The bird could be viewed as a symbol for transcendence; the soul, a spirit, spirit of the air, of the dead even. They are able to communicate with gods or even enter into a higher state of consciousness, thought or imagination. Birds are also a feature of tree symbolism: the divine power descends into the tree. Birds often appear in the Tree of Life with the serpent, this combination is a union of air and fire, but also represents conflict*
They can fly, some can even swim under water, thus forming a link between heaven and earth, conscious and unconscious. The bird is almost universally seen as a symbol for the soul or anima, as the breath of the world, or the world soul hidden in matter. Their flight is also viewed as a symbol for escape, a way to rid oneself of earthly restraints….
The dog has been woman’s companion for eons leaving the wilderness in exchange for food, fire and shelter. He has assumed a central place in countless mythologies as a guide between the worlds of life and death, known and unknown, between the conscious mind and the wilderness of the unconscious psyche. He represents fidelity, watchfulness, even nobility. He is seen as a positive symbol, in Celtic tradition he’s associated with healing.
For me there is only this world and I strive to ask questions in the here and now and if I’m lucky stumble upon the answers. However, if it turns out there is an underworld after death, it so happens that a dog who has been your companion in life, can also guide you in your afterlife and act as your personal interpretor, now that is a very comforting thought.
It would seem both animals help me get to grips with my unconscious urges, desires, innermost unspoken unknowables and express myself through various media. They help me come to terms with (my) Life…..I know for a fact walking with Tungsten keeps me whole, healthy and sane, his figuring in my work along with the many, many birds has probably also kept me Together. My studio is named the BirdHut, our house the Birdhouse….hmmm there’s a theme of finding answers, answers to questions I hadn’t even asked myself, well well.
* A few years ago my parents commissioned a painting; I made a painting with a tree of life and a snake and birds, the snake wasn’t and still isn’t an animal I often use; however I now learn about this symbolism: union and conflict in our child-parent relationship…..well who knew?
Sources: The Book of Symbols, Taschen 2012; An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of traditional Symbols, J.C.Cooper, T&H London 1993; De verborgen taal van het symbool, D.Fontana, Fibula/Houten 1994; De Mens en zijn Symbolen, C.J.Jung, Amsterdam 1974