MADONNA AND CHILD by Giovanni Bellini 1510
Updated: Sep 2, 2021
Note that this could be this could be Mother Mary or it could even be Mary Magdalene with the child of Christ.
The central focus is the baby swallow. But there is so much more to it if you enlarge it and look at the detailing the back. For instance, notice how to the left of the baby's head is a hidden shepherd by the water, possibly John the Baptist. He is on the right side of the baby like a shepherd guide for the baby, at the level of the baby's brain (signifying knowledge) and he is resting directly underneath and propping up other (twin) towers. Then on the other side there is a boat with sail indicating travel and towers in far right distance signifying the Magdalene, a word which means tower. One in particular seems to stand out alone and it is situated just above her left shoulder by the boat with the sail and the laurel - both actually Cathar symbols. Notice how some trees are in death stage and others in full bloom filled with leaves.
Birds are messengers and the swallow represents the resurrection in art as they reappear each year, and because of this they also represent time. Swallows are generally symbols of the feminine and in Latin the word Swallow is Feminine. (ie. Une Hirondelle). In art they are often painted with the Madonna or Mother - and so this therefore symbolises the return or resurrection of feminine. This si the feminine aspect that is both in men as well as women, it is the yin quality of living in harmony with earth. we have 3 aspects - ida pingala sushmuna, or male female and centre channels running up the spine, or yin and yang could replace the male and female, they are in all genders.
To confirm this notice that the baby is holding the black bird in his left hand and the bird is facing towards his mother. (Left is the feminine side) In art we always look to where the being faces and what they hold for the hidden secret messages. Everything is symbolic for something. Swallow is a migratory bird that feeds while flying (the word itself 'swallow' literally means to swallow / pass food or drink) so in this way here if the swallow represents the food, then the swallow shows that the food is the Mother.
When working with swallow you are connecting with the feminine yin aspect of love, you are looking at what do you need to swallow in your life? Perhaps you are dealing with a story in your life around leaving and returning, around what you feel you must swallow but do not want to any more. The swallow will bring you back to flight, the swallow is the return who brings you freedom, the return of the light and swallow always brings hope... You look at the resurrection of self. The swallow also represents love, care and affection towards family and friends, showing the loyalty of the person always returning to them. The swallows also represent everlasting love and are associated with loyalty and fidelity. Interestingly, this bird choose a mate for life, and will only nest with that bird and no other.
The swallow was also a symbol for the Mother Isis in Egypt, and in fact Isis was said to at times transform into a Swallow and fly about Osiris awaiting the return of the sun.
The Swallow is very positive in that a swallow nest near or on a house is also a sign of Good Luck. Swallows are generally used to represent Luck, Freedom, Happiness, Fertility, Loyalty, Fidelity, Purity, Endurance. They also announces Spring and are markers of the Spring Equinox, which is again about rebirth and resurrection, and the same time as the celandine plant which is a plant used to get rid of warts, (warts are about hurts and little angers). There is an old myth that 'Swallow babies are born blind. Once the Swallow feeds them celandine, the babies can see'. Thus celandine represents truth and knowledge and being clear of any fakery or deception. And the swallow symbolises the return (resurrection) of sight. Being able to see into things again.
The baby thus holds clear true Knowledge his left hand on the side of the feminine against his mother’s heart and there is a lovely light above the swallows head on her heart in the blue dress. She can bring in the radiant healing and she is the cure.
The tail of the swallow is shaped like a V of Victory, like the Peace hand sign. Each footprint is also shaped like the V sign. Interestingly her hand makes the shape of a V and her little finger is slightly pointing down to make a mini V too. There is the laurel tree protruding up to heaven from behind MM left shoulder. Laurel represents victory just like the swallow's tail shape.
Swallow are fluid in the air, they dart in and out fast, they are like dolphins of the sky. They play, they dive. they are quick. In what way do you move fast like that? In what ways are you highly intuitive and quick to know?
Swallows have evolved to fly on the moisture content of the air, so they are about the air and water elements, and they are therefor being in water, feminine, emotions, and really are the dolphins of the sky.
There is much more to look at. For instance, I love her red cloak set against the fertile greens. It is definitely a fertile and happy painting and I do find it incredibly beautiful. What else do YOU see and what does it symbolise to YOU? We each see different things in paintings, like in tarot, and there is no wrong, it is all perfect and right for you.
Through out time swallows have represented beautiful things to many spiritual people, the return, the return of light and spirituality. When swallow is with you, so is divine mother goddess, and she will provide everything for you and look after you always. She is your lucky omen.