Love the Fig
My creative project explores “the fecundating, magical action of the symbol on the mind” (Pietro Negri, 2001, p 91). In a sense this phrase perfectly encapsulates the aims and effects of the transformative material we have encountered on the MA, as the creative project is noted as ‘the heart of the MA’.
To quote Arthur Versluis, a wonderful scholar of the esoteric traditions: “We return to the field of the imagination because this is where we come to know what it means to be alive” (2004, p 26).
Being passionately in love with the natural world and truly transported by her wonders, I am frequently struck by the highly symbolic stories revealed in nature. Reading an article on the humble fig, in The New Yorker magazine, I had the most remarkable epiphany. It was a wonderful example of Versluis’ observations about the mesocosmic field of the imagination, in which author, text and reader all participate in an act of co-creation, and how that act is often initiatory, for those with “ears to hear” (2004, p 15). He describes the extra-ordinary moment when a text both reveals and allows access to, a realm of symbol and meaning previously hidden. Whilst this particular text was in no way esoteric, it had the effect of igniting an awareness of the remarkably rich symbolism of this ‘myth’ from the natural world. For as Paul Tillich, pre-eminent Harvard theologian, points out:
“…the main function of symbols is to open up levels of reality, which otherwise are hidden and cannot be grasped in any other way” (1955, p 191). In order to open up levels of reality, “something else must be opened up – namely, levels of the soul, levels of our interior reality…. so every symbol is two-edged. It opens up reality and it opens up the soul” (Tillich, 1955, p 191). The story of the fig and fig wasp became, for me, an archetypal symbol of rebirth and regeneration, fertility and fruitfulness, through the ancient pattern of the mother archetype (Aziz, 1990, p.20).
The story of the fig and fig wasp became, for me, an archetypal symbol of rebirth and regeneration, fertility and fruitfulness, through the ancient pattern of the mother archetype (Aziz, 1990, p.20).
This was a revelatory moment and the image of the fig has continued to unfold, as pages in the book of my personal journey. This story captured my imagination and called for a creative response, and later I shall summarize the main points of the article that became “hooks” upon which my imagination hung.
Indeed, the fig became so resonant for me that I have been inspired me to start a new series of work to explore it further as an esoteric archetypal symbol. As James Hillman notes “the depth of even the simplest image is truly fathomless” (1989A, p 244). It’s beautiful feminine shape, its colour, its secret treasure and all of its rich symbolism calls out to me for creative expression. I knew it spoke to me of healing and wholeness.