Welcome to Chris Clarke's web site

Images and themes


Enter Site

snakes I came upon the image of a snake coiled into a spiral carved – probably recently – on a blue-grey rock in the magical setting of Cae Mabon. It immediately reminded me of a powerful spiral dance crafted by the circle-dance teacher Judy King using two entwined spiral pathways (a form of labyrinth).
I have always held an affinity for snakes: they have appeared beside me at crucial decision points. They represent a life that thrives close to, and in, the earth. Perhaps because of this association they have traditionally symbolised wisdom: the serpent in Genesis was "more subtil than any beast of the field" (indeed s/he seems the only character in this story, including God, that behaves with any integrity).
Snakes were associated with healing — something of which our current society is in urgent need — particularly in the cult of Asklepius at the Green sanctuary of Epidaurus which I visited many years ago. (The “double helix” of snakes on Hermes’ staff, the Caduceus, is also now associated with healing, but it is the Asklepian version that is most relevant here.)
The snake logo is designed for this page by Maggie Organ, an artist and art therapist working in the South of England.
sun and moon The images of sun and moon are ancient alchemical symbols denoting the union of opposites that is required for wholeness. For me they particularly represent the uniting of our two principle "ways of knowing": the rational and the intuitive. I drew this symbol as the logo for a conference I organised, with a linked edited book Ways of Knowing (Imprint Academic, 2005). On this website it stands for the the strand of Spirituality.
For much more on the psychological significance of these two ways, including research from cognitive science into their operation, see Isabel Clarke's web site.
the source This image (drawn by Plaxy, a sheep farmer in central Wales) for me represents the outpouring of energy from beyond space and time which constituted the coming-into-being of the universe. Much of my professional life was spent analysing the mathematical physics of this point of singularity in the universe; but since leaving the University of Southampton I have come to see this origin not only as the physical origin of the universe but also as the transcendent origin of being itself. It is about time and eternity and the relation between them – a relation that can be astonishing, as William Blake realised when he wrote in The marriage of Heaven and Hell that "Eternity is in love with the productions of time". Here the image stands for the the strand of Science.
ouroboros This is an ouroboros (Greek for "tail biter"), another alchemical symbol. The psychologist Carl Jung described it as having the form of a dragon (transcendent power) representing the spirit that is concealed within matter, and is curved into a circle because the work of alchemy "proceeds from the one and leads back to the one, so that it is a sort of serpent circle like a dragon biting its own tail". (Works vol 12 p. 293).
For me it brings together all the preceding images. As the cosmologist Joel Primac explains, it can be used as a model of the universe extending from the very small (the tail) through steadily larger length scales until it reaches the entirety (the head). But the creative source of the universe is the point where the whole of the cosmos is contained in the minutest space; that is, where the head eats the tail. It of course includes the snake, and it represents the union of opposites as head and tail — a fitting image for the synthesis that inspires this web site.