Symbolism saturates our surroundings. Throughout time symbols have played a major role in defining what we’re drawn to. Cave paintings show symbols for activities, foods, items used to build or cook. We mimic to place replicas of these within modern dinnerware, clothing, or artworks. Symbols permeate branding and marketing, offering designs to capture our attention or spirit. Take the wildly known Nike swoosh which identifies with flight, victory, and speed. Nike’s infamous symbol evokes the sound one would make in action wearing the items, along with the peace of being victorious.
Symbolism seeks to represent while creating a connected meaning between itself and others. In addition, we may assign symbolism to all kinds of elements in our world. From a very young age, I was drawn to certain things in my everyday life. Trees were, and remain, something that literally speaks to me. Trees allowed me a place to play and have fun, as well as provided comfort as a sanctuary. In particular, the tree that stood right behind and above the mailbox at the top of our hilly driveway in my hometown was my runaway spot. I think it took my parents a good while before they fully realized that when I was deeply upset and ran out of the house that scrambling up to the highest tree limb I could sit upon was my safety and thoughtful place. I was easily perched a good ten feet above ground but was always a confident tree climber. I would cry, or simply calm myself, before returning to the ground and walking back inside my home. Trees are a huge basis of symbolism I gravitate towards.
Symbolism may be thought through in all forms this way. Consider the symbolism of certain plants, animals, objects, designs, colors, crystals, shapes and more which you’re most attracted to, or that show up for you consistently. Gobs of goodness around you may point to signs that symbolize matters that affect your being, well-being, heart, mind, soul, efforts, and so on. What symbols may provide if you’ll indulge me are messages and support. I’ve had symbols remind me where I’m lacking effort in order to focus on righting a problem I’m experiencing. Symbols can super sort a bad moment for me if I’m caught in traffic by me simply passing a symbolic reminder of an item, such as a giant graffiti heart on the side of a building. Many symbols keep me lifted in spirit by the very spirits I think they channel, such as a billboard or sign that suddenly I pass when hanging up from a grumpy customer service call. I began snapping photos of some of them in January 2017 to keep on my iPhone as pick-me-ups to review when needed. Uplifting symbols of positivity have been phrases such as: “DON’T WORRY BE HAPPY”, “STAND FOR LOVE”, “GO WITH THE FLOW”, or “WHATEVER MAKES YOU FEEL BEAUTIFUL”. These symbols of grace are a real benefit for my defeated moments.
I started recording symbolism in my personal calendar many years ago. I make notes about certain animals or plants that convey an interruption in my path. Mostly this is upbeat and warms me to consider that this creature or this flower needed my attention so much to get a message to me that it made sure I’d notice it. Kinda of crazy, right? Not so much so to me after all this time. I’ve developed a keen interest in exploring the meaning behind so many symbolic stages in my livelihood. Also, this is another internet perk. When I began logging the symbolism, I thought to research what I could find by simply typing in the keyword of what I encountered, plus the word “symbolism”.
Take the seagull that was perched right next to my car the other day. He was proud and yapping away as I passed closely. He didn’t flinch and was alone, with no other seagull friends in sight. He seemed to look me straight in the eyes as he was squawking to make sure I heard him. I’d just left a yoga studio a bit bummed. I was attempting to drop off a few of these special fliers for a dear friends Nepal yoga teacher training excursion in November 2018. This yoga studio liked the flier, but the manager was away and they wouldn’t accept the small set I wanted to leave without her permission. In Los Angeles, driving all the way somewhere in traffic to be turned down is a thing, but can take a toll on gas and one’s poise. Returning to my laptop, I investigated with an online search for “seagull symbolism”. Many listings came up, which is part of the humor and curiosity for me. Low and behold, the seagull was this funny reminder to me suddenly about good communication, resourcefulness, and not being wasteful. This gull allowed me to reexamine that yoga moment and consider they were being as conscious as I wish to always be and to be patient.
I near idolize the symbolism of tarot. I began collecting tarot decks many moons ago. I find tarot reading a very inexpensive way for me to tap into a core appraisal of any occasion in my life. Whether I’m struggling or jubilant, tarot supports me refining my state of self to help master the moment. As such, tarot deck creators have become another brand of artwork that I collect as well. The symbols an artist uses, along with the meanings, gifted to each card may hit ‘home’ with a profound a-ha for me about my present, past, and future way of being. The other evening attending a remarkable breathwork class with Laura Fuller, she’d set the space laying out a beautiful tarot deck for us to explore by a circle of candles. I was excited to note I’d seen this deck once before, only a short few months ago in April at a hip Santa Cruz shop filled with fabulous things named Cameron Marks. Immediately I approached this tarot deck sitting on the store shelf. The Wild Unknown Animal Spirit deck of tarot cards blew me away. Like so many times before, I drew a single card to see what the tarot deck felt I may be attentive to in my current life. And, as with repetitive canny deliverance, I drew the card of the elephant. This elephant symbolism was a charitable indulgence my inner self needed.
Another special source of symbolism for me was noticing that after certain loved ones or animals passed away, I would ‘feel’ them through symbols. My Grandma Kuhlman started appearing to me as a crow shortly after she died. I have no other way of disclosing this, but to share that I fully interpret this is my Grandma when I see a crow at many points. Often, this may be significant in that I’m feeling lost in life and unsure if I’m making a good choice about where I am or an activity I’m doing, or I’m actually lost when driving somewhere. Suddenly, a crow will swoop past me or my car. Instantly, I feel like my Grandma is watching out for me and ‘telling’ me that I am on the right path figuratively or literally. It’s weird, I know, but it feels so right. I choose to believe. Crow symbolism is widely authored. The super sweet odd additive is that my dad spoke more at length after my Grandma passed about how she was an avid bird watcher.
Let the sacredness of symbolism be a bounty to you!