Tag Archives: signs

Pointing the Way

Signs. The subject for this weeks WordPress photo challenge.  All these photos were taken over the course of my week-long reconnoitre trip up to the Holy island of Lindisfarne during Michaelmas last week.  (see also Pilgrim on Horseback for the back story).  Click on any of the photos if you wish to read the messages more clearly!

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Normally, I would jump at the chance to use a title like this to go down the esoteric route and interpret it as ‘signs as symbols’.  Something I am always seeking to find in the landscape as personal messages for me.  These, however, are signs that are literally pointing the way.

this is one I hope to become very familiar with

this is one I hope to become very familiar with

Some are warning signs, some have been defaced: a sheep turned into some of rhinoceros. Information boards, a scratched dedication to a loved one on a bench, and a way marker looking like a crucifix.

Then, on a wild and desolate moor in the North Yorkshire Dales, I come across the Red Flag which stopped me in my tracks.

On the Holy island of Lindisfarne, the signage becomes grand and imposing to shepherd the thousands of visitors around the island as well as marking the way for pilgrims wanting to follow in the Saintly footsteps of Cuthbert.  A couple of the signs, however, are cracked and old-fashioned and seem oddly out-of-place against the ‘corporate’ signage of a place that has become a major tourist attraction.  (Naively, something I was not expecting and found rather disturbing).  For me, these signs seem more home-spun and real and speak of the people behind them.  (Like the dedication on the bench, above)

And looking at them all again, collectively, there is an element of deep symbology for me in them, each one unique in its own way telling their own story.  On my epic journey, I shall be looking for these signs to guide me along the right path, both physically and spiritually.  Not least as a little bit of entertainment to also delight and amuse.

 

To see how other people have interpreted signs, here.

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Filed under my sketchbook pages, Paths of Enlightenment, Personal Philosophy, Pilgrimage Walks, The Artist as Pilgrim, Walks, Wordpress Photo Challenge

Signs and Sigels

Signs and Sigels is the title for the ‘Notebook‘ (part 1) I am currently working on, inspired by my St. Michael’s Way walk back in July, The Adventure Starts HereI have submitted it for The Newlyn / Exchange Collective Exhibition by artist volunteers at the Newlyn Gallery, even though it is still a work ‘in progress’.  It will be accompanied by Part 2 which will take a similar format, and explore my visit to St Michael’s Mount.

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Frontal piece for Artists’ Notebook: Signs & Sigels, a mixed media work in progress, 7.5cm x 7.5cm, 2013.  Notice the sun symbol on this waymarker representing a path of enlightenment (?)

I believe that we are gifted with insight by the accumulated ‘wisdom’ of the universe.  Messages from ‘angels’, departed loved ones or a shamanic guide / teacher is how some people like to understand it.  No matter how you view it, the results are just as pertinent for the individual.  Tapping into this rich seam of knowledge that our Celtic ancestors would have been very familiar with is something that needs a little practice.  You need both a belief in this system and the patience to notice the signs.  Our ancestors would have called on the wisdom of their fathers for such insights, possibly gathered together in a stone circle, or looked to the heavens for answers.  Living closer to the rhythms of nature and the cycle of the seasons than we do today, this would have come quite naturally.  It might have taken the form of some sophisticated mathematical calculations based on the constellations, or the simple sighting of a fox, the call of an eagle, seeing a particular shape in a cloud formation or witnessing a plant flowering out of season would have all meant something profound and meaningful and would have been regarded as a ‘sign’ or portent of things to come.  It forms the basis of our deep superstitions today.   How many people still count magpie sightings?  One for sorrow, two for joy……etc.

my 'life-line' journey

my ‘life-line’ journey

I do most of my joined-up thinking when I am walking and the landscape serves as an abundant source of clues for the answers to many of life’s quandaries, both big and small.  I don’t consciously go out looking for signs, but I know when I get one.  For instance, I was puzzling over something the other day and just happened to be walking past a Buddleia bush that was alive with Red Admiral butterflies feasting on the flowers.  This was a powerful message for me as the Red Admiral is particularly associated with the soul of a departed loved one and seeing them gave me great comfort.  This Notebook is about the signs that I was gifted with on that particular walk, that hot Summer’s day back in July.

a foggy start

a foggy start

Sigel is an old English word meaning ‘the sun’.  In the old Viking language of the Runes it is Sowelu and the ancient runic symbol that represents the Sun: a signifier of wholeness and the life force derived from the energy of the sun.  Drawing this rune marks a ‘time for regeneration down to the cellular level’,  (Ralph Blum) and a quest for wholeness for the ‘Spiritual Warrior’.  I like to think of it as another variant for the word ‘signal’, and its graphic similarity to a bolt of lightning is not lost on my senses, (tho’ I’m not so keen on its former Nazi connotations).  I like to think of it more as a reference to ‘seeing the light’, as in finding the answer.

sketchy 'sigel' graphics

sketchy ‘sigel’ graphics

The sign for sigel is also a graphic representation of two chevrons pointing in opposite directions but joined together in the middle.  Chevrons are a potent symbol, (see previous post, Solitude), and I have included them in my Notebook.  In this symbol, they point both backwards and forwards: forwards to the next part that I am currently working on, but also drawing on what I have already learned from my walk along this path thus far.

end-trails

end-trails (reverse page of sewn chevrons)

Do visit the Picture Room at Newlyn Gallery if you are in the area, and anyone is welcome to take a look at my Notebook if you ask the assistant on the desk to open the case where it is displayed.  The exhibition of artist volunteers work runs from 5th to 19th October, (with the PV on Friday, 4th, 7pm), with the Newlyn Festival works in the main gallery.

one of the page spreads on display in the Picture Room, Newlyn Gallery.

one of the page spreads on display in The Picture Room, Newlyn Gallery.

(P.S.  On a note about style, the WordPress writing challenge today is about adverbs.  As a style of writing, I do tend to try and avoid them where possible preferring to use a better verb to describe an action.   (adverbs)

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Filed under Art Works, Dpchallenge, Drawings, my sketchbook pages, Paths of Enlightenment, St. Michael's Way, The Artist as Pilgrim, Walks