The Circumference of Nowhere

Paradoxa Emblemata-Dionysos Andreas Freher 18th Century
Minimalism and abstraction are certainly not styles usually associated with alchemical illustrations and engravings, but the extraordinary emblems in the Paradoxa Emblemata utilise both to great effect, two centuries before they became institutionalised in modern art.

Dionysius Andreas Freher was a London based theosophist whose illustrations of Jacob Boehme feher1[1]were highly praised by William Blake who compared them to Michelangelo. The Paradoxa Emblemata was never printed, however handwritten copies comprised of 153 emblem pictures with accompanied text circulated in the non-conformist religious circles that Blake grew up in and associated with during his career.

The Paradoxa is an attempt to reconcile opposites, the one and the many, work and rest, something and nothing. The definition of God as ‘An infinite sphere, whose centre is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere’  appears to be never far from Freher’s thoughts.


50 thoughts on “The Circumference of Nowhere

      1. Anywhere disconnected from the divine would be a sort of hell. And yet if the divine is infinite, then the essence of the divine would be everywhere. Everywhere and nowhere (as in one place only)

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      2. Is matter inherently evil? The prevailing philosophy is materialism does that just celebrate the evil? Interesting that upside down pentagram is used by Satanist but it could also be used by atheist as it represents the four elements bearing down on the spirit which in the traditional pentagram is aspiring upwards

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      3. Matter itself isn’t evil. Our attitudes toward it are evil. Matter is restrained by its physical properties unless and until it is acted on by a force and converted to an energy. As for the atheist, does an atheist even consider such things?

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Wonderful post, thought-provoking. Impossible to reconcile opposites Mr. Cake, the truth is always found somewhere in between, location: nowhere. Just as a coin has two sides, there must always be two poles. ~ Miss Cranes

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    1. Western mysticism is usually about reconciling opposites, Jung was very influenced and look at his anime/animus theory. The drawings in question and the non conforming circles were very influenced by Boehme who employed dense alchemical terminology to describe his theosophy.


      1. Mr. Cake, it’s very hard to discern the tone of your comment, so I will defer to history, which means this was delivered with a spiky attitude. If you want to go down that road, then let’s do it!

        Take another look at Jung and his Anima/Animus Theory, it tends to unravel itself. Come on even you must know about the Jungian cautions of this theory. You might as well have mentioned, and or quoted, “Hamlet” in your reply. If you like, we could further this discussion by dissecting theosophy.


      2. Miss Cranes this makes me smile. As my beloved Blake says ‘Opposition is true friendship’. Is not The Marriage of Heaven & Hell an attempt at the reconciliation of opposites. I will ignore the prickliness of that ‘even’. As to Hamlet I think we will leave him in the rotting state of Denmark.


      3. The road up and the road down are the same thing… As above, so below. Whether the Mystics are wrong, there quest definitely includes the reconciliation of opposites. By the bye I am still smarting at the ‘even you’.


  2. Cool stuff! That is god, the eye of god, within and without. The one is the all and the all are the one. Interesting that this was done in the 18th century — the age of reason and enlightenment. Some folks were achieving an alchemy of sorts, although there is still much work to do…

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    1. One of the many ironies of the Enlightenment was that one of the first casualties was magic, a magic that in certain ways paved the way for the development of the natural sciences in the first place (I will send you a link that goes into this in further detail) and another irony is the success of the enlightenment led to a flight from reason that led to boom in interest in the occult. People can only take some much rationality. Thanks Christine I am glad you found this interesting I am in one of my Mystic Cake periods, for some reason I never get as many viewers as when I post about erotica. Wonder why that is. Hmmm.

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      1. Magic and natural science are really on the same thread — people (I hope) are starting to realize that more nowadays, as they did in the Enlightenment. True that people can only take so much rationality. That is because deep down they know there is more to this world than hard, simple reason. Can’t wait to read your link!

        Both mystic and erotica are great! Perhaps we comment less on erotica because we are reluctant to do so. After all it is the internet, lol! All the posts are great tho, and interesting. I love the erotic artists, some of which I have never seen before following your blog!

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      1. I had read that post before, but I loved reading it again! As above so below is one of my favorite phrases also — one of the things that probably drew me to the Tarot in the first place. Interesting how Medici was keen to gobble up the information! I suspect he hoarded it, as most Illuminati have done for centuries. (Such things are rarely common knowledge unless one is inclined to delve into Hermetic arts, and then everyone calls you a lunatic. Which I am! The moon phases being sacred…) Interesting also about Dame Francis Yates. I have not yet read her work but I will definitely explore it. Seems like she acted as a type of bridge for the Renaissance philosophy.

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      2. Francis Yates is essential reading for anyone interested in a scholarly approach to Hermetic magic and indeed the history of ideas. The Giordano Bruno lead to a re evaluation, before he was a martyr of science when he quite clearly was a pagan magician. Medici to be fair didn’t hoard, he patronised many careers, got the works to an audience (limited obviously due to education) spurred the renaissance, in fact the world wouldn’t be the same without his influence. Hermeticism wasn’t quite so much on the fringes as it would become. Thanks for the lengthy reply and I am glad it was worth re-reading.

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