Sunset cloud with lozenge shape
Photo by Laura K. Deal

For many years, I’ve found great pleasure in photographing clouds, especially sunsets. This has become such a part of my life that it has shown up in my dreams; in one dream I was taking a photo of a sunset near a barn and a great eye appeared in the cloud. Some time later, a waking life cloud reminded me of the dream. But even without the extra imagery of a dream, clouds speak to some non-verbal part of my spirit.

Sunset with white and golden
Photo by Laura K. Deal

I find comfort and delight in the various patterns and colors, as well as in the movement when they ride rivers of air.

White clouds with sun
Photo by Laura K. Deal

Clouds help us see the movement of the unseen, and so in that sense serve as a metaphor for consciousness of the invisible world. They are made of moisture, whether or not they release that moisture to the earth, and so are symbolic of emotion. We use “stormy” to describe a mood, and poor Eeyore always has his own gloomy cloud following him around. In many cultures, clouds are associated with fertility because of their life-giving rains.

One of the simplest games of childhood is to see images in clouds as our minds search for patterns in the randomness of a chaotic system. This is a good way to think about projection, for one person might see a bird with wide wings and another sees a mother with outstretched arms, and a third perceives a crucifix.

Clouds are paradoxical as well, being both ephemeral in the moment but part of an eternal cycle. And for me, they represent the idea that the gifts of spirit are available equally to everyone.

Rainbow cloud photo by Laura K. Deal
Photo by Laura K. Deal

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4 thoughts on “Clouds as a Metaphor”

  1. Gorgeous photos. Your comment about clouds showing the unseen reminds me of what I love about tall grassy prairies or fields of wheat and other leggy crops. They show the usually unseen movement of the air. I can stand for hours and watch the patterns that move through tall grasses.

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