Featured Artist: Steve Kalec
Meet the Artist
Steve Kalec, a mystic, an AMORC Grand Councillor, a Traditional Martinist, a practicing alchemist, a Master Mason, a lecturer, writer, and an artist. Steve`s Jungian studies led him to understand the alchemical process as being a universal one throughout all aspects of being. This realization has led him to the study and practice of operative laboratory alchemy. He has studied practical alchemy with the Philosopher’s of Nature and has followed Manfred Junius through his many European alchemy seminars. Steve believes that all aspects of alchemy complement each other in the study and practice of the Great Work.
Featured Artist Steve Kalec
“Power is given onto those who dare to do”.
I am not sure where this quote comes from, but I remember reading it in my AMORC Monographs. I have always liked this quote and have lived by it. Once one dares to do, or to accomplish something, no matter how out of reach or impossible it may seem,
power to do it will be received from the higher forces of the mind and from the living Universe. With daring the dormant positive faculties of the Soul are awakened and its creative energies will flow from the spiritual centers to assist the man who dares to do.
Featured Artist Steve Kalec
What process is involved in the making of your windows?
My windows are what we call false stain glass as they are painted windows. I am actually painting on Plexi-glass. These two windows are paint works. I needed these windows to complete my alchemy laboratory and so I decided I will paint my windows since I knew how to paint. One can actually buy from art stores glass staining paints and sticking metal strips as lead strips to lay out forms to make a window look like stained glass. Once the forms are designed and laid out on the window, one can almost pour the paints into them as color films are formed. I actually painted my windows with these liquid paints using brushes. I use Poebo products as they are good and have a good supply of colors. It is fun work creating such stained windows.
How can you compare it to Alchemy?
Any artistic work to me is also alchemical as much as any alchemical work is also an Art. A wonderful oneness can develop between the artist and his work. Any image that is conceived in the mind of an artist can be exteriorized and be made manifest in the world. This also works the other way, once an artistic work has been executed and made manifest in the outer world, the theme, the essence, and meaning of the art work gets fully realized within the inner man. Even in my laboratory experiments, through my intensified attunement with the alchemical process a harmonious and sympathetic resonance is set in motion. The alchemical process often spills over into my inner being as an inner initiation. The ancient alchemists did not paint fascinating images of their experiments for nothing. As Nicholas Flamel wrote, we behold fascinating wonderments in our vessels. With nature as my guide, I succeeded in creating the Philosophical dragon of the ancient alchemists.
Besides the windows for your Alchemical laboratory, what other art do
you partake in?
I also paint on canvas. I love acrylic painting as the work dries fast compared to oil works. Acrylic is forgiving in the sense that mistakes can easily be corrected by washing with water or modifications can be easily made as drying with heat guns allows one to overpaint quickly and change things. I have found the artist in me, or the artist found me and I see art everywhere even in my laboratory experiments. Nature is an artist herself and works with me in my lab. Just look at this beautiful ‘White Swan’ as the whitening phase of the alchemical process in my work on the Arthephius wet path. See the amazing smile of my Rosemary Stone as it developed through its cooling. I also once created a Vase Hermeticum displaying the Wedding of the Alchemical King and Queen using a Barbie and a Ken doll.
The Alchemical Wedding of The King and Queen
What is the story behind your painting of the Alchemical Marriage of the King and Queen?
They relate to the Alchemical Process. Allow me to explain the painting on the Alchemical Wedding.
In my painting our attention is brought immediately to the center where we see the two opposite but complementary forces of nature, the feminine and masculine energies in nature being brought into the union of the Alchemical Marriage. This is the Heiros Gamos, or the holy marriage of the divine aspects of our inner archetypal and divine couple whose offspring becomes the alchemical Hermetic Child as our rebirth into a new and higher spirituality. We see this marriage being blessed and sanctified by the Holy Spirit as the descending dove that is the mediator between heaven and earth.
We also see that the entire scene is divided into two equal parts or aspects of consciousness. Two luminaries share this scene. The Sun to rule the day, and the Moon to rule the night. In the depths of darkness, in a little far off town, one alchemist is keeping vigil, even in his sleep he tends to his fire and keeps the light. This suggests to us that the Alchemical Wedding is to be experienced inwardly through spiritual practice, meditation, aspiration, and love for that which is the divine in us.
As we explore our scenery, we pass by Diana’s temple and realise that it is she that is our beautiful queen and goddess. Her purity and chastity is symbolised by the unicorn as the single horned white horse, tireless when attempted to be captured by the impure of heart but surrenders and falls meekly to the ground when approached by a virgin. According to Cirlot’s dictionary of symbols, the unicorn has been an emblem of the sword or the word of God. This also suggests to us as being the secret fire of the alchemists, for the word of God is as fire. Next we see the White Swan which gently swims over our darkened water. Alchemists have often repeated to watch for the appearance of the white swan, for when it appears over our matter, the whitening stage, the purification of our work has begun. In the lake we also see the water lily having spread its petals seeking to absorb the light of dawn. The lily is a beautiful symbol revealing that the highest in us is found in that which is the lowest in us, as the roots of this beautiful flower are anchored in the murky mud below the surface of the waters.
An important symbol not to overlook are the lilies of the valley at the foot of our Queen. The lily is a fragile flower and likes to live in the indirect light of the sun, in the shadows, hence in the valley. This is symbolic of the emerging light and consciousness of the Self being also fragile as it unfolds its petals. It cannot immediately look directly at the sun. Thus we must mature and get accustomed to the lunar reflective stage of the emerging light as we begin to endure the higher intensities of the alchemical fire of the soul. We are after all the athenor of our work, which is revealed by the athenor in the very center of the painting. We see there the vessel also containing our alchemical King and Queen, suggesting that this is a Hermetic Work, and that it is an inner event. We see the outer fire below the athenor heating the vessel and raising the vibrations within it allowing for the alchemical process to be initiated. The outer fire also symbolises the fire of passion, and of spiritual aspiration and practice which will set the inner fire of the soul within the vessel.
As we continue to explore the scenery we arrive at the right side of the painting. We see here the brightness of the light of day. We see the king’s castle and a chapel over the hill. The ground is rich and fruitful with vines and grapes suggesting the action of the solar force. Even the tree is full with blossoms as we have entered into the revival of nature in spring. This is an apt symbol of our own revival into a new and glorious awakening. The right side of the painting is in sharp contrast to the left, however it is also seen as being a harmonious union of opposing forces, which is also symbolised by the pavement upon which stand our beloved couple exchanging wedding vows. The Queen offers herself as the white alchemical rose to the King. The King offers himself as the red alchemical rose.
The colors are suggestive of the white and red stage of the alchemical process. The flooring or pavement is checkered as the forces of light and darkness are in harmonious balance. This is the marriage of the alchemical fire and the water as our alchemical Sulfur and Mercury. It is said that if it were not for water, fire would burn up the world, and if it were not for fire, water would drown the world.
Behind the King fallows the alchemical Red Lion representing the ferociousness of the ego. There is nothing wrong with ego as long as it is purified, subservient and obedient to the King. For in its positive aspects the ego is also strength, fortitude, power and the virile mighty power of the soul. It is the “I Am” principle in one without which, as Carl Jung states, we cannot be conscious. The ego helps to make real the totality -the whole psyche. It is the ego that serves to light up the entire system, allowing it to become conscious and thus to be realized. The Red Lion in us must first be conquered, put to death, and then resurrected. Anyone who has experienced the dark night of the soul will understand this. This painting was intended to allow the meditative and contemplative mind to realise the beauty of the alchemical process as being one of a regeneration of the soul and consciousness. It is the uplifting of one’s ordinary human condition. Alchemy need not be a dark and mysterious journey. Though darkness will be encountered, it is to be accepted as the blessed darkness of the soul, within which is found the regenerative secret fire of the alchemists. In the breaking through of an unconscious content into consciousness, which is as a dawning light, we first always enter into a darkness of consciousness. Just as a candle flame loses its brightness when brought from a dark room into the sunlight. The greater Light diminishes the light of the ego. Until the assimilation of this most adorable fire is achieved, we enter into a lowering of the level of consciousness, into a moment or time of obscurity. A certain part of us, as our lesser selves, must pass through the psychological "Dark Night of the Soul" and its impending “Philosophical Mortification”. But always we keep our sacred vigil, for dawn breaks just before the darkest hour, revealing a Golden Dawn, a resurrection and a realization into a higher order of the Self. A Self having passed through its alchemical marriage as the entity becoming one with that which is the universal in him.
Steve Kalec's Lab
Steve Kalec's Lab Assistant Igor The Cat
A view into Steve Kalec's Operative Lab
The Elixirs of Whiteness and Redness
Out of Chaos A Painting Emerges
Rosemary Plant Stone
The other quote I like very much by a member of the once UR group who simply calls himself Leo. Julius Evola records this quote in his book ‘Magic and the Ur group”. This quote very much complements the above quote:
“Man is the center of the universe. All the cold or incandescent material masses of the myriad worlds out there do not weigh on the scale of values as much as the simplest change in his consciousness. The limits of his body are just an illusion; man does not merely rest on earth, but continues through the earth and into cosmic space. Whether he moves his thought or his arms, an entire world moves with him; thousands of mysterious forces hasten toward him in creative gesture, and all of his daily actions are just the caricature of what really flows divinely toward him.”
This is how great and important man is. He is not only in the universe but he is the universe in more ways than he may know. At least he mirrors it within himself as a Microcosm.
Public display at local Library
What is your dream project?
As a passionate alchemist, I am working on producing my own alchemical series, as did many of the ancient masters. I am working randomly on this series. I have completed the second last painting of this series, the ‘Alchemical Wedding’, and now I am completing the ‘Crowning of the Hermetic Child’. I work the sequence as my inner feelings call for them.
Would you share with us what inspires you and your art?
I am most passionately driven by the Philosophy, the Art, and the Science behind the Hermetic Mysteries. For me the most beautiful writings are found in the many wonderful Hermitic literatures of the ancient philosophers. Needless to say, the many alchemical woodcuts, emblems, and drawings within these literatures are most beautiful in their allegorical and symbolic meanings. They reveal in an archetypal language a truth and a process of unfolding of one’s being that the soul readily can understand. They fascinate not only as works of art, but truly stir the soul and the spirit in one.
What led you through your personal journey into the occult and esoteric realms?
It was an inner calling. My attunements with the Cosmic forces and the higher mind began early in my life. At age of ten I was already erecting crosses for God made of branches in the woods, one for each petition I had requested. This was my way of making deals (covenants) with God. It was this inner strength and belief in higher forces that helped me throughout my life.
At twenty one I joined AMORC, whose teachings catapulted me into a new world and I felt as though I was reborn through them. I had early metaphysical experiences relating to the setting of the “Secret Fire”, which very soon allowed me to experience initiations in the Astral Realm. The “Glorious Body” is no mystery to me. I received contact with the “White Brotherhood” soon after I had worked my first healing using the transmuting fire as I was thought to generate it. Through AMORC I was lead to the collected works and teachings and of Carl Jung, through whom I was lead to laboratory practical alchemy which complemented all my studies. I soon was able to see the mighty theurgic forces that could be evoked in practical laboratory alchemy. The alchemical process was now seen in its full universal aspect in its threefold nature of spirit, soul, and body. This completed my quest as now all that was required of me was work which brought me the completed holistic joy I had been always looking for. Heaven was now establishing itself on earth.
Liber 777 Lamen
The Philosophical Dragon
The White Swan
What artwork are you excited to work on next?
Leopold de Postels’ work ‘The Heart Unafraid’ has always intrigued me. I can much relate to it because of my own psychological and metaphysical experiences. After I complete the ‘Crowning of the Hermetic Child’, I will attempt my own version of ‘The Heart Unafraid’. I will entitle it ‘The Calling’, and it will become the first painting in my series.
What’s the best piece of advice you can give another artist?
Work for a greater purpose. Teach through your work. Express that which elevates your being and that which will inspire and elevate others. This is the Great Work in Alchemy, to exalt our very being, to express that which is the divine in us, in others, and in the world. A painting is a thousand words, and if you are given light and understanding, express it so others may also understand it through your work. On a canvas lies invisibly the art work. Self-assurance and faith brings that work into resolution. It is unbelievable how a work can manifest almost by itself when it is courageously started and persevered through its completion. I have often felt lost when starting a new work, but it is always amazing how through relentless will, a work can unfold.
The Hermetic Vase
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