Two Visions of Power

Lindsey Harris writes:

The speakers and workshops leaders for the 2018 Champernowne Trust Summer Course are no doubt applying their imagination to how they will explore the theme of Power.  Meanwhile the planning committee is working on the presentation, with which we launch the course on the opening day, Sunday 5th August.

Power – are we talking about outer power, or inner power?

 Should we address how we deal with outer power, either when we have to wield it, or when we confront it out there in the world?    Or would it be more relevant and interesting to turn inwards, especially on this summer retreat, and think about where our inner power lies as individuals? 

What does inner power stand for, is it a good thing or not?  How does power manifest in our lives; how can we express it, and how do we manage when feeling powerless?

There are many wonderful paintings offering different views of he meaning of power.  Let’s survey two images of power here, and see what they hold symbolically

 A majestic castle in a fertile landscape, bring cultivated  in summer. At the top Phoebus Apollo adds glory in his sun-chariot, as Virgo completes the summer cycle and Libra ascends.  Illluminated manuscript from the Tres Riches Heures du Duc de Berry, Limbourg Brothers, ca. 1416, France.

The Limbourg brothers created a book of hours for the Duc de Berry in 15th century France, as a guide to prayer, but also no doubt as a symbol of status.   For September and the grape harvest, Saumur castle is drawn dreamily and beautifully, seeming to be a mystical structure of secret hidden power, offering protection to the workers in the fields below.  

This image contrasts vividly with the many depictions of the mythical Tower of Babel, such as Pieter Breughel’s Tower of 1563,  about overweening ambition and the collapse of power.

The biblical tower of Babel warns of the hubris of building too close to heaven.

Though these two pictures are from several hundred years ago, they resonate today, both in the inner world of imagination, and in outer world events.

Food for thought perhaps, to explore further in August at Hothorpe Hall.

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