Category: Symbolism

  • Symbolism of the Maze and Labyrinth

    The Cat Returns suburbia as maze

    I hate being lost. I’m not the only one. Before the age of cities, suburbs and GPS, it really was dangerous to separate from your tribe. Professor Kenneth Hill has studied the psychological effects of getting lost, and was interviewed by Jim Mora on the RNZ Sunday morning radio show. Jim asks, why do people […]

  • Chimneys In Art And Storytelling

    Fred Cecil Jones (British,1891-1956) - Chimney stacks and winding ways, 1936

    The chimney is a multivalent symbol in storytelling. Chimneys can be cosy and welcoming. A column of smoke rose thin and straight from the cabin chimney. The smoke was blue where it left the red of the clay. It trailed into the blue of the April sky and was no longer blue but gray. The…

  • Egg Symbolism

    Carlos Marchiori Illustrations for Edith Fowke - Sally Go Round The Sun 300 Songs, Rhymes and Games of Canadian Children (1969) hen

    Eggs are common ingredients in modern cooking. Likewise, throughout the history of folklore and fairy stories, eggs are a common ingredient in magic spells. Anyone who has kept chickens knows that poultry regularly go off the lay. If your chickens are hungry, stressed, clucky or sick you won’t get any eggs. Before modern chicken farms,…

  • Symbolism Of Ships and Boats In Literature

    Ships, boats and other sea vessels are symbolically significant across literature. How are they used and what do they symbolise?

  • Castles In Art and Storytelling

    Maxfield Parrish - Dream Castle in the Sky

    The castle is a feature of Gothic storytelling, and commonly makes appearances in ghost stories of all kinds. Dragons and castles also go together. As kids my friends and I played King of the Castle. There’s not much to it. We used a pile of dirt, left by some builders. One person climbs to the…

  • The Symbolism of Hats and Crowns

    Carlton Alfred Smith - The Hat Makers 1891

    Hats can turn you into a human. Hats also indicate your social status and show deference.

  • Symbolism of The Child

    David Delivered out of Many Waters c.1805 William Blake 1757-1827

    Critics who treat adult as a term of approval, instead of merely a descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves. To be concerned about being grown up, to admire the grown up because it is grown up, to blush at the suspicion of being childish; these are the marks of childhood and adolescence […] The modern…

  • Tunnel and Cave Symbolism

    William Shayer Senior - Scene Near Zeldkirch in the Tyrol

    In symbolism, there is often a manmade and naturally occurring equivalent. The tunnel is the manmade version of a cave, the sewer a sea (littoral) cave. Jack Panton’s weakness was caves. Where another boy would go mad over football, postage stamps, birds’ eggs or running away to sea, Jack Panton studied caves. He collected books…

  • Symbolism of Containers

    Kitchen Utensils c.1914-8 Leslie Hunter 1877-1931

    Vessels or containers are as important for the space they contain as well as for any material they hold. Containers tend to be associated with women. As motifs running throughout a story they can also symbolise physical or emotional containment, either self-driven or imposed upon a character from outside. The Promise and Intrigue of Containers…

  • Symbolism of the Veil

    The Entombment c.1805 William Blake 1757-1827

    A veil symbolises a separation. The separation might be: between two states of being (e.g. married and unmarried) between physical objects between concepts Veils are typically made from diaphanous material. At first glance the nature of the separation appears flimsy. Importantly, the separation is two-directional. ‘To believe in [a ghost] is to believe not only…

  • Symbolism of Shoes, Feet and Footprints

    The Modern Magic Shoes by Maxfield Parrish

    Shoes and footwear contain plenty of symbolic meaning. Horse shoes are different again, but I’ll include horse shoes here for comparison. Early Nancy Drew stories were high concept hooks which generally paired two disparate things which are nonetheless related in some obscure way. In The Clue of the Tapping Heels, those two things are tap…

  • Symbolism of Black, Darkness and Night

    Across the globe, black has negative connotations. This is probably because night-time is black, and historically night-time is the scariest, most dangerous time for humans. Our eyes have evolved for daylight. That’s why I’m combining ‘night’ and ‘black’ when delving into symbolism. Black is not technically a colour, rather an absence of colour. Artists are…