Monday, January 18, 2010

The dragonfly teaches skillful action while maintaining a free and joyful sense of being...

A few years back I researched symbolic meanings of dragonflies for an art project. I love how the Internet makes researching potential meanings so easy..I found a lot, and learned dragonflies represent the powers of light and transformation, and the ability to see through illusion. They are thought to bring prosperity and harmony. The dragonfly totem is said to teach skillful action while maintaining a free and joyful sense of being. Dragonflies are associated with illusion, dreamtime, and water & springtime. Also considered a messenger, the Dragonfly can bring instruction on breaking through illusions (especially those that are self-created), gaining power through dreams, imagination, revealing one's higher aspirations, and depict a carefree nature.

From An Illustrated Encyclopaedia of Traditional Symbols by J. C. Cooper:

- can share butterfly symbolism of immortality and regeneration
- in some Native American cultures- whirlwind, swiftness, activity
- in China - summer, instability, weakness
- in Japan - the national emblem of "Dragonfly Island", also representing irresponsibility, unreliability. Traditionally known as katsumushi or the "invincible insect", the dragonfly was a favorite symbol of strength among Japanese warriors. The dragonfly on the front of a 17th century Samuri helmet is done in gold lacquer with black and red markings.

English names include Jacky breeze, heather-flee, balance fly, and water dipper.
Apparently, when Spain began to colonize the New World, the Latin Style Christian Cross found great acceptance among the Peoples of the Pueblo Villages, (most of whom did not really embrace this European Religion), mostly, it is believed, because of its resemblance to the Pueblo Indian symbol for the Dragonfly, one among many mythical beings pertaining to water, always a primary concern for agriculturalists like the Pueblo farmers.

Celtic names include spearadoir (in English, mower) and snathad mor na sciathain (in English, big needle of the wing).

In Tahiti, "all insects were regarded as mysterious agents of the gods and spirits, notably, butterflies, moths, crickets and dragonflies" wrote Teuira Henry in her book, Ancient Tahiti.

The Dragon-fly


Alfred Lord Tennyson:

"Today I
saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.
An inner impulse
rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates
of sapphire mail.
He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;

Thro' crofts and pastures wet with dew,
A living
flash of light he flew.”

These symbolic meanings were researched on line 2/17/05 by me, but remember the only person who can really tell you what your art means is you. So I found the quote that really meant something to me, today, was the part about the dragonfly that teaches skillful action while maintaining a free and joyful sense of being Animals symbols that come to us through the creative process are gifts from the unconscious and we want to treat them as such. These images are from artwork I made in a dragonfly shaped altered book swap made with some 14 secrets friends. This artwork was done in my friend Gena's book. I like how the scanner photographs them. My former student Kate B. taught me how to use the scanner as a camera, and I love how you get the feel of the fibers attached to the book. When I made the dragonfly fairy or goddess, inspired by artwork my friend Lore and done in Gena's book, I felt visited by a messager and blessed throughout the art process which became skillful action while maintaining a free and joyful sense of being...
my wish is for you to create in this way...flowing: skillful action while maintaining a free and joyful sense of being...

1 comment:

  1. I like this altered book. I will have to do a dragonfly just for fun this week and put it near my Vision Calendar...that I am soon to be writing about. Loved all the symbolism. My children loved insect collecting when they were young. Sometimes it is hard to find a variety of insects anymore. When I think of the dragon fly I think of the marshes in Maine where we, the children and two parents were trying to learn what lived in the marshes and how they benefited us. It was an interesting self study that everyone collaborated on. I remember seeing the dragon fly and everyone drawing that in our nature books. They do seem magical because of the way the light bounces off their wings and how fast they can fly out of sight.


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Gioia Chilton is a registered and board certified art therapist.


Gioia Chilton, MA, ATR-BC

Gioia Chilton, MA, ATR-BC