Tag Archives: Mythology

The Symbolic Meaning of a Water Fountain

Water Fountain at Chenal Country Club

One can obviously see the phallic symbology of the water penetrating a yoni from beneath, but in a deeper sense, ironically a higher chakra sense, the form of a fountain represents each person and living being itself manifesting from a world of transcendence. And since each particle is of divine nature, so it your whole being.

The water represents the energy, the ambrosia of eternity pouring into the field of time. The endless flowing, the continuous flowing, represents the eternal nature of this mystical dimension and also the infinite nature of its source. Since you can’t see the water’s source, that represents that it’s coming from the ground of being and also that it’s coming from another dimension which is invisible to our senses. On a deeper level there’s the paradox and the archetypal sense of the infinite coming from nothingness, which ironically enough is being postulated as the literal truth in the latest scientific origin stories such as the Big Bang theory.

Most fountains that you see spring from a round bowl-shaped container or vase. The inside of the bowl or pool is sacred space, a “Holy Grail” you might say, which represents the transcendence of duality or on a psychological level, the gap between our thoughts.

Water has long been seen as symbolic of the ambrosia of eternity. A fountain represents a sacred opening, gap or tunnel which is a connection to eternity itself.

In a way, a kind of mini temple, yet completely natural: a religious, mystical experience paradoxically combining both the mystical and the physical, representing a connection created by nature herself.

This is why it evokes an archetypal response of beauty in most people: The aesthetic being, at least on the symbolic level, the manifestation of a mystery.

02/09/16 Update: One element that struck me recently, especially looking at the still photograph, is the Lingam/Yoni symbolism. And there is a strong dichotomy of the Lingam, representing Shiva, coming out of the bowl/vase shaped Yoni, which is representative of the feminine aspect. But if you think about it from a Hindu perspective this makes total sense: The “Void” out of which everything comes and back into which everything goes is the Mother Goddess of the Universe. She is it. Symbolically speaking, the divine feminine represents life itself, and the Lingam, the male divine, represents the snake, who by piercing life, right through the middle, throws off death, just a snake throws off its skin.

The fact that the Lingam and Yoni are seen as together, like the Ying and Yang of Asia, as well as the water and bowl of a fountain, represents that the two are one, that the feminine and masculine are merely two different aspects of the same thing, just like the eternal and the imminent, the mysterious and the manifest, and indeed, life and death: this represents to the soul the transcendent nature of its own being.

Read this quote by Joseph Campbell

“Nevertheless-and here is a great key to the understanding of myth and symbol-the two kingdoms are actually one. The realm of the gods is a forgotten dimension of the world we know. And the exploration of that dimension, either willingly or unwillingly, is the whole sense of the deed of the hero.” – The Hero with a Thousand Faces, page 217, The Crossing of the Return Threshold

Here, the “realm of the gods” is symbolized by the Yoni, the void, the bowl, the feminine. And the “world we know” is represented by the Lingam/Masculine aspect. The masculine is representative of manifestation, but that manifestation has the potentiality to come in contact with the divine, indeed become divine, if it has the energy, drive, and intent to summon itself into one direction, namely that of the spontaneity residing inside the bowl of its own heart.

Another dichotomy: Notice in the fountain and in Hindu temples, the Lingam aspect is coming out of the Yoni, not going in: That’s symbolic of a resurrection. New life (Nova Vita) in this case not coming from sexual intercourse, but from a birth of the heart.

The Basic Theme of All Mythology

Opening the world to the dimension of mystery. To realize the mystery that underlies all forms.

“That’s the message of the myth: you as you know yourself are not the final term of your being.”

Joseph Campbell: The indication is of a notion of a plane of being that’s behind the visible plane and which is somehow supportive of the visible one to which we have to relate. I would say that’s the basic theme of all mythology… That there is an invisible plane supporting the visible one. Now, whether it is thought of as a world or simply an energy, uh, that differs from time to time and place to place.

Bill Moyers: What we don’t know supports what we do know.
JC: That’s right.

*About the 11:30 mark in the Power of Myth, the First Storytellers.

Ritual is one way of relating to this invisible plane.

JC: “Through the ritual that dimension is struck which transcends temporality and out of which Life comes and back into which it goes.” – 24:16

“What all the myths have to deal with is transformation of consciousness, that you’re thinking in this way and you have now to think in that way.” – JC – 16:10 Power of Myth, The Hero’s Journey.

On Ego: The Labyrinth Metaphor

The labyrinth in which the hero soul has become lost. That’s the place from which we are all starting. Did the ego build this labyrinth? Or is the labyrinth a metaphor for the ego itself? Those are interesting questions, but they aren’t nearly as interesting, practically speaking, as what the Wax String of Theseus stands for. The wax string is a metaphor for the thing that got the hero, Theseus, out of the labyrinth. Some qualities strike me about it:

  • It’s very smallness, thinness, almost invisible quality represents the fact that it is something representative of the spirit, soul, the psychology. It’s easily lost, like a feeling, but if held onto can lead you out.
  • That same narrowness represents single-mindedness of purpose, and an unbending intent. It also represents a psychological commitment. So that nothing distracts from it. It’s very narrow but very long, meaning that, commitment, ironically, leads to freedom, adventure, and, in short, the way out of misery.

Update: 03/11/15:

I’ve been reading a lot of Grimm’s Fairy-Tales in the last few weeks. This kind of material really feeds my soul, makes me happy. But I’ve only been “allowing” myself one or two stories a day. It strikes me that when you find something that really awakens your passion, why compartmentalize or limit yourself to it for one hour a day? My sense of this and similar experiences, is that, like the Wax String, you should hold on to them, not let them go, stay with them, all day and all night, at least until they lead you “out” of the Labyrinth. That’s my sense of “The Hero’s Adventure” and more specifically the metaphorical, or one possible metaphortical meaning of this element in this particular story. 

The Metaphorical Meaning of Sacrifice and Bliss in Mythology

Update: 10/8/14 – Reading over this post, this thought/feeling seemed to “bubble up from my archetype, from my soul:

“When you surrender, the life that is waiting for you will arrive.”

It feels an awful lot like Joseph Campbell’s famous quote:

“You must give up the life you planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.”

Notice how “give up” and surrender or sacrifice are synonymous. Ah, wait! I just had an Ah Ha! moment about what this means: You’ve got to quit planning on what you are going to do, just start doing the thing that you love. So you are surrendering control, control of the outcome, control of the results, and instead living, engaging inside that activity that you love to do because you love to do it in and of itself. You love the process of that activity (ie, writing, music, art, acting, but it could also be business or science, just as long as you are engaging your creative, visionary side to these activities, and of course, above all, it is something you truly love, in and of itself, and not for the money. But enough philosophizing! The meaning of the statements is to begin doing it, right now! Go start singing, go start writing, go start dancing and acting, or whatever it is you love. It doesn’t matter if people say you aren’t good enough. If you love the process, you are immune to criticism, and you don’t have an Ego that cares about the results. It cares about the activity itself. And when you are engaged in it, you are living your purpose. You’re on the edge of excitement all the time, as Joseph Campbell used to say.

So, what you are surrending is philosophy, philosophizing, talking about it, and what you are accepting, what you are leaping into, is activity. The activity will guide you, open doors, send “magical” helpers, not the philosophy. Not the thought.

Update: 3/28/13: Now that it’s Easter, and today is Maundy Thursday, if you wanted to bring the Mythology alive in your own life, you could practice, right now, for instance, sacrificing your need to hold on to the past, and your need to control the future. And then by this act, this psychological act, the irony is, you psychologically “rise above” the duality of time, and for that matter all dualities, and you arrive at an “a priori” transcendence, in which letting go and surrendering, ironically, paradoxically, wins you back your true nature, your true gift, your “sacred” treasure and power. When you sacrifice your need to control time, you wind up in a timeless world, living a transcendent life.

Update 3/26/13: I was blown away just now when I learned that the word Islam itself means, literally, “surrender.” Fate, kismet, “Wyrd” are all common archetypes in religion, and so it makes sense that this idea of “surrender”and or “sacrifice” would also be an important archetype that is found in all religion or mythology. These two fundamental archetypes are symbiotic, and almost call out to each other.

“You can’t control your destiny, Jack. You’ve got to just let it wash over you like a bad spray tan that won’t take.” – from “40 Rock”

“You’ve gotta learn to let go. You can’t try and control everything all the time.” – From Celeste and Jesse forever.

“This isn’t turning out the way I wanted it to!” – Debbie, from this is 40 exactly the 44 minute mark.

Orpheus died to himself, in order that he may live on through everybody else. What does that mean, “to die to yourself”? Think about this for a minute. It means surrender. It means letting go. It means dying to your ego, the sense that you and everything else in this world are separate. It means dying to your inner self which only worships eating and sex, and then also dying to your outer self, which has the potentiality for achievement and greatness, but only worships at the feet of social recognition, the addiction or the endorphin rush of attention, of being worshiped yourself.

Sacrifice of the flesh is metaphorical of this idea of dying to the ego. The ego is this psychological structure that is blocking out transcendence and bliss both from the outside and from with in you.
(“The Kingdom is within you and is without you. If you will know yourselves, then you’ll be known and you will know that you are the sons of the Living Father.” – Jesus, from The Gospel According to Thomas.)

Bliss is like a secret underground fountain that’s bubbling up within you naturally, and also like a ocean that’s trying to pour into you from the outside.
But ego blocks off both of these sources that naturally would be flowing, like a damn, or like something that’s blocking off the root of a tree.

So the idea of sacrifice, in part, is this willingness or this sense of psychologically dying to your ego, letting the ‘rat’ that’s in you, secretly nawing at the root of the sacred tree, the Axis Mundi, die. Or letting the “damn” or “dike” that’s in you, which is trying to control and manipulate the waters of life, nature herself, letting that psychological structure be destroyed, not giving it any more energy or “soul” food. Your sacrificing the inner desire of hunger and the outer desire of pride, in order for the waters to flow again through you, or the light to once again shine through you after having become transparent, once again, to transcendence. You’re trying to balance the truth of who you are, of where you came from (“the rag and bone shop of the heart”) without crushing the totality of the human potentiality going forward, but also without cutting off those supply lines from which this very potentiality, the Cerebral Cortex, is made from. Remember Indra had the power to kill Leviathan, the snake that was blocking out the waters of life from nourishing the world, but in doing so he also brought down his own potentiality out of pride of the very act. So one could say that sacrifice is a religious archetype that has been needed to enable life to carry on evolving, while at the same time not losing touch with its origin, its essence, it’s soul.

Paul: “Wouldn’t you rather have me around for less years and I’m incredibly happy rather than longer and I’m miserable?”
Debbie: “Yes, and I just realized that just now!” – This is 40 – 47:15

“I guess the party didn’t turn out like you had planned.”
“Yeah, but it was a good party.”

Here’s another good example of an everyday way of putting this idea into practice: Sacrifice your Ego’s need for attention, and instead put that same energy in the direction of your bliss, you’re “calling”, the things or thing that makes you happy in and of itself, and not because it makes you money or gets you attention (Social Reward). In this post I have used “Ego” and “Flesh” sort of interchangably both in the ideas of “Dying to the Ego” and “Dying to the Flesh.” I think there are two good reasons for the comparison: 1) In Hindu, it is the outward, most superficial “body” of all of our “bodies” that is the most cut off from spirit (the inner body, “Atman”) and needs “religion” (re-linking) back to the soul and 2) If you think about your everyday life, its the experience of your body, the impulses of the flesh, and the experience of the senses that most feed this “illusion” of ‘Ego’.

The ideas of Yoga and Meditation are Eastern exercises in metaphorically “Dying to the Ego” or “Dying to the Flesh.” It’s not that you want to really die to your flesh. It’s that you want to think of the metaphor, the psychological aspect of it. The purpose here is to rebalance psychologically so that you are experiencing the impulses of the “subtle” body (Soul) at least as strongly, or some would say more dominantly, than you are experiencing the impulses of the “Ego Body.”

Neither are wrong. Both are natural. And in a way, the aspirations of a “New Religion” going forward would perhaps be a Unification or “Marriage” of these two separate bodies. That may be the true, ultimate life experience and fulfillment. In a way it’s sort of like the current goal of cutting edge physics is to “Marry” if you will Quantum Theory (Metaphorical of the Subtle Body) and Relativity (Metaphorical of the Physical Body).

I just realized that this idea of “Destiny” and “Letting go” or “Surrender” or in our terms here, “Sacrifice” (When thought of as ‘sacrificing’ your need to control) have a lot in common, that they almost are born from each other. So, if you sacrifice your Ego, then your true Destiny will take over, and then your life’s adventure will be automatic. “It” will begin. You won’t have to try. It’ll be like getting on a ride at Disney World.

The question I still have, that’s burning inside me, is how does one, in practical terms, in terms of your everyday life, actually “Die to Yourself” or “Die to Your Ego”? That’s the question that’s burning in me: how do you do this metaphorically in the everyday, “real” world of your life?

Midnight in Paris: The Music of the Night

Metaphorical Themes

It’s a common theme, maybe the most important theme, of Fairy Tales and Mythological stories: when the Hero or Heroin answers the “Call” to adventure,” magical helpers show up seemingly out of nowhere.
What is that a metaphor for?
Similarly in this story, when Gil answers his own inner call to walk the streets of Paris alone at night (instead of following his ‘Social Duty’ or ‘Dharma’ and going with his fiance and her friends, who though attractive, whose views on life and art, he couldn’t stand) the “greatest adventure of his life” magically shows up.

Dance and Dionysus

Inez goes off dancing with Michael Sheen’s character night after night, and in another time and place there’s a very impacting scene of Gil dancing the Charleston at a jubilant outdoor party, apparently given by the Fitzgeralds. That scene was so jubilent and the imagery so exuberant, it got me thinking a lot about dance. Dance is a metaphor for Nature flowing through the body. From this point of view, Nature comes to symbolize something that is good, healing, and perfect, rather than something that is dirty, corrupted, and something to be repressed. Alcohol, which is such an important symbol in this movie as well as the imagery of ‘the Roaring 20s’ along with the art of that period, is of course a symbol of Dionysus (Bacchus) himself and his secret power to unlock the gates that are holding back the normal flow of ‘Nature’ throughout the social conditioned, ego dominated human body. Of course, we know that the reality of alcohol ravaged many a life during this period and continues to do so, but here it is important to realize that it is serving as a symbol for something else. ‘That which unlocks the gates.’

 

Review: Midnight in Paris – EbertPresents.com