Wednesday, June 1, 2011


In the poetic vocabulary of mystics, wings have a special meaning. It is as though human beings have always wanted to fly. The pheonix is a bird who has been important in Iranian symbolism, in that this bird rises again from the ashes. It is a fire bird, and is associated with the heavens. But it is also a bird of transformation. In a series of paintings that I did recently for a Menonite community in North America, I took the idea of Food as transforming. The image of the Pelican is another important symbol to be found in iconography, because according to ancient beastiaries, the Pelican feeds its young on the blood of its own heart. This poetic image of the self-sacrificing creature which also represents the spirit of Creation, we can find the idea that sacrifice lies as the very basis of the creative process. The Divine Presence is also understood as Being who overshadows Creation with His wings. In the Biblical Psalms, the image of wings is often used to indicate that God is compassionate, and that creation is sheltered under the wings of the Divine. This is probably the reason why the Spiritual energies that guard creation and are called Angels, are also represented as having wings. Wings allow the soul to fly, and in that way cross over boundaries. In many poems of the devotional singers of India, the Divine is compared to the bee that hovers over the flower, which again is a symbol of Creation.

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