Archive for category Icons
This Annunciation icon is perhaps the most difficult experience I have encountered making icons. It was confronting in many different ways which I continue to unravel. I began this icon in late 2008 and did not finish until 2011, after many difficulties, debates and changes. Every icon for me is a unique and personal experience. It was simply hard to love this icon and happily that is no longer true.
From a theological perspective, the icon illustrates the story of the divine announcement of the virgin birth of Jesus. There are other ancient versions of the myth of the virgin birth and most biblical scholars recognise the story found in the gospels of Matthew and Luke as canonical redaction. The virgin birth story is not found in Paul’s writings which were written before the gospels.
Why then is this particular biblical myth so captivating? I would like to think that it is an important and beautiful story because Mary gives her life in service to humanity after receiving a divine vision. That is the most profound undertaking in any tradition.
From Luke 1:26-38 (NIV) we find the story that is the Annunciation depicted in this icon.
In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”
The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”
“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.
This icon shows the joy of the announcement of the coming of Christ. Archangel Gabriel, traditionally the messenger angel, has descended from heaven to inspire Mary who is chosen to be the Mother of God. It is not difficult to see the beauty of this myth for all mothers as all children are from God. The icon brings divine status to motherhood.
Unique symbolism here is:
- the angel moving quickly with feet not quite touching the pedestal underneath him.
- The angel reaches out to deliver the message as a blessing bestowed upon her by God.
- In Mary’s left hand is a spindle of crimson yarn depicting the task that she had of making the veil of the Temple in Jerusalem.
- Mary’s right hand is raised in acceptance of Gabriel’s message.
- Mary receives this message as she sits in heavenly spheres as shown by the throne which comes from a bright light and the message is acknowledged to her through the spirit that reaches beyond everything.
Here is my version of the Mandylion Icon, also known as the ‘The Icon Made Without Hands’ and the Image of Edessa.
This is an icon that I was compelled to work with. Icons arrive for me in various ways. Sometimes its just a good idea, or feeling drawn to the prototype, or I think I can handle it technically, or as often happens, the prototype is suggested by my icon teacher (master iconographer Michael Galovic) as one that both challenges and satisfies my level of skill. This prototype showed itself at a meditation retreat late 2010 and was completed May 2011. Until then I had often looked at the prototype and been put off by the disembodied image. More than a few times I had said “not doing that one”. As with many things that I discover in life, when I say I won’t do something, I find myself doing it sometime later. Not because I am required to, but because I change my position completely and voluntarily. The arrival of this icon is for me another of those ‘turn arounds’ that seem to come my way regularly. My hope is that such ‘turn arounds’ bring with them some measure of humility, reminding me that I don’t know very much about anything important.
The prototype of this particular icon can be found at the Tretyakov State Gallery, Moscow, Russia. (1) It was made around 12th century. The Eastern Orthodox Church feast day of this icon is August 16 which commemorates its translation from Edessa to Constantinople.
The history of the icon is substantial. There are many myths surrounding it and stories similar to those about the Shroud of Turin. (2) In essence, the Mandylion is considered an icon of miraculous powers. As the Image of Edessa it was said to be a square or rectangle of cloth upon which a miraculous image of the face of Jesus was imprinted. As such it was the first icon image. Eastern Orthodoxy refers to the image as the Holy Mandylion. Legend says that the King of Edessa wrote to Jesus asking to be cured of his leprosy. In response, Jesus sent a disciple to bring to the King a cloth that he had used to wipe his face with and the king was miraculously cured. The image of Christ became the protector of the city of Edessa and was believed to aid Edessa against attacks from the Persians in 544. The image was moved to Constantinople in the 10th century. The cloth disappeared from Constantinople during the sacking of Constantinople that was the Fourth Crusade. It reappeared as a relic in King Louis IX of France’s Sainte Chappelle in Paris, only to disappear again in the French Revolution.
Back to the making of this icon. I was extremely nervous about this one. I am always especially nervous when I work on an icon of Christ or Mother of God. It just is that way. This time the anxiety was off the scale. I could work on it only a few hours at a time. It is not a complex icon but its simplicity means that any and every error stands out.
This is the icon with the base colours and pencil outline of the facial features. At this very early stage I was aware of what seemed to be a fierce space that came with the image and I tried hard to soften that as I went but regardless it is an image that brings with it a fierce space. I think of it as a space of will or unwavering determination.
The application of the first highlight for the face is an unusual approach and brings the face to the image in a ghostly way.
The application of facial features is next. More definition, still ghostly.
The fierceness emerges when the facial features are fully defined and the beard applied.
Colour to the facial features brings a measure of softness.
The gold highlights for the hair are relatively unique. Gold is not simple to apply to icon painting and in this case every wobble and glitch becomes obvious. Countless reworks are essential.
Here the 2nd facial highlights add more softness to the image.
By now I am completely immersed in this image. For me working on this icon was something like falling into an abyss of beauty and will. At times the beauty brings joy and at times the icon is on fire.
The final highlights to the face and beard are both softening and fierce. I simply stared for long periods at this icon. Not wanting to finish it.
Here is the final image after varnish with shellac bringing out the depth of the colours. They become rich and final.
(1) Link for the Mandylion Icon at the Tretyakov State Gallery Moscow http://www.icon-art.info/masterpiece.php?lng=en&mst_id=141
(2) Link for mythology of the Mandylion Icon – The Icon Made without Hands http://full-of-grace-and-truth.blogspot.com.au/2010/08/holy-mandylion-napkin-of-christ-not.html
Here is a very special icon of the Saint Catherine of Alexandria. I completed this work May 2011.
Back in January this year, I wrote about my return to writing* the icon of St Catherine of Alexandria. This was the 2nd icon of this saint that I have worked on.
See the previous posting for background information about the icon and who I think the persona of this non existent saint was based on: Hypatia of Alexandria. http://www.olgachristineinnerspace.com/?p=390
See another icon of Saint Catherine of Alexandria prepared by my hand on my icon website. http://olgachristine.com/icon_stcatherine.html
Friends have asked to see how icons are made. In response, it seemed a good idea to record the process of making icons. Here is my first attempt beginning with an icon that was already 70% complete when I started recording the process.
I began work on this icon sometime during 2007/2008. I always found it particularly difficult. It is a complex icon, much more so than I expected. But more important than complexity, I simply could not find the right space for the icon itself. Something of a space arrived when I found literature on Hypatia of Alexandria and then much later, after I saw the movie Agora, the space of the icon to work from became much clearer to me.
Then came a realization regarding the spaces of icons. From this and other icons I am working on right now, I have begun to understand, and maybe begun to see, that for a creative work to take on its own presence, there must be a seed. This makes perfect sense to me now. I see the seed in the esoteric sense, as the progeny of a greater archetype.
I watched the seed for this one land as I reworked some areas of the icon, especially the face. The presence become more apparent with each session of work until at one point I realized that this icon had her own presence. Not a reflection, not a connection to somewhere else, but the unique presence of this individual icon.
Returning to the process of this icon writing, I re-started by removing the work I had previously done on the face. It had not been good work and there was no sense of presence. Here she is without face and then followed by another view with the new color for the face. Maybe you will notice an absence of presence.
There was much reworking that went on with the gold paint, as well as the wheel, the books, and the robes. That work is not obvious from the photos here.
The next phase is the work on the face. I was very surprised to see that the face that landed here was not very different from the face that I had previously worked on and removed. However the technique for this work was much improved and a much more gentle face emerged, than before.
The next phase that can be seen is the crown and the hair. St Catherine of Alexandria icons are relatively unique for having gold through the hair and jeweled crown.
Also the double headed eagle of the Byzantine Empire, on her cloak, is relatively unique. The astrolabe indicates her work (or Hypatia’s) as a mathematician/astronomer. The books indicate her knowledge and work as a philosopher. The crucifix indicates her devotion to Christ. The palm held in her left hand indicates peace.
Here her crown is almost finished, waiting for pearls to be applied, in paint of course.
The Greek inscriptions are finished here. These tell us that she is St Catherine of Alexandria.
The halo is also finished. The halo and inscriptions are arguably among the most difficult parts of an icon to paint. They are painted directly onto gold leaf (guilding) and every waver shows.
Then comes the pearls. This was an intense phase that took a whole day. For me, it requires a level of care that can be very challenging but is a wonderful experience when complete.
I love each one of those pearls. Here they are most of them on the brocade for the robe. Pearls are also on the crown and around the collar.
At this point I thought I was done and worked the final retouches. For me, just about everything is reworked or retouched many times.
As I retouched the main robe, I discovered that the original color in my paint tray had changed which made a mess of the retouching. Not surprising that the paint aged over 4-5 years. Also this red, or perhaps any mix of red color, is difficult to apply. Red covers very poorly. The application needs to be as good as I can make it.
You can see here some splotches on the red. Every time I retouched it got worse. I left it for a week or wondering what next. I could not bear the idea of removing the red robe color, which by the way I had already removed once back in 2008. ‘Not again’ was all I could think of.
Eventually the remedy became obvious. It turned out that I could remix the color and paint over the whole lower robe, around the highlights. This type of correction is not always possible, but thankfully it worked.
In this final image below, the icon is ready for shellack, to be followed by varnish. You may notice that the first image of this icon (at the top of this post) has more intense colors than the one you see completed below. That is because the shellack and varnish had been applied to the image at the top of the post.
For reasons I do not understand, I find that the image here, without the shellack and varnish, takes me back to the spaces I felt in the writing of the icon and in that sense is different to the image of the finished icon at the top. This image below makes my heart sing - perhaps because it holds the journey of the making of the icon.
* the traditional description of the work involved in an icon is to write an icon, not paint an icon. From http://orthodoxwiki.org/Icon
The most literal translation of the Greek word εικονογραφία (eikonographia) is “image writing,” leading many English-speaking Orthodox Christians to insist that icons are not “painted” but rather “written.” From there, further explanations are given that icons are to be understood in a manner similar to Holy Scripture—that is, they are not simply artistic compositions but rather are witnesses to the truth the way Scripture is. Far from being imaginative creations of the iconographer, they are more like scribal copies of the Bible.
While the explanation of the purpose and nature of icons is certainly true and consistent with the Church’s Holy Tradition, there is a linguistic problem with the insistence on the word written rather than painted. In Greek, a painted portrait of anyone is also a γραφή (graphi), and the art of painting itself is called ζωγραφική (zographiki) while any drawing or painting can be referred to as ζωγραφιά (zographia). Ancient Greek literally uses the same root word to refer to the making of portraits and the making of icons, but distinguishes whether it is “painting from life” (ζωγραφιά) or “painting icons” (εικονογραφία). Thus, from a linguistic point of view, either all paintings—whether icons or simple portraits—are “written” or (more likely) “painted” is a perfectly usable English translation, simply making a distinction between the painting appropriate for icons and that appropriate for other kinds of painting, just as Greek does.
This is the first of a number of posts about the sublime ancient frescoes that can be seen in the rock churches of Cappadocia. (1) Below is a older part of the village of Cavusin where I stayed.
I begin with Red Valley because when I arrived in Cappadocia, Red Valley was the first walk that I took in this incredible location. I arrived at my hotel in Cavusin, early afternoon and had a few hours to walk. The Red Valley walk begins in Cavusin.
In this next photo – look at the upper left of the cliff face and you will see a number of rock dwellings and cave churches carved into the rock.
I started out without a plan, or a map, just an idea of the trail from the owner of the pension who advised me that it was well marked. That was not the case. I did get lost at one point and was redirected by a local farmer, who was probably working the orchard in front of this church. He spoke no English but kept insisting that I head in a particular direction, and I am glad he did, otherwise I could have spent the night out there.
The village and the surrounding valleys are famous for the rock or cave churches which had served as the homes and places of worship for ascetic monks between the 1st and 10th Centuries.
This is the first rock church and monks complex that I encountered in Cappadocia and it was very special.
Possibly half of this structure had fallen away. The carving was exceptional in the church. The arches and domes were smooth and beautifully curved. It appeared that there were a number of rooms to the church.
If you look to the top of the entrance to the church you can see partial frescoes.
I could not locate literature on the churches of Red Valley. The dug outs were scattered throughout the large valley. It was obviously a community of ancient Christians. These carvings and style of fresco suggest to me that this particular structure was closer to the 10th century AD.
This fresco of the crucifixion is beautiful iconography. I saw hundreds of rock church frescoes in my time in Cappadocia and those from this church touched me deeply. Perhaps because it was the first I encountered, or because it was an exceptional place of devotion and I thought I could tune into the devotion of the iconographer. I think the latter.
Notice the orange banding or borders with patterns around and through the icon. I saw these borders from time to time and it is not typical iconography. I suspect that it has something to do with the evil eye obsession of the populations from this region and what was once Asia Minor. The patterns inside the borders were common among the rock dwellings usually without frescoes. This made me wonder if the patterns originated from local shaman traditions.
These frescoes have been gouged by vandals. This is a very common sight throughout Cappadocia. The fresco might be pockmarked by rifle fire or sharp instruments.
What I find fascinating is that the frescoes might be vandalized but often not completely destroyed. At times only the faces or the eyes have been subjected to some kind of interference.
My research later indicated that throughout the Ottoman period, the Christian frescoes were largely acknowledged for their religious content, however the faces, and especially the eyes, were considered unacceptable because of the myth of the evil eye.
It is possible that the fresco above is the image of St Symeon, who was a great ascetic from the region. His fairy chimney dugout retreat was not far from Red Valley, in the Pasabaglari Valley no more than 10 kms from this location.
This rock church was a small complex including cave dugout living quarters. I imagine that the cave below is was where the monks lived and worked when they were not worshiping. The dugout panels in the walls look to me like sleeping quarters.
The movie Agora released late 2010 reminded me of research I had done some time ago. About 5 years ago I started work on a particular icon of St Catherine of Alexandria. I had already completed an icon of this St Catherine (not to be confused with St Catherine of Siena. The one you see here.
I had no difficulty completing the first icon of St Catherine but the second one is still not complete 5 years after starting it. I simply could not find the space of the icon and so my work on it became mechanical and was not very good. I was constantly redoing something on it. Redo’s are not unusual but this seemed endless.
I usually research the icon when I start it to help to land the space, understand the messages being passed and the spaces behind the prototype and I had done that when I worked on the first St Catherine. In desperation I tried again to find the space of the icon I was working on.
I came upon references that there was no historical evidence St Catherine of Alexandria had existed. Despite what is said on Wikipedia and there is of course a famous monastery in her name in Mount Sinai. Also Joan of Arc was believed to have been guided by many visions of Catherine of Alexandria. She is considered one of the holy helpers representing ‘sudden death’.
Essentially St Catherine is said to have been a noted scholar in the early fourth century. She was raised a pagan and converted to Christianity in her late teens as many did at that time in Alexandria. She attempted to convince the Roman Emperor Maxentius of his moral error in persecuting Christians and succeeded in converting his wife and man pagan philosophers who the emperor sent to dispute with her, all of whom were martyred. She was condemned to death on the wheel (the Catherine Wheel) which broke when she touched and so she was beheaded. (1)
I located references that Catherine of Alexandria was removed from the Church’s Calendar of Saints and her cult surpressed because much of what is known about her is based entirely on legend. A few years later it seems that she was returned to the Calender.
St Catherine’s monastery in Sinai is said to be located on the site of the Burning Bush of Moses. This is an excellent video of the monastery showing the bush and visitors trying to touch a bush respresenting the site of the Burning Bush.
It became my view that St Catherine of Alexandria did not exist but that had not stopped me from working on an icon before. I believe I eventually located the problem. It has been argued by historians that the myth of St Catherine of Alexandria had been modelled on the life of Hypatia of Alexandria. (2)
Maria Dzielska in her book Hypatia of Alexandria puts forward her case on the parallels of the stories of the two women (1996 First Harvard University Press, USA). The story of Hypatia of Alexandria is very well told in the movie Agora. There are some differences in the movie to other accounts and I think those changes make it more entertaining and do not distort the historical accounts of her life too much. Essentially, Hypatia the philosopher refused to convert to Christianity on the basis that she would be forced to believe what was written without question and would be forced to stop teaching because Christian women were not permitted to teach. She was horribly murdered by Christian extremists because she was denounced as a witch and prostitute by the Bishop and later Pope Cyril of Alexandria. Then it seems that her life became the basis of the story of St Catherine with a twist.
I still wonder if I can finish this icon. I have not given up yet. I will keep looking for the spaces. Here is the prototype I have been working with.
Notice on this icon the similarities to Hypatia with symbolism of astrology from the astrolab and symbolism of philosophy with the books.
No visit to Ephesus is complete without visiting the House of the Virgin Mary. I was not expecting anything remarkable from this location. The information I obtained from Selcuk seemed to suggest that it was a bit ordinary. Also it was not easy to get there even though it was just a few kilometers from Selcuk. I delayed getting there until I hired a car which was much later during my stay at Selcuk. The alternatives to get there were a bus tour or a taxi tour. All expensive options and I think rushed. I am very glad that I waited and hired a car because that allowed me to take my time through the whole experience and make a number of visits to the statue of Mary erected in 1996 by the American Society of Ephesus.
Mary’s House is 9 km from the town of Selcuk mostly up hill on the slopes of a mountain overlooking Ephesus. The location was discovered in 1891 after a paralytic nun in Germany who had been bedridden for 12 years began having visions. She gave the details of the remains and location of the house. A research team found the house based on the nun’s directions. The foundations of the house are from the 1st century. Tradition tells us that Mary was brought to this house 4-6 years after the death of Christ by St John. Two popes have visited the house and it has been proclaimed a place of pilgrimage.
Muslims believe in the saintliness of the Virgin Mary and while I was there it seemed to me that as many, or more, Muslims visited the site compared to Christians. Locals refer to the house as Meryemana Evi, or simply Meryemana. It is a location held in high regard by Muslims who come from great distances to pay their respects to Mary. In Turkey I saw on a few occasions the great care and respect that Muslims offer to Christian saints who are mentioned in the Koran. Sacred sites and sacred objects related to Mary, Christ and John the Baptist are highly regarded by Muslim Turks.
A church was built on the site during around the 6-7th centuries before it was known as Mary’s house. The grounds of surrounding the house are very natural, not in any way overdone as I was expecting. The location is lovingly cared for by monks. The church built on Mary’s House is very small and without extravagant adornment. No photos are allowed inside the church which did not stop some people from doing just that. I stayed inside the church that was Mary’s House to meditate for about an hour. I often found in my travels that whenever I sat to meditate for anything more than 10 minutes, I was investigated. Sometimes the guards arrived with dogs. On this occasion it was obvious that I was kept in view of security however my silence was not interrupted. The space of the house was deep, soft and peaceful.
I was surprised that the people coming into the house often stopped for inside for barely 2 minutes. They entered and left. Sadly, they also missed an opportunity to feel the spaces of the house. Some would take photos contrary to the wishes of the caretakers. I spotted one woman using the video setting on her camera so that it was not obvious that she was taking images of the inside of the church. I wonder about that level of grasping. It is not very pleasant to see. There were candles at the doorway leading out of the church with a sign asking people to take only two per person. There was a place outside the church where candles could be lit and left. A lot of people took handfuls of candles. I wonder if they imagined that they were able to take something of Mary away with them. There was definitely a stunningly soft and beautiful Presence there which seemed unique to the church and I do not imagine that the experience could be taken away from the location.
Outside the house, there are water fountains that are said to spring from below the floor of he house. Water flowing from these fountains is considered curative. Yes – I filled my bottle with water and drank. There is also a wishing wall in Turkish fashion where a note is written and tied to the wall. Yes – I wrote my wish on paper and tied it to the wall. All of this seemed to be an important part of the experience.
There is a statue of the Virgin Mary in the garden on the way to the house. The statue was erected in the last century. The same statue was replicated and located along the road to the house in 1996. The 1996 statue is much larger than its original at the house. The site of the 1996 statue was a truly beautiful place to visit even though it was not an ancient site. I was very taken with it and after tuning in for a while I felt that this location or the statue acted as a bridge between two sites. The 1996 statue of Mary has been placed to look directly down upon the ancient site of Mary’s Church inside the ancient ruins of Ephesus, some distance away. So far I have not seen any reference to this arrangement in the general literature.
Mary’s Church, different from Mary’s House, is located in the city of Ephesus and was the first Christian church to be dedicated to her. It was a church of great historical significance to Christians as the location where a doctrine was established that was never accepted by certain regions of the Christian Empire of Byzantium. In 431 AD the Third Ecumenical Council was held in this church and it was decreed that Christ was fully God and fully man. The Virgin Mary became known as Mother of God because she gave birth not to a mere man but to God as a man. This decree is also known as the union of the two natures of Christ. Through the centuries that followed there was internal division within the Byzantine (Orthodox) Church and Empire concerning the nature and will of Christ, to the extent that the division is believed to have contributed to the ultimate downfall of the Byzantine Church and Empire in 1453 AD.
Some time after my visit to Mary’s House and the 1996 statue on the road to the house, I noticed that two of my photos of this statue showed a natural phenomenon similar to symbolism found in icons. This particular symbolism is often referred to as the hand, or finger of God. From the photo of the statue – notice the sun/cloud effect above the head of Mary a little to the left. I was very happy to see these photos. The experience of visiting Mary’s House is not simple to describe and now for me, this photo says it all in an image. This is a sacred place of pilgrimage where you can tune into the Presence of the Mother of God.
You can see what I perceive to be this symbolism as shown in icon as the hand or finger of God in the upper right corner of the icon of St George that follows.
My website www.olgachristine.com shows the icons I have completed under the guidance of master iconographer Michael Galovic. I created that website primarily to communicate the beauty of icons, as an act of veneration. There you can find the traditional information related to individual icons.
Icons are not religious art. The icon is created as an image of the invisible and even the presence of the Invisible One. Since humanity, according to Genesis, has been made in the image and likeness of God, and since Christ is the prototype of all human beings, the veneration offered to the traditional Orthodox icon ultimately passes to Christ.
Icons express a symbolism which mirrors the role of archetypes as described by Plotinus. Plotinus links the theory of beauty with the spiritual path and mysticism. He teaches that all things in this world are beautiful only by their participation in the Forms, or noetic Archetypes. From Plotinus, it is said that the Soul is delighted in beauty because through the recognition of the imprint of that in which it perceives a pathway to the source of its being is opened and it comes to recognise itself.
Icons are for me a glorious pathway to archetypes. In this section I would like to explore that pathway and those archetypes as I perceive them in the icons I have contemplated.
Shortly after the death of my mother I completed this icon, usually known as the White Angel – who is believed to be Archangel Gabriel, sitting at the entrance of Christ’s empty tomb, announcing His resurrection to the myrrh-bearing women. The prototype for this icon is a detail of a fresco from the Mileseva monastery circa 1230 AD in Serbia.
The Angel of the Resurrection sits calmly and points to the empty tomb for the benefit of the holy women who have come to the tomb of Christ. He commanded them to tell the disciples that Christ has risen from the dead. “And when the Sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had brought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him. And very early in the morning on the first day of the week, they came to the sepulchre at the rising of the sun. And they said among themselves, Who shall roll away the stone from the door of the sepulchre for us? And when they looked, they saw that the stone was rolled away: for it was very great. And entering into the sepulchre, they saw a young man sitting on the right side, clothed in a long white garment [White Angel]; and they were frightened. And he said to them, Do not be frightened: You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified; he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goes before you into Galilee: there you shall see him, as he said to you”. (Gospel according to Mark, chapter 16).
My vision of this icon has many levels of interpretation:
- Gabriel, the messenger of God brings us the news of Christs resurrection and I remember that the same Angel brought Mary the news of the future birth of her child Jesus, the son of God (or the son of Man). For me, this Angel has many links to Christ and the feminine presence of Mary.
- The calm demeanour of the Angel is usual and it reminds me that there is peace with God always.
- The Angel’s wings have two dimensions: the gold of the light of Christ and the blue of the deepest spaces of the cosmos. I can involute deeply into the blue spaces.
- The message that death and birth, specifically rebirth are dual states. I can contemplate the duality of human states.
- We are told that death leads to something greater and we should not be ‘frightened’. I can rest on this knowledge.
- We can find comfort in the news that our loved ones will find their way to the place where they originally came from. Just as Jesus returns to Galilee where he came from in the story from Mark above. In death we return to our place with God. We also return to our true selves in that place.
- Contemplating this icon in meditation can bring spaces like those discussed here and many others. I hope also that contemplation of this icon can bring comfort to someone who has lost a loved one, as it has for me.
You are currently browsing the archives for the Icons category.