'Unstruck' is a visual meditation on the elevating power of love and openness, exploring the heart as a bridge between the physical plane and our spiritual aspirations. The setting, colors and symbols each contain clues to the divine mysteries of the heart on a personal and universal level. It is part of a seven piece series that explores various aspects of human existence through the chakras and other mythological symbols.
The dove has long been seen as a symbol of peace, hope, beauty, innocence, and love. They have been used throughout history to carry messages and are considered messengers of the gods, as when Noah sent the dove to find land after the flood. The goddesses of love Ishtar and Aphrodite took the form of a dove along with the holy Spirit of the Christian trinity. Doves also represent feminine attributes of the goddess with its rounded form, monogamous lifestyle, and fertility. Doves were seen as oracles in ancient Greece, and priestesses were often called doves. Doves are also celebrated by Muslims and believed to have a direct link to Allah-- there are special roosting niches in Mecca to this day. For me, doves remind me of home and my parents as there were always a pair of doves nesting outside the back door of my childhood home.
The conch held out like an offering in the center of the succulent is seen as a symbol of purity in many Hindu and Buddhist traditions. When used like a horn, it is said to purify the air, bring good fortune, and dispel negative energy by creating the primal sound of creation. In Buddhism, it is one of 8 auspicious symbols, representing the Buddha's voice. These shells were also used to hold paint in Mayan art and used as money in many coastal cultures. Shells resemble a human ear and are associated with the feminine mysteries of birth and rebirth. I have always loved to listen for the sound of waves when holding a seashell to my ear and their association with the nurturing water element, home, and femininity. Shells remind me of my Grandma who I always felt unconditional love and safety from. The first thing I would do when visiting her home is pull down a basket of shells and look at them.
The four legs of a turtle represent the four directions and four elements, while the underside of its shell is earth and the dome represents the heavens. In the Hindu cosmogram map of the universe, a turtle carries the entire cosmos on its back. There is also a Mongol myth about a golden tortoise that holds a mountain at the center of the universe and many Native American myths say the world tree grows from its back. Turtles and tortoises are symbols of immortality and spiritual awareness. Retiring into its shell symbolizes turning inward in meditation. In China it is one of four sacred creatures associated with the north. In alchemy, the tortoise represents the first stage in transformation from matter to spirit, just as the heart chakra is the balancing link between the physical and spiritual chakras. A turtle carries its home on its back, taking refuge whenever needed, just as we can take refuge in the love at our core. As we realize our true essence is love, we need not fear. In yogic traditions, the fourth chakra, or energy center located at the heart is called anahata, which means unstruck. The cosmic sound Aum is heard here, just as it is heard in the conch shell. The color associated with this chakra is green-grey, like this echeveria succulent that is so resilient and life-holding.
As masters of metamorphosis, butterflies are significant symbols of transformation and rebirth. These winged creatures have long been viewed as otherworldly messengers and heralds of good fortune and joy. The Greek word for butterfly, psyche, is the same word used for soul, and this association is found across many cultures. The first time I saw a malachite butterfly was in a stairwell in Mexico where my family and I made our home for a time. Its green beauty stunned me into silent observance, and became a personal symbol of love, gratitude, and wonder.
The water of this tropical cascade is a symbol of a receptive, open channel for love to flow. You may notice a disgruntled face to the right of the legs. This face is a reminder that water continues to flow and shift despite heartbreak. Understanding that emotional states are always changing and letting them go and flow freely makes us better able to access the unchanging center of true freedom.
Both the turtle, conch, dove, and butterfly at certain parts of its life cycle retreat inward, reminding us that the unstruck peace at our center is best found in moments of quiet being. These symbols of home are an invitation to discover the home, haven, and kingdom inside that we all carry within ourselves.