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Thursday, September 30, 2010


A symbol is something such as an object, picture, written word, sound, or particular mark that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention. For example, a red octagon may be a symbol for "STOP". On maps, crossed sabres may indicate a battlefield. Numerals are symbols for numbers (amounts). All language consists of symbols. Personal names are symbols representing individuals. - Wikipedia page on the Symbol
I personally believe that our society, is rife with symbolism. These symbols have extremely deep esoteric meanings that we are unaware of. Becoming in touch with these meanings can help us learn more about ourselves, they way we view the world and who we are. I will be starting a new Blog feature each week delving into a symbol, archetype or sign. I will research and compare Eastern and Western Philosophies and search for common ground where this symbol is used.

What does this have to do with Burlesque? Plenty. Understanding the symbolism in the shows you watch and create gives them a deeper meaning and communicates on levels that most people don't understand but are definately memorable.
Kenneth Burke described Homo sapiens as a "symbol-using, symbol making, and symbol misusing animal" to indicate that a person creates symbols in her or his life as well as misuses them.
The First Symbol in the series will be AIR

Air is the first in the Classical Elements of Air, Water, Earth and Fire. It is connected to breath, clarification, life and communication. It rules the Astrological signs of Aquarius, Gemini and Libra. It is also connected to the colours of yellow and white.

Deva Darling's Aerial Burlesque
Aerial Goddesses of the Velvet Hammer
The Nekyia: Bellydance, Burlesque, Fire and Aerial Acrobatics

Air is seen in many cultures as a universal power and made of pure substance.
Its fundamental importance to life can be seen in words such as aspire, inspire, perspire, and spirit, all derived from the Latin spirare ("to breathe"). Air - Classical Element
Plato considered air to be mathematically common with the Octahedron.

The Ancient Greeks split Air into two parts, AER being the lower human self, and AETHER being one of the Protogenoi, a first born Elemental God. He personifies Space and Purity, being the Air the Gods breathe.
Anaximenes of Miletus thought of air as being the Arche; the Origin of Life, the Beginning.

The pancha mahabhuta, or "five great elements", of Hinduism are kshiti or bhūmi (earth), ap or jala (water), tejas or agni (fire), marut or pavan (air or wind), byom or shunya (or akash?) (aether or void). Hindus believe that the Creator used akasha, the most "subtle" element, to create the other four traditional elements; each element created is in turn used to create the next, each less subtle than the last. Hindus believe that all of creation, including the human body, is made up of these five essential elements and that upon death, the human body dissolves into these five elements of nature, thereby balancing the cycle of nature set in motion by the Creator. Each of the five elements is associated with one of the five senses, and acts as the gross medium for the experience of sensations. According to Hindu thought, the basest element, Earth, was created using all the other elements and thus can be perceived by all five senses - hearing, touch, taste, smell, and sight. The next higher element, water, has no odor but can be seen, tasted, heard, and felt. Next comes fire, which can be seen, heard and felt. Air can be heard and felt. "Akasha" (ether)is the medium of sound but is inaccessible to all other senses. -Classical elements in Hinduism


Air is connected to the suite of Swords.
As Signs governed by the element of air, GEMINI, LIBRA and AQUARIUS are also associated with the Tarot Deck's Suit of Swords which belongs to the Minor Aracana. This Suit is sometimes referred to as Spades and its elemental ruler is air. The season linked to the Suit of Swords is Autumn and its direction is East. This Suit governs intellectual activity and is essentially male in character. It is the Root of the Powers of the Air...a picture of the intellect in its best and most controlled aspect. The Zodiac Signs associated with Swords are progressive, often given to eccentricity and flights of fancy. The Ace of Swords symbolizes the beginning of clear and creative thought. It is the Suit of mental perception with an awareness that appears to be beyond the understanding of general society. It cuts away outmoded patterns, clearing the path toward new ideas. However, the cutting away of the past and rebelling against acceptable thought can bring about situations of conflict. Thus, it is necessary for analytical and logical thought to give way to spirit, so that resolution of the highest order may be achieved. Swords are primarily concerned with thought and communication. Unfortunately, they are also often associated with emotional turmoil and contain more cards that are deemed to be "bad" than another other Suit of the Tarot. The Ace of Swords is a particularly decisive card and one of powerful energy, denoting clearness of vision and freedom from confusion. It enables personal understanding and the ability to understand others. In a spiritual sense, this card often marks a turning point or breakthrough into new clarity and wisdom. The Ace of Swords, in essence, is a sweeping and whirling energy...a breath of fresh air which blows away the cobwebs and washes away the red herrings. The Aces of the Tarot represent new beginnings, strength, speed and energy. In short, the life force in its true essence. They are the beginning of the growth process, whether that growth be physical, mental or spiritual. Aces also symbolize the growth of an idea, concept or belief, in addition to being indicative of new careers, new relationships and changes of residence. Each Ace represents the beginning of some type of journey.

Air is not one of the Chinese Classical Elements, but it has been linked to Qi and also to the Classical Element of Metal. Qi is an energy flow contained in every living being. Reflexology and Acupuncture have been developed from Ancient Chinese knowledge of Qi points on the Body.

A core belief of Buddhism is Anapanasati, or 'Mindfulness of the Breath'. It is a basic form of Meditation that I have applied in my life, and has helped my Depression and Anxiety enormously. Practicing this form of Meditation is one of the parts of the 'Noble Eightfold Path', to end suffering and achieve self awakening.

THE ELEMENT AIR: (GEMINI, May 21-June 21, LIBRA, September 23-October 22, AQUARIUS, January 20-February 18) Here you will find the talkers and communicators of the zodiac. If you need something written or spoken, ask an air sign. Ideas seem to materialize out of thin air for them. These people are like the air we breathe. Always moving and changing. Just when we think we know them poof, they change again. Very social, these air signs. If your party seems dull and no one is talking, you don't have enough air sign people to fill in the gaps between words with more words.
Objective and rational; no emotionalism here. The air signs are so objective they can become impractical in their actions and beliefs. Superficial, these signs never want to get into heavy emotional discussions about the dreaded "feelings" dialog that are more important to watery signs. Like the air, these signs hate to be restricted. Freedom of thought and movement are their most cherished desires.
Fire signs work well with air signs. Fire needs air to generate heat. The fires stimulate and help motivate the air signs into new ideas.
-nancee star
Modern Wicca
Air is one of the five elements that appear in most Wicca and Pagan traditions. Common Wicca attributions include:
  • Cardinal direction: The East
  • Season: Spring
  • Time of Day: Sunrise
  • Time of Life: Childhood
  • Elemental Being: Sylph or Fairies

Air's place on the pentagram is the left hand point.
A civilization found in Mesopotamia and Iraq  during the Early Bronze Age believed Enlil was the Lord of the Wind. Enlil was the God of the Weather. It was said that he created Humans, was annoyed by our noise, and tried to drown us with a Flood.
He who is all bright eyes,
will be laying eyes upon you,
the great mountain, father Enlil,
who is all bright eyes,
will be laying eyes upon you,
the shepherd, the decision maker,
who is all bright eyes,
will be laying eyes upon you.
From 'The Harps That Once... Translations of Sumerian Poetry' By Thorkild Jacobsen 1987

Shu was a Primordial God of Air. As the air, Shu was considered to be cooling, and thus calming, influence, and pacifier. Due to the association with air, calm, and thus Ma'at (truth, justice and order), Shu was portrayed in art as wearing one to four ostrich feathers as a Headdress. He became an emblem of strength by virtue of his role in separating Nut (sky) from Geb (earth).
Quetzalcóatl, (Feathered Serpent/Precious Twin), was the God of Knowledge, second son of Tonacateuctli and Tonacacíhuatl (Xochiquétzal). He is the God of Air, associated with life/life-giving and wind and is related to Venus as morning and evening star. He co-created all attributed to Huitzilopochtli above. He also is said to have created the second world after the flood with Tezcatlipoca. His twin brother is Xolotl. As Eecatl, he is the Wind-God whose breath moves the heavens.

In Māori mythology, Tāwhirimātea (or Tāwhiri) is the god of weather, including thunder and lightning, wind, clouds and storms. He is a son of Papatūānuku (earth mother) and Ranginui (sky father). In his anger at his brothers for separating their parents, Tāwhirimātea destroyed the forests of Tāne (god of forests), drove Tangaroa (god of the sea) and his progeny into the sea, pursued Rongo and Haumia-tiketike till they had to take refuge in the bosom of their mother Papa, and only found in Tūmatauenga a worthy opponent and eternal enemy (Tregear 1891:499).


Avatar: The Last Airbender: Aang's special-ness comes not only because he is the Avatar (able to 'bend' all elements) but also because his natural element is Air, and all Airbenders were wiped out nearly 100 years before the series begins.
Triangular Symbols of Air used as Warning signs for Danger.

2801 is used in some 40 modern ideographic systems. It is used in the ground-to-air emergency code to mean it is probably safe to land here. In botany it means evergreen perennials. It appears as a tele-engineering sign for telephone and in meteorology can signify hail. Philatelists use it to indicate that enough of the envelope is left to show the whole postmark together with the stamp. It is used in physics to indicate a lowering of the freezing point or a lowering of the temperature. Chemists, however, use it to mean warming up (as did the alchemists). In cartography 2801 sometimes stands for natural gas, while 2851 in the same context can stand for oil or oil well, all these denotations connected to the element of fire.

In Harry Potter the element of Air is given to the house of Ravenclaw, and there are many many references to flying, (either through charmwork or brooms) Many of the animals in the series also fly. Griffins, Horses, Owls, a Phoenix.

In Robert Jordan's series 'Wheel of Time, Men and Women can 'channel' magic, weaving elements of Air, Water, Earth, Fire and Spirit. If you look hard enough, there are symbols and uses of the Triangular all around is, in the books we read, to the music we listen to.

To the Movies we watch:

If you wanna geek out some more I recommend Wikipedia, The Vigilant Citizen and Pseudo Occult Media.
Keep an Eye out.

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