Reflections on Our
Aquarius Wellness Brand Identity
The Multifarious Meaning & Poetic Symbolism of Our Logo
Years ago, when I was launching Aquarius Wellness in St. Louis, some of the myriad decisions I had to make for my nascent massage business, and the most consequential, were those regarding brand identity, and more specifically, my choice of a logo.
I pondered over several ideas, searching for the image that would visually and symbolically capture our essence as a day spa brand, and convey in a beautiful, concise way, what we represent and offer to our guests at Aquarius Wellness in Richmond Heights!
If I could summarize in a few words the criteria for this major challenge, I would include the following: Beauty, Harmony, Serenity, and Resilience. All four of these qualities are sublimely embodied in the Chambered Nautilus, one of the oldest life forms on the planet and, therefore, one of the most Resilient!
The Chambered Nautilus is also undoubtedly one of the most Beautiful expressions of Harmonious proportion in all of nature, and is in fact a classic example of the Golden Mean of sacred geometry, which has been a defining feature in many of mankind’s greatest architectural achievements for thousands of years.
And finally, for me at least, the flowing, curvaceous, eminently graceful lines of this denizen of the deep, combined with its colorful camouflage, are the very divine distillation of Serenity, as you will see for yourself as you scroll down the page.
I have been a huge admirer of the chambered nautilus for many years, feeling better every time I gaze upon one, as if it were communicating to me from its primordial past, through its very structure, the essence of our mantra at Aquarius: Be Calm, Be Serene, Be Restored.
And so, what better image could I have chosen to represent my spa than one that embodies for me, in the exquisite, perfect symmetry of an ancient life form, the purpose of our existence as expressed in our mission statement:
“Aquarius Wellness Center for Healing Arts, strives to be a space of healing and wholeness for clients and wellness professionals alike; a refuge that nourishes body, mind and spirit, in service to a happier, healthier, more peaceful planet, one person…and tree at a time.”
On the poetic side of it's symbolism, I am reminded of William Blake's famous poem, "Auguries of Innocence". The first stanza of the longer poem, shown below, alludes with profound insight to humanity's mystical abilities to catch a glimpse, if we can open the gates of perception a crack, of our privileged placement in the cosmic continuum, midway between the heavens and earth!
Just as the shellfish outgrows each chamber of the nautilus over time, we outgrow our circumscribed perceptions of the world around us, coming closer and closer to divinely understanding our place in the universe, and, hopefully, translating that understanding into some modicum of benevolent action directed at our fellow human beings, life forms, and the planet we call home!
Auguries of Innocence
To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour
What was once just a grain of sand or a wildflower, now represents everything that’s extraordinary in the ordinary, and it doesn’t require much stretch of the imagination to see a spiral galaxy in the beautiful spiral form of a nautilus shell.
These four evocative, immortal lines, embody our vision at Aquarius to not only help you relax, unwind, and leave your stress behind, but eloquently speak to our mission to provide a magical refuge that leaves our guests with a sense of Wholeness, Upliftment, and Wonder, where an Eternity can be collapsed...into an hour!
Below I am sharing an article, written by John Algeo, which analyzes “The Chambered Nautilus,” a poem by Oliver Wendell Holmes. In the poem, Holmes metaphorically compares the physical characteristics of the chambered nautilus to the philosophical truths of the human experience, and our shared desire to transcend the human mind and body in search of higher meaning.
Viewpoint: Ancient Wisdom in a Chambered Nautilus
By John Algeo*
The chambered nautilus is a shellfish or mollusk with a spiral-shaped shell divided into a series of compartments or "chambers." The term nautilus is from the Greek word for a sailor, implying that the shellfish is a sailor and its shell is the ship in which it sails.
In stanza one of "The Chambered Nautilus," by Oliver Wendell Holmes, the speaker is walking by the shore of the sea and discovers a chambered nautilus shell, which he compares to a ship. He thinks of it as sailing the sea of life, where the Sirens sing to entice passing sailors.
But, as stanza two reveals, this shell has been broken open, so the speaker can see its insides. He thinks of it then as a wrecked ship, abandoned by the sailor but open to the observer's inspection.
In the third stanza, the speaker looks at the spiral chambers inside the shell and thinks of the mollusk's making the shell year by year as it grows too big for one chamber and therefore creates a new, larger chamber in which to live.
In the fourth stanza, the speaker thanks the shellfish for the message it has given him. Though the shellfish is now dead, the shell it has left behind speaks with a sound clearer even than that of the horn of Triton, which could quiet the waves of the sea.
The fifth stanza is the message of the chambered nautilus to us. Like it, we must continually build ourselves greater intellectual and spiritual houses in which to live. As Christ told his followers, "In my Father's house, there are many mansions." We must not become trapped in a single chamber that is too small for us, but construct new, larger ones, until one day we have no more need for any chambers, but are free in the ocean of life.
H. P. Blavatsky said that Theosophy is a kind of Jana yoga, the yoga of knowledge. We study Theosophy to form a picture of the universe and of ourselves in it that will satisfy our longing for a worldview that is full and comprehensive. After a certain amount of study, we think that we have found the perfect picture. But as we look carefully at it, we see certain flaws, certain holes or imperfections in our picture of the universe. And then we study more and make a bigger, greater, fuller picture, which we are sure is complete and comprehensive. But after we have looked at it for a while, we discover in it also some flaws and holes. And so, we make yet a bigger picture, which also in time proves to be flawed.
So, we move from picture to greater picture, ever increasing our understand of the world and our place in it, until one day we break through to the discovery that no picture can ever represent the universe fully or accurately because all pictures are flawed. Then we realize that we do not need pictures, but can experience the universe directly, not merely through a representation, but itself, as it is. That is the zenith of Jana yoga: using the mind and understanding to pass to a realization of Reality that surpasses the mind and understanding.
That zenith of Jana yoga is what "The Chambered Nautilus" is about. A pearl-lined, iridescent shell with ever-larger chambers can carry us across the sea of life and protect us from the ocean's storms. But there comes a time when the stateliest mansion of the mind—the largest chamber of comprehension, the greatest temple of the spirit—is inadequate. Then we will leave the outgrown shell of our intellect by the sea of life and move with confidence into the unchambered ocean of reality.
However, neither Blavatsky nor Holmes was talking about giving up the structure of our understanding before we are ready to do without it. The vast majority of humanity need their shells. They can all grow within them and build larger mansions to let their minds and spirits expand. There is nothing wrong with the shell. It is beautiful. It is practical. It is necessary.
We must remember two things. First, as it grows, the chambered nautilus can enlarge the chamber in which it lives. Second, for a shellfish to do without its shell, it must have become a different species, it must cease to be a shellfish. So, we can enlarge the mental world in which we live, but we cannot do without some mental structure—some conditioning or viewpoint - until we too have become a different species of being. It is only when we cease to be human and have assimilated to the Buddha or Christ nature that we can do without the support of our human shell.
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809–94) was a physician, professor of anatomy and physiology at Harvard, essayist, novelist, and poet. The inventor of an early form of the stethoscope, he coined the word anesthesia. He was a friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, whose biography he wrote. "The Chambered Nautilus," written in 1858 and one of the favorite poems of the last century, expresses ideas of Emerson and transcendentalism, a form of proto-Theosophy.
The Chambered Nautilus
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main—
The venturous bark that flings
On the sweet summer wind its purpled wings
In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings.
And coral reefs lie bare,
Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their streaming hair.
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Where its dim dreaming life was wont to dwell,
As the frail tenant shaped his growing shell,
Before thee lies revealed—
Its irised ceiling rent, its sunless crypt unsealed!
Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
He left the past year's dwelling for the new,
Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door,
Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old no more.
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
From thy dead lips a clearer note is born
Than ever Triton blew from wreathed horn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Through the deep caves of thought I hear a voice that sings:
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new temple, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length are free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life's unresting sea!
The chambered nautilus has lived in the earth’s oceans for millions of years, a hauntingly beautiful, and profoundly symbolic totem of humanity's primordial beginnings in the sea.
It serves, through its very spiral structure, as a potent reminder of the Infinite Universe we inhabit, of how far we have come on our evolutionary journeys, and, at the same time, how far we have yet to go to fulfill our ultimate potential as Cosmic Mariners in the Sea of Spiritual Transcendence.
We at Aquarius Wellness are honored to play our small part in advancing that journey, and helping, through the gift of nurturing touch, to make it a little more joyous for all who enter our doors along the way!
Godspeed Cosmic Mariners,
Andrew Goodman, Owner
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