"In Wonders We Sail, Questing for the Answers in Veil"

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Body,Youth and Age

Clothes and Adornments: While nakedness symbolizes innocence and freedom from worldly taint, clothes are more ambivalent. The cloak stands for secrecy and magic powers, while fine robes connote authority and privilege, as well as foolishness and pride. The latter meaning is conveyed by this woodcut from the 18th century, symbolizing vanity and worldliness. 

For Jacques in Shakespeare's 'As You Like It', human life was divided into seven stages:
helplessness ("the infant, mewling and puking in his nurse's arms");
oppression ("the whining schoolboy");
foolishness ("the lover sighing like a furnace");
false pride ("seeking the bubble reputation");
complacency ("the justice, in fair round belly");
ineffectualness ("the lean and slippered pantaloon");
Finally,decay and dissolution ("second childishness and mere oblivion").

Most cultures interpret a person's passage through life less cynically, recognizing three phases of human development - infancy and adolescence, maturity and old age. The playfulness of childhood is symbolized in Hinduism by Krishna frolicking with the milkmaids, in Christianity by the boy Jesus asking questions of the learned in the temple, and in ancient Egypt by the infant Horus (in the form of Harpocrates, god of silence) listening to the voice of the universe. The achievements and duties of adulthood are embodied in Saint George and in Christ, and in Greek myth by Theseus, who killed the Minotaur to prevent the sacrifice of young lives. The wisdom of old age is symbolically expressed in the Greek god Saturn, who ruled over the universe in the Golden Age, and in Christian depictions of God the father as an old man. In most Eastern traditions, youth and age are seen as two complementary aspects - innocence and wisdom - of the one reality.

In many cultures the human body is a symbol of the indwelling soul. The ancient Egyptians mummified the body so that the departing soul could use it to contact the world of forms. Buddhists, Hindus and medieval Christians revered the physical remains of departed saints. Native North American and Siberian shamans are symbolically torn limb from limb in their inner initiatory journey, only to be revivified into a new wholeness. But the body is symbolically ambivalent. Though sacred, it is also profane, because it shares the lusts of the animal world. In many Western and Middle Eastern traditions, the female body in particular has been a symbol of depravity, because of its power to divert the pure and the strong from their purpose, and the figure of the temptress appears in numerous myths, from the Sirens of ancient Greece to the Teutonic Lorelei (water spirits whose singing lured men to their deaths).


The wearing of jewelry can be seen as an attempt to improve on God's handiwork, and carries negative connotations. Each jewel, however, carries its own, usually positive meaning (Detailed explanation on jewelry Click Here).

The Judgment of Paris

At the wedding of the Greek goddess Thetis, Eris (strife) presented a golden apple to be awarded to the fairest woman present. The goddesses Hera, Athene and Aphrodite all claimed the prize: Zeus appointed Paris, the son of Priam (king of Troy), as judge in the beauty contest. Paris chose Aphrodite, who promised to reward him with the love of any woman he chose, and described the beauty of Helen, the wife of the king of Sparta. Paris abducted Helen, and brought her back to Troy, an action which precipitated the Trojan war, in which he was killed. The myth conveys the idea that physical beauty, though alluring, can ultimately be destructive.

A Locket with Hair

Hair, which continues briefly to grow after death, symbolizes a person's life-force and strength: the carrying of a loved one's hair in a locket is a powerful expression of loyalty to their memory.

The Hand 

The right hand is usually associated with rectitude and the left with deviousness. Hand gestures carry specific meanings: for example, the thumbs-up sign originally stood for virility. Hindus and Buddhists use a system of more than five hundred gestures, or mudras, in ritual and dance.

The Foot and Footprint

Feet represent stability and freedom. It was believed that they could draw energy from the ground. Indentations in rocks were seen as the footprints of the gods. Buddha's footprints (above) show symbols of divinity: by following in his footsteps, mankind may reach enlightenment.

The Heart

The heart is the basic symbol for sincerity, love and compassion, and also represents the centre of things. Pierced by an arrow, and surmounted by a cross or crowned with thorns, it is a symbol of the saints, while the heart with wings or on the bared breast denotes Christ.

The Skeleton

The skeleton usually represents mortality and the vanity of human wishes, but can also stand for the ascetic's renunciation of physical comforts. In alchemical symbolism, the skeleton is equated with the nigredo, the stage of death before resurrection.

Father Time

A symbol of the impermanence of human endeavor, Father Time is associated with Cronos, the Greek god of agriculture, from whom he acquired the attribute of the sickle. He is also commonly depicted carrying an hourglass.


For More On Symbolisms And Meaning (Click)


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