Wise as Serpents, Harmless as Doves
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Limited edition of 95 signed fine-art prints available on museum archival card. 780mm high x 518mm wide. Unframed prints shipped FREE in NZ, $35 internationally.
Original painting - digital design & acrylic on canvas, 1705 x 1230mm, 2018
Wise as Serpents, Harmless as Doves is part of The Navigators series of work. This peaceful bovine is no “bull in a China shop.” We can almost see his perfect reflection in the water. His stillness embodies the “harmlessness of a dove.”
Ornate symbols decorate the Angus Bull’s forehead. At his third eye, the prime seat of consciousness, are two winged rearing cobras holding up a single sun disk.
The winged serpent is a sacred symbol in many ancient cultures, from Native Americans to Egyptians. Chinese and European dragons are versions of winged serpents. In Māori culture we have the manaia, a mythical creature with the head of a bird and the tail of serpent. The winged serpent has represented various ideas and gods across time.
The Caduceus, the rearing serpent, is a symbol that has been co-opted by the Western medical tradition. Hermetic, alchemical rearing serpents represent kundalini energy. From the base of the spine the energy rises through the chakras of the body activating the pituitary and pineal glands. Through duality, energy enters the third eye and crown chakra, the source of oneness.
Jesus referred to our ability to harmonise our dual natures and become the winged serpent:
“Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.
- Matthew 10:16
I think of the black paint that washes over the bull’s body as the darkness of chaos. The womb of potentiality and creativity. The reflective, pearly white background is the light of day. It is order, safety and culture. Together they balance yin (feminine) and yang (masculine).
The clearly defined image of the bull, reflected as slightly blurry in the water is this same idea. The waking, directed, self exists alongside the unlimited, dream-like self.
I spent three years living in Sri Lanka with my mum and dad as a teenager. This was my introduction to Buddhist and Hindu religions and the idea of the cow as sacred.
After an easygoing childhood in New Zealand and Samoa, Sri Lanka exposed me to different cultures and religions at a formative age. This transformed my view of the world. It is a Buddhist and Hindu country with a small minority of Muslims and Christians.
Cows are deeply revered in Sri Lanka and India due to sacred teachings. Also because they are relied on heavily for dairy products and tilling the fields. Cow dung is a source of fuel, fertilizer and is also the best place to find Psilocybin mushrooms growing in the wild.
When ingested, these mushrooms produce ego dissolving states of consciousness. Truths about the universe are revealed. Along with meditation, these psychedelic experiences may have seeded ancient religions. To this day when Hindus go to temple, their ritual is to take a handful of white powder and rub it onto their foreheads. That white powder is cremated cow dung.
The eight-petalled lotus flower at the centre of the forehead is in Buddhist mandalas. It signals cosmic harmony and is used as an object of focus to aid meditation. The lotus closes its petals at night and sinks underwater, then rises and opens its petals again at dawn. Ancient Egyptians taught that the lotus represented the sun and rebirth.
Sofia Minson Paintings | New Zealand Artwork