Modern scholars such as Joseph Campbell have argued that religion is derived from the word religare: re (again) + ligare (bind or connect), which means to reconnect. I feel I reconnect with my spiritual self when I do Icon writing.
When standing reverently beneath the vault sacred space elevates my chest, pulling me to a higher realm. My whole self is being called to go beyond what binds me to Earth. I am invited to inebriate my heart in sacred space. For me, this process of iconography is the perfect metaphor for being pulled up towards the light in the magnificent domes of most Churches. Icon Writing is the process of visually implementing the spirit through icon painting techniques.
Ancient Icon Writing Techniques
Here is a splendid picture of a magnificent dome in a church that has begun a renovation. Christ is at the center, Not Jesus the man, but the Christ energy that provokes us into being. That energy inspires our love for creation and one another. The vaults referred to in Genesis were separated into the heavens and earth. Have you ever heard a priest say when referencing Jesus the Christ, “There never was a time when Christ wasn’t”? The dome is like that, it represents a sacred space that has always existed. We only need to direct our gaze above.
Sit in Church and Look up
at the Sacred Icon Writing Space over the Altar
Mexico has some magnificent domes. Christ the Pantocrator may not be painted with arms extended, however, all domes give light. They have windows that capture light in a spherical space reminiscent of our Earth. Sacred space rises us up to grab our attention and unite us with the high dimensions. I can imagine I am being received, initiated, heard, and noticed as I sit there in the light that connects my heart to the heavens.
It is an ingenious concept that the early architects came up with. Light-filled windows, in an arching vault represents a higher dimension. The magnificent cathedral domes in churches encapsulate sacred space above the liturgical table. The icon writing space stimulates the human mind to contemplate the space without limit. An illuminated church vault of color and shape lures the mind to expand into a world of wonder and awe.
Inebriate My Heart
Why do we find it so hard to believe we are blessed? In the Byzantine churches, ancient Byzantine icons of Mary or Jesus embrace us from a dome above the altar. Their blessings come from above. To be blessed is to trust that we are not alone. Everything will unfold in time and space because of an ever-present God (energy) that is greater than us.
To allow spirit to inebriate your heart, and believe you are already blessed, is a powerful feeling.
Divine precious energy is what sustains us. We can believe and be grateful for our miraculous existence in this life. The icon writing space in a dome lifts us, enticing the mind to a higher realm of potential and unlimited possibilities.
We Are Called to Find The Precious Icon Writing Space Everywhere.
Bio. Mary Jane Miller is a self-taught Byzantine style iconographer with over 28 years of experience in icon writing. Her collection of sacred art icon writing is contemporary, unique, and unorthodox at times. The work has been exhibited in museums and churches in both the United States and Mexico. She teaches 4 courses annually, 5 day immersion workshops throughout the US and Mexico. website: www.sanmiguelicons.com and http://sacrediconretreat.com/ FACEBOOK Conversations about prayer and iconography.