SYMBOLISM AND METAPHORS
THE YOUNG BOY
I use the silhouette/faceless young boy in my works to portrait the reality of loss and grief—mine as well as our collective mourning. He will also represent the refugee youth and the crisis they are experiencing as unwanted world citizens.
THE YOUNG MAN
In December 2020, I sketched a drawing from an old vintage anatomical book. Subconsciously it morphed into the face of my late son. I decided to use this image of him to be the metaphor for most of my work in which I address my mission to create awareness regarding mental health issues. So, as he is portrayed in these pictures, he looked when the emergency personnel took him from me.
He became more than that too. He represents the global turmoil our world is going through at the moment and my own struggles after his passing.
THE LITTLE GIRL
The original press photo of this little girl immediately spoke to my heart. The trusting innocence that oozed from her eyes is such a charge against us as adults and leaders. I
put her in different situations to address various and global issues like the Refugee Crisis, child abuse by religious institutions and child neglect in general. I hope this beautiful little girl’s face will never be forgotten and that she will communicate to a broad audience.
BIRDS IN FLIGHT
Birds have inspired humans throughout history with their ability to rise above the Earth. Birds soaring through the air stir our souls, motivating us to rise above earthly concerns and learn about the spiritual realm. Birds and angels share a bond, because both symbolize the beauty of spiritual growth. Additionally, angels often appear with wings.
In "A Small Book of Angels," author Eugene Stiles writes:
"As with angels, some birds are symbols of uplift and peace (the dove, the eagle) while others function much as the Angel of Death (vulture, raven). ... Surely it is no coincidence that in fulfilling many of the tasks once given to simple birds, angels were perceived to be winged: there seems to be a compulsion to link angels with wings, which, by their very nature, have to do with flight, with freedom and aspiration."
Birds and angels exist in spiritual harmony, writes author Claire Nahmad in "Angel Messages: The Oracle of the Birds." Birds may deliver angelic meaning through the songs they sing, she writes:
"The magical Milky Way, eternally associated with winged angels and home-going souls, is called in Finland ‘the Birds’ Way.’ It is the mysterious stairway to spiritual worlds, trodden by shamans and mystics but available to all, if we are taught how to listen to birdsong and recognize the angelic messages that birds deliver to us."
In Asian cultures birds often symbolise immortality. In Indian myth, birds represent departed souls and in Christian art birds often appear as saved souls. Some people say when you find a dead bird the meaning is someone you loved passed away.
Others say that seeing dead birds actually are a good sign, showing you that an end to turmoil or pain is coming. A dead bird doesn’t necessarily portend physical death, but metaphorical death. Perhaps you’re going through the heartache of a break-up. Perhaps you are struggling to find a job. This dead bird marks the end of your search and struggle. A new beginning is just around the corner. More specifically, it symbolizes the end of something and the start of something else.
- Overall and paradoxically, a dead bird symbolizes a new beginning.
For most of the world, skulls are a depiction of death. They’re a stark reminder of our mortality, and one of the most powerful symbols on the planet.
However, though skulls might clearly have connotations of death, they also have hundreds of other meanings throughout the world and, more often, throughout the art world.
In some places, skulls represent transformation and change, whilst other times they can determine wealth, power, strength and protection.
As humans we readily assign meaning to objects to make our understanding of the world much smoother, and to create “shortcuts” in our brains to make sense of everything around us.
But sometimes, those associations just don’t match from one corner of the world to another.
And, in some cases, they don’t match from one person to another. As well as the universal meanings behind the most recognisable symbols, we create our own understanding of them through our personal experiences, learnings, and perspective.
This results in a whole host of representations of skulls (and other symbols) strewn throughout history, especially in the creative realm.
For many cultures around the world, death isn’t the end of life.
In fact, it is merely the next step in the story, after which there are numerous other paths to take.
This is celebrated in Mexico, too, hence why Dia de los Muertos is a fun festival celebrating life and not mourning death like much of the Western world. In this case, death marks a pinnacle turning point in the narrative of life.
Lace clothes angelic newborns on their most holy day, helps girls transform into women via their first lace bra, walks us down the aisle and stays with us on wedding nights, and even makes a dignified appearance at life’s last goodbyes. Lace is the fabric that grows with us, stays with us, and becomes whatever we need it to be.
It is also simultaneously fragile and strong. For me personally also the metaphor of the delicate veil between the different dimensions.
Serpents have among the most colorful symbolic meanings of all animals. Their appearance, shape, natural habitat, and skin-shedding ability all equally contribute to the complex symbolism.
Since the earliest civilization records, these enigmatic creatures were associated with the inception of the world, honoring the ancestors, wisdom, and seen as a universal symbol of mother nature and eternity.
As we’ve seen, different cultures had different interpretations of this mysterious animal.
Since ancient times, many civilizations regarded the serpent’s venom to be remedial, and its skin-shedding ability as a symbol of health, renewal, longevity, and immortality.
Even today, the serpent is used around the world as a symbol of health care and medicine. This interpretation originates from ancient Greeks and their god of healing, Asclepius.
2- Rebirth and Immortality
When the serpent sheds its skin, it frees itself from the old and emerges renewed and reborn. This symbolism also comes from the depiction of a snake eating its own tail. This shape represents the eternal cycle of birth, death, and rebirth, and is a symbol of immortality and continuous renewal of life.
3- Creation and Fertility
Many cultures around the globe were fascinated by the serpent’s transformational powers, interpreting them as the symbols of creation and fertility. This is partly due to their phallic shape symbolizing the male sex organ, and partly due to its skin-shedding process.
Additionally, serpents are often associated with water and Earth. They live close to the ground or in rivers, lakes, and seas. Since water is the source of all life on Earth, serpents are seen as symbols of creation. And thanks to their natural habitat underground and close to the life-giving Earth, they also symbolize creative life force, fertility, and fruitfulness.
Snakes are slow and inactive during winters and summers when the Earth is red and dry, symbolizing an immature female. On the other hand, they come out in the rainy season when the Earth is lush and green, representing regeneration and a new life.
As the serpent sheds a layer of its skin, it leaves the old self behind, getting rid of the old, and metamorphoses into a fresh and new being. Symbolically, this process could be interpreted on a more spiritual level. It can represent our ability to discard everything we have outgrown, all the bad habits and old beliefs, raising towards awareness and higher spiritual energy.
They hide in the trees and underground and effectively camouflage themselves before they attack their prey. This is a great example of the intelligence and cunning nature of these great hunters.
Both ancient Egyptians and Greeks saw this powerful animal as a symbol of protection and guardianship. Around the world, snakes are considered to be the guardians of sacred places and temples. This might be linked to the observation of how rattlesnakes and cobras act when in danger or threatened. They hold their ground, and instead of retreating, they display an intimidating pose and attack.
The famous meditating Buddha statue depicts the sitting Buddha sheltered by the Naga snake. The Naga is usually a great cobra with either one or multiple heads. It is believed that the snake protects the meditating Buddha from harsh elements such as storms and heavy rains.
6- Duality, Balance, and Harmony
The serpent can represent two polar opposites. It’s associated with both water and desert, death and birth, masculine and feminine. Often seen as the symbol of assertive power due to its phallic form, the serpent represents masculinity.
On the other hand, it’s associated with the umbilical cord and creative life force. Therefore, it also symbolizes femininity and fertility. It’s also connected to Kundalini – the divine feminine creative energy that lies as a coiled serpent in the pelvis. When awakened, this latent energy joins both feminine and masculine entities, symbolizing balance, harmony, and homeostasis.
The spiritual meaning of the Butterfly represents ideas that self-reflection and self-awareness is the greatest catalyst for change and breakthroughs in our lives.
Butterfly symbolism is the embodiment of spiritual growth and transcendence perhaps more than any other life form on earth, because of the transformation that takes place from caterpillar to Butterfly.
The purpose and experience of the life of every Butterfly is to set everything that was once known aside and to embrace an entirely new way of being.
Bible and Christianity
A butterfly is symbolized in the bible as a holy spirit that can transcend the ordinary and reach heaven. Butterflies hold a special religious significance for Catholics during Easter as they denote restoration similar to the resurrection of Christ. As a Celtic animal symbol, it depicts the same. The Christ has also been demonstrated holding a butterfly on many ancient Christian tombs.
Native American Culture
According to an interesting tale, some children who refused to walk threw few pebbles into the air that turned into butterflies, and they began to chase them. The Fancy Shawl Dance of Native Americans has been inspired by butterfly dance that tells the story of a woman who after losing her mate in a war removed her wings and wrapped herself in a cocoon to stay isolated from her tribe. When everyone coaxed her to cheer up, she carried her wings and cocoon to a faraway place. However, she became joyful after spotting a beautiful stone while moving across a field and opened up her wings again. After returning to her tribe, the people celebrated her arrival dancing.
The Navajo have accepted the butterfly as a symbol of happiness and rebirth. In fact, God Quetzalcoatl first appeared as a chrysalis and then burst into a rainbow of colors to emerge as a butterfly.
Here, Itzapapalotl, represented by an Obsidian butterfly (clawed butterfly) is a divine soul that features on the Aztec calendar who can take several forms. The galactic butterfly is a part of the Hunab Ku and Milky Way symbol.
Here, a special occasion called The Days of the Dead is celebrated every year when monarch butterflies migrate from North America to welcome the spirits of the departed souls.
In Hebrew, a butterfly is known as tziporet kramim that has been mentioned in a text written by Elchanan Levinski in 1895.
The followers of Islam believe a butterfly indicates that a person is nearing its end.
According to Greek mythology, Psyche is represented as a butterfly that fell in love with Eros sharing a passionate bond forever.
In Turkey, a butterfly as a spirit animal reminds you that friendship should be made with like-minded people.
In Mandarin language, hu-tieh is called butterfly that means 70 years, relating it to a longer life. As a part of Feng Shui, keeping towels embroidered with butterflies ensures happy marital life.
In their culture, a butterfly stands for longevity since the characters for butterfly and long age have the same pronunciation.
The butterfly has often been portrayed in ancient Egyptian art, symbolizing the immortality of the human soul.
The Japanese presume that following a butterfly will help to solve any problem. A symbol of springtime as well, it signifies womanhood and marriage. Taoism parables have described how the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi (Chuang Tzu) would dream of turning into a butterfly
In Wiccan culture, a butterfly as a totem guide denotes light, joy, and color. If one observes the color of butterflies closely, many mysteries of life will be unlocked
Although not a universal image, the traditional symbolism of the Christening garment portraits, in general, a feeling of innocence and purity. Christening gowns became especially popular in the Victorian period. During this time, ornate designs and fabrics were fashionable. Subsequently, people made baptismal gowns from fine fabrics like silk, decorating them with intricate embroidery. These were somewhat expensive, however, and the gowns took significant skill and time to finish. Most families would keep the christening gown from their first child to use with future children to make things easier and more affordable. Eventually, other fabrics like cotton became more popular, but the general ornateness of the gowns’ designs has not changed.
People today still keep their babies’ christening gowns as keepsakes and pass them down to grandchildren, great-grandchildren and so on, even if they can afford more than one garment.
And as we pass a garment down to our descendants, so we pass our cultural and family traditions down too. Practices and ideologies that can be outdated, cruel and restrictive. I see it as a symbol of established systems that needs to be questioned. The Baptism Dress is simultaneously a symbol of innocence and vulnerability as well as indoctrination. So many wars are being fight in the name of religion since the earliest times. These extreme opposites are symbolic of the polarities of this earthly existence of ours.
Youth, fame and beauty are very much like hibiscus flowers, which have short lives. Although the flowers may die, they do grow back as long as their bush or tree is cared for. Enjoy beautiful moments while they last.
Hibiscus Flower Color Meanings
Hibiscuses come in a floral rainbow of colors. Color meanings differ from culture to culture, but they do have some common associations. Some hibiscuses are a mixture of colors, but one color will predominate.
White stands for purity, beauty and the female.
Yellow is associated with happiness, sunshine and good luck.
Pink is not only the favorite color of many little girls. It also stands for friendship and all kinds of love, not just romantic love.
Purple is associated with mystery, knowledge and the higher classes.
Red is a symbol of love and passion.