One People, One Planet, HON!

Permanent State

1969, record album cover and poster, pen and ink, 21¾” x 11¼”

The Apocalypse mural is the largest and most long-lasting and probably most prophetic piece in all of the Hieronimus catalogue. It can still be seen today, although regrettably it has deteriorated over the past 40 years, on the second floor of Levering Hall at Johns Hopkins University. This poster was created for the official opening of the finished mural in February of 1969. In the conservation-minded ethic of most artists, when creating this poster, Hieronimus transformed the design he originally created for an Elektra Records album cover that was never completed.

The spring and summer of 1968 was an adventurous one for Bob Hieronimus. It started when he was introduced to a bubblegum pop group called John Fred and His Playboy Band, whose number one Beatles parody song “Judy in Disguise (With Glasses)” had recently topped the charts. Desperately trying to shake their bubblegum image John Fred asked Hieronimus to design their next album cover for Elektra Records, and to fill it with the occult and esoteric symbols they admired in Hieronimus’s sketchbooks, believing this would make them more “hip.” When Hieronimus met with their agents and producers and showed them his draft for the front-back design for their new album called “The Permanent State,” they immediately wanted to know what he was doing wasting his talents on a one-hit wonder band. He was invited to focus on their bigger artists, and was quickly introduced to the Doors, Janis Joplin, and the extremely talented group called Earth Opera headed by Peter Rowan. The producers regaled Hieronimus with tales of Jim Morrison’s extrasensory ability to see through his fingers and other hype, believing that his occult, esoteric, and symbolic art was just what they needed to illustrate the era-defining albums produced by these trendsetters. What began as a summer of promise and excitement, however, soon became tiresome and disappointing for Hieronimus, as he grew to appreciate the unpleasant realities behind the scenes of rock and roll. After taking advantage of their many introductions to these bands and meeting the artists backstage and at their after hours clubs to discuss esoteric symbolism, he had to admit that most of them (with the exception of Jimi Hendrix and Peter Rowan) were less conscious of the spiritual worlds than he hoped. As an aside, in 2007, he was astonished to see in a book called An Illustrated Experience, based on Hendrix’s sketches and handwritten lyrics, that Hendrix had drawn versions of the eye in the triangle over the pyramid very soon after meeting Hieronimus at their favorite nightclub, The Scene. Hieronimus confirmed the dates of these drawings with Hendrix’s sister Janie, who compiled the book.

Knowing his destiny lay with the ancient wisdom teachings and in finding the appropriate audience and community in which to further his learning in this area, Hieronimus left New York and the rock and roll life with his design for “The Permanent State” album still his own (though the final album cover John Fred eventually used does look like it was modeled after Hieronimus’s style). He threw himself instead into the commission from the Office of the Chaplain to create a mural at Levering Hall. When he was finished six months later, he adapted the front and back of the original “Permanent State” album cover to create this poster for the opening of the mural.

The front of the album cover on the top half of this poster is dominated by an eagle, revered the world over for being able to fly so high that it can gaze into the sun, or see into the mind of the deity. Above the eagle’s head, in the shape of a lunar crescent is the astrological glyph for Cancer (symbolic of the mother and nurturing), which is pouring its rays down upon the eagle’s head and wings. To the left and right of the word “permanent” are a six-pointed star and a five-pointed star, both of which contain symbols of the lost civilization of Lemuria that disappeared tens of thousands of years ago. These symbols represent sacrifice and devastation, and the six-pointed star also acts as a symbol of the macrocosm, with the five-pointed star symbolizing the microcosm. The message here is that “the permanent state” in the physical world is actually one of change: a cycle of birth, death, and rebirth.

The eagle is facing the image of an avatar (a world teacher) whose eyes are on fire. He is holding in his right hand seven 5-pointed stars that radiate energy. Beside his hand is a 7-armed golden lampstand containing Jewish, Christian, and celestial symbols. On the right side of the eagle are a sphinx and a pyramid, relating both to ancient Egypt, as well as to the lost continent of Atlantis, another advanced civilization that disappeared millenia ago.

Below the eagle and held in its talons is a serpent biting its tail, a symbol known as the Ouroboros (symbolic of time and the continuity of life). The symbols seen on the serpent’s body also describe the destruction of the continent of Lemuria, repeating that the permanent state is one of a perpetual rise and fall of civilizations across the ages.

In the center of the eagleís breast is a cross known as the Crusader’s or Jerusalem cross, with the symbol for Lemuria in the middle. The glyph to the left, towards which the eagle faces, is that of Virgo over Mercury. The glyph to the right is that of Scorpio over Mars. This indicates that humanity has nearly completed the Martian activity and is turning now toward mental, mindful activity. Altogether, the design of the top half of this poster says the history of our planet is cyclical, nothing is permanent except change, and that we should expect the periodic rise and fall of land masses and oceans. Apocalypses do not end the world, but rather change the stage upon which we act.