Friday, January 29, 2010

Shadow Chasing Light

There was a bright sun at lunchtime and office workers were hastening for a sandwich or some shopping. Our subject looks like one of them, making her way to the shops perhaps. But for a brief moment the whole area was lit up and the collective mood improved greatly. Light is generally regarded as favourable in symbolism - but not exclusively. For the Ancient Egyptians, the god Set came forth with a terrible and awe-inspiring evil light from the darkest of places. Light is nonetheless associated with Gods and the Godhead. The God of Light and Satan have armies who are eternally pit against each other. In the Jewish tradition, The Dead Sea Scrolls contain The Book of War between the Children of the Light and the Children of Darkness. This was later Christianised in various ways. In one, Gnostics speculated about the phenomenal world being a trick. We are but trapped reflections, our matter being the result of an attempt to steal the light by the power of darkness. But when the soul is separated from the body it will be plunged into a sea of bright eternal light. That sounds quite OK and may explain near-death experiences. To round this off, the concept of the shadow in psychoanalysis represents the unintegrated parts of the psyche - but in the picture, it seems to be on the run!