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Thoughts: Chess, a game. Movement of pieces. Black and white, good and bad. Two Knights.
The white picket fence is an old American dream from the 50s: to own, to have, home sweet home with a white picket fence.










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Definitions are supplied to demystify symbolism (and the artwork in this studio).
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Known as a phallic and/or "male" symbol, the sword represents war, aggression, power and in the case of the King Arthur legend, a symbol for the rightful king :) Scholars have pointed out that the mythological "drawing of the sword from the stone" can be seen as a symbolic representation of the actual act of making or "pulling" the first sword out of stone -- a bronze SWORD, more than likely the first metal implement to be literally pulled from the smelted stones: tin and copper. The very act that heralded the advent of the Bronze Age (stone weapons didn't have a chance against the new metal ones). Indeed, in earlier versions of the myth, the sword is actually drawn from an anvil placed on a stone (Robert de Boron and Thomas Malory), bringing the appropriate blacksmith imagery directly into the story. Either way, a sword was pulled out of stone(s) and the act reverberated around the world. The discovery of bronze made such a HUGE impact on the world, that it is fitting that the legend and imagery symbolizing this act should be just as memorable :) An equally famous sword from the same legend is Excalibur, a gift from the Lady of the Lake, via Merlin, to the King of Britain :) Excalibur became a symbol for Arthur and his golden age of Camelot. Nowadays swords are mostly symbols of the human past or physical figments of legend, fantasy or myth avidly pursued by the appropriate collector.
Posted: January 17, 2004.


Shortcut links to the (expert) quotes below:
Jung: Man and His Symbols
Vollman: The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Dream Symbols
Biedermann: Dictionary of Symbolism


Man and His Symbols, p. 367
...the word "spade" derives from the Italian spada, which means "sword" or "spear." Such weapons often symbolize the penetrating, "cutting" function of the intellect.
Posted: May 02, 2004.

The Little Giant Encyclopedia of Dream Symbols, p. 424
Appears rarely in dreams. It is a symbol of power and intellect. See KNIGHT. Seeking power, as in MONUMENT and aggression. Frequent symbol for intellectual work since the sword separates and, therefore, leads us to make decisions. We use the sword to fend off somebody and it is, in that sense, a sign of distancing and individualism.

According to Freud, a phallic symbol, as is KNIFE. In psychoanalysis, separation or fear of separation, as in GOODBYE, ABORTION, CORPSE, DEATH, DIVORCES, and FUNERAL.
Posted: January 17, 2004.

Dictionary of Symbolism, p. 334-336
Neither the weapon itself nor the sword as symbol goes back to "the earliest times," since swords could obviously not have been produced before the Bronze Age. (The "wooden swords" of the first inhabitants of South America are closer to clubs than to what we think of as swords.) When cherubim (see ANGEL) are placed at the east of the Garden of Eden with "a flaming sword which turned every way" [Genesis 3:24] after ADAM AND EVE are driven out of their earthly PARADISE, this is an indication that the Biblical account itself does not date from the era that it describes. The swords of the Bronze Age were often richly decorated, which indicates that their function was not merely utilitarian. In the Germanic tradition we find accounts of "sword dances," and the names given to the swords of legendary heroes (names like Balmung, "anointing," or Nagelring, "ring of nails") suggest that swords were endowed with magic or symbolic values. Medieval KNIGHTS were dubbed using the tip of a sword. A sword placed between a man and a woman in bed symbolized chastity (signum castitatis).

There are Egyptian pylon reliefs of the Rameses period (14th-11th century B.C.) showing a pharaoh in a ritual pose, raising a hand to seize a sword that a god is holding out to him: the SICKLE-like sword called a chopesh, which suggests some Asian influence. The foreign shirdana mercenaries from the North, however carry long swords.

In ancient Chinese depictions we find magicians with swords to drive off demons. There was also a tradition of distinct "male" and "female" swords, forged from the liver and kidneys of a mythic HARE that ate metal and lived in the Kuenlun Mountains. When a woman dreamt of drawing a sword, it was believed, she would give birth to a boy (as in the Freudian psychology of the 20th century, the sword was a phallic, or masculine, symbol); the possession of a sword, in a woman's dream, promised good fortune, whereas, in a man's dream, a sword falling into WATER foretold the death of a woman.

In Japan the proper use of the sword was the art of the samurai, who had two different weapons: the katana, a long sword used in battle, and the wakizashi, a short sword for hand-to-hand combat and for ritual suicide (seppuku, referred to in the West as "hara-kari"). The makers of swords had to obey certain commandments of abstinence because of the sacred nature of their craft. The hilt (tsuba) separating the blade from the handle was richly adorned. Today a sword fight (iai-do) with a training partner is carried out only as an exercise with narrowly-defined safety precautions; fencing with BAMBOO swords (kendo) is derived from the old samurai tradition. In Shinto myth the STORM god Susano-o (see CAVE, RICE) kills an eight-headed SNAKE and draws from it tail the sword "Ame no murakomo no tsuguri," which today, accompanied by PEARLS and a MIRROR, is among the imperial treasures of Japan.

In the Occident the sword is the weapon of the archangel Michael, King David, and Judith, who used one to behead Holofernes. In the Book of Revelation a sword comes out of Christ's mouth [1:16], a symbol of indomitable powers and divine truth, coming down from heaven like a bolt of LIGHTENING. The sword is a symbol of sovereignty in the hand of St. Stephen of Hungary or Charlemagne; of a martyr's death when it is an attribute of the saints Paul, James the Greater, Thomas Beckett, Catherine, or Lucia. In the Gospel according to Luke, Simeon tells the Virgin Mary that her soul will be pierced by a sword, a prediction of the extraordinary suffering that she will undergo. In baroque iconography we occasionally find depictions of SEVEN swords, a reference to the seven sorrows of Mary.

In general, the sword is a symbol of vitality and strength, most frequently an attribute of gods of war (see MARS) or (as a symbol for lightening) THUNDER. In Catholic doctrine the "two swords" symbolized spiritual and temporal dominion; Pope Innocent III, among others, spoke of EMPERORS or KINGS as his vassals to whom he turned over the temporal sword as a fief.

The most familiar sword in English tradition is King Arthur's Excalibur, which only the young Arthur was able to draw out of the stone in which it was lodged. In Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur, however, it is the Lady of the Lake who hands Excalibur to Arthur.

Only in exceptional cases do we find the decidedly masculine symbol of the sword in a woman's hand. JOAN OF ARC (burned at the stake in 1431) claimed that ... (If you've read this far then you should DEFinitely go pick up your own copy of the book because there's even MORE to the definition that I haven't typed in <lol>). ....
Posted: January 17, 2004.

Want to know more? Go out and pick up a copy of the book(s) quoted and expand your mind :) These are MY teachers, the people who teach me about symbolism :) I hope the supplied definitions help you understand the art found on this site.

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