One People, One Planet, HON!

Apocalypse Mural (detail)


1968-69, acrylic on plaster, 2,700 square feet

A theme running through much of Hieronimus’s early work is the message that history is cyclical. Civilizations rise and fall. An apocalypse might seem like the end of the world, but it’s just the end of the world as we know it – there will be life again on the other side after the transformations and great upheaval. When the uninitiated hear the name of Hieronimus’s most important mural, “The Apocalypse,” or view its somewhat disturbing imagery, many mistakenly assume the message is from the Book of Revelations, or a prediction for the end of the world. While indeed it was an attempt to master the horrifying dreams and visions of future calamities on this planet that were plaguing him, the overall message here is one of positive reassurance. Accepting that history is cyclical and not linear, and that many advanced civilizations before us have risen and died through cosmic, natural, and man-made cataclysms, can inspire us to seek the spiritual worlds and be less attached to the physical and material temptations on the Earth plane. Understanding that great shifts are part of humanity’s history on this planet can help us transform fear for the future into hope. The destruction of most of mankind would seem to be a hopeless cycle if we had but one life. But this mural says man lives many lives, and everyone in his own time will become god-like. That is man’s destiny.

Commissioned by Chester Wickwire, the Chaplain at Johns Hopkins University, the Apocalypse was originally scheduled to cover just one wall. After returning from his summer traveling with the rock and rollers in New York City, however, Hieronimus was burning with visions and was fully immersed in the esoteric school he co-founded called the AUM Center. He practically moved into the Student Union building for the next six months, where he survived on tuna sandwiches and coffee as the visions poured forth from his brushes. Fortunately, Dr. Wickwire was a patient and generous patron who appreciated the momentum of the work, and permitted the expansion of the mural as it eventually covered completely an entire room, four walls, ceiling, and stairwell, over 2,700 square feet crammed full of symbolism. You can still experience it in person today, though it is in need of refurbishing after 40 years of wear and tear.

“The Apocalypse” was hailed by art critics (“a work of genius,” “prophetic,” “one of the country’s best muralists”), but like much of his work from this time it was simultaneously attacked by the local establishment who felt threatened by Hieronimus’s messages about coming earth changes and corporate corruption. This piece was even physically attacked and partially destroyed when near completion in December of 1968. A mentally disturbed Hopkins student, who, ironically, did not disagree with its message, threw several cans of paint on it, saying later that he feared the message was too strong for most people to see. As a Christian fundamentalist he believed in a coming worldwide destruction as prophesied in the Bible, but he objected to having it depicted on the walls of the Student Union building. It took Hieronimus over two months to repair the damage.

The design traces humankind’s evolution from a hermaphrodite in the lost continents of Lemuria and Atlantis, through the advanced civilizations of ancient India, Egypt, and the Middle East, and continuing on to the rising landmasses in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. It also included extraterrestrial craft overseeing our planet’s evolution from the beginning.

The main wall shown in this detail is focused on America and what we are likely to experience in the years to come. This wall measures 32’ x 9’ (288 square feet), only about 10% of the entire mural. The story on this wall begins with the astrological sign Scorpio being monitored by a UFO mothership and three of its disc craft (not pictured here). A key to Scorpio is “desire,” and it is used here to symbolize our soul’s struggle to make itself known in the physical and desire worlds, which will lead to rebirth and regeneration. Scorpio has a three-tiered image: the scorpion, the serpent, and the eagle, reflecting physical, psychic and spiritual regeneration. The stage is set for America to become the seed for planetary evolution.

At the far end of the wall on the right is the winged being Aquarius pouring from its urn the energies of altruism and brotherhood, giving birth to planetary consciousness and harmony. Aquarius is also overseen by a fleet of seven UFOs flying in a V formation monitoring our planet’s evolution toward one people, one planet. The drama that unfolds between these two figures is the struggle from unconsciousness, to consciousness, to superconsciousness, and America is key to this struggle. This is shown along the top of the wall through a series of flags evolving from Great Britain’s flag, through America’s first flag of 1776, America’s 13 star flag, the Confederate flag, and the 50 star flag (the last three mostly blocked by the eagle), followed by the flag of the Soviet Union (to show how the two former enemies could work together), and finally a new “nation” flag made up of the 13 red and white stripes with a canton containing the ancient symbol of the hex-alpha, a six-pointed star with a circle and point in the center. This represents a flag of planetary consciousness.

Beneath these banners we see the American eagle is sinking in the flood tides, being weighed down by corrupting forces of the corporate, fascistic and oligargical powers bent on speedy profits at the cost of American liberties and the planet’s very life force. Some of those forces are identified on the body of the sinking eagle. We have General Motors standing for the petroleum-based energy systems, Coca-Cola representing the reduction of food to a non-nutritional diet and agribusiness, Chiquita or the United Fruit Company epitomizing the sale of other nations’ illegal drugs to fund America’s black budget operations, and the dollar sign to symbolize America’s 70 trillion dollar debt leading to our enslavement. In this picture, the American eagle is rent asunder because it has worshipped the material world and ignored the spiritual dimension. It is surrounded by natural cataclysms expedited by its domination of nature for profit. Geological and weather changes are shown with fire and water engulfing the Statue of Liberty and the Golden Gate Bridge (barely discernable in this photo, in front of Lady Liberty). Also engulfed in these radical transformations is the Russian bear in front of the eagle, predicting the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Both the Russian bear and American eagle are confronted by a long green dragon-serpent representing China. As the potential threat to both superpowers, the dragon of China is composed of inverted (hidden destiny) five-pointed stars, the symbol for Saturn (karma) and the number 666 (considered numerologically 6+6+6 = 18 = 1+8=9, the number of initiation).

Above the dying eagle there rises a transformed eagle in purple with silver and gold vibrations. This rebirth continues onto the ceiling where the transformation is completed in the form of the legendary phoenix that regenerates itself from its own ashes. On the ceiling we also see Poseidon/Neptune holding in his right hand a lost spiritual temple of Atlantis, which has been regained to preserve the spiritual sciences and assist the rebirth of our planet.

As one cycle is completed, a new cycle begins on the spiral of evolution. The outcome of these massive political, economic, geologic, and geographical changes is devastating to individual nations, but will serve to unite the planetary republic and pave the way for a more lasting peace. Human beings will realize we are not just physical beings, and that we all contain an immortal component that can lead us to universal wisdom, the oneness of beings, and the oneness of all living things. “The Apocalypse” means a rebirth of spirit eventuating in planetary beings.