ithell colquhoun magician born of nature
All texts copyright Richard Shillitoe



Ten works. Enamel on paper. Each 10 x 6¼in. (26 x 16.4cm.) Each monogrammed and dated: /1. and /2. 1978. /3. to /10. 1979. Bound in a hard-backed book. Chokmah Provenance NT. Literature Shillitoe & Morrisson, 2014, illustrate “Binah” as fig. 13. These are Colquhoun’s only works in enamel on paper where the image does not completely cover the surface of the paper. Generally, in the present series, the image is an oval form, centred on the sheet, although the paint does sometimes extend to an edge. They are also the only works (with the exception of some Taro cards) which have been painted in successive stages, in order to achieve the complexities of the pre-determined colour schemes. Although the paintings are untitled, the subject matter is unmistakable. Each painting shows one of the sephirah of the Tree of Life, coloured to represent its appearance in each of the Four Worlds of existence, passing from light to matter. The worlds are the Archetypal World (Atziluth), the Creative World (Briah), the Formative World (Yetzirah) and the Material World (Assiah). Each sephiroth in each world has its characteristic occult colour attributions. These and an explanation of the Four Worlds may be found in Fortune (2000). An example will demonstrate Colquhoun’s method. Chokmah, the second sephirah has the colour attributions: Atziluth – pure soft blue Briah - grey Yetzirah – pearl-grey Assiah – white flecked with red, blue and yellow. The colour of Chokmah in Atziluth forms the centre of the painting. The others follow in sequence, until the colours of Assiah encircle the whole image. By binding the paintings in one volume, Colquhoun has transformed the Tree of Life into The Book of Life. Allied to the paintings is a suite of ten poems, The Decad of Intelligence. The title refers to the ten Intelligences or spheres of the qabalistic Tree of Life. Each poem lists some of the qualities, symbols and ideas traditionally associated with the sphere in question. These include the ruling planet, mundane chakra, words of power and the magical image. The association between the paintings and the poems is indisputable, although the link is nowhere made explicit by Colquhoun: the typescript of the poems makes no reference to the paintings and the notebook containing the paintings makes no reference to the poems. Note Fortune, D. 2000. “The Mystical Qabalah”. San Francisco: Weiser Books. First published 1935.