Sunday, September 6, 2009

Rivers - As A Symbol (Part 2)

"When the river is deepest it makes least noise."

In addition to symbolizing the flow of time (See: Rivers, Part 1),
Rivers also Symbolize Borders, boundaries, transcendence, Mirrors,
the Subconscious, and persistence.

Rivers, which consist of Water, contain many interesting metaphors,
mythologies and Symbolism. Let's take a look at a few of them.

Rivers as Borders: Since the beginning of Time Rivers have served
as natural Borders. Rivers, such as the Mississippi, Colorado and
Delaware serve as Borders between states. They can act as Borders
between countries in the way that the Rio Grande separates a
portion of the Unites States from Mexico, and as the St. Lawrence
separates a portion of the United States from Canada. Rivers can
also act as a natural Border between countries and continents in
the way that the Ural River creates a natural Border between Asia
and Europe. Natural Borders, created by Nature, separate one
civilization, or realm from another. In this aspect, crossing a River
Symbolizes leaving a familiar domain behind in order to enter into,
and experience, an entirely new one. To cross a River which
serves as a natural Border Symbolizes "Adventure".

Rivers as boundaries: Perhaps the best example of a River as
a boundary is Julius Caesar crossing the Rubicon with his army.
Roman law forbade a returning general from bringing his army
into Rome. The general was required to leave his army on the
opposite side of the Rubicon and enter Rome alone. When Julius
Caesar crossed the Rubicon with his army he violated the rules
of Roman generalship and changed the course of history. In this
instance, crossing a River, or crossing the line, represents "defiance"
"boldness" and "Destiny".

Rivers as transcendence: Charon, the mythological Greek
boatman, would ferry the souls of the deceased across the River
Styx into Hades.

In a like fashion the bodies of the deceased, after Ritual and
mummification, would be ferried to the West bank of the Nile River
to be interned in Necropolis (the "city of the dead"). Necropolis was
located on the West bank of the Nile River because the Sun sets in
the West as It begins Its underworld Journey which culminates in Its
eventual re-birth the following morning. In this instance, crossing a
River Symbolizes "transcending" from a lower form of consciousness
to a higher one, thereby "aspiring" to a higher realm.

Rivers as Mirrors: A calm River acts as a Mirror. It displays all
that is above it. It reflects the current peaceful mood, beauty and
seasonal wardrobe of Mother Nature. It also displays the tranquil
stillness of the Infinite far, far above. As a Mirror, the smooth, quiet
River Symbolizes "reflection", "pensiveness" and "meditation".

Rivers as the Subconscious: Chinese Feng Shui tells us that
the calm section of a River provides the greatest amount of Chi,
or vital energy, and is an ideal place to build a home. Here the
Waters are quiet, peaceful, relaxing and soothing. This part of the
River has a distinct calming effect on the body, mind and spirit.
It is at this location that the River's Waters are also the deepest.

Symbolically, deep Water represents the Subconscious. And
although our Subconscious harbors our greatest fears, it is also
where our deepest Thoughts and innermost feelings reside; it
is also the secret underwater workshop of our imagination. It is
this point of the River, where "still waters run deep", that
Symbolizes our spiritual ability to "submerge" ourselves into a
meditative state which enables us to reflect upon the wonder and
beauty which is both high above us and deep within us.

Rivers as persistence: Rivers can carve mountains into canyons.
All it takes is Time. The Grand Canyon is an excellent example
of this Divine Truth. This aspect of a River serves as a priceless
metaphor which teaches us that, with patience and persistence,
we too can wear away (erode) any obstacles which block our Path
or impede our progress. In this instance, the River is another
expression of "Aesop's Tortoise".

The River, and its many different attributes, is a silent, ancient and
Wise teacher. Yet, although It is silent, Its Lessons are profound.
Through Symbolism, metaphor and Its own unique personality the
River slowly Instructs us. It reveals to us the secrets of Nature,
the Universe, and ourselves. All we need to do is observe, feel,
listen and keep in mind the song lyrics from "Old Man River".
"Ol' Man River, that Ol' Man River
He must know somepin', but he don't say nothin'
He just keeps rollin', he keeps on rollin' along"
(Also see: Rivers, part 1)

Comments and Emails: I welcome comments and emails from
people with similar thoughts and feelings. My email address is
located in the upper-left area of this page. Comments can be
posted by using the "Comment" link located below each article.
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Disclaimer: None of my articles should be considered to be
either advice or expertise. They are simply personal opinions
and no more. Everyone is encouraged to seek competent
advice from a licensed, registered, or certified professional
should such advice or service be required.

© copyright Joseph Panek 2009
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1 comment:

Unknown said...

My 89 year oldAunt Anna just passed away. We did not tell my sickly elderly cousin that she passed,as to not upset her. When we returned from the funeral,we just told her we went to visit my 2 aunts. She said,"no,cause auntie Anna was here with me the last 2 days. She had a wearing a bright colored dress,carrying yellow flowers. She was going to the river to give her mom,(my grandma,who has already passed),the flowers. My cousin asked if she could come and my Aunt told her, Not yet".. My sister researched the meaning of The River, and ran across your article. My aunt had Alzemier and hasn't spoken in many years, so it is comforting that she now speaks and paid a visit to her friend before she passed in her next life called Divinity. Thank you and I felt I should share this with was a sign from my Aunt that she has made it...