I was recently asked about the waterfall image on my home page and if it symbolizes something for me. Well, the location is Canadian being Niagara Falls on the Canadian side. The falls are spectacular despite the outlandish development and impoverished tourism driven architecture that now comprises the town of Niagara. You can see more photographs of the falls in my Art section under Photography. For me it represents unleashed creativity in a constant fluid shape that is ever changing and renewing. It represents openness, flexibility, power, form and spirituality which is an ancient symbol association with water in it's myriad manifestations.
So here's a snippet of background on the symbolism of waterfalls out there in the world.
In literature water is frequently a symbol of change and is often present at turning points. It is in most cultures I can think of, a sign of life-no surprise, but when it comes to murky water, often a sign of death.
In Classical Chinese painting the waterfall has frequently been an element which in opposition to the rock represents yin and yang and is considered the symbol of impermanence as opposed to changelessness. As an element the waterfall persists but is never the same.
The ancient Greek philosopher, Heraclitus, was inspired to ruminate on the waterfall as the continuos evolution of beings. The drops of water which make up the waterfall are renewed each second, just like the view in Buddhism of the purely illusory components of manifestation.
It has represented in it's downward force heavenly activity emanating from the still center, the immutable, a display of infinite potentiality.
Waterfalls also represent unharnessed elemental motion, the force-fields which one needs to master and control to one's spiritual benefit, not unlike the practice of Tantrism.
The waterfall is also seen as a symbol of permanence of form despite change of content. "Mme Liliane Brion-Guerry observes that by a species of inner vision 'beyond the natural appearance of the waterfall, its symbolic meaning may be discovered as an emblem of continuous motion, an emblem of the world in which the elements change ceaselessly while its shape remains the same'......."
In the Judeo-Christian tradition a waterfall can symbolize the insistence of intentions, exceptional career luck, invitation to delight the observer. In Buddhism the only place that water seems to figure is in the funeral ritual for monks. In Hinduism, water generally has a special place as it is considered to have spiritual cleansing powers and is sacred. The waterfall symbol in particular can mean that severe disappointment will make you wiser.
In Islam the waterfall symbol can mean focus on an important decision, but the focus has to be clear. In Japan in the Shinto tradition, waterfalls are held as sacred and standing under them is believed to purify. In Norway and Iceland, the word 'waterfall' translates as 'Foss' which in Latin is a derivative word element relating to 'light'. Waterfalls often relate to a great release of emotion, rejuvenation and renewal of spirit.
Water being one of the crucial four elements for life on our planet and the symbolism in the waterfall in particular, was in keeping with the idea of continuous creation and renewal embodied in my studio.