One People, One Planet, HON!

Self Portrait

1967, pen and ink, 20” x 147/8”

This self portrait is an attempt by the artist to reconcile his new found appreciation for the cosmic consciousness and inner-connectedness of all life through vibration. By 1967 Hieronimus had fully realized that his academic training had not prepared him for what he considered the most important journey in life: the inward journey to find out who you are and what is your purpose in life. After graduating from Towson State College (now Towson State University) in 1965, Hieronimus took a job teaching art to elementary school students. Although he loved sharing his enthusiasm for art with the children, his exuberance and unconventionality grew to be a distraction for the administration. After two years, he says he knew he had to break with the system in order to discover the most important things about the meaning of life. This self portrait was created around that time.

He was profoundly influenced by the adage from the Bible to “Be still and know that I am God,” saying it moved him to realize God was within each one of us rather than up there in some undefined heaven world. Not only is God within us, but without us as well, as we are all one, and all is vibration. This is demonstrated in the upper part of the background as a seething sea of energies or vibrations. The lower half of the background depicting the physical dimension is comprised of a series of hexagons containing the elements of the zodiac and their planetary rulers.

The hair on the artist’s left side (viewer’s right) is filled with 5- and 6-pointed stars, spirals, and the symbol for Earth (O). These symbols over the artist’s left hemisphere indicate the over-emphasis he had placed on the rational mind up to that point in his life. Inside both of his eyes (physical vision) are crosses to indicate he had been focusing with earthly vision rather than with spiritual vision. His left elbow is resting upon the Far East to indicate how he was becoming a student of the history and spiritual practices of this part of the globe. He is wearing two crosses referencing his Christian ancestry and upbringing. Hieronimus still proudly remembers how he almost became a priest before becoming a teacher, attracted enormously by the moving and beautiful ritual called the Mass of the Holy Eucharist. (He changed his mind about pursuing the ministry after becoming severely disappointed by the clerical establishment’s rather blasé dismissal of the revolutionary revelations in the Dead Sea Scrolls.) One cross around the artist’s neck is a simple silver Christian cross. The other is a Jerusalem cross containing an amethyst. This is the same shirt and necklace he was wearing when the Baltimore Sun described him backstage running the light show for the Mothers of Invention as a little “gremlin wearing a ruffled shirt and a large Maltese cross” (similar to the Jerusalem, but not the same symbols).

On the artist’s right shoulder he’s drawn a double circle encompassing a six-pointed star. Inside the six-pointed star is a third circle containing a glyph for Virgo. The artist’s sun sign is in Virgo, giving him a desire for perfection, but also giving him the challenge of often not being able to see the forest for the trees. The more he learned about astrology and the meaning of Virgo, in particular, the more he realized how much his desire to be of service was a key component to his growth and development. His right hand is attempting to grasp a caduceus, the wand of Mercury, ruler of Virgo. Not only is the caduceus incomplete, but the entwined serpents are also above the wings instead of below them. The sphere that should be at the top of the caduceus is missing completely, indicating that the artist had a great deal more inner searching and rational study to complete before he would be capable of using his spiritual energies in an effective way.

While it may appear at first that the artist has become one with the universal energies flowing around us all, reading the symbols carefully reveals that he was acknowledging himself merely a beginning student of the ageless wisdom teachings with years to go.