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Thoughts: Chess, a game. Movement of pieces. Black and white, good and bad. Two Knights.
The white picket fence is an old American dream from the 50s: to own, to have, home sweet home with a white picket fence.










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Definitions are supplied to demystify symbolism (and the artwork in this studio).
Click here to return to the online symbolism dictionary.


Black is an old and primal symbol from a primitive time when candles were a feeble defense against the darkness of night. Black IS the unknown. The fall of night was a potent time for the human psyche, fed by an inability to see far in the darkness, a blindness which led (and leads) directly to fear. Black is the darkness of transformation through which the soul travels to reach the light, or the pit in which the soul is forever lost. Black is a color of absolutes, it is the darkness, the opposite of white/light. The two colors are often paired together: black is associated with negative attributes and white with positive ones. Black is also the negative of color and the perfect foil, or background, for ANY color. Black is death, chaos and pure evil (as white is pure goodness), associated with shadows and darkness of the heart and soul. Old movies always feature the black hearted villains in black clothing (of course) and the pure, good guys as wearing white. Aren't symbols the perfect shortcut to an explanation? <lol> Black is the color of mourning in America, in other parts of the world mourning is the color of white. Black and white are eternal twins, two sides of the same coin (light/dark, right/wrong, evil/good, lies/truth, etc.).

People are fascinated with the concept of darkness and it shows in the number of available slang definitions -- these are mostly American slang (because these are the ones that I am familiar with). Think of these as belonging to the ever changing cultural layer of symbolic interpretation: black & white (referring to the truth); black deeds (wicked, evil); black thoughts (gloomy, depressing); a black comedy (morbid humor); a black look (anger or surliness); a black day, i.e. Black Friday (a disaster); to black out (to loose consciousness or suppress a memory); a black mark (a mark of dishonor); blacked out (to withhold a televised event); in the black (on the credit side of the ledger); black and blue (the dark color of bruised flesh); a black list (people supposedly deserving censure or shame); black sheep of the family (a troublemaker); and "pot calling the kettle black" (ironic phrase pointing out that both items are really the same).
Posted: August 17, 2004.


Shortcut links to the (expert) quotes below:
Estés: Women Who Run With the Wolves
Vollman: The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Dream Symbols
Biedermann: Dictionary of Symbolism


Women Who Run With the Wolves, p. 102
Black is the color of mud, the fertile, the basic stuff into which ideas are sown. Yet black is the color also of death, the blackening of the light. And black has even a third aspect. It is also the color associated with that world between worlds which La Loba stands upon -- for black is the color of descent. Black is a promise that you will soon know something you did not know before.
Posted: August 17, 2004.

The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Dream Symbols, p. 66
A symbol of emotional stagnation or a depiction of the unconscious or the unknown. Grief and death, but also magical power and fertility. In earlier books about dreams, black animals are always seen in an unfavorable light, while white animals are always considered positive images.
Posted: August 17, 2004.

Dictionary of Symbolism, p. 41 & 42
A color symbolically associated (like its opposite, WHITE) with the absolute: in Jungian dream analysis, for example, black is the color of "total lack of consciousness, the descent into darkness and mourning. In Europe black is a color with negative associations. A black man, a house in shadows, a dark snake -- all the those dark things offer little hope" (Aeppli). In ancient times, pitch-black animals were sacrificed to the divinities of the underworld; later, a black ROOSTER or GOAT was sacrificed to the DEVIL or his demons. "Wotans horde" ride black HORSES, and the devil himself is often portrayed as being black (if not RED). Satanic rituals mocking God are referred to as "black masses." A chimney-sweep looks suspicious or even diabolical, at first glance, but through a reversal of opposites has come to be seen as a symbol of good fortune. Black is also the negation of worldly vanity and ostentation; thus black became the color of priestly garments and, by extension, of conservative (Church-oriented) political parties. The black of mourning and penitence is also a promise of future resurrection, in which it will be turned to gray, then white. In ALCHEMY the blackening (Medieval Latin nigredo) of primal matter is a necessary firs step in its metamorphosis into the philosopher's stone.

In other contexts black is often the color of awesome divinities (e.g. Mahakala, the "great black one" in the mythology of India. In ancient China cosmology it is associated with the ELEMENT WATER and the north. The great EMPEROR Shi Huang-ti, who overthrew the Chou dynasty (whose color was red), chose black as his symbolic color, "just as water puts out fire." The frequent "black Madonnas" often associated with European shrines (e.g., Czestochowa, Chartres, Tarragona, Einsiedeln, Montserrat, Guadelupe) are puzzling with the Western traditions; they may have their origin in the Middle East, in association with the dark visage of a pre-Christian maternal deity, perhaps one of the manifestations of Hecate, who was associated with "the dark of the MOON." These Madonnas are also reminiscent of the black goddess Kali of the Hindu pantheon; they, however, do not inspire fear, but seem rather to be associated with fertility. Another dark female figure is the black Sarah (Sarah-la-Kali), the patron saint of the Gypsies at the shrine Les Saintes Maries de la Mer in the south of France, sacred to a TRIAD of Marys: Mary Jacobaea, the sister of Christ's mother; Mary Salome; and Mary Magdalene -- all of whom are said to have landed in Provence when they fled the Holy Land. One of the archaic "black Madonnas" may be the origin of the cult of "black Sarah," whose memorial is celebrated on May 24.
Posted: August 17, 2004.

Want to know more? Go out and pick up a copy of the book(s) quoted and expand your mind :) These are MY teachers, the people who teach me about symbolism :) I hope the supplied definitions help you understand the art found on this site.

Flights of fancy found here :) North American artist online art studio.

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