That was the deep uncanny mine of souls.
Like veins of silver ore, they silently
moved through its massive darkness.
— Rainer Maria Rilke, ‘Orpheus. Eurydike. Hermes.’
PYROCLAST is an ongoing metamorphosis and healing process rooted half in reality, half in the unseen. It is about resilience, individuation, transforming and integrating Shadow elements into the psyche. A digger journeying through nocturnal visions and the unseen, I always felt that I carry a mysterious and deep ocean within and that my dream world is a powerful forge in which my unconscious blossoms, free, raw, shocking, pure. Intuition and guidance often come to me hand in hand with Morpheus, and I have archived these precious resources for nearly two decades. Sometimes the inner world becomes a golden abyss threatening to devour me, like a whale rising from the depth to breathe, which then dives again. To bring these archetypes to reality is a way to ground myself. Animals appear as guides and protective presences, embodying various soul elements in a metaphoric way.
I pick up a heart-shaped leaf resembling a butterfly. It is red and shiny like flesh. I contemplate it with a smile and walk in a tree-lined avenue, bathed in the sun. A gentle young and blonde man follows me and smiles, too. I offer him the leaf.
[ Hecate ]
A man is asleep in front of me. He has two pairs of eyelids and removes one to awaken. He gives it to me and I ingest it. Some gold drops are weeping from a fracture in dark earth and turn into small golden bones. The man takes these bones in his hand and puts them back into the fracture. I feel that it is because time has not come yet, to let the gold out. Incubation and maturation still take place. I then see him as a master of ceremony, at the end of a table that has shadows as guests. In front of each one, a head lies on a plate, and they all start to eat. In disgust, I taste the head in front of me, removing layers of skin. To my surprise, it tastes very good, sweet. I reach the skull and check the teeth. I now realise that I am eating a wolf’s head. The man is asleep again, and, again, he awakens by offering me the eyelids keeping him blinded, so I ingest them. While doing it, he says to me:
“Each time you will awaken, I will have put somebody else to sleep.”
I then hear a voice saying:
“Human warmth. Please.”
[ Anonymous sculpture found when I went to sleep alone under a pine tree in the winter forest ]
I am walking on a path in the woods under blue moonlight. I see a beautiful man in the middle of the path, with brown hair, a beard, and shiny eyes. He is staring at me without being threatening. I approach him and see wolves moving from one side of the mountain to the other like a river, but running silently, and with a lot of grace. I am now close to the man and whisper:
“I, too, want to become a wolf.”
I then caress his cheek and soft beard with my own cheek, eyes closed, feeling but bliss. I open my eyes and see that his cheek is covered with fur, and that he is a grey wolf. We are soulmates that bring warmth to each other.
On a cliff I see a strange creature vaguely resembling a deer. I know it is a female and see two human legs come out of her chest. The creatures glows and seems to be absorbing the moonlight, peacefully. Grace and peace surround her. I also know that she ingests the human element and say to myself:
“The process of assimilation is taking place.”
I am on a team digging earth to find oil. I say to myself that to dig for such reason isn’t a worthy enough reason to dig deep. The deeper we dig the more galleries we open and suddenly we liberate some kind of spirits. They start to attack the team using bone maces and kill everybody but me. Alone in a room with these spirits, I start to collect strange broken pieces on the ground and assemble them like a puzzle. The result is a picture of Buddha, with another small Buddha sitting on his knees, eyes closed and making a gesture of protection. The spirits all move around me, and I feel they are working on something that will bring Buddha to life. I don’t know why, but I suddenly fear that they might hurt me, and, in panic, I open a door. I realise that the Buddha picture was in front of that door, and, that, by opening it, I destroyed the picture. The spirits suddenly stare at me with malevolent faces and black eyes. My fear of these shadows prevented the birth of the Buddha. They all jump on me, bite my whole body, devour me, annihilate me. I then come out of my body, and see myself screaming in pain and terror, standing on the threshold of a luminous door, in front of me a desert in the night.
White cats on a hill during full moon. They run silently like a fog’s wave, softly, and some lie down here and there. Nearby, one of them covers another dead one with a shroud. I take the dead cat with me, and bury it with its weapons. He was a warrior.
A woman sets a dog on fire. His fur in flames, he runs erratically as if he was looking for something important he lost. It was a kind of German Shepherd dog, with long hair. I see him approaching some pool of dark stagnating water, and he is scared to enter the water despite him being a walking torch. When he finally dives, I realise he is metamorphosing. It isn’t a Shepherd dog anymore, but a big black dog, a Cane Corso. He never screamed or expressed pain while burning.
Strangers who want me to die try to drown me in a lake. Everytime I try to surface, they make sure I cannot breathe. Underwater and panicking, I inhale water, feel its taste and temperature invade my lungs. It seems that I’m about to die. To my surprise, I am sirenlike and able to breathe underwater. Now sitting at the bottom of the lake, peaceful and light-hearted, I watch the malevolent shadows of these people waiting for me to surface. I let them believe that they killed me, all while enjoying my newly discovered powers.
I am on a spiral staircase in a chamber full of magma with a stern guide. I feel the walls tremble and know something is wrong. The person says to me not to worry, that nothing will happen. He says the sounds I hear are the Earth’s heartbeats. I listen carefully to each heartbeat that shocks the walls. The trembling escalates and I know the volcano will explode, but my guide is in denial. Everything starts to collapse. We are blocked off and cannot reach the surface anymore. The guide realises that I was right all the time but it is too late. The walls are destroyed by magma and the guide is killed, while I swim in the lava unaffected and reach the surface. The sky is black, the volcano hurls pyroclasts, and I hear Buddhist monks singing. They seem not to be able to survive the eruption, their voices disappearing. I see an animal running and climb on its back, whispering directions in its ear so we can escape the fury of the volcano. The animal trusts me and obeys. I hear the word
A crocodile in a small river stands on his two back legs like a human would. He stares at me with his black eyes while bones start to appear on his body; a metamorphosis is taking place. I run toward the woods on the mountain while I hear a voice saying,
[ Phoneme cutting the head in two ]
I am deep in earth, in a cave full of clear water. A crowd of skeletons swims at the surface, so I decide to dive to escape them. Beautiful bioluminescent plants grow on the floor, I pick some then crawl towards a door.
Young women who were trapped in the frontispiece of the church by their father, the priest, are begging me to help them. I ask old women on the street to help. They are very happy to see these young women trapped and refuse. I know they are bigots who consider the young women hysterical and depraved because of their nakedness. Like a burglar, I decide to enter the priest’s home at night and steal the key that frees the young women. I feel rage and seek revenge for them.
I am in a wooden house with other soldiers and have to prevent some enemies from entering. Wearing armour and feeling very powerful and confident, I have to choose a weapon to fight with among many proposed by my comrades. I choose different axes, an ornamented mamelouk sword and a mace at the end of a long spear. I then see myself fighting very easily, and breaking skulls.
I am a child student in a religious school. Teachers try to tame us, explaining when and why we are allowed to laugh, trying to control every bit of spontaneous life. I see a little girl in a delicate white dress, a few seats away in the classroom, she doesn’t move anymore. She is ten years old, but her size is the one of a two-year old child. She looks like the miniature adults surrounding the Laocoon sculpture, fully developed, yet smaller. She seems dead and the stomach area is very hard, as if she had swallowed poison. I call for help, revolt, and the Mother Superior doesn’t help, quite the contrary. She wants the child to die because the little girl is happy and alive, what is bothering the old woman. I take her in my arms and escape in the garden of the school to protect her. Suddenly, she disappears and I understand she took refuge in some huge fountain, went through metamorphosis, transforming into a siren. I start to dive in the water, but it is full of algae and muddy. A stranger arrives, a kind man. He offers to flood the basin and the surrounding area with clearer water to facilitate the vision and the search. The water is now turquoise. He says:
“You will see clearer and you will just remove the fish one by one from the basin,
place them in a large container, until you find the right one.”
I now swim underwater and try to find the little girl, discovering all sorts of strange sea sponges, extraordinary and surreal animals in the meantime. I suddenly realize that I breathe underwater perfectly, it doesn’t hurt my lungs and I am like these fish, in perfect harmony. I then catch some, to check if they are the child, grab strange sponges with teeth. Religious school authorities arrive and resent that flood to find the child. They want to punish me, and the man who helped me as well. I wonder where the child is hiding to protect herself.
[ Shore (Icarus) ]
A woman stands in the middle of square-shaped graves filling one of them with soil. Occasionally she stops to pick a feather from the ground, cleans it, then puts it at the top of a pile of feathers she keeps nearby. They seem very precious to her.
I am making love with a man on a mattress in an ancient building and a group of men enters to threaten us, armed with axes and maces. I provoke the leader in a duel, saying:
“If I defeat you, you will all have to leave.”
He accepts and we then fight with axes. He is very tall and strong, a giant. I win.
[Our faces printed in the snow]
A friend metamorphoses into a fox. I follow him into a tunnel he has been digging in the snow. The season for creating a burrow, a home, has come. He digs with his forelegs, then suddenly freezes: we realise we are in a city and the ground is too hard to dig and create a nest. He watches his paws in despair. We both feel sad that our instincts have been thwarted. Nature is calling us back.
[ Shelter created by a stranger ]
I am in a black corridor. In front of me, in the distance, I see an enormous orange sun. Below me I see an abyss. I am hanging onto a rope over the abyss, and swing from one rope to the next, trying to reach the sun. For that I need to leave each rope behind and jump into the unknown with no safety net. Every time I jump I hope there will be another rope to grasp onto so as not to fall into the dark depths. My whole being is focused on the sun.
In the basement of the childhood’s home, the father becomes again a threatening presence. To defend myself, I hit him violently in the stomach with a wooden broom. His body is made of glass and shatters into pieces. The head and shoulders remain, floating in the air. Victoriously, I say:
“Now I have something that is really mine.”
Inside a forgotten cabin in the woods I see a sculpture of a couple making love in the Amazon sex position. The sculpture is made of green plastic, and I reject it. There is another similar one made of hard red wood. I choose this one, as I feel that it embodies the Truth. I then see a woman herding a row of piglets with human masks. My intuition tells me that they are famous people. Circe.
I see two wild children, trapped and kept hostages by adults. I fight to free them. An authoritarian woman says that the prisoners will be able to live if they act docile. Another child, male, has been sent into exile above the clouds for decades because he has the power to create entire worlds through sheer force of will, and the adults fear him more than anything. He understands life’s visible and hidden layers and is a demiurge. I see him bathed in light, he creates a luminous tower summoning up the force of his mind. I am suddenly in the young boy’s body and mind. We morph into one being and I feel the luminous tower in my own mind. We are both turned inward, while the external tower grows. An unshakable power seems to be rising, absolutely unperturbed by external attempts to thwart it.
In an ancient, underground temple, there is an exhausted and sick lion in a rusty cage that sits on a pedestal. The cage is too small for him, but I have the key. I free him and he jumps out. He immediately goes down some stairs, and, as he moves away from the pedestal, he begins recovering his old flamboyance and power. He appears to be burning now, and I can see his powerful muscles. He stands on his two back legs and spits a fireball into a hole on the right side of a huge door made of stone. I can’t see what is behind this door, it is all a black abyss. On the left side of the door I see a shadow. The shadow moves toward another hole in the wall and I feel it wanting me to approach and enable something. I put my finger in a ring that I see in the hole, and pull it out. The ring is fixed to a chain connected to an apparatus that rolls out a scroll covered with characters in an unknown language. Intuitively, I understand that the scroll recomposed itself, that its separate parts had been hidden inside the bellies of animals in order to protect them from the pillaging of the city that took place. The lion and the shadow are supportive and calm. Before I can cross the threshold of the dark door, I first have to understand this mysterious language.
I walk in the woods, on a snow-covered path in the mountain. I wear almost no clothes and carry no bag, do not know where I go. The sun is setting and I worry about finding a shelter before night. A white wolf appears in front of me, soon followed by his pack. I form a circle gesture with my hand, my forefinger touching the thumb, then I hand it to him. He takes my hand into his maw, canine teeth in the circle. He doesn’t hurt me. We remain silently bonded, face to face, and close our eyes.
[ The path to Hecate’s sanctuary ]
[ Poem whispered to me in a dream ]
vent de terre
et l’âme pourfend
and soul assails
I am now summoned by Anubis. When I arrive in front of him my arms become covered with shiny scales, precious stones, and feathers. I then start flying and feel very comfortable in his presence.
A panther walks next to my river. The night is dark, but wild grass glistens. A child tries to cross the river to come with me, but is suddenly attacked by a boar. I jump in the water, fight the boar and rescue the drowning child. When I give him the kiss of life, he transforms into a cat, awakens, and starts to lick my face with gratitude.
[ My milk teeth, my cat’s milk tooth, my dog’s milk tooth ]
1. Unique edition. Found photograph, Sanguisorba leaf picked in a wild mountain meadow (stops bleeding), wild solid gold that I collected in the Rhine, wild forest moth legs (natural departure).
2. Unique edition. Ancient found postcard with wild solid gold that I collected in the Rhine (glued on the eye), and flower petals harvested in Norway’s landscapes by my best friend.