Detail, background, right hand side
This particular painting ecrypts an enormous amount of inner teaching, presented in an apparently simple and well-known format; yet anyone who knows Bosch will know that almost nothing in his paintings means just one thing, and many things don't mean at all what one might think they do at first glance. In particular, his esoteric paintings (we could call them wisdom paintings) always have a tiny owl lurking in them somewhere; and this painting is no exception. It's Bosch's way of letting you know there is an active teaching encoded in the work.
I have just completed an analysis of the background of this work, which constitutes a second painting all its own, in terms of its content. Readers are invited to read the entire analysis, which is too long for this space, but has been added to my Hieronymus Bosch site.