God, Gender, and Biblical Imagery

It is important to recognise that the biblical imagery of God as groom and Church as bride, and of God as Lord and Church as Lady, are not the only way the relationship between God and the Church is represented. There are also images of God as mother and Church as child for those who care to look.

A guide to Buddhist hand gestures

Buddhist art frequently depicts Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and other deities with their hands forming a number of different ritualised and stylised gestures (Mudras). They may be holding different objects as well within these gestures. Each by itself and in combination with others have specific meanings. Some of the more common ones are depicted below.

One of these gestures in particular should be familiar to hard rock fans. If you think hand gestures have no place within Christianity however, think again. There is actually an extensive history of ritual hand gestures within Christian art. Here is just one example, by El Greco, of Christ offering a blessing:

El Greco, Christ blessing

A visual guide to Shiva symbolism

Shiva is one of the most widely known and revered Hindu gods. In the Hindu mythology, Shiva is the Destroyer, working in concert with Brahma the Creator and Vishnu the Protector. Shiva has always fascinated his followers by his unique appearance: he has not two but three eyes, has ash smeared all over his body, has snakes coiled up around his head and arms, wears tiger and elephant skin, leads a wild life in the cremation grounds far removed from social pretences, and is known for his proverbial anger. Here is a visual guide to the symbols associated with Shiva.


Decoding the symbolism of the cosmic dancer

Nataraja is a well known sculptural symbol in India and popularly used as a symbol of Indian culture. It depicts the Hindu god Shiva as the cosmic dancer and the Sanskrit word actually translates as Lord of Dancers. His dance is called Tandavam or Nadanta, depending on the context and the pose and artwork is described in many Hindu texts such as the Anshumadbhed agama and Uttarakamika agama. This dance relief or idol is featured in all major Hindu temples of Shaivism, though you will often see it in Indian restaurants and elsewhere. Here’s what the image actually means:

A spotters guide to alchemical symbols

alchemyThese are some of the most common symbols in Alchemy and consequently the ones you’ll most likely encounter, if you keep your eyes open. In my experience they come up, not only in explicitly magickal contexts, but also in movies, gaming, music videos, and other expressions of pop culture. It is worth noting that the symbols for the planets & metals are all actually composites of sun (gold), moon (silver) and earth (elemental) symbolism. This gives you a hint as to their hidden meanings within the Alchemical tradition and of their relationship to the transformative process of crafting the philosopher’s stone. And it’s worth noting that in Alchemy’s heyday Christians frequently associated the philosopher’s stone and alchemical gold with the risen Christ and silver with the soul.