First published: Summer 1997
In rural southwest Georgia, Highway 137 heads out of tiny Buena Vista (Bewna Vista to natives), past neatly kept lawns, then through patches of kudzu and stands of scrub pine. After crossing Big Sandy Creek, the next winding road on the right leads to Pasaquan, the flamboyant compound conceived and built by Eddie Owens Martin between 1957 and his suicide in 1986.
Adopting the acronym St. EOM, like the Hindu Om, Martin created an architectural environment embellished by a farrago of religious and archetypal symbols. They reflected Africa, Easter Island, Pre-Columbian Mexico, and Guatemala, as well as the legendary continents Mu and Atlantis.
Given the name Pasaquan by spirit guides, Martin later learned that pasa is Spanish for 'pass,' and quoyan, in an Oriental language, means 'to bring the past and the future together'. Thereafter he interpreted his endeavor as transmitting the wisdom of the past into the future. At the same time that he claimed guidance by spirits from another realm, Martin also drew upon his knowledge of world religions gained from extensive reading and repeated exposure to art in New York City's museums. But perhaps the marijuana, rumoured to be cultivated in the countryside around his property, provided a primary catalyst to Martin's creativity.