Observations placeholder

Moreau - The Sphinx 1864



Type of Spiritual Experience


A truly extraordinary painting.  The subdued intellect [lower half of sphinx - the lion] with a belt showing obedience is surmounted by the feminine of the Subconscious,  who has gained wings by subduing the masculine.

She is scrambling up this columnar slightly androgynous figure who represents the Higher spirit.

At the very bottom of the picture you can just see a masculine type hand and figure who has 'died' - the basic instincts, represented in some paintings as a crocodile or other reptilean beast, but here simply by a slightly unpleasant snake like hand.

There is a column and a cup or chalice.

The painting implies that to meet your Higher spirit you have to bring the Intellect along with you, however unpleasant and ungainly and a drag on progress it may be, but the truly reptilean autonomic system urges can be abandonned.

A description of the experience

Oedipus and the Sphinx – Gustave Moreau

The source of the experience

Moreau, Gustave

Concepts, symbols and science items


Higher spirit

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Being left handed