an American fish in & out of Estonian waters

Sharing Symbols


A hand print left behind on a cave wall.  A rune carved into a sacred stone.  An incantation scratched onto an egg shell or a piece of clay.  Every symbol carries a meaning of its own.

Symbols represent humankind’s earliest attempts to communicate – to transmit information from one member of the tribe to another.  Long before the first alphabet ever came into existence, people wove symbols together in order to create meaning, record history, express ideas, and tell stories.

Symbols are an attempt to touch the eternal – to attain the kind of immortality that comes from being able to pass on knowledge – a small part of one’s self – from one generation to the next.  The perfect symbol is one that seems as if it has always been – it whispers the same message to the woman cooking in a cave as it does to the woman working in a skyscraper.  It is a bridge across the chasm of time.

Symbols embody power – the power to understand and therefore influence the world around us – the power to bring much needed rain to a dry land – the power to grant good fortune to a tribe’s hunters – the power to unite people together in a single belief.  In the wrong hands, this power can be a dangerous thing.  And so rituals developed to pass these symbols safely from one person to the next.

The sharing of symbols is the ultimate expression of trust.  Through this sharing, you give some of your own power to another person while at the same time gaining some of theirs.  On the pages of this book, three different peoples – native Americans, native Estonians, and native Ukrainians – have agreed to share the meanings of their most ancient symbols to show that when people come together they are always stronger than when they remain apart.


From an introduction to a handmade book since misplaced …

Image: Navajo brooch from New Mexico, USA (jeweler’s name also sadly misplaced).

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