One step up the cosmic ladder from the Celestial Gardens takes us to the level of the Throne, at the very outer reaches of cosmic reality. The Throne encompasses the entire physical world, although at this point ‘physical’ simply means that the idea of dimensional forms is present.
The Throne is described as emerald, made of divine Light and surrounded by angels, four of which function as bearers for its four corners. But four more corners, unsupported at this time, await the remaking of the world, when the Throne will change from square to octagram.
“Inside the Throne, God created the Pedestal, square in form, and let His feet to hang down upon it,” writes Ibn Arabi. This curiously anthropomorphic image is a subtle illustration: the Throne is so named because it is the seat of the Divine as the all-Compassionate, undivided. In contrast, the Pedestal describes the splitting of divine compassion into Compassion رحمة and Wrath غضب mixed with compassion. The “two feet” symbolise duality coming into being, the absolute becoming relative, the Taiji generates Yin and Yang. These binary polarities govern all of the physical world contained in the sphere of the Pedestal.
As the Throne is four-fold, but with a latent eight-foldness destined to manifest, I use two squares arranged in an eight-pointed star with one square currently covering the other. The shape is painted using a mask, before the spaces making up the background circle are filled in.
The outer circles express supra-natural substances that start out as barely existing. The most abstract is the Universal Matter (palest blue barely emerging from the white background). This is a substance with no existence of its own, defined only by the physical world the unfolds within it. When it receives the spatial qualities of length, breadth and depth, it transforms into the Universal Body (pale blue). These two eventually crystallize into the level of the divine Essences or the divine Names, represented here by the royal blue circle which will bear the Ninety-Nine Names in gold.
The angels surrounding the Throne are suggested in words written in light (interference medium) in a ring behind the octagram.
The four corners of the Throne are supported by four “ruby pillars”. These are the core matters, the basic structural laws of the world:
- Form صورة
- Spirit روح
- Nourishment غذاء
- Status مرتبة
These four words are designed in Square Kufi to have matching dimensions, then cut out of card painted red and assembled in their respective corner.
To represent the duality of Compassion vs. Wrath, the traditional pair of colours for Islamic art would be ultramarine and gold (also Beauty vs. Majesty), as in this early sketch:
But this combination doesn’t reflect the absoluteness of this sphere, so I turn to the more fundamental opposition of black and white. I also revise the design so each “foot” is made up of a single monumental word, which also feels more appropriate. Since Wrath is mixed with compassion (it would otherwise overwhelm creation), the pointing which this word requires is done in white.
The final step consists in writing the Ninety-Nine Names in size using my most minute brush, before applying genuine gold leaf