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Meeting The Child Of The Sun

Because sometimes you have to talk about what really matters. If you are a creative person, there are usually reasons behind the work that you do, especially if it is personal work. And as poetry and photography are the main components of my work and the subject matter is often very emotive, it can be difficult to discuss, and you rely on the work itself to speak for you.

But I knew I wanted to write a blog post about this piece of work on my website, but for some reason when I started I just felt as though I was skating on the surface of it and not engaging. The piece in question is the poem 'Child Of The Sun" and it can be found on the 'Heart Of The Rose' page, under the heading 'Sacred Spaces' on the Home page.

I was thinking of writing about all the things that led me to writing this poem, including the symbolism of the Celtic Cross in detail, but then to be honest, I thought any reader could quite happily find that out elsewhere. I touch on the symbolism below, but that is not the whole story of this poem.

And anyway, did the symbolism have any bearing on what I was thinking about when I wrote it? I may be wrong, but I suspect if I am discussing my motivations for writing the poem that goes with the images I photographed that day, the interest lies in that experience, the connection between the images and my thoughts and emotions.

Ripping It Up And Starting Again...

And that is precisely why this blog post has been difficult to write. Poetry can mean different things to different people. That is why poetry is so beguiling, because it can pull out emotions you would rather keep buried and it can come as a surprise when they rise to the surface almost unbidden.

So I decided to digitally rip this up and start again. When I originally made the choice to have a website to show my work I didn't want to just leave it there with no engagement at all. I thought that a blog could provide the opportunity to expand on those pieces of work and open up a dialog if people wanted. Or at least for me to enlarge on them a bit more.

Poetry can be challenging and not appeal to everybody. And my poetry is often about intense experiences and the photography is a direct result of that. And I could just leave it there, and let people make of it what they will. Hopefully enjoy it, maybe draw comfort from it in some cases. Other times it might be uncomfortable or disturbing even. But even in these instances, I hope it is thought provoking.

But if I am going to be writing blogs about my work then I am just going have to jump in at the deep end and talk about it. On the different pages of my website in the introductions I explain and describe some of what I experience out in the landscape and within the churches that I go to, but there is not the space there to discuss each individual poem, and it would also detract from the flow and experience of reading the poems.

I have done some previous blogs about my process of physically achieving the work and the equipment I use, but now I think I can move on from that and talk more intimately about some of the pieces. Reference might come into it and other details if it has directly led to the work in question, but I don't want to turn this into a library.

Running On Instinct, Feeling The World Of Emotion

However, there is no denying that all the reading I have done in the past has helped me to see and learn more about the subjects I photograph and the poems I write. I still research what I need to. And books inspire. The point I am making here is that my work is a direct result of what I experience when I am there with my camera. I am not thinking of books at that moment. Most of the time I am reacting on instinct.

The Star Of The Show

But a little background to the Celtic Cross might be useful here, as it is one of the main characters of this drama. And in essence it is really quite simple. Celtic Christian Crosses are a depiction of the cosmos, which forms the circle. The cross shape within is the human being in the cosmos; the human being and the world are one. Together they form the Cosmic Universal Cross. We can explore the symbolism further by noting that the Universal Cross and the Sun Cross are often identical. Early Pre-Christian Cross motifs were used to denote the four seasons, with the identity of the source of light and life as the sun, and the cross within as the cosmic order of the year.

The early symbolism perfectly translated to Christianity. Christ, the 'Light of The World' is the central spiritual source of every nurturing and evolving good. The Celtic Cross as a symbol of death in churchyards is transformed into a regenerating force of life. And as beautiful examples of Celtic Crosses that still exist show, some of them are covered in verdant decoration, a riot of plant and animal life weaving its way over the surface of the cross. At certain times of the year and in the slanting light the crosses look alive, moving.

It is not difficult to associate that verdant life with the figure of Christ in the centre, actually carved in some cases, that with His resurrection, He also brought the promise of new life.

But what of my poem and why did I write it? The cross in this case is a plain unembellished example, as can be seen in the images above, and even the inscription below on the cross is now difficult to read as it is gradually being covered over in lichen. But that is precisely what I liked about it and why it always pulls me towards it. It's starkness. It is also set on one of the highest points of the churchyard at the west end of the graveyard. Before the trees and shrubs grew up behind it [as I am looking at it from the east] the setting sun must have been a dramatic sight, casting its light over the cross. As it is, the plainness of the cross stands out very clearly against the foliage that grows behind it.

The Understanding And Beauty Of Recognition

Now the foliage acts as a filter of sorts, and when you are in the right position interesting things occur. Bearing in mind my knowledge of the symbolism of the Celtic Cross and the connection it has with the Light of The World, I was delighted that I caught an image with the sun directly over the cross, and the rays that formed a circle around the sun as it was filtered through the trees and caught in my camera. This set up the connection between the two perfectly. This image forms the first part of the poem.

And personally, I started to feel a deeper connection, a presence that seemed to emanate from the cross itself to spread around this part of the churchyard and towards me. There was a feeling of being watched, but not in an unpleasant way. As I stood there the connection got stronger and I carried on shooting, and as can be seen from the images in this poem, the camera was catching the flare from the sun's rays. I was not aware at the time of what I was capturing exactly. When I saw the images later and the positioning of this light in the images overlapping the cross I felt it was beautiful. My images of the details of the stained glass depiction of Christ on The Cross that are from the East Window above the altar in this church that I also used in the poem [see main image above] helped to reinforce the connection I was feeling on that day, as the light reaffirmed it's message of eternity.

And Then The Words Came...

Quickly, the poetry came, and I wrote it down in a matter of about half an hour or so. And as my humour is such that these images reminded me of the old 'spirit photograph's' of the past, that used to be so popular in the early days of film. Some blatantly false, but others, maybe not. Either way, I used this as a reference in the poem.

The connection I felt that day was sure and deep and there was nothing false about that for me. The photography was like a gift. So I decided to put all the elements together and the poem 'Child Of The Sun' was the result. If you read it on my website, I hope you enjoy it, and that the narrative about the genesis of this work gives you more enlightenment about the meanings in the poem.

See below for details about the two books that I have used in the past for reference and for this blog post. I would certainly recommend them if you have an interest in Celtic Crosses, and their history, meaning and the art that adorns the surface of some of them.

Books Featured:

The Celtic Cross.

An Illustrated History and Celebration.

Nigel Pennick.

Blandford. A Cassell Imprint 1997

ISBN 0-7137-2641-5

Sun And Cross.

From Megalithic Culture to Early Christianity in Ireland.

Jakob Streit.

First published in English in 1984 Floris Books.

This Edition published in 2004 Floris Books.

ISBN 0-86315-440-9


All images above [apart from the book recommendation image] are taken in Glynde Church and Churchyard, East Sussex, UK.

They formed part of the shoot of that afternoon from which the selected images used for the poem were also taken, and that is to be found on my website.

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Aug 10, 2022

I enjoyed this blog very much as I have a particular interest in Celtic Crosses.

Thank you very much.



Feb 02, 2022

The images for child of the sun are intriguing with the effects of the light. Your pictures and the poem have a strong emotional relationship. I find them hopeful.

Shell's Blog
Shell's Blog
Feb 03, 2022
Replying to

Thank you for your lovely comment, and I am so glad you found the poem uplifting, as this was my intention, and what I felt when I was there that day.

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