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Spirit and Art

Pictures of the Transformation of Consciousness

Van James

256 pp.  
8" x 9 1/4"
Illustrations: color



Published:  January 2002


A moving initiation into the sources of the spiritual in art. Van James explores for the reader a visual account of consciousness in the images, symbols and sacred sites from prehistoric times to the present. The book opens our perception to spiritual truths, provides glimpses into primal awareness, and will surely ignite the creative imagination of the artist in all of us. —Astrid Fitzgerald, author of The Artist's Book of Inspiration and Being Consciousness Bliss

    “As an art student in the late sixties, I recall how painfully dry and intellectual my art history classes were. I thought to myself, or rather felt to myself, ‘There must be something more’” —Van James

Artist Van James offers that something more. This is a richly readable and lavishly illustrated text that reveals how, at every stage, human consciousness has evolved through the medium of art. It makes the case for a hidden stream that has put forth art works and art movements throughout history, in an ongoing visible revelation of invisible spiritual currents.

Art, originally a part of the secret Mystery cults of the ancient world, has become an expression of the individual creative intuition. At every stage, Albert Einstein’s comment applies: “The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science.”

  • “This coffee-table book on sacred art has a rather unique twist: It concentrates on art that reveals "the transformation of consciousness," narrowing in particularly on images from ancient mystery cults and cave drawings from Paleolithic times. James has selected art from ancient Greece, Egypt, Africa, and parts of Asia, explicating what he sees as its spiritual themes. This is in some ways a personal book, as its selections are eclectic and highly individual, but the text is also rigorous, informed by theorists such as Mircea Eliade, Carl Jung, Joseph Campbell and especially Rudolf Steiner. One wishes that the 300-plus illustrations were larger and in color, but an eight-page color tip-in helps to stimulate visual interest.” —Pacifica Journal, no. 33, 2008


  • Introduction: The Spiritual in Art
  • 1. Echoes of Ancient Mysteries
  • 2. Ancient Art and the Greco-Roman Era
  • 3. The Art and Mysteries of Ancient Egypt
  • 4. Megalithic Culture and Art
  • 5. Mystery Images
  • 6. Paleolithic Art and the Cave Mysteries
  • Epilogue: Art and the New Mysteries
  • Appendices:
    1. The Spiritual in Postmodern Art
    2. Rudolf Steiner and Anthroposophy
    3. Celtic Christianity and the Christ Mystery
    4. The Southern Mysteries
    5. World Megaliths
    6. The Serpent
    7. Primal Humanity
  • Bibliography

Related Titles

  • Art as Seen in the Light of Mystery Wisdom : (CW 275)
  • Touched : A Painter's Insights into the Work of Liane Collot d'Herbois
  • Art History as a Reflection of Inner Spiritual Impulses : (CW 292)

    Related Titles by Subject:

    Anthroposophy: Art & Literature ; Arts & Literature: General ; Arts & Literature: Painting & Color Theory and Esoteric: Art & Literature