Twenty-first Century Icons
Birth of the Soul
A Jewish legend describes a Tree of Souls in Paradise on which unborn souls reside until an angel comes and escorts each one into the world. The spheres on the tree represent the unborn souls while the Angel holds a soul she will soon escort into the world. Each soul has a task to fulfill on earth that can only be accomplished by that singular soul. Judaism teaches that the task is often part of tikkun or “repair of the world.” Unfortunately the soul forgets the task. Its most ardent desire is to discover this buried or forgotten mandate by seeking a connection to Spirit that reminds it of its purpose.
An Ismaili Islamic teaching is that each time the pacified soul (the willing, and ardent heart) seeks to connect in love with Allah, ascending lights or flames rise up and are received by lights that come down to meet them. I’ve portrayed the seeking of soul to Spirit as a Persian Sheikh seated on a prayer rug from whose heart arises a vortex of flames ascending to Allah. I’ve portrayed the seeking of soul to Spirit with two portraits of the young Eagle Huntress, Ashol-Pan, from the Altai mountain range in Mongolia. In one portrait Ashol-Pan, holds her hand against her golden eagle’s heart, in the other she sets it free to hunt. The eagle is related to the falcon, traditionally a symbol of the soul.