The greatest gift of art is to inspire love. Not just romantic love, which is terrific; but a deeper love, a kind of appreciation for beauty and order. This brings me to an odd category i call, "Planetary Art." By this, I mean the careful placement and construction of certain forms that we know are like battery charging stations of planet Earth. There is something awe-inspiring about the power of a place like Grianan of Alleach, an ancient stone circle in County Donegal whose doorways exactly align with the sun at dawn on the equinoxes:
While its ancient origins aren't exactly known, what is known is that Grianan was shown on one of Ptolemy's 2nd century maps of the British Isles. Investigations have revealed both sacred artifacts and traces of many campfires ashes in the center. Moreoever, at the edge there is a hole where a spring lies, currently dedicated to Saint Patrick.
Further south we find the great pyramids of Giza, monuments of epic proportion whose construction process is still one of the world's great mysteries:
Archaeologists largely agree that the pyramids were built in approximately 2500 BC. Just one pyramid, the Giza pyramid, is estimated to have a mass of 5.9 million tons. And yet none of the stones laid is more than 1mm's distance from its neighbor. And yet at the time, there was not the technical knowledge nor the engineering tools to haul massive blocks of stone into very precise alignments such as these.While they are a familiar icon of history, a moment's contemplation inspires awe and wonder and mystery.
One final historical mention goes to Stonehenge, the marvelous British site of continuous discovery.
Again, mystery surrounds its construction. The type of stones used in this megalith can only be found in Ireland; so they had to be transported somehow across the sea, and then brought to the site and assembled. Much like Grianan above, Stonehenge is aligned with the equinoxes, although it lacks the solitary doorway through which the shaft of light might dramatically shine. Instead, thousands of people who self-identify as pagans, wiccans or druids descend upon Stonehenge to express appreciation for important natural events in their own ways.
Some people are moved by geocosmic events - that is, important movements of stars and seasons, such as eclipses, equinoxes, or meteor showers. These megalithic structures remind us of our interconnectedness with all of life and inspire awe at their scope. Some people also assert that these sites have special electro-magnetic properties that are healing, or are ways in which our consciousness can be expanded.
In this way, we reconnect to a part of ourselves that knows the power of the planet herself and appreciate the way in which certain forms capture the connection. No discussion of planetary art would be complete without at least mentioning the Mayan pyramids, such as Chichen Itza, and the Nazca lines, massive laid-out lines of illustration so large that they can only be appreciated from above, and yet they predate human flight.
Suffice to say that our planet is littered with monumental-scope artworks that possess some mysterious powers for use in rituals and as potent points for energetic connection. Some propose that the earth is criss-crossed by a magnetic grid system, or "ley lines," and that these megaliths are intentionally located at potent intersections. We can't be sure today, but visiting megaliths has a strangely uplifting feel.
Contemporary artists are now beginning to either ritualize these ancient places or build their own - the megaliths for NOW. American artist James Turrell has had a life-long preoccupation with light, perception, and geocosmic events. Now located in Northern Arizona, Turrell is contructing "Roden Crater," a massive circular place very reminiscent of Grianan, in which certain movements of the sun and moon are captured via tunnels and camera obscura to amplify the light that shines through at particular moments, such as the Major Lunar Standstill that only occurs every 18.6 years. The next lunar apogee will occur in 2025. For more information, visit: http://rodencrater.com/