Monday, August 31, 2009


Everyone has their own view of time and what it is. One of our oldest methods of keeping time is a perfect example to show you an image that perfectly depicts the true nature of time.

Most of us know what an hourglass is. Many have seen and possibly used one in our lifetimes. Some board games come with them. They are said to have been invented around the middle of the third century, but there is no real record of them until around 1350. Ancient cultures have created art using hourglass imagery and shapes that closely resemble the hourglass, so it would seem the concept existed long before its first appearance in recorded history.

The hourglass has a deep symbology. Its very design describes the nature of time. The first hint is that the time represented by the hourglass is cyclical. It has to be flipped in order to continue counting time. Many have come to believe that our existance is cyclical as well, such as the belief that the universe will eventually collapse upon itself and be reborn just as it was before. Our seasons, our rotation around the sun, the moon's rotation around the Earth, the gentle spiral of the galaxy and of the universe itself are all clues to the cyclic nature of existance. It only makes sense that time itself is also cyclic.

The second hint that the hourglass image provides is about the past, present and future. The bottom of the hourglass fills with sand, each grain representing a moment in history. The futher we march through time, the more history is in the bottom of the glass. The singular grains pouring through the waist of the glass represent the here and now, and just how fleeting it really is. At the top is the well of time from which we draw every moment. This symbology is one of my more important points for you today. Here is another analogy: Not having drunk the water in the jug does not mean it does not exist. It only means you have not drunk it yet.

The future already exists. The time we have not yet experienced is waiting for us in the top of the hourglass. It is there, and from our place in its center we can almost touch it, almost see it. It is there, and we know it, but we are stuck in the present so we cannot clearly see it. It is human nature to doubt something you cannot see and touch for yourself. It is what makes faith and belief such abstract concepts for us.

The hourglass also shows us another type of symbology. Its very shape, that of two triangles pointing towards each other bears many deeper meanings. This shape is the basis of the spiral, which is another important symbol regarding our universe. This shape is also an illustration of the concept of zero point. And, it represents the crossing of two dimensional timelines. We use the hourglass to describe the 'ideal' feminine figure. It also demonstrates the wiccan concept of "as above, so below". The two triangles are pushed together to form the star of David. The hourglass still stares back at us every day, or at least any time our computer is busy processing.

And then, there is the optimist/pessimist description of the glass of water. The age-old question. Is your life half over, or only half begun? The hourglass begs this question just as well as the glass of water, yet another way in which it proves this symbol is ingrained in our lives in far greater ways than we had imagined.

I have a feeling I will be painting this symbol over and over, sometimes not even realizing that its what I'm painting until I'm done and step back to look at my creation. It is among a group of symbols that represent universal truths which none of us can deny. The sight of such a symbol triggers something in the back of our minds, inspires us, draws us, changes us. Perhaps if we continue examining symbols like these we can bring about great changes in mankind.

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