Fleurs-de-Lys: Patron Saints & Guardian Angels

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‘Fleurs-de-Lys: Patron Saints & Guardian Angels’

What if you were caught up in something that threatened your very being? And didn’t have the means or motivation to conquer it by yourself?

A fellow blogger (very talented!),whom I only know by her blog name, Beadberry, told of her escape from New Orleans ahead of Hurricane Katrina. See the previous post Five Iron Fleurs-de-Lys

The fleurs-de-lys motifs reminded her of symbols of the French-influenced Crescent City (the Saints football team amongst other things )and, in turn, those memories of fleeing the town before catastrophe struck. Someone she knew had pushed her into getting the hell out of there.

I too had a narrow escape from tragedy a couple of years ago, avoiding death only because someone passing by raised the alarm for emergency assistance as I lay prone on a sidewalk.

I still don’t know who that person was, but I consider him or her as a guardian angel.

There really are saints and angels, human, or otherwise maybe, who look out for us, I reckon. You don’t easily forget a brush with tragedy or death; you count yourself lucky for those who actually gave a shit about you in those times.

And symbols bring those memories back home to us, just when we might forget.

Listen To The Lion

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‘ Listen To The Lion’

 

Lions, of course, are symbols of courage and bravery.

Courage features in the second part of The Serenity Prayer:

“Courage to change the things I can”

I think about that which I can change at the start of the day. Whether I act depends largely on whether I have the guts to do so.

Some leonine musical inspiration comes from Irish singer-songwriter in one of his more extended songs:

 

” I shall search my very soul

  for the lion

 inside of me”

(Mr. Morrison really rips loose with the vocal chords on this number; the repetition too, as he hits full trance and utters the phrase “listen to the lion” over and over again at one point in the song. It makes for one of his more challenging listens, but that’s possibly the point. I still marvel that Van, well into his musical work by then, was still only 26 or so when this track was recorded – it sounds like someone with way more time and miles under the belt).

 

 

Cross The Sky

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Deconscecrated Church, Glenfield NZ.

The simplicity of the circled cross, a stark symbol against the deep blue sky.

The symmetry of the angled white timber work under the eaves.

Two gleaming halves, mirror images.

They drew me in, these minor miracles, when I visited the building yesterday.

The former church has lost its sacred status to fulfill other uses today, but its uncomplicated appearance still has a striking purity about it…

Two Catalan Flags

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In the interest of balance ,and because I said I would ( see the previous post Two Spanish Flags ),here is  the Catalan flag.

Well, two of them to be precise. Perfectly balanced then…

The flags fly in Barcelona as a political statement in an age old pursuit of freedom from Spanish governance and of an independent Catalunya.

Very interesting  to observe firsthand (and get caught up in at times) the recent separatist unrest there.

But, regardless of politics, the Catalan flag wins over its national rival in terms of simplicity and sheer drawability.

Both however, are the bold and vibrant designs and symbols of proud peoples.

Two Spanish Flags

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Continuing with the previous post’s theme, here are two Spanish flags draped from apartments next to where we stayed in Barcelona recently.

This is of course a political statement in a city that is the hotbed of Catalunya’s separatist movement.

I’ll get to the Catalans next.

My main concern however is for Spanish kids – all children have to draw their nations’s flag at some point – the crest on the flag is off-centre and is a piece of rather complicated heraldry.

Good luck sketching that one, el nino…

A Fine Ensign

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The ensign of The Royal Akarana Yacht Club furls in the breeze at Auckland’s Okahu Bay on a fine Sunday afternoon.

Simply, ensigns are naval flags.

I do enjoy a good flag, and especially the value they have to groupings of peoples as symbols and signifiers of their commonality.

Elsewhere on this blog I have discussed how symbols boil down to the essence of what is important to someone and lay that out in simple, readily understandable terms to others.

“This is who I am”; “this is what we are”.

This one ticks a few boxes with its triangular, sail-like shape and crown composed of sails and boats.

On the day I took this picture, there was practice for some international regatta, and I saw young Irish and Italian sailors at work . I could first tell where they were from by their flags!

Footnote: Akarana is a Maori transliteration of Auckland, using the phonetics of that language to spell out the English word. There are no “l” or “d” sounds in Maori, so the closest Maori sounds are used. Also, Maori words resolve in vowels.

 

Reliance And Replenish

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Name boards of old Fife fishing boats in a museum in Anstruther, from my recent Scottish travels.

It’s all in a name, as they say.

I love these two names.

Reliance.

Replenish.

Names that speak to virtues of dependability and sustainability.

Symbols of strength to call on when braving the often harsh maritime environment.

Symbols are really just things that remind us of what we are about.

Playing pretend now – if you had a boat or ship, what would you name it?

Taking that one step further, if your life was a symbol or virtue ,what would it be?

 

Seahorse In The Sky

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Have you passed by a place a thousand times and never noticed something, and then suddenly you do?

I had one  of those  moments during the  week ,when I had a few minutes up my sleeve  and stopped on the way to my work shift up at the marae.

Okaku Bay is a lovely flat beach on the Waitemata Harbour in Auckland and the seahorse statue atop a column adorns the art deco changing sheds there. How I had never spotted it before I don’t know.

In my recent travel overseas I filled my photographic  boots with all sorts of animalistic symbols – lion, wolves, and unicorns, to name a few, so perhaps had become attuned to seeing such things. Travel in new places causes us to look at home with fresh eyes, too.

It’s all about the magic in the mundane, where ordinary buildings and spaces come alive with images of fantastic creatures. The seahorse discovery transformed my routine day!

 

 

Floating Madonna

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A statue of Mary appears  to float within an arch on a church wall in Barcelona.

There is of course a small ledge on which the icon sits,but it is a neat trick of religion to create images and symbols to inspire, and to aspire to.

Apart from the prayerful pose and purity of her robes,the Madonna levitates above the ground, but is well below heaven.

Someone to look up to, or just another struggling seeker?

Wooden Flower

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Contemporary Pasifika carved artwork catches the sun on a building exterior in Auckland yesterday.

An enclosed flower at the centre of the design ,lines radiating outwards.

Abstract symbols that spoke to me yesterday of gratitude and hope.

That may or may not be what was intended  by the carver.

Beauty in the eye of the beholder ,and so forth.

In the same way ,the power of symbols lies in simple representations, over which we overlay the complex realities of our own lives.

Condensed  and visible symbols help us more easily make sense of our world.

If you could express who you are ,or maybe just the day you are having, as a symbol, what would it be?

So I May Know Where I Stand

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Trig Station, Orakei, Auckland, NZ

Just behind Bastion Point in Auckland ,and up the hill by the marae, sits a trig station.

One of thousands over the country ,on often high vantage points ,acting as geodetic reference  points. Once, and sometimes still used by surveyors for precise bearings of latitude and longitude.

It caught  my eye this morning, with its stark black and white markings against the cobalt blue sky.

As a child I thought they were totally cool and somewhat mysterious. Maybe aliens had planted them there.To ascend to the top of a hill and then clamber up the trig was to be lord of all you surveyed(excuse the pun).

A symbol, a signifier, a marker. Like a compass, objectively true.

Sometimes its enough to know exactly where you stand…

Masonic Temple

….#4 in a series…

Freemasonry is heavily steeped in ritual and the use of symbols, such as the compass and square ,and is shrouded in secrecy. You can only see the exterior of this cool building, not what goes on inside , if you are an outsider like me.

Factoid: Apparently the extensive use of symbols amongst Freemasons goes back to ancient times when many members were illiterate .Symbols were used as a communication tool instead of writing. I have  talked of the power of symbolism elsewhere in this blog. Love that stuff. I don’t have a whole lot of  other factoids( as I only know one avowed Freemason) but I am okay with that – why take away the mystery?

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Masonic Temple, Nelson NZ

Church Bell

This is the first of a series of posts where I have photographed places of religion and spiritual belief buildings .Not that I regard myself as religious, but we are all spiritual. The use of symbols and styles of architecture always intrigue and interest me.

Factoid:Tucked away behind the simple wooden church is a little hall where I sometimes meet with others of like mind. Curiously, it has nothing whatsoever to do with religion but there is a spiritual bond there for sure.

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Anglican Church,Campbells Bay, Auckland NZ

Symbols And Stories

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Another stained glass roof panel from the entrance atrium of the Auckland War   Memorial Museum  – a quartered shield tells a story. Quite what the symbols mean, I’m not certain; a red lion atop a castle tower, a tropical palm tree, a plant or vine, and a sailing ship on a voyage to a new land of mountains and hills. The story of  a person or people spelt out in bold abstract signifiers and ours to ponder.

Stained And Ablaze

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Many of the pictures I post are symbols of something else to me, the essence of the image through my own personal prism. They may mean something different to you, or nothing at all .I love the use of symbols depicted in older stained glass windows and panels(and in other art) – in this case the sun and a star – as they cut to the chase and deliver the essence of something important to the creator of the piece in abstract, simplified form. There is also at sense that ancient and universal symbols transcend time, place and culture and the rendering of them like this is immediate and compelling to anyone who views ,and has viewed,them.