representing the Holy Ghost in the language of Christian symbolism. Here then the sign of the TAO cross, borne by Anthony, is brought into relationship both with the hedgehog, and with the open door.
We can find the porcupine carved in stone in Dijon (see Note 10). In fairy tales the hedgehog plays the same part with the same meaning: among others no. 108, Hans my hedgehog, and no. 187, The hare and the hedgehog, in the collection of the brothers Grimm . The latter is a typical fairy tale of the Rosicrucians.
So it can be seen that in different lands the hedgehog was used as a symbol, in the same way that Bosch used it. The Rosicrucian source for the use of this symbol has already been touched upon.
The hedgehog or the porcupine is the symbol of a high initiate, as the TAO cross is his emblem. For he who takes up the cross of his own free will, and has imbued himself with the idea that a man cannot progress further in his own development if he will not take this cross upon himself, is in reality an Initiate.
But every initiate who has attained the stage of the hedgehog or porcupine, achieves a completely different relationship to his own body. The contrast between an initiate and a sage will make this clear. We can formulate it quite simply as follows:
A sage has formed true thoughts about the spiritual world, and about his eternal being, but he mainly experiences himself within his own body, to which he is bound as is any other man. A high Initiate on the other hand experiences the actuality of the true ego, and to him his body is merely a sort of marionette, which he is guiding from the spiritual plane without allowing himself to be influenced in this by physical pain or any other physical sensations which might occur in the process. The sage is not able as yet to open his ego, or close it to the world at will, and he cannot yet experience his body as a tool that he carries about with him as something extraneous, something like dead bones. This is why a skeleton had to appear close by. It can be seen on the right of the porcupine, so that the signs of the spirituality of the initiate and of his hardest physical aspect appear beside each other.
We shall discuss what lies in the background and stands in intimate relationship with these symbols after we have studied the last detail of the picture, on the left lower section; otherwise we should lose our perspective of all the images that are grouped about Anthony.17. THE CEREMONIAL TABLE
The picture below on the left, refers to Anthony's relationship with ritual worship; a round ceremonial table is depicted, which Bosch always uses in these situations for this purpose. (See Fig. 73, and Plate F.) For Bosch the ceremonial table is the image of the earth, in contrast to the church, where the altar table is rectangular, as originally Mass was read over the grave of a saint. Upon this partially covered table bread lies prepared, and there are also various flowers, which we cannot interpret (see Note 11). The wine jar, which is placed next to the bread is closed by a hart's foot. As we have already recognised the hart as the psychopompos (see Ref. 65, and above) the painter's language should here be easily understood; we must be able to turn our soul upwards (see Psalm 42/2), i.e. we must use the forces of the hart within ourselves if we would unite ourselves with the fire-forces of the Christ which must be recognized in the bread and the wine as the Flesh and Blood of Christ upon earth.Fig. 73. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: The Cult table (see Plate F) (detail, The Temptations of St. Anthony).
Anthony, that is, the Anthony whom Bosch has painted, and behind whose image he has concealed himself, can see in his vision that many demons are still playing about the altar of the earth and that two of the three priests are serving as representatives of men on earth not the Christ, but His opponents.
The first priest, on the far left, is blowing a horn. He blows (which means that he is announcing loudly) but his call is as the smoke, and from his instrument there hangs a sausage; he is a Hans Wurst; (Translator's note, a German name for a clown), a ludicrous caricature of the being of St. John. (Translator's note, in German Hans is an abbreviation of the name Johannes, English John). He is pretending to support the table, but in reality he is only standing beside it and uses both his hands to make a row. In addition he has put a hood on his head (a cloth like those the servants of the church wore on Bosch's home town) to identify himself as a servant of the church of men.
The figure on the right is upside down and carries the table on his feet. Whenever Bosch paints something upside down he means that something is going on that is the opposite of what is right; in this too he was consistent. Here it means that such representatives have the wrong attitude to their task. They talk of divine matters without turning them into deeds. The sword of the word, in his mailed right hand is only an ornament; his words a barren and ineffectual pretence, by which he yet desires to exercise power. From his gullet there protrudes the dagger of an egoism that murders the spirit; in place of the true priest there stands here the boaster (in German Prahlhans), a no less evil opponent of the Christianity of St. John.
The Hanswurst (clown) is a mouthpiece for fanaticism without inner content, and the second figure is a representative of soulless violent rhetoric, which by its warlike nature destroys everything that is genuinely spiritual.
The third figure in the middle holding the balance between the two, denotes something quite different. His mien is remarkable for its spirituality, and positive expression; he bears the table vigorously on his left shoulder, and supports himself on his left foot which is in a winejug, i.e. this man stands in a cask of wine of the "true vine". The man is using a crutch to help him stand upright, for to keep one's balance if one would stand simultaneously on the earth and in the spiritual world is not as yet a state that can be simply attained, and is only permitted to a very few. This wavering between two worlds was already shown in The Prodigal Son. (Part 1, Section 15.) The man here also bears a curious mark: like the tree-man in the purgatorium and The Prodigal Son, he wears the sign of the band of dedication, or of the mystic, at his knee which denotes that his footsteps upon earth have received a certain serious imprint because he had connected himself with the spirit. Ribbons denoting that their wearer belongs to a spiritual or a worldly order are universally known today. But the knowledge that these bands come from a very ancient tradition, and were already well known for example to the Greeks, and appeared in early Christianity, has been almost lost. More was said about the band of dedication, or of the mystic earlier in this study, and in that of The Prodigal Son. (Section 16.)
The countenance of the true bearer of the ceremonial table shows the traits of a strong will, and unless we are very much mistaken we are dealing here with the same personality that is painted in the foreground of the Hortus Deliciarum [viii] and appears there twice; once on the far right, in a mask, and once again in the group with the Ethiopian woman and two holy women, hidden away in the background. The possibility cannot be excluded that we see here a portrait of Jacob von Almaengien, (I.A.) alias Philip von St. Jan, who is said to have transmitted the teachings of the Rosicrucians to the painter. (See Introduction to the book.)
To sum up the essence of this last image, it can be said that here is painted one of the causes that led Anthony, like Bosch, to form the resolve to entirely change the direction of his life. He recognises that his naive contemplative but passive Christianity must transform itself into a Christianity of action, as the true supporter of the ceremonial table has shown him by his life.18. THE BATTLE WITH THE DRAGON
This battle for what is positive is now depicted on the next highest level. (See Fig. 74.) As is usual with Jeroen [ix] Bosch, he has presented what is most important and positive, in small insignificant figures, so as not to force his own view of the world and his most intimate thoughts upon those who would not understand him anyway. Bosch has often been reproached that he is always negative, that he only paints what is ugly, cruel or demonic. Once one has learned better to understand his painting, one will be able to see why his honesty would not permit him to beautify his picture of the world, but he only paints the negative, the bad things very obviously, in order to make possible the recognition of what is good.Fig. 74. HIERONYMUS BOSCH: The battle with the dragon. The hare is watching. Also Beacons and Statue of Christ. The City is in the background (detail, The Temptations of St. Anthony).
On the upper left corner of the left wing of the altarpiece we saw Anthony represented in the form of a knight. This same knight appears here in the water, along a vertical line that can be drawn from the head of Anthony through the porcupine. He is fighting against the dragon equipped with sword and shield, and standing in the ocean of the spirit. We can see in the picture how the man who attempts this does not always win; often the dragon goes off with the head of the one he has conquered, i.e. one can completely lose one's head in the battle against evil. Behind this lonely spiritual battle another is seen in the background, where armoured mercenaries move against mercenaries, that is men against men.
In the mad delusion that one is serving Christianity wars can be instigated -- all religious wars sprang from this delusion. In reality one is drawing a sword like St. Peter did, and he who uses the sword shall perish by the sword. The dragon represents what is evil in all men, and must be fought within oneself. The battle of many men against each other is, as Goethe expressed it, a fight of slaves against slaves. (See Note 12.) In the middle of the turmoil of the warring mercenaries there is a statue: a human figure bowed under the burden of the globe of the earth; in this globe there is a flag with the emblem of the Turks, a sign of this world's unbelief. We assume that one can recognise in this statue a representation of the Christ Jesus, who bears the whole earth with all its opposing forces upon His back. It is as though the Christ Jesus is watching, as it is described in the Golden Legend, and to Anthony's question: Where were you dear Jesus? Where were you? Why were you not here from the beginning to help me and to heal my wounds? He replies: Anthony I was here, but I waited to watch your battle. Now that you have fought like a man (an ego) I will make you known over the whole earth. (This "making known" should really be read to mean "holding up as an example".) Through hard struggles Anthony has attained inner illumination; his self-consciousness has become extended to world-consciousness and for this reason Christ would now hold him up as an example for all.
It has already been pointed out that Bosch has interwoven the lines of composition in such a way that he has succeeded in showing all these aspects simultaneously. For example, one of these lines leads horizontally from the young Anthony on the left inner wing, where he lies bent under the burden of his lands (denoted by a piece of land), to the right inner wing, where the Christ Jesus stands bowed under the weight of the whole earth.19. LIMEKILNS AND BEACONS
The two towers, joined by a bridge, on which there are two battling groups, form a symbol that is difficult to interpret. To anyone who does not understand what the painter means by these two different towers, the significance of this whole section including the meeting of the warriors must remain obscure. They are not fighting in the ordinary sense, they are merely pushing against each other.
Let us first explain the towers: all that has lived leaves a corpse behind which during the process of decay always combines with oxygen; expressed pictorially, it is burned in the oven of nature. To represent this process, or its chemical opposite, the painter invents something between a limekiln and a lighthouse. In Holland lime is still extracted from shells by burning. These limekilns still have the same pear-shape as the painter depicts, (also on the middle panel). The limekiln was often taken as the symbol of death (the bony skeleton, of chalk, disintegrates, and the soul goes on into purgatory). (See Fig. 74, Fig. 95 and Fig. 100.) To substantiate our proposition we reproduce a miniature (see Fig. 75) from the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, who married Arnaud, Duke of Gelre about the middle of the 15th century .Fig. 75. From the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, wife of the Duke of Gelre. Utrecht, ± 1435. New York. Pierpoint Morgan Library.
Towards the centre of the book is painted the face of Hell, in which all that is impure in the soul is burned. The cleansing flames blaze in both limekilns, which heat a cooking-pot. The human souls are thrown into this cooking-pot; the skulls show, superfluously that all this is taking place after death, i.e. "beyond". Right at the bottom we find the seven deadly sins with their Latin names. We see what else happens on the second picture (see Fig. 76). Fig. 76. From the Hours of Catherine of Cleves, wife of the Duke of Gelre. Utrecht, ± 1435. New York. Pierpoint Morgan Library.
If one compares the limekilns in which the remains of shellfish are burnt to make substances for new buildings and the kiln pictures reproduced here, with the structure that Bosch has painted, their correspondence is striking, and the master's intention becomes all too plain, that death and hellfire, beacon and limekiln correspond to a reminder: "memento mori". (See Note 13.)
However, the left and the right limekiln/lighthouses on this picture are different. The one on the left is a beacon from ancient times; in these a simple wood fire was burnt, to lead fishermen into harbour by the glow of the flames and by the smoke. The one on the right however is novel for the time of Bosch; i.e. it had been recently invented and was modern in his time, a product of the new age. On a lever there is suspended a bucket of pitch, this can be lowered on a chain, filled up, lit, and when it is burning well it can be pulled up high again. Examples of both kinds are given here. (See Fig. 77, Fig. 78 and Fig. 79,) This modern process heralds the new technical age. This new age also brought with it a complete revolution in men's attitude of soul.Fig. 77. Old beacon tower.Fig. 78. Transition from old to new beacon tower.Fig. 79. New beacon tower.
The idea which was concealed in this picture is that death is like a beacon, but that men experience this beacon differently. One philosophic stream was still immersed in the emotional beliefs of the Middle Ages, without asking or searching. The other wanted to become less dependent, to study the Gospels and to comprehend them. This was the basis of many religious wars, and is represented in the quarrel between the two groups of warriors.20 THE HARE
Under the new lighthouse, on a diagonal with the battle against the dragon, there sits a small hare, watching alertly. (See Plate E.) What does this hare mean?
The hare has extraordinarily fine hearing, shown by his long ears. He is especially alert; it is said that he sleeps with open eyes. He only has a form, no actual home. Wherever he is he is hunted. The following tale was told about the hare in the time of Bosch: If a hare is being pursued and can run no more, another takes his place in the field, and lets the pursuit follow him. One must grasp these essential signs in a more or less super-sensible sense (see other examples in Note 14); they make of the modest gentle hare who attacks no other animal, a very elevated spiritual symbol.
When a man has reached a point in his inner development that is so advanced that he can inwardly hear and see what escapes the attention of others, when eventually he can so love that he gives his own life for his brothers, then he resembles the hare. Thus the hare is the symbol for the ego that is able to love unselfishly, that begins to be fully effective throughout the whole earthly organisation of man. Briefly, it means initiation. The man who has become a hare has no actual home, he must be at home everywhere and belong to all men. If he has reached this stage of selflessness however he always attracts persecution, as in the words of Jesus: (John 15/20) "If they have persecuted me they will also persecute you."
The Buddha appears in the form of a hare. As he rose from a Bodhisattva to become Buddha he sacrificed the last vestige of his own life. Jesus Christ brought the greatest sacrifice of all; for this reason many painters in the 14h and 15th centuries painted a hare beside the child Jesus. (See Note 14.)
It has been said that a great initiate is at home to such an extent in the spiritual worlds that he can experience his body as if it were a tool. When Anthony has withstood the second temptation, and is now battling with what is evil, the dragon, within himself, he has reached that stage in his own development. Expressed pictorially, the hare within him is able to observe the battle as if from without and watch himself from a higher vantage point.
The two symbols of the hedgehog and the hare, which both belong to Anthony, must not be confused, although both are connected with the penetration of the ego-forces. The difference is the following: the stage of the hare indicates readiness to die for the ideal, while the hedgehog stage shows readiness to live, directing one's activities by spiritual cognition.21 THE CITY IN THE BACKGROUND
The city in the background only apparently contradicts the life of Anthony. In fact it is just as pertinent to the theme that Bosch wants to paint as the modern lighthouse.
On the left inner wing we met an example of an early Christian initiation. Such an initiation demanded seclusion, asceticism, and a total renunciation of life. On the right wing Bosch shows us the battle of soul into which the seeker of esoteric knowledge is plunged once he has recognised the increasing degeneration of Christendom and the size of the social task. A new path must be systematically followed, which can be trodden at any time in the midst of ordinary life. Hence it is logical that Bosch should paint a city in the background, and this turns the whole scene in the central picture of the right inner wing into a contemporary picture of the painter; we can see more and more clearly that this "Anthony" is in fact an initiate of the 16th century.THE CENTRAL PANEL
22. PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS ON THE CENTRAL PANEL
Once Anthony was able to perceive spiritual facts with spiritual vision and hearing, he inevitably gained a general view of the evils in the world about him. Here Bosch has painted a review of these evils, not however those of the world about St. Anthony, but those of his own time. It has several times been said that he identified himself with St. Anthony in some respects.
Of course, on a panel measuring 139 x 113 cms Bosch was unable to portray every evil "for which the whole surface of the world would hardly be great enough"; he had to limit himself to the most important features and movements of his time, those which pained and worried him the most.
Thus we see Anthony in the midst of the world that Bosch knew -- that of the 15th century -- and certainly not in the Africa of A.D. 300. This obvious fact needs re-emphasising because we must now expect to see the problems of Bosch's own time depicted in the central panel, cast in such forms as the Master dared to express, which were only intended to be understood by the members of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood and their friends. The pictorial language, of which he among others made use, was not always able to command those highest powers of imagination which would make it immediately comprehensible to their friends. Other, less gifted contemporary painters, had to incorporate written words in their paintings and drawings to indicate, even though in a concealed way, and preferably in Latin, what they were incapable of expressing pictorially. Such an example can be seen in Fig. 80, which has already been discussed in section 15. Here the whole picture can be examined.Fig. 80. A Cebes table. ± 1550. Kassel, Landes museum.
Because the artist's intention was to depict a world philosophy the name Cebes or Kebes -- one of the Pythagoreans -- was used, as a concealed allusion to his own philosophy. Unfortunately we must here dispense with the discussion of the Kebes panel, because it would take us too far.
Many woodcuts of these themes can be found dating from Holbein's time. Holbein himself probably owed to his friend Erasmus some knowledge of the insights underlying what was pictured on the Kebes panels; the Rijkmuseum in Amsterdam also possesses such a Cebes panel from the year 1573 (now in the Muiderslot). Another example of the need for explanation of a symbol by means of writing a superscription can be found in Note 8, where a picture from the Tabula Smaragdina is reproduced and discussed in detail, as it is connected with much that is mentioned in this book.
Bosch never used written words, but rather the pictures of objects which, by their special names, that were well known to the Brotherhood's members, substituted a concept in those places where he could not attain his objective by higher means, such as symbols. Such an object dominates the first picture that is to be discussed in the central panel. It was a piece of luck to catch the significance of the name of this fruit that is depicted. We are grateful for this to Professor J. Hermans, director of the Hugo de Vries laboratory in Amsterdam, and the library there.23 THE DIOSPYROS GROUP
An imagination of the withered soul-spiritual and physical organs of man since the Fall.
To the left and in front on the central panel there is a large fruit, from which various figures emerge (see Plate G). It was erroneously regarded as a tomato or pomegranate, but is in fact recognisable as the Diospyros Kaki (see Fig. 81). It is known that the name Diospyros was already in use before 1500 and one must assume that Bosch knew this name, for he uses the image of this fruit to say in his pictorial language that humanity has gone forth from the fire of Cud, for Diospyros means the fire or the seed of God. It is also possible that he had heard of the addition "pseudo lotus" to the name, and that the fact that the name of the fruit is Diospyros pseudo lotos, "as if it were the fruit of the lotus", caused him to use the image yet more forcibly as a motto. On the central panel of the Hay Wain triptych he used a toadstool which is called "the bread of the devil" in the same way as a motto, to indicate the heading of a new chapter. Here he uses a pretend-lotus fruit, to cause a disturbed image of humanity to emerge from the holy flower of Buddha. However that may be, the hint can be understood that humanity has become degraded. The question remains whether Bosch had seen the fruit himself in Africa, whether he had been sent a sample by the Emperor Maximilian, or whether his Master Jacob von Almaengien alias Philip van St. Jan had described and drawn it for him.Fig. 81. Diospyros Kaki, as the fruit is now called.The donkey (physical body) and heron (death)
The first figure to be discussed in the group that is bursting forth from the Diospyros fruit is the donkey at the top. The impression given is that he has come forth first and has then stepped back to reveal his neighbour, the heron, more clearly. Since ancient times the donkey has been the symbol of the physical body as the bearer of the spirit, but the donkey represents the physical body as it became after the Fall, serving the spirit only reluctantly, both lazy and tough, difficult to guide, yet full of endurance when laden, clever and stubborn. In Isis and Osiris Plutarch tells that the god Osiris -- who corresponds to what is higher and divine in man -- was suffocated by Seth Typhon in a casket which had the form of a human body. This Seth Typhon is portrayed with a donkey's head. Here already the donkey appears as the symbol of the living physical body. When the human body became hardened, and grew to be the casket of the soul, man began to develop material understanding, but became cosmically dull. St. Francis of Assisi called the physical body brother donkey.
In front of the donkey there stands the head of the grey heron, the image of death. We have already met with this symbol used in the same sense in two places on the left inner wing. It is right that donkey and heron should stand beside each other, because, at man's Fall, his physical body appeared on earth for the first time, together with death. This death-heron raises his head from a sort of shield, a sign that Bosch always used to portray counteracting terrestrial forces. Diagonally opposite the Diospyros group there is a clear example of this sign, where a Mars boat is floating in mid-air. (Fig 105). There the shield is equipped with a spear, here, in the Diospyros group the head of the heron, which gives the same penetrating impression as the spear, is the symbol of the striking power of death. As the symbols of the living body and its death have been found in the background it is to be expected that various aspects of the soul will be found, since this also belongs to man as a higher member of his organism.The old woman in the basket
Beside the heron's head a sort of witch is emerging from the burst Diospyros fruit; she is sitting in a basket and carries a crooked sword; the basket does not stand upon the earth, it is dangling from a dead branch. Painters of the 15th-16th centuries often used a basket to denote something into which unused fragments are gathered, which one then carries about. The old woman represents the tangled astral forces [x] that are connected with the unpurified instincts and passions . Where these gain the upper hand they appear as witches in the fairy tales. One might say: while these forces of the witch hold sway within a human being the soul is old and parched, it has lost any connection with the living source, and hangs dangling from the dead branch of the tree of knowledge. However, the witch holds in her hand the fruit of the tree of knowledge, the ability to judge, the sharp intellect which appears in the form of a cleaving sword.
Goldfinch and two harts (the forces of the spirit within the soul).
After the donkey, heron and witch, along the same line follows a goldfinch ("waterdrawer" see Note 15). He is just emerging from the fruit, and stands between the symbols described previously and two little devils which are peeping from another split in the divine fruit.
He and the two harts form the positive counterbalance to all the rest that is negative in their group.
Let us discuss the goldfinch; one must refer to the triangle of large birds on the left in the central panel of The Garden of Heavenly Delights (Fig. 106) in order to show that Bosch has several times used the goldfinch as a symbol of the human soul, which must seek its nourishment among the thistles upon the earth. (See Note 2 Prodigal Son and Note 15 St. Anthony for a more thorough explanation.) The symbol of the goldfinch can be followed in art immediately before and after the time of Bosch, it was not at all uncommon at this time. Fiorentino uses the symbol in a painting in Dijon, the capital of Burgundy, to represent the soul of Jesus, only just born (see Fig. 82 & Fig. 83). Raphael painted the same goldfinch symbol in two pictures (see Fig. 84 & Fig. 85). Tiepolo, about 300 years later, even places the goldfinch in the hand of Jesus. Fig. 86. All these examples -- which could be increased by many more -- show that the pure soul of the child Jesus will wander among the thistles of the earth (will climb per ardua ad astra), and like the goldfinch on earth, will seek spiritual sustenance among the thorns, or in other words -- like the goldfinch or "waterdrawer" will there find the water of life. Thus Bosch has used the goldfinch to point to that divine spiritual force which is present in the soul of every man, his ego. Other painters did the same but in relation to the Jesus child, the shining example for all humanity.Fig. 82. FIORENTINO: Virgin and Jesus Child. Musee de Dijon, Palais des Etats de Bourgogne.Fig. 83. Detail of Fig. 82. A Goldfinch is on the right. Fig. 84. RAFFAELLO SANZIO: 1516. Madonna del Cardellino. Florence, Uffizi Gallery.Fig. 85. RAFFAELLO SANZIO: Madonna, Jesus with a goldfinch. Berlin, Gemaldegalerie, Staatliche Museen Preussischer Kulturbesitz.Fig. 86. TIEPOLO: Madonna of the Goldfinch. Washington, D.C. National Gallery of Arts. Samuel H. Kress Collection.
To give a second aspect of the divine-spiritual element of the soul the painter has put two harts on the other side of the group. One is coming, the other is going; the one with the antlers narrowly observes the beings between himself and the goldfinch. The other can only be seen from the rear, and has his hind legs in the waste water. He has turned again towards the original divine fruit, and is a worldly picture of the soul which is concerned partly with life upon earth, and partly with what is divine. The symbol of the hart has already been discussed repeatedly (c.f. The Prodigal Son, the left inner wing, and Note 8 on the Tabula Smaragdina) so its meaning will by now be well known. The psychopomp in the soul, the hart, plays a passive part in man in contrast to the goldfinch, which from the beginning shows a pronounced and strong will to seek out what is spiritual on earth and bring it into action. These are the two aspects of the soul mentioned above.The badger and the goat in a duck skin (the two opposing powers in the soul)
The two animals between the goldfinch and the two harts represent the opposing powers; they are drinking the waste-water; the badger, symbol of the Diabolos (Lucifer) is also shown as a long-tailed monkey. (See Section 27.) The wide open jaws indicate his uncontrollable emotions. On his painting Operation for the Stone (Prado, Madrid), Bosch used the word "badger" ("das" in Dutch) and we find again the picture of these wide open jaws in the round picture in Rotterdam which is reproduced at Section 27 (see Fig. 90 and Fig. 91 and Note 20). It is clear what kind of aberrations of the soul are here meant. Bosch used it everywhere on his paintings in the same sense.
The second animal beside the figure of Diabolos -- Lucifer, is the goat. It is quite covered, and only the head is visible. The goat has always been the symbol of Satan (Ahriman), and appears with the same significance in the Zodiac of the Hortus Deliciarum [xi]. The shoes made of bone can also be clearly seen, which belong to the satanic being and by which Bosch has characterised its nature in various places, e.g. in the Purgatorium on the right wing of the Hortus Deliciarum [xi]. But here Satan has concealed himself in a white duck-skin. We are familiar with the symbol of the duck, it stands for the education and culture of the human race. Here there is a plucked duck's skin, and we shall meet with a similarly plucked bird in section 25. In the painter's language, to be plucked means that the soul-bird of man has lost the beautiful feathers of paradise, and only retains the plucked skin -- just the bare form of dead thought -- a frozen part of the soul here confronts us, and it is not surprising that this Satan carries on his back the sign of dead fantasy (the skull of a horse), The black veil of this horsewoman has been drawn back, and the mask of the dead horse skull becomes visible. She is playing upon a harp on which there sits an owl. (See Note 16.) All these symbols, now familiar, point to this picture as an expression of the greedy impulsive goat who bears a completely dead structure on his back. Taking all together this is a picture of certain soul-forces which have fallen prey to a demoniac rigidifying influence. In response to this group there swims out a sewer rat, one of Satan's most unpleasant gifts; it is aiming towards a drain where another demoniac animal is awaiting it. This could be seen as a prophecy.
If this whole group of the divine fire fruit -- the creation of man in Paradise, and his subsequent Fall that is connected with this -- is allowed to speak to one as a total imagination, admiration grows ever greater for the great genius of the painter who constantly brings forth the spiritual essence in old symbols, and uses their archetypal forms in a new spirit.
vi. A term borrowed by the author from the language of those who aimed to heal by finding the characteristic "signature" of a plant or animal that would indicate its therapeutic use. Trans. Note.
vii. The Garden of Heavenly Delights.
viii. The Garden of Heavenly Delights.
ix. Hieronymus Bosch.
x. Translator's note -- soul forces.
xi. The Garden of Heavenly Delights.