My internet connection has been on and off this week; hopefully, it won’t disappear again. For the time being…….
On art and animals
‘Our psyche communicates in the language of symbols and metaphors through dreams and artistic expression. It is natural that creatures appear in our art and dreams because animals often symbolize qualities we seek or are already present in us. The power of animal imagery and metaphor is universally agreed and animals and other creatures like dragons and unicorns have appeared in myths, folklore tales, stories and films since antiquity where they protect, guide and assist the heroes or heroines on their journeys. Their life cycles, behaviours, mating procedures, mothering habits, powers and defensive adaptations can bring insight into our own human experience. Working with animal imagery and archetypes is one mode of exploration into the depth of our psyche. For instance, birds are a frequent theme in my drawings and have become a positive motif of hope and tenderness. These beautiful and diverse little creatures can symbolize vulnerability and helplessness and a sense of being caged in, but their ability to soar in the limitless sky also evokes a sense of resilience, swiftness and freedom. There is a part in all of us that desires to be whole and free. As a child, their capacity to fly encapsulated my own desire to run towards an unlived, but instinctively known freedom….. When the idea of incorporating a parrot on the cover image of Let me be emerged I wondered why it had come up. Did it reflect factual material from memories and past events, was it my subconscious speaking through symbols and metaphor or both? My inquiry unearthed the memory of a parrot in the backyard of my childhood and the crimson rosella in my third grade natural science book, Mary Poppin’s talking umbrella and the summer I had done some pet-sitting for one of my teacher employees, who had left her parrot and other exotic birds with me when she had gone back to her husband’s hometown to get married. The parrot was very vocal and picked up words; the dog’s bark and even the sound of piano notes. Unfortunately, by the end of our fortnight together he had also picked up the higher pitched sound of my voice. Although he spent the first few days desperately calling his owner’s name, who happened to have my father’s name, he had soon got accustomed to my taking care of him and had actually refused to eat the first few days of his return back home. They had warned me to mind his vicious bites when handling him, but he had soon got accustomed to my caressing his head, and even returned the affection by holding my finger between his beak…. Then, I may also do some research on the symbols or metaphors that come up in dreams or creative projects, and of course, meditating on themes and images may birth deeper and broader insights. Parrots, for instance, have a strong sense of belonging and can also be metaphors for daring to fly high and express all the colours of one’s essence and soul. Apparently, they could represent the throat area and our need to find our voice since their vocalizations are impressive and loud, and they can mimic the voices of others….,..’ (Tonya Alexandri, 2017)
More recently, I came across this passage by Sarah Bamford Seidelmann from her book, The Book of Beasties, where she explores the idea that animals may have messages to share with us.
‘When Monkey comes swinging into your life, it’s a reminder that, although you might want to believe that everyone is on equal footing and equally blessed, there are many who struggle mightily. With monkeys, as with humans, some are born with silver spoons in their mouths, and others must work extremely hard to gain just the bare necessities. Monkeys born to more dominant parents get certain protections and assurances that others don’t. Monkey reminds you that no matter where you are on that hierarchical ladder, you have great potential. Monkey knows that even the lowest-ranking members of a troop of monkeys have one of the richest benefits of all: they are not alone. You belong, too. And, with a willingness to be helpful, there is always opportunity for advancement. If, in contrast, you are feeling blessed with both abundance and power, then it’s time for you to act with responsibility to do everything you can to ensure others who are more vulnerable will be provided for. Get involved in your community in whatever area excites you most, and lend your status and connections to help. Whatever station you find yourself in, with Monkey at your side, you can find the strength to serve selflessly and, in turn, be blessed’.