Thursday, January 12, 2012

Another string to the crossbow

I think this is a symbol we haven't yet tackled on the blog. The bow, no matter what it's form, is all about tension and in all cultures it's an important symbol. It has enormous sexual symbolism since it takes a precise, ordered structure of tension, relaxation and release. Wilhelm Reich, had he taken more interest in the symbolic application of his work on sex and anxiety, would have found much of interest in the bow. It is the weapon of kings and royalty but also of the warrior and hunter. But whereas the arrow is penetrative and clearly male, the string is female. And although we could almost miss the string (as in this photograph) it provides the thrust without which the whole thing is ineffective. The bow derives its whole power from the tension in the string. Anubis, Apollo and Shiva are all depicted with bows as are some figures in Christian art. Archers are masters of our fate and whoever is their target is doomed. But the archer is at the other end of the bow, away from the sharp end. We often talk about having another string to our bow, so the archer also needs back-up support! This crossbow is in a courtyard in the Castel Sant'Angelo in the centre of Rome. You could miss it because it is in a courtyard leading off the main visitor route, so if you do pay the castle a visit, go early and explore everything.