Tag Archives: symbols


IMG_9045IMG_9041 From a young age, I have always used the phrase “mapping out my life” as a way of thinking about moving toward the future. I would pull out a napkin, a place mat or an envelope and start making random marks, circles, and connecting lines as if this act of defining it on paper would set my decisions and movements into action – (strangely enough many times it did.) Maybe this is why Elizabeth has asked me to create a mind map of sorts to represent what has transpired in the past 12 months of this Living Chapters project. She asked me to create a diagram that could illustrate what I have taken in and what I have given out over the length of this life experiment.

Thinking about putting the chaos of this self-discovery life experiment in an actual road map has left me feeling a bit dizzy, mixed with a bit of resistance. Something similar to what I felt when asked last July to pick only one symbol that would represent me as a person. How can all that has unfolded being distilled into one single diagram? I feel as if I am still working through this long involved equation, learning how the pieces that are coming together will ultimately affect the outcome or possibly come to some kind of solution?

Instead of getting completely overwhelmed and frustrated with this task, I decided to take my own advice from last July and simplify the request. Less is more correct? Could I come up with a diagram that could represent not exactly what I have taken in and what I have given out over the past 12 months but could it reflect or focus on the process of how I have shifted my process of taking in and giving out? Could determining the HOW help me pin point the WHAT?

So what am I talking about here? Well, it’s been a hard concept for me to put into words as well – I’ve been thinking about it all week and feel that Elizabeth’s task is on point. It really can more easily be understood through a diagram, a form or by using symbols. So I returned to the symbols  that I contemplated last summer when trying to find a visual to represent my professional work. A few particular symbols have stayed with me throughout the year and now seem to clearly represent the motion and meaning of the process that has evolved for me this year. Specifically the Rune symbols.  Runes, as stated by Ralph Blum, are tools (or diagrams) for assisting us to guide our lives in the present, runes assist us to navigate unfamiliar waters, a tool for keeping us on track and a training device for our intuition.


The power, movement and meaning behind these drawn lines has stayed with me since examining these symbols last year. How can the arrangement of lines guide our paths or how we live them? I am not going to dissect every thought about each symbol I have been contemplating currently in regards to this months task.  But I would like to bring attention to the exercise itself and I would like to share some notes, collections of images, drawings and mapping life exercises as a way to observe my own process in understanding the intake and output from not only this year’s journey but life in general as it has unfolded.

the below sketches were taken from journals 1998 -2004 thinking about the same issues that I am now

What I believe Living Chapters has ultimately helped me do  this year is learn to observe and practice balancing the external and internal input in life. Really looking closely at both the external and internal sources has helped me define and illuminate my core values which in turn is starting to hone my focus and navigation of my external and internal output outcomes, progression, and direction.

After doing last week’s time travel assignment/timeline of my prior actions, habits and patterns, I realized that I do not personally move in a straight line forward or backward or up or down. I am also not simply circling and retracing a path back to its beginning. The motion that most resonates for me is a radiating vibration outward and forward. And in order to do this, I feel there must be given an equal amount of focus weight and motion in all directions while standing firm and still on the core of my center and the present moment. Maybe the images shared here will distill my thoughts and ideas on this in a clear or different way that resonates more than words.

The below images and sketches were collected and made this past week: Special thank you to Jesse Price of The Quondam Tree who opened up his artist studio and workshop for me to explore and photograph in and created the set of beautiful wooden Runes displayed in the photographs above.


Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about. Check out the Chapter Summaries Page to get caught up to date.

the completion of beginnings

Is there really a symbol that could represent yourself or the work that you do? The Wild Card asked me this along with a slew of other intensive inner reflective questions this month. She also asked me to present visual ideas for this question and allow the Living Chapters audience to vote or select one that they thought might be a good representation my work.  Thanks to all of you who weighed in with your votes.

Here is how people voted:

The most amount of votes were cast for this symbol.


Ironically this is a symbol that I gravitated to in my early years. It would pop up in many of my high school art projects, in letters that I wrote to friends, or doodles on classroom homework and folders. The eye image definitely has played a long-lasting role in my life representing the importance of being awake and being aware. Growing up, I felt that it stood for the ability to see what is right in front of you and emphasized the value of witnessing the world around you.

The second most voted for symbol was this one


The Labyrinth

The labyrinth seems very suited to my winding path. Labyrinths are often mistaken for mazes or something that one could get lost within or frustrated with. Unlike mazes though, there are no real dead-ends in a labyrinth only paths that guide you forward. Meandering, yet structured routes, that lead to new destinations. I see labyrinths as tools that can be utilized to practice finding one’s way out of confusing situations. I’ve found myself doing that more than a few times in my work.

So what do I think?

The overall process of picking a personal symbol has been intriguing. As I noted before, I feel that it is near impossible for any one symbol or image to represent a body of work or in my case what feels like an ongoing evolving path as I build my career. So for this reason, I gravitated to less literally visual symbols. I preferred the linear images that were left open to interpretation but yet held a rich meaning.

The Labyrinth, which came in second in all the votes, also came in second when I made my personal votes. I decided that the labyrinth represented how I have moved on my path more than what the work I have done.

My first choice to represent my work is the Rune symbol of Inguz. It seemed to stand out from the rest of the them visually to me.


In the Book of Runes by Ralph H. Blum, in which I first encountered this symbol, Inguz was described in this way:

“This Rune is akin to the moon, the intuitive part of our nature, with its urge toward harmonizing and adjusting in the sphere of personal relationships. The completion of beginnings is what Inguz requires. Drawing this rune may mark a time of joyful deliverance of new life, a new path. It means you will have the strength to achieve completion resolution from which comes new beginning. – All things change and we can not live permanently amid obstructions.”

The meaning appealed to me and seemed to describe the way in which I sought out work and new projects.

When searching further into this rune I found this meaning taken from the book “Zen Runes” by Maria Letizia Renzulli.

“As the moon is mirrored in the sea, as the upper parts of the this rune can be mirrored in the lower, so to can you mirror yourself in others, discovering your true power… “

This felt like the closest description to what I do. I work with people, find a personal connection and then mirror back that connection by framing their story within a photograph, audio story or interactive program that allows those that I work with to hear themselves and share in their own way. I don’t create new things. I simply witness the existence of them and highlight the importance and value to sharing them.

Only one person voted for this symbol but his reasoning just added to my original attraction to this symbol. My friend Steve Oxley impressions were as follows:

“It gives off the impression of potential – The design is simple yet complex, it gives me the impression of balance, as if life occurs in the apex of your past and your future. This is why it is good for a portfolio that’s trying to encompass your past in hopes of bringing the light to future adventures”

I can’t help but agree with Steve. I am still unsure of how and where it will visually show up on the website, but I have a few more days to figure that out.


Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about.

Images of the labyrinth and eye symbols were taken from the following books found in Powell’s bookstore in Portland OR:  ”The Book of Symbols” – Taschen “Man and His Symbols” – Carl Jung

(wo)man and her symbols


I have had little time (literally) between my travels from coast to coast and state to state to properly give thought to Anita’s Wild Card self-reflection questions. Although I did zero in on one of them in particular – selecting a symbol for my portfolio.

I am a visual person so I thought this would be easy. But for some reason, I am finding it very difficult. How could one symbol or image represent what you would like to communicate about your personality or being? If there was a symbol that represented me what would it be? Is there really one archetype that can represent an individual?  It’s probably the reason I have never gotten a tattoo… I can’t imagine picking one image that I would want to permanently live with. As found written in an 8th grade journal of mine, “Consistent change is the only constant in life”. I kind of still believe that.

Although difficult to pin down, I gravitated toward this task and welcomed the relief and break from hours of computer work – sitting with a pile of books peering through pages of visual images was an enjoyable experience. Below are some of the first finds and thoughts on selecting an archetype to represent my individuality and the work that I do.


So what kind of woman am I? Is there a symbol that can represent that?

     IMG_3883 IMG_3882

What kinds of images have been used in the past to represent women? Do I separately self identify as being a woman? Being a woman with a certain kind of career? Hmmm… not really


Do I identify as being a traveler? Well… not only.

IMG_3879 IMG_3885 IMG_3893 IMG_3881

Do I identify with the amount of money I make? Or where I live? Maybe the things that I own or the things that I do?  No… not really.  None of that really seems to get at who I am or what my work choices have meant to me.


Could an animal represent me? I am starting to feel like a turtle residing on or by the water for the past two years and moving my home with me from place to place.


Should I look to astrology? Being a Capricorn is supposed to mean I am good on land and in water (the goat/fish).  It sort of suits?

IMG_3853 IMG_3873 IMG_3877 IMG_3878What about looking to history, mythology, or dreams to find the right symbol?

It all seems way too representational and a little bit too specific for me, connected only to one thing time, or place, with predisposed meaning.

Honestly I would prefer not putting any excess pictorial images on my online portfolio in addition to representing my work itself.  After looking through more symbols I started leaning toward those that were graphic and linear.


The number 4 for some reason has always been my favorite number


I liked this one for its meaning more than the graphic. Sewing a seed that would grow the universe sounds appealing to me.


Again, I am more interested in the meaning here, rather than the graphic itself.  The idea of independent movement and migration is something that has always played a role in my life.

After searching through pages and pages of symbols in books at Powell’s bookstore in Portland. My friend Gabe found this book “The Book of RUNES” by Ralph H. Blum


The symbols in this book seem to hold both the graphics and the meanings that I feel are more akin to me.

The following text was taken from the introduction of Blum’s book

“Runes are of Scandinavian decent and are an ancient alphabetic script in which each letter possesses a meaning and a signifying sound.  They were used for legal documents, writing poetry and inscriptions but never evolved as a spoken language.”


This Rune is the Berkana Rune.  It represents Growth, Rebirth, and Birch Tree.  “The growth may occur in affairs of the world, family matters, the relationship of the self to the self or to the divine. This Rune leads to blossoming and ripening. It is concerned with the flow of beings into their new forms.”


This Rune is Inguz. “It represents fertility or new beginnings.  This Rune is akin to the moon, the intuitive part of our nature, with its urge toward harmonizing and adjusting in the sphere of personal relationships.  The completion of beginnings is that Inguz requires.  Drawing this Rune may mark a time of joyful deliverance of new life, a new path.  It means  you will have the strength to achieve completion resolution from which comes new beginning.”

There are a few other Runes in this book that I am drawn to but these last two are the ones that speak to me the most.

I know which image I would pick but I have been asked by the Wild Card to allow the readers to vote upon the image that I should use.  Please visit the Living Chapters Facebook Page and cast your vote for the image in the ” (wo)man and her symbols” photo album that you feel best represents either my work or myself.


Just finding this blog today? Read the prologue for more details on what Living Chapters is all about.

Images of the symbols were taken from the following books found in Powell’s bookstore in Portland OR:  “The Book of Symbols” – Taschen “Man and His Symbols” – Carl Jung “The Symbolic Quest” – Edward Whitmont “1000 symbols, What Shapes Mean in Art and Myth” by Rowena and Rupert Shepherd