David Chaim Smith

I discovered David Chaim Smith a few years ago when looking for books of esoteric art online. His incredibly detailed and textured drawings represent his visionary kabbalistic practice. His use of symbolic language is beautiful and absorbing.
He has an MFA in drawing from Colombia University.

On his website he explains the purpose of Shiviti and Illanot:

“A shiviti is a devotional image which displays a divine name for spiritual practice. The term comes from the verse “I have set (shiviti) YHVH before me always” (Psalm 16:8). In its esoteric form, shivitis provide a graphic context for the visualization and contemplation of complex divine name configurations. The tradition of illanot is a bit different. It refers to the cartographic aspect, which is the diagraming of the complex kabbalistic phases of creation and creativity. They serve more as maps than devotional images. Both traditions are combined in my work. I have been making illanot, shivitis, magical seals, and all kinds of related talismanic images since the 1970’s. They have served a wide variety of functions; some traditional and some quite radical. Below is a mixed selection spanning the past 25 years. Some are rather crude, however all of them function in the service of a working spiritual practice, in a wide range of contexts and configurations. The basis of my practice is highly unusual, which the construction of these images reflects. In these pieces various aspects of hermetic and gnostic wisdom can be seen in an amalgam with the kabbalistic structures. It is through this bond that the scope of the devotional, contemplative, magical, and mystical applications of my work arises.”


“The Sacrificial Universe” – David Chaim Smith, Fulgur Esoterica, 2012

1 3enthroningblaze 14 ggg shiviti2000

8 thoughts on “David Chaim Smith

Add yours

  1. These are incredible! What an amazing artist.
    I can see a very strong connection to maps and diagrams, but at the same time they bridge the gap to fine art. Are they completely hand drawn or does he incorporate the digital too?

    1. Hi David
      Wow, thanks for finding my blog! I am deeply inspired by your work. I bought The Sacrificial Universe last year and spent hours pouring over the drawings. This blog is part of my MFA thesis as I am exploring the use of diagrammatical dissemination of information through (often occulted) symbolism in art and design – particularly esoteric art. I see you have a new book available on Fulgur so it looks like I will be putting in an order soon!

      1. It is an honor and a privilege to be held in this regard Mary. If there is anything you might want to ask me or discuss at all, please don’t hesitate to send an email.

        It seems that you gravitate to the practical images (shivitis and illanot), based on your selections here. I am happy to see that inclination in play, it is rare. These kinds of images are rather misunderstood and few ever ask about their actual functions.

        If you can send a link to any images you have made I would love to see it, or whatever your MFA material might include. Keep in touch.


      2. That is amazingly generous David! I am out of town this weekend (having to check my mail on my phone) but I will get in touch when I get back next week
        Best wishes

Leave a Reply to marymacgregorreid Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: