Thursday, January 20, 2011

Symbol Spotlight: Winged Heart

The winged heart, an image I’ve become quite fond of, has many associations.

The heart has long been a symbol for the soul, the seat of emotions, our inner selves.  It can mean sincerity, truthfulness, charity and mercy. It has also come to represent Love, both romantic and platonic.

Wings represent speed, freedom, elevation, aspiration, divinity and transcendence. They are also associated with mystical and magical beings – fairies, angels, dragons, Pegasus.  To the alchemists, wings connoted achievement of a higher state of being.  There is also the mythical theme of “earning one’s wings”, an achievement gained through heroic efforts or bravery, valor and service.

Heraldic crest of the Scottish Clan Douglas
Combining these two powerful symbols, the winged heart represents the freedom to love, to feel, to courageously rise above the mundane and reach full potential. It is a sign of joyful optimism and a representation of the free spirit. 
Sufi symbol
It is the symbol of the Sufi religious movement, an Islamic sect dedicated to seeking truth and facilitating understanding among people.  They believe that the heart is the link between the body and the soul, hovering between the realms of matter and spirit.  The winged heart indicates the heart’s desire to rise toward heaven, borrowing the ancient Egyptian’s association between wings and spiritual transformation and transcendence.

A popular motif among tattoo enthusiasts, it is often etched with the name of a loved one. The name of a lover on a winged heart can symbolize a transcendent love. It can also be a memorial for a deceased loved one, symbolizing their ascension to heaven.

Detail from my "Heart of Wisdom" design.
For me, it has become a favorite symbol that expresses my desire to uplift and inspire with my art, to fulfill my potential and live a life of freedom, filled with joy and love.

References and further reading:

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