When dear friend of FVM Global Sue Wong invited us to join her at the home of Carla and Leigh McCloskey in Malibu, known as Olandar, for a tour of their library and a meditative Sound Bath healing session, we had no idea that we were about to journey into another world of consciousness both externally and internally. And what a journey it was!
Upon entering Olandar, we were greeted warmly by the McCloskeys. As we began the climb to the library upstairs, we did not fully realize that were about to open a new chapter in our lives, As we entered the library, we were suddenly and completely awestruck by its overwhelming splendor and presence. The McCloskey library is indeed a magical place, imbued with mythological symbolism: walls, floors, chairs, and even books have been painted and fashioned by Leigh to bring about this effect, which is highly dramatic, thought-provoking, and spirit-inducing. Amidst this aura, with images everywhere, one cannot help but enter one’s own celestial world!
The McCloskeys call the library “The Hieroglyph of the Human Soul,” or Thoths. Thoth was the Egyptian god of magic, writing, wisdom, and the moon, and although the connection between the acronym for the library and Thoth was coincidental, it is in reality a most appropriate one.
During this epic visit, FVM was able to interview our host and tour narrator, the actor, artist, author, and polymath Leigh J. McCloskey.
Juilliard-trained Leigh McCloskey found fame and material success as an actor, but felt that only as an artist could he embark on the path to creativity, spirituality, and self-knowledge. He felt he had to journey into the depths of his imagination to find the light he sought.
Leigh likes to refer to himself as “a visual philosopher” and that appellation is apt. He delights in both creating and explicating his images in the hope that the observer of these images will enter his own unconscious and imaginative world and embark on his own pathway to enlightenment.
The hieroglyph is to Leigh McCloskey as the Red Book was to Carl Jung, the influential psychoanalyst. By day a therapist, by night Jung was a transcriber of visions he encountered into the book. Contemplation of these images led Jung to postulate that in the process of seeking but not necessarily arriving at meaning, one finds meaning. Leigh McCloskey heartily concurs.
McCloskey believes that his artistic expositions of his psyche enable others to explore theirs. Feeling an inner compulsion to do art as a means of self-representation, McCloskey has stated: “I don’t have ideas, they have me!” Like Jung, McCloskey believes his art is not a product but an approach to finding out who you are and your inner-humanity. The pathway is never easy and is often filled with anguish, but that makes the journey interesting and worthwhile.
Leigh looks upon the tours and weekly meetings he has held in his library for the past 40 years as a coming together of souls to inspire each other, and also looks upon himself as “a celestial gardener” planting seeds which will nourish and restore our basic being.
Surprisingly, Leigh does not even know how he arrived at his designation for his library, but it is apropos because the meaning of hieroglyph is “sacred carvings” and this is indeed what one encounters. With a literal onslaught of images, the hieroglyph unfolds the story of what it means to become human across the ages. As Leigh says, we began in the dark and life is an ongoing journey into the light. The dictum here is: “It’s not a matter of learning more, but trusting more.” One must suspend linear thinking and let one’s spirit run rampant. That which separates and that which connects find their confluence in this space, which Leigh created as a place to feel safe and explore without being critiqued. Using his art to inspire, not to teach, Leigh has created an immersion theater in which one can discover the buoyancy of life. He feels we are not born into Time, but into Creation, with the watchwords being “Cogito, ergo sum” (I think, therefore I am).
This massive project was begun on 9/11, when, as Leigh says, the towers of money and god collapsed, and he began a journey of intense self-reflection; that process is ongoing decades later because such a process never stops. Just as Leigh had begun an adventure, we, too, as visitors to the library and self-interpreters of the hieroglyph become lost in the sea of what it takes to be human. Through Leigh’s painted storytelling, we journey into the labyrinth of life, and in this cathedral he has constructed we unconsciously breach the dimensions and voyage from the 2D into the 3D of our imaginations. We are here to blossom and we shall as we address the basic human questions of our existence and enter the realm where love and thought congeal, because love is the key to perceiving beyond the veil. Leigh’s unique work of art takes us across the ages and we feel the entire human story in our very being.
2005 was a year of profound significance for Leigh. On January 30, 2005, a heron suddenly and magically appeared in the library. The heron is known to symbolize the mythological phoenix, which was thought to rise renewed and re-invigorated from flames, and, perhaps not coincidentally to this event, years later Leigh’s house which encompasses his life’s work as an artist/philosopher was amazingly spared during the Malibu fires! Needless to say, a beautiful painting of a heron graces one of the chairs in the library and what better addendum to the hieroglyph than this bird which also symbolizes elegance, patience, wisdom, self-possession, transformation, and good fortune. One might also conclude that the body of Leigh’s work has risen, like the phoenix, from the depths of human experience in order to express light through art.
Also in 2005, Leigh discovered on his property, which sits on sacred Chumash land, some remarkable stones which not only seem to have a magical feel to them but also assume different images depending on the angle from which they are viewed; also remarkably, together these stones form the buddha. As Leigh says, the stones “came to him.”
Further, 2005 brought Leigh international recognition and acclaim when an admiring Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones had Leigh’s artwork posted on enormous screens during Stones’ performances on their 2005-2007 world tour.
Leigh’s artistic endeavors in the library continue to this day and he describes what he does as “working with a flowing piece of music.” It is obvious to all who visit the library and view the hieroglyph that Leigh McCloskey’s colossal visual and visionary compendium of the human experience has definitively changed the landscape of how we interact with art and created an arch of knowledge into what it is to be human.
After our tour, we were in the mindset to obtain the maximum benefit from the Sound Bath provided by Helena, who used her bowls, her voice, her flute, and her harp to produce an ethereal atmosphere in which one could begin to heal oneself spiritually and embark on a unique path of enlightenment. As part of the ceremony, we in the audience helped create a mandala with flowers; this design represents the cosmos and our participation in its construction added to the meaning and impact of the evening’s encounters.
Needless to say, this visit to the McCloskey home provided both a real and surreal experience unlike any other we have ever experienced. We had reached another world of consciousness, and Leigh McCloskey had been our knowledgeable guide.
The McCloskeys hold salons on Tuesdays and Thursdays at their home Olandar for the intellectually and spiritually curious. Simply put, a visit to Olandar is a must for all who seek an awareness and understanding of the mysteries of human existence.
More about your guide to this universe:
Strikingly handsome, charismatic, compassionate, and skilled in his craft, Leigh McCloskey was able to achieve great success as a television, film, and stage actor. He has starred in three primetime network series and numerous made-for-television films and miniseries. He has also guest starred on many television series and has had roles on multiple daytime soap operas. His most important role was that of Mitch Cooper on the highly popular TV series Dallas.
His art, his writing, and his speaking, to which he now dedicates himself, explore the entire litany of the human consciousness, encompassing such topics as philosophy, psychology, religion, mythology, occultism, and esotericism. Besides his masterwork, the hieroglyph, McCloskey has devised his own tarot, codex, and grimoire. He has published numerous books with artistic and verbal exposition of these topics, not to be missed.