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Love Takes Flight

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Love Takes Flight - Acrylic on Canvas

Acrylic on canvas 24" x 36" 2009



“Even after all this time the sun never says to the earth you owe me.

Look what happens with a love like that.

It lights up the whole sky.”

(Hafez, Persian poet and mystic)



Theme: A symbolic interpretation of the physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual nature of the soulmate relationship.

Can you find all the symbols in this painting?

Learn more about this intricate painting's many hidden symbols, and mythological and historical sources below.
 

What Are Soulmates?

There are many differing viewpoints on the actual definition of the soulmate relationship, whether it is a platonic relationship with someone you have shared several lifetimes with through reincarnation, the theory of predestination of being fated to share your life on earth with one particular person, the ancient Greek mythical concept of finding the “other half” of your soul to complete you, or simply someone with whom you share a general natural affinity due to compatible personality traits. This particular painting explores the idea of soulmates in a romantic context.

The two figures cling to each other as they soar in flight through the cosmos. Polar opposites, the female lustrous with the soothing lunar energy reminiscent of the Pagan moon goddess and the male glowing with the energizing gold fire of the ancient sun god, both complement each other. However, despite their seemingly conflicting natures, both contain certain attributes of the other. Like the Yin and Yang of Eastern philosophy represent opposite energies, both contain the seed of the other, together complementing and balancing out each other’s dominant traits, bringing together two halves of a whole. Each shares some of the other’s hair color, golden yellow symbolizing an intellectual connection, with blue for loyalty and devotion.


Origins in Mythology and Religion

An ancient Greek myth explains the origin of soulmates. In the beginning, men had four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. So great was their strength that their pride and ambition led them to attempt to overthrow the gods. The deities were alarmed by the rebellion, yet reluctant to annihilate the human race because it would consequently result in the end of their worship and tribute which they very much enjoyed. They mulled over the dilemma until Zeus found a solution. To punish them for their arrogance, he decided to split them in half decimating their strength and speed, while doubling their population to better serve the gods and increase their offerings. Since then, humans have been condemned to wander on the earth to find their other half to make them complete.

“And God created man in his image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” (Genesis 1:27)

Before the creation of Eve, there was no distinction between man and woman because the concept of two human genders simply did not exist. The theory that God created man in his image suggests that the very first human being, Adam, was androgynous. Even some of the Pre-Christian Pagan creation stories talk of the god and goddess being two sides of The One source of all creation. According to the Bible it was only after God saw that Adam felt lonely being the only creature on earth without a partner that “the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man.” (Genesis 2:21-22)

A spot in the area of the man’s ribcage glows a pale blue color similar to the woman, referring to the Biblical story of God fashioning Eve from one of Adam’s ribs literally hinting at the notion that a man finds a part of himself in his soulmate and vice versa.


Color Symbolism & Connection on the 4 Planes

Physical/Earthly: Physically locked together in embrace as they soar through the Cosmos, their attraction to each other is evident. Nudity symbolizes literal physical vulnerability to each other and to the elements themselves, yet both feel secure in this situation together. Their shared lower wing colors are blue and green indicating their connection on the basal earthly plane.

Emotional: Though the figures are entwined, this is not a relationship based merely on the lower instincts of animal lust. Their body language is not sexually explicit though their passion is clear. There is a distinction between love and lust. Although perfectly capable of flying on her own, he still appears to want to support her while she lovingly runs her fingers in his hair and plants a kiss on his brow showing true affection and appreciation. The fiery red of their wings symbolizes passion with romantic love, a connection one level above mere physical attraction.

Intellectual: As yellow represents the higher intellectual plane of being, their golden hair symbolize their intellectual connection. True love is not just based on looks and fleeting emotions. Rather, it is a true marriage of hearts as well as minds.

    “Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments.
    Love is not love which alters as it alteration finds.
    Or bends with the remover to remove..."

    "Love’s not Time’s fool, though rosy lips and cheeks
    within his bending sickle’s compass come;
    Love alters not with his brief hours and weeks,
    but bears it out even to the edge of doom…”

    (Excerpts from Sonnet 116, William Shakespeare)

Spiritual: Purple, the color symbolic of the spirit, divinity and intuition, represents their spiritual connection on the highest of levels. Spirituality in this piece is regarded in a non-religious context. Rather, it stands for the couple’s deep mutual core values, ethics, life missions, intertwined destiny and eternal union beyond the tangible earthly plane.

We come across many people in life with whom we share connections on one or two of the four planes. These relationships are commonly in the forms of:

  • Family members: First early source of emotional development, which may or may not eventually also be intellectual and spiritual depending on individuals.

  • Friends: Primarily a source of emotional support and intellectual stimulation in terms of shared interests and activities. May or may not be spiritual depending on the individuals’ shared personal values and whether or not the friendship contributes to growth in this area.

  • Colleagues/Teachers: Primarily Intellectual as these relationships’ purpose is to foster intellectual or professional growth. However, these can also eventually involve an emotional connection should friendship develop.

  • Temporary short-term significant others including first loves (in general), crushes, exes: Interest in the short-term partner is often initially stirred by a shallow physical attraction at first, which may or may not have been combined with compatibility on any of the other three levels. However, the relationship is inevitably short-lived because it is essentially empty as the person feels no deeper connection in a practically flat or 2-dimensional relationship. The relationship lacks fulfilment where the person’s physical, emotional or intellectual needs are met. Sometimes the couples later realize that they are not on the same page in terms of their personal principles, their life stages or moral viewpoints (on the spiritual level). There is no room for growth in these relationships as quite often they become stagnant, stifling, lacking in one or more of the four levels and therefore dead-ended. One often describes such relationships as devoid of greater depth or lacking real meaning.

  • Lifetime partners/Soulmates: We may meet many short-term loves who come into our lives for a reason, a season or a year. Although those relationships may have been fun at those points in our lives, they do not have the solid foundations upon which a healthy permanent lifetime relationship can thrive. It takes a special person with whom we can connect on all levels to nurture a love to last a lifetime. Long after youth’s fires of passion have faded, there needs to be mutual trust, respect, appreciation, affection and understanding on the emotional, intellectual and spiritual levels for love to last through life’s ups and downs. When one feels such a bond with their partner and understood and accepted on all levels, only then can the relationship feel balanced, fulfilling and well-rounded.


Plant Symbolism

Fern: Growing below the figures in the bluish/green region representative of their earthly bond, according to flower symbolism, ferns are associated with confidence, shelter, discretion, fascination and a secret bond of love.

 

Fern close up

Ivy: Often found covering the exterior walls of charming old buildings with its persistently climbing roots, digging their way into solid brick and mortar, ivy has long been associated with marital love and fidelity, friendship and loyalty. The rising gold ivy against the yellow, red, purple, and bluish-green backdrop on the lower left signifies their fidelity on all four levels mentioned above.


Ivy close up

Rose: Widely known as the flower of romantic love though its symbolism varies depending on its color, the red rose is a common fixture in many cross-cultural stories regarding love and sacrifice. In Greek mythology, Aphrodite, the goddess of love is often said to have worn roses. In a related story, her lover Adonis was slain and a rose bush is said to have grown from the pool of his blood. In a non-mythological or religious context, the red rose is generally a symbol of beauty and romantic love that lasts beyond life and death. In this piece, the figures hold a red rose in their hands unflinching as the thorns pierce their palms making them bleed depicting their willingness to share life’s beauty and pain together.

Rose close up



Balance, Equality, Partnership

“We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another.”(Lucretius)

As opposed to the assumption that they literally need each other to fly because each partner possesses only half of the limbs they require to be complete, I chose to depict my soul mates as two complete separate bodies with individual pairs of wings. With both having perfectly functioning pairs of wings each, they do not need each other to fly because they are perfectly capable of flying their own separate ways. Instead, they want and choose to fly together out of their own free will. Contrary to the mythological concept of being complete you see two physically whole figures whose want for each other’s company is greater than their need for each other. Their relationship is based on mutual affection and appreciation as opposed to necessity and crippling dependence.

“Our soulmate is someone who shares our deepest longings, our sense of direction. When we’re two balloons, and together our direction is up, chances are we’ve found the right person.” (Richard Bach)

The figures are vertical, rising in the air, occupying equal amounts of space on the canvas. Neither is dominant over the other and neither is chasing the other. Both happily meet in the middle. Some cultures believe that a person’s soul comes back in the form of a butterfly to stay with loved ones on earth a few days after death before crossing over to the afterlife. Butterflies are also known as symbols of love, joy, as well as physical and allegorical metamorphosis. In this piece, the butterfly wings stand for their interconnected personal growth and transformation – a process that they will go through and help each other with as their relationship continues to evolve in their life together.

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