The symbolism that surrounds us

Review of "The Symbolic World" podcast.

The Symbolic World is a podcast hosted by Canadian Orthodox icon-carver Jonathan Pageau.

It explores “symbolism in all its forms, from its source in sacred stories and images to contemporary culture and ultimately how it shapes the very world we encounter.”

The symbolism explored is not merely about religious images. Instead, the podcast unpacks what characters in Biblical stories represent, and how those representations are echoed in fractal patterns throughout the entire Biblical narrative. The listener will start to understand how everything in the Bible is connected, and what that means for their life.

Listening to the explanations of the symbolism in Biblical stories opens the door to noticing how those same patterns are playing out in your life. Those patterns could be positive or negative, but it is useful to be able to recognize both, so you can adjust your life accordingly.

An example of how Pageau explores symbolism is in his discussion of gargoyles on the outside of cathedrals. Gargoyles are representations of the periphery, so they are placed outside the cathedral on the perimeter, to protect the cathedral from worse monsters which may also lurk on the edge of experience. In unpacking that, Pageau elaborates on his conceptions of “chaos” and “order.” The cathedral is a place of order, but chaos is always on the periphery of the established order. (A similar example of that symbolic interplay between order and chaos is a walled garden, like Eden). The gargoyle symbolically protects the cathedral from other unknown monsters, which could be lurking in chaos.

Pageau often has leaders in Christian thought on his podcast, and other popular intellectuals, whether they are Christian or not. There are also episodes about everything from crypto-currency to Kanye West. Listen to one or two episodes and you might find yourself seeing reality itself differently.

The Symbolic World is gaining in popularity, and will most likely continue to do so, as Pageau was recently part of Jordan Peterson’s sixteen-episode series: Exodus.

Listen to The Symbolic World: https://www.youtube.com/@JonathanPageau


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