A Woman And A Seal – Symbols Of Hope by Judith Shaw

I’ve known of the existence of the Sabian symbols for a long time, but not much about the details or meanings – which is kind of surprising considering how much I love symbolism. Sabian symbols, which first emerged in 1925 from clairvoyant Elsie Wheeler are written symbolic meanings of each degree of the astrological zodiac. Recently I heard astrologer, Heather Ensworth, speaking about the new moon of March 21 at 1° Aries and the Sabian symbol attached to that lunation which is  – “A woman rises out of the water, a seal rises and embraces her.”  

Upon hearing that Sabian symbol recited, my inner eye exploded with an image to match the words and then buried itself deep in my heart. I fought the urge to paint it as I have other projects which need completion. But ultimately the woman and the seal would not leave me, so I began to visualize it resulting in this painting, which might or might not be finished.

But why did it strike me so deeply and what might it mean? 

A woman rises from the sea of unconsciousness, from the primordial – a moment of potentiality takes form – a new self emerges, a sense of purpose begins. Seal, who lives partially in the watery realm of emotions, rises and embraces her. In this embraces one sees the interconnectedness of the emotional and the intentional.

That symbol, linked with the March new moon, continues to reverberate in my very core. A potential – something yet still unknown – was set in motion. This human potential is connected with that which Seal symbolizes – balance in the face of opposing needs or situations; balance between emotions and dreams and the stable Earth element of strength and groundedness. Seal’s embrace of the woman brings coherence between  – imagination and reason, the creative and the mundane.

But nothing is ever static – all continually changes on Earth and beyond. Eventually the seeds of potentiality become active growth. The movement of the planets brought us to another important point recently with the solar eclipse on April 20th – symbolizing the beginning of active new growth. This new moon solar eclipse, at 29 degrees of Aries activates your own Aries energy about who you are now and how to express yourself in the world. This new moon solar eclipse takes the potential which emerged with the March new moon and calls for new action in our changing environment, allowing you to see who you no longer are and who you are becoming.

As you all know by now, I love looking to myth and legend for help in understanding myself and how to navigate the energies of the moment. Hawk is an excellent ally for this time in which we are called to embrace our new selves and move forward with positive actions.

Hawk calls you to be courageous, to maintain your own identity and independence while at the same time teaching the value of partnership.

With Hawk comes clear vision and the ability to perceive the whole picture from a higher perspective. Hawk reminds you to temper your emotional responses which can cloud understanding and instead use your intellect for problem solving.

Hawk aides you in mastering the power of focus and encourages you to step into leadership. 

Hawk gifts you with messages from spirit, bringing information for both spiritual growth and to manifest positivity in the material world. Hawk guides you in accessing your intuition and aides in spiritual transformation toward wisdom.

World events continue to shake us to our cores. You all know the long list of disturbing trends – the rise of authoritarianism, of misogyny, of far-right fascist ideology, of violence, of hate, and of the lack of political will to deal with climate change. The image of the woman rising from the water and the seal who rises to embrace her gives me hope that we as a community of women and men who long for an equitable, balanced world can find our emerging potential, marry out intentions with our most positive emotional reality to meet this moment with positive actions. Though the days ahead will certainly still be difficult, now is the time to understand how far we have come in our own evolution. With that understanding we can face these challenging times with new levels of independence and creativity. 

May you feel the love of Seal’s embrace and soar high with Hawk’s vision and focus as you embark on the new pathways being opened to us all now. 

PostScript: Check out my recent videos about using oracle cards for self-discovery on my YouTube Channel – Hawk Wisdom, Rabbit Wisdom, Artio, Celtic Bear Goddess

Judith’s new oracle deck, Animal Wisdom Oracle, is now available. Experience the wisdom of our animal kin.  Order it here.
The Celtic Goddess Oracle Deck is still available. Order your deck here.
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Author: Judith Shaw

Judith Shaw, a graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, has been interested in myth, culture and mystical studies all her life. Not long after graduating from SFAI, while living in Greece, Judith began exploring the Goddess in her art. She continues to be inspired by the Goddess in all of her manifestations, which of course includes the flora and fauna of our beautiful Earth. Judith has exhibited her paintings in New York, San Francisco, Mytilene Greece, Athens Greece, New Orleans, Santa Fe NM, Taos NM, Albuquerque NM, Houston TX and Providence RI. She has published two oracle decks - Celtic Goddess Oracle and Animal Wisdom Oracle and is hard at work on an illustrated fairytale - Elena and the Reindeer Goddess.

10 thoughts on “A Woman And A Seal – Symbols Of Hope by Judith Shaw”

  1. Beautiful! I actually like that the painting of the seal and the woman might be unfinished – it speaks to how we are not finished but in the midst of action at this moment, not sure of how things will come out but willing to come out of the ocean and see what we can do. The painting of the seal is amazing, also — what amazing beings they are! Thank you for sharing your art and this information and meditation so relevant to our times!


    1. Carolyn, I love your thought about the painting maybe not being finished – “it speaks to how we are not finished but in the midst of action at this moment,” Seals really are so amazing!


  2. I remember years ago someone asked Starhawk why she was Starhawk and not Stardove, given her work for peace. Her response (paraphrased) was that when she was considering names, she dreamed of a hawk, not a dove. Your description of Hawk is a perfect fit!


    1. Judith, That’s so funny that you mention Starhawk and her name. Just the other day she crossed my mind and I wondered why she had chosen the “hawk” part of her name. Some see hawk and the other raptors and predators through a purely negative lense. Her dream must have told her of a greater meaning.


  3. “to understand how far we have come in our own evolution” ???????? I give up. I understand your obsession with symbols – this was what drew me to become Jungian analyst…. The power of archetypes to work through time… the ambivalence of all symbols and how important it is to recognize each symbol has BOTH a light and dark side. I love your paintings of the seal/woman that brought Sedna’s journey instantly to mind – very different take and an ancient one…. agreed that hawks are messengers BUT they are also PREDATORS. With 3 billion songbirds extinct I am never far from seeing hawks and eagles as the predators our culture idolizes ( and takes great pains to ‘save’ while mercilessly hunting down the prey birds like geese and grouse, turkeys and quail songbirds… all the latter live in matrifocal groups – the former do not.


  4. I had been thinking and writing about seals and the Selkie as part of an article that was accepted and is being published by an Irish magazine. Those mythical beings in Scottish and Irish Folklore, who shapeshift from seal to human. And then, I opened my morning emails to find your beautiful pictures in FAR. The female Seal Skin/ Soul Skin is usually stolen and hidden by a human male so she will marry him. She gets on with her human life but is sad because she cannot return to the sea until it is found. This tale had deep meaning for me. Thank you for sharing your wonderful wild soul art Judith. I also relate to the hawk as bringing clarity. In Druidry, the hawk of dawn is the guardian spirit of the eastern direction.


    1. Iona, That’s exciting that your article about seals and selkies is being published. I love and am always deeply moved by the Selkie tales. When I was researching seals for my post awhile back I learned that sometimes a male selkie entices a woman to become his lover. interesting that in these scenarios the male selkie never loses his autonomy and the woman enters into the relationship freely. All of the seal/selkie. Yes – Hawk brings quite the different energy from Seal – right? – and a necessary energy for sure. Hawks can be spotted here in Albuquerque where they like to make themselves at home.


      1. Yes, Judith, I haven’t found a tale where the male seal loses his autonomy, he would probably get out of his sealskin then stash it himself and go straight back to it, as soon as he got fed up with the harsher aspects of life in human form. I agree that the hawk is a very different energy, relating to the light of dawn, clarity of mind, and the ability to make decisions from soaring above to see life in perspective. It’s amazing how much wisdom we can find in folklore and how inspiring that can be for writers and artists.


  5. Iona, I definitely agree that we can find much wisdom and aide in folklore. Myth and story are strong sources of inspiration for me for sure – together with nature.


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