Symbolism

The Power of Symbolism

Shortly after my college days, I developed a series of questions that I would present to women I met who interested me enough to make me want to know more about them than how well they performed on the dance floor.  Not to take anything away from the dance floor.  One should not underestimate what can be discovered on the dance floor.  Neither should one understate the difficulty in the cold sales pitch needed to get a complete stranger isolated in a crowd of moving bodies.  When on those occasional times I was successful, the next challenge was to leave the dance floor with the girl, luring her away from her friends’ assuming eyes.  Finally, away from the dance floor, somewhat able to hear each other’s words over the music, I would ask at some point in the conversation what color dress she would like, if I was to buy her any dress that she’d ever want.  It was my way of asking “What is your favorite color” and not sound like a goof.   Furthermore, when I juxtaposed her answer to the clothes she wore at that time, I gained a little insight on her psyche.  This was good for me in my attempt to level the playing field.  You see, the guy already plays his hand when he asks the lady to dance.  Now, she already knows he’s in to her.  He doesn’t know, however, that she’s in to him.  Yeah she may be curious; she may even like something about him, but he never knows for sure what it is.  She could be out for a free drink – he’ll never know, so the guy has to find a way of leveling the playing field.

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At this moment in my life, I understood how to get from people information that was not necessarily volunteered.  I understood the power of symbolism.  I learned that the colors a person wore more frequently had connections to their personality, securities or insecurities.  It would be an over simplification to say that most people who often dress with bright, flamboyant colors are seeking attention or hiding their insecurities.  But there is some degree of truth to such assumptions.  Despite the amount of research in this matter, little information has been disseminated on the effects that colors have on the human psyche.  Jill Morton is an instructor for Color Matters, which is an online class with a full curriculum.  In her courses, she teaches how colors have profound effects on the human mind and behavior; additionally, she shows that colors embody messages that often sway thinking and influence emotional reactions.

To go a little further, after a day or two, I would ask a lady to make an animal symbol to represent me.   Then I would ask that she did the same for herself.  From her answer I would infer her expectations in a relationship.  If she described me as a lion and described herself as a rabbit, I inferred that she wished for a secure, somewhat aggressive, and almost imposing man in her relationship – not forceful, gentle at times but in no way a pushover, still sensitive enough to stroke her ego and enjoy intimate and meaningful moments.  In some cases, I turned, ran and never looked back.  The point is that I understood that if a pitcher is worth a thousand words, a symbol is worth a hundred more.

I use symbols in my writing, quiet a bit.  I like to play with the conspiracy theorist who find Illuminati symbolism in everything.  The truth is that if Rihanna makes a hand symbol in a music video, it will have no effect on the viewer unless the symbol’s meaning is interpreted in the way it was intended.   Cultural ideas and definitions are what makes cultural symbols work.  Remember the scene in DaVinci Code when Robert Langdon made his presentation and revealed that the priest in Spain use the same symbol as the Ku Klux Klan?  The symbols of the hooded robes had one meaning in Spain and a different almost opposite meaning in America. He did the same thing with the Poseidon’s trident when the crowd assumed it was the devil’s pitch fork.

This is not to disqualify symbolism.  Psychologists know that symbols have very effective uses that can hold complex ideas and beliefs.  In 1935, using symbolism, Carl Jung developed the Active Imagination technique to treat patients.  This technique parented others like autogenic Therapy and guided affective imagery to help treat patience.  Along with psychologists, Wiccans understand that symbols hold various transferable energies.  In Men Djinn & Angels – Awakening, there is a scene where Charles takes letters from the Angelic Alphabet to create a symbol, and using a Wiccan technique, he heals his sick aunt.  In this technique, the spell is activated when the image is burned or destroyed (with the proper type of mental, spiritual, and physical energy).

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The use of symbols by characters and in narration or plot line can be a fun way to tell a story.  I believe it also provides depth to characters and plot by giving an extra layer that could inspire higher level thinking.  When I write, I often try to convey a message as well as tell an entertaining story.  Sometimes the names of my characters are used as symbols.  This was a technique I picked up from To Kill A Mockingbird.  Nathanial Hawthorn and Edger Allen Poe were writers who influenced me to use symbolism in my writing and now I enjoy doing so.  In Men Djinn & Angels – Awakening, Talib’s name is an example of name symbolism.  The two ships that sale over the waters dividing continents are symbolic, and Charles’ trip to England with his Grandfather is symbolic as well.

With all this being said, I believe that symbols can be powerful tools.  As far as the conspiracy theories of mass hypnoses, I think there is some truth to them, however exaggerated they may be.  I often laugh about a YouTube video I saw a couple of years ago where some guy elaborately uses the “clues” from a Kanye West No Church In the Wild video to prove how Obama and Prince William will lead the US to war against Russia.  I think it is safe to say he was wrong.  But if you are a writer, I encourage you to use symbolism.  If you read many books, look for the use of symbolism and you will get much more from your reading experience.

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