What Did Leonardo Know?
Spheres are central to your very existence and, in case this has not occurred to you before, we can look at some examples of their significance. Leonardo Da Vinci, who is accepted as having been ahead of his time with his inventions, and also widely regarded as having possessed special insights into ancient truths, purposefully wove one of his enigmatic messages into the Salvator Mundi with its non-refracting sphere.
Over the past few years I have written a number of articles about spheres, with themes including: the phenomenon of orbs and spheres appearing in photos; the archaeological discovery of ancient stone spheres around the world; spherical UFOs and lights in the sky; intelligent plasma spheres; and the meaning of spheres used in traditional architecture and art.
From the stars, moon and planets of the macrocosm down to atoms, photons and cells, the predominant shape that occurs in the natural universe is the sphere. Our Earth, along with the other orb-like planets and moons of our solar system, exists inside a spherical bubble known as the Heliosphere. New Age teacher Drunvalo Melchizedek has correctly pointed out: “Every known form of life begins as a sphere […] The ovum is a perfectly round ball […] the sperm’s tail breaks off and … becomes a perfect sphere, which is the male pronucleus.” In the 1980s, National Geographic reported that scientists have now found that spheres of energy do indeed surround galaxies. And Leonardo Da Vinci, just like the ancient Greeks, held that the universe itself was spherical.
Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi, billed as “the last known painting by the Renaissance master in private hands,” was sold at Christie’s in 2017 for $450.3 million, making it by far the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction. It depicts Jesus gesturing with his right hand, while holding a transparent, non-refracting crystal orb in his left, signalling his role as Salvator Mundi (Latin for ‘Saviour of the World’). The orb is thought by art critics to represent the ‘celestial sphere’ of the heavens.
It is enigmatic for a couple of reasons. Notwithstanding his artistic mastery and scientifically precise knowledge, Leonardo did not paint the distortion (magnification or inverted imagery) that would occur when looking through a solid glass or crystal orb – instead picturing it as if it were a hollow glass bubble that does not refract or distort the light passing through it. Secondly, he incorporated three prominent white spots forming a triangle on, or within, the sphere.
Logically, if he meant this to be the kind of sphere that is used by kings and parliaments, e.g. a Royal Orb or a Globus Cruciger, he would have applied his technical know-how and painted it with corresponding refracted imagery. Since he was a scientist as well as architect and master of painting technique, how did he fail to depict the refraction of the glass sphere? I believe he was familiar with the centuries-old Indian and Chinese depictions of a Bodhisattva or the Buddha holding a Chintamani (or Cintāmaṇi), and these also never showed distortion or inversion. The Chintamani is said by some to be the equivalent of the Philosopher’s Stone in Western alchemy.
What makes us think that Leonardo had special insight, especially about Jesus, when, even though he (Leonardo) lived 500 years ago, it was still 1500 years after Christ? We should remember that although he painted a lot of his work on Biblical themes for the Catholic Church, Leonardo was raised with other influences, including mystical. Some called him a heretic. As one of the important figures who ushered in the Renaissance, he drew heavily on the teachings of the founders of the Western world – the pre-Christian Greeks and Romans.
Leonardo lived at a time when the existence of celestial spheres was accepted, with the outermost one being a non-material sphere called The Empyrean. In this model our world was seen as being embedded in a larger rotating sphere – concentric with the Earth – that was made of an aethereal, transparent fifth element (quintessence), like a jewel set in an orb. The old adage As Above, So Below, demonstrates this understanding that everything in our third-dimensional physical world is a reflection or mirror-image of a substance that is first created in the aethereal realm. In Plato’s Republic, he extends this thinking to the Sun itself, asserting that in the Intelligible World, the “Sun-behind-the-sun” is the source of reality and truth.
In Greek antiquity the idea of celestial spheres first appeared in the cosmology of Anaximander in the early 6th century BC and was expanded upon by Anaximenes, Pythagoras, Xenophanes and Parmenides. Leonardo knew their works well, but when his contemporary, Copernicus, proposed the heliocentric system (later refined by Galileo and Kepler) the new scientists “threw the baby out with the bath water” by rejecting all notions of aether and the spheres.
So, we come back to the question of why Leonardo depicted the sphere of Salvator Mundi as he did and, if he gained secret knowledge, where did it come from? He has been claimed to have been a Rosicrucian and, more controversially, also appears on the now-disputed list of Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion from 1510 to1519. When he was still in his early twenties, he disappeared (or ‘went off the grid,’ if you like) for two years between 1476 and 1478. In one of his very few written personal diaries, he tells of finding a vast and mysterious cave that he was drawn to enter and spend some time inside. It is speculated that he had an encounter with someone, or something, in there that enlightened him.
For these reasons, I suggest that the globe held by Jesus in this painting represents both the aethereal sphere that surrounds the world, and a communications portal to the higher realms. The three white dots in a triangle are the key which opens the portal. (The X across the front of his body with a jewel embedded above it would have held significance for Leonardo as well). If he had incorporated refraction into the crystal/glass ball, it would have meant it was only reflecting what is in this lower mundane plane. The notion of a cosmic sphere being a gateway to another world (or dimension) is not a new one.
In an article I wrote for Atlantis Rising magazine some years ago titled Life from the Sun? (Issue #110 March 2015) I put forward the idea that the Sun may be an interstellar portal, a stargate connecting to us here on Earth and linking through cylindrical wormholes to other stars in the galaxy. I was not alone in my thinking – at the time, the concept was supported by other well-known researchers and bloggers such as Arjun Walia, Chad Stuemke and Scott C Waring.
The meaning of the three dots has been grappled with by others, mostly in a misguided way, in my opinion. Author and TV presenter William Henry (for whom I credit the picture above comparing the Salvator Mundi with a Bodhisattva holding a Chintamani) thinks the dots represent three stars of the Orion constellation, indicating in turn that Jesus might have come from Orion. I have found online the writings of Dr. Robert D. Elliott, who claims the dots represents three stars in the tail of the Leo the Lion constellation; however, why that should be of any relevance to us remains unclear.
If Leonardo was an adherent of the Pythagorean teachings and ancient mystery schools, he would have appreciated the meaning of archetypal symbols and geometry – particularly the points of the triangle, for both its mathematical value and its representation of the recurring theme of Trinity. I believe he was well-versed with the corresponding triune nature of humankind: the physical, psychic and spiritual. Despite being asked by the church on some occasions to include ‘God the Father’ in his art, he declined to do so, but he was happy to paint the Son and the Holy Spirit. His motto was “Saper Vedere”, “knowing how to see”; he believed that any phenomenon that could be seen, was a gateway to knowledge.
Like many others, I read Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code with interest – in fact I had been studying that theme since I first read Holy Blood, Holy Grail in 1983, to which Mr Brown owes his inspiration. However, the theories expressed in those writings did nothing to improve my life.
The Salvator Mundi, on the other hand, can be taken as a message from Leonardo that those who carried on, and handed down, the traditions of the ancient mystery schools (including Jesus, an Essene) were telling us: the way to the higher dimensions was to understand your own true nature.
“Man, Know Thyself.”