Symbols - What does heaven look like
The Greek Goddess Iris was the goddess of Rainbows. One of her duties was to lead the souls of dead women to the Elysian Fields – thus a psychopomp. Thus the iris has both a connection with death – spiritual and ‘normal’ - and also the link between the spiritual and the physical worlds – the bridge between heaven and earth. The Greeks planted purple Iris on the graves of women to symbolically represent this link. Iris is thus probably unique among all the flowers in the world because of its association with the spiritual path.
Iris also symbolises trust, promises and faith in someone or something. Thus a bunch of irises can be both an expression of trust in a friend or a loved one, but can be an expression of faith in the existence of the spiritual world.
In Philip Hermogenes Calderon's Broken Vows, [left] the Iris is used as symbol of the broken promise , the vow that has been broken, the destruction of faith in someone.
The painting shows the heartbreak felt by the girl when she learns of the infidelity of the one she had placed trust in.
In this, the foliage too can take up the meaning as the blade-shaped foliage denotes the sorrows which 'pierced her heart.'
Under other circumstances, however, the sword shaped foliage is emblematic of the sword – another reference to the spiritual path and the journey of the hero.
This connection with the spiritual path – the search for the Holy Grail, the journey of the hero and the mystic has made it a prized symbol for numerous flags and coats of arms. The iris is the emblem of both France and Florence, Italy. The fleur-de-lis, a stylized iris, first occurs in its modern use as the emblem of the House of Capet, but long predated its association with the Kings of France.
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- Cirlot on bridges
- Da Vinci, Leonardo - Beautiful women - Leda and the Swan
- Dickinson, Emily - There is another sky Ever serene and fair
- Hafez of Shiraz - Thirty Poems - At dawn I came into the garden
- Hokusai - Irises
- Jan Thorn Prikker - the Bride
- Levy-Dhurmer - Florence
- Moreau - Inspiration 1893
- O’Keeffe, Georgia - Light iris
- Rider-Waite - 14 - Temperance
- Waterhouse, John William - Hylas and the Nymphs