Speaking in Symbols

Learning the language of the subconcious

Archive for the category “earth”

After the Fire

This weekend, I spent some time exploring the Tintic Mountains of Central Utah with my dad.  In our wanderings, we came across a small stream (Though, that it was flowing in it in mid-October said that it was a pretty significant water soucre) that followed the road for a ways. Eventually, we came to a meadow full of shrubs and grasses, much greener than one would expect for this time of year. This meadow was punctuated by the skeletons of juniper trees that had died in a fire a few years back.

As we were driving through this meadow, I said “This is a pretty area. Or was, before the fire came through”.

Dad thought about this for a second. “It’s probably the fire that made it pretty.” He said. “Those junipers would have taken up all the water that let the other plants survive.”

Image

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons

It didn’t take me long to figure out that he was right. I love the pinyon-juniper forests that cover much of my part of the world, but the trees don’t leave much for flowers and grasses. You’ll see sagebrush and rabbit brush abutting the juniper forests, or an occasional tree in the middle of the sagebrush range, but the two don’t play nicely together. Juniper and pinyon generally don’t allow for other plants to grow in their soil. When you’re in a juniper woods, you really could be anywhere in the west.

I didn’t get a picture of the meadow we saw. I wish I had. I just didn’t realize that it would be the archetype that would stick in my mind.

I’ve been thinking about the classical elements–earth, fire, water, and air–all week. I’ve been drawn to the figure of the Earth Mother, and have started–and discarded–several posts about water. My post “Winds” fits the air category. I would never have thought, then, that it would be fire that got me out of my blogging slump.

I am terrified of fire.  I can handle, say, cooking on a gas stove, or being around a lit candle, but not much more. Even campfires make me nervous. This fear has mellowed over the years, but it was especially bad when I was a child. I couldn’t watch a TV show that had a fire in it after dark. The yearly wildfires that sweep through the Intermountain West were terrifying to me.  My first full-blown panic attack came at the age of 12, during one of these wildfires, when my family was the last vehicle let through on a road before the firefighters shut it down. Even writing about it, I’m starting to hyperventilate.

My point is, I can, and do, connect to earth, air, and water. Fire is something that is to be avoided, if at all possible. Fire is not my friend.

Plants regrow among trees burned in the 1988 Yellowstone fires. (Photo courtesy Daniel Tinker - See more at: http://wyofile.com/kelsey-dayton/burned-areas-from-1988-yellowstone-fires-aid-research/#sthash.i4KVSVNu.dpuf)

Plants regrow among trees burned in the 1988 Yellowstone fires. (Photo courtesy Daniel Tinker – See more here

And yet…

The image to the right was taken after the massive wildfires that swept through Yellowstone National Park in 1988. I was seven, at the time, and can remember seeing (or thinking I was seeing) the smoke from the Yellowstone Fires a state and a half away.

As destructive as they were, the Yellowstone Fires turned out to be very important to researchers because of their size. Yellowstone became a laboratory in how nature heals itself after the devastation of a fire.  And how nature heals itself after a fire is pretty amazing.

When fire comes though, it destroys the trees, but it also clears away for new growth. In Yellowstone, for instance, wildflowers were abundant in the years following the fire.  Fire clears the clutter, so to speak, while leaving the ground unharmed. Fire resets areas the way nothing else can, and the results become a matter of point of view.  Yes, the trees are gone, but they have opened the way for new plants, and new ecosystems.

When I look at my psyche, I see something incredibly dense and crowded. The thought patterns and habits I have are not especially healthy. And yet, clearing them out, setting fire to them, as it were, is incredibly scary to me. I think the image of the meadow I saw, as well as remembering the years after the 1988 fire are telling me that I do need to make these changes. And when I do, the results will be beautiful.

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The Sow, the Horse, and the Butterfly, Pt 3

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 Butterfly:

Niagra Brown ButterflyFinding a link between the sow and the horse proved to be a fairly easy task. The butterfly, though, seems to carry the same weight, metaphorically speaking, as the two larger animals. Finding a link between all three has proven much more difficult.

Taken individually, the butterfly is fascinating. The life-cycle of a butterfly speaks of change and rebirth. Caterpillars my be comfortable and content the way they are, but until they pupate and then emerge as butterflies, they do not reach their full potential. For many cultures, butterflies represent the souls of the departed. It is seen as a keeper of the faith,

When the image of the butterfly came to me along side the images of the horse and the sow, it was vague and undefined. The following night, I dreamed I was examining the butterfly in detail. This is where the color brown came from, as well as the pattern on it wings.

scan0001In the morning, I used the highly sophisticated method of typing “brown butterfly with eyespots” into Google, then browsing the images. I didn’t find it, so I drew it as best I could (oil pastels again. I’m still working on precision with them).

Having a clearer vision of the butterfly certainly helps decipher it’s meaning. The brown color is reminiscent of the earth, as is the sow.  The shape of the eyespot  is called a circumpoint, and is an ancient symbol of the sun across many cultures. The horse is also strongly associated with the sun.

The curcumpoint is also a symbol for wholeness, and the spark of the divine. This is something that I’d discussed with my therapist earlier as being something I need to work on.

Every once in a while, I’ll see a butterfly that has been attacked by a bird, and is missing a portion of wing. Unbalanced in this way, the butterfly is made unable to fly, and is doomed to die shortly.

Balance is quickly becoming a theme of this blog, and of the work I’m doing with my therapist. It seems natural, then, that the color of earth and the symbol of the sun on the butterfly’s wings speak to that balance. These two factors also make the butterfly a linking characteristic between the sow and the horse.

There’s a little bit more, I think.  The sow and the horse are both earthbound creatures, while the butterfly lives a more carefree existence.  The butterfly is a reminder to enjoy life, with all it’s ups and downs.

 

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