The ancient enigma that resonates now

Taking the symbol into nature is Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty, a giant spiral-shaped environmental artwork of 1,500ft by 15ft. Built with 6,000 tons of basalt at the mouth of a terminal basin in Great Salt Lake, Utah, where it will inevitably be eroded, it reflects Smithson’s fascination with entropy. “One could perhaps see it as a culturally collective symbol of the emergence of the feminine,” notes the artist’s website, which points out “the spiral goes counter-clockwise, toward the unconscious”.

The Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung, renowned for his work on symbols, archetypes and the collective unconscious, wrote: “The spiral in psychology means that when you make a spiral you always come over the same point where you have been before, but never really the same, it is above or below, inside, outside, so it means growth.” Jung visualised the unconscious process as moving “spiral-wise round a centre, gradually getting closer, while the characteristics of the centre grow more and more distinct”.

“Serpent of energy”

A fascination with consciousness and the psyche in the West no doubt contributed to the growing interest in meditation and yoga from the 1960s, such as the practice of kundalini yoga, in which the spiral plays a fundamental role: “kundal” is a Sanskrit word for spiral or coil, denoting a serpent of energy that coils up through the chakras. In the healing arts, a spiral represents connectivity to the divine. In Vortex healing, it is believed that a divine spiral energy is brought in through the heart to manifest healing and transformation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *