The Henna Page Journal
From Inspiration to Photography
A lizard's tale ~

Alex Morgan
Page 2 of 5

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Front cover

The Lizard as a Symbol
The lizard has symbolic meaning for many diverse cultures and civilisations. In Roman mythology the lizard was thought to sleep throughout the winter and thus came to symbolise death and resurrection. Throughout the Mediterranean the lizard is fondly regarded as an old family friend. For the Greeks and the Egyptians the lizard represented divine wisdom and good fortune. In Egyptian hieroglyphics the lizard is used to depict "plentiful" or "many" [3].

Not only in Egypt but also throughout the entire continent of Africa the lizard recurs again and again as a motif in popular culture. The Dogon tribe of West Africa carve lizards on their house and granary doors to invoke protective spirits. On the Grasslands of the Cameroon the lizard is a potent fertility symbol among the Bamum, whilst for the Babanki a lizard represents household tranquillity [4,5,6]. To do justice to all African uses of this symbol would take an entire article so I will not expand upon these themes here now.

In Christian ideology the lizard is a more ambivalent symbol. All reptiles can be viewed as paler versions of the potent symbol represented by the snake or serpent. Taken alone on it's own merits the lizard is said to represent "contemplative ecstasy" [3]. This is thought to arise from the fondness of these creatures for basking motionless in the sun for hours on end. St. Gregory "the Great" observed that the lizard might symbolise "the soul that humbly seeks enlightenment" and that is what I hope they are doing on this cover for the Henna Page Journal.

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