The message of my first rug

My first rug, The Hidden Stone, was completed in a year's time. It was a good size rug - 3' by 5' - and has hung prominently on the living room wall of each of my homes since then. I recall designing it in stages as I hooked. First the center of the rug, then the border once I had hooked the center and "knew" what the rug wanted on the outside.

The outside border is a mosaic pattern from a floor of an ancient Greek residence. I choose it after browsing through some of my archaeology books, because the rug needed a round repeating pattern. At the time I didn't know that it is best to include your major colors from the center of your rug in the border. But this happened naturally as I played with different ways to hook the contiguous circles and tried to make them distinct from each other. When I experimented with the light blue, I found that it really popped the border design and tied the rug together. So that is what I settled on.

In an interior border, I included the message of the rug: a famous latin phrase from the medieval Hermetic tradition. Visita interiora terrae, rectificando invenies occultum lapidem: Visit the interior of the earth; through purification you will find the hidden stone. I had known from the beginning that this would be the rug's message because I had conceived the rug as a prayer rug in a Hermetic tradition.

Hermetism is an ancient religious tradition that grew out of old Egyptian religion and ancient Greek philosophy, stressing that the divine is not something distant from us, but in fact is within us and makes up our true selves. The Hermetics taught that human beings are really divine beings - that the stone is hidden within us - and that the life journey is about recovering that stone and transforming ourselves into the divinities we are. The Hermetic tradition was revitalized in the middle ages when alchemy emerged and philosophers and early scientists began experimenting with chemistry, particularly distillation and attempts to change metals into gold. Their physical experiments were perceived to mirror the spiritual transmutative process, when the human being was transfigured into the spirit.

I tried to capture that process on my rug through verse and picture. Thus the stone is hidden in the belly of the dragon which is unformed matter. Out of the dragon grows the tree of knowledge, and the universe itself, its cosmic spheres, the sun, moon, and stars, and the four elements, earth, water, fire, and air.