Hieronymous Bosch (c1450-1516) is a painter who captured my fascination several years ago. His oil paintings are a concoction of pseudo-religous imagery and in some cases disturbing depictions of an unveiled reality.

Many skeptics suggest that the works of Bosch are merely pschadelic-induced nonsense and that no particular attention was paid to any form of esotericism or symbolism when the works were created. I find this difficult to believe, considering Bosch’s prominent status in the secret society known as the Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady, an enigmatic fraternal organisation that I can find little information in regards to except for that the brotherhood existed to glorify the “Mother of God”, perhaps referring to Mary or a mother goddess from mythology; I find it impossible to determine which.

I will focus merely on the central panel of Bosch’s magnus opus, The Garden of Earthly Delights. The Garden of Earthly Delights is split in a triptych, the left panel focusing on creation and Eden, the perfect world before the fall of Man, the centre representing life after the fall and the right hand column representing the consequences of Earthly Delights, damnation.

The Fall of Man is a theme prevalent, to my knowledge, in all world religions in some form or another. Man is believed in all traditions to be a broken and weak creature, destroyed by our gravitation towards sinful behaviour which has become an increasing burden on our will to do good, which has become weakened through the passing of the ages and the movement of the sun into new constellations and the planet into the age of Kali.

Many people believe that chakras are merely a Hindu idea, but this is untrue. As I have meticulously demonstrated in previous article, chakras are referenced in Hermetic and Gnostic Christian traditions as well as Norse pre-Christian religion. Since Bosch was a member of distinguish esoteric society, Bosch would undoubtedly know what chakras were through his study of non-mainstream theology.

To briefly summarise chakras for the uninitiated, the body is full of energy which in Hinduism is known as prana. This prana travels through the body in pathways called nadis, of which there are many thousands. The points at which many nadis cross over one another are termed chakras, areas in which much prana travels. There are 7 bodily chakras.

Each chakra has a colour associated with it. There a few worth mentioning in this article. The root chakra, associate with base urges, is red; the solar plexus chakra, associated with will and passion, is yellow; the third eye, associate with openness and intellectual thought, is blue; the crown chakra, associated with enlightenment and god absorption, is violet.

The central panel of The Garden of Earthly Delights by Bosch prominently features the concept of chakras, symbolised by fruits of various colours.

Although there is far too much in this painting to cover in one short article, let me begin first by drawing attention to a curiosity: the presence of black people in the painting and their significance.

Interestingly and anachronistically, Bosch’s works including images of blacks, which is extremely interesting because exploration of sub-saharan Africa had barely begun in Bosch’s lifetime, and the existence of a Negroid race was not mainstream knowledge. In the painting, Bosch depicts blacks in a unifying, indentifiable fashion, either balancing a red fruit on the top of their head, usually a cherry, or tempting the other people to take one of the red fruits, as Satan is said to have done in the form of a serpent.

The works of Bosch in many ways, prima facie, seem to appease the black supremacist “Black Lives Matter”, Black Hebrew Israelite Messianic negro movement; they prima facie suggest that coloured people were galavanting around in medieval Europe, and that they were, if you will excuse my language, “Kangz n’ shiet”. This is, of course, not the case. It is, however, highly unusual that black people can be found on artwork from the 15th century.

Europeans have, however, known about the existence of black people for thousands of years, as referenced in this fragment by the ancient Greek philosopher Xenophanes, who lived in the 5th and 6th centuries BC:

“Ethiopians say that their gods are snubnosed and blackThracians that they are pale and red-haired.There is one god, greatest among gods and men, similar to mortals neither in shape nor in thought.”

As a learned and distinguished man, Bosch would have been well aware of the presence of blacks in literature from the ancient past, and would know of their theosophical tendencies and implication on European society as detailed in mythology.

The works of Hieronymous Bosch using symbolism acquired through his occult and esoteric study, likely through the Illustrious Brotherhood of Our Blessed Lady, were intended, rightly or wrongly to serve as the advertisement of a perception of what coloured people are and what Bosch believed they would do to society. It is my view that Bosch wishes to portray coloured people as instigators and the creators of a “Garden of Earthly Delights”, a hell on Earth in which sin and the Root Chakra are worshipped.

Allow me to briefly return to the subject of chakras. As I have referenced in earlier articles, coloured people in esotericism are often associated, rightly or wrongly with the root chakra and people “as black as pitch” are said to live in the lowest depth of the world tree, Yggsrasil in Norse religion.

I have picked four small segments of the larger painting to hone in on in detail, starting with this one:

Segment 1: The peacock woman

To reiterate my earlier point that the fruits symbolise chakras, it is my view that the red fruits, as well as being the root chakra, represents Eve’s original sin of eating the apple, the sin of greed.

In most instances in the painting, people are consuming red fruits as Eve did, but the black characters except for this instance are the only ones with apples on their heads, symbolise a mind ridden with avarice.

Notice then that when the black women who on other parts of the painting have root chakra dominated minds, IE those dominated by lust and avarice, hand the root chakra to the white women, a transformative process occurs: they have their root chakra minds replaced with a large blue peacock with yellow feathers. Yellow is the colour of the solar plexus chakra, meaning willpower, and blue represents the Third Eye chakra, symbolising high intellect (but not spirituality, spirituality is violet, more on that later).

The negro women can be seen holding the red fruits symbolising the root chakra for the white women to take and placing these red fruits on the heads of the white women, in my view fortelling the negrification of European culture and inevitable consequence, the worship of the root chakra we are seeing in the modern world as even white women become susceptible to the influence of coloured mannerism and cultural norms.

Segment 2: Yellow Fruits

Let’s move onto the next image. Women huddle around a large yellow fruit with blue petals on it, whilst a black woman stands with her hands on her hips, holding a red apple. Meanwhile, another figure to the right attempts to place a punnet of blue fruits on the head of the black woman.

As I said earlier, the black woman has a materialistic root chakra on her head. She also holds an apple, another red fruit, behind their back at the base of the spine, a blatant reference to the root chakra in its natural position. It is almost as if she is attempting to hide the fruit, a symbol of her primative and carnal instincts which may reflects Bosch’s view of blacks and their mannerisms, though this is a stretch.

Next to the black woman is a white person attempting to place a bunch of blue fruits on the head of the woman. Dark blue is the colour of the Third Eye chakra, symbolising intellect. This perhaps suggests that Bosch viewed the role of whites was to gift blacks with a Third Eye, making them capable of higher thinking and intellectual ideas.

One of the women holds a very large yellow fruit with blue petals that seems to symbolise the solar plexus chakra, associated with willfulness and courage. From the Wikipedia page on Manipura, the SP chakra:

Manipura is represented with a bright yellow circle, with 10 dark-blue or black petals like heavily laden rain clouds.

I believe that the blue bird may also be representative of the Third Eye chakra, though more likely represents the Throat Chakra, which is light blue. The throat chakra is active when we communicate and speak eloquently and truthfully. Setting the bird free may be intended to convey releasing the truth stored in the throat chakra, letting it fly away to new destinations and spreading truth to affect more people.

The black character looks in the direction of the blue bird, but with its hands on its hips, looking rather frustrated or angry.

Segment 3: Attack on the pink fruit

There is a frightening part of the painting in which a woman takes shelter in a large pinkish coloured fruit which I believe symbolises the Crown Chakra, which is represented by pink or light purple, and there is another individual with an enormous strawberry, I believe representing a root chakra on their back trying to break into the fruit by pulling at the stalk. This must symbolise the attack on goodness through the pursuit of sin and “Earthly Delights”. To further reenforce the symbolism, the stalk of the pink fruit has large thorns that indicate it is inaccessible to those who attempt to force entry from the wrong angle, just like religous knowledge is impossible to attain without knowing how to find it.

There are two people inside this pink fruit, and there are several other parts of the painting wherein there are people sitting inside pink fruit in this manner. Only in the pink fruit are there people with glass cylinders to look through, such as at the bottom of this image. On the opposite end of the cylinder to the person is a black rat, though I am unsure what this may mean, though it is repeated in other parts of the painting so must mean something. The cylinder itself symbolises that spiritual people can see others from their knowledge but others cannot see them properly, hence they are misunderstood and incorrectly perceived.

One of the people outside of the pink fruit is attempting to hand the person with the giant strawberry a blue flower, perhaps trying to coerce them into ceasing to attack the pink fruit, IE goodness itself. This could be said to be an attempt to invoke the third eye chakra, which is represented by dark blue and is characterised by spiritual thinking.

On the end of the giant root chakra is a blue flower where the root chakra, the red chakra, should be. Instead of a root chakra there is a throat chakra, this spiritual inversion is a recurring theme in the painting.

Segment 4: White meat on display

There is little original to say in regards to this segment except that the symbolism mirrors that of the other segments. I will reiterate what I said earlier about black people in the painting; here again another black person can be seen with a red fruit, the root chakra, dominating the mind. The presence of a symbol of the root chakra where the crown chakra should be is likely Bosch’s way of communicating a common esoteric idea in regards to the spiritual potential of black people, that there spiritual potential, according to esotericism, is limited.

Further reenforcing the idea that not everything is in its right place, the man is holding two bunches of pink and blue fruits below, another allusion to spiritual inversion as these represent the third Eye and Crown chakras.

I am unsure what it means, but two of the women have black flowers in their hair. It also appears that the women in this segment are attempting to gain the attention of the black man in the painting, who is looking away.

Final Notes:

There is so much left to cover from the works of Bosch that I will certainly reurn to this topic in future. I am also interested to know if you have found anything that I have missed so pleas get in touch. At the end of the day, these are merely suggestions I think are correct, but I could be completely wrong. Piecing an artist like Bosch together when next to nothing is known of his life is incredibly difficult.

Health and happiness!

C.A., author.