Speaking in Symbols

Learning the language of the subconcious

The Sow, the Horse, and the Butterfly, pt 1

During a recent meditative session, I had the image of a sow, a black horse, and a brown butterfly come to mind in succession.  I’ve found all of these images fascinating, though I’ve had a hard time coming up with a connection. Perhaps they are all symbols that I need to consider individually.

For several days now, I have also tried to combine all three images into one big blog post, with little success. I’ve made a decision, then, to write separate posts for each animal.

The Sow

sow1The pig is a creature of extremes. Depending on the culture, the pig is a symbol of wealth, fertility, and abundance, or one of filth, sloth and greed.

The image I saw was one of a sow, a mother pig. As I considered the sow, I think of her motherhood, and the fierce way that she protects her piglets. I have heard of hunters trapped by mother boars who were protecting their piglets.

The dichotomy continues, though. Pigs are omnivores, and  not particularly picky about what they eat. Sows will eat their young during lean times–making the sow the best and worse of mothers.

The sow was sacred to Demeter, the Greek Goddess of fertility, grains, the harvest, and marriage.

The sow differs from the image of the horse and butterfly, in that she is the epitome of domesticity. Her power comes from her staying close to the farm.  She is homely, and unloved.

I have come to love the poem “St Francis and the Sow” By Galway Kinnell

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness,
to put a hand on its brow
of the flower
and retell it in words and in touch
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self-blessing;
as Saint Francis
put his hand on the creased forehead
of the sow, and told her in words and in touch
blessings of earth on the sow, and the sow
began remembering all down her thick length,
from the earthen snout all the way
through the fodder and slops to the spiritual curl of the tail,
from the hard spininess spiked out from the spine
down through the great broken heart
to the sheer blue milken dreaminess spurting and shuddering
from the fourteen teats into the fourteen mouths sucking and blowing beneath them:
the long, perfect loveliness of sow.

 

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