There are some people who view life as a story to be lived and told. To such a character, a song might recall smells, feelings, and events. Tiny tokens tucked away in a jewel box are each attached a symbolic importance in the overall story arc that is life. This series called “Symbols” is dedicated to the romantic who stars as the main character in her own great semi-fiction.
Perhaps, of all eras, the Victorians were the best at playing the symbolism game.
During the reign of Queen Victoria of England, a language of symbolism adorned jewelry and other ornamentation. The young queen and her great love, Prince Albert, inspired sentimentality among the people who admired them from afar.
During this period the crescent moon and stars became common symbols on jewelry, buttons, and other adornments.
Brooches featuring a crescent moon along with flowers such as forget-me-nots were a common token of love. The flowers were representative of nectar and honey. The combination of the flowers and the moon made these pieces the traditional gift from a man to his new wife on their honeymoon.
Not all of the cosmic references were meant for expressions of love. The crescent moon was often used as a symbol of spirituality and the divine feminine.
Then, as today, the moon represented the cycles of nature and the female body and was symbolic of the rhythm and cycles of time.
When combined with a star as is often seen on lockets, rings and other jewelry, the adornment had the added meaning of being a “guiding light.”
During the 1800s and before the widespread use of electricity, the full moon played an important part in lives and nighttime activities of the Victorians. It is no wonder that the moon became such an important cultural symbol.
In the past couple of decades, modern culture has seen a resurgence in the importance of the moon, stars, and other cosmic symbolism. In many ways, they continue to represent ideas similar to those they embodied during the Victorian Era.
Today we also have the added layer of space travel and the possible importance of space colonization to the continuance of the human race.
Handcrafted artisan jewelry and other wares are, once again, full of the moon and its divine inspiration.
Because I adore the words of the Brontë sisters, I will leave you with a passage from Jane Eyre.
All these relics gave…Thornfield Hall the aspect of a home of the past: a shrine to memory. I liked the hush, the gloom, the quaintness of these retreats in the day; but I by no means coveted a night’s repose on one of those wide and heavy beds: shut in, some of them, with doors of oak; shaded, others, with wrought old-English hangings crusted with thick work, portraying effigies of strange flowers, and stranger birds, and strangest human beings,–all which would have looked strange, indeed, by the pallid gleam of moonlight.
(Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte)
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