Now and again, I come across an image which is a little different to what usually draws my attention. These days - more often than not it'll represent a once familiar tune which no longer plays, but the memory of the dance it inspired will rattle through my body...sometimes creating discomfort, at other times joy. The above picture is one such example which provides provocation of an old memory. I find myself unsettled at the sight of it, yet I choose to keep looking and let my mind wonder, and wander, as I patiently wait for my head to connect with the soul self.
I glance back up at the screen, and I'm thinking about the symbolic meaning of swan, and how their interpretation is likely to be varied between countries. I know that here in the UK, all unmarked mute swans in open water are the property of the crown, although the Queen concentrates her energy on those who frequent the Thames. The yearly Swan Upping is a ceremonial affair which dates back to the twelfth century and is still carried out by men wearing full regalia. My point is, there'll be some regional differences in the symbolic interpretation to consider along with the regular sources. We can find the psycho-spiritual meaning of swan by looking at some of the prominent characteristics of the bird itself and what stands out for me more than anything else is that swans are monogamous and usually only separate if breeding fails or one of the pair dies. Bearing in mind the image is one of a dead swan and with a title of Broken Dreams, it doesn't take much knowledge of symbolism to work out the image is talking about the death of something important.
The man hides behind his hat and coat with only his hands and a small part of his face visible. Does this imply that he is keeping things hidden under some kind of cover? Or is he wearing dark clothing because he's in mourning? If we look at how he holds the swan in his hands; does this suggest he's not yet let go of something? He seems to be looking down at the wound, so I'm not getting any suggestion that he's somehow in denial about the situation.
Filling the rest of the image is a dark empty landscape. There’s a strongly defined horizon which could indicate a boundary between two spaces, in this instance, the above and below. There's an unusual amount of light at his feet, and I wonder if the swan, or rather what the swan represents, is about to be buried in light.
This ending is showing no signs of bitterness or hostility; whoever/whatever the man is holding onto is seen as graceful and regal and he is holding it above light. None of these are negative markers, and if anything they say the exact opposite. It's a favourite expression of those who believe in the afterlife to let those who are dying, or have already died, to go towards the light. It's a mental action done with love to release the soul from its bondage to the earthly realms.
There are two main ways to interpret this image; the first is to see each part of the image as an aspect of self. In this instance, the swan would be the part of us which is, or was, committed to an idea or relationship we initially thought would go the distance. An adult swan has to go through two other stages before its feathers are white, so it's likely this particular aspect of the self went through a maturation process too. The qualities or aspect of self I'm referring to are likely to mimic those which relate directly to swan such as grace. But they also know to be incredibly temperamental, so there could be some mixed blessings going on here. The part of us which is represented by the man displays our reluctance to let go, and yet another aspect wants to release with dignity and grace.
The second is to view the image as an incident, an occurrence on the path we are walking or have walked. If this is the case for you, it's likely to be a relationship which ended. There's no knowing how the swan got injured, but the image points to 'the other' having suffered from an external blow. Although, I don't know, do you identify with the man or the bird? If it's the man, then life may be telling you it's time to lay something to rest. If you're the bird, you may have been fatally wounded on the psyche level and have no energy left to carry on with what you're doing. Whatever that may be.
There's a hint of dualism going on with the contrasting black and white, the reference to above and below, life and death, and this could indicate a limited perspective ~ as in only seeing two sides. That being said, this image may represent a situation which can't be viewed from a wider angle, sometimes it really is a simple case of yes or no, it either is or it isn't.