Song of Solomon 1: 7

 

Song of Solomon, illustrations 1: 7, pictures: Shepherdess

Tell me, my only love,
where do you pasture your sheep,

where will you let them rest
in the heat of noon?

Why should I lose my way
among the flocks of your companions?




 

Illustration: "The Young Shepherdess" by Adolphe-William Bouguereau (1825-1905), San Diego Museum of Art

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Illustrations for the Song of Solomon

Although it has been the most widely read and celebrated romantic poem in Western literature, there are surprisingly few well-known artistic representations of the Song of Solomon... and fewer still that accurately convey the sensuality of the original text. Where are the Michelangelos and the Da Vincis? No renowned masterpiece comes to mind. Please share your expertise with our other visitors, if you happen to be better informed.

Meanwhile, this collection of illustrations for the Song of Solomon re-dedicates several "secular" works of art, to present the Song's sensuality in a way that is vivid and engaging. We hope that these illustrations will inspire and encourage contemporary artists to celebrate the sacred dance of courtship and procreation---our own participation in the creative power of the Source of Life and Love.

Island of Sanity

This website began as a showcase for my music for the Song of Solomon. But it has gradually morphed into what I like to think of as a little island of sanity. The connecting thread and central theme of this site ( other than the Song of Solomon itself ) is the mystical experience of "unitive consciousness:" a profound experience of "oneness" with the Source of Life. The great Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart referred to this experience when he said:

"The eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me: my eye and God's eye are one eye, one seeing, one knowing and one love."

--- German Sermon No. 12

Speaking from this same vista of consciousness, Jesus said: "I am the vine, and you are the branches."

The Marriage of Heaven and Earth

In Western culture, the experience of unitive consciousnes is usually associated with self-denial and disciplined prayer or meditation. But it can also occur in a sexual context, as a result of deeply felt, selfless love. Which is, after all, a way of transcending one's limited sense of self. As Alan Watts pointed out in an exposition of Tantric yoga, selfless love can sometimes sweep away the illusion of separateness:

"in an embrace of this kind, all considerations of time and place, of what and who, drop away" and they discover in themselves "the primordial 'love that makes the world go round.' There is an extraordinary melting sensation ... and, 'seeing their eyes reflected in each other's, they realize that there is one Self looking out through both... The conceptual boundary between male and female, self and other, dissolves, and---as every spoke leads to the hub---this particular embrace on the this particular day discloses itself as going on forever, behind the scenes."

---Alan Watts, "Erotic Spirituality


Because of my interest in the Song of Solomon --- with its many references to the Hebrew goddess and the ancient rite of Sacred Marriage --- the experience of oneness is often referred to herein as a "Marriage of Heaven and Earth." In other words, "an ecstatic union of higher and lower consciousness." One of the most vivid and moving accounts of this experience ( that I know of ) is given by Trisha Feuerstein, in her husband's book Sacred Sexuality. This is what she wrote:

My first memory of that incident is of awakening one morning after a night of lovemaking and feeling as if I had not been asleep. I felt as though I was conscious or constantly awake on some higher plane. That entire day I remember feeling totally and perfectly relaxed.

In this perfect relaxation I stood outside of time. It was as if time normally flowed in a horizontal plane, and I had somehow stepped out of this horizontal flow into a timeless state. There was absolutely no sense of the passage of time. To say there was no beginning or ending of time would seem irrelevant. There was simply no time.

I remember coming home from work a few days later, standing in the living room of my little studio apartment, and suddenly realizing that I had no edges. There was no me. The thought arose, and these are the exact words, "This is what I AM in truth." I remember looking over to the door of my apartment and thinking, "There is no difference between door jambs and smog." There is no difference between anything whatsoever. Everything is the same. There is only apparent difference.

I remember that the thoughts also arose, "You could shoot me in this moment and I would laugh." Everything material seemed superfluous. It was all spontaneously and playfully arising from one great source, and it could just as well cease to arise in any moment.

Somehow I had become infinity with eyes. I felt as if I had just been born in that moment, or that I had been asleep all my life and had just awakened. I also remember thinking that this was the true condition of everyone and that everyone could know this.

This particular moment remains, seventeen years later, the single most significant moment of my life. It was also the most ordinary, simple, happy, normal, neurosis-free moment of my life. I was simply being what I AM, and what everyone else IS, in truth.

I remained in this state of edgelessness for about three weeks, and life was intensely magnified. When I walked, I felt so light it was as if my feet did not touch the ground. I had no appetite for food---in fact, most of what I tried to eat left a strange metallic taste in my mouth. And although I ate almost nothing during this period, I lost no weight. I remember telling my lover that it felt as if my spine were plugged into the "universal socket" and that it was a source of infinite energy.

During this time I was more creative than I had ever been---or have been since---both at work and outside of work. All the limits on my thinking were no longer in place. I also became prescient---seeing into the future and then later experiencing the scenes I had foreseen down to the last detail. This astonished me.

I also remember sitting at my desk at work one day and turning to look at one of my officemates. In an instant I was drowning in bliss, overwhelmed with love and compassion for my fellow worker, and for every being and thing I looked at. I loved everyone, including my lover, the same---infinitely. There was really no one separate to love. Tears silently rolled down my cheeks. I felt infinite love and infinite pain at the same time, the pain arising from realizing the power and primacy of love, yet how little we love.

I remember thinking that this universal love is what the Madonna symbolizes. Then suddenly I felt as if I were the source of all creation, that the universe was arising from me, or through me---from whatever this infinite thing was I had become."

---Trisha Feuerstein


Read more about the Song of Solomon and the Marriage of Heaven and Earth


Read about the Hidden Meaning of the Song of Solomon

Also see...
Wedding Music for the Marriage of Heaven and Earth

All quotations for the Song of Solomon are from the new translation by Ariel and Chana Bloch

email: tomás@song-of-songs.net
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