Gift of The Magi

The Gift of The Magi,  the title of a painting I made depicting the Nativity, allows viewers to understand my Energy Symbol Language, because it is a familiar, recognized story. Painting well known themes acts as a kind of Rosetta Stone for the visual language that I have developed for more than thirty-five years in my paintings.

Instead of painting realistic heads, faces, bodies, the language converts everything into energy wave forms. When painting a person, the waves symbolize their quality of energy, his or her personal, individual energy state at a given moment and through time, male or female energy (which does not always determine whether this is a man or a woman, but does express whether this individual is giving or receiving, respectively.) This allows me to clarify that there is male and female energy, which everyone switches at different times. Waves of fear or desire interacting with one another as emotions. This gives me the ability to paint what has hitherto been invisible but consequential in our daily relationships.

My subject “matter” is not matter at all, but subject-energy. This allows a viewer who has little or no training in reading this language, to read, from left to right, the emotions, the desires, the fears, the inner-most experiences and feelings of the subject. All that one needs to know in order to do this is that any wave that rises upward symbolizes degrees of desire, while any wave that moves downward, into a valley symbolizes increasing degrees of fear.

Waves themselves can merge into larger waves if they are moving in the same direction. Waves, however, can also cancel one another out, creating no waves. That is, if a wave of desire shares the same time/space as an equal sized wave of fear, the two cancel, and leave a state of Equilibrium, where all tensions are resolved. We all know this through our experiences with looking at waves in water. In my language, the Sign of Equilibrium is a symbol that says, desire and fear were here, but they canceled one another, and left a state that is neither desirous, nor fearful, but simply lucid, taking in whatever is before it with clarity and receptivity, or beholding! This is conscious presence, as symbolized by a circle of wholeness, which resembles an opened eye. The heads of both Mary and the new born infant Jesus are symbolized by Signs of Equilibrium, as seen in this image :


Notice, too, that neither Mary nor Jesus have assumed any colors as part of their identities. They are both transparent. This reveals the background color, a kind of lavender color in this painting. This implies that when we have no identity, we become indistinguishable from the rest of the universe. Or, said in another way, in giving up having and sustaining some idea of who we are supposed to be, ( an identity ) we receive a far greater gift in its place, we recognize that we are all phenomena, all beings, all heavenly bodies that exist in the universe. We trade in being a human being of a specific nature for being the universe at large. To my way of seeing, this also hints at the notion that awareness is a medium, The Void, in which all energy expressions of itself are immersed. Therefore, all “things”, are as aware or conscious as you or I, indeed, when we become conscious of a cloud or a star, it becomes conscious of us as well. “Eyes draw eyes.”, the old Native American expression, holds true for all things in the universe.


The energy symbol of Joseph is different by reading the two waves that define his head ( Left ).  We may see from his two waves of identity, ( created by his past experiences ), the upper wave indicates a movement from desire to fear to desire to fear, and this wave is counter-balanced by a lower,  greater wave of fear. On the side of him that faces his wife and new born child, there is a reverence and a receptivity. The blue symbolizes a kind of sweetness and sacred wonder at the miracle before him. Deeper back, however, there is an anger, a suspicion symbolized by the deep red color. Any one of us might well feel exactly the same as he. “She tells me that she has been with no man, that she is a virgin, ( She was age 13 when she gave birth to Jesus. ), and yet this child! Not only is this child not mine, but men of great wealth come to offer gifts that royalty alone enjoy! Who is the father of this child that I must raise and support?”

We may also see that it is possible to symbolize in just two lines, our deepest and most hidden feelings when we convert everything into energy terms. It is my belief that humanity began as an energy conscious species, knowing the dream like quality and oneness of all things, and slowly we drifted deeper and deeper into the trance or dream state until today we believe in the physical reality of solid matter. Our spiritual masters and our theoretical and practical physicists tell us again and again that matter is a particle only when we behold it, and a wave when we look away, that we are the inseparable creators of our individual universe. But collective forces continually drag us back to concentrated fears ( The evening news on TV.) and manufactured desires  that keep us in separation from the universe which we are, our being-ness. Desiring something or someone means that we have forgotten that we already are complete.


The three kings bring gifts of great value. They have been guided by what they call a “new star” that existed only to guide them to this place. The light from the “star” shines down upon a manger, in today’s terms, a cheap motel’s garage where lawn mowers, shovels, stored broken beds and chairs are stored and forgotten. The three kings are confused, but trusting that such a radiant escort has led them without doubt to a powerful king. They offer their gifts with trust that something astounding is before them.

The middle standing figure ( left ) stares out toward the viewer, wondering why such a kingly being would be born in a stable. Each of the kings have taken brilliant colors and clever waves of identity. Their amazing colors, brilliant and beautiful as they are, only serve to separate them from all of the rest of the universe. They are only as they define themselves. They are only wealthy kings, whereas this child and this woman are somehow infinitely greater. They represent all there is to be. A radiance comes from them that is felt and revered, but not necessarily understood. This is because neither Mary nor Jesus have assumed any identity, and therefore limitlessness in their being.

The kings each have waves of identity that do have moments, like all of us, where their fears and desires accidentally or randomly are in the same moment of time (such waves of self-definition  literally create our sense of time/space, without which there is only the eternal present ) and since they are equal and opposite waves, they cancel one another and leave that moment of Equilibrium, lucidity, awake-ness. In these instants we are as awake as any great spiritual master.


These moments are marked by dots that resemble opened eyes ( left ). Soon, however, the wash of random self-definitional waves catch our attention and we allow our awareness to follow the waves of desire or the waves of fear to a possible future or a memory in the past, and we slide back into a “waking” dreamland. Much of our lives are spent in this state, worried, or wanting. No blame. We are swimming in a tumultuous ocean of manufactured polarity that pulls and pushes us outside of the beauty of presence. It is not only a hard struggle to believe that such is the case, but relaxing and letting those waves of polarity blow through us without grabbing on to them is almost an un-American form of capitalist treason.


And now for that part we never venture near. Indeed, “What Star is this that I see before me?” The story tells us that a brilliant star simply appeared in the sky, and the three kings followed it, and it shone a bright light down onto the stable where Jesus was born. If we take this to be true, then we have some interesting questions to ask no matter what.To the left,  in the detail of the painting, I have symbolized a vessel from some mysterious place. They are called UFO’s, meaning, nobody knows what in heaven they are or where they come from. UFO means U Figure it Out., or Unidentified Flying Object. By any definition, a local star appearing in our sky long enough to guide some kings to a child who was just born and then disappearing, or a UFO, it  is still quite a mystery. I have chosen to portray the Star of Bethlehem as a UFO, supported by the very structure of space. The silver crossing lines represent a pattern of oscillations of space itself. The UFO bends these waves around itself from the top side and around to the bottom of the vessel. This drives it and keeps it afloat.

I believe that awareness includes all things in the universe. In this holistic view there are no real aliens in the universe, only more aspects of our self same awareness expressing itself in a different set of possibilities. In this view it makes sense to me that a teacher or two might, on occasion, be sent down to us to help us out in our “Lord of the Flies” dilemma. In that great book and film, Lord of the Flies, a bunch of kids are stranded on an island, and left to invent their own concept of reality and social behavior, which deteriorates into violence without wise adult modeling. In the American film version, at the end, a G.I. steps off of his boat and is met by the kids who are chasing down and about to murder the little “fat boy”, and the G.I., in his great American way asks, “What are you guys doin’?”, and a lightning bolt of higher consciousness shines a bright light onto their dark world. Is that not the same as some distant outfit that has a bit of civilized structure from some other place, more mature than ours, sending a teacher down to ask us the same question: “What are you guys doin’?”

Gift of The Magi

This painting, Gift of the Magi, shown to the left, attempts to express visually that astounding difference between polarized consciousness and immaculate awareness. While the excitement and drama of desires and fears in many possible mixtures is alluring, the radiant emptiness of the new born infant and his mother, as well as the lamb at her feet, symbolize a new dimension of human potential and inner peace. Given an image of radiant transparency of Mary and Jesus, we can then recognize that same potential in ourselves. They say that no one ever saw a sunset until Constable painted it. A painting of pure awareness, side by side with polarized consciousness, may act as a compass that allows us to see the difference between fear/desire and presence, and open our hearts to that state, offering it more and more frequent visitations. Even immersed in a culture that worships polarity, here in this vision of The Gift of The Magi the possibility of a place to nourish our spirit and find absolute rest is given to us.

Painting “Gift of the Magi” and article by:

Ross Drago
Paint Rag Magazine.
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