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

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Haloes,Masks and Shadows

The Mask: Masks suggest concealment or transformation. They were used to put the wearer in closer touch with deities, spirits and the instinctual wisdom of animals. In the East, the mask is taken as a symbol of the great illusion of existence: the world itself is Maya,the mask of God. In Greek theater and in Japanese Noh plays, masks signal the individual qualities of the characters concerned, and allow the audience to identify more closely with them by depersonalizing the actors.

The halo or nimbus is best known from its appearances in Christian iconography from the 2nd century onward, but was used as a sign of divinity or sainthood much earlier, featuring in ancient Greek and Eastern art. It may represent the aura, the field of energy believed to surround the human body; or it may stand for the sun, and therefore for the divine radiance emanating from the individual. 

Negatively related to the halo is the shadow, the aspect of mankind that interrupts the flow of light from heaven to earth. It is a symbol of our material nature, of the density of form as opposed to the transparency of spirit. The mask can stand for the artificial, public face that conceals a person's true nature - that is, for role rather than reality. However, in shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism, it is believed that the mask can help an individual to go beyond role and relinquish the ego, allowing the spirits of helpful animals or even gods to enter and work through him or her. 

The Shadow

The shadow is the sign of materiality, and it was thought that spirits could be recognized by their lack of a shadow. In Jungian terms, the shadow is the repressed or imperfectly acknowledged part of oneself.

The Halo

 A symbol of divine radiance, the wisdom of the gods and the emanation of life-force from the head. In Christian art, the halo is usually round, and white or golden in colour. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, Christ's halo often has a cross within it. 

Variation on the Halo

In some traditions, a square or hexagonal halo indicates that the "wearer" is still alive, while a round halo denotes a dead saint. The halo of God the Father is often triangular or diamond-shaped. 

The Mandrola

The oval mandorla (the Italian word for "almond") is a variant of the halo that surrounds the whole body of a holy person. It symbolizes power as well as spirituality and often appears around the body of Christ in paintings depicting the Ascension. 


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