The Spiritual Significance of the Defended Portal in world art and architecture, according to AK Coomaraswamy

Subject: Lectures
Dates: 18 July 2017
Time: 19:00-20:30
Location: Friends House, 173 - 177 Euston Road, London, NW1 2BJ
Tutor: Virginia Gray Henry
Full price
£ 7
Student and pensioner concession
£ 5

This lecture will explore the symbols associated with the Gate to the Garden of Paradise, also known as the Defended Portal. It will show how the image and symbolism of The Defended Portal have been depicted by many cultures, for more than 4,000 years.

The ideas, drawings and illustrations of AK Coomaraswarmy will be key reference points. Mrs Henry will show how Tree and Fountain of Immortality, guarded by the cherubim nearest to the Divine Throne are, according to Coomaraswarmy, symbolic configurations of both our Paradisal Origin and our Final Destiny and how the human Heart, situated on the same axis as the Tree, is the gateway to the Spirit.

These symbols, deeply rooted in the worlds’ traditional arts and cultures, give the Defended Portal primordial power. Much more than a merely decorative motif, it serves to represent the very conditions of the soul and state of being required to pass through it, and transmits moral and spiritual teachings that form the base of the world’s great traditions.

This lecture has been made possible with the generous support of  The Bagri Foundation.

Tutor biography

Virginia Gray Henry

Virgina Gray Henry is the founder and director of the world-renowned US-based interfaith publishing house Fons Vitae. She has had a life-long dedication to the integration of the spiritual dimension into everyday life and has achieved world recognition for this endeavour through teaching and lecturing world-wide, making films, writing and publishing. Fons Vitae is devoted to publishing works on world spirituality with a specialty in Sufism, as well as books on sacred art and symbolism.

She studied under Joseph Campbell, attended Azhar University and the American University in Cairo, and was a research fellow at Clare College, Cambridge. In 1987, she began doctoral work at the University of Kent on the final, unpublished manuscripts of AK Coomaraswamy.