Friday, March 28, 2014

The Colour of the Huts

This looked like an attractive shot, but it was the most difficult job, with difficult choices. First of all, exactly what is straight in the picture? After much work, I had to admit that the beach huts are probably less than straight and settled for what I had. And what colours should be included? Cropping out the right hand colour didn't work well and leaving it does suggest that the line of colours continues. You can get away with a lot on a beach - seaside architecture doesn't have to conform with general rules and almost anything goes. Yet these are huts and therefore symbols. Those who have no permanent dwelling - such as hermits - live in huts that are a sign of the precariousness of life. Like most things built on the beach, impermanence and weakness is the thing with some instability thrown in for good measure and the hut is hardly more substantial than a tent. Here, annual storms arrive to destroy many beach structures like this one. It's just an accepted part of life that they have to be rebuilt. So the huts have to be good enough for the purpose and no more. If you dream of a beach hut there might be many associations. But it is in essence a hermit's hut. Consider if detachment from the world is leading you to re-balance what you have. Consider the hermit in the cramped confines of his hut. He is the very master of space because his attachment is to the broad arch of heaven and his hut merely temporary earthly protection.
[Picture credit: Camilla Galli da Bino: Pentax Q]

Monday, March 24, 2014

Wake up, wake up you sleepy heads

This was a temporary acquaintance who came to see me when I was sitting in Herbert Park. I was fiddling around with a new camera - the tiny Pentax Q with the interchangeable lens - and trying to get the settings right. The robin helped me discover how good that camera is at this range. Naturally, birds just keep moving around and they're never easy to capture, despite the many photos of birds we see. The robin hopped on the park bench beside me and hung around so much that passers-by were commenting. It just wouldn't go away, so eventually it was left to me to bid goodbye. The robin has the reputation of being rather friendly, especially with gardeners with whom it shares a common interest - the eradication of small pests. The Christmas association for robins is thought to derive from red-coated postmen in Victorian Britain, nicknamed "Robins". But the tale of the plain bird who comforted Jesus on the cross and acquired some of his blood on its breast remains part of British folklore. With its rosy chest, the robin is very much a solar symbol in many cultures - because its breast suggests the sun rise. So if you dream of a robin it might just be the words of the popular song calling you. Wake up, wake up you sleepy head/Get up, get out o' bed/Cheer up, cheer up the sun is red/Live, love, laugh and be happy.
[When the red red robin goes bob bob bobbin’ along. Harry MacGregor Woods, 1926 as recorded by Al Jolson, June 1st 1926]

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Down in Limbo Land

I've done tunnels before and probably I'll do them again. This kind of shot, taken from the front of a metro train, I find difficult, so I keep returning to try again. The train has to be moving but that means camera shake, so I brace the camera against the front window and release the shutter a moment after the train leaves the station. You do need an automatic metro system for this, otherwise the driver is in the way - and somehow the rear of the train is slightly different. Once when I was using this metro, there was an minor earthquake and the train slowed down to a snail's pace - it was very unsettling indeed. For a while I felt as if I was in Limbo until the all-clear came. The concept of Limbo is an in-between place. It's part of the Orphic tradition, and describes where souls of still-born babies waited at the entrance to the Underworld. (Later this idea was adopted by Christians, but it remains the subject of much theological argument. Unborn babies are born with original sin but no way of dealing with it but to remain in Limbo.) Yet this is a tunnel and tunnels are what dreams are made of. Tunnels inhabit a ghostly space where anguished passageways promise a fulfilment of desire. When we use the tunnel, we move from light into the Limbo of darkness and back to light. If you dream of  being in a tunnel, it could be about transition. And maybe psychoanalysis is like a tunnel - a passageway from one state of being to another.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Ha'penny Bridge and the Devil's Due

I guess many photos have been taken of the Ha'penny Bridge in Dublin and this one is just a snapshot. Light was beginning to fade but the water looked interesting so I just took a pot shot.  This is not the official bridge name. Originally it was Wellington Bridge and later the Liffey Bridge, which formally is its correct name. In 1816, before the bridge was built, a rather unsatisfactory ferry company plied this spot. But it was told to improve vessels or build a bridge - and here it is to this day. The bridge is one of these universal symbols that indicates transition - it allows us to cross from one side to another. The bridge story I like best is the "Devil's Bridge". Satan is promised the soul of the first person to cross his bridge. Since he built it, he expects his due reward. It indicates the perilous nature of crossing from one thing to another - this is a danger which must be tackled and conquered. If you dream of bridges - and I believe this is quite a common object to appear in dreams - you may have  an important decision to take. The choice is yours, one thing or the other. Will your decision and its consequences lead to salvation or damnation? Even if you live in Dublin and cross the bridge regularly, your dream of the Hal'penny Bridge retains the same symbolism. It's still a journey over a dangerous place. But who was the first person to cross the bridge? They are long gone, but does the Devil still have their soul? 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Signature Symbolic Sandwich

I couldn't help but take a photograph because the filling looked like writing. Now as I recall, this is the Caffè Torino, a place of Belle Epoch splendour. You'll find it in the Piazza San Carlo in Turin - and if you're there, don't hesitate to plunge straight in. The Caffè Torino promises old world elegance and it delivers - although pricey compared with others, it's well worth the experience. It might come as no surprise that there is no particular symbolism for a sandwich. It would have to be either about the bread or the filling. But the sandwich has an ancient lineage. People have always wrapped food in bread and at one time a slab of coarse bread was regarded as a kind of plate. In the Middle Ages, a trencher was stale bread carrying other food. Like the edge crust of a Cornish pastie, it allows the eater to consume the food without necessarily touching it. In 110 BC, at Passover, lamb and herbs were sandwiched between two pieces of soft matzah, flat unleavened bread, which brings us back to symbolism. The above picture features is a rather more sophisticated arrangement and unlike bread, isn't old enough to have any symbolic value. But in Christianity, bread is nourishment and life. For the Eucharist, it is the sacred bread of eternal life. Traditionally, unleavened bread with no yeast refers to origins and purity, whereas bread made with yeast is about the active principle and spiritual transformation. All that aside, I do remember just how good it was to eat that sandwich.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Spider who came to Breakfast

This is by way of a domestic story and slightly icky. This inter-dental brush is vital to hygiene and so I was using it after breakfast. But the phone rang, so I abandoned it then returned. This is what I met. It was rather a shock, since the attached spider was in quite an open space on an empty table. I watched it nibbling for a while then got my compact camera and danced around it. Later I found it was a false widow, which can pack quite a sting. Even odder, I was writing a story about spiders and an orange phantom so there was some synchronicity. Symbolically, the spider packs a heavy punch too. Because its spins thread, it is regarded like the Fates. The web it spins is the fabric of life, but although it looks fragile, this is illusory. Webs are tough as old boots, especially for the fly. Spiders have properties of divination for many cultures and are sometimes seen as psychopomps, carrying souls on a boat made from webs across rivers to the Underworld. Yet it's the spider that swings on a thread that is important for psychoanalysis, because it can easily raise itself - a symbol for spiritual realisation and self-actualisation. If you dream of a spider, ask yourself what it's doing. Is it building or swinging? Or did it come for breakfast?