Saturday, May 10, 2008

The Goose: protection, creation and community

The Goose is a continuation of a unofficial series that I started with the Fox paintings I completed at the end of last year. I had thought it would be interesting to do a painting representing the animals that have served as guides and symbols for me over the years. These animals have repeatedly shown up in dreams, journey work, or through unexpected situations. The Fox has connections to place and home for me, which is why I created four paintings representing the four seasons that my home passes through.

The Goose represents my own spirit. You could say it is kind of a personal totem for me. I read a lot of folklore and mythology associated with the goose. Before I stated this painting. I wanted to allow the information to simmer a while so when I began the piece, I could tap into the qualities of the goose that I connected the strongest to. However, because I let the information fill my subconscious, I believe that the painting can be viewed by many different people and each person will connect with an aspect of the Goose that doesn't necessarily represent my relationship to it.

In this painting, I focused on the qualities of the Goose that represent protection, creation, and community.

I have a Goose standing on an overlook, keeping an eye out for danger. The Celts associated the goose with war because of its watchful nature and aggressive temperament. Geese will vigorously defend their territory and warn of any visitors with their loud honking. If you have ever experienced a territorial goose on a farm, you will know they are very effective! There are stories about how geese saved the Romans with their warning cries when the Gauls attacked the citadel of the Capital.

I depicted a goose on land, one swimming in the water, and another flying in the air. Because Geese are equally at home in all three environments, they represent the integration of the physical (land), emotional (water) and spiritual (air) spheres necessary for creation. The main goose is standing on one leg, which represents the goose's ability to travel between the three spheres. Standing on one foot, in ancient tradition, was a technique for accessing the Otherworld. In Ancient Eqypt and China the goose was considered a messenger between Heaven and Earth.

In the foreground grows a blackberry bush. The blackberry is associated with the goose, probably because it is a plant that is protective and also serves as a portal to the Otherworld. I have the canes of the blackberry growing in the shape of an infinity symbol, to represent how the integration of the three spheres is a never ending cycle. The leaves on flowering canes always grow in threes. The number three is a sacred number, which is reflected in the triple nature of the Goose.

Geese are never alone. Community is everything to them. Geese mate for life and will never leave their partner behind. If one of a pair is sick or wounded, its mate will stay with it. When migrating, geese work together, flying in a V-formation to help save energy in their travels. In China the goose is a symbol of marriage because of their life-long pair bond.

Even though the Canada Goose is more common around my home, I chose to depict the Greylag Goose because of my years practicing Korean Buddhism, which uses gray robes for its dharma habit.

There are many ways to view the Goose. Don't let my interpretations limit your own. Go ahead and explore how you might relate to this fascinating bird.


(The Goose, 5 x 7", ink on clayboard)


Sans Souci Studios said...

I like the goose!! Very cool!!!

Helena said...

I find all the reasons for relating to the goose as a totem, and the ways you've woven the symbolism into your painting most interesting. Without the written text I'd have missed all this. Streamlining the mythic into everyday life and our art is a way for us to connect with the ancestors, earth, and our deeper selves. I like this painting, thank you for sharing all this!

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