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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.

 

 

Gifts from the gods: money raining down from heaven.

 

 

 

A line in this piece: It's raining pennies from heaven <g>.

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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.

 

The garden...
Some symbols have been around so long that they gather a patina of meanings, kind of like a snowball rolling along for quite a distance. What you see depends on how deep you wish to dig. The garden, as a symbol, is very much like that and has accumulated LOTS of meanings in the journey through time. Of course, there is an underlying basic human meaning too that comes across, regardless of culture or time period :) How you look at this symbol is your choice of course.

In the story of Alice in Wonderland, we see a child trying to get into a beautiful garden but the door is too small. Imagine an adult dreaming of a return to the innocence of childhood and you get the picture <lol>, the doorway would be child-sized and impossible for an adult to fit through. Childhood innocence, so fragile and so finite. Adam and Eve weren't too happy about being booted out of the biblical garden of Eden either. They found KNOWLEDGE and they were outta there! The garden is a place without responsibility. Who wouldn't want to return? Responsibility sucks. (But then again, remember your frustration at not being able to do things the way YOU wanted to? When YOU wanted to?) The garden is also representational of nature (life), albeit a tame version. Another interpretation: think of a garden as a place to grow vegetables, herbs, flowers, etc. Old kitchen gardens once were a necessity, a way to put food on the table. Now we have the local grocery store, and gardens are more of a gourmet luxury. Interesting how a symbol can change across time and culture--gardens/growing food began the whole process that freed humans from hunting and allowed them to (eventually) build cities. Now with cities...we don't need to grow our own food or care for our own gardens. Of course, we don't need to hunt either... There is (of course) even more to the concept of GARDEN, just read on.
Posted: January 17, 2004.
Revised: March 26, 2004.

 

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

 

The Power of Myth, p. 50
The Garden of Eden is a metaphor for that innocence that is innocent of time, innocent of opposites, and that is the prime center out of which consciousness then becomes aware of the changes.
Posted: January 17, 2004.

The Power of Myth, p. 47
The idea in the biblical tradition of the Fall is that nature as we know it is corrupt, sex in itself is corrupt, and the female as the epitome of sex is a corrupter. Why was the knowledge of good and evil forbidden to Adam and Eve? Without that knowledge, we'd all be a bunch of babies still in Eden, without any participation in life. Woman brings life into the world. Eve is the mother of this temporal world. Formerly you had a dreamtime paradise there in the Garden of Eden--no time, no birth, no death--no life.
Posted: March 26, 2004.

The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Dream Symbols, p. 208
See Field. The garden is a place where our soul joins nature. It symbolizes longing, fertility, and a satisfying love life. A place of harmony and relaxation (as well as sin, as in the "Garden of Eden"), a place to become grounded and a place of civilized nature, corresponding to a "civilized" inner life. It is the domestic, fenced-in area in contrast to the untamed Field, or even Forest. Stepping into a garden is like retreating from the harshness of the outside world, looking for protection and relaxation. In Egypt the garden has always been the symbol for woman.

According to Freud, female sexuality.
Posted: January 17, 2004.

Dictionary of Symbolism, p. 148-150:
The path from the untamed FOREST through the sacred GROVE leads finally to the garden: an artificially established and maintained piece of nature, with a tradition of positive associations. The Garden of Eden (see PARADISE) was created by God as a safe enclosure for the first humans. In the symbology of ALCHEMY such a garden represents a domain that can be entered only with great effort and difficulty and only through the narrowest of GATES. Medieval cloisters enclosed idyllic gardens representing the paradise that had been lost. In earlier times the image of the "garden of the Hespirides" represents a distant paradise (see AFTERLIFE) where golden apples grew (see ISLANDS OF THE BLESSED). In Christian iconography the enclosed garden represents virginity in general and that of Mary in particular ("The VIRGIN Mary in the Rose Garden"). Renaissance and especially baroque landscape gardening was widely understood as the ultimate expression of the cultivation of life itself; the "French garden" is its apotheosis. The "English garden," on the contrary, suggests a return to nature as yet untamed by human hand, and is more congenial to the Romantic temperament.

The Japanese tradition of gardening strives for a harmony of all its elements (as in the tradition of flower arrangement, ikebana). This has its origins in traditional Chinese garden symbolism, in which natural objects like STONES, TREES, MOUNTAINS, ponds, and islands were considered manifestations of deities. The great imperial garden in Chang'an (A.D. ca. 50, Han dynasty) symbolized China and supposedly contained at least one of every plant and creature that was to be found there; its principal features were a central body of water ringed by ROCKS, symbolizing the SEA and the mountains around it, and FIVE hills for the five "points of the compass" of Taoist cosmology. Chinese gardeners always maintained a harmonic ratio between empty and filled space, reflecting the principles of YIN AND YANG; this was an attempt to introduce cosmic balance into the human world. From the fourth century after Christ onward, PINES, bamboo groves, and streams (see RIVERS) lent the Chinese garden a natural, idyllic air. Soon the tiered pagoda found its way into the garden, as did a massive boulder to represent the world-mountain Meru. Flat or broad stones were "female"; conical stones, "male." The Chinese tradition of garden symbolism, which lives on to this day, encourages not only garden strolls but also reflection upon the harmony between the realms of movement and stasis. The peach-blossom festival every spring was celebrated by setting a bowl of RICE wine to float in a stream and composing a poem before the vessel ran aground. The gardens of China and Japan should always be understood as prefect reproductions of cosmic harmony, designed to have a beneficial influence on humanity.

The garden is a positive symbol in dreams as well. "It is a place of growth, a place where the inner life is cultivated," writes Aeppli. "In the garden the movement from season to season is particularly ordered and stressed, and we have the most beautiful vision of all of life's color and fullness. The surrounding wall keeps together the powers that flourish within," and the gate can often be found only by making one's way around the entire wall."This is the symbolic expression of a long psychological development which finally culminates with the attainment of inner riches." This set of symbols is particularly impressive when the garden of the psyche contains --like Paradise itself-- a WELL, fountain, or SPRING, and the Tree of Life: an image of our essential nucleus, the "self," the "innermost center of the psyche."
Posted: January 17, 2004.

Women Who Run With the Wolves, p. 100-101
Let it represent the wild psyche. The garden is a concrete connection to life and death. You could even say there is a religion of garden, for it teaches profound psychological and spiritual lessons. Whatever can happen to the garden can happen to soul and psyche--too much water, too little water, bugs, heat, storm, flood, invasion, miracles, dying back, coming back, boon, healing. ...In the garden we practice letting thoughts, ideas, preferences, desires, even loves, both live and die. We plant, we pull, we bury. We dry seed, sow it, support it.

The garden is a meditation practice, that of saying when it is time for something to die. In the garden one can see the time coming for both fruition and for dying back. In the garden one is moving with rather than against the inhalations and the exhalations of the greater wild Nature.
Posted: January 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.

 
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