As I have shared in previous blog posts, I pay serious attention to my dreams. As a child, I was a lucid dreamer as well as a daydreamer. My Mom, to this day, when I get contemplative says to me... "you are in dreamworld again." Although I still have very vivid dreams, they aren't as lucid. I still, however, dream in color, I can hear sounds, feel, and every so often, control my motion and direction in them. My favorite dreams are flying dreams. The ones I pay close attention to are the ones with symbols, which according to psychologist Carl Jung, belong in "the sphere of unconscious mythology whose primordial image are the common heritage of mankind.... the collective unconscious."
In one of those symbol dreams, I was walking on a wide beach when looked down and saw a serpent eating its tail drawn in the sand. It was huge, and I walked around it. The next day, I sat down with my ex-husband to watch a documentary we had rented from the Florida International University library where we were both studying. I, in the liberal arts masters program, he, in the Spanish Literature PhD program. Anyhow, we sat down and started to watch an interview with Carl Jung. We were both very curious about Jung's ideas on the collective unconscious. As we watched, Jung begins to talk about archetypes, dreams and symbols and then the image I had seen in my dream appeared on the screen: the serpent/dragon eating its tail. I screamed out loud and shared the story with my husband. I had never seen this image before, except in my dream the night before. Jung went on to talk about this symbol: the Uroboros. I'll never forget that moment of "synchronicity," a term also defined by Jung.
Needless to say, the Uroboros, the dragon eating its tails, has carried a great deal of significance for me. Not only am I a dragon in Chinese astrology, but as Jung explains in Psychology and Alchemy, this symbol "is the basic mandala of alchemy," and refers to the circularity of all things, the regenerative power of life and death. The symbol appears in the Codex Marcianus which dates to the 10th or 11 century, together with the legend of the One, the All (see image). This circularity of time-space and life-energy is an important part of my own philosophy and is incorporated in my art. As a matter of fact, my AMO logo reflects the Uroboros within the open letter O, metaphorically reinforcing the circuitous, regenerative nature of all things. Oftentimes, I embed this symbol in my art pieces.
Circularity is a constant force in my existence. I can go on about this for pages, but I'll simply state that my art practice is a literal act of continued form and transformation. Every piece is an expression of, what Jung refers to as, an "alien will," beyond my consciousness, connected with the collective unconscious. My creative impulse and urge is a need beyond words, yet continuous and constant. Circular.
Which symbol carries meaning for you?
Ana Martinez Orizondo is a Cuban pastel artist, writer and culture creative living in Shelter Island, NY. Her work explores themes of ecology and spirituality as well as identity and culture through landscape, nature and portraiture. She is a fascinated by mystical liminal states of in-betweenness, portals to otherness, and amorphous forms. The textural play between soft and hard pastels on smooth or ragged, Indian paper adds to the push and pull of my creative process, and its alchemical power.
Circularity, pastels, artist, Jung, alchemy, psychology
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