Michelangelo - 1508 Sistine Chapel - 10 The Four Pendentives 1
Type of Spiritual Experience
In each corner of the chapel is a triangular pendentive filling the space between the walls and the arch of the vault and forming the spandrel above the windows nearest the corners. On these curving shapes Michelangelo has painted four scenes from Biblical stories that are associated with the 'salvation of Israel' by four great male and female heroes of the Jews: Moses, Esther, David and Judith.
- The Brazen Serpent
- The Punishment of Haman
- David and Goliath
- Judith and Holofernes
One can read these scenes as literal stories of course, but none of these symbolically is what it seems.
All represent key methods or approaches that propel one along the spiritual path. Challenges that one faces and which have to be overcome in order to proceed and progress spiritually.
A description of the experience
The Brazen serpent
In the biblical Book of Numbers, the Nehushtan (or Nohestan) (Hebrew: נחושתן or נחש הנחושת) was a bronze serpent on a pole which God told Moses to erect to 'protect the Israelites'. King Hezekiah later instituted a religious iconoclastic reform and destroyed "the brazen serpent that Moses had made; for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it; and it was called Nehushtan". (2 Kings 18:4).
This is entirely symbolic. The bronze [stage of spiritual path - the Planets] serpent [energy] on the pole [celestial pole] is a symbol of kundalini experience.
The painting that Michelangelo created includes the symbol of the hung snake. This is a symbol of failed kundalini energy. The serpent or snake is bound to the cross, thus it is nailed figuratively speaking to the physical and the body. The symbolism incorporates the arrow [forked tongue and forked tail].
In other words, at one time - in the time of Moses, progression along the spiritual path involved kundalini experience. But this can go very wrong and make people extremely ill and unbalanced and it appears that later kngs decided it was not a necessary step to progress because of the dangers it involved. Michelangelo has represented these dangers rather well in the painting wit people in some distress from energy gone wrong.
The esoteric meaning is that spirit input and spirit output must be in balance. This is shown below in references.