The Wild Goose
I’ve been working on a new emblem for the last several weeks and finally finished it up this evening.
The Wild Goose
I would suspect that most times when someone runs into the Celtic Spiritual tradition for the first time, one of the most compelling aspects of that tradition is the symbol for the Holy Spirit—The Wild Goose. That is certainly true for me. I took a class on Celtic Spirituality with Tom Cashman** while I was completing my MDiv at The Seattle School. I took it during the second semester of my first year and the content from that class became very foundational for me as I explored and thought about theology, biblical studies, and pastoral ministry.
Many traditions use the Dove as the symbol of the Holy Spirit. And for good reason—it is a Dove, afterall, that descended upon Jesus during his baptism. The Dove also represents “peace” or “shalom” in the Christian tradition.
But the Celts, who often forged their symbols out of the ordinary, daily things of the earth that they saw in front of them, chose the Wild Goose as a way to talk about the Spirit. A Wild Goose is untamed, uncontrollable, always on the move, always doing unexpected things; it is loud, passionate, sometimes frightening, and certainly unsettling. This has been more like my experience of the Spirit than the peaceful, tranquil Dove. I also read somewhere that the Wild Goose is prone to biting those who try to trap or ensnare her. Isn’t this true of the Spirit?
Lastly—a word about the art. I used watercolors for the background, cross, and halo. I used colored pencils for all of the detail on the Goose, mostly because I am too chicken to attempt all that detail with watercolors! The gold background is a traditional color used in iconography. The red on the cross represents the season of Pentecost, the celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit. The pattern on the cross is taken from the stained glass windows of my home church, the primary place of my spiritual formation. And I utilized all the details and multicolors on the Wild Goose herself to represent the explosion of diversity that happened/happens on Pentecost.
**You can read a recent interview with Tom about Celtic Spirituality HERE on asacredjourney.net