Four days into the new year, I went for my usual early morning walk. It was a refreshing 15 degrees at 7:15 a.m.
While approaching Fox River, I looked up in a tree by the water to see 3 big birds sitting in the early morning sun. Thinking that due to the season these cannot be turkey vultures, I realized that before me were 3 large eagles. After my initial: “Holy cow…these are flippin’ eagles”, I watched as they departed, to then fly up and down along the river. One of them, a bald eagle, swooped down what seemed to me very casually, and picked up a fish swimming just beneath the surface of the water.
This rather magnificent spectacle left an indelible impression on me, which to no surprise also gave me plenty of food for reflection and introspection. What struck me most was their majestic presence as well as ease and distinction with which these large magnificent birds were moving through the sky. Many years back I photographed the detail section of a canyon wall at Antelope Canyon in AZ, a natural cathederal of magnificent beauty and wonder. With a bit imagination you can see a bird of prey in the photograph, with its wings spread.
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The photograph which I called “The Passage” was featured in my book “Inspirationals”, and I remembered what I had written about 16 years ago to accompany the image:
The Passage – Passing through the challenging “crevices” of life…, it is my choice to be in the darkness or to progress into the light. Nature shows me that birds are carried effortlessly by the wind without knowing their destination. Why must I cling to the notion of having to know the outcome at all times?
By giving up control over a myriad of life’s situations and their outcomes, I spread my wings and let life’s currents carry me to unknown heights.
This advice seemed very apropos considering that we were just a few days into a new year. Two days later in a very similar setting I was greeted by 5 eagles, of which 3 were sitting in a 250 + year old oak along the river.
While reading in “The Complete Dictionary of Symbols” as well as “The Book of Symbols” it became clear that as the supreme master of the air, the eagle is one of the most unambiguous and universal of all symbols, embodying as it does the power, speed and perception of the animal world at its peak, together with majesty, domination, victory, valor, inspiration and spiritual aspiration. Soaring toward the sun, the eagle seemed a creature capable of carrying souls to heaven.
From the time of cradle civilizations, the greatness of the eagle has inspired comparison to the sun, and to supernal deities of lightning and storms, earthly rulers and imperial nations. It is hard not to be awed by the sight of an eagle perched at the summit. The sound of their wings, spanning 6 to 8 feet, is like the rushing of mighty winds or the clapping of thunder. The Ogallala Sioux felt the presence of the Great Spirit in the eagle because it soars higher than any other bird and in the sacred form of the circle.
Largest of the hawks, the eagle with its strong feet and great, curved talons is an aggressive predator, a quality that we have made an ambivalent part of its symbolism. In alchemy, the eagle is portrayed as the ascension of the spirit from the prima materia, a way of describing how, when understanding separates from the chaos of emotion, it takes wing and can easily disappear into the ether.
The alchemists believed that ascent must be answered by the opposite, which means that our loftiest illuminations must descend into integrated embodiment and be applied. Thus, inspired by the sea-eagle that dives from the sunstruck sky into ocean or river and re-emerges, the mythical eagle of spirit was imagined to fly into the sun’s fire, almost burning itself up, only to plunge into the deep waters of swelling life, and reemerge in phoenixlike self-renewal.
And as for the numbers, well, three representing synthesis, reunion, resolution, creativity, versatility, omniscience, birth and growth – the most positive number not only in symbolism but in religious thought, mythology, legend and folklore where the tradition of “third time lucky” is very old.
Three was the number of harmony for Pythagoras, completeness for Aristotle, having an end as well as a beginning and middle. In other traditions including Daoism, three symbolized strength because it implied a central element. Politically, three was the first number to make possible executive action by a majority, as in the Roman triumvirates. In China, it was the auspicious number symbolizing sanctity, loyalty, respect and refinement. In Hinduism, it is the number of sounds in the mystic word Om, expressing the ternary rhythm of the whole cosmos and of divinity. Three is, significantly, the smallest number of a family unit or tribe. It symbolized the individual body soul and spirit. The graphic symbol of three, amongst others, is the triangle.
Five is regarded as the “human number” – often represented graphically by a man whose head and outstretched limbs form a five pointed star, or geometrically by the pentagram, also called pentacle, drawn with lines crossing to the five points. Apart from its emblematic association with the human microcosm (and the hand itself), the number five was an important symbol of totality in Chinese, Japanese, Celtic and other traditions which included the center as a 5th direction of space.
Other associations are with love, health, sensuality, meditation, analysis, criticism, strength, integration, organic growth and the heart. According to Pythagorean mysticism, five, like seven, was a holistic number, marrying three (heaven) with the terrestrial two, and was fundamental both in nature and in art. It was linked generally in the classical world with Aphrodite. The association with love and sex may be based on the combination of the male number three with the female number two.
Marian Kraus Photography is a Chicago area based professional architectural photographer, multi media artist and fine art photographer who has been consistently delivering compelling architectural photography to clients including architects, advertising agencies, home builders, corporations, real estate companies and the like since 1999. Additionally, Marian Kraus Photography’ s nature and architecture fine art photographs can be found in a growing number of corporate and private art collections.
Marian furthermore creates pictures with sound and facilitates sound immersions and sonic excursions with large gongs. You can find out more here.
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