Divine Androgyne Tile

Ceramic Tile
15" H x 13" W

About the Piece

In his book Goddesses in Art (1997, p. 43), Lanier Graham writes that “In many creation myths, the creator is said to be neither male nor female, but both.  Surveys of the Great Goddess that overlook this androgynous aspect neglect one of her most important features.  Much of her greatness is due to being the supreme unity that transcends all opposites; she is the universal synthesis of all particulars….  The sacred image of the Androgyne has been particularly difficult for Modern people to comprehend.  Those who encounter an image of the Androgyne today are somewhat like students of Zen contemplating a koan-- reasoning does not work; comprehension requires intuition.  The most famous androgynous images in Asian art are Hindu….  The concept of the Androgyne continues in the esoteric teachings of the world religions- not only Toaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism, but also esoteric Judaism, Christianity, and Islam…Some writers describing this image use the term hermaphrodite, but that is a physical description of a human being who has the sexual organs of both a male and a female.  The Great Goddess/God cannot be understood in such physical terms.  The Androgyne is a metaphor that has nothing to do with any form of ordinary human sexual activity, be it heterosexual, homosexual, or bisexual…. the ultimate goal of the spiritual quest is androgyne, a state of mind in which the finite consciousness of the individual and the realm of the infinite cosmos are realized as one.  From the perspective of comparative world mythology, the consciousness of the Androgyne is identical with that of the Buddha consciousness or Christ consciousness.”

The male on this panel holds a jar of spouting water, traditionally a female symbol.  Likewise, the female holds a customarily male symbol, the thyrsus, or sacred rod of Dionysus.  The Tattvas, attached to the woman’s thyrsus, represents one of several Hindu systems for classifying the elements.  Water is represented by a silver crescent moon, air by a blue circle, fire by a red triangle, earth by a yellow diamond, and spirit by a black egg – the void.  These sacred, primary symbols and colors can be mixed to create the world in all its hues (Walker, 1998, p.106). By bestowing the male and female with attributes from the other sex, gender roles are explored and shared.

The sea (subconscious and female) and the land (consciousness and male) are depicted in balance and harmony.  The trees repeat the Green Man motif found in the Divine Male Tile.  Each of the snakes is double headed, a common symbol for nonduality in the Stone and Bronze age (Graham, 1997, p.32).  The idea for the male and female entwined as serpents comes from Nu-Wa and Fu Xi in Cosmic Union as the Double Serpent (China, circa 6th or 7th century AD, British Museum, London). Three yonic shapes are seen in the negative space of the twisting serpents.      

Lanier, Graham (1997) Goddesses in Art.  Artabras, New York.
Walker, Barbara G. (1998) The Woman’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects. HarperCollins, New York.

For questions or comments about Cydra's art, please email: womansculpture@icloud.com