[Photos: Renée Hilhorst]

Some species of snails are both male and female. In a way, they can be viewed as a representation of th alchemical concept of ‘Rebis’: the divine hermaphrodite, the reconciliation of matter and spirit.

When my earliest childhood friend died from an overdose late last year I had a snail tattooed on my arm. Tha snail has become my own personal memento mori: it serves as a reminder of the inevitability of death, like th snails you can find feeding on wilting flower arrangements in seventeenth-century Dutch paintings.

Not only does the snail remind us that life moves on, even if by tiny increments (a comforting thought), but th snail also represents Christiania, the commune where we grew up together. When I see a work of art depicting snail, I often immediately feel connected with the places and people from my childhood.

Animism, the idea that everything is connected by some spiritual energy was defined as such to encapsulate very broad array spiritual practice. It was not defined by any practitioner of these but instead by a scientist name Edward Tylor, who did so in order to create an opposite to define Modernity against.

Organized spirituality does not seem to ever have fully accepted the departure into the modern world, and eve the largest religions have some animistic aspect in their rituals. But what I think is far more fascinating is wha position spirituality will take the farther we move beyond the Modern and into has come after.

I believe that there is a lot of value to find by examining and adapting systems that allow us a way of viewing the world as alive and enriched, like animism. Doing so allows us to value ephemeral objects like digitally create artworks beyond simply their beauty. By implementing that same view of the world to the fabrication of artwork by both physical and digital means that production becomes alchemy.

How can matter and spirit ever be reconciled?

If snails are the Rebis from alchemy, and if alchemy is the opportune framework in which to study ‘dream materials’ – which I would argue includes Animism – and snails need moisture to live …

Does that mean that dreams require liquid?

[Text: Benjamin A. H. Harpsøe]

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